When Heinrich and I got out of the subway at Brighton Beach, it felt as though we were miles away from the city (and I suppose we were quite far away from downtown Manhattan). The crowds were nowhere near what they were downtown, and the streets were lined with small independent stores, many of which covered with Cyrillic characters (Brighton Beach is after all Little Russia by the sea). The pressure of the city had lifted, and we immediately slowed our tempo to stroll lazily toward the boardwalk.

Brighton

The beach itself was nothing spectacular. It was certainly nice, but it was nothing extraordinary. As the Coney Island Amusement Park drew closer, the screams and laughter of young children filled the air, and the bright, gaudy colours came into view.

coney

Unfortunately, and disappointingly for us, the stereotypical Coney Island is no more. Gone are the freak shows and circus acts, and in their place is a run-of-the-mill amusement park. [Note: we did find one tiny little freak show along a side street, but at this point, it’s novelty is probably more impressive than the actual show.]

Sideshows by the Seashore

Sideshows by the Seashore

But all was not lost at Coney Island. As Heinrich and I turned the corner to make our way to the subway station, one important vestige of the freaky history appeared before us: the original Nathan’s Famous location, site of the most famous hot-dog eating contest in the world (probably)! Suddenly, I was relieved that I hadn’t eaten a second doughnut (Heinrich ended up eating my PB&J doughnut, in addition to his own two).

I didn’t expect the world at Nathan’s (I had eaten at another Nathan’s Famous before and was familiar with their plain Jane style), and I was not disappointed. A standard wiener was wrapped in a grocery-store-style hot-dog bun and smothered in mustard. It was plain. Boring. Delicious.

Please note: I did not put my own mustard on my hot dog. My condiments are always perfectly straight and even.

Please note: I did not put my own mustard on my hot dog. My condiments are always perfectly straight and even.

Since it was our last day in the big city, we decided to take the long way home, via the tram to Roosevelt Island (it was kinda sorta on the way). The tram runs parallel to the Queensboro bridge (which I think is pretty!) and, more importantly, it’s free!

Seeing as this was turning out to be a day of gluttony (so far, my diet had consisted of a doughnut and a hot dog), it was no surprise that when I stumbled upon this little delight along the way, I stopped.

Because when you see a cupcake ATM, you stop.

Because when you see a cupcake ATM, you stop. A sugar-free red velvet cupcake just tastes better when it comes out of a machine.

Finally, we made our way to the tram. Although the ride to Roosevelt Island was uneventful (dare I say mundane), it seemed fitting to bid adieu to the beautiful city from inside a floating bubble. The skyline gradually shrunk (slightly) as we stopped on the island before retreating to our Queens borough shelter.

funicular

As with all our trips, every day was a marathon of sightseeing. Our blisters had since transitioned into calluses, and my feet had pressed gentle imprints into the soles of my boots. We were tired. We were sore We were ready for more.