Annual Trek to Brooklyn's Finest Stretch of Sand!

Every summer I must go out at least once to Brighton Beach / Coney Island. I don’t know why, really; I just feel like it’s not a proper summer without it! I usually take a day off of work around mid-May, before it gets too crowded and humid, but this year I must have been too busy because I never made it. Now that our fiscal year’s over at work and I have a couple of vacation days I must take before Labor Day, I looked up on to see which day this week would be most ideal weather-wise, only to find that it’s going to be rainy and cloudy and fall-like temperatures all week — Saturday was the only day with a little sun icon 🙁 So, I decided to brave the weekend crowds and went out yesterday. It’s kind of more fun that way anyway!

Here’s a little photo essay:

Fun in the sun! And relatively nice blue water.

Beside sunbathing, I love the town. Brighton Beach is very Russian; many people are new immigrants and hardly speak English. I love shopping in these stores, flipping through the Russian romance novels, the Russian videos and CDs, seeing if I can understand anything. I must have a very slavic-looking face; have actually been told several times that I look Eastern European, which is funny because I think I’m more Spanish-looking with my olive skin and dark hair… Anyway, everyone here assumes I’m Russian and begins conversations with me in Russian. Gives me a decent chance to practice my Russian — although, who’m I kidding; I haven’t had any classes since college, I barely remember the Cyrillic alphabet… Most of them don’t know any English anyway, so it makes no difference once they realize I have no idea what they’re saying and then I massacre their language with my hideous American accent. We end up gesticulating wildly with each other — just like in St. Petersberg, the one time I went to Russia, several years ago now — best foreign travel experience of my life!

I remember trying to impress Pasha once by telling him I came out here regularly and he just made this goofy smirk and rolled his eyes. I said, “What?!” and asked him why he didn’t come out here to get a taste of his homeland, be with people with whom he had so much in common. He said that just because someone’s Russian doesn’t mean they’re going to be your friend. I asked him why not; he mumbled something about generation gaps, culture clashes, judgments… It’s kind of sad, but I remember seeing that documentary Ballets Russes about that early 20th Century ballet company (a great movie by the way), and I remember one of the Russian ballerinas laughing and saying that Russians don’t like each other very much. They love us, they love everyone else, but it does seem like they don’t get along with each other very well for some reason.

Anyway, after I finished with the Dom Kniga (bookstore; or literally, house of books), I walked along the boardwalk down to Coney Island.

where they have the huge amusement park. I’ve only been on one ride — the giant ferris wheel, when my roommate from law school, Chris, and I came out here years ago. I was so terrified; that thing is so high off the ground. Chris, who normally had a very tough exterior, admitted as soon as we were safely on the ground that, when we were at full height, she was a bit worried too, though her way of so indicating was to say that she realized, if we were killed on the ride, our estates wouldn’t be able to sue because we’d assumed the risk… typical law students 🙂

And here’s the famous Cyclone, which I think they are supposed to be taking down at some point in the future (?), but apparently not yet, behind this cute froggie ride.

Haha, one of the many lovely eateries aligning the boardwalk on the Coney Island part. This one caught my attention because the name reminded me of dance 🙂 Do you think they misspelled “hole” on purpose??

This kind of freaked me out. They had this guy running around behind some garbage cans with a helmet and shield and people paid to shoot him with what I think was a BB gun?…

Can’t ever go to the beach without a little stop at the aquarium!

Where I saw all manner of wonderful sea creatures. If I was an animal, I’d either want to be a cute little primate denizen of the warm gooey rainforest or some kind of marine animal who inhabits warm waters…

Big, fattypants walrus entertained the crowd greatly 🙂

As did this saucer-eyed giant turtle. I love the woman with the camera. Everyone has digitals these days. No wonder you never see postcards anymore.

Ooh, scary shark, my biggest animal fear. This little girl was adorable though.

They have a couple of seals in this tank that used to be inhabited by the adorably cherubic white beluga whale. He died a couple of years ago and I think he’s too expensive for them to replace, but I always loved coming to see that little whale and his cute little “smiley face.”

Walking back along the boardwalk to Brighton, so I could dine at my favorite Russian restaurant, Tatiana’s (!), I passed this volleyball tournament. Must have been a big deal because they had bleachers set up and there was a big crowd.

The boardwalk kind of scared me. Some of those planks were quite loose, and the street was far below!

If you want to make lots of money off of a food or drink item, just call it “Naked”!

Final desination: Tatiana’s, on the boardwalk, getting my annual fill of caviar (red not black, I can’t afford $120 for lunch!), with sour cream and red wine. Mmmm, so good…

but so filling. Even though it always looks so small, I can never finish it all and I always feel badly for wasting such good food! Summer reading, by the way, New York Magazine restaurant critic Gael Greene’s memoir “Insatiable.” This woman cracks me up: when she was a fledgling journalist, she slept with Elvis after getting herself admitted to his suite following one of his shows by playing up her press credentials. She was in such shock the whole time that all she could remember about the entire thing was that he asked her to call room service for him and order him a fried egg sandwich. She said she knew she was destined to be a food writer after that 🙂


  1. I love those pictures! I’ve never been to Brighton Beach, but I have been to Coney Island. What a fun, wacky place. I also went to college in Southern NJ, near Atlantic City, and it looks so much like that! I love all the food places and shops along the boardwalks. We don’t really have those in California.

    Sounds like a great day. 🙂

  2. Thanks Melinda, I’m glad you liked the pictures! I’ve been to Atlantic City once. I hardly remember it — spent most of my time inside the casinos with my friend 🙂 These east-coast boardwalks are really cool, such a trip, aren’t they — so different from anything in the west!

  3. I LOVE the Ballet Russes movie. Those captivating elderly Russian women still had that flirtatious look in their eyes. What stars!

  4. I’m glad you got a chance to go to Brighton Beach / Coney Island. I remember when you took me there several summers ago. By your photographs, it looks like you had fun.

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