As someone who lives and walks this city daily…my blog is all about delving a little deeper, seeing what it has to offer, and capturing the true essence of New York City. Whether you live in Gotham, or just visiting…feel free to look around my blog. Bet you might find something new to do!
Keep in mind this isn't a blog about what is coming up...but what is experienced on a day to day basis.
P.S. As of the end of April 2013 my more personal postings will now be at The Next Few Years.
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Monthly Archives: August 2010
A short train ride from Lisbon is the picturesque fishing village of Cascais. In my research, I read you could pick up a bike at the train station upon arrival in Cascias, ride along the ocean and return the bike at the train station in Estoril, before returning to Lisbon. Both villages had been tagged as the most affluent suburbs of Lisbon, sort of the Portuguese Riviera. I had it all pictured in my mind. A nice relaxing afternoon of biking along the waterfront, stopping for a couple of beers and eating the fresh catch of the day.
Well let’s start at the beginning as you will soon learn the picture I had in my mind started to fade fast. As the cab driver departed from the hotel, he insisted he should drive us to Cascais. I think the translation was something along the lines of “no person in their right mind would ride a train.” I insisted we were taking the train and he should continue to the station. I guess he kinda won out when he charged ten euros for the ride when it should have been more like three. The train station was another obstacle as the ticket machines were difficult to understand, even as we watched others go through a very laborious process. Thanks to a young gal who spoke a little English, we finally purchased our tickets. (She knew she needed to do something otherwise she would miss her train if she didn’t!) We arrived at Cascais and guess what? No bikes anywhere. No racks to indicate they were sold out, not one person in site riding a bike, nothing at all relating to a bike. Time to create a new picture.
The pedestrian streets were inviting, paved with stone creating a wavy pattern throughout the town. Numerous restaurants and shops were tucked in every corner imaginable. Visually kind of touristy, but the feeling of local. Only a few hours later would we understand how local.
We enjoyed several Portuguese beers called Super Bock, along with a few small plates of clams and shrimp. Delicious! The outdoor restaurant was perfectly situated overlooking the Atlantic and the best people watching spot imaginable. We could have stayed for hours and we did!
Feeling the effects of the Super Bocks, it was time to wander deeper into the neighborhood and find a nice local spot for dinner. The smell of fish cooking on the grill permeated the whole village. As we passed beautiful mansions and immaculate tree-lined streets, we soon came upon a window with a very friendly chef inside his restaurant preparing the catch of the day. His smile and inviting demeanor sold me right away! We had found our neighborhood restaurant.
Around 10:00 p.m. we headed back towards the train station. Families with children of all ages were streaming out of their homes towards the village center. As we got closer we understood why. Hundreds of people had gathered for an outdoor concert near the ocean. Without even realizing it, we were about to have a very local experience.
Song after song, everyone both young and old knew the words and sang along. It was a festive, family event with the sounds similar to our Elton John or Liberace. After researching the next day, I learned it was their legendary king of pop, Jose Cid. A night and dose of portuguese culture that I will always remember making it to the “top ten” of my favorites of Lisbon!
Yes, keeping it to TEN is going to be very difficult.
Tucked away on a small side street in Belem is a cute little wine bar with an inventory that will take you throughout the country of Portugal, compliments of Nelson and Angelo.
So let’s take it a step at a time.
Experiencing Enoteca of Belem was like having your own private wine tour. We started with various whites and several hours later we had tasted a number of delicious reds throughout a variety of regions. We never made it to the ports. That’s for the next visit. Nelson was the perfect host. His knowledge and English were superb.
We were introduced to tremocos or lupin beans. At first glance I think “lima bean” and I’m not a fan of any kind of bean, especially limas. But I’m all for trying something new and was I fooled. A nutty, crunchy, salty taste. A perfect snack with wine or beer. I would call it Portugal’s peanut. Angelo is quick to give instructions as to the proper way of getting to the nut. You pop it in your mouth, softly bite a small section of the skin with your teeth, pop out the “nut” into your mouth and spit out the skin. Addicting!
After a number of tastes from the nectars, some tapas was in order. In my travels, I’m always on the search for the perfect tomato, mozzarella and basil so this was another chance to see if it could come close to my expectations. Local tomatoes, fresh mozzerella topped with..ready for this? Basil ice cream. Yes, basil ice cream made by a local in the area. I’m picky in that I like my tomatoes and mozzarella served at room temperature so I wasn’t sure how I was going to like the chill of the ice cream. It didn’t take long for it to melt and my, oh my. My dad’s word once again came to mind. “SINFUL!”
How do you top off an evening like that? We simply asked where we could make a wine purchase as we headed back to the hotel. Along with a very reasonable tab, out comes a bottle of wine, opened but the cork gently pushed back in for easy access, along with glasses and napkins. Who does this these days? Their graciousness will always be remembered. A return visit before this trip is over is a must!
Besides the typical monuments and sites, I’m always on the search to experience “local.” My favorite parts of traveling the world are visiting the markets, tasting the cuisine (wines and beers? that’s a given!) and of course finding small, quaint neighborhood restaurants where you can just absorb the culture. So my goal this trip is to create my own “top ten” “best of” Lisbon, Portugal. We’ll see as the week progresses if I can keep it to ten.
Let’s start with Pastias de Belem. The original factory, located in the same area of the Pestana Palace, makers of the famous Portuguese custard egg tart. I’ve read that once you’ve had the signature tart, no others will compare. Let’s just say there will be very few (ongoing) tastings of this tart. To start, I can’t imagine this tart could be beat anywhere in Lisbon, not to mention the amount of calories in one of these small bites! The delicate crust, creamy filling infused with vanilla and sprinkled with cinnamon? As my dad would say…”sinful!”
Besides viewing incredible photos on the internet, it’s always a good sign when the taxi cab driver murmurs..”ahhh..the Pestana Palace…very good!” in an adorable Portuguese accent. As we made our way through the quiet neighborhood of Belem in the outskirts of Lisbon, the streets became completely saturated with graffiti. Had I not done my homework? Was I in the graffiti capital of the world? But how quickly those thoughts passed as we pulled through the gates into a stunning palatial oasis with its restored 19th century palace.
Ten days of this? No problem! For the past three days it has been go, go, go and with the jet lag? Well let’s just say there’s been a bit of a challenge to catch the early morning sun for good photo taking of the palace. So for now I’ll entice you with a couple of night time shots of the pool area. How quickly the European way of life sets in…sleeping late as a means to catch up from the late night before!
So a few weeks ago I found this really cool vintage army backpack at the Hells Kitchen flea market. Knowing I wanted to dress it up a little I found some neat buttons at my neighborhood flea, the Green flea. I could only imagine how much the laundry would charge to sew these on, so I thought…I can do this! Now keep in mind, there are certain things I have a hard time wrapping my mind around. Like folding a map, cooking, electronics… the immediate ones that come to mind. I must say I can now add sewing buttons to that list.
Where do I start? On to google, how to sew on a button. (Mom, you probably don’t want to read any more of this post. But do remember that I preferred hunting and fishing with dad instead…and of course riding my bike…while you were cooking, baking and sewing…)
My first google result, How to Thread a Needle and Tie a Knot. “Threading a needle and securing a knot at the end of the thread are the first steps in any hand-stitching or sewing project.” Duh, I guessed that. But how do I get this tiny little thread through this tiny little hole? They don’t explain that part, its just a given. Back to google. Another result, Nine Ways to thread a needle. After reading through the list I couldn’t see any of those working either. Perhaps one could work, but I didn’t have any chap stick. What about this silver thing that came with my sewing kit? I remember my mom had one of those. I was always fascinated by the woman on it. Who is she anyway? If it came with the kit, surely it should help. Back to google, How to use a needle threader. A perfect YouTube video. OK, mastered that part.
In the photo, note that the important part of my threader is no longer attached, thank goodness this woman survived. Some how the piece broke off during my final button episode and is now all wrapped up in my thread. I’m blaming it on the cheap sewing kit I bought at CVS. Toss that!
Rain Rain go away!!! I wanna go out on my bike and play!
P.S. All I can say is thank God for Larry Page and Sergey Brin. What would I do without them?
I’ve seen this guy many times in the park, but this time I took a few minutes to sit and watch. I love Saturday mornings when families come out and enjoy all aspects of the park. 843 acres of fantasy!
I read recently that the city is on a quest to turn NYC into one giant, adult-friendly playground, as if it isn’t already?! But their efforts really shine through with Summer Streets. This is the third year of turning a 6.9 mile stretch, mainly Park Avenue and Lafayette Street, into a pedestrian and cyclist heaven. Closed to traffic from 7 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. for three Saturdays in August, it’s truly a unique experience.
The first Saturday I walked a good portion of the stretch and shared a posting in my blog how the city converted dumpsters into swimming pools in front of Grand Central. I decided to bike it this time. Not a fast ride on my red devil bike, but a “take in the sights” ride on Spartan, my get-around-town bike.
We started early with the morning temperature a cool 68 degrees. Took a short cut through Central Park and headed for Park Avenue. Perfect, made it before all the masses decided to do the same thing.
It was fun riding through the passageway of the Helmsley Building. How often would you get to experience places only vehicles get access to and then top it off with this incredible architecture?
Of course I couldn’t resist the urge of having Spartan experience valet parking at the Grand Hyatt. Ahhh…the corporate days…many visits to the Grand Hyatt.
If you visit NYC during August, this is a must on your list of things to do. Plenty of free bikes and roller blades available along the way or just take a walk. So adios, Summer Streets. Until next year!
Of course I had to purchase this adorable tshirt from Bicycle Habitat on Lafayette. Great service experience, but I reserve the right to try them again. I’ve found cycling shops to be the WORST when it comes to service here in the city. So far my guy Imbert at Master Bike Shop is the best: small shop, consistent service, he gets it!
Here’s what they say…
1. A symbol for immortality.
2. In the biblical story of Adam and Eve it meant forbidden fruit.
3. In the language of flowers it symbolizes love, youth, beauty and happiness.
4. Apples were highly valued by the ancient Celts because of their ability to keep over a long period of time thus symbolizing the presence of love, even long past the time of peak ripeness.
5. Of course we’ve all heard an apple a day keeps the doctor away…
6. Folklore says… Villagers of Medieval England would select the largest apple tree in the orchard, and hang cider-soaked pieces of toast on its branches to attract robins. To those villagers, robins were considered the good spirits of the tree. Then, to drive away the evil spirits, the people would gather throughout the orchard and fire many blasts from their shotguns.
7. Stephenie Meyer, author of Twilight, used an apple on the cover because she loved the phrase – the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. “The nice thing about the apple is it has so many symbolic roots. You’ve got the apple in Snow White, one bite and you’re frozen forever in a state of not-quite-death… Then you have Paris and the golden apple in Greek mythology—look how much trouble that started. Apples are quite the versatile fruit. In the end, I love the beautiful simplicity of the picture. To me it says: choice.”
8. We all know New York City as the Big Apple.
9. Norse mythology depicted the apple as the food of the gods, and it was used to symbolize eternal youth.
I say… I love all the above and my new tattoo.
Every month the Central Park Bagel Bark (a free Central Park Conservancy event) travels to a different dog friendly area of the park serving coffee, bagels and information. It’s a learning center in a way as they spread info for enjoying the park with your dog. This month the location was perfect, right at the base of the statue of Balto.
Whose Balto? Back in 1925 Alaskan doctors feared a deadly diphtheria epidemic would spread among the small town of Nome. Medicine existed to stop it, but the issue was traveling thousands of miles to Anchorage to retrieve it and back. There were no trains that far north and the only plane available had a frozen engine. Their best chance of delivery? Sled dogs. The team lead by Balto endured blinding snow and sub-zero temperatures, but their efforts helped end the epidemic.
Balto became a national hero and just ten months after their success, his statue was dedicated in Central Park. Years of stroking and caressing the dog by young children have created a glowing sheen on his ears, nose, body and tail. Adorable!