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Getting into a New York State of Mind

There’s nothing quite like summer in New York City. School’s out, buses and subways are less crowded, restaurants spill out onto sidewalks, beaches are open, and there are free concerts and movies in the parks.

Although I won’t be in New York City the entire summer, I’ll be there next month. Just thinking about it makes me feel giddy with excitement. I’m really looking forward to doing a few things while I’m there, like:

  • Try out a new restaurant. With more than 3,000 in New York City, there’s always something new to try. My favorites: Thai, Mexican, Spanish, Brazilian, Italian, and Indian.
  • Catch a Broadway play. High on my list, the revival of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. I’ll check TKTS for half price tickets. 
  • Watch the fireworks at Coney Island. No matter how many times I’ve done this, it always feels like the first time. Fridays 9:30 p.m. Ends August 31st. FREE
  • Take in a movie at Bryant Park. It’s Monday, I’ve found a spot on the lawn and I’m waiting for dusk and the start of another classic movie. Ends August 20th. FREE
  • Experience The Ride. Never heard of it? The Ride is a bus with seats facing sideways and a huge picture window so you see what’s happening on the sidewalks. It’s like moving theater with the action changing as you drive by.  Best of all, this summer, The Ride is offering a special rate of $59, down from $74.
  • Walk the High Line. The High Line is an elevated park that runs over the old New York Central Railroad line. 10th Avenue from Gansevoort to 30th Streets. FREE.
  • Cross the Brooklyn Bridge on foot. One of the oldest suspension bridges in the country, and definitely one of the most beautiful, it spans the East River and connects Manhattan and Brooklyn.

So that I can soak up more of New York’s frenetic energy (wish I could bottle some and take back with me), I plan to stay in the city and have identified a few places, including B&Bs and hostels near my old neighborhood.

Now that I’ve made my list, I can’t wait to see New York City again, and hear what my friends have been up to. It’ll be just like old times.

 

 


photo by: The U.S. Army

Best of Travel 2011

Thanks to Michaela at Awe Inclusive for including me in Budget Travel Adventure’s Best of Travel 2011 and giving me an opportunity to look back on the best of my 2011 travel adventures.

Last year was another fabulous travel year for me. I visited London for the third time and Paris for the first time, though it was my second trip to France. So here’s my Best of Travel 2011 roundup —

Best Domestic Travel Destination: To me, Washington, DC is the best domestic travel destination because it has so much to offer. The National Mall, the White House, galleries and (free!) museums, theater (not as many as NYC but still good and good bargains), restaurants, festivals like the Folk Life Festival, the National Book Festival, etc. Whether you’re looking for history or entertainment, Washington DC is the best place to be and the best part? It’s compact – you can cover a lot of territory over a few days.

Jefferson Memorial, Washington DC

Jefferson Memorial, Washington DC

Best Travel Experience: I’ve been fascinated by Stonehenge since I saw a documentary about it several years ago and added it to my Must See List. As soon as I decided on the dates for my UK trip, I booked a tour. The best part was that the group was small enough so that we weren’t tripping over each other. We could go into the circle and get up close (but not touch) the monument. The tour also took us through the bucolic English countryside and Bath, a very historical and picturesque town.

Inside the circle, Stonehenge

Inside the circle at Stonehenge

Best International Destination: My best international destination for 2011 was, without question, Paris.  I love Paris – it’s all of the things we’ve heard, and more — romantic, picturesque, fashionable, etc., and though I felt a bit intimidated by the stories I’ve heard about Parisians looking down their noses at people dressed in jeans, I never felt out of place or slighted. In fact, I met quite a number of friendly Parisians. One night, I got talking to a waiter and when he found out where I was staying and that I was traveling alone — it was nearly 10 p.m. when I finished dinner — he called one of the waitresses who was taking the same train and told me to wait for her so we could travel together. Although I could have found my way back to the hotel on my own, I was very touched by his kindness.

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower at night

Worst Travel Experience: My worst travel experience in 2011 happened before I even left my destination. I turned up at the airport to board my flight on Spirit Airlines and got a huge surprise. I owed $93 in baggage fees! I was so furious at myself for not paying attention to the fine print — I know better (or should) — that I forgot that I wanted to buy a few gifts in the duty free shop. The worst part is that on the return leg, I couldn’t figure out how to pre-pay and ended up paying again. Suddenly, the deal that I thought I had worked out to be one of the most expensive New York/Montego Bay tickets I’ve ever bought.

Most Embarrassing Travel Experience: Last year, my travel was embarrassment-free but 2010 wasn’t. I started to feel sick the day I was scheduled to return to the US from Johannesburg, South Africa. My body felt weak and I began to sweat. I didn’t know what was wrong – I didn’t think it was a cold but by the time I got on the flight, I was sneezing. I was so petrified of coughing that before I finished a cough drop, I’d pop another one. I felt awful. I still think of the people I know I passed my cold on to. Thanks goodness, it was a night flight so (hopefully) my no one remembers my face! The best part was, I was traveling with two friends who were also coming down with colds so I didn’t infect the people on either side of me. The worst part is, our row probably passed our colds on to everyone in coach.

Best Local Destination: Since I relocated from New York City to Jamaica last year, I’m going to take the liberty to name two best local destinations. In New York, the best location destination is Coney Island. It’s a place where you’ll find everyone – toddlers, young adults, couples, singles, grandparents – and there’s a variety of activities for everyone, from the hot dog eating contest over the July 4th weekend to summertime fireworks displays to roller coaster rides.

My best travel location in Jamaica is Treasure Beach. It’s laid back, it’s funky, it’s fun. It’s just a charming location that I’ve written about several times.

Treasure Beach boats

Treasure Beach boats

Best Travel Lesson: When I visited Paris last year, it was the first time that I traveled on my own to a place to a place where I didn’t know a soul and no one was meeting me when I arrived. Thank goodness, I know some French so I didn’t feel completely at sea. Interestingly enough, I was very excited the morning I left for Paris — it’s probably the most excited I’d been in a while about a trip. It turned out to be a very liberating experience and surprisingly, made me feel very grown up.

Now, I get the pleasure of inviting the following 5 bloggers to write about their Best of Travel 2011.

What Do Travel Bloggers Do When They’re Not Traveling?

I’ve been home for several months now dealing with life and work. I knew exactly what I was going to write about this week but, as you’ve probably read, things changed. It’s as if my brain went gone on vacation and my body got left behind.

So what do travel bloggers do when they’re not traveling? I can’t speak for every travel blogger, but when I’m not traveling, I rely on my city to provide inspiration and content for my posts. And New York delivers, all the time.

Take last week. In the middle of the heatwave that had many of us chained to our air conditioners, I decided to go to Coney Island. It’s one of my summer places. By the ‘D’ train, it’s a direct train ride from my neighborhood. (For variety, I can also take the #6 to Union Square and transfer to the ‘Q.’) Believe it or not, it was my first time to Coney Island this summer.

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