Brooklyn/Manhattan Adventure

This weekend my sister came to visit me. The issue always ensues when someone comes to visit, “what do you want to do this weekend?” As luck would have it, I have been amassing a list of things to do on dates. However, since I haven’t had luck going on dates, I figured I could use these restaurants/sites as things to do with Kyra.

After having spent the previous night in Williamsburg, eating at Diviera Drive, checking out the grand opening of Muji and meeting up with my co-worker Alyssa to grab drinks at Surf Bar, we decided to go back the next day, Saturday (yesterday) to do a deeper dive.

Though I have been to that part of Brooklyn several times for various reasons, Kyra has only seen bits and pieces. We started on the outskirts at a place called Loosie’s Cafe. I’d read about Loosie’s in Hogwarts: A History… er… Brooklyn Magazine.

IMG_7408Loosie’s Cafe

Upon getting there, the place was exactly what I was expecting; chill hipster vibes with minimalist modern furniture and cool art painted right on the wall. The section we were in was out back and had a cool glass ceiling (not that kind) with fake (or real?) vines along the top which let the perfect amount of sunlight in.

The food we had was pricy, but great. The only negative was that service was really slow. I mean, not that we were in a rush, but every part of the process felt like it was taking forever. Once we were done eating, we made our way down Berry Street, under the Williamsburg Bridge, to Metropolitan Ave.

FullSizeRenderKyra and I by the water with the Manhattan skyline

From there, we made our way down to the water to get a good pic of us with the Manhattan skyline in the background. After chilling by the waterfront for a bit. we began our journey as we criss-crossed up and down each of the streets like aisles in a grocery store. There was no real game-plan except to stop into a shop if we thought it was interesting.

Eventually, after several zig-zags, we found ourselves at the crafts fair. I had been there a few weeks ago, but Kyra hadn’t, so we went in. The place is filled with cool merch, ranging from clothing to cookies to jewelry, with a little bit of everything in between.

We spent a short amount of time checking out the “artisanal” this and the “organic” that and the “cage free, cruelty free, vegan” who-gives-a-fuck. after that we eventually made our way over to Rough Trade; one of my favorite record/book stores in the city.

Rough trade is essentially a warehouse space with shipping containers that make up parts of the structure. There’s even table tennis and a music venue in the back. They’re also always playing some obscure band that I end up obsessing over for a while.

It feels like what would happen if Boston based Newbury Comics and California based Amoeba Music had a baby in Williamsburg. In any case, we only stayed for a short while before eventually getting to Brooklyn Industries.

Brooklyn Industries is a store I’d been into a while ago but hadn’t been to since. Upon entering, I forgot how cool it was/is. The store is filled with cool graphic tees, button up shirts, pants, jackets and hats all made (I’d assume) in Brooklyn.

Despite the fact that I already have a wardrobe full of stuff that I don’t wear, or at least not all of it, I wanted to buy the entire men’s section. There was this one jacket that I totally don’t need, but was perfect for me. Luckily, most of the stuff was kind of pricy, or at least for what I’m used to paying, so that kept me away from making any ‘rash purchases.

After stopping in one more store, we made our way back to the L where we rode it to 6th Ave, transferred to the (2) and took that to 72nd Street where we stopped in to Gray’s Papaya. Gray’s is a well known Manhattan hot dog spot and staple of the classic film, You’ve Got Mail (see this post for more).

IMG_7407The little park between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway

We crossed the street and stopped in so Kyra could get a hot dog and a papaya drink. We then crossed back to the mid-section of sidewalk that splits Amsterdam Ave and Broadway where we grabbed a seat on this quite little bar… thing. It was very nice and peaceful as the cool early fall air surrounded us.

After she was done, we headed North on Amsterdam to Cafe Lalo, another site from YGM. I purposely didn’t get food at Gray’s so that I could get food at Lalo. The cafe is this quaint and feels very Parisian. I wanted all of the desserts in the glass behind the counter. Instead I got a sandwich and we ate and talked and enjoyed the evening.

IMG_7410Cafe Lalo

After lazily making my way through this late lunch, early dinner, we headed out into the city. I had forgotten that we’d discussed checking out the 91st Street Garden (another site from YGM), so instead we headed East an eventually cut through Central Park, afterwards heading North on Lex to 86th Street where we got on the (5) and took it back to Brooklyn.

There was one more spot on our to-do list, Butter & Scotch. I had found out about B & S by accident while doing a bit of Google mapping. Being that it’s right off the Franklin Ave stop, it’s super close to where I live, thus making it a great final destination for a short commute home afterwards.

IMG_7413Butter & Scotch

As a -seemingly- queer/femm bar, it feels very out of place amongst the more “hood” vibes of the surrounding establishments. That said, this small [word] joint was really cool. On one of the walls they were projecting Disney’s 1997 classic Hercules (which Kyra and I later watched once back at my apartment).

On top of that they were playing some really great and eclectic tunes. Kyra had noticed that they woman -roughly our age- one stool over to my right had some really cool tattoos. I commented on them which lead to us conversing on and off throughout the night.

I found out that my new single-serving-friend (see Fight Club), Erica, is a hair stylist and is in town for Fashion Week. While we were chatting, Kyra sipped her cocktail, which looked delicious, and I had my beer. We shared a brownie Sunday which was divine.

Right before we left, I told Erica I was due for a haircut and that if she wanted to make some cash while in town (apparently you don’t get paid to work Fashion Week, go figure), that she could cut my hair. I gave her my number and headed on my way. If only I was that confident with straight girls. I doubt she’ll call but either way, it was nice to make a friend.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Travel/Adventure

It’s Always Sunny In Chiladelphia

This all came about last month when I grabbed a free copy of Time Out New York, while exiting the Borough Hall subway station, from the guy passing them out at the top of the stairs. I thumbed through it on my way to work and in doing so, came across an ad for the Museum of the American Revolution.

Looking at the address, I noticed that it was located in Philadelphia. This got me to wonder how far Philly was/is from New York. A quick Google search told me that it was only ~2 hours away. Realizing this, I started contemplating taking a day trip there.

It wasn’t until I was on my way home, thumbing through the magazine again, when I noticed that the two page article preceding the ad was titled 12 Hours in Philly; an hour by hour guide of how one could spend a day in the city off the beaten path. Being that I had never been there before, the bee was firmly placed in my bonnet.

Cut to yesterday, a few weeks after having read the article. Though I wasn’t as gung-ho as I had been -at this point if felt more like something I had to do in order to shut my brain up, than something I wanted to do- I decided to finally go for it. It was/is Labor Day Weekend so I had the next day (today) off and my co-workers BBQ had been canceled due to inclement weather. To my surprise it apparently is alway sunny in Philadelphia since there, unlike New York, it wasn’t raining.

That settled it, though I had missed the early bus, I could still make the 11:50. I took a quick shower, got dressed and hopped on the subway. I hadn’t booked a ticket but the guy at the bus said if there was room, I could squeeze onto the 11:20. It was 10:46 and I had no cash on me. I made my way to the nearest Bank of America ATM, grabbed $40, and by the time I got back, the bus was boarding.

$20 procured me a seat on the top level of the double decker Megabus (it would have been $15 if I’d bought online beforehand) and soon we were off to Philly. The thing that was different about this trip, as opposed to most other trips I take, is that I hadn’t done any hard pre-planning. I typically structure my day so that I know all the things I want to hit, where they are relative to one another and how to get to each of them.

I had looked through the article and gotten a few ideas of what to do and had done a very rough layout on Google maps, but that was it, it was all very fast and loose. On the one hand it made me feel uncomfortable but on the other, it felt nice not to be constrained by my own itinerary.

On the bus I did a bit more research and re-read the Time Out article, but as we pulled into the city, I was basically flying blind. I stepped off the bus and found myself in the heart of Liberty Square… wait, that’s Disney World… uh… Independence Square I think.

In any case, the first thing I saw was the Liberty Bell Museum, or rather, the line to get in. There was a sign that said no ticket required. This was good, I really didn’t want to pay just to look at an old broken bell. However, I had very little patience for lines. Especially when I just got off a bus, was in a new place and wanted to just go, go, go.

IMG_7362Independence Hall

I decided to skip the bell for now and head on to Independence Hall across the street. Looking at the hall from my side of the street, there was a row of chain links blocking the other sidewalk. I couldn’t see any other way to get into the area, so after crossing the street, I ducked under the chain links.

As I walked in, I started to hear yelling. I had no idea what it was so I ignored it and kept on walking. As I walked, the yelling got closer and was coming from behind, “Sir,” the person kept saying. Finally another tourist pointed behind me and said, “They’re yelling at you.” I stopped and turned around to find two disgruntled park rangers chasing me.

“Sir,” she yelled, “you can’t come in that way!” I just stared blankly at her, where else was I supposed to enter, I saw no signs and no entrance. “Sir, what does a chain mean to you!” She was furious. Again I just stared blankly. I really hate being yelled at and made to feel like I’m a child who’s just drawn on the wall.

“Uh, I don’t know.” I said, “Seems like a bad way to block an entrance.” This did not make her happy. “Sir, you need to leave.” I put my hands up, “Relax,” I said, and made my way towards the exit. If there’s one thing that really sets me off, it’s when people tell me to relax when I’m angry OR when I wasn’t angry but they think I am. I hope this had the desired effect on her as well.

I made my way to the exit and let myself out. So far Philly had left a pretty negative impression on me. Moving on, I took a lap around the block to just get away from the nonsense. As I did, I accidentally stumbled upon the National Constitution Center. It wasn’t really my plan to go to any of the museums as I really just wanted to explore the city. Plus I didn’t want to spend the money, so I kept on walking.

IMG_7363National Constitution Center

Eventually, I made my way to the other side of the block and entered the Philly subway system or SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) as it’s called. It was 1:45pm and I was hungry. The one takeaway I’d gotten from the Time Out article was a restaurant called Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop.

Since this was Philly, I had to have a Philly Cheesesteak. After fiddling with the ticket machine I eventually bought a one-day-pass for $9 or nine rides. I took the subway to the Girard station and walked the short distance to the restaurant.

IMG_7364Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop

The place feels like a diner with some modern vintage signage in the style of ESPO. Who knows, as a native of Philly, (I found that out in the article) it may have been done by him. My waitress Erin felt like a native Philadelphian; a towny and likely a lifer. She was very nice and brought me my order with a smile. I got a cheesesteak and a mint chocolate chip milkshake that was so big I had to take it to go.

After paying my bill I made my way back to the subway and took it to 15th street, the city center, as it was the closest stop that would get me to the next thing I wanted to see, Rittenhouse Square. When I got out of the station, I found myself in front of City Hall. The building was huge and gorgeous and looked like a castle.

IMG_7367City Hall

After getting a few pictures of it, I was going to just keep walking and make my way to the park. However, I’m really bad at smelling the proverbial roses so I decided to take a quick walk through the area. I’m glad I did because it felt like Cinderella’s Castle. You walk under this archway an into the central courtyard, which again, feels like a castle.

I then continued on my way towards Rittenhouse Square. Along the way, I noticed that a lot of the architecture reminded me of Boston. It makes sense as they are both very old and historical cities. The main difference is that where as Boston has its sections of big buildings, Philly feels like more of a big building city… if that makes any sense. Also, though Boston is blue collar, Philly felt very blue collar. I don’t know, maybe I’m biased.

IMG_7370Rittenhouse Square

Eventually I got to Rittenhouse Square. Though it was kind of small, the treelined park was very nice, quiet, clean and beautiful. I never really know what to do in parks and so I just kind of walked around for a bit. At one point I got a text from my new work friend Jordan, inviting me to the movies. Unfortunately I obviously had to decline.

Moving on, I made my way out to Schuylkill River Park. There, I walked along the Schuylkill River northbound towards the Philadelphia Museum of Art. As I approached, I heard music playing. Turns out the Made in America Festival was happening that weekend so basically all of the park was closed off to the public.

IMG_7379Philadelphia Museum of Art

Thus I was able to enter through the rear of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but not the front. Why does this matter? Well, on the other side of the museum are the famous stairs from Rocky and I wanted to so badly have my moment and run up them. Oh well.

I moved on and walked past the Rodin Museum to a bench outside the Barnes Foundation. There I sat, took a break and collected my thoughts. It was 4-ish and I knew I wanted to take a 7pm bus home so I’d get back to NY by 9-ish. I figured out the last few things I wanted to hit and made my way to them.

IMG_7380Free Library of Philadelphia

As I was sitting across from the library, I decided to stop in, only to see that it was closed. Probably for the best as, though I’m sure it would have been beautiful, it would have been more walking than I would have wanted to do. I then walked through Logan Square and caught a glimpse of The Franklin Institute before making my way to the subway.

I took the subway back to Independence Square to finally get a good look at the Liberty Bell. The line was much shorter now and moved fairly quickly. The biggest hold up was going through the metal detectors. Eventually I was through and I rushed past the exhibit to get a glimpse of the main attraction, the bell.

IMG_7393The Liberty Bell

The bell was swarmed with families taking selfies with their kids. Eventually it cleared out and I was able to get a good shot of it. I then went back and actually looked at some of the things in the exhibit before making my way out.

I decided to take another stab at Independence Hall. Not to “sneak in” -although that would have been funny- but just to get a better view of it and to see if and where there was an entrance.

After taking a lap around it I did find the impossibly hard to find entry point. I wasn’t sure if you had to pay to go in or not but there as a line and I didn’t want to wait. Plus, it had left such a bad taste in my brain that I decided to skip it. I walked back to the visitor center where I sat and rested for a bit before breezing through the gift shop.

There I saw a thing for the famous LOVE sculpture and made it my mission to try and find it before I left the city. I took the subway to the part of the city where it should have been but despite walking in circles, was unable to find it. I was running out of time if I wanted to make the 7pm bus back to the city so I got back on the train and took it to 30th Street station.

Cut to a montage of me walking through the Amtrak Station looking for signs for busses. Walking to the sidewalk where the signs pointed and looking to no avail. Then eventually doubling back into the station to ask customer service where I could find a bus back to New York.

Despite the fact that I had looked at the Megabus website earlier in the day to find that their last bus left Philly at 5:45pm, when I went to where she pointed me a block away, there was a 7:10 waiting. According to the receipt, I got my ticket at 7:07pm. I hopped on, went to the top deck and found a seat by myself towards the front.

As we pulled away from the curb, I saw two kids running up trying to flag down the driver. They were shit out of luck as he didn’t see them and we kept on going. As we made our way through the city, I reflected on my day.

Philly, as it turns out, is pretty small. I’d say I did a decent job covering it. The only thing I didn’t really hit besides the LOVE sculpture and the Rocky steps were the museums -which would need a dedicated trip to be honest- and if there’s anything to see from “It’s Always Sunny.” Despite my lack of planning, I’d say I did a pretty good job. That said, I don’t feel the need to ever go back.

Leave a comment

Filed under Travel/Adventure

Bike Tour of New York

This past Monday there were two new members added to my team at work. After getting to know one of them -Jordan- pretty well, we decided to go on a bike ride that Saturday, ie. today. Being that Jordan is from Ohio, he was not super familiar with New York and so we decided to go on a tour.

IMG_3427Riding with no handlebars on the Hudson River Greenway

We met up in front of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn at 11am. After talking over a very rough game plan, we hopped on our bikes and began our ride. We made our way down Flatbush Ave, up Fulton Street and up Adams Street to get to the first thing Jordan wanted to do, the Brooklyn Bridge.

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, be it by foot or by bike (oddly I’ve never done it in a car), is always a nightmare. Unlike the Manhattan or the Williamsburg which separate the cyclists and the pedestrians on opposite sides of the bridge, the Brooklyn only has one path in the middle, forcing foot traffic and bike traffic to compete for space.

We stopped at the end of the first span to not only take a short break, but to take in the sights around us. To my pleasant surprise, though there were still a fair share of dummies, the traffic on the bridge was not as bad as it has been in past crossings.

After successfully making it into Manhattan, we took Centre Street to Grand. We headed East on Grand then turned North on Columbia Street and eventually East on Houston to get to the East River Bikeway. While on the bikeway we cut over to the East River Promenade where we stopped and took a break and chatted on a bench for a bit.

After the short break we got back on our bikes and took the bikeway all the way up to 34th Street where we hopped onto 1st Ave. We headed North up 1st Ave to the Queensborough Bridge, and, after going under it, headed West on 61st Street.

I was hungry, having skipped breakfast, so we stopped into Viand Coffee Shop on the corner of 61st and Madison. I had French toast and Canadian bacon and Jordan got soup, a salad and some coffee. After filling up over some good conversation, we hopped on the bikes again and made our way in to Central Park.

We did almost a full loop of Central Park, stopping once so Jordan could get info on joining this mens baseball team. While approaching Columbus Circle, Jordan asked if it was in fact Columbus Circle. I told him it was and asked if he wanted to check it out. He did and so we exited out the South West corner of Central Park.

After taking a few pictures we discussed our options. I suggested either Columbus Ave or Broadway to head back South. Jordan wanted to check out the Hudson River Greenway. Since I had done all of the aforementioned options and genuinely had no preference as to what we did, we decided to check out the Hudson River Greenway.

We biked along the path and stopped briefly to make note of a “Free Kayaking” sign so we, or he, or I could come back at some time to try it out. We kept riding and stopped briefly again to admire the Intrepid Museum. We unofficially discussed coming back at some point to check it out.

There, Jordan mentioned the IKEA river ferry which leaves from Pier 11 and is free on weekends. We mounted our steeds and continued South down the greenway. It’s crazy how quickly you can eat up 60 some odd blocks because before I knew it, we were at Battery Park. We stopped and sat on chairs under the shade of a tree where we chatted and I drank one of the cans of green tea I’d brought.

After a little break we headed onward to Pier 11. However, upon arriving there, we found out that the ferry was not running. We then made our way to Fulton Street in the Seaport district. There we came across Seaport Summer, an event I’ve been wanting to check out/take part in ever since stumbling across it on a previous bike ride.

Jordan asked if I wanted a beer on him and, though I hate feeling like I owe people money, I kind of couldn’t refuse. Though I typically like going on rides alone, it was nice to do this one with Jordan. After sitting and chatting and drinking for a bit, we headed onward, back into Brooklyn, to our final destination, Buffalo Exchange.

Once again we crossed the dreaded Brooklyn Bridge, but soon we were in Brooklyn and then Buffalo Exchange. Jordan was in search of a cheap denim jacket he could cut the sleeves off of to turn into a vest and make a Suicycles patch for so that he could be part of the bike gang; our fourth member.

After doing a bit of “man shopping,” ie. a quick overview of the few options available and no frivolous wandering, we headed out, empty handed. We then made one more stop, Jordan’s apartment. I locked my bike in his lobby and checked out his apartment for a short while before finally making my way back to my own apartment.

According to Jordan’s bike computer at the end of the day we covered ~30 miles. It was a lot of fun riding together. We seemed to have a similar idea of where we wanted to go/what we wanted to do and we rode at the same pace.

Neither of us complained about the length of the ride, we both clearly were at the same skill set- in terms of not being afraid to ride in traffic and what not. It was cool to take a few breaks and sit and take in the moment, rather than rush through it like I usually do.

To paraphrase Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, “[Jordan], I think this is the beginning of a beautiful [bromance].”

Leave a comment

Filed under Biking

Six Flags Great Adventure

I’ve been to Six Flags Great Adventure four times in my life. The first was when I was fairly young and I don’t remember it at all. The next two times were in 2005 when the ride Kingda Ka was made. The first 2005 trip ended in a bad experience because Kinda Ka was having technical difficulties. I then convinced my Dad later that summer to take me and my cousin back with, essentially the sole purpose of riding Kingda Ka.

We went all the way back, a six hour drive down to New Jersey, only to find that once again Kingda Ka was closed! However it eventually opened towards the end of the day and after 3 and half hours in line, we had finally conquered the (at the time) tallest and fastest coaster in the world.

IMG_7280Kingda Ka/Zumanjaro

Cut to 2017 and it’s been 12 years since I’ve been to this park. After moving to NY I searched how long of a ride it was from the city to the park. As it turned out, it was only an hour and a half away. And so, last Sunday I hopped on the NJ transit bus from Port Authority in Manhattan to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson.

We arrived at SFGA at ~10:00am and waited in a fairly long line to go through security. Being that I had my backpack, I had to wait in a longer line which took forever because that had to search everyone’s bag. When they got to mine, the security guy found the opened green tea I had been hiding. He told me I needed to dump it out into a bucket.

“If it wasn’t opened,” he said, “you could have kept it.” I was so pissed because I had only had one sip of the drink. Not only did it mean I no longer had my green tea, it also meant that had spent X amount of money which I was now literally throwing away, but it also meant waste of a perfectly good bottle of green tea. I hate wasting things. This was strike one.

After going through security I then had to wait in another line to get my ticket scanned. This was super annoying but at ~10:45am I finally got into the park. The first thing I did was to run to Kingda Ka. When I got there however, I was stopped by the fact that you could not bring bags or any loose items into the line. Instead you had to place your items in lockers.

This is already annoying enough but at least at other parks you go to that make you do this you get to put items in for free. At this park, you get squeezed for every dollar they can get and it’s a dollar each time you have to place your items in the locker. The locker is only good for 2 hours. After that it’s an additional dollar per hour. This is simply “highway robbery” because they know they have you by the balls. This was strike two.

I begrudgingly paid the $1 and got in line. To my pleasant surprise, the wait time was only ~10 minutes, a far cry from that first 3 and a half hour wait in 2005. After riding Kingda Ka, I got back in line and rode it again, this time with a ~15 minute wait. I then made my way over to Zumanjaro.

Zumanjaro is a simple elevator drop ride. It was built onto the front structure of Kingda Ka in 2014. It is, apparently, the tallest (at 415 feet) and fastest (at 90mph) drop ride in the world! I typically hate these rides because I really don’t like heights, but yet I love roller coasters… go figure. However, because this one doesn’t launch you from the bottom, it actually wasn’t bad.

Also, because it is attached to Kingda Ka, it somehow makes it feel less heigh. I took the age old advice of “don’t look down” and it truly worked. Instead, I looked up to see how close to the top we were. Once at the top I looked out over Six Flags before dropping five seconds later. All in all not bad.

IMG_7258El Toro

After that I retrieved my backpack from the locker and went over to El Toro. El Toro was being built the year we went to SFGA twice. It opened a year later in 2006 and has been voted the number one wooden coaster in the world two years in a row. I paid another dollar to put my bag in another locker before getting in line for the ride.

El Toro did not disappoint. It was by far one of the smoothest, if not the smoothest wooden coaster I’ve ever been on. It also has the second biggest drop of any wooden coaster at 176 feet and one of the steepest drops at 76 degrees. It’s also the 4th fastest at 70mph. However, what I thought was really cool was the speed of the lift hill. At 13mph it gets you to the top in no time at all.

After riding “the bull” I went over to Medusa, er, I mean Bizzaro. Formerly know as Medusa, Bizzaro is was repainted and renamed for the 2008 season and theming objects were added. It really does nothing for the ride but I can now say I’ve ridden this floorless coaster with two different names. B&M rides never fail to deliver fun, smooth rides.

I then grabbed my bag from the second locker and got overpriced Mexican food for lunch. After eating lunch, I made my way over to the Green Lantern coaster. Placed in the spot where The Great American Scream Machine used to stand, Green Lantern was relocated from Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom and renamed; it was formerly called Chang.

I was really excited to ride it because I’d never been on it before and because it was only going to be the third stand up coaster I’ver ever been on. However, upon my arrival, it was closed. This was strike three. I was pretty bummed about all of these things and though they may seem minuscule, they cumulatively made for a fairly bad experience.

Disappointed, I then made my way to the other end of the park where I put in my third dollar for the day. There I rode The Dark Knight. This is, arguably the best themed ride in the park. I say that very loosely because it is barely themed. It has a pre-ride show and, because you are supposed to be riding on Gotham City Transit, the queue is subway themed and the cars look like subway trains.

This ride is nothing more than an indoor wild mouse coaster with some lighting and theming objects. It replaced the defunct Batman and Robin: The Chiller for the 2008 season. Sadly, I only ever got to ride Robin in 2005, the Batman side was closed.

After riding The Dark Knight I went over to perhaps my favorite ride in the park, Nitro. Nitro is another B&M coaster, this one however is a hypercoaster with a 215 foot drop. Nitro never fails to be thrilling and enjoyable. After Nitro I rode Batman The Ride, a compact inverted coaster. The ride it so short that the long line did not really justify the wait but oh well, another one to check off the list.

Cut to a montage of me looking at the map, strolling around aimlessly and eventually taking the Skyway gondola. The thing that really sucked about having to pay for locker each time, on top of the cost, was the inconvenience. It was so annoying to not be able to just place your stuff on the other side of the track and pick it up when you got off.

IMG_7248Six Flags Great Adventure as seen from the Skyway gondola

I get that it probably messes with load times but it is ultimately an easier system. It basically made me not want to ride as many rides because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle. For example, I didn’t ride Skull Mountain because I didn’t want to pay a dollar to ride it. Its a fun stupid little coaster but it’s not worth a dollar. Being that going on rides is the whole reason I went to the park, it kind of put a damper on the whole day.

When I got to the other side, I put my bag in a locker… again, before riding El Toro one last time. At an hour and a half, this was my longest wait of the day. The ride was having problems, than ran few trains empty to test them and eventually they had to take 15 to 20 minutes to swap one of the trans off. This meant running a one train operation.

The down side to this was that ranter than loading on train while the other was running, they could only load the train once it was back in the station. This essentially doubled the wait time for the ride. However, as before, it delivered and I was glad I got in two rides on it.

After that I basically had to play the waiting game. The bus back to New York wasn’t set to arrive until 9:30pm and it was only about 7:30pm. I was essentially done for the day, tired and a little depressed. Eventually, after going back and forth for a while I bit the bullet an paid the $12! for a chicken sandwich.

As I exited the park with my overpriced food to wait for the bus, I contemplated dumpster diving through the recycling bucket for my green tea. I bet, if they hadn’t emptied the bucket throughout the day, that it was still in there. That said, it was probably sticky and gross so I decided against it.

As I waited for the bus, I reflected on the day. I thought about the fact that overall, I had a fairly mediocre experience. It really bummed me out because it made me think that I’m getting too old or too jaded for theme parks, something I used to love. Maybe if I’d gone with a friend or bought a locker at the beginning of the day or not had to throw out my green tea or spend so much money it would have been a better experience, I don’t know.

The last thing that bummed me out was that fact that I missed the first bus -my own fault, I refused to wait in the line- and so I had to get on the second one, which stopped in NJ first before going to NY, making the trip that much longer. On top of that, the driver didn’t even collect my bus ticket. Why did I bother paying for a round trip ticket if I could have snuck on for free?

Overall the day was fine, but it may mark the end of an era for theme parks for me, #sad.

Leave a comment

Filed under Travel/Adventure

Pool Hopping

The last time I was living in New York, I, for whatever reason, got the idea that I wanted to find a hotel pool to sneak into as a means of a) doing something fun and b) beating the heat without having to go to the beach.

Thus, a quick Google search lead me to a list of NY hotel pools and how to sneak into them. Fast forward to present day and the idea resurfaced in my brain. Knowing that it was a super low risk “crime” and that I had nothing better planned for this weekend, I decided to go for it.

IMG_7183Pool at the Millennium Hilton; spoiler alert… I got in!

I thought that the best place to start would be the top of the list. In addition to knowing exactly where the Millennium Hilton is, the article I found made it seem very easy to sneak into.

After getting off at Fulton Street Station, I walked the very short distance to the Hilton. I decided to enter through the side entrance as to draw less attention to myself. I had my headphones on and my sunglasses too. I walked straight to the elevator and pressed the call button. Moments later my ride was there.

I got in, thankfully alone, and pressed 4. According to the article, the pool was on the 4th floor. However, when I arrived, I was greeted with a hallway filled with business centers. I nervously paced back and forth down the corridor. Was there a different elevator shaft I needed to take?

The only other rooms I saw were labeled “Staff”. I had a feeling that any second a staff member was going to pop out and I’d be busted. I found a nearby bathroom and collected my thoughts.

No one knows you’re not a guest at the hotel. You have yet to give them a reason to suspect you aren’t a guest. Even if you get caught, the worst that will happen is they’ll kick you out.

Relaxed, I got in a different elevator. Again it was empty and as the door closed, I scanned the buttons to see if any were labeled. Then, out to the corner of my eye, I spotted a plaque with a list of amenities and what floor they were on; “Fitness Center” Floor 5.

The article had screwed up the floor number. I pressed 5 and was pleased when the door opened one floor later to smell chlorine. I was in the right place.I walked around the corner and down the hall to find a glass door leading to an empty reception desk, just as the article said. Beyond the desk was the pool, I was home free.

As I entered the pool room I saw two life guards sitting on the chairs at the shallow end of the pool. They were twenty-something year old dudes who were just talking and looking at their phones. They were also fully clothed so even if there was an emergency and they needed to do actual life guarding, they would have been pretty useless.

I casually walked over to an empty seat, took off my backpack, took off my headphones, took off my shoes, took off my shirt, slipped off my basketball shorts, under which was my bathing suit and walked down the stairs of the shallow end into the pool. I did it!

Being that it was around 11am the only other people in the pool were a young, roughly my age couple, and a grandmother with her granddaughter. The pool was heated, as I hoped it would be, and after maybe 20 minutes of swimming around, the young couple left. A short while after that, the grandmother and granddaughter got out too.

For a short while I had the whole place to myself. After that a mother and her teenage daughter came in. And after that two women maybe five years older than me came in. At around noon I decided to bail. The thrill of sneaking around was sort of gone and because I was by myself and the pool was… just a pool, I was getting bored.

Though I’d brought my own, I grabbed an unused hotel towel off the seat next to mine, grabbed my bag and went into the bathroom/changing room. I toweled off and changed back into my regular clothes. I then dropped my used towel in the hamper and made my way out.

As I was leaving, I pushed the glass door to exit. However, I didn’t remember having to push it open to enter. Had it been left ajar? I pulled on it to see if I could get back in but it had locked behind me. I glanced over to the wall and sure enough there was a key card reader.

Either I had gotten lucky and the door had not been shut fully OR it was wide open when I got there OR the hotel staff waits until later in the day to activate the key car reader.

Either way it was pretty lucky that the door wasn’t lock when I’d arrived or I’d have been boned. I probably could have waited for another guest to arrive or something, but still, it would have put a serious monkey wrench in the plan.

So, two things I learned, 1) the pool is on the 5th floor, not the 4th and 2) you may need to procure a key card, or find someone with a key card in order to gain access to the pool if the glass door is not left open/unlocked. Other than that it’s smooth swimming.

Leave a comment

Filed under Travel/Adventure

Catching Up

Hey y’all, I writing to catch you up as to what I’ve been up to so far. As I mentioned in my previous post, a little over a month ago I moved back to New York. I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of things and hanging out with a lot of people and taking a lot of pictures, and yet, I’ve posted none of it.

I think because I’m now on a computer all day at work, the last thing I want to do when I get home is drain my eyes with more computer time. Not to say I haven’t been spending my fair share of free time on the computer, but, now that weather is consistently nice, I’ve been trying to take advantage of it.

What I have been doing, in lieu of writing digitally is to keep a physical, tangible journal. Ever since coming back from Japan, where I was writing what I did every day, it was a tough habit to break. I’m glad though because it lets me know what I did each day and, I feel keeps me productive.

Not everything I do every day or every weekend is interesting, but as I means of trying to trim the fat, I’m going to pull a few highlights from the last few weeks and make a digital copy of them here on HWS. I’m sure you’re waiting with baited breath. As usual, this is more for me than it is for you.

4/30/17 (Sun) test rode a bike at Van Moof

5/2/17 (Tue) dinner at Momofuku Noodles – pork buns and chocolate malted truffles

5/4/17 (Thurs) dinner at Black Flamingo

IMG_6973Discension art installation 5/6

5/5/17 (Fri) Alligator Lounge for karaoke

5/6/17 (Sat) New York Bike Expo + Discension art installation + housewarming party at co-workers apartment

5/10/17 (Wed) dinner with Jon Papp

IMG_6987Home Sweet Home 5/12

5/12/17 (Fri) New York Night Train at Home Sweet Home with co-worker

5/15/17 (Mon) dinner with Katie at Korean Place

5/17/17 (Wed) chilled with Guto, got drinks at Nostrand Pub, dollar pizza, went back to his apt, chilled on his roof

IMG_6997My studio as I moved in/organized my stuff 5/24

5/19/17 (Fri) Alien Covenant with Papp, chased the movie with drinks at Videology, went to Rebecca’s (bar) where we met up with Katie and Brandon, macked on some biddies

5/20/17 (Sat) IKEA adventure during the day, stoop life at night

5/21/17 (Sun) moved into apartment, went to Smorgasburg with co-workers

IMG_7019Hovercraft and other rich people toys at Hammacher Schlemmer 6/3

5/24/17 (Wed) movers came and I spent all day getting the apartment organized

5/27/17 (Sat) hair cut, biked through Prospect Park, chilled at Sam Cooper’s

5/28/17 (Sun) biked to Coney Island

IMG_7046Looking back on Manhattan from the Williamsburg Bridge 6/8

5/30/17 (Tue) got Brooklyn Library card

5/31/17 (Wed) chilled with Steve at my apt

6/2/17 (Fri) Mom came to visit, went to Eataly, found $5 on the sidewalk

IMG_8022Berry Park with co-workers on 6/9

6/3/17 (Sat) Brooklyn Bread Cafe, went to Ed Sullivan Theatre, Hammacher Schlemmer, CB2, Bellstaff, cut through Central Park, Zabars, walked to The MET (opera), dinner at Liz and Tim’s apartment

6/6/17 (Tue) got Manhattan Library card

6/8/17 (Thurs) biked to work, raced co-worker to Union Sq (her on foot + train, me on bike) from Queens and I won, watched movie for World Ocean day, got lost biking home and ended up at Katie/Dilila’s apt and chilled for a bit before heading home

IMG_7066Westfield World Trade Center mall on 6/10

6/9/17 (Fri) went to Berry Park (rooftop bar) with co-workers after work, went to the Alamo Drafthouse to see It Comes at Night

6/10/17 (Sat) biked across the Brooklyn Bridge to Fulton Center, went to the Westfield World Trade Center (mall), biked to the Fulton Market and saw Seaport Summer setup, checked out the 1 Hotel, 5-hour outing

From now on, anything that’s remotely interesting that I took pictures during but didn’t post to Instagram is going on here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Biking, Random/Thoughts

Pedal Pushers Club

For those who don’t know I recently moved back to New York after having been away for almost two years. This time however, rather than flying by the seat of my pants, I relocated because of work.

However, that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Just as was the case the last time I was here, today I attended Bike Expo New York. Like last time, there were basically just a bunch of booths trying to sell you bike related gear and what not.

NYC_manhole_1024x1024Not the shirt I bought

This time, though I didn’t walk away with a free Kryptonite lock, I did buy a couple pieces of swag. The main piece I want to talk about is a t-shirt I bought from a company called Pedal Pushers Club.

Let me start by saying that the last thing I need is another fucking t-shirt. That said, this one is pretty dope. This company specializes in making bike themed t-shirts. They do them for a lot of major cities.

The last time I lived here I wanted something, a shirt or hat, that represented Brooklyn. Well this time I got something. I highly reccomend checking them out as they make some really sweet designs.

Oh, and I almost forgot, because they were selling them at the Expo, they did a discount. Rather than costing $25 it only cost me $20. Hard to pass up a deal.

Leave a comment

Filed under Biking

Japan Top 10

1. MariCar

This was by far the most fun I had the entire trip

2. Nagashima Spa Land

I was able to fulfill a 17-year old dream of riding Steel Dragon 2000, plus the day was a lot of fun

3. Tokyo DisneySea

You kinda can’t beat Disney Parks

4. Tsutaya Daikanyama T-site

I could have spent an entire day their looking at books

5. Anata No Warehouse

The theming was great and the games were fun

6. Liberty Walk and RWB

Tied at #6 because of how similar the experience was, I was so grateful to meet Kato-san and Nakai-san

7. Gonpachi Nishi Azabu

Not only was it cool to be in a location that inspired a scene from Kill Bill, this was also my most memorable and probably best meal of the entire trip

8. The 5.6.7.8’s

I got to fulfill a long time goal of not only seeing this band, but seeing them in Japan

9. Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium

Whale Shark, nuff said

10. Miraikan

The Art of Disney: The Magic of Animation exhibit brought me to tears

Leave a comment

Filed under Travel/Adventure

Japan – Day 15: Tokyo – Day 9

Saturday – April 22, 2017

Today was our last day in Japan. I basically wanted to use it to tie up any loose ends and see any of the things I hadn’t gotten around to. Though it was sad, I was ready for the trip to be over. Not for any negative reasons, but simply because it was time.

Stationary Cafe

I started my day by going to the Stationary Cafe. It had been on my list of places to eat breakfast and, being that I am a stationary nerd, I thought it might be cool. It took me a bit long to actually find the place because I kept screwing up the directions, but I eventually found it.

IMG_6853Stationary Cafe

When I saw the menu, it seemed very sparse so I ordered the only thing that looked good, a pancake. However, when I got my order, I was a bit shocked. The picture had clearly mislead me because what I got was not a pancake. Instead it was this tiny, somewhat expensive thing of custard or whatever. Angry, I ate it quickly, paid and left.

Miraikan Museum (Again)

Next I made my way back to the Miraikan Museum. Though I had been there yesterday, I had wanted to check out the Disney Exhibit but knew I wouldn’t have enough time to enjoy it. I ended up getting that at noon and was able really stroll through and look at every piece.

IMG_6796Digital globe at the Miraikan Museum

The exhibit focused on the art of Disney. Starting with the first cartoons in the late 1920s and ending with their most recent film, Moana. The exhibit had everything from concept art, storyboards, background paintings and original sketches from the most well known cartoons and feature films.

As I made my way through the exhibit, the somewhat bad mood I had been in from my shitty breakfast melted away. I kept singing the music from the various movies to myself and I suddenly had the urge to watch them all.

IMG_6879Entrance to The Art of Disney: The Magic of Animation exhibit

I don’t know if it was the link to my childhood, the powerful imagery or the subconscious awareness that this was the last day of the trip, but I started to tear up. I got through the rest of the exhibit and, as I expected, exited through the gift shop. Well technically no. I was led to the line that led to the gift shop.

I decided to skip it and moved on to the rest of the museum. I retraced my steps from yesterday to see if there was anything Dan an I missed. Now that I was on fresh feet and legs it was much easier to navigate. I soon found myself on the floor with the cafe, and since breakfast was a fail, I decided to get lunch.

IMG_6875Honda Uni-Cub

After eating I took one more pass before stopping in the main gallery of the first floor to lie on the benches provided and look up at the globe hanging from the ceiling above. I used the time to chill and figure out a game plan for the rest of the day.

After I’d figured everything out, I made my way back to the room to drop some stuff off, then headed to Shinjuku Loft. It was 16:00, when the show was supposed to start and I wanted to see what time the band I was going for was on. I was told not till 20:50 so I took the time to do a bit more exploring.

I forgot to add that there was a section where for 500 Yen you could test ride a Honda Uni-Cub, like the ones featured in the OK Go music video for the song I Won’t Let You Down.

Uniqlo Move + Muji

I made my way to Uniqlo Move, a concept store that had been set up a few weeks prior to my arrival. I wanted to see what it was all about and how, if at all, it differed from the Uniqlo stores I’d been to in the states.

As usual, I got lost trying to find it and had to resolve to a montage of walking in all the wrong places before asking for directions. When I did eventually arrive I was/am pretty sure I was in just a regular Uniqlo. Oh well.

I decide to see if there was a Muji nearby to kill a bit of time in. I found that there was indeed one near me and started to head in that direction. As I did however, what had started as a sprinkle was beginning to turn to rain. On top of that I was pretty sure I was, once again headed in the wrong direction.

I stopped into a ubiquitous Family Mart to keep dry and reassess my situation. On top of that, I took the opportunity to buy a clear umbrella, something that I’d wanted to get but not frivolously, only if I needed one organically. As it turned out, I needed one organically.

I then made my way to Muji. I walked around for a bit and saw that it was 17:30. My new plan was to be at Shinjuku Loft for 19:00 so I could watch a few bands before settling in for the main event. Thus I decided to head back to the room again to blog my day so far and chill for the hour and a half before I would set back out to the Loft.

Shinjuku Loft

We got into the Shinjuku Loft no problem and when we arrived there was a band in the middle of their set. I moved right to the front to watch. They were a fairly heavy punk band and were really high energy. At one point they did a cover of Rebel Yell by Billy Idol and later they covered Fight For Your Right by The Beastie Boys. Towards the end of the set the guitarist/lead singer stripped down to his leather underwear.

IMG_6888The 5.6.7.8’s at Shinjuku Loft

The second band we saw was another trio only these guys were a bit older. They were dressed up in suits and had nice hats on. They were a bit more surf punk and somewhat rockabilly. I really liked them and at one point the bassist did this thing where he used one hand to mim revving a motorcycle and the other, on his bass, to make the “revving sound. It was pretty cool.

The third band we saw was a bit more punk, however they too got did some rockabilly stuff. They covered Somethin’ Else by Eddie Cochran and ended with a cover of the Sex Pistols cover of My Way by Frank Sinatra.

Next was the piece de resistance, the reason I had come to the show, something I never thought would actually be able to happen. As if it were fate, for our last night in Japan The 5.6.7.8’s were playing! I’ve wanted to see them in concert ever since I hear about them but to see them in Japan, that was the best of the best.

Because there were too many bands, they played a relatively short set. However, with the exception of one, every song they played, I knew and basically were all the ones I wanted to hear. All in all a solid end to our trip.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Travel/Adventure

Japan – Day 14: Tokyo – Day 8

Friday – April 21, 2017

Because we have been going hard this entire trip, I decided to give the guys a break and so we all decided to sleep in. The negative to this is that it means starting your day later than usual. We got to Odaiba, where our day was set to take place, around 11:30. After having brunch we made our way to Joypolis, our first stop. By the time we got our tickets it was 12:30.

Joypolis

I was really excited to go here because, rather than just being another arcade, it was also supposed to be a quasi-amusement park. The concept seemed similar to Disney Quest in Downtown Disney. Once entering though, it basically still felt like an arcade.

IMG_6475Joypolis entrance

The first thing I did there was to go pee. However, being that this is an arcade, the urinal was a game! As I peed there was a sensor tracking how much urine I was producing. There was a screen with a cartoon cupid on it cheering me on. It counted my liquid in milliliters. I was only able to fill the equivalent of one beer can. The game was actually really silly and fun. Probably the most fun thing I did the entire time we were there.

After that I met up with the guys and Pete had already found the Initial D game. This was basically what I had come for. There were three full sized cars from the anime all on simulators with screens in front of them; a WRX STi, an AE86 and an RX-7. I figuured you could sync the cars so that all three of us could race each other. Unfortunately, that’s not how it worked.

IMG_6776Initial D racing game/simulator

Each simulator did it’s own race at it’s own time. They were even so strict as to not let us pick which car we got to sit in. I would get it if it were busy, but we were literally the only three people in line. Pete went first and got the RX-7, though he wanted the WRX. I on the other hand wanted the 86 and fortunately, got it.

The game was pretty cool but I was really bad at it. After we all got a chance, Pete wanted to go again and Dan and I wanted to explore. The next thing we hit was the Half Pipe. This was a standing roller coaster type thing where you were on a “skateboard.” As you went back and forth on the half pipe, depending on which way you leaned, you would do spins.

IMG_6786Tokyo Halfpipe ride

We both agreed we didn’t want to spin but, either due to the slightest tilt of the board or the ride getting fed up with us, we ended up doing a few spins anyway. It ended up not being so bad. You try and compete to see which skateboard team can do the most spins. We lost but had fun which was the most important.

Next we rode the roller coaster, but, being that this is an arcade, they had to make it into a game. It was called dance coaster or something and as you rode you stopped at various screens that showed you video footage of some Japanese boy band.

IMG_6787Spinning coaster

As the footage played there were discs that would appear on screen which correlated with the colored buttons each rider had in front of them. Like DDR or Guitar Hero, the objective was to hit the button at the exact time it lined up on screen. I was pretty bad at it. Eventually it got to the fast part of the ride.

I had been on spinning coasters before but they are usually wild mouse style rides. This one not only spun, it also did a barrel roll. This was a weird sensation and put strange g-forces on your body. When it was over, it totaled your score. I lost, naturally, and Dan won!

IMG_6791Sonic The Hedgehog

After that we went upstairs where I did the Sonic Run game. There are basically 8 treadmills lined up next to each other, each correlating with a character from Sonic. I was #2, Tails. There were different running events such as the dash, long jump and hurdles.

For the long jump and the hurdles there were two buttons where your thumbs rested that you needed to press to jump at the right time. I was competing again all little girls. I was literally 20 years older than the oldest one. On the dash I kicked their ass but as the competitions got harder my age and coordination began to show. I ended up in 3rd place overall so I was happy to medal.

After that Dan and I played a game of Air Hockey before riding these three movie simulator rides. Wild River, Wild Jungle and Wild Wings were all basically the same except that the first was a raft, the second was a jeep and the third was a plane.

The kind of cool thing was that on each ride you “passed by” the other rides on your screen. In other words, each of these experiences were supposed to take place in the same world at roughly the same time, which was kind of a nice tie in.

While in line for Wild Wings, Pete met up with us and after we did the ride, we did Biohazard. This was a walk through “haunted house” type game where you had to choose your own adventure. We had a guide and were walking through it with two other Japanese girls.

The guide was funny and kept it entertaining. The game was actually kind of cool. Depending on the choices you make, that decides whether you “live” or “die.” We died. I almost wanted to do it again to see if we could make the right choices, but decided not to.

After that we parted ways again. Because we knew we would be allowed reentry, Pete went to another car parts store and Dan and I walked to a nearby science museum.

Miraikan

The main draw to the Miraikan museum was that they do demonstrations of Asimo the robot. We arrived at 15:30-ish and despite the fact that it said the price of entry was 600 Yen, it ended up being free.

IMG_6806ASIMO robot demonstration

The only thing that did cost money was the Special Exhibit which was all about the art of Disney Animation. I kind of wanted to see it but a) Dan didn’t want to and b) the museum was closing and I didn’t want to have to rush through it. We basically only ended up seeing the Asimo demo. We did walk around to a few of the other things but there wasn’t much we could do in the time we had before it closed.

We then went back to Joypolis where we re-rode the roller coaster, I played Initial D again and we ended on the half pipe. Once we were done we took a short break on the deck of the building and watched the sunset for a bit before splitting up again.

Dan went to Diver City (mall) to grab souvenirs for his family and I went to the Toyota City Showcase.

Toyota City Showcase

The Toyota City Showcase is comprised of three exhibits, the History Museum, the showroom and the Ride One center where you can book an appointment to test drive a Toyota of your choice around their special test track. I had booked an appointment to drive an 86 at 19:00, but by the time I got there, I knew I’d have to rush to make it, so I didn’t even bother.

IMG_6826Toyota City Showcase – History Museum

Instead I focused on the History Museum. It was actually really cool featuring cars in set locations. There was much more than just Toyota’s there and on the lower level they even had rally cars. After seeing everything there, I made my way to the showroom.

This is exactly like it sounds, a giant Toyota showroom. However, it featured a lot of the Japan only cars we don’t get in America. I sat in a bunch of them before heading out to grab food. My dogs were barking so it was nice to sit.

I ate dinner at this fast food restaurant right next to a giant ferris wheel, the hundredth one we’d seen on this trip. (Not really but there have been a ton). After dinner I walked 20-ish minutes to Tokyo Big Sight

Tokyo Big Sight

IMG_6841Tokyo Big Sight

I knew Tokyo Big Sight would be closed but I mainly wanted to see it because of the cool architecture. I got a few pictures of the outside before hanging out in the lobby for a bit. My feet were killing me but I had two more things to see.

Ariake Colosseum

I walked from Tokyo Big Sight to the Ariake Colosseum. Again I knew it would be closed but I merely wanted to look at it and take pictures. I got there after miles of walking and got what I wanted. I was planning on seeing the Aquatic center as well but I was too dead to walk there. So I made my way back to the train and took the hour long ride back to the room.

Leave a comment

Filed under Travel/Adventure