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.

Nov 13

Rockefeller Tree Lighting

STOP! DON’T DO IT! STAY HOME!

Seriously, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting (December 1 this year) is an event I highly recommend NOT going to EVER. Here is why:

1. It’s always REALLY cold
2. You can’t see anything, well maybe if you show up 5 or 6 hours early you can get a good spot, but then you’re only seeing the tree.
3. The only thing you can see, if you can see it, is the tree. Great, go turn your the lights on on your Christmas tree at home – wow, isn’t it exciting! Very few people get a spot where they can see the Christmas tree (like 1,000 people), then they turn the lights on and everyone leaves.
4. The cops are really cranky! I’ve seen cops at all sorts of large events, this one takes the cake. Too many people come to see the lighting and there isn’t nearly enough room for them and everyone becomes unpleasant. Picture crazy cops with bull horns yelling at people.
5. All those great bands and singers – most taped their performances earlier in the day or the week and are far away from the tree. The ones that actually do perform are not viewable from any of the viewing areas. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the show that’s on TV on a giant jumbo tron. DO NOT COME TO SEE THE PERFORMERS!
6. It’s a made for TV event, watch it on TV from the comfort of a place with heat.

So, here is a summation – it’s cold, you might get to see the tree and maybe the show on a big TV while getting yelled at by the police. Oh, and it’s a haven for creepy men (I’ll let you use your imagination for that.) Actually, avoid the whole area that night. Come another night and see the tree when it’s actually lit (not watching an unlit tree for hours then turn on and then leave.) WATCH IT ON TV!

Nov 09

New Yorks Jewish Delis

NYC is known for a couple really good jewish delis – Katz and 2nd Avenue deli are the most popular. I’m a fan of the lesser known Ben’s too. I’m a fan of potato pancakes, hotdogs and motza ball soup.

The 2nd Avenue Deli got some press in 1996 when they were robbber (follow the link for more info on that)and is well known today. I’ve eaten at the old location on 10th Street and 2nd Ave as well as the new location at East 33rd Street. I’m a fan and a friend of mine swears they have the best Pastrami sandwhiches of the Jewish Deli’s. It’s a modern restaurant with good food.

I’ve been to Katz’s a couple times and there can be quite a line there at times. When you enter you are given a ticket, DO NOT lose the ticket. When you go to the counters they will right your price on it, when you leave you pay at the register. If you don’t have your ticket I think you pay $5o. Katz’s is best know from When Harry Met Sally – the orgasm scene. The decor is vintage.

My favorite place for motza ball soup is Ben’s Deli. It’s a modern restaurant with good food.

Which is the best? Depends who you ask and what you’re getting. You can’t go wrong with any of the deli’s. If you want a calmer dining type experience the Ben’s or the 2nd Ave Deli are a better choice. They’re all a bit pricey, but the food quality is good and you’ll get a good meal.

Sep 02

Coney Island, NY

I recently spent some time working in Coney Island, home of the world famous Nathans hot dog. I’m not impressed with the place, it’s quite dumpy. It’s slated for refurbishment, and it needs it. It looks like there were once a lot of “pay by the hour” hotels there that have since been boarded up, isn’t that quaint? Most of the shops are small and unwelcoming. For food there is Nathans (with limited seating), Popeye’s and some other not too exciting fast food options. There are vacant lots that are overrun with weeds. I’m told by others that Coney Island at night isn’t terribly safe in terms of crime. Have I convinced you to skip Coney Island yet??

The good? The subway station was redone and is and fairly nice for a NYC Subway station. Keyspan Park featuring the Brooklyn Cyclones is nice for a family baseball game. The amusements are classic old school types of stuff – wooden roller coaster and carnival games. The beach looks (I’m working there, not going to the beach) nice and fairly well kept up.

The verdict? Unless it’s summertime or you really want a hot dog from the original Nathans, don’t bother. If it’s summer and you want a NYC beach or you want that hot dog, then it’s not a bad place to visit for a couple hours during the day. But don’t expect a nice fancy area, this is a run down little area with a beach and boardwalk. Nathan’s hot dogs are pretty good too.