Analyzing Astoria

My day started late due to last night. Nichole and Micah were up already when I went to the bathroom. They were studying maps, preparing a weekend trip, camping. As I had completely forgotten to buy something for breakfast I just had oatmeal and half a mango with my tea. Booboo again had the desire to share my breakfast and did not leave the table until I had finished it.

Today’s destination was Astoria. But first I had to deliver yesterday’s blog post, which I had not been able to write last night.
Soon after Nichole and Micah had left, I heard somebody come in and had a look. It was a young woman who explained she was responsible for watering the plants and feeding the cats. With her was Sophie, the little dog that had stayed with us two weeks ago. So she was Sophie’s owner. We had a nice chat, her boyfriend and another guy arrived, they offered me a beer and I got more and more delayed. When I had finished my post and got ready for the day it was almost 2 pm.

I crossed Pulaski Bridge, took the 7 train to Queensboro Plaza and the Q to Astoria.
I got off at Astoria Boulevard, which proved to be not the very best place to
explore the neighborhood. But I did not have any self-guided walking tours, so I was left to my own devices. Walking southeast I found 30th Avenue, a lively street with lots of restaurants and shops. Astoria has long been known as a Greek neighborhood. There are Greek places, but the rest of the world is there as well. I found Middle Eastern, Japanese, Italian, Indian, Mexican, Chinese, American, just to name a few.
Lots of fruit markets and meat markets where whole animals are hanging in the window. 30th Avenue is absolutely multicultural. I had a very late lunch in a café, choosing a Turkey Burger on Brioche with Greenery. It was not a fast lunch because service was a bit slow. But as I have time I enjoyed it.
After lunch I was following 30th Avenue to Steinway Street. There another world begins. I was strictly in the Middle East. Egyptian restaurants, Moroccan restaurants, Hookah bars, pharmacies, translation services and banks showing inscriptions unreadable to me.
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I walked along Steinway up to Ditmars Boulevard, taking some side steps into cozy Small Town America streets, having well maintained one or two family brick houses with mostly gorgeous front gardens.
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On Ditmars Boulevard I recognized the street I had been walking on my last trip three years ago. The Greek influence is strong on there.
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I walked the whole way over to the East River where Astoria Park stretches between Triborough Bridge and the Amtrak Bridge. I sat down on a bench and took a break from my so far exhausting afternoon. Being relaxed again I headed for the Bohemian Beer Garden not far from the park. You can’t just walk in but have to pass a security guy who checks your age. Like in Bryant Park, you just do not get stamped here. Choice of beers is great and during the Happy Hour all are just 5$. They serve mainly European beers, Czech ones, German ones, Belgian ones. I had a Pilsner Urquell and sat in the garden. There as well security people are standing. The garden has tables and benches and a barbecue where Bratwurst, Burgers and Ribs are available.  It is quite nice and the beer is good.
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Before I went home I bought groceries for dinner and breakfast. In a fruit market a black woman addressed me, showing a prickly pear, asking if I knew if it was good for the blood. A neighbor had recommended a green fruit to her but she had forgotten the name. Well, I could not really help her, just told her that prickly pears are growing on a sort of cactus. I bought prickly pears as well as small aubergines and Florida tomatoes. In a nearby supermarket I got a roll, cheese and butter and in a knowledgeable wine shop a bottle of Pinot Noir. Then I took the train home, cooked Penne a la Norma and tried one of Nichole’s Ice Cream Sandwiches. It was wonderful. I will have to bring them to Europe.

What I learned today:
Astoria is well worth a one month’s stay. I will try to find y place for my fifth month there.

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