Top 6 Things To Do in Long Island City in the Springtime

Spring is in the air… finally! This morning,  New Yorkers crawled out of their winter dens, stripping themselves of snow boots, misery and wool coats, slapped on a (temporary) smile and ventured outdoors for what seems like the first time in ages to enjoy the balmy 65-degree Fahrenheit, sunny weather we’ve been blessed with on a weekend day. Hallelujiah! Spring is here!
With the better weather comes a responsibility that most weekend warriors will understand. On the two days a week you’re not stuck indoors at your office, if it’s nice outside, you darn well better be outside enjoying it. Let’s be clear, though. You shouldn’t ditch the black boots and long sleeves yet. We’re still in New York and it’s April, and it could very well snow tomorrow … so don’t get too excited.
An old friend we met in Argentina, but just so happens to also live in NYC, came over today and we set out to enjoy the best of what LIC (that’s Long Island City….which, while technically geographically located on Long Island, is very much part of New York City and one Subway stop away from Manhattan on the 7, E or M trains – sorry to blow your mind) has to offer.
So, we took her out to enjoy our favorite weekend rituals for good weather in Long Island City. What are those, you ask? I’m so glad you did!

Here are my Top 6 Favorite Things To Do in LIC in The Springtime:

1.  Visit the LIC Flea & Food

Inaugurating the unofficial delayed start to the season this weekend was the grand reopening of the LIC Flea & Food, a celebrated local food and artisan fair held every Saturday and Sunday during the spring and summer outdoors at the corner of 46th Avenue and 5th Street, just one block from Center Boulevard in Long Island City, Queens.
Tons of food options, tons of artists and craftsmen – making for a few hours of fun at the Flea
Keep your eyes out for a detailed post about the “Flea” in the coming days.
For more on the LIC Flea & Food, visit http://www.licflea.com/ .

2.  Enjoy Gantry State Park

Iconic Pepsi-Cola sign? Check.

Amazing, unobstructed views of the New York City skyline? Check.

Ample room to sit, lounge, stroll and enjoy the waterfront? Check.

Dog park with (what I think is) the best view you can get? Check.

Ferry landing, where you can grab the East River ferry to Manhattan or to various parts of Brooklyn? Check.

 



Trouble finding the park? Walk straight from Center Boulevard towards the skyline. Stop before you fall in the East River. Easy peasy. Continue reading

A Night in Rome – Wandering Trastevere

One of my favorite things to do when in Rome is wander the ancient neighborhood of Trastevere.
My husband and I went to Rome back in September 2010 and tried to eat at a particular restaurant in the neighborhood of Trastevere (Le Mani in Pasta – see my post about it here) after I’d done some research online and figured out that some of the best pasta places in the city were concentrated in that ‘hood. We’d already eaten at one of the best pizza places (Dar Poeta – amazing… but also super cramped and loud – see my post about it here) in the neighborhood, and fell in love with the awkwardly narrow, cobbled streets, piazzas filled with locals drinking beer and wine, dining al fresco, countless scooters whizzing by thisclose to where we were walking. It was magical. It feels exactly the way you would expect Rome to feel.
We had arrived at said restaurant and the harried waiter asked us how many, and assured us that we’d have a table in 20 minutes. Twenty minutes later, it was another 20 minutes. This continued for about an hour (we were patient!) until another waiter dropped an entire tray of food on his way to a table, and we finally realized: We are not going to sit anytime soon. Luckily, another couple had just been walking by and suggested that we check out the restaurant around the corner. We set off in search of our consolation dinner immediately, stomachs rumbling and hanger building with each step.
After navigating a small maze of streets we found ourselves in Piazza dei Mercanti, standing in front of Continue reading

Pic of the Day – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

I’m on a roll, folks.  Two days in a row counts as a roll, right? I think so.

Today’s pic of the day is from our New Year’s Eve jaunt to the Emerald Isle (that’s Ireland… in case you’re living under a rock), during a stroll around the south side of the Liffey.

Date Taken: January 4, 2015
Location: Trinity College Campus, Dublin, Ireland
I’ve been to Trinity College maybe 6 times or so out of the dozen or so times I’ve visited Dublin, and it never gets old. I can never help but be envious of the students who actually attend school there. Lucky. But, I guess the Irish are known for luck?

 

The High Line in NYC

Spring has been teasing New York City lately, and it’s kind of messed up. But on those days where it’s warm and sunny, New Yorkers flock to the High Line in Chelsea.

Sixty degrees one day, and the young female office workers ditch the tights and wear short dresses that are a little too short, a little too early. Calm down, it’s March.

The fact that the next day’s high is in the forties (or lower) snaps us all back to reality, and we realize that spring just ain’t here quite yet. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time this spring and summer to strut your inappropriately-short-and-tight office attire around the city streets, twenty-something social media interns and fashion stylist interns. It’s just not that time yet.

However, we got a taste of spring today after we exited our boozy brunch at Fonda in Chelsea this early afternoon.  (Delicious brunch! – Will post a review next time.)

The elusive sun beat down on our hibiscus margarita-stained lips as my husband, our friend and I walked up 9th avenue and decided to stroll over down to the High Line and enjoy the brief respite from the sh*ttiest winter in recent memory.

One thing you’ll learn about most New Yorkers is that we avoid touristy things like the plague. Case in point: I hadn’t visited the Statue of Liberty until I was 26 years old and I went with a tourist I befriended during their visit to NY. So, it’s not surprising that I had never visited the High Line prior to today since its opening in 2009.

 

We entered at 23rd street and walked downtown toward the Meatpacking District and the Gansevoort Street exit.

 

 

Remember that time the sun was out? It was just a few minutes ago…

 

You can sit in these stadium-style seats and gawk at the traffic below you on Tenth Avenue. If that’s your thing.

I have to admit, it was pretty awesome. Oh, yeah… and it’s free.

I’ll be visiting again when the weather is nicer (as in, sunny and warm for more than a few hours at a time), and taking more photos then.

I love the architecture in the Meatpacking District.

After, we strolled around the Meatpacking District, wandered into AllSaints and coveted ALL THE THINGS, balking at the prices and decided we couldn’t afford ANY OF THE THINGS in good conscience, and took the Subway back home to LIC.

I want all the things.

It was a fabulous afternoon!

How do YOU like to spend a sunny day in NYC? Leave a comment and tell me!

A Winter’s Day in Central Park – Central Park Ice Festival

On January 18 last year, hubby and I went walking through Central Park to check out the Central Park Ice Festival near the Bethesda Fountain with its famous statue, Angel of the Waters.

Okamoto Studio’s artists were on hand, giving live demonstrations, carving beautiful creatures and objects out of ice blocks using various tools like chain saws, picks, chisels and blowtorches.

Central Park Ice Festival
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If you find yourself in NYC during the winter, check the Central Park Conservatory website to see when this event will be on. In 2015, it was held in mid-February, so it seems to be held at different times of the winter.  The best part? It’s free!  It’s also family-friendly.

Inside the Bethesda Terrace, you’ll normally find opera singers taking advantage of the ahhh-mazing acoustics of the structure. It’s a great opportunity to take in some world-class singing without buying a ticket to the Met(ropolitan Opera)! That day was no exception.

Isn’t the architecture just beautiful?

And, only in New York, we ran into this dog, dressed head to tail in Yankees swag.

After the festival, we wandered down the mall, taking in the sights of the men and women with giant bubble hoops, blowing bubbles to the delight of children. Just for a second, we fought the urge to run into the giant bubbles ourselves, popping them and getting covered in soapy, iridescent remnants of our childhood.

 
 

An afternoon in Colonia, Uruguay

During another trip to Buenos Aires during Easter Week, my friends and I decided that we should make the hop over to Uruguay and see what we were missing in Colonia del Sacramento.

Turns out, not a WHOLE lot. But it was still worth a visit.

We took the Buquebus over, and made a few mistakes that I hope someone else can learn from.

TIPS FOR TAKING THE BUQUEBUS:

  1. One does not simply arrive, buy a ticket, and get on the boat within a half hour. You need to buy tickets online in advance (if you can – the website was not working when we were trying to buy them online the day before), which you can do here: http://www.buquebus.com/BQBWebV2/web/ListadoDayTours. If you don’t, you must go into the terminal in Puerto Madero and find the Buquebus Turismo (travel) agency.
  2. You also can’t book a ticket for any departure within a half hour or so. So, either show up way earlier than you intend to leave, or buy them in advance online or at the terminal.
  3. You’ll need to go through immigration and pre-clear it and customs in Argentina, so be aware.
Look at me, I’m a bullring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second mistake we made was that we booked the city tour sightseeing bus that takes you on a tour of Colonia. It’s a) too long, b) not in English as promised, c) boring and d) time poorly spent. The only things we saw that were of note were the bullring and the old town.  You can actually get to the bullring by taxi or by renting a golf cart in town, and I recommend doing it that way if you really must see it. It was cool, but I’m not sure it was worth the hour or so it took to get there and back on the tour bus, when we could have spent that hour or so walking around and shopping or eating.

Pretty streets in the old town.

And the old town is where you get dropped off from the bus that you get from the ferry terminal.

COLONIA, URUGUAY PROTIP: Don’t waste your money and time on the “tour bus” and just walk the old town for the day. We wished we had more time to spend there, and unfortunately, the bus tour was so long that we didn’t have much time to explore the best part of the city.

Just a tort waiting to happen.

The city’s cobblestone streets are lined with trees and cafes, of laid-back Uruguayans drinking mate and wine and watching passersby stroll along the boulevards in search of often-overpriced “authentic” tchotchkes to gather dust in their curio cabinets for years to come.

We, however, were on another mission. We were starving. And when you’re not in Mendoza, you eat seafood. As much seafood as humanly possible.

Gates of the old town. If there’s anything I like,  it’s a good smattering of plaques.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through all of my foodie research (including scouring TripAdvisor frantically on my iPhone while walking through said picturesque streets), we decided to try to eat at a pizza place called La Bodeguita. It looked adorable. And delicious. And we arrived 5 minutes past lunch time!!! Total bummer.As we entered the gates of the old city walls, we were immediately transported. I have no other words for the place but “cute” and “awwww”.  You just feel the history, but it’s still quaint and a happy place. There are a ton of little restaurants serving mainly the same things, but the people are happy and there’s a vibrance to the place that I just can’t describe. It almost felt like home, in a weird way.

We ended up eating at a plaza cafe called La Pulperia de Los Faroles. We had fried calamari, several pitchers of sangria and the “seafood pots”, which was like a paella. My friend got adventurous and tried these vegetarian spinach fritters, which were actually REALLY tasty. It wasn’t our first choice of a place to go, and the staff was less than attentive, but the setting was wonderful. A few groups of Candombe drummers performed nearby and we relaxed under the Uruguayan sun, spending some much-needed downtime enjoying the sights and sounds.

We had to head back to the bus terminal, after our short day of exploration and relaxation. The line was enormous (as you have to go through customs & immigration again, if I remember correctly – before you board the boat). We were all exhausted.

If I ever go back to Colonia, I will make sure that I have more than a few hours to see the old town and really get to enjoy it. There’s not much there; there are a few museums, and from what I understand, great gastronomy and nightlife. However, I’d like to go back again and see for myself. This time, I’ll do it right.

Adorable little streets full of restaurants.