Ten Tips to Save for a Dream Vacation

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Do you love to travel? I do, and I’ve visited 107 countries so far. I started traveling in 2003, so I average about 7 or 8 countries a year. Some of those trips have been short, one week breaks (such as spring break, as I am a school librarian). Others have been on a Continue reading “Ten Tips to Save for a Dream Vacation”

New York City: 5 Boros Bike Ride

Five Boro Bike Tour Medal, New York City

We came to New York City to ride the 40 Mile 5 Boros Ride, but first we had two days of sightseeing. We started off on Friday afternoon, arriving in the city around 4 pm. We decided to tackle mid-town, heading north. Times Square first, then over to St Patrick’s Cathedral, with a stop at Rockefeller Plaza along the way. I love the small botanic garden right there. Up 5th Avenue looking at the amazing stores there and their very stylish displays- all things I could never afford! (Or maybe I could, if I didn’t spend all my money on travel!). Past Trump Tower, with the NYPD police blocking off the entrance and the two cross streets next to it, and then we found ourselves in Central Park. It was nice to get out of the traffic and walk through the park to see the “Imagine” memorial to John Lennon, and then we crossed back over the park to arrive at the Met, open late on Friday nights. They stayed open till 9 so we were able to take in a few exhibits there. Wow, that’s a lot of art!  After the Met, we meandered slowly back to Times Square to see it at night, full of people and bright advertisements (it costs between $1 million and $4 million to advertise there!). Tired, thirsty, and hungry, we visited Authority Beer for a late dinner and drink, and then took the bus from Port Authority to our hotel in Union City, NJ.

The next day we decided to take the PATH train in. We arrived at the World Financial Center, ready to explore lower Manhattan. We arrived in the middle of the crazy white mall/PATH station called The Oculus, which opened last year to a tune of $4 billion dollars. Yep, that was with a “b”. It supposedly represents a dove in flight. Hmm. Anyway, as we exited, we were at the 9/11 Memorial Center and the three existing World Trade Center buildings (a 4th will be built soon). At the 9/11 Memorial Center, two large pools of water continually drain and refill, surrounded by granite ledges with the names of the victims carved in. White roses populate the ledges in places where birthdays of the victims are commemorated each day.

From the WFC, we headed south to Wall Street to check out the “Charging Bull” statue and the “Fearless Girl”- both very popular statues. From there we continued south to the bike expo, to pick up our packets containing the bibs, bike plates, and helmet covers for our ride. Passing through the Bowery, we stopped and grabbed a bagel with lox. Heading north, we encountered The Strand Bookstore, the Flatiron Building, and finally the New York Public Library. I visited the Rose Reading Room- absolutely beautiful- and also the children’s section, where they have an exhibit featuring A.A. Milne and the actual, real stuffed animals that inspired Winnie the Pooh.

After the library, we had one more stop to make, just before dusk- the Empire State Building. We took the elevator up 86 floors and took in the aerial view of New York. Stunning.

On Sunday we took the ferry from Paulus Hook over to Manhattan and at 8:15 we were starting our 40 mile ride! It was surreal to ride our bikes through the completely empty 6th Avenue, past all the sites we had seen yesterday. Up past Times Square, through Central Park, into Harlem. Then over to the Bronx, back into Manhattan down FDR Drive, and then into Queens, then Brooklyn. Riding up the steady incline of the BQE to approach the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was the absolute worst part and I kept thinking I would have to dismount any minute and walk it up. But I actually made it to the top, where we stopped to take in the view and shake out our arms and legs. Then we coasted down the last mile onto Staten Island and arrived at the finish. All in all about four hours for us. Afterwards we took the ferry from Staten Island, passing the Statue of Liberty, and then ferried from Manhattan back to Paulus Hook, and drove home, where we warmed up (the cold front came in just as we finished the ride) and ordered a large pizza.

On Sunday we started the drive back home, stopping in Pennsylvania at the Valley Forge Historic Park. They have miles of trails and a car drive, connecting nine points of a tour you can access with your cell phone. Washington’s headquarters, a memorial chapel, examples of the barracks the soldiers created to house themselves for the winter made this encampment the 4th largest city in the colonies in 1777. If you’re into Revolutionary War history, this is a great place to visit.

Next up: a guest update from Chris as he hikes the Camino Santiago in Spain from mid-May to mid-June!

Free flight to Europe? Sign me up!

Deah in front of small plane in Haiti

With vacation time quickly approaching, C and I wanted to nail down our destination so we could start planning our next trip. The first thing we did was check our various accounts and see if some of our “points”, “miles”, and “rewards” were doing some serious accruing.

points
So many rewards programs to choose from….

And it turned out, they were. We’ve been flying on United Airlines or their partners off and on for several years, and I had over Continue reading “Free flight to Europe? Sign me up!”