Green is the new grey in Central Park this Spring

In Central Park the new spring season makes green the new grey of the season past.   Rain showers are in the forecast today but they don’t prevent me from visiting.  It’s hard to stay away and not see the park when the landscape is at it’s best.  Central Park is in full bloom.  The grey is getting etched out of the landscape by the pinks, greens, yellows and reds of the flowers, plants and trees coming back to life.

First blooms of Central Park Spring 2011

The activity level is pretty low for this time of year but it’s still a great time to visit.  Less people and the naturally filtered light makes for great pictures even in the middle of the day.  The only problem is the constant wiping of the lenses as each rain shower passes.  Besides that, no worries.

Time to trim the tree…let the Holiday Season Games begin!

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The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of the many traditions I have missed while living in NYC just short of 11 years.  My family decided to travel in this year for the holiday, so it just seemed wrong not to go and take a look.  The weather on thursday was mild but it was nothing more was needed than a warm winter coat and accessories to go with.   There are crowds and all sorts of barriers to get around but it is a once in a lifetime thing to see live.

The parade began last night with the blowing up of the enormous balloon characters in and around Central park.  I attempted to get a look but the streets and sidewalks uptown were overflowing with traffic, so I just settled for a nice walk in the Park and a view from afar and stopped to get a pre-holiday cocktail with my mom on the way home.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade has a wonderful history.  It began as a promotional event for Macy’s  which featured first generation emigrant employees who wanted to celebrate this holiday and at the same time encourage people to come and do their Christmas shopping at Macy’s.  The parade in 1924 was much longer then the present day.  The procession of singers, dancers, musicians, and animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo made their way down from Harlem (145th St.) to the flagship store at Herald Square.  In recent years, there has been a few mishaps and tragedy’s due to unpredictable winter weather trapping balloons in street light posts and pushing them into groups of spectators.  Macy’s itself has faced some financial difficulties which has led them close to stopping the expensive event all together.

The holidays for 2010-11 have officially begun.  Let the christmas caroling, holiday shopping and wrapping begin.

Happy Holidays!

Great Skate Escapes of NYC Black Friday Holiday Weekend

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For those frugal travelers coming into NYC for some deals on Black Friday there is some hope of having a good time even after the wallet is empty.   NYC is, like many other cities is much more fun without a budget but there’s still so much to do.  It just requires a little more thinking, planning and possible a little more walking or time on the subway.    One of the best ways to spend an afternoon after exercising the wallet here in NYC is spending some time at a local ice rink.  It doesn’t have to be crazy over the top expensive.  Here are some choices which can keep the budget in check while visiting NYC this weekend.

Skating in the Park

There a number of places around Manhattan to skate.  If you can bring your own skates it’s less expensive and even free in some locations.  The first one that comes to mind to most is Rockefeller Center.  Some people just dream about coming here to skate and there’s nothing wrong with making a dream come true.  It’s good to know what you are getting into beforehand.  Well…it maybe an icon but it’s small (the Ice Rink website even says no more than 150 skaters at a time), usually packed (line at peak times is 1-2 hours long), and expensive (you can skate as long as you want but it’s $10-14 for admission and $8 for the rental if they have your size).  If you have to go it’s a good idea to go first thing, during the week and way before the holiday season.  This year that means in the next couple days.

If you really want to skate but $18-22 per person exceeds the budget I suggest a couple of very nice, larger and more affordable places.  The first one that comes to mind is the Ice Rink that is just a few blocks away from the Rock and it’s located inside of the historic Bryant Park. There is 17,000 square feet of open ice for skaters to twirl around in.  They do not charge admission so if you bring your own skates it’s FREE, but the skate rental is $13 (rumor has it is that they are clean and comfortable if that makes you feel better).  Bring your own lock and your shoes can be safely stashed away for free. (the Rock’s lockers are for members only…sorry)  Just keep any bags and larger items back at the room because they charge $7-10 for bag check at Bryant Park.  I didn’t say it was all free.  It just can be if you are frugal and think ahead.

On the northern end of Central Park sites the Lasker Rink and Pool that was built in the 1960’s.  The park as two rinks.  One for  the hip checking high school hockey players and another for all ages.  The park charges $6.50 for adults, $3.50 for youths, and $2.25 for seniors.  The skate rentals for all are $5.50 for all and a lock costs $7.50 but you get back $4 of it when the lock is returned.  That’s fair.  If you have your own skates then it’s a bargain at $2.50-6.50 per person.

photo credit: SETH WERKHEISER of BatteryParkCity.com

There are some unfortunate rinks that didn’t make it out this season.  One of the tops on my list in the rink located in Battery Park downtown.  They didn’t seem to find the right contractor to take over the job.  The site also had some problems due to extremely cold temperatures, larger amounts of snow fall and incidence of fallen debris from nearby construction sites.  Skating is not fun when windows and plywood are in the way.   The skating was $10 with or without rentals which was the best deal around.  I can only hope it maybe makes a late season debut or comes back next year.  I have a feeling the price may go up as it usually does in NYC.

For more info on other area rinks check out  the New York Led which has put together a great guide to these and other NYC metro area rinks.

Get out and enjoy the kind weather we have been enjoying this mild fall here in NYC.  Black Friday can be a fun day if you include some outdoor activities like skating. Happy Skating..and shopping as well!!

Central Park, angry people and flowers in the rain

It was a more typical late March day in Central Park NYC today.  We have been spoiled with the unseasonably mild warm weather the last week or so.  I still enjoy a misty cool day in NYC since I had the park to myself.  Just me and a few horse and bike carriages.  A horseman and a MTA bus got into a little snafu next to the park so I took a pic to mix it up a bit.

Daffodils, forsythia are in full bloom and the trees are showing some buds.  This rain should make the park green by the weekend.  This means allergy sufferers like myself will be sniffling but what can you do.  It’s spring wild animals are everywhere in the park.  So as the sign says, “Leave the Wild Animals Alone”.  Try and keep away from the cute raccoons, wild ducks and panhandling squirrels, they look harmless until they mistake your finger for a nut.

Some NYC Central Park Blizzard of ’10 pics

It’s pretty hairy here weather wise.  I got a late start but wanted to get some pics of the city while the snow was fresh.   Central Park is beautiful in any weather.   It was hard keeping the lens snow free.  The snow continues.  Luckily,  I made it back without getting scooped up by the snowplows or becoming a meal for the coyotes, bald eagles and  rabid raccoons that are out there. I love this city… Enjoy!