It’s tempting, when arriving somewhere new, to ground yourself with comparisons.
Oh this muggy heat and the persistent sound of locusts reminds me of Taipei.
This building with the plants growing all over the exterior (and the heat) reminds me of Singapore.
These winding alleys and brick buildings reminds me of London.
The grunge of Newtown, with its tattooed, bearded men in ripped t-shirts and buzzed-cut ladies wearing mechanics’ jumpsuits reminds me of Brooklyn.
After a while though, you realize the place is just marching to the beat of its own drum, a compendium of internal and external influences that together, make up what it is. And all the little enclaves and pockets, the things that remind you of other places – those don’t change, but the way you look at them will. In a few months I’ll return to the U.S. and probably to Brooklyn and think, “Oh these people remind me of Newtown hipsters.”
Anyway. After fleeing the mold palace we stayed two nights at an eerie little boutique hotel called The Collectionist (eerie because it’s in a quiet part of town and they don’t have a front desk staff. When you arrive, there’s a number on the door you call, and then a guy with an iPad shows up to check you in and disappears. You check out via text message. But the rooms are nice and I rather wish I’d taken a few photos of it).
We then checked into what turned out to be one of the worst Airbnbs ever. So terrible that I spent more than three hours on the phone with Airbnb trying to get a refund, while Tom spent the better part of an hour crafting a review, trying to find the perfect balance between angry rant and objective assessment. In the meantime, we tried to spend as much time as possible outside of what we called the “AirHovel”, apartment hunting and walking around Newtown.
We decided pretty quickly that the area’s overall dinginess, the lack of trees on King St. (the area’s main drag) and the proliferation of young smelly “bohemians” precludes serious contention for “neighborhoods we want to live in”, but we appreciated Newtown’s energy and the plentiful assortment of good eats, bars, and artsy things found within and around the neighboring suburbs of Enmore and Merrickville. We watched our first comedy show at The Factory Theatre and have discovered a favorite pub in Courthouse Hotel. We will be back tonight for some decent Italian food and friendly service at Pastizzi Cafe. And we’ll take our visitors to Newtown, as one takes visitors in New York to Brooklyn.
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