Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Home(crest) sweet home

When you've had too much caffeine (never! you cry) another way to explore your borough is through libraries. Yesterday I had some books to return and my home branch was not open. So I looked at the Brooklyn Public Library's website and found some branches that were open until 8, picked Homecrest, and off I rode.

It takes a little less than an hour to wade through a mishmash of transfers from City Hall in Manhattan to the F stop at Avenue U in Brooklyn. (I didn't use the simple Q option because there is construction right now and the southbound platform is closed. Plus I hate waiting for the train at @#%$ Canal Street.) From there, it's a fifteen-minute walk or so to the Homecrest branch of the library, past a variety of quiet houses including one stately Victorian, some enormous buildings that looked to be single-family houses, and some tiny cottages. Streets have names like Village Road and West Street and, I discovered when I later looked at a map, Llama Court.

Another discovery: the Neck Road of subway stops is more fully known as Gravesend Neck Road, Gravesend being the surrounding neighborhood. I always feel like the name is sort of mysterious, conjuring up both the idea of graves and their lack, even if the real etymology is somewhat different.

The library is located on much busier, more commercial Coney Island Avenue, where it crosses Avenue V. It was slow going returning my books (like at so many libraries, the book drop is no longer operational), but I enjoyed the librarian's exchanges with the kids waiting ahead of me.

I walked up Coney Island Avenue to Avenue P before I caught the bus home, and as always there was a lot going on there. Full of the requisite delis and garages, but some other intriguing buildings are mxied in--a tiny residential stretch of cul-de-sacs (Homecrest Court, 1 Court, no 2 or 3 to speak of), cafes, the questionably-named Vodka Gallery, and my personal favorite, a pretty large bookstore (alas, it was closed). I stopped at Gulluoglu, home of about twelve exciting varieties of baklava. I did not have one of their signature creations but instead a delicious potato boregi, a sort of layered pastry bun.

Quite full, I sat down on the bus and made my way past the sights (giant bazaars, a rundown movie theater, an astonishing array of kosher eateries--bagels, of course, but also sushi and Mexican food--and the giant gentrificational Whole-Foodsy Pomegranate). Coming back to Cortelyou, I felt like I'd returned from a foreign country, or several. And in fact Cortelyou itself is a part of that country. I so rarely come into the neighborhood that way, yet it links up to southmost Brooklyn just as well as it does to its northern neighbors.

I stopped off for a cookie and a cup of tea at newly-opened Qathra ("drip" in Arabic), to discover that they were in the process of installing wireless. I read my remaining library book and sipped my tea before taking the brief walk home. Delicious.


  1. Ah, so *that's* what Qathra means! (Figured it had to be Arabic, but wasn't sure of what.)

  2. Yes, mystery solved! (Someone came in and asked last night while I was there.)