Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Big Apple: New York City in a Whirlwind

It's funny how many ideas we gather about a destination before we visit. Maybe you assume Hawaii will be a lush tropical paradise every direction you turn. Perhaps you believe Mexico City lacks the Americanized metropolis it actually has. Whatever preconceived notions you have, the most common stereotypes probably revolve around one of the world’s most famous places, New York City.

My husband and I were able to reexamine a life's worth of misconceptions and realities on a recent weekend in NYC.

The first thing we discovered was that homeless people aren't rampant on every street corner and in every subway station. In fact, I only even noticed one man during the entire weekend. This isn’t to assume that the homeless population in NYC is obsolete, or to make the assumption that I was in any areas that weren’t infested with tourists- but I was expecting more people than I encountered.

And no, not everyone is walking around in Manolo Blahniks. While it may seem like a good idea to buy some fancy new shoes to fit in, you might come to realize that Carrie Bradshaw replicas aren’t actually prancing down every street. Sure, everyone as a whole dressed much more enthusiastically than the black-Northface-and-jeans crowds in Seattle, but maybe I could have saved myself the hours of excruciating pain and worn flats instead.

But oh yes, the buildings are tall! It was just breathtaking to walk around, staring at the sky, and seeing the sunlight dance from floor to floor in the clouds. And low and behold, you can see for miles down every city block!

Photobucket 

Photobucket

Central Park is just breathtaking. It may be all man-made, but what these men made indeed! The gorgeous, sunny 75 degree weather may have made the impression just that sweeter. While visiting the Strawberry Fields monument, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of people paying their respects to the late John Lennon. If only the famous Gary dos Santos was there to arrange rose petals on the memorial. The monument is a simple Pompeian mosaic gifted from Italy with "Imagine" inscribed in the middle. My husband and I walked through all the cites on the Southern half of the park, including Turtle Pond, the Belvedere Castle, and the Alice and Wonderland statue.

Photobucket 

Photobucket

The Sex and the City tour was mediocre. It is always fun to visit sites form your favorite movies and TV shows, but this tour was more of a bus ride than anything else. Stops included The Pleasure Chest, BuddhaKhan, the playground where we got cupcakes, and Scout (Steve and Aiden’s bar), where we had ten minutes to enjoy a discounted cosmo at our will. I would still recommend the tour, as it is a good way to get a lay of that land, but for the money, I would not go back.

The subways were awesome! Dorks that we are, my husband and I always enjoy admiring the public transportation systems in other cities, and NYC takes the gold! Anywhere I wanted to be, I could have blindly found my way at any subway stop, thanks to the beautiful grid style of Manhattan. At one point, my husband decided to jump off a train as the doors were closing (without me), but we were reunited within minutes at another platform! Win: NYC.

Sometimes the greatest part of a trip is soaking in the atmosphere- true of NYC. Both my husband and I agree that our favorite time was dining on the sidewalk as the sun set. We watched the passerbys and ate an Italian feast.

Photobucket

My impression of New York is that it really is fast paced. It's almost impossible to relax or take a breath. It's a good thing that there are some terrific parks to hide away in. But mostly, it was incredible to catch the tiny glimpse of the beautiful architecture and air of importance that the city exemplifies. We were both comfortable with the overwhelming pace since we already live in the city, and maybe I could even see myself living there one day, but for now I prefer the smaller city life of Seattle. I am excited to return and take in a Broadway show!

Photobucket
New York Public Library (Amazing site)

Photobucket
Brooklyn Bridge

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Evergreen State so Aptly Named

Here's my shout out to Washington, the Evergreen state, and my home for 20 years. Today, Washington was named the #1 Green State in the nation by Greenopia.

Each state was graded upon 10 criteria, with Washington take first place in all of the categories: Air Quality, Water Quality, Recycling Rate, Green Businesses, State Legislature, LEED Buildings, Per Capita Emissions, Per Capita Energy Consumption, Per Capita Water Consumption, and Renewable Energy Usage.

Oregon and California, two states that build their reputations on being green, come in at fourth and fifth on the list, respectively.

Read the entire list here.


Image courtesy of Greenopia


Image courtesy of Bon Voyage UK

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Little Si - Mount Si

Little Si Trail
North Bend, WA
Length: 3.5 total miles
Trailhead Elevation: 250 feet
Top Elevation: 1,400 feet
Elevation Gain: 1,150 feet
Skill Level: Moderate

This hike was pretty typical of the North Bend area. The first half of the trail meandered through a cool old growth forest that was lined with an awesome rock climbing spot from the side of the mountain (perhaps we can try that one day!). Then there is a typical woodsy incline until the top. The trail was above par compared to vertical swtichback trails. Once you reach the top you can get about 180 degree views looking towards Snoqualmie Pass, Rattle Snake Ledge, North Bend, and of course Mt. Si.

Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket