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Tag: ‘New York City’

It Takes My Breath Away . . .

Posted: July 31st, 2013 by

We’ve all had an awe-struck sensation a time or two in our lives. Even viewing a single sunset or sunrise can cause us to mouth an exclamation of sorts, and in an instant the site takes our breath away.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


me-with-dancers1me-blue-bear1Every time I return home to Denver. It matters not if I am flying in or driving in, for as soon as I glimpse the panorama of the Rock Mountains as a back-drop to the Denver skyline I get a lump in my throat and have that awe-struck moment . . . .Denver is also a city that embraces the arts, so much so that no matter where you go you are visually impacted by the city’s love of art, and the beauty of this is that there is no cost to see sculptures that will make you smile (like the big blue bear) or stop you in your tracks for that second look (like the dancers).
New York City Skyline Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

New York City Skyline Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Certainly nature’s vistas and breathtaking skylines can take one’s breath away. Check out this Youtube fan and video contributor with his top ten skyline choices at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbHq5crFsu8. You’ll also discover a boat load of other Youtube videos with even more great skyline photos as well.

Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Whether it is a sunset that causes you to pause and just drink in its beauty or the site of nature’s paintbrush in the Grand Canyon or red rock formations in places like Utah or Arizona, or the beauty of historic structures or mind-boggling wonder of buildings that seem to defy gravity, we all have our awe-struck moments. There is no time like the present to get out and enjoy the sites; after all, there is no cost ‘just to look’ . . .

What are your favorite sites to behold, and when was the last time you experienced them?
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Stretching Your Travel Dollar . . .

Posted: January 5th, 2013 by

It’s time to get down to leisure!  2013 was ushered in with some in trepidation, thanks to the political landscape over the past several months.  The news has been filled with impending disaster of the ‘fiscal cliff’, with many on edge with anticipation for the worst yet to come, halting any thought for the future, let alone planning a vacation.  Perhaps now is the time to be innovative when it comes to minimal to no discretionary income for a brief get-away, a weekend excursion, or an all out vacation.

This brings to mind my involvement with the USO while living in Germany.  One220px-Tour_Eiffel_Wikimedia_Commons of the many things USO does for its service members and their families is to provide economical recreational opportunities.  We lived in a very scenic area of Germany, less than a Berlin-zoodays drive to many popular attractions; such as Paris and the Eiffel Tower; Bavaria and its Black Forest;  Berlin and its famous zoo;  Belgium, home of the original French Fry and Luxembourg, a tiny country and home to several famous war memorials. 

Many may  not be familiar with the USO and its dependence on volunteers, and this my blog readers, is how some of my volunteers were able to venture into the French countryside, or tour a crumbling castle, or visit the famous art gallery ‘Le Louvre’ and so on.  Become a volunteer; drive a tour van, or earn a free seat on a tour. 

Today, there are numerous websites featuring volunteer opportunities tied to travel; however, they may not necessarily be FREE, but as the title says ‘Stretching Your Travel Dollar’, might just be the way to get out and go in 2013!

Teaching & Temples, a volunteer opportunity  - shown is Angkor Wat, a symbol of Cambodia

Teaching & Temples, a volunteer opportunity – shown is Angkor Wat, built in the 12th century, a symbol of Cambodia – wikimedia image

You might want to check out www.i-to-i.com/volunteering-and-sightseeing.html  where you can volunteer to work with wildlife, or put your carpentry skills to work.  Maybe you’re a born teacher, like working with children or love to teach sports.  How about helping to conserve the earth?  Health care, education, agriculture and construction are areas that need volunteers; and, in many cases these are in far-away lands, like Cambodia, where you can broaden your own horizon.

Don’t forget staying at home has its advantages too.  I searched: www.free-attractions.com and found some pretty cool things to see and do. 

Want to trek through history, going back to 1850; well you can do so at Oakland Oakland-cemeteryCemetery; Atlanta, Georgia’s oldest cemetery and a “supreme example of a Victorian cemetery.”  Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind is one of the famous buried here.  By the way, you can volunteer to work at Oakland Cemetery — a great opportunity for history buffs. 

And . . . for the nature lover, the next time you’re near New York’s Bronx Village, why not meander throughout the 250 ‘exquisite’ acres of the New York Botanical Garden; visit some of their 50 gardens, or stop by their landmark conservatory.  Nature enthusiasts won’t want to miss opportunity (note: there is an admission cost, but if you buy a New York pass you can visit over 70 top New York attractions – now that’s really stretching your travel dollar!  Prices vary based on the number of days and additional features you select.

Are you the adventurous type?  Did you know there are approximately 58 national parks in the U.S.?  In some cases there is no admission fee, while there may be minimal costs for touring in your car, or entering some areas as well as camping fees.  Visit www.nps.gov for more information.

beale street memphis by cwwycoff1If you’re a music lover, like I am, and need a little exercise, why not ramble up and down Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana or on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee . . . and while it pays to pay to hear someone to play, you can still catch the strains of some mighty good blues and jazz drifting out of local nightclubs and record stores at no cost to you!

Why not share a FREEBIE with your fellow blog reader … let us know of some fun thing to do, or a great place to visit or see in 2013!

2013 – Happy New Year!

Posted: December 26th, 2012 by

We’ve survived! The world did not come to an end on 12-21-2012!  It’s now time to celebrate . . .

220px-2000_times_square_ball_at_waterfordIt began in 1907, the iconic Times Square ‘ball’ drop at 11:59 pm capturing New Yorkers and a nation  to herald in the New Year.  This year, some 8 million plus folks in New York City alone, with an estimated audience of  over a  billion people throughout the world joining in to celebrate the new year of 2013.  The ball started out with 100 incandescent light bulbs, iron and wood in its construction, but has evolved over time, and with advances in technology, now features LED lighting, crystal panels and a much larger size. 

Other cities ring in the new year with similar drops: in Florida you might see a 200 pound Tangerine drop, or a six foot Queen Conch Shell (Key West),  Miami is home of the “Big 35’ Orange” drop, and there is the Peach Drop, broadcast worldwide from Undergound in Atlanta, Georgia.  Some not so well known drops include a 500-pound-steel-and-foam “Watermelon Ball “in Vincennes, Indiana; a “Sardine” in Eastport, Maine;  Traverse City, Michigan features a “Cherry” drop;pioglet Niagara Falls features a 10’ “Gibson Guitar” dropped from the Hard Rock Café;  Mount Olive, North Carolina features its ‘Pickle” lowering; Cincinnati proves pigs can fly when a “a Flying Pig” is part of their celebration; and, in Mobile, Alabama, it’s the “Moon Pie” drop . . . to learn more about hundreds of drops, lowering, raising and simply celebrating the New Year, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_objects_dropped_on_New_Year%27s_Eve

What about other cities and countries.  How do they celebrate the New Year? 

Ecuadorians  use scarecrow like dummy’s to represent something that happened in the past year.  At midnight  the dummy will be put on fire, and as it goes up in smoke firecrackers are lit, adding to the festivities.  “Ano Viejo . . . Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!  So the Dutch say to wish you a Happy New Year . . . and the Filipino will wish you a “Masaya Bagong Taon” while Romanians say “An Nou Fericit” and Spaniards will utter “Feliz Ano Nuevo” . . .

Adding to many well wishes in a variety of languages are various traditions, like wearing yellow to enhance your chance for abundance and more money … something many in South American countries subscribe to; however,  in other areas food is part of the New Year celebration.  Some foods  represent money (cabbage), living a long life (sauerkraut), 12 grapes (happiness), or a traditional black-eyed peas, ham and collard green meal for health, wealth and happiness.

Perhaps the last, and hopefully the most enduring, tradition for the New Year are the resolutions, which dates back to the early Babylonians when a popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment.  Today the number one and two resolutions (not necessarily in that order) are to lose weight and quit smoking . . . how about you, what is your resolution?

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No Matter Where Your Travels Take You . . . .

Posted: February 8th, 2012 by

Who would have thought that February, which many do not consider the ideal month to travel in to also be one of the most popular months of the year for tourism.

Certainly you have to list the sunny shores of Florida and the Daytona 500, which happens to be February 26th this year, as one of the key reasons to travel south, especially if you live in the frigid northern climes.  Just being able to shed all those extra layers of clothing and drink in the sea air is enough reason to trek down I-75 or I-95.

If Florida is not on your mind, then head to New York?  Sure, the weather may not be ideal, but if a little romance is on your agenda, then Niagara Falls, the honeymoon capital of the world (or at least in the U.S. of A) or New York City with its bright lights, Broadway shows and mega shopping opportunities would be a perfect alternative.

Why not Pennsylvania, you ask?  Well, why not?  Even where the grass has been greener can be serene, when heading to the Amish countryside as you travel along the back roads and by-ways.  

A little further south, there is always Virginia, the state which touts “Virginia is for Lovers”  . . . where you can watch the sun rise over the ocean near the seaside and heading further east see the shadows fall over the lush (verdant green in the spring, summer and fall months) rolling hills of the Shenandoah Valley as the sun goes down.  Now if that isn’t romantic, I’m just not sure what is.

Romance it seems has no season, just a reason for traveling to that special place.  And if you’re unsure where to stop for a good night’s sleep, click here for some suggestions.

By the way, we haven’t forgotten New Orleans; after all, one of the most popular tourism events of the year happens in the big easy . . . Mardi Gras will kick off before Lent, which occurs on the 22nd of February this year, so if watching colorful parades and being involved in all the gala is something you enjoy, then head to Louisiana!

Taking Time to Remember

Posted: September 8th, 2011 by

 

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the world-changing event that has become known simply as 9-11.  As our country continues the healing process, communities all across the nation will take time this September 11th, to commemorate the personal stories of tragedy, and in many instances triumph, in the face of overwhelming circumstances. We remember those who lost their lives and loved ones, as well as those who risked their lives as first responders. Check with your local officials for events in your area. These are some events taking place in the NYC area.

* Remembrance at Trinity Church

On Sunday, Sept. 11, the historic Trinity Church, at Broadway and Wall Streets near the ground zero site, will ring the Bell of Hope at 8:46 a.m. In the afternoon, at 1:30 p.m., the church will ring the tower bells for an hour of remembrance. At 2:30 p.m., a special service will be held in remembrance of the 9/11 volunteers, first responders, and recovery workers. At 7:14 p.m., an interfaith ringing of the Bell of Hope will again honor the memory of those killed. Admission is free.

* Hand in Hand Remembrance

On Saturday, Sept. 10, thousands of people will join hands to form a human chain along the waterfront in lower Manhattan. The event begins at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane hit the World Trade Center on 9/11. Afterward, participants may post a message on the Wall of Remembrance at Battery Park. Participation in the hand-holding ceremony is free, but pre-registration is required. Sign up on the event’s website. Organizers will contact you with information on your starting location.

* Opening of the National 9/11 Memorial

The 9/11 Memorial, on the ground zero site, contains two giant waterfalls and two reflecting pools in the footprints of the twin towers, surrounded by the names of the people who died inscribed in bronze panels. The Memorial will be open to the public starting on Monday, Sept. 12. Admission is free, but advance reservations are required. You can reserve a pass on the 9/11 Memorial’s website. Enter at the intersection of Albany and Greenwich streets.

* World Trade Center Memorial Floating Lantern Ceremony

On the evening of Sept. 11, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Interfaith Center of New York will host a floating lantern ceremony on the south side of Pier 40 on the Hudson River. Participants will write loved one’s names and messages of peace on paper lanterns and release them into the river. The ceremony includes interfaith prayer, meditation, and musical performances. Admission is free.

I Resolve To . . .

Posted: January 10th, 2011 by

We can thank Janus, a mythical king of early Rome (153 B.C.) for what some consider the beginning of the tradition of new year’s resolutions.  Fact is, the Romans named the first calendar month after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances.  Thus, Janus was always depicted with two faces, where the one on the front of the head was always looking forward, and the one on the back of the head was looking backward at the same time.

New Year’s resolutions can be traced back 4,000 years to ancient Babylonians, when they might have resolved to return borrowed farm equipment.

 Along with resolutions there are other traditions associated with the new year, such as food.  Greens, like cabbage or collards depict money where black eyed peas are said to bring good luck, and hog jowls or ham signify luck or prosperity.  Italians might eat lasagna, while Austrians may serve green peppermint ice cream in the shape of a cloverleaf.  Almost every culture has some type of food they traditionally serve on New Year’s day.

Non edible traditions vary as well.  For instance, in Wales, at the first toll of midnight the back door is opened and closed to release the old year and lock out bad luck; whereas at the twelfth stroke of the clock, the front door is opened to welcome in the new year and shepherd in good luck.  In Japan, homes are decorated in tribute to lucky gods.

Toasting in the new year in Paris - Flickr photo by viZZZual

There is also the new-year toast, which can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans who shared wine from a common pitcher where the host drank first to ensure the wine was not poisoned.  Champagne has since become the toast of choice in the modern world.

Music has played its part in new year celebrations as well, and the song Auld Lang Syne became the song of the day after it was published in 1796, although there were several variations of Auld Lang Syne all the way back to the early 1700’s.

Perhaps the most famous New Year's Eve celebration is in Times Square in New York - Flickr photo by Paul Mannix

New Years is also the oldest holiday celebration and the only holiday celebrating the passage of time, as well as associated with making new year resolutions. 

I resolve to go white water rafting in West Virginia with my teen-aged son, as well as go horseback riding in the Virginia mountains and catch some major site-seeing in new York City.   One of my colleagues has stated she resolves to take a cruise to the Caribbean, Cayman Islands and Cozumel, while another wants to visit at least one small seemingly unknown tourist venue and one major tourist attraction in 2011.  

Flckr photo by katerha

Resolutions are not necessarily all about diets, or losing weight, quit smoking, etc, but can include fun things like seeing the beauty of nature, travelling throughout America and experiencing what the World has to offer in a variety of ways.  

What do you resolve to do in 2011?

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Touring America’s Safest Cities . . .

Posted: October 20th, 2010 by

 

New York City's Brooklyn Bridge - Flickr photo by Francisco Diez

An article, recently published by Forbes appeared on Yahoo, citing America’s safest ‘top 10’ cities.  Criteria used to formulate this list included stats from 2008 and 2009, and was based on population (250,000+); violent crimes per 100,000 residents and traffic fatalities per 100,000 residents.  If you missed the article, you can read all about it here: http://www.forbes.com/2010/10/11/safest-cities-america-crime-accidents-lifestyle-real-estate-danger.html

Here are three of those cities; beginning in the far Northwest  with #2, Portland, Oregon; then in the heartland of America, #5, Omaha, Nebraska and ending up on the East coast is New York City, ranked #6.

Your travels begin in Pioneer Square - Flickr photo by phillie casablanca

According to www.travelportland.com, Portland is “big on livability, big on visit-ability, and is very accessible.”  One of Portland’s key attractions is the Pioneer Courthouse Square, considered the “4th Best Public Space in the World.”  At one time a school was located on the square as well as a hotel.  Located in downtown Portland, Pioneer Courthouse Square is ‘affectionately known as the city’s living room,” and boasts of more than 300 events a year.

Waterfall in Pioneer Square - Flickr photo by anne.oeldorfhirsch

Another key attraction in Portland is the Portland Art Museum, which was founded in the 1890’s, and “houses permanent collections that include Northwest Coastal Indian art, Chinese artifacts and European and Classical art.”   

While in Portland you might also want to visit the International Rose Test Gardens and the Pittock Mansion, built in 1914.  To get details and check ou the top 10 attractions in Portland, click on this link: http://www.10best.com/destinations/oregon/portland/attractions/best-attractions-activities/

Cousin Joe can be found at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha - Flickr photo by jan-tik

Traveling further east we visit Omaha, Nebraska, the 5th safest city on Forbes list.   After touring the 31-acre “Heartland of America Park,”located in downtown Omaha, you won’t want to miss taking a fun boat ride on the General Marion Boat for only a quarter! Before you climb on board though, be sure to take in the natural beauty of the lake and their two fountains (shooting water more than 300 feet into the air) as part of this phenomenal downtown attraction.  The whole family will also enjoy the Henry Doorly Zoo, considered one of America’s best (where you can visit Cousin Joe), and the Strategic Air & Space Museum.  Why not check out their great attractions here: http://www.omaha.world-guides.com/omaha_attractions.html.

Heartland of America Park is a key attraction in Omaha - Flickr photo by connermajik

New York City with 8.4 million residents came in at #6 on America’s Safest Cities list.  Wow, where does one start?  After all, New York City “has it all,” including historic landmarks, Broadway, theaters, hundreds of museums and too many attractions to list.  Visiting this website might be a good place to start.  http://www.mustseenewyork.com/attractions.html

New York City skyline - Flickr photo by vtravelled

A few key attractions that you don’t want to miss include the Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building, Madame Tussaud’s, Radio City Music Hall, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Statue of Liberty, Times Square and the World Trade Center site and more than 60 other great places to visit.