Top 5 Most Overrated NYC Attractions

After years of taking friends and relatives around the City that Never Sleeps, I’ve been forced more than once to endure the tourist traps that define this great concrete jungle, but no real New Yorker ever tries to visit unless absolutely necessary. Here are my Top 5 Most Overrated NYC Attractions, and a few alternatives to get the same or similar experiences, without overpaying and braving the slack-jawed masses.

5.  Ice Skating at Rockefeller Center

Everyone wants to go ice skating at Rockefeller Center. Beneath the famous Christmas tree and the gaze of Prometheus, 150 skaters at a time can skate around in circles while being gawked at by hordes of tourists.

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$25-$32 will get you admission to the rink and $12 will get you rental skates. Ouch.

Rock Center is beautiful and a must-see during the holiday season, especially. In the summer there’s a great outdoor bar and cafe that’s erected over the rink – so it’s a great place to be year-round. But, you don’t need to skate there.

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Instead: Go ice skating at Bryant Park or The Rink at Brookfield Place – basically anywhere else.

Bryant Park‘s skating rink is free (yes, FREE!) with skate rentals of $20, and the Winter Village is definitely worth a look. You can store your bags for a fee and pay $28 to skip the line. Just allow plenty of time and you won’t need to do that, though. If you’re visiting, plan to visit during working hours, when the poor folks who live here need to be at work. And know that I’m envious of you!

The Rink at Brookfield Place, in the shadow of the World Trade Center, right by the water and surrounded by fabulous shopping and restaurants, is a great deal at $15 per 90 minute session and a $5 skate rental.  You can even pay a bit extra to take a skating lesson from former U.S. Olympic skaters. How cool is that?

4.  Statue of Liberty

Sure, Lady Liberty is a beaut’ and she celebrates her 125th anniversary this year. But, do you really want to get on a boat with a bunch of other tourists and be held captive, then corralled around the queue to get in, then wait some more, go Continue reading

Quick Poll: Where to for Christmas & New Year’s?

Folks, I need your help trying to figure out whether to do Copenhagen, Stockholm, or both for Christmas and New Year’s Eve this year. Here’s the rub: we usually try to cram so many things into one trip, we really want to try to keep it to one destination this time around. Please vote in my poll below! And please leave a comment if you have any place you recommend in the place you’ve voted for. Thanks in advance!

Cahoots: Cocktails in London

Cahoots LondonI really think I would have loved Prohibition. Why? Not because I think alcohol is evil – that would probably be the opposite of the truth. No, it’s because I am obsessed with speakeasy themed bars (or actual speakeasy bars) and Cahoots in London is quite possibly one of my favorite bars in the world.

How to Find CAHOOTS and Getting In

Set in an abandoned tube station just off Carnaby Street in Kingly Court (a great area anyway for eating and drinking in the evening), Cahoots is hidden away. A sign simply saying “To the Trains –>” with a small, bricked alcove and a nondescript door is the only indication that it’s nearby.  The door is manned by a gentleman dressed oddly like it’s 1945, in suspenders.

Cahoots London

In Cahoots.

You can only get in if you know the password – or, in this case – who to ask for. (It’s the Captain.) The doorman is in on the whole thing, and plays along in character completely.  The Captain may not be taking any more visitors that evening, or is the Captain expecting you? Do you have an appointment to see the Captain this evening?

Cahoots London

Reservations are for two-hour blocks, since it’s usually quite busy. Definitely book ahead if you want to be sure you get in during your trip!

TRAVEL BACK IN TIME

Cahoots London

Propaganda Posters and subway tiles

Walking down the narrow steps after the Captain agrees to see you, you’re transported to London during WWII’s Blitz. The staff are all dressed in gear from the era, the music is jazz and swing, the only things on the menu are things that existed back then.  There’s no wifi (“What’s wifi?” replies the waitress, “This is 1945!”) or Continue reading

The Top 5 Worst Airplane Passengers

worst airplane passengers

Whether you’re flying for business or traveling on vacation, you’re likely going to encounter people who are just horrible airplane passengers. Here’s my list of the worst airplane passengers, ranked by irritation factor from lowest (#5) to highest (#1). Whether it’s thinking that the rules don’t apply to you, or complete disregard for personal space, you are ruining it for everyone else. If you do any of these things, maybe you don’t realize how much you’re bothering your fellow passengers. But trust me, you’re the worst.

#5 The person who can’t wait to unbuckle their seatbelt the second they land.

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You know who you are. The second those rear wheels hit the runway, a chorus of click click click! echoes throughout the cabin. Except the pilot always comes on the loudspeaker and reminds all passengers (yes, that includes YOU!) that you should keep your seatbelt fastened until the plane comes to a complete stop.  Why is this? Well, the plane stops short sometimes. This actually gives me great pleasure because the started “oh!” usually comes from one of you, oh Safety Shunner. Sometimes, you are taxiing for an ungodly amount of time (I’m looking at you, JFK). Sometimes, you have to wait for another plane to move before you can park at the gate. Either way, the flight isn’t over until the pilot says it’s over.

And what is your issue? Is the seatbelt SO uncomfortable that you can’t bear to wear it a second longer? I mean really. You’re not special. Keep your goddamn belt fastened and sit down.

#4 The person who has to stand up and get their bag or go to the bathroom after the plane has boarded/ is about to take off or land.

Unless you’re crapping your pants like an Olympic marathon walker, you can sit there and wait until we’re in the sky like the rest of us. SIT. THE. EFF. DOWN.  I don’t care if you don’t speak English (or Spanish or whatever the flight attendants speak) – don’t play Continue reading

The Best of Santiago, Chile in 3 Days

The Best of Santiago, Chile

Santiago, Chile may not be the world’s most beautiful city. It’s not the ugliest, either. It’s got its fair share of fun things to do and cool things to see, but Santiago is a city where people live, work and play. It’s not necessarily built for tourism, but there’s a lot of things to do and see there as a tourist, if you know where to look.

Many folks build a trip to Santiago, Chile on their way to Easter Island, other parts of mainland Chile like Valparaiso, or Mendoza, Argentina. It has many direct flights from U.S. and other international cities, and is one of the capitals of South America.  I submit that it’s definitely worth seeing, rather than just passing through, after being there a handful of times.

Our most recent trip to Santiago had us there for three days, which is the perfect amount of time to see the sights and enjoy the city.

The Best of Santiago, Chile in 3 days

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Tours 4 Tips Free Walking Tour

This time around, we opted to take a tour with Tours 4 Tips, which was awesome! We did the Santiago Offbeat Tour. Our guide was fantastic, and the group was mainly people around our age, but there was definitely a range. We hit some of the top sights of the city that we wanted to see. We also got great background on the tumultuous political past of the country, much of which is not taught in U.S. schools (or is more than a paragraph or two in our history books).

Santiago, Chile

Our guide explains the local produce of Chile at La Vega Central.

Santiago, Chile Mercado Central

Face to face with a conger eel, or congrejo, at the Mercado Central

Our tour highlighted three of the main markets in the city, including the Mercado Central and La Vega Central. We also saw Continue reading

Iceland Road Trip: The Golden Circle

Golden Circle Road Trip

Firstly, I’d like to give a huge shout-out to Auður at IHeartReykjavik for the inspiration for this Golden Circle road trip. We used her map and suggested stops to get us from Reykjavik to Gulfoss and back, and it was super handy!

The Golden Circle basically covers the highlights of Iceland in one neat little day-long road trip. If you’re pressed for time and can only spend a day or two in Iceland, then this is the route for you! You’ll cover waterfalls, geysers, national parks and much more in a very short period driving the Golden Circle.

Why drive The Golden Circle yourself?

Rather than take a guided coach tour, we opted to rent our own car when in Iceland so that we could do the sights our own way – freedom to explore and choice far outweighed our need to be chauffeured around. Plus, being in our 30’s we didn’t want to be crammed into a coach bus with a bunch of old people. No offense to old people, but overhearing conversations about retirement plans, medication and grandchildren wasn’t on our list of experiences to be had.

Golden Circle road trip

Road trip! On our way out of Reykjavik, heading east…

It was summer when we went so we did not need to worry about snow on the roads. Although I was a bit nervous about renting a car abroad, I was assured by friends that driving is easy and safe, so long as the weather cooperates. They were right – it was really, really easy to drive there and there’s nearly zero traffic.

Hitting the Road

We set out from Reykjavik after picking up our rental car at around 730am, which included Continue reading