New York Roots (and Travel Tips)

2 10 2010

A long, long time ago (at least it seems that way), when I first took the big leap and moved to the frightening and exhilarating city that is New York, I was lucky enough to find an internship at a friendly little travel website called EuroCheapo. With brothers Tom and Pete Meyers at the helm, EuroCheapo aims to make European (and New York, since that’s where they’re based) travel affordable by reviewing budget hotels that are actually comfortable.

I so loved going to the sunny office in Soho, and writing about travel, and laughing and joking and listening to great music with small but mighty EC crew, that I just kept going, and finally I was upgraded from intern to assistant editor. It was a sad day when I had to leave EuroCheapo, but now I’m making a triumphant return, not to the office, but to the blog!

I’ve just become the New York blogger for EuroCheapo, and I’ll be writing every other week about unique and affordable activities in New York City. It’s a fun turn of events that my first year of getting to know New York found me at EuroCheapo, and now I’m such a New York veteran that I can provide regular advice on what to see and do (and no Empire State Building here, folks!). Follow my New York tips and adventures here!





Lit Crawl Love

13 09 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010 could not have been a more beautiful evening, and it was made all the more beautiful thanks to the surge of literary love that took over the East Village (literally, in some cases). The 16-venue event was nothing short of magical, with a buzz of energy in each room and overflowing onto the streets.

As promised, The Paris Review brought “it” — and it brought the crowds (we estimated 150 folks crammed into Fontana’s). There was also a lovely 9/11 tribute compliments of some beloved denizens of the Lower East Side, but the highlight of the night may have been the street takeover that occurred when one venue wanted to charge our guests admission.

The hippie staff at Yippie Cafe had agreed to wave their usual cover for our free event, but on the night of new management changed their tune. But lit lovers are not to be thwarted. We stuck it to the “hippie” man and took our Urban Lives reading to the streets, literally. It was a wonderful and powerful sight to see 50-some lovers of literature on the sidewalk listening, rapt, to the readers who took their turn on a planter box stage on Bleecker Street. Only at Litquake.

Thanks to all who made it a memorable night, and stay tuned for details of next year, and a possible springtime foray.





US Open!

4 09 2009
Nice seats, eh?

Nice seats, eh?

In case you didn’t know it, there’s a big tennis competition going on. I know it (even though I don’t know for certain is “tennis competition” is the proper term). I know it because last night, for very first time, I visited the US Open. The great people at Olympus had a nice comfortable box for several members of the press to play with cameras and watch Roger Federer and Serena Williams.

Federer

Though I only vaguely understand tennis, it was great fun. I took a camera down to some seats within spitting distance of the court and played a little with photography, gawked at Kim Cattrall just two boxes away (it can’t all be tennis, right?) and even watched (and learned a little about tennis). But best of all, I participated in another little bit of New York greatness, watched at home by the rest of the world. Gotta love New York.

Some thoughts and observation on my first US Open experience:

  • You don’t have to be as quiet here as you see people being in those Wimbledon movies. You do, I learned from another journalist, at the real Wimbledon.
  • The poor ball boys must be under a lot of pressure. The race nervously on and off the court and always seem more than a little bit worried.

ball boy

  • On that note, what’s the deal with the need for so many tennis balls anyhow? The ball boys pick up the balls after each play, and then are constantly feeding the players new balls. It all seems a little absurd to me. But fascinating.
  • Serena Williams is quite fun to watch, but I was distracted by her amazing ability to play so well weighted down with all that bling she has going on (she was wearing huge hoop earrings and a very heavy-looking necklace).
  • Last, the US Open is just yet another very cool thing about living in New York.




Oh the Places You’ll Go

15 06 2009

I realize I’ve yet to write about my mother’s recent visit to New York. I love having visitors because it means not only that I get to play tour guide, but that I get to see the city in a new light. And often I get to see new things altogether. This time around it was ladies only, my mother and her best friend, Aunty Bee, who was introduced to my mother through Gaga, much like my mother found me a good New York friend.

This trip we covered much ground, and found entertainment in some unexpected places Our travels started out at the tip top of the island, with  visit to The Cloisters. We didn’t do the museum itself, but wandered its gorgeous grounds and the lush woods that is Fort Tryon Park, so quiet and serene it feels worlds away from the city in which it resides. We made our way back on the M4 bus, which is a fabulous (and economical) way to see the city. We rode it down to Columbia, where we hopped off for a stint, only to jump back on to ride down Fifth Avenue past the parks and museums.

Other highlights included the stunning views of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, a few hours at the Chelsea Market and a couple more (no joke) ogling the dish heaven that is Fishs Eddy (this is what I mean about unexpected entertainment) and sundry incredible street entertainers. For more of the fun (and lost of street entertainer video), see here.





Literary Mayhem

12 05 2009

So it turns out working a “real job” means much less time for things like blogging (not that I’m complaining). However, most of my free time lately has been devoted to yet another labor of love. The second Lit Crawl NYC is taking place this weekend and it’s going to be leaner, meaner and a whole lot of fun. We have real programs this time around (I just sent them off to be printed) and real sponsors  and Jack and Jane, the brilliant masterminds behind Litquake, will both be participating.

Plus, people are talking. Just yesterday, we were in The New Yorker. Go us!

I’d go on gushing, but, alas, I don’t quite have the time. Check out more at litquake.org/ny and if you’re anywhere near Manhattan on Saturday, May 16, you’d be missing out if you didn’t make your way down to the East Village to crawl a bit.





Friday Pennies: NY Souvenirs and Orchids and More

7 03 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve done a penny post, and after the week I’ve had, I need one. I don’t know why this week was exceptionally hard, but the combination of the frigid weather outside and my own feeling under the weather has had me feeling exhausted and pretty much blue all week long. But coming into the weekend, all is looking fine. A few reasons? Funny you should ask:

  • I’m lovin’ this blog post on Budget Travel about Authentic, Affordable New York Souvenirs. No snow globes here! A few favorites: the fantastic and unique New York dishes from Fishs Eddy, sweets from Zabar’s, and, of course, totes from Strand Books. A few to add: Fat Witch Brownies and that magical scrub from Sabon.
  • The fact that I was able to walk around today without my toes going numb. Is spring here?
  • Orchids.
  • Book group. I just picked up the latest book today. Confessions of an Economic Hitman, in which John Perkins tells of his role in helping “the U.S. cheat poor countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars by lending them more money than they could possibly repay and then taking over their economies.” Not, admittedly, something I would have chosen, which is why I’m thrilled that book group turned me on to it. I’ve read two pages and am already fascinated!
  • The weekend. Despite the fact that I must work tomorrow (I have to attend a class to learn about SAT prep, faux-yay!), the weekend promises a chat with Liz in London, a tour of an abandoned subway tunnel, and longer, lighter days.




Penny: A Few Friday Laughs

13 02 2009

It’s been a long and strange week and this Friday I’m in need of a few of Annie Dillard’s proverbial pennies to pick up my spirits. A few that I’ve found: book group, hot tea, my new photo wall (I’ve covered part of my enormous walls with a collage of some of my favorite travel moments and am very proud of how it turned out), and…

New York Magazine. Every week, this little collection of paper gives me a reason to look forward to Mondays, when it will arrive in my mailbox, and even more so to Tuesdays, when it is my subway reading. While John Heilmann‘s column is always a highlight for its great perspective and ability to keep me more politically aware, this week it was two other columns that thrilled me.

First was a review of Will Ferrell’s short turn on Broadway as good ol’ Dubbya in You’re Welcome America. A Final Night With George W. Bush. Will Ferrell poking fun at George W. as a final goodbye. On Broadway. I don’t think much more needs to be said about that. It simply brings a smile to the face.

Second is the cover story on Demetri Martin, comedic genius of the new comedic era. I discovered Martin months ago when a friend sent me a video of him doing flip art comedy (which I just discovered is no longer available: tear), and I must have watched the thing 50 times, never getting sick of his simple, but brilliant jokes. The fact that he now has a show, Important Things With Demetri Martin, which is being produced by John Stewart and will soon air on Comedy Central is enough to make this book lover/online television enthusiast want to go out and purchase a TV, and cable. And after reading the article, I love him even more. I’ll say nothing else. The article speaks for itself, and so does this:





Where Will You Be?

15 01 2009

The day we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived.

Bush gives his farewell address tonight! And a quick thumbs up to Gail Collins for her piece in the Times is titled He’s Leaving. Really. Perhaps the best Op-Ed title. Ever.

But, much awaited and welcome as this evening is, it is not (if for no other reason that it’s yet another George W. speech) the highly anticipated, wracked with joy event of which I speak. America has been a buzz of excitement these past few weeks, looking forward to Tuesday with all out fervor. For two months I’ve passed a familiar face in shop windows all over the city, vendors selling every type of  “Yes We Did” paraphernalia imaginable, and next week it will finally be official.

The festivities begin with an inaugural celebration on Sunday at Lincoln Memorial and will last through the Wednesday prayer service, and four million lambs are expected to flock to D.C. this weekend to be part of the historic and joyful inauguration of lucky number 44.

I, alas, will remain in New York. Though I am close to D.C., it does happen to be a work day (and we are having our own Harlem Children’s Zone inauguration celebration) and I happen to not like crowds all that much. However, for those who are braver than I, there is good news: if you’d like to go to D.C. but aren’t willing to promise your first born child for a much coveted hotel room, try staying with a local. Courtesy of Air Bed & Breakfast, local D.C. ers are offering rooms for rent, costing anywhere from $40-$100 a night. Easy to afford now that there’s a possibility of a tax credit. For more information on parties, getting to D.C., and even a Crash Kit, check out
www.crashtheinauguration.com
.

If you’re like me and can’t travel (or just fear being trampled) look local. Here in New York, where the streets danced on November 4, 2008, there will be no shortage of Obama celebrations, but local organizations around the country promise similar festivities. In California, Keith Carson, Alameda County Supervisor, has put together several days of interfaith/community service related events in honor of the new president and no doubt to get a head start on Obama’s Call to Service. Or if all else fails, plan your own party. Whatever you’re doing on January 20, though, it’s guaranteed to be one of those “I remember when…” moments.





Christmas Market Round-up

19 12 2008

I recently checked in on my old friends at EuroCheapo and discovered that they too are in the holiday spirit. And they had several posts that reminded me of one of my favorite things about Christmas, especially in Europe: the holiday market. Alas that I can’t waltz among the glistening lights of Vienna’s gorgeous buildings (see the post, Ginobli is sad too).

Enter New York. Just like the garlands and shop windows, sundry Christmas markets crop up here, there, and everywhere. Sure, a lot of the vendors end up selling cheesy wares and some of them even overlap from one market to the other. But then again there is something to be said for the feel of the cold air (yes, I said it) as you walk through the festive booths with a cup of hot cider in hand. And every once in a while, you even find the perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for someone, a gift which is ten times more unique than anything you could buy in an overcrowded store.

And so, to the Christmas Markets:

The Pond at Bryant Park: More than 100 artisans selling crafts, clothing, and specialty foods. Plus free ice skating. Plus Celsius, the cool Canadian Lounge where those of us who aren’t (ahem) very good at ice skating  can drink and watch.

Bryant Park, 6th Ave. at 42nd St.; 866-221-5157; Open daily from November 22 through December 28, 2008: Mon-Fri, 11am-8pm; Sat, 10am-9pm; Sun, 10am-6pm.


Grand Central Holiday Fair: From Christmas ornaments to Christmas books, and everything in between that’s not Christmas (bags, jewelry, ties…) the market in Vanderbilt Hall is packed with cool, unique gifts. A bonus: the setting’s pretty great as well (and not only because it’s warm. After a bit of holiday shopping head down into the main terminal where every half hour a light show takes you into winter wonderland.

Grand Central Terminal, Vanderbilt Hall, 42nd St. and Park Ave.; 212-340-2210; Open daily November 16 through December 29, 2008: Mon-Sat, 10am-8pm; Sun, 11am-7pm.


Holiday Market at Union Square: Leather goods, handmade toys, and warm wooly items along with countless others make these red and white booths both fun and festive. Go on a day when the Greenmarket‘s open and get all your shopping done at once.

Union Square Park at 14th St., 212-529-9262; Open daily November 22 through December 28, 2008: Mon-Fri, 11am-8pm; Sat, 10am-8pm; Sun, 11am-7pm. Open from 10am-4pm on Christmas Eve

Christmas Market at St. Bartholomew’s Church: It doesn’t get much more winter wonderland than this, what with the pretty market and the glow of trees from Park Avenue, and if that weren’t enough, the gift selection is great too: everything from antiques to winterwear to the usual holiday crafts all in one fantastical tribute to winter.

Park Ave. at 50th St., 212-809-5200; open daily November 19 through December 24, 2008: 8am-8pm

Gifted (at the Brooklyn Flea): Talk about unique gifts. Gifted is connected with the Brooklyn Flea, so you can browse fun vintage items and then head over to the holiday market, which features fantastic vendors like Jezebel Stationery, jewelry by Bonbon Oiseau, and more.

Brooklyn Masonic Temple, 317 Clermont Ave (at Lafayette Ave.), Fort Greene; Sundays, December 4, 14, and 21: 11am-6pm

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Christmastime in the City

17 12 2008

I’m not shy about my disdain of winter. Generally I find it cold and miserable, especially when the wind picks up. And yet there is something that makes Christmas decorations all the more, uh, Christmasey, when the air has that bit of chill to it. And, I’ll admit it, walking home last night, with snowflakes flurrying about me and a thin blanket of that pretty white substance that we have to fabricate in California was a little touch of magic (topped only by the tiny, blinking, and ever-so-charming Christmas tree with which some nice neighbor graced my new lobby).

Now, New York, cold and snow and all, may be considered, if you will, the city of Christmas. We have Rockefeller Center (much as I cringe thinking about cutting down trees, I can’t deny that the fact that this one has its own website is pretty nifty, even niftier that it lists some green tips), for one, and then there are those little ladies with the long legs, who really know how to kick it up a notch for Christmas (sorry for the terrible pun).

But these Christmas classics are just the tip of the iceberg. And so, for the remainder of the week, I devote Around the World to Christmas festivities, in New York and elsewhere. Because the first snow of the season got me into the spirit.