Apr 15

Visiting the Statue of Liberty

One of the nice things about living in New York City is that out of town friends often visit, giving a reason to see the sights of NYC.  A friend from my last Contiki tour was here in April and she wanted to see the Statue of Liberty.  Since I was last there in the mid-90’s, I was happy to go.

My friend booked the tickets herself back in December and ticketed time slots were already starting to get sold out.  And forget about tickets to the crown, I believe that is a 6 month wait!  We had tickets for 11:00 (everything earlier was sold out for the pedistal) for security.  I believe tickets were $13 each.

We arrived at exactly 11:00 and the line for security was quite long.  There were 3 lines, those with bought same day untimed tickets (longest line), pre-purchased timed tickets and people with New York Pass, which was the fastest line.  Actually the line was so fast that I would encourage anyone going to see the Statue of Liberty to look into this pass, it does have many other benefits besides skipping the line so there may be value to anyone who doesn’t have a lot of time in New York City but wants to see a lot. 

We waited on line for at least an hour to get to security, which is similar to airport secruity, minus the nudoscopes.  You had to take off belts, shoes, jackets, etc.  I will say that the security was a little inconsistent.  Everyone went through metal detectors, and so did all bags, but it seemed like some lines you had to take your shoes off but on others you didn’t.  Just like at the airport you can get lucky and have a quick moving line, or you can get stuck on the line with all the rookies and it can take a while.  This is done inside a temporary type of building that isn’t quite big enough to process as many people as they have coming through. 

After you go through security you wait for the boat, boats come every 30 minutes and in spite of arriving at 11:00 we did not get on a boat until 12:30.  I think this had to do with there not being enough security lines to process people, but also once you go through secruity and you’re waiting for the next boat, the area is not big enough and I think it backs up into the security area which stops or slows down the screening.  Of course the waiting area that we were in was kinda roomy with no one encouraging us to move towards the front of the area to make more room. 

My point?  The security process needs some tweaking so plan a lot of time into your day. 

The boat only took a few minutes (and wasn’t really crowded), but there isn’t a ton of seating onboard.  But there is a snack bar with food and drink. 

At the Statue of Libery you disembark the boat and are free to walk around the island as much as you want.  There is a gift shop and a snack bar on the island too.  If you want to go into the Statue you will need tickets that allow access.  You will also need to go through security screening again, though there was no line here.  Inside is a museum and the original torch, you can learn all about the Statue of Liberty, of course if you didn’t plan your day well then you wont have much time for this section.  Inside you can climb the 192 steps to the pedistal.  I’ll be honest, I’m not sure it was worth the work.  You get a nicer view of New York City, but a terrible view of lady liberty as you’re just looking up her skirt and there’s nothing to see there.  And the stairs killed both our legs, my legs were spasming, making it hard to walk up or down stairs for a while after.  I’ve climbed to the tops of many things and never had this problem.  If you choose to climb to the top of the crown you’ll need to climb another 162 steps. 

After we finished on the island we waited online for the ferry which goes on to Ellis Island and then back to New York City.  We were short on time so we did not get off at Ellis Island.  I have been there in the past and it’s nice to see if you have the time, but I don’t think it’s a must see. 

Overall I enjoyed going to see the Statue of Liberty, the Island is well cared for and offers great views of New York City.  This is a once (or twice) in a lifetime activity so plan accordingly.  Plan to spend a lot of time there, just bring your camera and some money and hope it’s a nice day!

Jan 28

MOMA, New York City

I recently visited MOMA – The Museum of Modern Art, in New York City. I had never been there before, part of the reason that I choose the museum for a day with a friend in New York City. Over the years I’ve been a little hesitant to go to MOMA, I’m not into modern art. I’m not even much of an art person anyway, but how could I not visit MOMA at least once?

Well, I’m still not much of a modern art person, but I did still enjoy my visit to MOMA. If nothing, I did get to add my own comentary to some of the art, I might have had better stories then some of these artists. There were a few things that made me wonder what “art” is – because if that was “art” then this whole art thing is BS – because that piece was NOT art. Sorry for the rant, but there were one or two pieces that I felt were cop-outs.

I did enjoy the Andy Warholl special exhibit, it caught the eye, drew you in and was fun. There were also some amazing pieces. Van Gough’s Stary Night, I’m not a huge Van Gough fan, but Stary Night is an amazing piece – the color, the detail – it speaks to me. And who didn’t have Monet’s Water Lilies on their dorm room wall? 4 of the 250 panels are housed at MOMA. It’s great stuff to just sit down for a few minutes and stare at.

There were other exhibits and pieces that I liked, and I now have a frame of reference for some artists that I had previously heard of but didn’t know what type of art they created. If you’re into art, then MOMA is a must visit when in NYC. If you’re not an art person, then I wouldn’t put put MOMA at the top of your list of things to do in NYC. But, if you have time there is some great art work to see. Will I go back to MOMA? Maybe in a few years or if I wanted to see a special exhibit. Otherwise, I think there are other museums I would rather explore.

Jan 12


Snow is a funny thing, some people love it, others hate, but it always seems like more fun when you’re traveling. 

On December 26th of 2010 New York City got hit hard by a snow storm, it’s the worst I’ve seen the city aside from September 11.  Cars, trucks, buses, ambulances and anything else you can think of was stuck in the snow.  I’m not talking about just on December 27, it took until at least December 31 to clear all of those abandoned and stuck vehicles.  On December 30 the Sanitation Department was still plowing streets for the first time.

The funny thing is that depending on where you were in the city things were better, if you were a tourist in Times Square you might not have even known it had snowed.  Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration, but Times Square streets were among the earliest to be plowed and in preparation of the New Years Eve Ball Drop all the snow was removed.  NYC uses snow melters, they melt the snow and put it into the sewer system as one way to clear the snow since NYC doesn’t have much room for snow. 

I can say that I don’t know a New Yorker who is a fan of snow now, they all seem to have a bad taste in their mouth and hate it at the moment, I do too (being stuck at work for 2 days and getting a bad cold will do that).  But then I think of the tourists who visited (not the ones who couldn’t fly in or out of NYC), especially the ones who have never seen snow.  I know that most of them loved it and it made visiting the city a new experience and a unique adventure.  Snow does that, everyone has a story – good or bad – it becomes a bonding point for the people who experience it.

Sep 08

The Metropolitan Museum of Art and thoughts on Becco for lunch

After my visit to the King Tut exhibit I realized that it’s time to get myself out and about and seeing more things in New York City. On my list was a visit to “The Met” or The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Since I was meeting my friend from out of town for lunch in the city, I figured it was a perfect opportunity to see a museum.

I met my friend at Becco on West 46 Street and had a great lunch. Becco had really good food (the kind of food that the average eater goes, “Wow, this is why people love food,” the service was great. My only complaint about it was that the restaurant was kinda loud.

After lunch I had the brilliant idea to walk to The Met. It was a nice walk, but by the time I got there I was already tired and my feet were already starting to hurt, not a good way to start a visit to a museum.

The museum does not have a required admission, they have a recommended admission of $20 for adults. It mental hurts to give money, but I know it’s the right thing to do and is certainly in line with the cost of other museums so I did give the donation.

I first went to the Egyptian exhibit, it took me a few minutes to get into it but slowly I did. What I didn’t like about the exhibit was the signage for the different pieces, some were hard to read, others I never found. I also found all the different little rooms made it hard to make sure you saw everything, I think for that reason (and the large amount of stuff they have) you either need to dedicate hours or you need to visit several times to see the whole exhibit. What I liked was the different pieces. There were a lot of pieces of wall, which really surprised me. There were a lot of sarcophagus’s too, though not overly impressive ones like you would see in Egypt.

This was the first time I looked at Egyptian art in terms of time period, other then a few little things, I really never knew what might be the difference between art from different dynasties, until now. Unlike the King Tut exhibit I recently saw there were not too many smaller pieces from tombs, the pieces were more ordinary pieces – pieces of wall, statues, sarcophagus’s, and pottery are what stick out. It seemed a little more like daily life type of stuff, not just the stuff of Pharohs.

After seeing the Egyptian stuff I headed to the American exhibit, which I really enjoyed. This is my type of museum stuff – stuff that tells me about American life. There was a giant house like exhibit with “rooms,” the rooms were all very nicely decorated and gave a nice feeling for how people lived. To add to the experience there was a woman in one of the rooms talking about how the bed reminded her of her bed in her farm house from her youth. I like that real life image that I can picture.

After that I was exhausted and ready to go, but on my way out (since I couldn’t figure out how to get out) I walked through the armor rooms – who doesn’t like a knight in shining armor? It seemed like cool stuff in there, and I felt bad for the horses who had to wear armor, it looked really heavy!

Overall I enjoyed The Met. It’s the type of place that if I lived nearby I could see myself stopping there every couple weeks and checking out a different exhibit.  For those planning a visit I would suggest planning a few hours to see just 1 or 2 exhibits, otherwise you might end up tired or overwhelmed by the museum.

Jul 09

Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks

Thanks to work, I got to enjoy Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks this year and I really enjoyed the show, as well as the front row seat I had.  I’ve become cynical about fireworks over the years, my Mom used to Ohhhh and Ahhhh over them and my sisters and I got into a habit of making for of her.  Well this year I stopped and really enjoyed the show. 

The show had some of the same things I’ve seen before – like smiley faces – but who doesn’t like a smiley face?  And giant bursts of colors.  But there were also planet like fireworks, with rings around them.  Some looked like mushrooms, I’m not sure others would describe them that way, but that was my first thought.  I really liked the ones that looked like golden spaceships taking off into the sky – I had never seen those before and they were really cool.

In the end though the best part was that the vivid colors and the 3 dimensional aspect to them.  Some of them seemed like the little stars in bright reds, blues, greens, golds were flying towards us.  And the reds were so vibrant – like a freshly painted fire engine.  The golds as bright as a gold medal in the Olympics.

The finale was equally as wonderful.  The bright colors flying towards you in the sky in such intentisty.  The fireworks just kept coming for at least a minute or two.  It was the equivalent of pop rocks going off in your mouth – but to your eyes.

Jun 29

TBEX10 – New York City

This weekend I attended TBEX in New York City.  Only having this blog for a year or so and only a handful of readers I that I know of, I have to admit – I felt like a little giraffe in a giant Savanna with the Big 5.  Or is it the big 4?  Who cares – giraffes aren’t part of either one of them.

It was really interesting there though on several levels – meeting people, watching people and learning about blogging.

When I got on line on Saturday morning I realized I had made a big mistake.  I had a good reason, but it was still a mistake.  I didn’t go to any of the pre-parties.  My good reason – I get up at 4am to work in Brooklyn and leave work by 2pm and usually crash by 9pm.  It’s not a good shift for party people.  Plus the whole dragging myself back into the city, blah blah blah.  But I realized on line that there were a lot of people who knew each other already and many from the party the night before.  I’m a shy person at times, so this was a difficult social setting for me.  I did manage to meet some people and make connections but not as much as I had hoped.

But I did enjoy watching some of the “rock stars” of the travel blogging world.  The first day at lunch Johnny Jet really struck me.  He had an almost childlike exuberance, and I mean that in a good way.  He was taking pictures and did it with no constraints on him – you could tell he was enjoying taking pictures and trying different angles without a thought as to the people around him.  Then there were the ever evolving groups of “rock stars” you would see talking – Don George, and David Farley or Chris Christensen and Craig and Linda from the Indie Travel Podcast.  There were many others, though I’m surprised now how many I totally missed, especially the ones I would have liked to have met.

I learned a lot though too, I’m going to try and take my writing in a different direction – write with more purpose.  It will take more work, but then again if I want to make a go of this blog then I have to put in the work.  I also realized why every video I take sucks – I’m just video taping stuff that strikes me, not with a purpose.  I don’t think I’m going to get into video anyway, but I think when I do take video it will be better quality.  Then there’s the concept of branding and finding a niche – I think it’s easier to explain what I don’t write about and I’m ok with that, but I think I will try to tighten things up with my content.  I don’t think I learned much about self promotion though – I didn’t do a very good job of it myself – or maybe that was what I learned.

Then there was the community keynote – someone described it as bedtime stories for travelers and the description was too true.  Heck, if I wanted I could have taken a nap.  Not that the stories were boring, but it was so mellow and I was so tired.

All in all though TBEX was interesting, educational and a good opportunity to meet people.  Will I be attending next year in Vancouver though?  I’m not sure, I have to see where the blog goes and what is going on in the next few months, but I wouldn’t rule anything out.  But if you read, I’m more likely to go, so READ!!!!

And a big thanks to Kim Mance who made it all happen.

May 02

Just another Saturday night in Times Square, well and a bomb too.

On Saturday I met my friend Kelley in Times Square to see the King Tut exhibit, and then the night took an interesting turn when they found a bomb in Times Square… I’ll write about King Tut for this week, but thought I would write about my experience in Times Square today.

According to news reports the bomb was found around 6:30pm, right around the time I left the King Tut exhibit, which is on West 44th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. The bomb was located at West 45 at Broadway. Kelley and I walked up to a restaurant at West 46 and 8th Avenue for dinner and were blissfully unaware of what was going on. After 8:00 Kelley went to use the rest room and was told by another woman that there was a bomb threat in Times Square. I looked out the window of the restaurant and did notice that West 46 Street was closed and there was a little crowd around and heavier traffic. I work for New York City and am all too aware of how many “suspicious” packages are in New York City so I wasn’t too fazed by this. Plus I know that they are more careful with “suspicious” whatevers (I’m thinking of the recent suspicious vehicle back in December) and 2 hours to clear it wouldn’t be unusual or alarming. I rarely see Kelley so I didn’t want to start checking twitter or the newspapers on my iphone and pretty much ignored it. Kelley and I went up to a bar around 50th and Bway for a drink and left around 11pm. We walking down Broadway and at 46th Street were diverted to 6th Avenue. I did take a quick picture of an empty Times Square with my iphone, not a common site.

On 6th and West 46 there is a Fox News ticker which is where Kelley and I got our first glimpse at what was going on via the news – that their was a possible vehicle bomb and some guy was seen running away (which is not true), it was the first time that we got confirmation of this being serious, aside from the fact that at this point we knew it was going on about 4 hours, which is a long time. Kelley and I separated shortly after for our own respective homes and on the way home finally checked out twitter and the news and got an idea of how serious things were.

In the end it was a very serious situation, but Kelley and I was pretty oblivious to it, and that wasn’t hard to do, especially since we’re both pretty used to unplanned disruptions that happen in NYC all the time. You just walk a different way and go on with life. I think it’s also a testament to the good work on the NYPD, we didn’t see any chaos or confusion in the streets, just curious onlookers. As a tourist it would have been frustrating (can’t get to hotels, broadway shows and the sites), but also more fascinating.

In the next few days more and more information will come out about who did this and what exactly this bomb was (as in how much danger people were actually in.) Am I worried? Not really. It’s not that I’m not worried – I think Times Square, NYC Subway and lots of other places in NYC and other cities are targets for terrorists. But I also think our intelligence services are doing a good job, and in the end there are so many places that are targets and to avoid them all would be to not live life. The bottom line for me is that next week a friend is coming to Times Square for a show and I’m meeting her for dinner. I have not plans to skip this, I’ll be there with my friend for dinner.