Driving the Boroughs

After an early-morning class at the gym and a busy day at work, I love going out to dinner or to a movie. Beyond that, my friends have a hard time getting me to stay out late on a weeknight. But this being the city that never sleeps, most of the 20- and 30-somethings I know have no issue whatsoever hitting a bar or a live music venue until midnight on a Tuesday.

So on my last night with the VW Eos convertible and some amazing summer weather, I decided to join them. Now that I can actually program the GPS, I picked up my friend Rachel and punched in the address of the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Astoria, Queens. I'd never been to the borough before (I did once take the E train there, but it was by accident), so I was excited to check out one of its biggest attractions. The beer garden has been around since 1910 and used to be one of 800 in the city, but now is a pretty rare place to be able to sit outdoors, sharing long picnic tables with friendly strangers. We ate authentic Czech and Slovak "klobása" with fries and downed some good German beers (Don't worry, Mom — since I was driving, I only had one. But I can't say the same for the fries).

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A few hours later, we headed for a 10pm show in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I'd spent some time just south of that neighborhood, in Williamsburg, but had never been to Greenpoint before. My friend's friend played the saxophone for an energetic '50s-style jazz band. It was dark except for candles and white Christmas lights, and all the black-clad hipsters were tapping their feet. It felt like I imagine Beat-era New York felt.

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When we hopped back into the Eos, it was exciting to know we'd be home quickly — no 20-minute wait for the train, then transferring lines, then walking home from the station. We cruised over the Williamsburg Bridge, getting a lit-up view of the city skyline we're usually too close to see. I dropped Rachel off at her apartment and then continued home. It was the first time I drove alone since learning stick just four days before. I only stalled once. Having a car in New York City might be totally unnecessary, expensive, and crappy for the environment—but it's a luxury I enjoyed all week.

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