Cruising Around the Big Apple

Posted by cher on August 2nd, 2010

As a part of my resolve to experience more things my city has to offer, I decided to take a cruise around NYC. For those of you who don’t know about it, Goldstar.com is an amazing site that offers great deals on everything from comedy clubs to culinary classes. I purchased a 90 minute “twilight” cruise ticket for $17.

The weather was perfect; the warm summer air coupled with a crisp off-the-water-breeze was the perfect combination to view New York City’s skyline. We left from Midtown in the Hudson, traveled around the Financial District into the East River, up to Midtown and back. The tour guide was completely knowledgeable, and provided interesting historical facts, as well as details about recent events such as the “Miracle on the Hudson,” the now-famous landing of US Airways  flight 1549 by Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger after the plane collided with a flock of Canadian Geese.

This is not an excursion just for tourists; I’ve lived in NYC for four years and didn’t know half of the information the tour guide provided. Hell, I could probably live here my whole life and not know everything I learned tonight. One of the more interesting facts:

In the early 1900’s, downtown NYC was flourishing with about a dozen major newspaper companies. Midtown, however, was struggling. The city wanted to build Midtown into a business district, so the city offered to name an area in Midtown after the New York Times in exchange for them moving to said area. What was known as Long Acre Square became known as Times Square because of this deal. The newspaper decided to celebrate the opening of its new building by counting down the last minutes of 1904 from the top of it. Two years later, they added the dropping of a giant ball to the celebration. The tradition continued the next year, and the next…and the next.

The cruise offered basic amenities such as beer, water, soda, snacks, and of course, a restroom. The only thing that put a damper on my evening, specifically, was the annoying group of tourists next to me who were more interested in shouting in their native tongue and taking pictures of themselves than listening to the tour guide. This, however, should not dissuade you from taking this breathtaking trip around NYC.

This is the main site for the cruise, however, I would definitely recommend checking out Goldstar.com for tickets, first.

P.S. The pics above were taken with my phone. That beautiful.

Dancing on the Subway

Posted by cher on July 29th, 2010

I’m on the 7 train riding home from work. I just want to sit for 20 minutes and read my book – it’s something I look forward to at the end of the day. It’s not like I’m necessarily used to peace and quiet on the train but tonight an entire dance troupe jumped on my car. One guy made an announcement that he and others were about to dance. A group of about 12 Canadians who had clamored to get seats on the train were really excited at the prospect. I looked up, annoyed, because I was tired and just wanted to read my book.

They started dancing – as the train started moving. As they took turns “popping,” I couldn’t help but notice: the only people who were paying the least bit of attention were the Canadians, who were thrilled at the concept of seeing this performance on the metro. Everyone else was engrossed in his or her book, ipod, phone, etc. and barely looked up.

I put down my book and took a look at this group of Canadians watching the dancers in awe. They were clapping and laughing and completely enthralled with the entertainment in front of them. And suddenly, I felt completely jaded. Here was a great group of dancers (seriously, they were good) and the only people who were appreciating them were from another country.

But something clicked when I saw the expressions of awe and excitement on the Canadians’ faces. I put myself in their shoes: an outsider, reveling in the sites of the city and stumbling upon artists performing on the metro.

And I realized – how cool is this? This group was legit dancing while the train was moving and they did an amazing job. Of course they asked for donations at the end, but they were the most polite group – wishing everyone a blessed day and thanking people for their support – how could you not smile and appreciate their effort?

Lesson learned: New Yorkers – put down your books and take out your earpieces and appreciate what’s around you. They may not all be dancers and they all may want your money, but at least open your eyes and see what’s going on around you. Your  book, and mine, will still be there to read when you get home.

Meetup in the City

Posted by cher on July 28th, 2010

A friend recently convinced me to tag along to an event sponsored through a group on Meetup.com. My only previous experience with Meetup.com consisted of using it to find where fellow Philadelphia Eagles fans flock to watch games in NYC. The event that she wanted to go to, however, was a “mixer” if you will, for professional singles. (Let’s note that professional singles did not mean being an expert at being single; it was actually targeted toward single people who have a college degree and a job.)

My friend gave me very little info about the event. I was basically told where and when to show up. So, when we arrived, and even though I was there as a tag-along, I actually had butterflies. It felt like a giant blind date. And apparently she felt the same way: As we stood about 5 feet from the venue she turned and said, “Should we not go in?”

Butterflies or not, of course I glared at her and said “You dragged me this far,” and so we went in. Intimidation lasted about 30 seconds before my friend recognized the host of the group and he introduced himself. It was a slightly awkward setup as everyone who was there was seated around a giant table, making it impossible to mingle. However, more people began to arrive and we easily fell into conversation. Before I knew it, I discovered that most of us lived within a few neighborhoods of one another in Queens, one girl had a brother that attended my college while I was there, and another was an only child, who, of course I automatically clicked with.

There were only about 15 of us but by the end of the evening, 8 of us remained in a close circle, talking amongst ourselves. Were there any romantic sparks? I didn’t feel or see any. But, more importantly, I think we all felt an overall enjoyment of conversation and camaraderie; in a city of 8 million it can be, ironically, hard to find and make friends. Blame it on long hours in the office or simply moving to a large city where you don’t know anyone. To me, this “experiment” was amazing proof that as we unthinkingly pass hundreds of people every day, you never know who may be your next friend, lover, or simply, a person you may have a great conversation with.

I haven’t seen or talked to anyone I met there that night – yet. Hopefully this “meetup” group will continue and even forge relationships. What I took away from this experience is this: I always assumed there were other people in this city who wanted to meet new people and/or  find a significant others; however,  I did not realize that it would be so easy to connect with a group of random strangers. When conversation flows with strangers as if you have been friends for a long time, it is a comforting and exciting concept. I think it’s a feeling that many young or “new” New Yorkers can appreciate.

Check out meetup.com – and don’t be afraid to actually go in.