Friday, October 12, 2018

The NYC Traveler: A Big Apple Summer

A BIG APPLE SUMMER:
WHAT TO DO IN NEW YORK CITY



Summertime in the Big Apple

New Yorkers tend to be divided into two camps for touring their hometown: those who do and those who don't (and may not know how). If you find that you have to spend part or all of the summer in the Big Apple, check out these tips:

1. NYC Residents: Get NYC identification. There are many benefits, such as discounted annual museum memberships, entertainment tickets and park department membership discounts. There are also several companies that sell combo passes for multiple attractions. Click here for a list.




2. Get around town with public transportation. There are car services, but the best deal in town is still the MTA. Most residents already have the current way to pay, a MetroCard. There is a new system coming, OMNY. Check out the website to make sure that you have the one that suits your needs. Street Smart: Only buy a metro card from an official machine or at a ticket booth. Do not buy from anyone who approaches you at a station or on the street.




3. Ask a New Yorker if they have been to the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building and it is a good bet they may say no. So, New Yorkers, act like a tourist and take a look at the Official Guide to New York. You can pick up the print version in Grand Central or Penn Station or in the Times Square Information center



4. All of the NYC parks have summer activities. As per current COVID-19 restrictions, some annual events are not occurring but the parks are open. Grab a bicycle, and choose a borough (or two) to explore. Get the app or check out the calendar.



5. Explore memberships at the museums, gardens and zoos. Along with admission, you get discounts on dining, shopping and first peeks at new events and exhibits. Museums have too many works to display, so exhibits are changing constantly. Plus, they sponsor great events such as concerts, lectures Here are some of the more popular museums:





All photos and text copyright Marcia Crayton, All Rights Reserved, 2020

Follow our other blog: The NYC Dis Traveler for your theme park updates

Purchase our fine art, decor or stock photos on ShutterstockImageKind, mcraytonphoto.comiStock by Getty Images, Etsy, Zenfolio and Dreamstime.

Scroll down to the very bottom and click the social media icons to share this article. Happy Travels!

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 article is my personal opinion based on my personal travel. I currently do not receive any compensation from the travel industry. However, I am an Amazon Associate.


Sunday, May 20, 2018

The NYC Traveler in NYC: Cycle around NYC

The NYC Traveler: Cycling in NYC


The Empire State Trail emphasizes going from NYC to Buffalo, via Albany. However, if you are coming from Long Island, you can do a longer trail without using motor transportation. Bike trails are not everywhere on Long Island and there has not been a printed bike map in a while. But, if you are an experienced cyclist or hiker (and with a map and GPS on your mobile device, it can be done. 

To get to the NYC border (Queens or Brooklyn, try this or variations to avoid heavy traffic: 

My perspective: If you are coming from Long Island, Routes 25 (Jericho Turnpike/Jamaica Avenue), 25A (Northern Boulevard), 25B (Hillside Avenue and 27 (Sunrise Highway/Conduit Boulevard) will get you into the City of New York and you can pick up a city trail from there. See my picks here. Get a free NYC Bike Map at any NYC bicycle shop. From the Bronx, you can get to the upstate area and make your way to Albany and Buffalo. Happy riding/hiking!

Three main trails will allow you to go from New York City to Buffalo: the Hudson Valley Greenway Trail; the Champlain Valley Trail and the Erie Canalway Trail.





Every year (unless there is a safety or health concern), on the 1st Sunday in May, Bike New York helps to kick off the warm weather with its annual tour: 40 miles, through the 5 boroughs, on car-free roads. The tour also kicks off many resolutions to cycle more. Reduced parking, political threats of vehicle fees to enter parts of Manhattan and frustration with the MTA, which runs the public transit system, has also inspired many more to ride regularly and daily. 



Recently, in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine, cycling took off. Bicycle sales skyrocketed, there was a shortage of bikes, parts, and accessories. Public parks took on a whole new role as people explored on two wheels. From this blogger's experience, bike and pedestrian traffic increased tremendously, as well as scooters and skateboards.

For leisure and recreation, check out our favorite places and route to ride in New York City. Pick up a current bike map at any cycling store and mount up.

NOTE: There are many variations on the basic routes here. And this is only an introduction.




1. Circle (some of) Manhattan: start on the East Side, from the 59th Street Bridge, ride on the streets on 1st Ave. Take a left at East 62nd Street (or East 78th Street), and continue to the East River. Go up the ramp and ride along the East River (some parts may be currently under construction and will guide you through any detours). Come off at East 120 Street and ride to 2nd Ave. Make a left and then a right on West 119 St. From here, you should continue to make your way to the west side. Make a right onto St. Nicholas Ave. Make a left at West 125 St (sharing the road) to enter the Hudson River Greenway. Go to the right and continue all the way uptown to the George Washington Bridge (and the Little Red Lighthouse underneath). You can continue following the signs all the way over the bridge and back or turn around and follow the greenway all the way downtown, around the Battery and up the East Side. At East 37th Street, the signs will take you to 1st Avenue and you will end up back at the 59th Street Bridge.


Little Red Lighthouse, under the George Washington Bridge, Hudson River Greenway, near West 178th Street, Manhattan


2. Enjoy Queens and Manhattan: At Vernon Boulevard and 36th Avenue, take the Roosevelt Island Bridge to the island. Ride around and then take either the tram or the F train to Manhattan. Ride up 1st Avenue to East 78th Street (some parts before that may be under renovation). Take the pedestrian bridge and ride the John Finney Walk along the East River. Take the Wards Island Bridge right after East 102 Street and tour Randall's Island. Head back to Manhattan or be brave and continue back to Queens on the RFK (Triboro) Bridge.







3. Boogie on down to the Bronx: Ride along the bike lanes of Pelham Parkway from the Bronx Zoo to Pelham Park. Follow the bike signs all the way to City Island, refuel with seafood head back.



Bike sign near City Island, the Bronx


Booking.com


4. How Sweet it is in Brooklyn: Brooklyn is connects nicely with either Queens or Manhattan. Start where Jackson, 111th, 49th and 48th Avenues all converge into the Pulaski Bridge. Take it to Freeman Street, make a right. Go to Franklin, make a left. Franklin will turn into Kent. Along the way, stop for a little break at Domino Park to take in the great views of Manhattan before you head over to the Williamsburg Bridge.  Ride on into Manhattan. Or, skip the bridge, continue along Kent until it becomes Flushing Avenue. Stay on briefly, and then make left onto Vanderbilt. Follow that all the way to Prospect Park.


View of Williamsburg Bridge from the East River Bikeway, Manhattan





5. Staten Island: take the ferry from Manhattan. Come out and make a left onto Bay Street. You can follow that to School Road, make a right, and follow it briefly until it becomes Lily Pond Avenue. Follow that (under the Verrazano Bridge) and head to Father Capodanno Boulevard and tour the Lower New York Bay area. 




All photos and text copyright Marcia Crayton, All Rights Reserved 2020

Scroll to the very bottom and click the social media icons to share this article. Happy Travels!

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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.

 This review is my personal opinion. I am an Amazon Associate.


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).


Monday, April 30, 2018

The NYC Traveler: Get TSA-Prechecked

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to provide legal consultation. All links were accurate at the time of publication and will be monitored accordingly. MC Enterprises takes no responsibility for the reader's application. Readers should go to either a TSA Enrollment Center or check with the TSA's website for current regulations and procedures. This article is an introduction to current information only.

Latest COVID-19 Travel News



Scroll to the very bottom and click the social media icons to share this article. Happy Travels!

Purchase our fine art, decor or stock photos on ShutterstockImageKind, mcraytonphoto.comiStock by Getty Images, Etsy, Zenfolio and Dreamstime.


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, based on my experiences and research. 
I am an Amazon Associate.



Get TSA-Prechecked

Security checks, part of our lives even before 9/11/2001, is now considered an expected precursor to entering almost public location. Getting through airport security is especially frustrating because of all of the steps involved: have your boarding pass and ID in hand and at the same time take off your shoes, take out your laptop, no items in your pockets, no more than 3 ounces of liquids, creams or oils in bottles that fit into a 1 quart bag while perhaps juggling kids in tow. Whew!







TSA-Prechecked means you can keep your shoes and a light jacket on, your electronics and your clear bag of liquids can stay in your bag and you walk through...all for a fee of course.

The best way to be pre-checked for USA domestic flights is to pay the current fee of $85 for five years. If you fly often or if you don't like the long lines or inconvenience, this may be worth it. 




1. Pre-register online: https://www.tsa.gov/precheck or
https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/programs/precheck
2. Make an appointment at a center: https://www.tsa.gov/precheck/map
3. Bring the necessary documents.
4. Be ready to scan your fingerprint.
5. Pay the fee, currently $85 for five years.
6. After a background check based on your application, you will receive an email and/or a letter with your Known Traveler Number (KTN). Unfortunately, you don’t get any type of card, so hold onto that email/letter. You can also look up your number.




There are new places to go outside of airports now, to make the process easier. These are sponsored by IDEMIA at their IdentoGO centers, which may includes some Staples stores. Check on the Identogo webssite. Also, some corporations are providing the service to apply through them.

Happy Travels!

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

The NYC Traveler in NYC: 5 Places NYC Locals Visit, Part 1

The NYC Traveler in NYC:

Hang Out in NYC Like a Local 
(Tourist spots we visit but we don't want to admit)

Latest COVID-19 Travel News


Scroll to the very bottom and click the social media icons to share this article. Happy Travels!



The Unisphere in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens



1. The Museums: New Yorkers might belong to museums as members or have free or discounted access with a NYC ID. Having a membership allows great flexibility, you don't have to feel rushed to see everything in one visit and you can attend special members only events. Take advantage of musical events, workshops, lectures and other events. It's like having a community center.


The MoMA: Museum of Modern Art

2. The Highline: take an old elevated train track, make use of the spaces underneath with great restaurants, add the Whitney Museum at one end and the number 7 train hub at the other, mix well and you have a nice way to spend an afternoon in most weather. Currently, you must reserve a timed entry to enjoy the park.


The elevated High Line, viewed from the street

3. The Parks: Tourists head to Central Park but locals hang out in their neighborhood parks which range from a one block square or triangle to acres and acres. Journey to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx; Cunningham Park, Alley Pond Park, Kissena Park or Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens; Prospect Park or Carnarsie Pier in Brooklyn (along with the entire Coney Island area) and Latourette Park in Staten Island. Golf, swim, bicycle or just sit out under a tree. 


NYC Parks: Places to Go


Check the websites for festivals in NYC Parks

4. Greenwich Village: Below 14th (East and West), Manhattan does not have the square grid design of streets and avenues. Resembling our European city cousins, streets angle in and out, seemingly follow no set pattern and reveal delightful little nooks and crannies such as church gardens, boutiques, small theaters and sidewalk cafes. 



Father Demo Square, Bleecker Street and 6th Avenue

5. Our Street Fairs: Although the most neutral source of information should be the nyc.org website, on its Citywide Events page, it may not always be up-to-date. Searching NYC street fairs on the internet will yield the websites for the companies that seem to sponsor the generic fairs. But, when the real festivals occur, they draw the locals. Check for the latest information about NYC Events.



Happy Travels.

Follow our other blog: The NYC Dis Traveler for your theme park updates

Purchase our fine art, decor or stock photos on ShutterstockImageKind, mcraytonphoto.comiStock by Getty Images, Etsy, Zenfolio and Dreamstime.


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). However, I am an Amazon Associate.


Intro to...Traveling to Cuba: Part 2

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.

Disclaimer:  This article is written as a personal narrative based on personal experiences from the perspective of a US citizen. It is not intended as legal, official or professional information. MC Photo and Travel, dba MC Enterprises does not assume responsibility for any persons using this information as the sole source for planning a trip to Cuba.


Cruise to Cuba, Part 2

Latest COVID-19 Travel News


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


Currently, there are no cruises sailing from USA ports to Cuba. It is our hope this policy is changed soon. It's an amazing experience.

This information is intended for readers who are US citizens and is solely based on the author's personal experience.


Norwegian Sky, docked in Havana, Cuba

There are 15 municipalities in Havana, Cuba. Cruise ships, currently not sailing from the United States, normally dock in Old Havana (Havana Vieja). The area is a curiosity because it seems as if it was abandoned and left to decay after the Revolution of 1959. The numerous old cars from that era add to the mystery. Some buildings are being preserved and the area is a World UNESCO Heritage Site. 

1. When I sailed in 2017, 3 cruise companies were sailing to Cuba: Norwegian, Carnival and Royal Caribbean. They departed from Miami, Tampa and Port Canaveral. The port for Cuba will be Havana, which docks in Old Havana. Check the US Department of State website for the latest information regarding cruises to Cuba.




2. You can travel by airplane unless there is a restriction for safety and/or health concerns. Consult with a knowledgeable and reputable travel consultant who will give you truthful advice in your best interest regarding lodging. (When and if cruising resumes, choose an itinerary that has an overnight in Havana, if your main purpose is to visit Cuba. However, there are sailings that have Havana as a one day stop, just like any other port.).




3. 
Travel to Cuba for tourist reasons is not permitted. You must be there for a purpose as per your visa. You must travel under one of the 12 permitted licenses.



4.  Technically, you must have an itinerary to visit Cuba, but it can be self-made. Plan to visit places of interest for the entire time you are in port. Normally, cruise excursions would make this easy. I booked an evening walking tour through the cruise line. Tours are also for sale as you disembark, after you clear customs and exchange money. But, I planned my own activities and I was engaged the entire time I was off the ship.


Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro

5. Activities that I did in order to engage in people-to-people activities included a horse-drawn city tour, visiting a cigar shop, speaking with the locals at the flea market, enjoying the Coche Mambi (the 1910 presidential rail car), a gallery and other spots around Old Havana, including the famous Havana Club.


Coche Mambi rail car

6. Running joke: Ernest Hemingway, who did live in Cuba for about 7 years in the 1930's, apparently ate, slept and visited every location in and around the old Havana area. Every tourist attraction has a plaque that proclaims that ol' Ernie was there. 

Hotel Ambos Mundos, where Ernest Hemingway lived for 7 years

Do your research. If you use a travel consultant, ask if he or she knows the latest information about visas, some of them do not arrange visas. When cruising resumes, make sure you will be able to communicate directly with the cruise line about traveling to Cuba. Buen viaje!

Scroll down to the very bottom and click the social media icons to share this article. Spread the word. Happy Travels.



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All photos and text copyright Marcia Crayton, All Rights Reserved, 2020

Intro to..Traveling to Cuba: Part 1

Disclaimer:  This article is written as a personal narrative based on personal experiences from the perspective of a US citizen. It is not intended as legal, official or professional information. MC Photo and Travel, dba MC Enterprises does not assume responsibility for any persons using this information as the sole source for planning a trip to Cuba.

Latest COVID-19 Travel News


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). I am an Amazon Associate.


This information is intended for travelers who are US citizens
Currently, cruises are suspended from sailing to Cuba from USA ports




For the absolute latest information, always visit the US State Department website.

Currently, citizens of the United States are able to travel to Cuba directly from the USA. Most citizens who travel by airplane are traveling with organized groups or excursions. If you are a Cuban born USA citizen, you must read the information on the US State Department website before planning a trip to Cuba.

You must travel under one of 12 license categories: see these categories under the Entry Requirements paragraph: https://cu.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/traveling-to-cuba/



1. Technically, an American citizen cannot travel to Cuba for vacation purposes. Current policies say that you should have a full itinerary that you can document. However, this itinerary can be created on your own. You do not have to use a professional company, you just have to book experiences that are considered valid and hold onto the proof for a certain amount of years. Certain tour packages are considered illegal, so be aware of purchasing packages from agencies and tour companies.

2. Your credit and debit cards will not work. Bring cash with you. If you travel on a cruise, you will be able to exchange as soon as you disembark, right there in the terminal. Use the same cautions you use in any travel situation: carry only what you need, carry your passport, keep everything on your person and do not allow anyone to carry your bag.



3. Traveling by cruise is one of the easiest ways to see Cuba, but are unavailable currently from the United States. Check the US Department of State website for current regulations.


4.  The people were awesome and friendly. Of course, tourists spending money are always welcome and of course vendors want your business, but chatting with the locals was one of the best aspects of visiting.



5. Don't take photos of military or police personnel and locations. Period.



6. Beware of travel agents who do not know the most accurate information. This is one trip that you should research about yourself.


Scroll to the very bottom and click the social media icons to share this article. Happy Travels!

Purchase our fine art, decor or stock photos on ShutterstockImageKind, mcraytonphoto.comiStock by Getty Images, Etsy, Zenfolio and Dreamstime.

All photos and text copyright Marcia Crayton, All Rights Reserved, 2020