Exploring the Globe

06/24/2009 4:00 AM |


You could take most of our themed staycations below using your
cramped apartment as a homebase, but if you really want to make it feel
like a (sort of) real vacation, you could stay at one of the teeny
rooms at The Jane (113 Jane St), in the “far” West Village, instead. Though
still undergoing renovations, the hotel is going through its rough
opening stages — and at $70-$99 a night, it’s the most affordable
game in town, at least for the area.

Much of The Jane is intended to evoke the past through a Wes
Anderson lens: the staff wears old-fashioned bellhop uniforms; the
elevator is manually operated. An opened trunk, the kind people
impossibly lugged in the pre-suitcase dark days, occupies the lobby. So
that’s what those immigrants in photos were carrying! The lobby’s bar,
recently opened, is a plush ballroom with ample ceiling space and
several couches. Taken together, The Jane’s self-conscious
accoutrements make The Royal Tenenbaumsfantastical portrait of
New York
seem authentic.

A former sailor’s boarding house, The Jane’s rooms are modeled after
berths and are thus uniquely tiny. Each room has a bed and a shelf (and
a widescreen TV with basic cable); it’s long enough to lie down flat in
bed, but not wide enough to do the same. The open floor space is too
narrow to do a push-up. The owners — noted hoteliers Sean
and Eric Goode — have said they hope the place will
exude a collectivist hostel vibe (at hotel prices!).


Start on a Sunday by heading out to Bedford-Stuyvestant’s Odyssey
African Market
(1124 Fulton St), which boasts that when you walk
through its doors, “you walk into Africa.” Like Sliders? There,
you can pick up indigenous delicacies — like ukazi, utazi and ugu
leaves — as well as arts, crafts, CDs, DVDs and foreign

From there, it’s only a quick ride on the Franklin Avenue Shuttle
(an adventure in itself!) to the venerable Prospect Park Drum
where Brooklynites and commuters have been banging drums
collaboratively for over forty years. Drummer’s Grove, on the east end
of the park (the much more interesting side of the park, for all you
Slopers afraid to pass the ballfields), looks like the headquarters for
a witch’s coven any other day of the week, but Sunday afternoons it’s
alive with crowds of percussionists. The jam is rooted in West African
traditions, though, this being Brooklyn, the crowds are culturally
diverse, as are the instruments.

Make your way then to The Prospect Park Zoo (450 Flatbush
Ave), where you can see a few species native to Africa, including the
Hamadryas Baboon and Madagascar’s Tomato Frog. But if it’s African
animals you’re after, you’d be better off taking the long subway ride
up to The Bronx Zoo (2300 Southern Blvd), whose African Plains
showcase features lions, gazelles, zebras, wild dogs and other
critters, creatures and beasts.

And from there, it’s only a short train ride to uptown Manhattan,
where you can visit the Contemporary African Art Gallery (330 W
108th St), a by-appointment-only art gallery two art dealers created in
their Harlem-border home. Over 30 artists from the continent are
represented in diverse media like inks, etchings, paintings, prints and
stone and wood sculptures. Now that you’re near Harlem, take a walk
through the historic neighborhood, building up an appetite; you’ll find
plenty of authentic African dining options, like Senagalese foodstuffs
at La Marmite (2269 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd) or Côte
d’Ivoire cuisine at Treichville (339 E 118th St).