Another marathon bike ride with the Farmboyz today. At 11am, we took the bikes onto the D train from underneath the Upper West Side's Dakota, emerging about 40 minutes later at the end of the line on Coney Island, the first visit for all three of us. We wandered around the boardwalk for awhile, marveling at an attraction called Shoot The Freak: Live Human Target, in which participants pay for the privilege of shooting paint guns at some poor schmuck running around in an alley, wearing protective gear. Announcer: "Shoot the freak! Shoot the freak! You can't come to New York City and not shoot the freak!" We did not shoot the freak. We did, however, ride the Cyclone, arguably the most famous roller coaster in the world. As always, right at the top of the first drop, I remembered that I hate roller coasters.
A mile or so past the Coney Island arcades, at the east end of the boardwalk, is Brighton Beach, aka Little Odessa, a massive community of 150,000 Russian Jews. We had lunch at a sidewalk cafe called Tatiana, where we decided the slow and inattentive service probably only heightened the authenticity of the experience. By the way, steer clear of the Eggplant Odessa, seriously. Also, Czech beer? Not too bad. After an hour of complete Russian immersion (between us we knew 5 words of Russian), we headed back up the boardwalk to the fishing pier west of Coney Island, where I got the picture at the top of this post and where the sound of Spanish and salsa from the fishermen and their radios sounded comforting and familiar, compared to Little Odessa.After the pier, we continued west for several miles along the Shore Parkway, which skirts the southern end of Brooklyn. The bike path took us right under the Verrazano-Narows Bridge, above. T'was a pity the day was so hazy, because past the Verrazano, on the Veterans Memorial Pier, we had a simultaneous view of downtown Brooklyn, downtown Manhattan, and downtown Jersey City. Peering over the cliff near the Verrazano, we noticed this rock with Keith Haring-like carvings. Farmboy C climbed out and took the pic. Anybody know if this could be a Haring?Leaving the bike path, we headed into Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, riding through its Muslim neighborhood, where many of the women on the street were doing their shopping in their hijabs. There we took the bikes onto the R train, where a mariachi band serenaded our ride back to Manhattan. I asked them if they knew "El Culo No Se Toca", but instead we got that Frito Bandito song. We exited the train at Carnegie Hall, where a street fair was just rolling up their wares. Declining to accept the offer of a free Koran from the young man hyping IslamABC.com, we headed into Central Park, weaving between the heavy hansom and pedicab traffic. Just before the Farmboyz and I split for our respective sides of the park, we came across a large group of Argentines, doing the tango for a couple hundred delighted tourists. Just another multi-culti day in the city.