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Jamaica50 Giveaway

As you probably know, on August 6th, Jamaica celebrates 50 years of Independence from Britain.  Jamaica50 events that have been going on all year both here, in Jamaica, and internationally will culminate in a grand celebration on Independence Day.

You can join in the celebrations by participating in InsideJourneys’ Jamaica50Giveaway. It’s the first contest I’ve run and I’m pretty excited about it. Entering is simple.

Jamaica 50

Here are the mechanics:

Answer any one of the five questions below through the comment box. If you are selected the winner, you’ll receive $50.00 from me.

Four other entries will be selected at random to receive InsideJourney’s ebook, 50 Reasons to Visit Jamaica.

And, a late addition: 3 other prizes, drawn at random, will receive a beach bag, photo album or coffee mug from Sandals®.

The giveaway is open to everyone who has an email address. To be eligible for the first prize, you must have a Paypal account. Winners will be selected via

Here are the Questions:

1. What year did Jamaica become independent?
2. What country was Jamaica a colony of?
3. What are nationals of Jamaica called?
4. What is the capital of Jamaica?
5. What is Jamaica’s second city?

They are fairly easy questions and most of the answers may be found on this blog (hint: backread now!).

Emancipation Park dressed for Jamaica50

There Are Two Ways To Enter:

  1. Write the answer to the question you select in the comment box below. Like us on Facebook and let us know you did in the comment form or tweet this message, “Enter InsideJourney’s #Jamaica50Giveaway to #win $50.00! Ends 9/30” OR
  2. Write your answer to the question you select in the comment box below. Follow us on Twitter and tweet this to qualify: “Enter InsideJourney’s #Jamaica50Giveaway to #win $50.00! Ends 9/30”

DON’T FORGET THE HASHTAG! #Jamaica50Giveaway

The InsideJourneys’ Jamaica50Giveaway runs from July 31 to September 30, 2012. To qualify, all entries must be received by 11:59pm, EST on September 3oth.

Good luck! I am looking forward to all of your entries.

“Giveaway ends September 30th at 11:59 PM EST. Open to anyone with an email address.  First place winner must have a PayPal account.  Winners will be selected by and be notified by email. Winners have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. Facebook and Twitter are in no way associated with this giveaway.  By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to me and me alone.  I do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.” a Rafflecopter giveaway

New York City: Library Way

New York City is full of little gems waiting to be discovered. Truthfully, though, we become so dazzled by the lights, mesmerized by the skyscrapers or are in such a mad rush to get from one place to the next that we miss some of the more obscure jewels that are in plain sight.

One such jewel is Library Way, a two-block long stretch of 41st Street between Fifth and Park Avenues that is a celebration of the written word. The project was born out of a partnership between the New York Public Library and Grand Central Partnership and was aimed at sprucing up the street.

Using passages from notable authors and artists as inspiration, over 40 unique bronze plaques created by the Andrews/Lefevre Studios  now grace the otherwise grey sidewalk.

They’re not hard to spot, these plaques, but you’d probably walk right over them during rush hour. And if you did happen to spot them then, you’d hardly be able to stop and read let alone photograph them because of the foot traffic.

Continue reading “New York City: Library Way”

Menorca, an Island of Contrasts

Menorca is the second largest of the Balearic islands, and is ideal for the family seaside holiday, with a climate that offers 315 days of sunshine a year.  Life is slower and more peaceful on Menorca, compared to the highlife offered by the entertainment bars and clubs of Majorca and Ibiza.  Not many people know that Menorca has almost as many beaches as the two combined combined, so visitors are spoilt for choice.  The south coast offers a number of peaceful resorts, whilst if you favour a more rugged coastline, the little fishing villages of the north coast are likely to prove a greater attraction.

On the Beach offer all inclusive Menorca holidays with a wide range of choice, from hotels based in some of the livelier resorts like Cala Santandria, one of Menorca’s most popular areas,  to the relatively unknown little town of Binibeca, with its old and new towns, and narrow winding cobbled streets.  In contrast, Cala Santandria, with its golden beach at the end of a winding bay, offers lots of evening entertainment, and a great choice of restaurants and cafes, as well as efficient transport links to the old capital of the island, Ciutadella.

Some top tips for things to do and places to go on your Menorcan holiday :

·         Getting Around: as the island is largely flat, cycling is a great way to explore Menorca, not only for the dedicated cyclist, but also for families enjoying a day out together.  Not only do you get fit, but you save the expense of taxis or car hire! Cycling tracks traverse the island, and offer the opportunity to visit some beautiful little hidden bays, or to enjoy the spectacular views from the cliff tops of the north coast.

·         Eating out: of course you can expect that fish and seafood is a speciality of most Menorcan restaurants, and culinary treats not to miss during your visit include the  local dish, “caldereta de llagosta”, a delicious lobster stew.  In even the smallest villages you are likely to find a bar serving delicious salads with fresh prawns, but for the most popular bars and restaurants you need to visit the Placa d’Espanya in Mahon, or explore the eateries lining the harbor and waterfront.  For a more unusual dining experience, chose one of the trogolodyte restaurants carved into the cliffs of Ciutadella.

·         Places to visit: the town of Ciutadella is one of oldest towns in Menorca, first established by the Romans.  Wander the attractive narrow winding streets of the old town, visit the cathedral, and the Palace Torre Saura.  Mahon, still a busy and thriving port, is the walled capital of the island, situated in a dramatic position at the end of a large natural harbor.   It is crammed with interesting architecture, from gracious streets of bow-windowed 18th century houses and the remains of early Christian basilicas, to a military prison used by the British when they occupied the island.  Amongst the earliest tourists to Menorca were Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton.

New York for Kids

New York City is a great place for kids. Before my nieces and nephews got to the age when they didn’t want to hang out with me anymore, I’d plan a range of activities and let them choose which ones they wanted to do. Here are the ones that never failed to amuse, educate or surprise them, and entertain their somewhat slightly jaded auntie.

Sony Wonder Technology Lab: Hands down, Sony Wonder is one of my favorite places to take kids. This gem of a museum might seem a bit out of place among the ritzy shops and office buildings that line Madison Avenue but inside there are treats for kids and adults alike. Highly immersive, you log in when you arrive and a profile is created for you. At the end of the visit, you get a certificate listing all the exhibits you interacted with. You get to see how communications technology developed, feel what it’s like to perform open-heart surgery, mix music, build computer games, and other activities. There’s also a high definition theater that shows feature films on Saturdays.

Admission to Sony Wonder museum and high definition theater is FREE however, reservations are recommended. Sony Wonder Technology Lab is located at Sony Plaza, 555 Madison Avenue at 56th Street. Hours: 9:30 – 5:30 pm, Tuesday to Saturday. Closed Sundays, Mondays and major holidays. 212-833-8100.


Dave Lindblom

Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum If your little ones are interested in planes, helicopters or space ships, the Intrepid is the museum to visit. The Intrepid offers an array of interactive exhibits from aircraft carriers to space ships, to supersonic jet simulations, that will keep your kids entertained and educated at the same time. Two days ago, on July 19th, the new Space Pavilion featuring the Enterprise, NASA’s first space shuttle, opened at the Intrepid. (I saw the Enterprise in 1983, I can’t wait to see it again up close.) The day I took my nephew to the Intrepid, we also saw the Aurora 7. I was shocked how small the interior was. The highlight of the visit for me was riding in the jet simulator. What a cool experience! Also at the Interpid is the Concorde.

Intrepid Air, Sea and Space Museum, 700 W 46th Street at 12th Avenue, 212-245-0072. Hours (Spring/Summer): Monday-Friday, 10-5; Weekends and Holidays 10-6. Winter Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10-5; Closed some Mondays, Thanksgiving and Christmas Days. Admission: Adults $24; Children (3-6) $12 and (7-17) $19. With admission to the newly opened Space Pavilion, tickets are $30, $16, and $23 respectively. Check the website for ticket prices for seniors, the military, veterans, and students with IDs. You’ll save $2 if you purchase online. Or buy a New York Pass, which will grant you free entry to several museums and landmarks.

New York for Kids - Barbie house at Toys R Us
New York for Kids – Barbie house at Toys R Us

Toys R Us Times Square: If you love your kids, you’ll want to take them to Toys R Us; if you love your kids, you’ll not take them to Toys R Us because they’re going to want everything they see. When you pass through the revolving door to this cavernous 110,000 square foot store, you’ll spot toys and games and the 60-foot Ferris wheel even before the photographer snaps your photo (you can decline). It’s as if you’ve just landed on the red carpet! Head to the escalator or take the elevator to the 4,000 square foot Barbie house, or the life-sized T-Rex at their Jurassic Park or take a ride on the Ferris wheel. Toys R Us Times Square is ginormous and your kids will have a whale of a time. Wear comfortable shoes, pack your patience, be prepared to pull out the plastic often. Just don’t get carried away.

Toys R US, 1514 Broadway at 44th Street. Hours: Monday-Thursday 10 a.m to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturdays until 11 p.m., Sundays 11 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. 646-366-8800.

Have fun in New York City!


China’s Terracotta Warriors Visit New York City #TPThursday

China’s Terracotta Warriors have been dazzling the world since they were discovered accidentally by a farmer in 1974. Now several of them, along with artifacts and treasures dating to 221 B.C.E., are on view at Discovery Times Square until August 26, 2012.

Terracotta Warriors - Pottery
Terracotta Warriors – Pottery

Standing more than 6 feet and weighing 600 pounds each, the soldiers were created 2,000 years ago to protect Qin Shi Huangdi, China’s First Emperor, in the afterlife. Qin, who proclaimed himself emperor in 221 B.C.E., is responsible for unifying warring factions into the country we now know as China. He built the first Great Wall and China’s canal systems, standardized weights and measures and introduced a uniform writing script. Qin died in 210 B.C.E.

Terracotta Warriors
Terracotta Warriors – Replica of Burial Site

So far, about 8,000 uniquely crafted terracotta soldiers have been excavated. In addition, horses, helmets — though no terracotta warrior wore a helmet, pottery, cooking utensils, and ornaments have been discovered in vaults across an area of 22 square miles.

Terracotta Warriors
Terracotta Warriors

The exhibition at Discovery Times Square begins with a look back at the Qin Dynasty and continues to the Han Dynasty. It features at least 5 life-sized terracotta warriors, pottery, cooking utensils, armor and two short films – one featuring the farmer, Zhifa Zang, who found the site and another showing a simulation of the army preparing to attack with bows and arrows.

Terracotta Warriors
Terracotta Warriors
Terracotta Warriors
Terracotta Warriors – Still from documentary. Diagram of the vaults the warriors were found in.

Terracotta Warriors – Defenders of China’s First Emperor is on view until August 26 at Discovery Times Square, 226 W 44th Street, between 7th & 8th Avenues. Hours: Sunday-Thurs 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Friday/Saturday until 9:00 p.m. Tickets: Children $20.50, Adults $28.00, Seniors $24.50. Audio Tour: $6.43. AmEx cardholders can get a complimentary audio tour. Flash photography not allowed. Allow 60-90 minutes for this exhibition.

Note: Groupon’s half-off ticket deal has expired (I was lucky!) but you can still get discounted tickets from,, etc.

This is my submission to this week’s Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday series. Be sure to check out other photo and story entries on their website.



photo by:


Manhattanhenge 2012

Everyone was excited about yesterday’s Manhattanhenge the twice yearly (May and July) phenomenon during which the sun sets in perfect alignment with the east-west grid of certain New York City main streets: 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd and 57th Streets.

This year’s Manhattanhenge dates are May 29th and July 12th and 13th. Yesterday, with its beautiful sun, promised to make up for May’s dismal rain. To say I was excited would be an understatement.

My niece and friends had planned to view the sunset from the overpass near Grand Central. The overpass is a perfect spot. High above the traffic, it offers the perfect vantage point to get a clear shot of the sunset without distractions. Unfortunately, as soon as we took up our positions, the police arrived and told us to leave. We had no choice but to take to the busy 42nd Street, which is not closed to traffic.

Manhattanhenge 2012
Manhattanhenge 2012

At 42nd & Fifth Avenue, a crowd had gathered. Perhaps the police had urged some of them to leave the overpass. There were a few intrepid photographers, one had set up his tripod right on the yellow line in the middle of the busy intersection. Of course, as the lights changed he, and the rest of us, were forced to move.

When the traffic stopped again, everyone, myself included dashed back into the street to get a view and take some photos. The photo above is what I got before cars and buses started honking.

Unfortunately, yesterday’s Manhattanhenge was almost totally obscured by a thick clouds. Normally, you’d see something that looks like this.

Manhattanhenge, image from the Internet

Manhattanhenge doesn’t occur only in Manhattan. If you live in Chicago, Toronto or Montreal, you have your own henge. Although this is such a short and an unpredictable event, it’s definitely worth looking forward to.

When the sun dropped behind the clouds, we headed to a nearby bar and rounded out the evening with a few cold ones.

Have you experienced Manhattanhenge?


I’m linking this post to Endless Summer, a round-up of summer-themed travel posts
hosted by Travel Rants and Raves.

#Travel Photo Thursday: Times Square Afternoon

I love Times Square, especially in the summer when I can grab a seat and watch the world pass by. It’s not hard to spot the visitors — in Times Square, they outnumber New Yorkers.

#TPThursday: Times Square
#TPThursday: Times Square Afternoon

You never know who you’ll spot in the crowd. Shortly after I took this photo, I glimpsed the Naked Cowboy strolling across Broadway. An eager crowd surrounded him as soon as he got to the other side of the street. I thought that if I hurried, I could get a photo before more people arrived. But by the time the lights changed, he had moved further down the block. I never caught up with him.

Who’s the Naked Cowboy? He’s Robert John Burck, a street performer who wears only a cowboy hat, briefs, and cowboy boots. He also plays a guitar which he carries in front of him covering his privates.

Originally from Ohio, the Naked Cowboy has been a fixture in Times Square for many years now. He’s become a franchise, licensing Naked Cowboys in other cities.

#TPThursday: Times Square Afternoon

The Naked Cowboy isn’t the only street performer in Times Square — they come and go — but he’s probably the most popular. I noticed a few Elmo impersonators who, for a few dollars, will let you take a photo with them. Here are videos of two others.


Mark Scott Johnson

I left Times Square, and less than 20 minutes later the friend I was meeting saw Snoop Dog when she passed through to meet me. A huge crowd had gathered, almost taking up a block.

That’s the other thing about Times Square, the crowds. The only time there isn’t a crowd is in the early morning. Go then to experience it and go back later to see how different the energy is.

Have you been to Time Square? What did you like about it?

This is my submission to this week’s Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday series. Be sure to check out other photo and story entries on their website.

It’s One of Those Days….

I’m having one of those days. It’s hot. I’m tired and my brain’s not cooperating. It’s processing far too many words and none of them make sense, least of all on paper. I need water, I need the beach. Any beach will do. But it must have sand so I can bury my toes. Deep, really deep. Aaaah, but maybe a waterfall will do.

YS Falls, Jamaica
YS Falls, Jamaica

What do you do when you’re having one of those days?

Cheap New York City for the Budget Savvy Traveler

You’d never know it, but there’s a cheap New York City that beckons the budget savvy traveler. Here are my picks for cheap ways to get around and enjoy the Big Apple.

Most travelers, including Michael Bloomberg, the current mayor will agree that New York City has one of the best transportation systems anywhere. With express and local buses that connect to major subway stops, it’s a breeze to get around the city or get to the airport. And Bloomberg, one of the city’s richest residents, takes the subway to work.

Getting Around

As soon as you get to the city, buy a MetroCard. A single ride on the bus or subway costs $2.50 but a better buy is the one-week unlimited ride MetroCard which costs $29.50 and gets you on subways and buses. Sold at vending machines at subway stations and some kiosks. Vending machines take cash and credit/debit cards. Cards are better for refunds if your MetroCard is lost or stolen. Most subway stations have elevators and/or escalators; many are wheelchair accessible.

Making connections to the airport

La Guardia, take the A, B, C, D or 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 train or M1, M101 bus or Metro North to 125th Street then connect to the M60 bus which takes you directly to the airport. Price by bus or subway $2.5o one way or Metrocard. Add $6.75 for Metro North peak hour rate.

For JFK, take the A train to the Howard Beach/JFK stop and connect to the AirTrain which will take you to the airport. Cost $7.25, including $5 Air Train fare. You can also take the E, J or Z train to Queens, get off at Stuphin Blvd and connect with the Air Train or the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) to Jamaica Avenue. There’s an in station link to the Air Train which runs every 4 to 10 minutes. For LIRR, add $8.75 peak time rate.

Going to or from Newark? Head to Penn Station and take NJ Transit to Newark Liberty Airport station and connect to the Air Train, which picks up passengers every 3 minutes. Cost $12.50, includes the $5.50 Air Train fee. Travel time 25 minutes.

New York Airport Service operates express buses that will take you to and from the major airports. Buses run every 15 minutes and make stops at Grand Central, Penn Station and the Port Authority. If you reserve online, the fare to JFK and La Guardia is $10.

Shuttle Vans/Shared Ride. If you want door to door service on a budget, schedule a pickup with the Supershuttle, also called the Blue Van. For under $20, they will pick you up at your home or hotel and take you to any of the airports. This is a shared service so they’ll be picking up other passengers as well.

On your next trip, make sure you take advantage of these cheap New York deals.