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.

$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.

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

Top 15 Reasons to Love Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland is one of my favorite cities in the world. There are several reasons for this. And, without further ado – here are my…

top 15 reasons to love Dublin, Ireland

  1. Its Size

    Population-wise, Dublin has about 527,000 inhabitants, and covers an area of about 44.4 square miles. Much of what a tourist wants to see and do is packed into only a few square miles in the city center and this results in a very accessible, walkable town.

     

    Samuel Beckett Bridge, Dublin, Ireland

    View of the Millennium Spire through the Samuel Beckett Bridge

    I’ve spent a day walking one end to the other – starting around the Grand Canal Dock at Samuel Beckett Bridge and strolling along the Liffey all the way to Phoenix Park and Kilmainham Gaol. It takes a few hours if you stop here and there to see the sights, and it may not be great if you have older folks in your group, but it’s a definite plus that you can see most of the sights on foot if you want.

  2. Ease of public transportation

    You can take public transport all around the city and skip taxi cabs all together if you like. Take the DART from the outer neighborhoods to Tara Street and you’re smack in the middle of Temple Bar, for example. Or, take the DART out of the city to Malahide or Howth and take in the beautiful sea views.

    The Luas, a relatively newer light rail system, hits the city’s shopping streets north of the river, but it doesn’t go many other places that a tourist would want to visit.  Nevertheless, DART and Luas tickets are cheap and are a great option for travelers who are solo or are in small groups (when splitting a taxi doesn’t make sense).

  3. Direct flights to Dublin from many cities

    Dublin’s status as the capitol of Ireland and a tourist destination means that it’s easy to get to from many world cities. There are direct flights daily from the U.S. cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and Orlando, for example.  The best airlines to get you there would be Ireland’s own Aer Lingus, or the other major carriers like Delta, American Airlines/US  Air, and even Emirates. I love Aer Lingus personally because you start getting the hospitality and flavor of Ireland the minute you step foot on the airplane.
    Continue reading

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

Review: Try The World

Hubby and I have been subscribers of Try The World since Christmas and recently received our second box – the Venice box – in the mail. So, I thought I’d write a review.

Try the World

Contents of the Try The World Venice Box

“What’s Try The World?” you ask? I have to admit, I was hesitant to sign up for it because I found it via a Facebook ad. Normally, I ignore Facebook ads… and I would say that one out of 2 times I actually clicked on them and ended up buying something, I have been horribly disappointed. Continue reading

Buenos Aires: Wandering La Boca

Ok, I promised I’d write a little bit about my second trip to Buenos Aires and wandering La Boca. Here it is. See? I deliver.

Part of why I was excited to go back to BA was that I never got to see the Boca stadium, or La Boca in general.

Boca Juniors play here. They took their colors from the Swedish Flag.

This time I took Kim’s advice (who commented on a prior post) and checked out Caminito in La Boca. I have to say, it was a pretty cool place. And funny. And super obnoxious. Every two feet, someone would approach us and ask us to eat in their cafe, or go to their tango show, or buy something. It got old, real fast.

Ah, Caminito. And Havanna, which is basically the Starbucks of Argentina. And possibly as obnoxious.

However, the highlight was a 20-something dreadlocked rasta who came right up and said, “Hey guys, want to get really f*cking drunk in my awesome restaurant?”  I couldn’t have asked it better myself.

We declined, however. We were on the search for some good knockoff Argentina jerseys and scarves. And trying to take photos of the streets, because, well, they are pretty amazing.

Creepy mannequins are watching you.

 

Other highlights were the fat Argentine man who takes photo ops as Maradona, the famous (?) Maradona graffiti, and the tango dancers in the streets. And the restaurant hustler who kept trying to guess where I was from. When I told him “Texas, USA”, after he guessed Australia, Canada, Russia (?), and then things like Iowa (!) …he replied, “But you are so white!”

Thanks, dude.

 

Jumbo – A supermarket in a mall.

I was treated to one of the weirdest experiences here yesterday, when I went shopping at Jumbo with a friend to get some home stuff/imported foods.

Jumbo’s in a mall. So when you check out, and you’re wanting to go get a remise or cab or whatever, you have to take your shopping cart full of food and parade it through the mall, past the clothing stores and kiosks.

It was really just strange.


A few comments on my Jumbo experience:

It is the worst of Argentina all in one place. The hair, the rudeness, the people with no clue running into you with their shopping cart, overpriced electronics, and it took forever to do anything.

We waited in line after we got all our stuff picked out for FORTY FIVE MINUTES.

All this, while the a**holes in front of us had TWO carts and the miserable-looking wife kept running off and coming back with more sh*t to put in their carts. Diapers, milk, and oh yeah, 18 bottles of 2-liter Cokes, 4 bottles of Fernet, a case of Talca orange soda, about 10 lbs of meat, and random other crap. Did I mention she went back and forth for milk 3 times? No, I didn’t. But I just did.

It got so bad, we decided to pick up a storybook and entertain ourselves reading about Blancanieves and the 7 dwarves.

Note the quantity of soda. not pictured: even more soda, diapers, milk, and angry-looking wife

I did manage to score some pretty sweet American foods. Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup, broccoli & cheese soup, for example. They also had Pepperidge Farms super chunk cookies, but they weren’t scanning correctly, and I was so ready to leave the store I told the checkout girl to ignore them and put them away – I was not about to wait for some lackadaisical manager to mosey over and find a barcode.

Also purchased: flour tortillas (no corn there, grrr), imported Italian pasta, aaand, that’s it.  They bother to import ramen noodles, but they can’t bring in a thing of jalapeños? Tragic.

You’re next, Walmart.