Monday, September 26, 2011

Crafts on Columbus 2011

When I was on my way to the gym on Saturday I noticed that there was a market of some sort running from 77th to 81st street on Columbus Avenue.  On my way back I checked it out to find it was the annual 'Crafts on Columbus' market which takes place every Saturday and Sunday until the 16th of October.

They had a wide variety of stalls selling all sorts of crafts.  There was a great stand selling amazing clutch bags made from all different materials including glass and metals.  I saw some unusual bracelets made from old typewriter keys and some great leather cuffs.  One stand was selling tee shirts with various pictures of New York printed on them.  I want to go back next week and get one as I think the images used are very interesting and depict the city in an unusual way.

There were independent designers selling clothes, as well as many jewelry, handbag and hat stalls.  I really liked the clock stand at the start of the market at 81st Street, they sell original hand-made pieces.   I bought some lovely smelling soaps from a company called 'Copa Soaps' and want to go back this weekend for another look.  Hope to see you there!

The website doesn't provide that much information, but you can check it out at http://craftsoncolumbus.com/.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Using the Subway

When I first arrived in New York I was a bit nervous about using the subway.  I had heard that it was unsafe, over-crowded, hot, smelly and dirty.  However, as a seasoned tube traveller none of this particularly worried me as people say the same about the London Underground.  I was more concerned about getting on the right train, getting a ticket and using the system in general.

Not all stations have manned ticket booths, but they all have machines.  They use a swipe card system and you can buy a single ride ticket or a metro card, which works the same way as an 'Oyster' card in London.  Unlike the tube, you only need to swipe your card on entry into the subway.  There are no 'zones' and each single trip costs $2.50 no matter how far your travel.  You can save 7% by using a metro card and can buy unlimited ride tickets as well.

Initially the system does seem fairly complicated as the subway lines aren't obviously named.  They are colour coded, which does help a bit, but otherwise you will need a subway map for reference.  Also note that although 2 lines appear to run on the same line, one will be the 'local' train, which stops everywhere and one will be the 'express' train which only stop at selected stations. It does get easier the more you use it and after a few weeks I was much more confident.  I still use the subway app on my phone to help me out though!

The subway is smelly, dirty and crowded, but it's also cheap, convenient and quick.  As with any public transport system it can be dangerous at night, but just use your common sense and don't travel alone late at night or into neighborhoods where you don't know your way around.  I wouldn't flash my prized possessions on the subway, but I wouldn't on any form of public transport in any city, again it's just being aware of your location and situation.

For subway maps and to plan your trip visit http://www.mta.info/index.html.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Broadway Week NYC- Get 2-4-1 tickets

I was browsing the web last night and found a great deal on Broadway shows running until the end of September 2011.  You can get 2 tickets for the price of one on most of the big Broadway shows including 'The Adams Family', 'Sister Act', 'Chicago' and 'Jersey Boys' to name a few.

Tickets do seem to be selling quite quickly, 'Wicked' and 'The Lion King' have sold out already, but there are still tickets available of other shows.

For a full list of the shows included in 'Broadway Week' and to book tickets visit http://www.nycgo.com/broadwayweek.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Columbus Avenue Street Festival 2011

We have just got back from the Columbus Avenue Street Festival which runs from 66th to 86th Street.  Columbus Avenue has been closed to traffic and the street is full of various food vendors and stalls selling a wide array of goods.

There are lots of different foods to try and many of the restaurants have either extended onto the street or are selling food outside to take-away.  There was a great live band playing outside the bar/restaurant 'Prohibition' which is between 84th and 85th Street and many other places have DJ's playing music.

It's all going on right now, so if you are sat at home and don't know what to do for the rest of Sunday head over to the Upper West Side and enjoy the street festival!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The High Line

The High Line is an old railroad track that runs above the streets of the west side of Manhattan from the Meatpacking district to 34th street.  Trains haven't run on the lines since 1980, and it 1999 it opened as a public park.

I have wanted to walk the High Line for a long time and we finally got around to going last weekend.  The idea of walking on an old railroad track above the streets of Manhattan really appealed to me and I was looking forward to seeing a different view of the city.

We started our walk at the Gansevoort Street entrance and headed uptown.  It was a great feeling to be walking above the city and watch the craziness of below in relative calm.  Although not an obvious choice for a park, they have made a great deal of effort in making it feel like one.  The old train tracks are lined with trees, plants and flowers, and there are lots of places to sit and relax.   There are various food stands and art stalls along the High Line as well as some interesting sculptures.

However, it did used to be a train line and can get narrow at some points during the walk.  It was very busy when we went and at times I felt as if I just shuffling along in a big group rather than enjoying a walk.  It did become quite frustrating when people seemed oblivious to those around them walking side-by-side in a large group blocking the entire path!

I did enjoy my walk on the High Line and would go back, but not at the weekend.  I think it would be much more pleasurable in the evening or duing the week when it wasn't as crowded.  Having said that, I would recommend a visit as the views and experience are worth the trip.

For more information on opening times and how to get to the High Line visit http://www.thehighline.org/.

Monday, September 12, 2011

'20at20'-$20 tickets for Off-Broadway Shows

Until the 18th September 2011 there is a great Off-Broadway promotion running called '20at20'.  Basically you can get $20 tickets for certain Off-Broadway shows 20 minutes before the performance begins.  

Just go to the box office of the show you want to see 20 minutes before it is due to start and say "20 at 20" and you will get a ticket.  Shows included in the offer are 'Fuerza Bruta', which I have seen and is brilliant, 'Million Dollar Quartet', 'Stomp' and 'Channelling Kevin Spacey' to name a few.

I guess it's a bit of gamble showing up 20 minutes before a performance without a ticket, but I think it sounds like a pretty good deal and I will be trying it out this week!  I'll let you know how I get on.

For further information and a full list of the shows included in the offer, visit http://20at20.com/


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Celeb Spot! Elizabeth Hurley!

I have just got back from a trip to the UK and in the arrivals hall at Newark airport I saw British actress/model Elizabeth Hurley.

I was reading 'Hello' magazine on the plane and saw that she is currently filming 'Gossip Girl' in the city. It was very exciting to then see her in the flesh at customs.

She looked very striking in black trousers, red top and sunglasses. You would never have known she had been on a long haul flight for 8 hours!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Day at the Beach

Yesterday myself and a couple of friends took a sneaky mid-week trip to the beach.  It was my first time at a New York beach since my arrival here and I was really looking forward to seeing what it was like.

We decided to go to Rockaway beach, which is a peninsula in the Queens borough.  We took the A train from Columbus Circle to 'Broad Channel', where we changed to the 'Shuttle' which took us to the beach.  There are numerous beach stops and we got off at the 116 beach station as we had heard it was fairly quiet.    It takes about 90 minutes in total, but next time I would probably stay on the A train to 'Far Rockaway' and see what the beach was like there to save time waiting for the shuttle.

It was a short walk from the station to the beach, which was very quiet so we found a spot easily.  It was hard to believe I was still in New York as I laid in the sun listening to the ocean.

For lunch we took a walk along the boardwalk and ate in a great place called 'Caracus Arepa Bar'.  It serves homemade Venezuelan food which is delicious.  I had a Pabellon Arepas which consists of shredded beef, white cheese, black beans and fried plantains in a cornflour roll-yummy!  Check out their website at at http://caracasarepabar.com/rockaway.php for more information.

After lunch we walked a bit further down the boardwalk to about 90th Street, which was much busier and had the added entertainment of surfers!  We had a little paddle in the sea, which was freezing but really cooled me down.  We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the beach before heading back to the city.

I thought Rockaway would be touristy, like most beach areas, but it was very residential with lots of homes on the seafront rather than hotels and B&B's.  There weren't that many places open to eat, but I think that was because of the recent storm and the fact it was mid-week.  I would imagine that it gets much busier at the weekends though, making it harder to access the facilities.

I really enjoyed my day at Rockaway beach and hope to go again before it gets too cold.  It's an easy journey and a nice break from city life, well worth a visit!

For more information about Rockaway beach visit http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/rockawaybeach.