Visual Diary: Red Hook

My favourite thing in a city is to home in on a neighbourhood and get to know it better and what's better than doing that than with a resident even a temporary one. My friend Ria showed me around Red Hook which is a peaceful little enclave in Brooklyn that is an unlikely mix of artsy and industrial - expect mammoth machinery and old dock buildings, people on bikes, artist studios, streets peppered with parked Cadillacs and murals that include pretty painted girls and intricately cut paper flowers. 

If you're in the neighbourhood, stop off at Baked for a coffee and sweet and salty chocolate brownie (they're gluten free!) or save the sugar craving for the adorable Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pie. If it's lunchtime, head to the Fairway's backyard and get ribs with a view of Lady Liberty and walk the pier waving at water taxis making trips to Wall Street and Ikea.  

If just food won't do the trick, stop off at Bait and Tackle.  I was originally drawn into the kitschy bar by the signage, I can't resist a cute shopfront and discovered its fantastic interiors are strewn with Americana, ribbons, rude signs (SUCK IT!) and an abundance of taxidermy. Brooklyn Ice House, the bar next door has a great backyard and is a very popular hangout. 

If you need more of a reason to visit (Did I mention there's an Ikea? Hej meatballs!), Red Hook hosts film screenings every Tuesday for the rest of the summer. You'll find more details here.

This local blog and the Time Out guide provide far more exacting detail. 

Berlin: Spreepark

Berlin and I had a torrid love affair through June and she's stayed in my system like a drug (so I've heard). Expect a lot of love letters starting with this one. My friend Bree posted a photo on Instagram that led my friends and I to Berlin's abandoned theme park Spreepark. Abandoned theme parks are way cooler than active ones! (Update: Everybody agrees.) And speaking of drugs, Spreepark's history includes a cocaine scandal - the former owner tried smuggling €14 milion worth back to Berlin in the masts of the Flying Carpet ride! There's plenty to see at Spreepark if you can find it - a rollercoaster, a ferris wheel, a pirate ship, a train and an assortment of cute buildings. Oh and dozens of creepy swan boats. It's been thirteen years since the park was active, and much of it is being slowly swallowed by nature and it's a great place to explore and take pictures. If you sneak in, watch out for the nettles and the guards, and have fun.