Visit to Queens, the underrated part of New York

Queens? What on earth is a Manhattan resident, let alone a tourist, doing in Queens? Of the five cities that make up New York, this one is ultimately the least known.

Less known than Brooklyn, less well known even than Staten Island – Queens, that’s that Unknown landthrough which you drive when you want to go to one of the two airports. But now Lonely Planet, the largest publisher of travel books in the world, has named Queens the most important American travel destination of the year. Just why?

The answer is obvious: Queens is the real one Melting Pot from New York. Here Guatemala is right next to the Punjab, Poland practically borders West Africa, coexistence is completely peaceful, and the area is ideal to explore on foot or by subway.

Greek quarter

A good starting point in these still cool days could be Greece, or better said: the Greek quarter of Queens. It is located in Astoria, a square in the northwest of the district. Astoria doesn’t sound exactly Greek – it was named after Johann Jakob Astor from Walldorf in Württemberg, who became one of the richest men in America in New York and invested in the district that was later named after him. But Astoria looks Greek.

New York is looking forward to the turn of the year

The Countdown Party in Times Square in New York attracts thousands of people every year. Now the oversized number 16 has already been delivered, which is supposed to welcome the new year brightly.

The shops are inscribed in the script that the educated Central European once learned to decipher in high school, and the people have names like Panagiopoulos and Stathakis.

In Astoria he can indulge his longing for resinous wine, for tzaziki with lots of garlic and grilled fish. All of this is best found in one of the restaurants and cafés just around the corner from the terminus of the N and Q trains, Astoria / Ditmars Boulevard.

Czech beer garden

However, something clearly un-Greek can also strike the traveler in this area. There is a real beer garden on 24th Avenue, which naturally means: a Czech beer garden. It’s called the “Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden”. There you can get real Budweiser, not the horrific stuff that is brewed under this name in America, and all sorts of non-kosher filth, including goulash dumplings, so with dumplings.

Right now it’s definitely too cold for a beer garden, but in summer there is probably no more comfortable place to brave the New York heat. Even if you discover while googling that you are warned that on some days it is “crazy full” because the locals love this place. But that’s exactly how a beer garden should be, namely “crazy full”, right?

If you take the N or Q train three stops in the direction of Manhattan, you are only a few minutes’ walk from one of the most interesting museums in New York. Here we have to go back a little: Traditionally, films weren’t just shot in Hollywood – many were also made in the Kaufman Astoria Studios. For example the first two Marx Brothers films.

Modern film museum

And where do you think the American episodes of “Sesame Street” are filmed? Exactly here. Right next to the Kaufman Astoria Studios, however, is the Museum of the Moving Image, a bright, beautiful, modern film museum. The visitor can not only admire Chewbacca’s original mask – that is the walking bedside rug alien from “Star Wars” – but can also dub scenes from “Some Like It Hot” or dub their own sound effects to “Jurassic Park ”(for example, the carnivorous dinosaurs can be made to say meow).

Children are happy that they can turn the cranks and do upscale nonsense, and adults are happy about the long, slender legs of Winona Ryder in the display case next to it (which are of course not real, but made of plastic.)

Take Line 7 through Queens and across Queens Boulevard

Quelle: Getty Images

Subway-Line 7

If you don’t want to walk that much, you can take subway line 7 (which, by the way, originates in Manhattan at Times Square) through Queens. For example, on Court Square is MoMA PS 1, a branch of the Museum of Modern Art, which is housed in a public school building and shows fine modern art.

Next stop: 61st Street / Woodside, because paradise on earth is nearby. It is behind a gas station on a desolate street that looks like nothing at all – the Divya Dham Temple (its Indian name supposedly means “paradise on earth”). Originally there were two department stores here, which have now been combined into one large sanctuary. All Hindu gods are worshiped here at once – Hanuman with the monkey head, Ganesha with the elephant trunk and Krishna, the avatar of Lord Vishnu, and then a few dozen other deities whose names don’t need to be remembered.

Mixed colors

Everyone sits in their niche, nicely cast in plastic and illuminated by neon tubes. This Hindu temple is the size of a soccer field and covered with carpets, and perhaps the most impressive is the panorama of the Himalayas next to the entrance. Visitors are welcome but asked to take off their shoes.

Two stops down Train 7 and you’re on 74th Street and Broadway – in an area called Little India. There is dal here. And naan. And chicken tikka. And Aloo Gobi. And right next door you can get delicious, hearty empanadas.

No area in New York is as ethnically mixed as this one. At the same time, Queens is the district with the most religions – churches stand next to synagogues, mosques next to Sikh places of prayer, Buddhist next to Hindu temples. Incidentally, religious freedom has a long tradition in this part of the city: in 1657 a group of people sat down here and defended the right of the Quakers, a Protestant sect, to worship God according to their own way. The remarkable thing is that not a single Quaker belonged to that group.

New York Hall of Science

Five stops away, the train stops at Mets / Willets Point station. Instead of going to the Mets’ new baseball stadium, although it has turned out very beautiful, it goes to the New York Hall of Science, a museum for science and mathematics. Perhaps the most beautiful is the “Mathematica: A World of Numbers … and Beyond” section. Among other things, you can admire an oversized Möbius loop, along which a red arrow slides endlessly – and a multiplication machine made of lightbulbs that light up when you solve a task.

Take Line 7 to Flushing Main Street, the terminus. All those conservative Europeans who give lectures on the fact that there should be no parallel societies should go for a walk here: When you get off the subway, you only see Chinese and Korean characters.

Source: Infographic Die Welt

Immigrants from all over Asia live here in a very small space – from China, Taiwan, Korea, and one or the other Japanese. On the street, the strollers can no longer hear any English. If you are still hungry, you can have yourself piled on the grill with the next best Korean, Bulgogi, or with “Spicy and Tasty” maltreat your taste buds with fiery specialties from Szechuan.

Nearby is the Free Synagogue of Flushing, perhaps the only Jewish place of worship in the world that is inscribed not only in Hebrew but also in Chinese on the outside. The rabbi of the synagogue is mainly famous because he once converted a follower of the Ku Klux Klan from racism to Judaism.

Anyone who crosses the street is in a Chinese supermarket the size of an aircraft hangar. The visitor, who examines the shelves, realizes that what a Chinese sage once remarked is absolutely correct: “We Chinese eat everything that moves on the surface of the earth, except cars.”

“Irish Riviera”

Anyone who is a fan of the great Irish writer Frank McCourt (“My Mother’s Ashes”) should now – as a postscript, so to speak – visit a part of Queens that even the residents of this district cannot locate on their inner map: Breezy Point .

However, you need a car for this, the subway doesn’t go there. Breezy Point is a corner of land that hangs like an afterthought in the far south below New York. Breezy Point hit the headlines in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit the headlines. In the storm night 150 houses burned down – the fire brigade could not extinguish it because everything was flooded.

Frank McCourt

Today one can still admire a pretty wasteland in the middle of Breezy Point, but also many houses that have been rebuilt; and most of the storm damage has long been repaired.

Frank McCourt lived here with his mother Angela for a while – no wonder, because Breezy Point is known as the “Irish Riviera” of New York. But what is there to see there? Only bungalows and sandy beach. A lighthouse. The sea. Wind, waves, seagulls.

If you hang around here and take a deep, deep breath, you will soon believe that the huge city of New York up there is nothing more than a rumor. It is your own fault if you ignore Queens when visiting New York.

Tips & information

Getting there: For example with Air Berlin from Berlin or Düsseldorf to New York JFK Airport, which is located in the Queens district (airberlin.com). From Frankfurt non-stop to New York, for example with Singapore Airlines (singaporeair.com) or Delta Air Lines (delta.com). From JFK Airport, the AirTrain goes direct to Jamaica, Queens. The 7 subway line connects Manhattan and Queens. The N- and Q-Train lines also run through Queens.

Accommodation: “The Ravel”, a hotel with a roof terrace and a view of the Manhattan skyline, from $ 96 (ravelhotel.com). “Home2 Suites by Hilton” on Long Island near Queens Plaza, from 164 euros (home2suites3.hilton.com). “The Local Hostel New York” in Queens on 44th Avenue, there are double rooms and bunk beds in quadruple rooms, from $ 45 per person (thelocalny.com)

Information desk: Queens Economic Development Corp., itsinqueens.com. General information about New York at NYC & Company, nycandcompany.com

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