Tag Archives: new york city
June 10, 2012

POTD: Central Park in New York City

The above photo was taken in August 2008, when I met up with my dad and brother in New York City so that we could see a Yankee game before they tore down the old Yankee Stadium. (At the time, direct flights to New York from Los Angeles were quite a deal; I, of course, took the bus up from Washington, DC).

Located in the United States’ most densely populated city, Central Park is an oasis of greenery that offers a place for New Yorkers to relax and play on a warm summer’s weekend. Opened in 1857, the park has since served as a model for other North American cities to emulate, such as San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and Vancouver’s Stanley Park. The park receives approximately 37.5 millions visitors per year, making it the most visited urban park in the United States. Although the park isn’t the largest in the United States (a mere 843 acres compared to the 24,247 acres Franklin Mountains State Park located in El Paso, Texas), it is definitely the most beloved and famous of any American city park. Valued at $528,783,552,000, it is likely the most valuable park, real-estate wise, as well.

The park itself contains several artificial lakes and ponds, ice-skating rinks, a forest, running track, garden, playgrounds, playing fields for various sports. and the famous Central Park Zoo. An outdoor amphitheater is home to the popular “Shakespeare in the Park” summer festivals. Central Park is definitely a “must-visit” attraction while you’re visiting New York City, whether you are just strolling through the park, lounging on the grassy meadows, or joining the hordes of joggers for some exercise.

April 13, 2011

POTD: Brooklyn Bridge

Completed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge spans the East River and connects the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Since its opening, the Bridge has become an iconic part of the New York City skyline.

This photo was taken in August 2008, when I met up with my dad and brother in New York City so that we could see a Yankee game before they tore down the old Yankee Stadium. We took a New York Harbor cruise that afforded us wonderful views of the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and island of Manhattan. In a subsequent trip to New York City, my friends and I went to Brooklyn (my first time there) to partake in Russian/Georgian food and spend the day at a banya (Russian bath house) in Brighton Beach. With the Cyrillic signs adorning shop fronts and the smell of Russian pastries wafting through the air, I felt like I was back in Moscow.

For those of us who live in DC or other large metro areas on the East Coast, New York holidays are quite easy – you can catch some of the cheap Chinatown buses or take Amtrak (I personally prefer BoltBus). It’s just the hotel prices you have to worry about…

December 27, 2010

POTD: Atlas statue in front of Rockefeller Center in NYC

atlas statue in NYC

atlas statue in NYC

This is the Atlas statue outside Rockefeller Center in New York City. It was sculpted by Lee Lawrie and Rene Paul Chambellan and installed in its present location in 1937. The statue is 45 feet tall, and includes a 15-foot figure of the Ancient Greek Titan Atlas holding the heavens.

One of the great things about living in DC is that it is so close to some of the major cities on the East Coast, including New York. Short trips to New York from DC are quite easy. Flights to New York leave DC every hour, or you can catch some of the cheap Chinatown buses or take Amtrak (I personally prefer BoltBus). It’s a great place to spend a weekend when you just have to get out of DC.

December 13, 2010

POTD: Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty – the iconic symbol of freedom that greeted millions of immigrants to their new home in the United States. Dedicated in 1886, the statue was a gift to the U.S. from the people of France. This photo was taken in August 2008, when I met up with my dad and brother in New York City so that we could see a Yankee game before they tore down the old Yankee Stadium. Holidays to New York from DC are quite easy – you can catch some of the cheap Chinatown buses or take Amtrak (I personally prefer BoltBus). It’s just the hotel prices you have to worry about…

August 21, 2008

NYC: View from our room

From the 38th floor of the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square. Massive hotel, and Times Square is an absolute zoo, but still, not a bad view, huh?

August 21, 2008

NYC: Top of the Rock

Although this was my sixth trip to New York City, it was the first one in which I visited a few of the typical tourist sites. After the Yankees game, we went to the top of Rockefeller Center, which rises 70 stories above the streets of NYC. Unfortunately, I did not run into my hero, Jack Donaghy.

August 18, 2008

NYC: The House That Ruth Built

I met my dad and brother in New York City this past weekend to see the Yankees play the Royals at Yankee Stadium. This was something I really wanted to do this summer, as Yankee Stadium will be demolished following the end of this season, and the Yankees will start their 2009 season in a new stadium currently being built across from the original stadium.

Despite my extreme dislike for the Evil Empire, seeing a game at Yankee Stadium is an incredible experience. Fans in the bleacher section chant each player’s name until he looks back and waves to them, and the cops are regularly called into the stands to eject fans or meditate disputes. The stadium was packed, with only a few seats vacant, and this was for a game against the Royals, who are currently in last place in the AL Central.

While I was a student at GW, pious Yankees and Red Sox fans (I can’t stand Boston either) would constantly complain about fairweather California baseball fans and how we always arrived to the game late and left early. Personally, I never do this, but whatev. So I was thrilled to see a ton of Yankees fans not only arrive during the second inning or later, but leave at the bottom of the ninth (during a tied game no less!)
Concessions were pretty basic. Near our section there was the typical fare: hot dogs, pretzels, peanuts, popcorn, dipping dots (WTF is with dipping dots anyways?!), and pizza. Miller Lite, the “beer” at the concession stand, was a ridiculous $7.50/9.50 depending on the size you ordered. The hot dog was nothing special (I’ve been spoiled by Ben’s Chili Bowl at Nationals Park), but the pretzel was pretty good.

Anyways, I’m glad I got to see the stadium before they demolished it. Maybe next year I’ll try to hit up Fenway or Wrigley Field. Now, on with the photos…

How could we forget?

View from our seats

Groundskeepers doing “YMCA”

New Yankee Stadium

July 24, 2008

My fake Eastern European vacation in Brighton Beach


I had no idea Brighton Beach existed until, about six years ago, I watched the Russian film Brat 2, in which the main character (played by Sergei Bodrov Jr., RIP) purchases a car in Brighton Beach for his roadtrip to Chicago. Intrigued by the possibility of authentic Russian food on the east coast, I swore I would check this place out someday.

On Saturday morning, I finally made it out there. I was staying at Tracy’s place on the Upper East Side, so it took me about an hour and 45 minutes to get to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn. On the subway ride, I was surrounded by families on their way to the beach, lugging with them chairs, umbrellas, boogie boards, and coolers filled with food and drink. Exiting the subway station and stepping onto Brighton Beach Avenue was like entering a completely different world. Storefront signage and ads were in Cyrillic, sidewalk vendors hawked everything from socks to pillows to Georgian pastries, angry men cursed at each other in Russian, and babushkas sunned themselves outside their apartment buildings. I wandered into a few stores to check out the products. They were filled with the cookies, chocolate bars, cheeses, juices, gigantic bottles of kvas, and frozen bags of pelmini that you would find at any corner store in Moscow or Petersburg. The stores were packed with babushkas towing their granny carts, mowing down anyone who dared get between them and the sausage counter. Yes, it was just like being back in Russia.

Since I was so close to the ocean, which I haven’t seen in God knows how long (ok, it’s been about seven months), I walked a few blocks to the boardwalk to check out the “beach.” Let me just say that, while Oceanside, CA, the beach where I spent a majority of my summers, is certainly looked down upon from those in Newport and La Jolla, it’s still a million times better than Brighton Beach and Coney Island. They were crowded and dirty, with a cheap carnival atmosphere, a plethora of old men in speedos, and no waves to speak of. Dude, I miss the West Coast.

“Moscow on the Beach” Notice the hammers and sickles? (Sorry, only photo I took. Oddly enough, I wasn’t very inspired to pull my camera out and start taking a million photos like I usually do)

Once Tina and Margaret arrived in Brighton Beach, we decided to grab a quick lunch at a Georgian restaurant before heading to the banya. Of course, the quick lunch turned into large servings of nigvziani badrijani, khachapuri, khinkali, and shashlik. It was probably not the most ideal food to eat before an afternoon at the banya, but it was all incredibly delicious, rivaling anything I ate in Tbilisi.

After lunch, we took the subway a few stops to Neck Road and eventually found the Russian Baths of NY, where Grisha (the only member of our group, by the way, who is actually Russian) was waiting for us. We had originally planned on going to the Wall Street Bath & Spa in Manhattan, but the Russian Baths of NY was much closer, and quite frankly, sounded a bit more proletariat than the Wall Street Baths, which, I imagined, were full of analysts from JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs discussing derivatives while splashing each other with cold water in the shvitz. No, there would be none of that in this Brooklyn banya. The banya was a lot smaller than I expected, and in addition to the indoor pool, saunas, and steam rooms, also had a bar and restaurant that served the usual Russian dishes. The walls were lined with framed hockey jerseys, which I thought was a little odd, because I don’t usually associate hockey with saunas and pools.

Despite studying in Russia, I had never been to a banya before, so this was an entirely new experience. Basically, you enter the Russian sauna, stay in there for as long as you feel comfortable, and watch the Russian men in felt hats beat themselves with dried birch tree branches. When you can’t stand the heat any longer, you exit the sauna, take a quick cold shower, and then jump in the chilly pool. You repeat this several times, occasionally stopping to drink a half-liter of Baltika beer and snack on dried fish. There were hardly any people at the banya, which wasn’t surprising considering it was 93 degrees outside. Still, the several hours we spent at the banya left us incredibly refreshed and relaxed. All in all, not a bad way to spend a Saturday in Brooklyn.

By the time we were finished with the banya, it was nearing dinner time. We headed back to Brighton Beach, looked around a few stores, walked along the boardwalk, and tried to find a decent place for dinner. We wanted to go back to the Georgian restaurant we had lunch at, but it was closed for a private party. We eventually ended up at some other Russian restaurant that was alright. I had pelmini, and it was pretty indistinguishable from what you’d get in a cheap restaurant in Petersburg. The last thing we did before leaving Brighton Beach was, of course, purchase vodka. Surprising, I know.

July 17, 2008

NYC for the weekend, again

Tomorrow afternoon I am heading to NYC for the weekend. Hopefully, this trip will be free of idiotic cab drivers and the resulting bloodshed. I have no desire to become involved in multiple lawsuits.

I am going there with some Russophile friends, and we intend to make this a Russified weekend. We will be visiting a banya, followed by a trip to Brighton Beach (aka Little Odessa) to purchase Russian products and gorge ourselves on Russian and Georgian cuisine. Since I will not be taking an international vacation this year (depressing, I know), I have dubbed this my fake Eastern Europe vacation.
Tracy, one of my former roommates at GWU, has been kind enough to let me crash at her apartment while she is in Italy. This note accompanied the set of keys that she mailed me:

No wild parties and don’t drink all of my vodka.
– Tracy

Damn, I wasn’t that bad of a roommate, was I?

June 17, 2008

Shea Stadium: Home of the world’s largest Slip ‘n Slide

As I previously mentioned, the entire reason I took this trip to New York City was to see the Mets play at Shea Stadium. After NYPD gave us the go ahead to leave the scene of the accident, we caught another cab.

“Did something happen here?” our new cab driver inquired.

“Yeah, our cab driver hit just hit a pedestrian. As far as I’m concerned, if you get us to the hotel without incident, I’ll consider you the greatest cab driver in the city.”

We arrived at the hotel, checked-in, and headed down to the bar to have a few pints and watch Russia beat Greece in the Euro2008 tournament. The weather did not seem very conducive to an evening of baseball, as it had been raining sporadically, but we figured it would clear in time for the game.

Not quite. We arrived at Shea around 6:15pm and the rain started to pick up. We bought tickets for seats in the covered upper reserve area and waited for the storm to pass. Our seats were pretty good, and we were definitely surrounded by some, uh, entertaining New Yorkers. Shea Stadium was pretty disappointing, though. There was nothing special about it (might as well have been back at RFK stadium) and you could tell they had really skimped on maintenance for the past few years. Most of the rows weren’t even lettered, so it was amusing to watch people attempt to find their seats (“This K?” “No, this is J.” “What? I thought this was L.”). Citi Field, which is being built right next to Shea and is due to open in 2009, looks like it will make an excellent ballpark, though.

Game time rolled around, and conditions were still too poor for play. The announcer came over the loudspeaker and told us that the National Weather Service predicted the storm would pass in half an hour and the game could begin afterwards.

Wrong. Another intense storm rolled in. Thunder, lighting, and heavy rain. Huge puddles formed in the outfield and along the edges of the infield tarp.

Laura mentioned that it would be fun to slide across the wet tarp that blanketed the infield, like a giant Slip ‘n Slide.

Apparently the Texas Rangers had the same idea, because several of them emerged from the dugout, ran full speed towards the tarp, dove headfirst, and then slid across the tarp on their stomachs. The crowd LOVED it (frankly, anything at that point was entertaining).

Here’s a video I took of the Slip ‘n Slide action:

With the fresh batch of storms rolling in, an announcement went out that the game was canceled and that we had a year to use our tickets for another Mets game.

“Ugh, we have to come back to this city?!”

So, yeah, between the incident with our cab and the rainout at Shea Stadium, this weekend jaunt to New York kinda, well, sucked.