Governor’s Island

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New Yorkers: you only have until the end of the month to head out to Governor’s Island and find out what the hype is all about.

Governor’s Island, located 8 minutes by ferry from the southern tip of Manhattan, has been going through major transformation. The island, which in the past has been everything from a wartime fortress (successful in warding off British attack in 1812), a coast guard headquarter station, and a prison, is now a destination for fun and relaxation.

With some 30 acres of parks, bike paths and even a hammock grove (seriously the best things ever!), the island is a popular weekend destination. When I went for the first time last weekend I was blown away by the amount of activities available. When first walking off the ferry, many people flocked to the beach inspired bar area where there is apparently an outdoor concert area. Events and concerts are scheduled here throughout the summer and last weekend was no exception as I overheard a Sublime cover band while in line for my ferry back to Manhattan.

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Bikes seem to be the preferred mode of transportation on the island. Many visitors rented tandems and surrey cycles directly off the island while others brought their bikes on the ferry with them from Manhattan and Brooklyn (no extra charge from the $2 round trip fare). The island is larger than I expected so a bike will definitely be included on my future excursions.

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A short walk from the ferry will put you directly in front of a castle. Castle Williams to be exact. This fortress was where I spent my time…I know, I know. I’m such a nerd. I signed up for a free tour (available every hour) which takes you through the four levels and up onto the roof for an awesome view (the first picture in this post is from the roof).

Castle Williams was built in the 1800s to protect Manhattan from invasions by the British. The invasion never happened, and maybe it was due to the threat posed by this sandstone structure which had 13 casements that could each hold 26 cannons. That’s pretty intense and not something I would want to sail past as the British (not to mention this was only one fort out of the defense system in place around Manhattan.)

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After this cultural enlightenment, I wandered toward the hammocks and plopped myself down for over an hour of reading and snoozing. Seriously, I need to speak to the person involved in deciding to put hammocks on Governor’s Island. It is pure genius.

If you’re in the New York area between May and September, I suggest packing a picnic (or some cash for the food trucks) and buy a ferry ticket for an afternoon on Governor’s Island.

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A Very New York Christmas

IMG_0589This holiday season I had the privilege of doing the New York Christmas Scene to the max. With the PATH train shut down from the storm, I was forced to take the bus, which drops me off around Times Square–my least favorite area of Manhattan. The blessing in disguise was that I got to pass some great holiday decorations every morning and night. Some highlights were the window displays at Lord & Taylor and the Christmas market/ice skating rink in Bryant Park.  I was instantly put into the Christmas spirit as I strolled to work listening to Pandora Holiday stations!  As per tradition, I also made sure to pit stop at the Rockefeller tree one night before crossing over to Jersey.  New York never fails during this time of the year and I was happy to experience so much of it on a daily basis. I even got to do some very touristy things with friends after the actual holiday itself.  We went to see The Christmas Spectacular show at Radio City Music Hall and sipped tons of mulled wine at Rolf’s German Restaurant. The decorations there are always over the top. I cannot wait to return for Valentines Day, Halloween and all of the holidays in between (of course I was told that nothing beats the intricate Christmas display).   What did you do over the holidays? Did you make it into the city?

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