Sunshine at the Beach

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt on 03/16/15: “Places.” Beach, mountain, forest, or somewhere else entirely?

If you’ve been to my website, you will see that I have been to NYC, one of the greatest cities in the world, and that I am from Chicago, another great city; that I’ve to the Badlands State Park in Wall, South Dakota; and in future posts you might see or hear that I have been to Yellowstone National Park (MT, WY), the Grand Tetons National Park (WY), Mt. Rushmore (SD), Antelope Island State Park and Arches National Park (UT), among other well-known nature-loving refuges. On our road trips, we made brief stops in cities of different sizes – Houston, TX; New Orleans, LA; Atlanta, GA; Milwaukee, WI; Pittsburgh, PA; Canton and Cleveland, OH; Salt Lake City, UT; Denver, Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Canon City, Aspen and Basalt, CO. While travelling with my college tennis team through the southern states, I briefly got to enjoy Savannah, GA, as well as Jacksonville and Pensacola, FL, where I got to experience the beach and stick my toes in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Throughout my time in Chicago, I have been to many beach spots along Lake Michigan, but I have yet to take a beach vacation. I find peace and relaxation of different forms from each of these types of places (urban, country, forest, mountain and beach) because I can find a new memory to cherish. However, I have always wanted the chance to go on a beachy vacation to a place like Hawaii, Jamaica, or even Australia, that offers a variety of activities and cultural experiences. Jamaica beach 1

My brother recently had the opportunity to go on a Caribbean cruise, and his photos were beautiful. I don’t know that a cruise would be my preference because I like to have an idea of places to go and things to do but also I like to change the plan if necessary,  for which a cruise would not allow. I would like to leave the US for a brief trip to experience a different way of life and to truly get away from life for a few days. I think sitting on a beach while soaking up the sun and reading or walking in the sand would be great.  On cloudy, rainy days like today, I dream of warm weather and sunny skies…

© 2015 blogdaysofchrell

Advertisements

Tourist Trap ~ NYC

Rock CenterIn response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt from 02/21/15: “Tourist Trap.”

One of my favorite tourist traps is New York City. As I am sure you figured out already, I am a Yankee fan! Yankee Stadium in the lights

After a seven year hiatus from NYC, I took a three-day weekend trip in June 2014 to visit my younger brother, who lives near  East Harlem. This was a pretty relaxed mini-vacation and it was meant to celebrate my brother’s birthday, which was great because I got to spend time with him and a few close friends, meet his girl and relax.  I was on a budget so my goal was to have fun but not buy or spend too much, and I succeeded. Too bad the Yankees lost to the Red Sox! In my previous five trips to the other Yankee Stadium I  acquired a perfect winning record and, I have to say, the vibe was not the same as I remember in the older stadium. Still, I enjoyed seeing the sites at the newer stadium, got to see Derek Jeter play in person one more time, and my brother and his friends were wonderful company. Kid, D-Nice and Marvin

Patsy's PizzaSince I haven’t visited my brother or NYC in a while and I had seen many of the big attractions on past trips, one of my objectives was to see my brother’s daily existence – his neighborhood, his commute to work, the places he frequents, and reacquaint myself with a few of his friends whom I met the year prior when they visited Chicago, as well as play a little tennis. I was very lucky in that the weather was beautiful, my flights were on time and that my brother and I got to really hang out, eat good food and talk, which is not the same over the phone.  My first choice of food was pizza because, regardless of what Texans think, they don’t really know about good pizza. We ventured to Patsy’s Pizza (2287 1st Ave NYC 10035, http://thepatsyspizza.com/), as my brother gave me a walking tour of his neighborhood. We were starving by the time we ate, and I thought it was the best pizza I had eaten in awhile.  If you are in the area, check them out!

RFK Bridge near my brother's place
RFK Bridge near my brother’s place

One thing I didn’t get a chance to do on previous NYC trips was play tennis at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY. Being a tennis player for most of my life, I have watched on TV many great U.S. Open matches, and I was very excited when my brother suggested that we book a court. The rental courts serve as the practice courts during the U.S Open and you are able to walk through the grounds, see outside of the large stadiums, the statues and take in the scenery. USTA statue While I am no longer at my best, we had a great time on the court on a beautiful day and we will both cherish the opportunity to have played where the greats play. I enjoyed soaking in some of the tennis history, reading the list of champions, seeing photos and walking through a bit of Corona Park. I think I even saw the concession stand where George Constanza ate his sundae! As we made our way from the subway, I caught a peak of Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, and we took a few pictures by the Homerun Apple that had been a fixture in the old Shea Stadium. Court 17

Armstrong stadium

There is no shortage of places to eat any and every type of food you can imagine, but I can always eat breakfast food and pizza. For breakfast on Sunday morning, my brother and I ventured over to Fetch Bar and Grill, a dog themed-restaurant that partners with Animal Haven to find homes for dogs and cats. The food was good and reasonably priced, and the service was fast and friendly. If it had fit into our schedule, Fetch seemed like it would have been a fun place to grab a drink. Another place we stopped in passing was Pie Face, where I picked up a little birthday dessert for my brother. They had a great supply of mini-pies in many varieties, and upon looking them up, was sad to learn that they closed most of there NYC locations. However, I came across Two Little Red Hens (An American Bakery), which I would like to visit for a dessert on a future trip. Created with Nokia Smart Cam

While I don’t have a return date in mind, New York City remains one of my favorite places to visit. I experienced a lot of the big attractions on my first two trips, and feel fortunate to have seen the view from the top of the World Trade Center five months before 09/11/01. The view was absolutely beautiful, and on my second trip, unfortunately, I saw the personalized memorials and  the last of the ruble and debris being removed. 

courtesy of latitudeslife.com
courtesy of latitudeslife.com

One of the reasons I like NYC so much is that you can find whatever it is that you are looking for –  shopping, culture, art, sports, music, food, indoor activities, outdoor activities, and all walks of life. One suggestion I would make: with a budget, target a few places or activities on your must-do list and plan for them.  Some events and tours required advance purchase of tickets or fill up fast. I have had fairly regimented trips but been flexible and it has worked well.  New York City is one of the major cities that sells a pass that enables you to visit multiple museums and tours for a flat fee rather than paying at each place, including the Guggenheim, the Top of the Rock, MoMA, Metropolitan Museum of Art and 70+ more places. 

Times Square

Long Island City

 I would personally recommend each of those places, as well as South Street Seaport, the Empire State building, the Staten Island Ferry and the Roosevelt Island tramway, and Yankee Stadium, which I have seen over 6 different trips. My only wish about this last trip was that, other than the Yankees game I didn’t plan much and then learned about places that my brother and I would have enjoyed… I guess they will be on my NYC tour.

© 2015 blogdaysofchrell

* All pictures unless noted are posted courtesy of Chrellie

Me and my brother