Escape from Manhattan

IMG_3503Biking along the west side of Manhattan is one of the best ways to a break away from city and immerse yourself in the beauty of the green pathway that snakes its way around this big island.  The ride from Midtown to Riverside Park (99th Street) takes anywhere from 15-30 minutes.  Anyone thinking about taking a ride might think that going all the way up to 100th Street seems out of the question, but there is a reward for those who take on the challenge.  They will be both rewarded and possibly surprised when they find the uptown section of the bike path is less crowded and more tranquil then the tarmacs below 40th Street.  Riders here are able to focus more on the beauty of the surroundings and less on the obstacles which may block their path or come out of the blind spots without warning. (strollers, dogs, joggers with headphones, rouge bikers or the occasional rat making run for it)

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Uptown can get really crowded during the warm weekends of summer.   Large groups and families are in full force and stake claim on a pieces of the large open lawns early in the morning and make a day of it. The parks are places where families can picnic, grill and play.  They even take their pets out for the day and these pets aren’t just the usual dog or parrot but of more the exotic type like their friendly pet boa or domesticated rat.

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If you don’t have a bike  then there’s plenty of places to rent.  Bike and Roll most convenient and probably most expensive bike rental company with a couple of locations on the bike path.   Here’s a list of others near by which give more reasonable rates.    The best times to bike during the warm months are obviously during the week and from early morning until mid afternoon.  The weekends aren’t too bad but it’s always good to get an early start.

Spring NYC…what’s going on at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

Now that the temps are rising and the sun has made its way through the thick grey clouds of this winter we here in NYC now look forward to many things that begin to open up and remind us that summer is on its way.  This means we can comfortably dine outdoors without the assistance of gas powered heat lamps and relax as we go from place to place since the winter cold isn’t driving us into the warmer climates of the underground subways, taxis and various building lobbies.  Trees and flowers now decorate the sidewalks and parks with their colorful blooms. This is the best time of year in New York City so get out and enjoy it.

Back to the pleasantries of the way too short New York City spring season.   There’s so much happening now and in the next few weeks that I’m just going to focus on one of my favorites in this post which is the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

Sakura in Brooklyn by Cori B (farflungistan)) on 500px.com

The grey days are over for the time being at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. It’s been open since mid March but it’s really at it’s best during the warmer months of the year.   The cherry blossoms are in full bloom right now and they have managed to keep there petals on despite the hard rain fall this past week.  The cherry blossoms are a part of the Hanami Festival at BBG is a month-long celebration from April 2 to May 1 that celebrates the Japanese cultural tradition of enjoying each moment of the cherry blossom season.  Too bad that they don’t let you bring a picnic like they do in Japan.  Here’s the latest report from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden site which keeps those who are interested updated on the blooms of the day.  I also want to note that Tuesdays are free for all and Saturdays admission is free from 10am-Noon unless there’s a special event going on like the Matsuri April 30-May 1st.

Other exhibits worth mentioning are the following with links:

Graceful Perseverance – Bonsai Trees

 Natural History sculpture by Patrick Dougherty

and More…

The current hours, admissions and directions to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens are:

Hours

Tuesday–Friday:
8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday:
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed Mondays
(but open Memorial Day, 5/30,
from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

More Information

Admission

Members: Free
Adults: $10
Seniors (65 and over): $5
Students with a valid ID: $5
Children under 12: Free

Special Pricing for Sakura Matsuri

More Information

Directions

900 Washington Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225

2 train 3 train B train Q train 4 train 5 train S train
B or Q to Prospect Park
2 or 3 to Eastern Parkway

Maps, Parking, and Directions

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.

Even More Highline Coming this Spring in NYC

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The west-side  High Line has new things to come this spring as it will soon be extending its green paths uptown to 30th Street.  There’s no official date announced but it’s sometime this spring.  The High Line is open to the public until 10pm and this summer there will be food services offered by High Line approved vendors, additional visitor services and events for all to enjoy.

Star Gazing

Grab your telescopes and join star-gazing fun at the High Line Tuesday nights.  The Amateur Astronomers Association of New York‘s will have high-powered telescopes on had with instruction and generally will be offering lessons on what goes on in the sky above New York City.  So come by at dusk and join both amateur and professional astronomers every Tuesday night during High Line’s Star Gazing Event.  Unfortunately, the first ever Star Gazing night this year was cancelled due to bad weather, but the next one is scheduled for April 19th.  Let’s all hope for a clear night.

Before it was abandoned

Food was carried into New York City with the use of large freight trains which ran besides pedestrian and vehicle traffic starting in the mid 1800’s.  As most could imagine, there were many unfortunate and sometimes fatal accidents along 10 Ave. giving it the nickname Death Ave.  The city and state recognized this huge problem and decided to lift the rails 30 feet above the street level traffic.  The tracks were built bisecting avenues and giving the freight trains the ability to directly go inside warehouses and factories.  This eliminated 105 street crossing and the trains no longer interfered with street level traffic.   These trains continued to make deliveries until the last train ran frozen turkeys to one of the remaining warehouses in 1980.  The tracks were then used by club kids in the 80’s and were home to many of New York Cities homeless up until recently.

IMG_3222Here comes the Food Vendors

Visitors have often requested that the High Line offer both food and beverage options in the middle of it all.  I’m sure there is also a need for the High Line to make some revenue to keep things looking nice.   The Friends of the High Line Association announced this March that it would be taking proposals from any vendor would like to fill out an application. According to the High Line the vendors would be chosen by them after prove that they will be appropriate for the High Line Environment.  It will be interesting on who will have the honor of being a part of the  High Line landscape.

In their words: “Friends of the High Line is looking for partners who will create food that is as thoughtful, creative, and interesting as the High Line itself and who want to build a strong partnership and active collaboration with the High Line.”

The choice of vendors will be localvore in nature and ideally will encourage connections between one another and the land around them.  It will be interesting who gets in on the action and how it will enhance the overall experience of walking the High Line.  It sounds simple and a bit utopian.  Hopefully, it won’t mean eyesore scenes like people waiting long lines for a half melted ice cream cone, dirty barrels filled with trash.   The present tranquil environment of the elevated parkway may get lost amongst the hotdog wrappers and vest touting maintenance person equipped with a broom and bucket.  I’m not sure why people just can’t pack a lunch or just walk a few feet to get something to go.  They do mention on there website that the revenue accumulated will benefit in supporting the Friends of the High Line – aka they need to have a revenue stream to keep the money flowing.

Bird Watching, walking tours and more….

Those along with new walking tours, more art work to view from the pathway and festivals with will come and go throughout the season give visitors plenty to do and see on the High Line.  Here’s what is in store so far this season.   The prices are a bit steep for me but the bird walk does sound interesting.IMG_3230

Public Art

The High Line offers activities for budget minded visitors like myself.  The main one is the numerous temporary Public Art installations that are featured along the High Line.  These come in all shapes and forms and usually give those who notice a different perspective of the space around them.  My visit the other day and included listening to the bell chimes in the 14th Street passageway.  They are a part of the Public Art installation created by artist Stephen Vitiello.  My favorite things to do in NYC is visiting Public Art installations throughout the city when ever possible.   The Public Art projects along the High Line and throughout the city are one of the unique features of New York City and literally can’t be missed unless you don’t realize that is what it is.

Off Season on the Cape

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It’s chilly, a bit windy but the sky is clear and the sun is brighter than it has been in months on Mayflower Beach. This time of year, the beaches lining the peninsula of Cape Cod are really not much different then they are in mid summer – minus the crowds and hot temps.  Today, disappointment is only felt by a few sluggish seagulls deprived of their afternoon nap and who now have to share the beach with a few uninvited guests.

This is my favorite beach on or off-season is Mayflower Beach located in Dennis Village Route 6A.  The stretch of beach faces the north or Bay Side of Cape Cod. Here, low tides expose never-ending sandbars which allow beach strollers space to roam and feel as if the beach is theirs even in the middle of the summer season.  Mayflower and many of its neighboring beaches are typical of Cape Cod. Most on the Bay Side are hilly and covered with protective and fragile beach grass, lined with soft beige sand and offers visitors miles of surf to walk and safe waters to swim in.

Early spring visitors to the Cape often come because it’s when they can get the lowest hotel and beach rental rates of the year and also can dine at some of the finest and most popular restaurants without reservations.  Your cheap t-shirt shops and fried clam shacks are still boarded up but many things worth visiting usually just shorten their hours or take a few weeks off at the beginning of the year.  Visitors just have to substitute fried clams and mini golf with sushi and a walk on the beach.  This is not a bad thing for many.

The typical spring weather doesn’t arrive to Dennis and the rest of the Cape Cod region until the end of April, but the combination of clear skies and calm winds offer up a good conditions for being outdoors during the cooler months.  Most weather forecasters of Boston have an especially difficult time with figuring out Cape weather anytime of year.    The best way to get an idea of how the weather will be is to check out Cape Cod live cams, check the most local source for news and weather which is the Cape Cod Times and hope for the best.  Whatever is going on weather 03272011685wise in New York City usually will be the same on the Cape in 24 to 48 hours.  It’s New England and the weather on the Cape can change very quickly.  The 10 day forecast isn’t applicable to this area.  It’s like the old saying “If you don’t like the weather then wait five minutes”.

The Cape this time of year works best if visitors have the flexibility to visit on a whim.  There’s usually plenty of accommodation available that can be booked a day or a week ahead since it’s usually pretty quiet before Memorial Day and after Labor Day.  Many of the better hotels, motels and B&B’s which are open year round offering great package deals. Some of them even allow pets have many indoor facilities like indoor heated pools and spas.

On a nice sunny day in the middle of March the beach will be yours.  Don’t be surprised to be greeted by a local and maybe have a simple and friendly conversation about how nice the weather is that day.  The best time of day to visit this beach and many others on the Bay side is just before the sun sets in the west just behind the Cape Cod Canal in Buzzards Bay and at mid tide when possible. Be sure to dress warm because it’s New England and the winds are chilly when they are onshore no matter what time of year.

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Flowers are out along Park Ave NYC

38 rose blossoms crawling with insects bring an early spring to Park Ave NYC thanks to the Public Art fund and artist Will Ryman.

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The towering pink and red roses adored with crawling bug sculptures stand 3′-22 feet tall along the wintry grey portion of Park Ave. between 57th and 67th Streets. The roses buds themselves weigh up to 2500 lbs. Community board #8 members raised concerns with the possible hazard they could be to passers-by but artist Ryman and his business partner Konstantin Bojanov.  All was sorted out and the sculptures were approved.

The irony in all of this is that the sculptures were scheduled to be assembled in January this year.  The same time a blizzard descended on the five boroughs whose high winds left man without power, streets that were almost.  The sculptures were still installed, safely secured and put the test right away.  They are still there and no reports of them suffering any damage despite all the storms they have had to endure.

You don’t have to wait for warmer temps to see flowers in bloom in NYC.  These public art arrangements will be on display through May 31, 2011 and they will be there to ring in the new spring flower season.