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A Photo Review of 2015

The end of the year usually inspires reflection on the year that’s ending and a look forward to the one that’s approaching.

Maybe it’s getting older, but it seems like time moves more quickly now (I’m beginning to hear myself lamenting its rapid passage just like my mother did. I, however, prefer to think that I’m packing in 1000% more into my life, and this makes the days, weeks and months zip by in a blur). So it’s good to have this time to slow down and look back.

Photos are great for doing that. Think of them as moments of emotions frozen in time, that are re-released each time you look at them.

Unlike previous years, I didn’t have many new travel experiences in 2015 – or so it seemed until I started looking at my photos, a lot of which never made it to the blog because I didn’t post as often as I used to.

Still, whether I’m in Montego Bay or New York, I’m in a prime vacation destination. People, lots of them, leave home to see the things I pass by without noticing.

A Photo Review of New York

Take Times Square, for example. I avoid it as much as I can but every so often, it surprises me. Like the night I was hurrying through after seeing a play and saw this: two giant, colorfully illuminated lights wishing Happy Birthday to the late Bob Marley, the reggae superstar who would have been 70 last February 6th.

Times Square Marks Bob Marley's 70th

Times Square Marks Bob Marley’s 70th

Later that month, during Japan Week, I watched as a bride-to-be (winner of a contest) was dressed in a traditional wedding kimono, called uchikake, in Grand Central Station. Japan is a country steeped in culture and tradition so it was fascinating to watch this demonstration. 

On a personal note: I started learning Japanese this year. Hopefully, by the time I make it to Tokyo, I’ll know enough to get around.  

Bride-to-be being dressed in traditional wedding kimono

Bride-to-be being dressed in a traditional wedding kimono – Japan Week 2015

It goes without saying that the arts are big in New York. Here’s a look back at a few of the exhibitions I saw last year. 

I went twice to Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery to see Romare Bearden’s collages, drawings and watercolors that he based on Homer’s epic poem, The Odessy. I’m a Bearden fan – I even have one of his collages – but this piece touched me to the core. 

House in Cotton Field, Romare Bearden

House in Cotton Field, Romare Bearden

At the Brooklyn Museum, I revisited Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, which is on permanent display. Each time I see it, I marvel at Chicago’s vision and her celebration of womanhood.

The Dinner Party, Judy Chicago

The Dinner Party, Judy Chicago

Also at BAM, I saw Kehinde Wiley’s, A New Republic – portraits of contemporary blacks painted against Old Master backgrounds, like the one below of Michael Jackson on a horse. I also breezed through (the museum was closing) Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Unknown Notebooks

Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson) Kehinde Wiley

Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson) Kehinde Wiley

I rush to see Cecile McLorin Salvant, who at 25, has been called a jazz “phenom.” The Grammy Award winning artist has a voice that recalls Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn and Betty Carter. She grabs hold of your attention whether she’s singing in English or French, her own compositions or jazz standards.

Cecile McLorin Salvant performing at Ginny's Supper Club

Cecile McLorin Salvant performing at Ginny’s Supper Club

When the Whitney Museum of American Art relocated to its new building in the Meatpacking District this spring, it hosted a Block Party that drew thousands of visitors. Although I hate crowds, I was curious to see the new space. Plus, the warm temperature made it the perfect weekend – the one where you linger over brunch, look at art and take long walks. 

Museum goers at the Whitney Museum's Block Party

Museum goers at the Whitney Museum’s Block Party

We waited on line for close to an hour (the museum handed out bottled water) however, by the time we got to the inaugural exhibition, America Is Hard to See, I was so over stimulated visually, I couldn’t appreciate anything I saw. I just wanted to get back outside. 

High Line Park

High Line Park

We walked the length of the High Line from the Whitney (Gansevoort Street, south entrance) to the north end at 34th Street. It was a glorious day to be out.  

In June, we saw Jamaican sprinter, Usain Bolt, run the 200 meters at the Adidas Grand Prix at Ichan Stadium. 

Usain Bolt after winning the 200m, Ichan Stadium

Usain Bolt after winning the 200m, Ichan Stadium

I love going to Coney Island but I prefer the quiet of the off-season when there are no crowds and I can hear the sounds of the waves crashing to shore, birds cawing overhead, walk the beach and look for shells.  

Luna Park, Coney Island

Luna Park, Coney Island

Coney Island beach. Where's Everyone?

Coney Island beach. Where’s Everyone?

Soon the hectic pace of summer gives way to the calm of fall. This year, we hosted Pope Francis, as well as more than 150 heads of state, including President Barack Obama, at the UN General Assembly.

Since my office is close to the UN and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where the Pope celebrated mass, I had to plan ahead to avoid street closures and ‘frozen zones.’ I’ve never seen Fifth Avenue so deserted. 

Fifth Avenue closed for the Pope's visit

Fifth Avenue closed for the Pope’s visit

The first Sunday in November, the city slows down for elite and everyday runners and wheelchair athletes who come from all over the world to participate in the New York City Marathon.  

Wheelchair athletes

Wheelchair athlete – I doubt this is as simple as it looks

Marathoners

Marathoners, photo taken from my window 

New York does it up big for Christmas and the UNICEF Snowflake Star at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue is an important symbol of the season. 

The Star

The Star

A Photo Review of 2015’s Memorable Eats

Aren’t these cupcakes eye-catching? 

St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes

St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes

When I lived in DC, my colleagues and I would go to Cristfield Seafood for lunch every payday. My favorite thing on the menu: a cup of lobster bisque and a shrimp salad sandwich. The salad was so stuffed with shrimp, I’d save half for dinner.

I returned to Cristfield’s after my White House tour and was pleasantly surprised to find the bisque and the sandwich taste exactly the same as they did the last time I had them – more than 10 years ago.

Shrimp Salad Sandwich

Shrimp Salad Sandwich

Whenever we visit my friends in Toronto, they always have a hot, new restaurant for us to check out. Last time, it was Quatrefoil and I selected this entree.

Year in Review - Quatrefoil Restaurant, Toronto

Salmon Meal, Quatrefoil Restaurant, Toronto 

The first time I had bangers and mash was at The Shakespeare in New York City, just before my trip to London. My writing group had one of our social events here. 

Bangers and Mash, The Shakespeare

Bangers and Mash, The Shakespeare

My 2015 Travels in Review

So where did I go in 2015? I visited Toronto a few times but my major trip was to London. I’ve written several posts about London, Stonehenge and Oxford. Stay tuned for my posts about Edinburgh, where I spent a day. 

If you read paperbacks, I’m sure you recognize the logo. This plaque marks the location where Penguin published its first paperback. 

Penguin

Penguin

Ede & Ravenscroft, London’s oldest tailor and robe makers, has been around since 1689. In case you’re wondering, they also do women’s clothing.

Ede & Ravenscroft Royal Robe Makers

Ede & Ravenscroft Royal Robe Makers

This needs little explanation.

Look Right

Look Right 

Red phone boxes similar to these probably made their way to all of Britain’s colonies – we had some in Jamaica. But with cellphones so ubiquitous these days, phone boxes are not so necessary anymore. After I took this photo, I noticed that there was a guy sleeping in the middle booth. 

Iconic Red Phone Booths

Iconic Red Phone Booths

I look forward to flying into Laguardia Airport for one reason – this incredible view of New York City.

Aerial View of New York CityAerial View of New York City

Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog and for taking this look back through 2015 with me. 

In appreciation for your support, I’d like to offer you a chance to win one of ten GPSMyCity‘s Self-Guided City Walks Apps. The app is available on iOS and Android and you can select one for the city of your choice (Please check the GPSMyCity for a list of cities). 

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Linking this week with Travel Photo Thursday, hosted by Nancie at Budget Travellers Sandbox, Jan at Budget Travel Talk, Ruth at Tanama Tales, and Rachel at Rachel’s Ruminations. Be sure to check them out!

Budget Travelers Sandbox

The World Trade Center Building

Walking south from the Staples store on Broadway, I looked west down Vesey Street and saw the World Trade Center as if for the first time. With its solid-looking base tapering into a 400’ antenna, it looks as if it’s reaching to the sky.

World Trade Center building

Seen from Vesey and Broadway Streets

I stopped and stared for a few minutes before taking out my camera. I’ve taken other photos of the World Trade Center before from near the site and from the New Jersey side but I think this is probably one of the best views I’ve seen. 

At 1,776 feet (the year the United States Declaration of Independence was signed), it is, at the moment, the tallest building in the U.S., and the fourth tallest in the world.  And it does looks pretty attractive.  Framed by surrounding buildings, softened a bit by a few leafless trees, it’s shiny, ultra modern exterior and clean lines makes me think of the narrow legged pants that seem to be the rage in men’s fashions.

World Trade Center Antenna

The antenna at the World Trade Center Building

As I looked at it through the viewfinder, my camera lens bringing it closer, I could almost understand why a teenager from New Jersey took an elevator to the antenna a few weeks ago.

And I could almost imagine daredevil climbers pouring over every photo taken from every angle trying to figure out how to scale it.

I was about to move on when I noticed something else: a small plane flying away from the building.  Once again, I stopped and quickly refocused so I could capture it.

WTC Plane

Can you see that small plane?

I’ve yet to visit the museum. Truth be told, I’m a little nervous. Too many memories.

Linking up this week with Nancie’s Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox and Noel’s Travel Photo Monday at Travel Photo Discovery. Be sure to head over to view more photos from around the world.

Super Bowl Boulevard is Open

If you know New York City, you know it’s got energy and excitement all its own but with the first Super Bowl in 42 years just four days away, the buzz is even more palpable. 

Broadway between 34th and 47th Streets has been transformed into a pedestrian-only thoroughfare, called Super Bowl Boulevard, where football fans who have registered, can join in the revelry which started on Wednesday.

Even though I love the parties and the commercials, I never got into American football. Learning 30-odd years ago that the football that I grew up watching in Jamaica, and playing recreationally, wasn’t the same game that’s played here made me lose interest, I think. But walking through midtown on Monday, I couldn’t dismiss the excitement in the air over the match up between two stellar teams – the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos.

So despite the cold – it was in the 20s when I left yesterday morning and with the wind chill, it felt like 8 F — I grabbed my camera, bundled up as warmly as I could and headed out to Super Bowl Boulevard.

Though it wasn’t as windy as the previous day, I knew I should limit the time I left my fingers exposed so I switched the settings on my I set my camera to automatic and started snapping quickly, trying to get in as many shots as possible. I did fine for about 10 minutes, then the cold began to chill my fingers. Note to self: need to find thin and warm gloves.

At least I could move around or go into a store to get warm up. The crew that will be managing the Boulevard will be out in the open working 12-hour days. And the people who have to stand on line to register for all-access passes can’t move around or they’d lose their place. Still, it’s no fun when your fingers are so cold you can’t sense the shutter button. 

Are you ready for some football? 

Linking to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.

A Trip to Governors Island

Last weekend, I took the 5-minute ferry ride from Manhattan to Governors Island for Fête Paradiso. It was my first time visiting the island and I realized pretty quickly that I didn’t know much about it.

Governors Island is located about a half mile from the southern end or Lower Manhattan. The island is 172 acres, a mile long, and a quarter of a mile wide.

Governors Island ferry entrance

Governors Island

New York’s Native Americans had called the island Paggank or ‘Nut Island,’ for the number of oak, hickory and chestnut trees there. The Dutch also called it Nut Island but during the British colonial period it was reserved exclusively for use for New York’s royal governors and renamed Governors Island in 1784.

Governors Island served as a military base and Coast Guard installation for more than 200 years. During that time, it was off limits to the public.

There are three historic forts on the island. Two – Fort Jay and Castle Williams – were named National Monuments in 2001.

Governors Island became part of New York, legally, in 2003 when the federal government transferred the island to the City and State of New York. The City, through the Trust for Governors Island, is responsible for the operation, planning and redevelopment of the island.

Mayor Bloomberg, the current mayor, has earmarked $250 million to make Governors Island into a public open space with educational, not-for-profit, and commercial facilities.

Governors Island is open from Memorial Day to the end of September and hosts a variety of free artistic and cultural events during the season. In addition to Fête Paradiso, the day I went, there was an art exhibit in several of the historic houses on Nolan Row as well as handmade gifts and personal items like T-shirts, hats, scarves, etc., available for sale.

Governors Island is open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Holiday Mondays and private events such as weddings, family reunions, picnics, and corporate outings can be held there.

No alcohol can be taken to the island. However, alcohol can be purchased at designated areas. Barbequing, cooking and grilling are also not permitted.

Governors Island is accessible by ferry only; no private vehicles are allowed. Ferry service is available from Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan and from Brooklyn and Queens.

Governors Island is a charming oasis with incredible views of Manhattan. It’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon bike riding, walking or just relaxing.

Linking up with Travel Photo Mondays which Noel at Travel Photo Discovery organizes.