Walking the High Line

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Looking for a refreshing walk in NYC?  Try exploring the newly renovated High Line which is located on the West Side of Manhattan.   Walk above the city streets on what used to be only railroad tracks.  Now, you will find a variety of plant life and architectural design with many places to stop and take in the scenery along the way.   The High Line runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meat Packing district up to 34th Street and entrance is free.   For all the details on how to get there click on their website:  http://www.thehighline.org/about/park-information.

If you are interested in meeting new people during your exploration of the high line, you might consider signing up through Outdoor Bound or MMA for one of their urban hikes in this location.  You will start off at Vestry Wines for a wine tasting, then from there you will walk along the scenic waterfront until you reach the high line entrance.  Once you have finished walking to the end of the high line, everyone in the group heads to a local spot for some drink specials to finish off the event.  I went this past weekend and it was a lot of fun!

Harbor Cocktail Cruise Aboard the Zephyr

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After all the rain we have had in the month of June, we actually had some dry and sunny weather yesterday.  So, I happily agreed to go on a Harbor Cocktail Cruise after work where I could thoroughly enjoy the perfect weather.  I signed up for this particular cruise aboard the Zephyr through Outdoor Bound.  The Zephyr is run by Circle Line and is located off of Pier 16 right next to the South Street Seaport.  Having just been on the other side of the river at Brooklyn Promenade Park, it was nice to see the Brooklyn Bridge from the exact opposite viewpoint. 

Before embarking on our cruise, my friend and I enjoyed the happy hour specials at Skippers Pierside Cafe.  Skippers is entirely outdoors and offers $4 domestic beers and $5 imported beers during their happy hour.  They also have a menu of varied food options if you are hungry.  All the groups for our cruise met up at this spot for some drinks and appetizers which was a great way to begin the event.  Our cruise event was priced at $30 which included one drink on the boat and then drink specials offered afterwards at Skippers.

Our departure time was 6:30pm and the boat left promptly.  On the first level there is a an enclosed area with seating (this is also where the DJ was set up since there is a dance floor).  The second level has both indoor space and access to an outdoor deck.  Then one flight up there is a full sun deck with benches if you prefer to sit.  These benches were helpful for keeping balance and holding on when the water got a little choppy.  

Since the weather was so cooperative it was very refreshing to see the sunset behind the city skyline.  Our journey took us up towards Long Island City and then back south to a beautiful view of the sun setting behind the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  It was very relaxing to take all of these sights in while sipping on beverages from the bar.  Since I love boats and being on the water, the cruise ended way too soon for me.  We were back at Pier 16 by 8pm.  The groups were supposed to mingle with drink specials and food afterwards, however there was a music/dance event being held so it was way too loud.  So, my friend and I ordered some dinner at Skippers while some very talented New Yorkers danced the night away on the pier. 

All in all, I had a very pleasant evening.  I took lots of pictures and loved my time on the water.  There was not as much mingling aboard the ship as I had hoped, but it was still a great way to end a busy work day.

Not Just For Tourists!

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This past weekend, I had family visiting from out of town.  When people visit, it is a chance to get out and enjoy the city by breaking away from the everyday routine.  Especially in times when money might be a little tighter, it is always great to be able to have adventures right in your own backyard! 

Even though I have lived here in NY for many years now, I still always love a trip to Brooklyn Promenade Park.  Here is my recommended route to get there: Take the 2 or 3 Train to the Clark Street stop, walk all the way down Clark St. towards the water and it is always a breathtaking, scenic view of Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge once you get to the end.  Turn right and keep walking  along and past the promenade till you get to Old Fulton Street. 

Once you reach Old Fulton Street, you will have no trouble finding Grimaldi’s Pizzeriaas there is always a line of people patiently waiting outside.   I have heard it said from people passing by that they would never bother to wait in line for pizza, but personally I am happy to wait every time I go to Grimaldi’s because the pizza is definitely worth it.  It is my favorite in the area, although I love many of the pizza offerings throughout NYC.  When you are finally seated inside it will not be long until a mouthwatering pizza is in front of you ready to be devoured.   

After you have enjoyed your fill of pizza, walk over to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory right near the waterfront for a tasty dessert.  Even if there is a line for ice cream, it usually goes pretty fast.  While you are enjoying your frozen treats, you can take in the majestic views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline. 

If you have the energy after indulging in all that delicious food, I highly recommend walking over the Brooklyn Bridge to get back to Manhattan if that is where you are returning to.  Day or night, it is an exhilarating walk and something every New Yorker should do at least once if they get the chance.  The entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge walkway is only a short distance from Grimaldi’s.  Just beware of the bike lanes and stay on the walking path while you walk across!  Once back in Manhattan, there are a few nearby subway stops to help you get to your next destination wherever that may be.

Even though it might put a few more people in line, I definitely wanted to share one of my favorite ways to enjoy the Brooklyn waterfront.  After all, visitors should not be the only ones experiencing all that our great city has to offer!

NYC Fringe Festival – Don’t Miss Out!

Looking for something to liven up the rest of your summer? The New York International Fringe Festival is the largest multi-arts festival in North America and is sure to have something to entertain you. This year’s Fringe Festival started on Friday, August 8th and it continues through Sunday, August 24th, 2008. Performances will be from 2pm to Midnight on weekdays, and Noon to Midnight on weekends. There are so many events and performances to choose from, you are bound to find something new and fun to take a look at. There are art events, theater and music performances to enjoy. You can find the schedule and ticket information for all things Fringe NYC at their website: http://www.fringenyc.org/

Hiking to Van Slyke Castle Ruins

I had wanted to sign up for a hiking adventure for a while but was looking for the right one. Luckily, I found it at the MMA site for a Hike and Swim Majestic Ruins of the Van Slyke Castle in NJ. I couldn’t say no! I have not hiked since I was a kid at camp so this would be a new experience for me to do this as an adult. Having had fun at every event I participated in with MMA so far I didn’t think I could go wrong.

I showed up with my mom’s hiking books (which thankfully she lent me), a new cooling water bottle and a standard water bottle which together amounted to my minimum 2 liter water requirement, and a bagged lunch. I was ready to go! The drive was approximately 45 minutes outside of midtown Manhattan over the GWB. Once we started I immediately started to realize what I was in for… lots of uphill on what I thought was a very rocky terrain. We hiked first to Ramapo Lake and then made our way onto a trail around one of the neighboring mountains. With the hot and humid weather and lack of previous hiking experience, I found the uphill sections feeling a bit endless at times and rather difficult for me without some breaks in the middle. However, once you got to a lookout point you felt the reward of the heights you have climbed to get there. I was immensely thankful for my cooling water bottle too! I definitely needed it and had some envious fellow hikers.

After a lunch by the lake, we finally made our way towards the Van Slyke Castle Ruins. This was what I had been looking forward to the most so I was quite excited, even though I knew it meant more uphill climbing. It was well worth it. As an avid photographer, I took advantage of all that remained of this once glorious building. I would love to come back to view it in the fall or winter when there is less greenery and it will be more exposed.

Once we descended that mountain, our hiking day finished off with a brave swim in the lake. I say it was brave since there was some plant life that seemed to have taken over the water so that if you went in, you would have some interacting with you while you were swimming. I must say though, after all the hard work we did during our hike, most of us quite enjoyed the refreshment of the lake.

All in all, it was a fantastic day. I was encouraged by our trail leader that the more I hike the better I will get at both the uphill climbing and the effect on my knees. I took a rested the following day and my knees were fully recovered from the pain I was feeling immediately after the hike.

This hike was a combined outing with Outdoor Bound and MMA participants. Everyone was really nice and made the experience that much more fun. I would definitely recommend this to someone just starting out with hiking and anyone with an interest in taking pictures of the castle ruins. As I said earlier, I definitely plan to go back sometime!