Saturday, May 31, 2014

Intro to...Coney Island: A Local NYC Treat

Intro to...Coney Island, NYC
Top Ten Things to Know



Coney Island Boardwalk
Seaside resorts, traveling fairs and carnivals, world's fairs along with the Industrial Revolution (resulting in rides) coupled with an increase of people having money to spend on entertainment gave rise to amusement parks. Coney Island, being near the shore, was a natural location for NYC to have its own. One could say that Coney Island was one of the original staycations, easily accessible by subway from Manhattan yet far enough to feel like you're out of town, literally at the seashore.
The Cyclone
1. Coney Island is one of the oldest amusement areas in the world. The name Coney comes from the Spanish "conejo," which means rabbit. Apparently, the peninsula was full of the little bunnies until development limited their numbers. "Coney" was a nickname that stuck. 

2. Popular before World War II, Coney Island descended into almost a delicious seediness, where only hardy NY locals would dare to go. During the 1960's and 1970's Nathan's, the famous hot dog stand; the Cyclone, one of the grandfathers of all roller coasters; the Deno's Wonder Wheel and the inactive 1939 World's Fair souvenir, the red Parachute Jump managed to survive.



Surf Avenue
3. Meanwhile, an entire community built up around the resort area, complete with residences, schools, churches and supermarkets. Street names like Neptune, Surf and Mermaid pay tribute to the seaside theme, but make no mistake, Coney Island is a real neighborhood and a vital part of NYC.

4. Coney Island limped along until the 1980s revitalization started. It is actually several independently owned parks, the most famous being Deno's, Luna Park and Steeplechase Park. Thanks to local politicians and developers, the area is a hot spot.
The new Thunderbolt, Coney Island (editorial usage)
5. Locals, however, are not giving it up to the tourists so easily. NYC can promote it to the out-of-towners all it wants but Coney Island belongs to us, always has and always will. It's even more alive after dark: with everything lit up and the noise of the games spilling out onto Surf Avenue.


Nathan's Famous
6. You can spend a day or even weekend in this part of Brooklyn. Visit the NY Aquarium. The amusement parks (Luna ParkDeno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Parkstill operate old school: admission is free and you buy tickets (or books of tickets) to ride the attractions. Old and new games are there, also: bring lots of cash, they are not as cheap as they used to be! Comprehensive info can be found at Coney Island Fun Guide.

Soaring Eagle

Wonder Wheel (trademarked, editorial usage)
7. Cut through the side streets and head to the famous boardwalk, immortalized in many movies, including the building from the film Two Weeks Notice at 21st Street and the Boardwalk. 

8. Warning: NYC waters never really warm up, our season is too short, but the Parks Department is makes an effort to keep the beaches clean. Official season is Memorial Day to Labor Day for the life guards. In the winter, dare to dive in with local polar bear clubs, especially on New Year's Day.


The Boardwalk
9. When you get hungry and thirsty, this is the best place for junk food: custard ice cream, seafood, candy, popcorn and all sorts of interesting drinks along the boardwalk and Surf Avenue. Of course, the most well-known is Nathan's Famous (it tastes better down here). However, the other spots are just as good, particularly since Nathan's can seem slow and the lines can be very long. Don't forget to go to Williams Candy store and take home one of the famous candy apples.


MCU Park (editorial usage)
10. Take in future sports stars at Municipal Credit Union (MCU) Park and cheer on the Brooklyn Cyclones, one of our local minor league baseball teams. With the mascot running around and all the fun things in between innings, a minor league game becomes quite intimate. The park is smaller, the players are accessible and the crowd is fun. It is certainly cheaper.


Williams Candy Store, next to Nathan's, Surf Ave


Subway Station
Getting there: the old BMT lines, now known as the MTA F, Q, N, D trains will take you to the area. The main buses would be the B36 and B68. By car, it gets a little complicated and parking between June and September is ridiculous, but for a small fortune, you can park in privately owned lots without running out to the meter every 15 minutes.

So, come on down to our very own seashore resort area and take a few hours to enjoy yourself.



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All Photos Copyright Marcia Crayton, 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Disclaimer

Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 if the copyright act of 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

This review is my personal opinion. I am not paid by anyone. I do not receive any amenities (free or discounted).

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Kids, Travel and You: Part 3 Basic Activities in Europe


KIDS, TRAVEL AND YOU: PART 3- 
BASIC ACTIVITIES IN EUROPE

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy
Check out the other articles in this series:
Part 1: Planning 
Part 2: Traveling with Ages 18-21
Part 4: Road Trips

What do you do with children in Europe? In this 3rd part of our series, we explore basic activities to do.

Capri, Italy
Plan in advance

As we stated in the first part, a successful family vacation depends on your already established family dynamics and how much prep you put into the process. Before you leave, plan local activities that will introduce your child to the culture they will see: restaurants, museums, US cities that resemble European cities and maybe some apps that introduce the language.

Parc Guell, Barcelona, Spain
Is it right for everyone?

It is difficult to travel with children, but even more so with children under 3. Also, consider those with disabilities. There are stairs, canals, cobblestone alleys, steep streets and hotels and train stations without no elevators. Wheel chairs, strollers, canes and crutches were often not accommodated.

Amalfi Coast, Italy
Will it be the right time of year?

Take into account the time of year. Remember, the seasons are reversed past the equator (it's summer in Australia in February). Summer in Europe is hot and the down time is August. Some attractions have reduced hours or are closed altogether. Beach areas are crowded and beach hotel rates are high. Spring Break is a good time. It can still be crowded, but many attractions are open. The weather can be a gamble, but that's what museums are for.

Window display in pizza restaurant, Notting Hill, London

What to do?

Basic: play on-going games. Challenge your child to say hello, please, thank you, good-bye and their menu choice in the target language. Take a look at the details (an faces) on the old churches. The many piazzas (plazas) may street fairs, vendors, musicians, performers and carousels. 

St. James Park, London


Gardens: Springtime brings flowers and butterflies and rolling hills. Any place that encourages touching and participation is a guaranteed hit. Some museums are also gardens: your kids will want to pose by each sculpture at the Musee Rodin.  At Versailles, rather than touring each palace, opt for only Marie Antoinette's Estate and pay extra for the musical fountain show in the gardens in the evening.

Musee Rodin, Paris

Ferris Wheels ("Eyes"): They seem to be all the rage: London, Paris, Niagara Falls (Canada), a few places in Japan. We're even building one in NYC.  These are outside of the theme parks and there are often attractions surrounding them as add-ons.

Wax museums: Keep your children's ages in mind for these. Some have horror themes. For the others, it can be spooky standing next to a life size statue that looks like it may come alive at any moment. But, wax museums can be good history lessons and certainly a lot of fun.

Museu de la Xocolata (Chocolate), Barcelona, Spain
Children's Museums: they are popping up more and more in Europe. The USA seems to be the place that is child-centered and places around the world are on the band wagon. The Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Florence (there's one in Milan, too) is hands on.  


Canals and steps and bridges, in Venice, oh, my!

Boat Rides: Venice, Capri, Versailles. If you have ever taken a ferry, your kids can handle this!



Buckingham Palace, London
Montjuic, Barcelona, Spain
Forts, castles and palaces: These are always a hit with kids: castles and cannons and towers and tales of pirates and adventures, oh my! They can be dusty, so don't wear your best clothing. 

Roland Garros: Site of the French Tennis Open, Paris, 
Olympic and Sports Museum, Barcelona

Sports arenas and museums: Many Olympic sites have been converted for public use, one can visit the four famous tennis open stadiums, or it could be high season for the local favorite. Check your local listings, as they say.

School bus in Positano, Italy
Schools: Depending on the age of your child, just walk by a local school. Seeing kids play in the yard somehow always links the cultures of the similarities, makes a city seem more real. For the older ones, walk by a famous university.

Magnet Butterflies

Shopping: Set down some ground rules before you go. Compare prices of their favorite sneakers and make them do the conversion, look at the language of the foods in a market and note the lack of huge supermarkets. Check out the many neighborhood marts and how people still shop daily for dinner. Finally, you may run into one of the farmer's markets.

Pizza...in Paris!

Restaurants: Eating can be a challenge, but while world cuisine is one reason to travel, at the same time, it's universal. Encourage kids to try new things but almost every place has fries (believe it or not). 

Arc de Triomf in Ciutadella Park, Barcelona, Spain
Tuileries Garden, near the Louvre, Paris

Central parks: When you have seen the Mona Lisa or Michaelangelo's David (which you should certainly do), take some down time, get ice cream  and walk in the park. Outside of the Louvre you have Tuileries Gardens, up the street from Buckingham Palace is St. James Park or visit one of the 8 Royal Gardens. Madrid has it's Parque de Retiro.
Piccadilly Circus, London


Night Time: Cities come alive and lights are fantastic at twilight. Make sure your lodging is in a well lit and well populated area. The Eiffel Tower actually gives a light show, vendors sell little toys with lights in Florence and Venice, London's Piccadilly Circus looks like Times Square and Barcelona's Ramblas seems to never sleep as you window shop. Fountains are lit up, families are taking strolls and you can walk off your dinner before putting the little ones to sleep.
Street artist in Siena, Italy
In the hotel room: Television programming is likely to be limited and children's programming may be sparse. I would suggest bringing a tablet with downloaded books, games and movies. If you have wi-fi, make it your child's job to research the next day's agenda and let him find it on the map.

All in all, taking children on a trip to Europe can be fun, educational and an adventure for all with just a few adjustments and some pre-planning.

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Disclaimer

Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 if the copyright act of 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

This review is my personal opinion. I am not paid by anyone. I do not receive any amenities (free or discounted)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Jamaica, Queens: A Jewel in the Crown of NYC

Intro to...Jamaica, Queens, NYC


Baisley Pond Park, Jamaica, Queens, NYC

SIGHTSEEING IN QUEENS, NYC


Queens is one of the most challenging boroughs to navigate (you will hear Brooklyn and Bronx people loudly grumbling about how they hate to come to Queens and the feeling is mutual). It seems oxymoronic that a borough with numbered-named streets can be easy to get lost in. Not only that, Queens people tend to know only their areas, if you take a Queens person out of their neighborhood, they'd be lost. The street naming system was designed to so that we would never run out of names so it seems that the streets have the same name: 149 Street, 149 Road, 149 Place, etc. But the address system is ingenious: the first 3 numbers indicate the cross street and the last two indicate actual building number. It was GPS before there was GPS

Unfortunately, when travel guides shout-out Queens, they almost always leave out the Southeast area: Jamaica and the Rockaways. Take a chance, jump on the E train, and swing by for a visit.

1. Roy Wilkins Park: virtually a country club with an indoor pool; tennis, handball and basketball courts; fitness center; community center with events and activities; a track and the best site to see future NFL players. It's the venue of many concerts, fairs, carnivals and the home to the Black Spectrum Theatre Company and its 425 seat theater. Truly, this is one of the best parks and recreation centers in the city. Merrick Blvd between 115 Ave and Baisley Blvd. 718-276-8686.

2. Baisley Pond Park: The majestic looking August Martin High School seems to stand as a mansion over the estate that is Baisley Pond Park. Paved paths, playgrounds, tennis and basketball courts surround the pond as people catch and release fish. The park actually continues across Rockaway Blvd to more tennis and basketball courts, playgrounds and a track. The feature that sets it apart are the cricket matches you are likely to see on the weekend.

3. Thomasina's: a catering hall that hosts its own events and buffets for holidays and special occasions, such as  Mother's Day, New Year's Eve, etc. www.thomasinascatering.com. 205-35 Linden Blvd, St. Albans. 718-525-5273.

4. Greater Allen AME Cathedral Church, Rev. Dr. Floyd H. Flake, Senior Pastor, a former Congressman, who has been instrumental in securing funds for more buildings and businesses along Merrick Blvd and the surrounding area. Outside of Harlem and Brooklyn, there is no stronger fellowship of interdenominational churches than Southeast Queens. Allen hosts concerts and other events in addition their usual church services and meetings. 110-31 Merrick Blvd, Jamaica. 718-206-4600. http://allencathedral.org/

5. York College, CUNY: small business workshops, lectures, plays, concerts and an athletic center. Check the website for the latest info. 94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd, Jamaica (corner Liberty Ave). 718-262-2000. www.york.cuny.edu.

6. Rufus King House and Park: historic house/museum, lectures, tours, programs and events. A NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission landmark and a National Register of Historic Place, the King Manor Association focuses on the role of Rufus King and family and their role in the early ant-slavery movement. Jamaica Ave between 150 and 153 Streets, Jamaica. 


The LIRR offers reduced rates on the weekends via the City Ticket, for stops within NYC

Transportation hubs: 
~Long Island Railroad and the AirTrain JFK at Sutphin Blvd and Archer Ave, along with the E train. 
~The Jamaica Bus Terminal is at 165th Street, and Merrick Ave, where you can catch 10 different city bus lines and 6 Nassau County buses. From there you can walk to the F train on Hillside or to the E train at Parsons and Archer. www.mta.info.



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Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 if the copyright act of 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Kids, Travel and You: Part 2: Ages 18-21

KIDS, TRAVEL AND YOU: PART 2 - Ages 18-21


Our last entry touched upon prepping for a trip with children. In this case, children can refer to anyone ages 0-21. This entry is about traveling with 18-21 year olds.




1. Who Pays? Traveling with the 18-21 year old group is tricky. Parents may be reluctant to leave them at home. Kids may not want to go...or, since you're paying, they might.  If a child is working, it should be clear who is paying for what. If the parents invited the child, then it is probably expected they will pay for transportation, lodging, food and entry fees. Kids should kick in for their clothes, souvenirs and snacks. If a child is not working and the parent invited the child, then the parent pays for all.





2. Ground Rules.  Before the car rolls away from the house on the way to the airport or the turnpike, get the ground rules down: there have to be curfews at resorts or hotels; your child should not drive rental cars, period; kids have to respect the rules of the cruise ship night clubs (some are for 18 and over and some are for 21 and over); drinking is prohibited on cruises for those 20 and younger; in other countries, if it's legal, you should decide if your child will drink. Also, establish if the older sibling may have to watch over younger ones at least one night so that mom and dad can go out.


3. What to do?: the destination. Since traveling with children is usually a family vacation, this goes back to what I mentioned in Part 1 of this series. It is tricky, but a family vacation should incorporate something that all will enjoy at some point. If you have an established relationship with your children as far as your family dynamics, this is not an issue.

4. Bonding. traveling with the 18-21 age group can be rewarding if you respect them for the young adults they are. This is a fragile time in your family as you set the stage for the adult relationship you will have as you both grow older. Who knows? This may be the beginning of a beautiful adult traveling friendship with none other than your own kids!

Part 3 of this series: Travel to Europe with Kids. Read Part 1, the intro

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Follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter, Tumblr. Purchase our fine art, decor or stock photos on ShutterstockImageKindmcraytonphoto.comiStock by Getty Images , and Dreamstime

Disclaimer

Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 if the copyright act of 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.