Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Trip to Bear Mountain State Park

Me and my husband recently took the hour drive (well it is an hour if you don't get lost!) upstate to visit 'Bear Mountain State Park'.  We really enjoy hiking and thought it would be a good opportunity to catch the last of the Autumn leaves.

The entrance to the park is situated in a valley and there are lots of activities on offer besides walking.  There is a carousel and play area for kids as well as a swimming pool, a zoo and an ice rink.  You can also rent boats and bicycles.  It is a really pretty area with a lovely lake you can stroll around if you're not feeling up to a big walk or have young children.

Hessian Lake
On arrival we visited the information centre and were given a very basic leaflet about the hiking trails in the area.  As half of the page was cut off I would recommend printing your own before you go to avoid confusion half way through your walk.
You can get one from http://a1.exhibit-e.com/sites/palisades/img/bm_attractions2.pdf.

We chose a 4 mile walk up to Perkins Tower which was described as 'challenging' but with amazing views of the Hudson River on route.  The walk took us a mile up the mountain and was harder than we thought with steep climbs over rocks.  It was a great workout though and the views were well worth the trip.  We reached the tower, which again provided stunning views of the local area and then we headed back down.

Stunning views over the Hudson River

A view well worth the climb

The walk took us just over 2 1/2 hours and we really enjoyed being out in the countryside. When we arrived back at the recreation area we were starving and went for lunch at the 'Bear Mountain Inn'.  The hotel is currently being refurbished but the shop and restaurant are open to the public.  We had giant burgers and potato wedges which were delicious although quite pricey.

We had a great day out at Bear Mountain and it's a good place to visit if you want a break from the city.  It has lots of activities for children and adults alike and I'm sure it's great fun in the snow!  For more information about the park visit http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/13/details.aspx or http://www.palisadesparksconservancy.org/parks/5/.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2011

I was lucky enough to be invited to a friend's house to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  We went to look at the balloons the night before and she had an amazing view of them from her balcony.  It was really festive on the streets with Christmas music playing and lots of excited children (and adults!) looking at the balloons.


Inflating the balloons 
The parade itself started at 9am, but armed with hot chocolate and a big coat, we enjoyed watching the preparations from 7.30am.  It was great to see the performers getting ready, there was lots of cheering and chanting and everyone seemed thrilled to be a part of such an iconic event.

Getting ready to go!
When the parade started we could hear the commentator announcing all of those participating and the crowds cheering and clapping.  The parade was brilliant, my favourite balloons were 'Spiderman' and 'Kermit the Frog'.  The floats were awesome as were the marching bands, dancers and other performers.


Spiderman flying over Manhattan

Kermit the frog at the end of the parade

Watching the parade was such a great experience and I feel very happy to be living in NYC today.  

Now I am off to start preparing my first thanksgiving dinner, anyone know how to cook a turkey.......;-)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone and I hope you have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Joy of Steam Heating!

On our first night in New York we were woken up by these really loud banging sounds.  I jumped out of the bed convinced someone had broken in and was smashing up the place, but the apartment was empty.  It took me a while to realise that this noise was the heating coming on!

Until I arrived here I was unaware that most New York apartment buildings have steam heating, which has to be one of the most antiquated systems I have ever come across.  Not only does it make a racket when it starts up, you have no control over the temperature in your apartment or when to turn it on/off.  When it drops below a certain temperature the Super will put the heating on for the entire building. 

In our current building it's not too bad, but in the first place we lived we always had the windows open as it was unbearably hot in the apartment.  It really is a crazy system and not at all environmentally friendly.

If the noise is particularly loud in your apartment let your Super know as there may be a problem with the heater.  We experienced this in our first place, but eventually the Super came to fix them so we weren't woken up at 4am every morning.  You can also have them turn the heaters off entirely which might be a good idea if your home is like a sauna.  It seems that in New York I am always trying to keep my apartment cool no matter what the time of the year.

So, if you arrived in the Summer, don't be startled if you are woken up by what sounds like metal pipes clanging together, it's just the heating coming on!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Central Park in Autumn

Central Park is picturesque at the moment and I really enjoyed the Autumnal views as I ran around the reservoir last week.  I had to stop a few times to take some photographs as I think the park looks prettiest at this time of year.  




The park won't stay like this for long so I will be making the most of it before the arrival of winter!  If you haven't had a chance to visit the park this season it's well worth the trip before the last of the leaves fall, and as they say over here 'Happy Foliage'!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

5 Free activities in New York City

Living in New York City can be very expensive and I don't always want to spend money on activities.  Here are some great things you can do in the city absolutely free!


1.  Visit one of New York's many public parks
Although Central Park is a great place to visit, there are many other parks in NYC that are well worth a trip.  There are so many great parks to visit I could write a whole piece on them alone, but some of my favorites are Bryant Park, Riverside Park, The Highline and Prospect Park.  Public parks often have free activities available year round for all ages.  Visit http://www.nycgovparks.org/index.php for more information.

2.  Go to a live taping of your favourite TV show
There are many TV shows filmed in NYC every day, some of which offer free tickets to be part of the audience.  I had great fun watching a live taping of the Jeremy Kyle show.  Although it may be tricky getting tickets for the more famous shows, such as Letterman, you can almost always get a ticket for something.  Check out http://www.nycgo.com/tv-show-tapings/ for details of shows offering free tickets to tapings and how to get them.

3.  Visit a Museum or Gallery
Many of NYC's top attractions offer free or discounted entry if you know when to go.  Here are some of suggestions:
-MOMA-every Friday between 4-8pm entry to the Museum of Modern Art is free.
-The New York Botanical Gardens-Free entry to the grounds every Wednesday and from 10am-11am on Saturdays.
-The Morgan Library-Free entry 7-9pm every Friday
Most places also have a day or time slot where entry is by donation so you can pay what you can afford.  Visit http://gonyc.about.com/cs/museums/a/museumdeals.htm for more information.

4.  Go to a concert or show
Although the Summer is the best time to catch a free show or concert in NYC, it's still worth keeping an eye out for events in the city.  Bryant Park's tree lighting ceremony takes place on 29th November and features live music and skating performances.  Also, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will feature many performances by various pop stars and Broadway Shows.

5.  Watch a movie or TV show being made on location in NYC
Movies and TV shows are often shot on location in New York City and it can be great fun watching a live shoot.  Unless you are lucky enough to stumble across a live set whilst walking around the city it could be quite difficult finding something interesting to watch.  However, there is a great website called http://www.onlocationvacations.com/ which lists the majority of upcoming filming taking place in NYC.


Monday, November 7, 2011

The New York City Marathon 2011

We had a great time watching the New York City marathon yesterday.  It was a perfect day weather wise for both the runners and spectators and there was a great atmosphere throughout the city.  

The course ran through all 5 boroughs finishing in Central Park on the Upper West Side.  We went for a walk around the lower ring of the reservoir and enjoyed some brilliant views of the runners as they came close to the finish.

Marathon view from the Upper East Side

Only 2 miles to go!

Closing in on the finish line
I was in awe of the runners, especially those participating with added difficulties.  As you can imagine most people looked absolutely exhausted with 2 miles to go, but seemed very appreciative of the cheering crowds.  

They had closed many of the roads around the finish and there was a real street party feel.  It was nice to see people congratulating participants after the race and the celebrations carried on well into Sunday evening.  

I really enjoyed my first experience of the NYC marathon and it made me want to participate next year.  However after a big dinner and a bottle of wine I decided that perhaps I would stick to my role as cheering spectator ;-)

If you fancy taking part in next year's race you can apply now at http://www.nycmarathon.org/.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Desmond's Sunday Roast

One of the things I miss about living in the UK is a decent Sunday roast dinner, so when I saw that 'Gilt City' had an offer for a British restaurant serving roast beef, I thought I would give it a try.  We got a great deal for a three course Sunday lunch for $33 which included an appetizer, a roast beef main course and choice of dessert.

'Desmond's' restaurant has been open since March 2011, but has only been serving Sunday lunch for the past few weeks.  When we arrived it was pretty quiet, but the staff were extremely friendly and there was a nice atmosphere.  We had the 'Gilt City' set meal, but there were lots of British favourites on the menu including fish and chips, bangers and mash and shepherds pie.

We started off with some homemade biscuits and butternut squash soup which was really tasty.  Then the roast beef arrived looking and smelling delicious.  It was a really generous portion with all the trimmings including roast potatoes and a giant Yorkshire pudding.  The beef was cooked beautifully and the whole meal was excellent.  Although I was stuffed I found room to try the sticky toffee pudding which was scrumptious.

We will definitely be going back for another Sunday lunch soon as it really did taste like home!  The dinner menu looks great too and I will be giving it a try in the near future, I'll let you know how I get on.

For more information about 'Desmond's' and to make reservations visit http://www.desmondsny.com.