Secret bars in New York

Little Branch - speakeasy bar in New York, USA

Little Branch – one of the speakeasy bars in New York. Would you open this door, expecting it to be a bar at the other end?

The so-called speak-easy bars date back to the time when it was illegal to sell alcohol, so they had to be creative finding more hidden and secret locations for the bars.

The bars were not only hidden for the authorities. One of the more extreme activists, Carrie Nation, believed that drunkenness was the cause of many problems in society, and apparently went around smashing bars with a hatchet! The ironic thing is that there is a speak-easy bar named after her in Boston…

The bars may not be that secret anymore, but you should absolutely know what to look for. Here is a guide to find a few of them;

Please don’t tell (PDT) – 113 St Marks Pl 
Walk down the stairs and inside Crif Dogs. About half way in, on the left-hand wall, you find a phone booth. Pick up, follow the instructions, and hope they will let you in.

Angel’s Share – 8 Stuyvesant St
Walk up the stairs and enter an Asian restaurant. On the left-hand wall you will see a very anonymous wooden door, that is where you want to enter. Once inside, there are a few tables along the windows, and stools at the bar.
PS: They do not accept groups larger than four people. And nope, don’t even bother asking if it is OK if you split up…

Little Branch – 22 7th Ave S
By the crossing of Leroy St and 7th Ave S, you find a small white brick-stone building. If you did not know what you were looking for, you would definitely walk straight past the anonymous dark door. It is only when you get closer you can see the discrete writing on the bar sign. The next obstacle is to get down the steep stairs safe and sound. If you make it, you can sit down in one of the small booths and be rewarded with amazing cocktails in a cool retro environment.

To be continued….

Have you been to any secret bars in New York? Or somewhere else?

 

Hiking in Hawaii

Hawaii is so much more than just the beautiful beaches. For the ones that prefer a little more action than just lying still tanning, Hawaii is also a paradise for hiking.
Waimea Canyon
Waimea Canyon

On the island of Kauai we rented a car and drove towards Waimea Canyon. The scenery was simply beautiful, with the colours in the canyon ranging from reddish-brown soil to bright green trees. Some of these colours was also represented in the feathers of the many wild roosters running around everywhere.
One of many roosters
One of maaany roosters running around

Our goal today was to walk the Awa Awapuhi trail. We parked in the parking lot near by mile marker 17 on Highway 550. The hiking I am used to mainly start by walking upwards, but this is a 5km downhill walk from about 1255 masl, descending almost 500m. And of course you will have to walk back up again as well. But it is definitely well worth the walk! The view during the walk is great, and the closer you get to the cliffs and the coastline, the more spectacular the panoramic views become.
Just getting started
Just getting started on the Awa Awapuhi trail.

Almost there
Almost there!
What a view!
What a view!

So worth it!
So worth it!

For a person at normal health, this is classified as a moderate walk. Please be aware that it is not possible to buy food or water along the way, so you have to bring that with you.
Feel free to grab a walking stick
Feel free to grab a walking stick.

Aloha Hawaii!!!

I suddenly found myself on my way to Hawaii. I had always thought of it as a very exotic place, but I had not expected to actually go there. I flew Icelandair directly from Bergen via Iceland to Seattle. Flying time two+six hours with a smooth connection on Iceland. From Seattle I had bought a separate ticket with Alaska Airlines, and about six hours later, I arrived in Honolulu on the Island Oahu.

I stayed at Seaside Hawaiian Hostel Waikiki in a six-bed dorm. The neighbourhood was not the best, but the hostel had a locked gate and a nice backyard. The staff was very friendly, and you could borrow beach towel and snorkelling equipment for free.

My father, his wife and her daughter was already in Honolulu, and had rented a car to get a bit around. We had already spent a few hours at Waikiki beach in the morning, and it was ok for a short period.

We decided to go to Lanikai/Kailua beach, and followed road 63 to get there. The beach was very nice without too many people. You can choose between lying directly at the beach or at the grass. The beach is several kilometres long, and nice for a walk.
Lanikai/Kailua beach

LanikaiKailua beach2

LanikaiKailua beach4

On the way back we drove the road up over the mountain, and stopped at a viewpoint. The island is very green, with dramatic steep mountains. Beautiful!

Viewpoint

A former colleague of mine from Japan had married and moved to Hawaii, so I met up with her. As I had told Saiko that I love views over cities, we drove to Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery situated on a hill above Honolulu. The cemetery is for war heroes from many different periods, and the father of Saiko’s husband rests there. The view was fantastic, with the whole city and the ocean on one side, and the green hills on the other.

Honolulu panorama

On the way back we stopped for shaved ice at Waiola that according to the locals is the best one. Usually the queues are long, but we were lucky. I had the “traditional” rainbow shave, with many different tastes. Nice and cool.

Waiola shaved ice

Next stop was Pearl Harbour. We also got tickets to go to USS Arizona Memorial. You should book these tickets online in advance, as only a certain amount of people are allowed to go each day.

The price is only symbolic, and cost one dollar. First you watch an information video about the attack. It is quite informative, and gives a general introduction of the two-hour attack on 7 December 1941 that destroyed 21 ships, 347 planes and killed 2335 American soldiers. They saw the planes coming on the radar, but thought it were their own planes returning. The remaining of the USS Arizona still lies in the bay where it sank, and over where the bridge used to be, they have made a white bridge as a memorial monument. To get there you have to go a few minutes by boat. The memorial had all the names of the fallen soldiers, but also names of survivors of the attack. The ones that were on board and survived usually choose to be cremated when they die, and their urn is taken inside the ship so they can rest in peace with the rest of the crew. It was a very special experience to be out there, and if you have the chance, I definitely recommend going there. Even if you do not get the chance to go to the memorial, there is a museum part on shore as well.

USS Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona Memorial2

There is also a botanical garden in the centre of Honolulu. The entrance fee is 5 dollar. We were told that the Titan Arum (also called corpse plant) was blossoming right now, so we had to go to see that. The plant only blossom for a few days appr. every third year, so we met an enthusiast that had been there every day for a week waiting for the happening. The flowers are inside the plant, and stink like a corpse, therefore the alternative name. The gardens are in general a nice and peaceful place to walk around, with many different tropical plants and trees.

Titan Arum (also called corpse plant)

Titan Arum (also called corpse plant)2

A three with nuts looking like canon balls

DSC_2205