City Breaks

Traveling Like a Local: An East Village Adventure


Once upon a time, in a kingdom not too far away, a girl and a boy went on an adventure. It was a crisp, sunny winter morning in New York City.  As the taxi carried the boy and the girl farther downtown, the scenery began to change.  The girl discovered the New York of her childhood dreams, and the boy rediscovered the actual New York City of his youth.  You see, the boy–no longer really a boy–had spent a good deal of his 20’s living in this part of Manhattan, attending NYU.  Well, at least we can assume he occasionally attended classes; given the nature of this tour, it seems likely that his fondest memories were not of the classroom.

As any good story does, this tale involves a quest.  The quest in question was not exactly a valiant one–to spend a day reliving the man-boy’s youth.  And that reliving was to take the form of a serious bar crawl.

Because the girl is tired of writing about herself in third person, this is where the fairy tale version of the story will end.

So there I am, camera in hand, notes app opened on my iPhone, ready to write all about living like a local in New York City.  I had the absolute best intentions; I even began by taking some semi-scholarly notes.  For example, did you know that this bone covered lamp…


…is historic?  I mean, just look at it.  It’s all cobweby.  It simply must be significant in some way.  Cobwebs fairly ooze significance.  And, in fact, I was informed by my husband that this first stop–McSorleys Alehouse–was really old and kind of important.  He wasn’t sure why, but that’s because he didn’t care.  However, a bit of online research led me here, where I learned that yes, in fact, our first stop was rather historically significant.  But aside from that, they also sell really cheap beer that you have to purchase two-at-a-time, something that did not bother my husband one bit.

As I do not drink beer–and my husband drinks it very quickly–our stay at McSorleys was a very brief one.  We traveled on to our next stop, the St. Marks Ale House for no other reason than ‘it was there’ and ‘it looked like it would have a passable restroom and I had to pee’.  We stayed for one drink, during which a man from Tennessee hit on my husband rather openly by touching his shirt sleeve repeatedly and telling the story of his great grandmother who was some famous writer I’d never heard of.

It is important to note: at this point in the story, it is approximately noon.  Apparently living like a local in the East Village requires some serious day-drinking.

I was perfectly content to spend the rest of the day at our third stop, Bull McCabes.  A typical basement dive bar, it was mostly empty at this time of day, minus one couple playing darts and two of my husband’s friends..  But as you can see, there are lots of words below this paragraph, so this clearly is not where my day ends.


At this point, the order gets a little fuzzy.  I know they all decided we absolutely had to have a deep fried, bacon-wrapped hot dog from a tiny basement restaurant around the corner–Crif Dogs.  I did not indulge in a hot dog, deep fried or otherwise, though my husband swears they were amazing.  I did, however, take a photo of the hot dogs (photos don’t have calories) and a photo of the awesome wall mural in the seating area, pictured below:


Doesn’t that just make you really want a hot dog?  Oh I forgot to mention–each hot dog order came with a complimentary condom.  How thoughtful.

We walked to a fourth bar–which may have been before or after Crif Dogs–walked in, looked around at the not-older-than-23 crowd, and walked out.  But that was ok, because there was yet another bar next door.  I don’t recall the name, but it was nice and had a cleanish restroom, so I was happy there for a while.

DSC_6454So after four bars and some deep-fried processed meat products wrapped in other processed meat products, there’s really nothing else a person can do other than locate a hookah bar and order a plum-flavored hookah.  I mean really, can you think of another option?

I really liked the hookah bar.  I have no idea what it was called or where it was located.  But the waitress was wearing a really sexy satin-and-lace leotard and thigh-high stockings with garters.  So that was pretty awesome.  Definitely not educational, historic, or culturally significant–but still awesome.

It is important to note: if you smoke a plum flavored hookah, your very soul will taste like fake-plum for the remainder of the day.  And throughout most of the following day.  Oh–and apparently smoking a hookah isn’t very good for you, either.  So, uh, I guess don’t do it.  But I have to say, it was a nice, relaxing, social experience.  And I’d do it again.  Just maybe not the plum flavor.

After more of what I can only describe as ‘blurry-whooshing down a couple (a few?  several?) more blocks’, we landed at stop number oh-hell-it-doesn’t-even-matter-anymore.  At this point I made my final note-of-the-day in my New York City Travel Blog Note.  It read, and I do quote (well, copy-paste):

You just can’t travel like a local and take notes.  I stopped paying attention at the hookah bar. And now I have no idea where I am, but I’m playing Jenga.

And that, dear readers, is what I took away from my East Village Pub Crawl experience.  Traveling like a local is all well and good.  But it doesn’t always make for the best research trip.

And so it came to pass that the girl’s adventure was coming to an end.  She bid farewell to the boy and his not-so-knightly friends, hailed a less-than-magical taxi, and was whisked away to her tower in midtown.  It was just after nine ‘o clock at night.  She’s a wild one, that girl.

As for the boy, he lived happily ever after somewhere in the city with his friends, at bars number they-couldn’t-even-tell-me through bar number they-turned-the-lights-on-and-made-everyone-leave.  And the next day, he was visited by a wicked headache.

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