Day 3: I started my morning off by a brisk walk to the grocery store to stock up on protein drinks and enough foods to hold me over until I left. I saved $2.oo alone on the protein drinks over the “rip-off deli” prices so that alone was worth the hike. Plus, I got fresh vegetables and fruit!

I jumped on the Downtown Gray Line tour bus to get to Battery Park where the Brooklyn portion of the tour would start. It was cold and windy as we waited way too long for the tour bus. It was worth the wait only because of the tour guide: Tom Botti.

TOM BOTTI – the best darn tour guide – Brooklyn to the core

Tom is as real as it gets; he’s as Brooklyn as it gets. He’s; an incredibly informed about his surroundings and very proud of his multi-generational Brooklyn-Italian-New Yorker heritage. He’s a proud American who lost 47 in the 9/11 attacks. He told us right off to “fogetaboutit” if you ever thought about any conspiracy theory because there wasn’t one. He told how he volunteered after that horrible day and how proud he was that one of his six sons verified the death of Osama Ben Laden. He gladly shared his soul with those who listened. I’ll forever be impressed with him and will feel privileged to have met such a man on this trip.

When he said he’d retired from driving a cab after thirty years I was reminded of another crusty, endearing cab driver from my last trip to New York some twenty years before. As I engaged this man from yesteryear, I asked him how long he’d been driving a cab. “Forty years,” he replied in a gruff, cigar-smoking voice. “Wow! You must really love driving a cab!” my naive self responded. “Nope. I hate my wife!” is all he replied. I couldn’t stop laughing for the remainder of the ride to Grand Central. He hugged me and gave me his card and told me to call him anytime I was in New York.

Tom is the same, Billy-Goat-Gruff wonderful person as this guy so it was only natural that I’d be attracted to him right away. Those are the people who have the best stories to tell. His love of his hometown is unmatched. His in-your-face “Brooklynese” rapid fire delivery takes a couple of seconds to get acclimated to. His clever, energetic presentation of the coolest New York information is the best I’ve ever experienced anywhere. He told us at the beginning to listen carefully, take notes or feel free to audio or video record him so you’d learn the valuable information he was about to impart. I only wish I’d had a film crew following me during this whole trip… and especially this part. He needs to be filmed. Talk about a reality show!

Yep. It’s in Brooklyn!
A Brooklyn business for canvas sail makers established in 1640’s
Wonderful architecture
Brooklyn Bridge from the Brooklyn side!Brooklyn Library

As I waited for my friend to pick me up for our scheduled World Yacht night lights tour, I defrosted at the closest Starbucks. I’d forgotten to eat again.

Still having time to kill, went directly into the National Museum of the American Indian across from Battery Park. It was a wonderful synopsis of the Pueblo of Isleta.

Sign explaining the Pueblo of Isleta
Children of the Isleta
The people adjust to the invasion of the whites
Nampeyo – a brilliant Hopi potter who fashioned her early designs after the pottery shards she found from the Ancient Puebloan ruins.

After my friend picked me up, we worked our way uptown to Pier 81 to catch the World Yacht sunset dinner cruise Pat and I had booked. I’ve got to say the food was surprisingly good. I’m glad we only booked the tour and decided to order off the menu.

Inside the World Yacht cruise ship
Not the best photo as I’m tired and wind burned from the day but very happy to be sitting in a warm place with the promise of good food and even better views!
Brooklyn Bridge… of course! The boat was rocking quite a bit because of the wind.
The Lady… all proud stretching out to those who want freedom from oppression.

As Tom’s recommendations for free events included the Stanton Island Ferry and the National Museum of the American Indian, I was going to make room in my schedule for both of them. Sunday was going to be their day.

Tom’s picks for restaurants were: Congee at 207 Bowery for Chinese, any restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen, Katz’s Deli at Ludlow and Houston (pronounced House-ton), Jeremy’s Ale House at 228 Front Street for British food, Sambuca’s on 72nd Street for Hispanic cuisine and Eataly at 5th Avenue and 23rd Street for Italian food. I only wish I’d had enough time to try them all. Oh well, I’ll just have to come back!