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Old Jun 27, 08, 8:00 am   #1
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8th annual dhammer53 Brooklyn Reality Tour - report

Planning for the 8th annual Brooklyn Reality Tour (BRT) began in the winter. If you've never heard of the BRT, it means that you haven't read the Community forum on Flyertalk.

You may want to read the first post in this link for background. http://flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=802434

The first tour was in a 7 passenger van. Tours 4-7 was in a 25 passenger airport type shuttle. I always dreamed about renting a 'real' bus, and this year I rented a 50 passenger bus.

When I posted the original thread, it was during my busy season. When I finally got around to adding up who was coming, I was well past 25.
After I calmed down, the next day I started googling bus rentals in New York City. Everyone chips in to share in the cost. This year, the cost was $31.50, plus an additional $10 for the very first ever BRT t-shirt.

To begin

Everyone was told to arrive by 9:40 on Saturday 21 June. The BRT pushes back on time at 10:00. I have a take no prisioners approach to keep the kids in line.

When that big bus arrived, I had the goosebumps. This was the first time ever I had so many people, and a bus. I was nervous about this, and the potential delays it would represent throughout the day.

bk3day brought a few dozens bagels to get us in the eating mood!!
I passed around some delicious bakey goodies once we got started. This would be a day of eating and touring, and sharing miles and point ideas.

At 10:01, everyone was accounted for except Xanthous. At 10:05, we pushed back. I had a schedule to keep.

We headed down Second ave towards the Manhattan Bridge, as we crossed into Brooklyn. The BRT is filled with fun facts and fiction, or should I say folklore. Example, Joey Gallo, the gangster, once walked through Brooklyn Heights with a lion to keep people in line. It's true!!

First stop at the Brooklyn Promenade, overlooking lower Manhattan. Killer views. Seems there's a regulation in this neighborhood that no tour busses are allowed. I heard this from a man sitting on a park bench, as did our driver Tony. Something to worry about on BRT 9 (date to be announced in Jan/Feb 2009.

From here we headed to Casa Calamari for lunch. http://casacalamari.net/
We usually stop for pizza for lunch, and a sitdown place for dinner. Since our regular dinner stop couldn't handle 50 of us, I had to totally re-arrange the day. Turned out to be a silver lining in what at first was a dark cloud.

I called a week before to tell them we were coming. We were set up at 5 tables. At first, they wanted to give us one big check. Since everyone pays for what they ate, as opposed to splitting the bill (which is unfair to the person that has the $10 pasta, vs the person that orders the steak...) I was able to negotiate checks for each table, as long as they were paid for on 1 credit card. Seems one of the tables was a little shy tipwise, which resulted in my wasting 10 minutes with the restaurant adding everything up. I ended up leaving them some extra dollars.

Funny thing about Brooklynites, we're happy at first, then can immediately get upset when things don't go our way. While I'm tempted to blow them off, as we say in Brooklyn fagedaboudit.

Portion size was hugh at Casa Calamari. And if it isn't cheap and a hugh portion, fagedaboudit, this place would be closed in a week.

The pastas looked delicious. Enough for 2 people. There were 2 people that didn't know this was an italian restaurant, or they were watching their diets, as they had a greek salad.

Now we were off to Teena's Bakery on Ralph Ave. Our route took us past Italian, Korean, Jewish (Orthodox black hats), Puerto Rican (prefer being called this to Hispanic) and Jamaican neighborhoods.

I called Teenas in advance to tell them we were coming. The BRT stopped here last year. The owners went to my high school about 10 years before me.
I expected to stop for 45 minutes. We were speedily served in 15 minutes. Typical Brooklyn, and typical Flyertalkers that couldn't wait to have some delicious bakery goodies from an old fashion Jewish bakery.
Our driver wanted a canoli. The lady behind the counter informed him that Jewish bakeries don't make cannolis.

Example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_and_white_cookie
cawhite pre-ordered 24 to take back to Chicago.

The woman owner seemed to think the 50 of us were going to spend 100's of dollars at her bakery. She got a little testy when the total came in around $130. Once again, I was prepared to blow her off next year, but hey, fagedabowdit. Typical Brooklyn.

From Teenas, we headed to Park Slope. This neighborhood is more like Manhattan than Brooklyn. It always provides a breath of fresh air and a nice contrast to the rest of Brooklyn. On the way, we pass through Crown Heights, where everyone learns about what a changing neighborhhod means in Brooklyn speak. Hey, I tell it like it is. The tour doesn't sugarcoat anything.

During the tour, Kalcats +1 told a story about visiting his older Jewish relatives house, and seeing bullet holes in it. Anyone ever hear of Meyer Lansky? A Jewish mob?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meyer_Lansky

Speaking of plus 1's, UCbeaus +1 had the best suggestion I've ever heard on all the BRT's. She suggested that we stop at the Brooklyn brewery. Sadly, I don't have a lot of time to do this, and other fun things. Maybe a solo trip next time you're NYC bound.

Main course

I had no intention of stopping at my childhood home. As we approached, I told the driver to slow down, then stop. Seems the front door was wide open. I took this as a sign from above. I stopped the bus.
A couple of years back, cawhite knocked on the door. I ducked for cover. This year I was apprehensive as I approached. When I told the woman that she bought the house from my Mom, she said in typical Brooklyn fashion whats her name? When I responded, she had a big smile for me.
This may have been the moment on BRT 8. Every year, there's always one moment that's noteworthy.

I think our final tally was 44 people, but saying 50 sounds so good.

Eventually we head to Brighton Beach. Once associated with an older Jewish population, then an older Russian Jewish population, and now a Russian population that also includes the first two. Plenty of stores with Russian writing, as we travel 10 blocks (3/4 km) under the el, or elevated train. This neighborhood is congested. Now, onto Manhattan Beach, where but a mile away (2km) we drive past million dollar homes.

We then drive another 5 minutes to an old fishing village called Sheepeshead Bay. At 12 and 4 when the boats come back, you can buy fresh fish from the fisherman.


We now head to Coney Island. http://www.coneyisland.com/
We usually arrive prior to lunch and walk around on the boardwalk. The last 2 years, we rode the Cyclone. http://www.npr.org/blogs/bryantpark/..._turns_80.html

This year, I had to re-arrange everything due to the annual Mermaid Parade. http://www.coneyisland.com/mermaid.shtml
What a hoot. I haven't seen Coney Island so busy since summer Sundays in 1967.
Somehow, I managed not to misplace any Flyertalkers. I told them to be back on the bus in 30 minutes. When we left (in 40), all were accounted for.

Dinner is usually a sit down affair. Since we had a big lunch, we stopped at http://www.spumonigardens.com/
This is where we have delicious square pizza.

Our pizza stop was sponsored by Randy and www.BoardingArea.com
Thanks Randy.
Starwood provided a 5000 point gift cert that was raffled off. And no, I didn't win, since my son neglected to give me a ticket.

Seeya and Wireless continued their tradition of joining us for pizza, as did Mary2e and hubby2e , along with Art234 and his wife.

edited to add stockmanjr, monitor, and franny.

We departed after 60 minutes to Ferrara in Little Italy (in Manhattan) for Italian pastries. http://www.ferraracafe.com/ I bought a box of cannolis for our driver Tony. Picture of same is in the link.

The tour ended here for those that wanted to hang out in Little Italy/Chinatown/Soho. The rest of the weary riders of BRT 8 headed back to the pick up point near Grand Central Terminal on 42nd street.

Can I expect you next year?

Last edited by dhammer53; Jun 27, 08 at 10:26 pm.
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Old Jun 27, 08, 12:50 pm   #2
 
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Excellent report, Dan! Really sums up the day but words can't completely capture how much fun it was. From one tour operator to another, you did an excellent job!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhammer53 View Post
Can I expect you next year?
Absolutely!
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Old Jun 27, 08, 6:28 pm   #3
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Thanks for letting me know what I missed.

For comparison here was theBRT report from 2001
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Old Jun 27, 08, 10:24 pm   #4
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FYI,

It was magic111 that named the tour Brooklyn Reality.
Funny thing is, is that the name stuck.
... and he's still one of my oldest FT friends.

It was nice re-reading the memories from the original tour.
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Old Jun 27, 08, 11:33 pm   #5
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Thanks for the report, Dan!
Will your report on post-tour drinks be added here or on another thread?

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Old Jun 28, 08, 9:40 am   #6
 
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Dan,

Thanks for putting this all together. Too bad that traffic and scheduling conspired against us--I wish we had more time to spend with you guys.

My better half says next year we're in for the whole tour.

Thanks again,

Art
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Old Jun 28, 08, 11:55 am   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BiziBB View Post
Thanks for the report, Dan!
Will your report on post-tour drinks be added here or on another thread?
Milepost 100 on the Wine Do thread contains tasting notes. http://flyertalk.com/forum/showthrea...=802173&page=5

Quote:
Originally Posted by Art234 View Post

My better half says next year we're in for the whole tour.


dh
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Old Jun 29, 08, 10:08 am   #8
 
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Dan, thanks again for a wonderful day and the TR is a fantastic summary!
Quote:
Originally Posted by dhammer53 View Post
...bk3day brought a few dozens bagels to get us in the eating mood!!...
Warm Ess-a-bagels! Yum.

Quote:
...I passed around some delicious bakey goodies once we got started...
B&Ws and rugelach...yum. From my favorite Brooklyn bakery, too! The only thing that would've made it more perfect is if we'd run into each other at Ostrovitsky's on Friday given how close our timing was.

Quote:
...I expected to stop for 45 minutes. We were speedily served in 15 minutes. Typical Brooklyn, and typical Flyertalkers that couldn't wait to have some delicious bakery goodies from an old fashion Jewish bakery...
I couldn't believe how quickly they got everyone through there. It seemed to be a lot faster than in previous years with half the amount of people.

Quote:
...cawhite pre-ordered 24 to take back to Chicago.
Thankfully they only had to make it as far as CT on Monday. As expected, they were very well received.

Quote:
...I had no intention of stopping at my childhood home. As we approached, I told the driver to slow down, then stop. Seems the front door was wide open. I took this as a sign from above. I stopped the bus.
A couple of years back, cawhite knocked on the door. I ducked for cover. This year I was apprehensive as I approached. When I told the woman that she bought the house from my Mom, she said in typical Brooklyn fashion whats her name? When I responded, she had a big smile for me.
This may have been the moment on BRT 8. Every year, there's always one moment that's noteworthy...
That gets my vote (but you already knew that).

Quote:
Our pizza stop was sponsored by Randy and www.BoardingArea.com
Thanks Randy.
Starwood provided a 5000 point gift cert that was raffled off. And no, I didn't win, since my son neglected to give me a ticket.
Thanks again to Randy, the Mods and BoardingArea.com!

Quote:
Seeya and Wireless continued their tradition of joining us for pizza, as did Mary2e and hubby2e , along with Art234 and his wife.

edited to add stockmanjr, monitor, and franny.
Another good tradition!

Quote:
Can I expect you next year?
Absolutely!!!
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Old Jul 3, 08, 8:52 pm   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magic111 View Post
Thanks for letting me know what I missed.

For comparison here was theBRT report from 2001
Thanks for the link. It's nice to see how the BRT has matured and grown from the first one.
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Old Jul 3, 08, 11:50 pm   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magic111 View Post
For comparison here was theBRT report from 2001
7 years back? Wonder who else has retired besides me and you in the meantime

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Old Mar 23, 09, 5:15 pm   #11
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As the 9th annual Brooklyn Reality Tour approaches...

9th annual Brooklyn Reality Tour. June 13, 2009 Saturday

There's still room if you'd like to join us.
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Old Mar 23, 09, 5:32 pm   #12
 
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Very good trip report.
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