I’m featuring an attraction from a new city! I had the opportunity to meet up with some friends in Austin, TX. One of my former roommates is pregnant with her first baby, so I, along with my other former roomies, traveled to Austin to celebrate the coming baby and reminisce about the old days.
I was excited to be escaping the NY winter and head to Texas for sun and warmth. Alas, Texas had other plans and it was colder in TX than NYC when I arrived on Thursday. Because of the less than ideal weather, we decided to check out an indoor attraction. Austin, much like it’s West Coast counterpart, Portland, prides itself on being “weird.” There are plenty of hipster bars, trendy restaurants, and weirdo donuts, but we decided to lean into the weird and visit the Museum of the Weird. If you’re disturbed by images of mummies or possibly authentic shrunken heads, I don’t recommend viewing the pictures at the end of this post.
The Museum actually started out as a gift shop in 2005, only after they realized that there were items they didn’t really want to part with, and that people enjoyed coming to see some of the oddities displayed, but not buy them, they decided to expand into a museum.
In addition to some authentic items, and some authentically weird items, there’s also a wax museum.
I’m not sure that the attraction is worth the $12.99 price, but it was a fun way to kill a couple of hours, especially if you’re interested in fanciful theories, and curious oddities.
So last week, I wrote a little bit about the subway system in the city. I’m going to talk about it a little more this week. I had visitors this past weekend (yay for not being all alone while Lewis was in Zimbabwe), and one of these lovely ladies necessitates the use of a wheelchair. This presented a much greater challenge than I anticipated.
First, New York City has a great option for residents with disabilities, it’s called Access-a-Ride. If you are disabled, you can avail yourself of on call vehicles for the same price as a subway ride ($2.75). Also, most buses are accessible. However… and that’s a big however, buses are pretty good within neighborhoods/boroughs, not necessarily for traversing the entire city. And access-a-ride is not available to out of town visitors.
Second, the NYC transit app is completely useless. Google maps, Apple Maps, and CityMapper are great options for navigating the city, but there is no option to search by stations that are handicapped accessible. There is a “quick reference” page (https://new.mta.info/accessibility/stations) that is helpful in identifying stations that are accessible, but it’s definitely not ideal.
I was trying to get to the Staten Island Ferry from our apartment. The two closest stations to us (Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay) are not accessible, so we ordered an accessible Uber to take us to the closest accesible station (Coney Island/Stilwell Avenue). From there we had to go three stations past the Ferry and then we had to walk to the station (which was fine, we did some sightseeing as we made our way south).
Ferries have serviced Staten Island since at least the 1800’s. The first documented ship was commissioned in 1852 and was a steam paddle wheel boat. Almost all the boats commissioned prior to 1860 were sold to the U.S. Government and put into use for the Civil War.
The Staten Island Ferry is one of the last operating ferry systems in New York. There are four boats that make a total of 117 trips a day. The two best things about the Ferry: it’s free! And it sails right past the Statue of Liberty.
On this particular day it was cloudy and cold, so we stayed inside for the first leg of the trip. On the return trip we rode on the second level and went out on the deck to take photos. You can see some really beautiful views of the city. I love riding the ferry, even when it’s cold. I like the feel of the cold air blowing on my face. I love watching the seagulls fly alongside the boat.
If you get a chance to visit this iconic attractions, it’s worth the fifty minute investment of time.
I had Monday off this week, and an extra day off is a perfect excuse to head out for another installment of Tourist Tuesdays.
Lewis is out of town for work right now (he’s in Zimbabwe finalizing some details of the purchase of some land for the congregation there), so I had to head out alone.
Whenever I do anything alone (driving, grocery shopping, taking the subway) I always feel more grown up… to be clear, I’m quite obviously a middle aged woman, but I don’t feel like a grownup. It sneaks up on you kids, one minute you’re a young adult trying to figure life out, the next you’re on the other side of “over-the-hill” wondering how the heck you got there. So anyway, I always feel like a grownup when I take the subway by myself.
Some things to know about the subway. In Manhattan it is fully subterranean, but when you get to the outer boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx) some of the lines are subterranean, but other parts of the lines are elevated, but it’s still the same system. So, when we have visitors we’ll tell them to catch the subway at the such and such stop and they get confused because it’s elevated. Don’t ask me, I didn’t design the system.
I don’t know how people navigated the subway before smartphones and GPS. I mean, I know the lines in my neighborhood, and how to get to lots of places in the city without using GPS, but going outside of those very specific train lines gets very confusing. Apple Maps works quite well, Google Maps also. I like to use CityMapper, it tells you what part of the train to sit on so it’s easier to access transfers or exits.
Also, the subway is relatively cheap to ride, it’s $2.75 no matter where you are going in the city. Southern Brooklyn (where we live) to northern Bronx, still $2.75. Need to transfer to multiples lines to get where you’re going? As long as you don’t leave the station, still just $2.75. And if you take more than 12 rides in a week (using the same credit card) every ride after that for the week is free.
So enough about the subway already! For Tourist Tuesday I caught the B train to Manhattan, with a transfer to the D to the Meatpacking district (just south of Chelsea and northwest of the West Village) to visit Little Island.
Little Island is a new park in NYC that opened in May 2021. But the area, like most places in the city, has a long history. Built on the Hudson River, this area of the Meatpacking district has been been a busy port of entry and/or trade dating back to the early colonization of the area with the Lenape tribe using the area as a seasonal encampment for hunting, fishing, and trade along the river. Multiple piers up and down the river were establish in the 19th and 20th centuries. Pier 54 (the site of Little Island) operated the British Cunard-White Star line. The Titanic was supposed to make port at Pier 54, instead the survivors arrived aboard the RMS Carpathia rescue liner. Just three years later the RMS Lusitania departed from Pier 54, only to be sunk off the coast of Ireland five days later. Because of this, superstitious people claim that the pier is cursed.
In 2012 Hurricane Sandy hit NYC, leaving heavy damage in her wake, including Pier 54. In 2013 the Hudson River Park Trust partnered with the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation to begin development on a whole new kind of park. The park is literally built in the river; comprised of 132 “tulip pots” (giant columns with bowls at the top sunk into the river to form the base of the park). The park covers 2.4 acres filled with trees, shrubs, grasses, and bulbs. There’s an amphitheater, trails, tables and chairs, in the summer there are a couple of food trucks, and some benches scattered about.
The park has fantastic views of the river, New Jersey, and Manhattan (you can see the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center from the park).
I highly recommend checking out the park, but be prepared for big crowds, especially when it’s warm… really any time that it’s sunny, there’s going to be a crowd. Personally, I love the river when it’s foggy and overcast, it’s magical to see the fog floating over the river, shrouding the buildings mist. On this day it was incredibly sunny. I’ll try to post photos from the park when it’s foggy if I ever get the chance. The park is free, and opens at 6 a.m. Closing time varies throughout the year.
So… for Tourist Tuesday, sometimes I’ll go the day of, or sometimes I’ll go earlier in the week and just post about it on Tuesday.
I’m going to get a little personal here. In November I had a mammogram done (get your checks done ladies) and it showed an anomaly. Of course, they didn’t have any open appointments for my follow-up until January. Let’s just say December was a lot of sleepless nights with a lot of what-ifs running through my head. So, I had my follow-up on Wednesday last week. I’m happy to say that the sonogram and second mammogram detected a lump that (and this is literally what the official report says) they “have characterized as probably benign (not cancer).” How’s that for confidence? When they actually told me the results at the hospital they said, “it’s not cancer.” It wasn’t until I got the official report that I found that little nugget of reassurance. Anyway… because of all this, I was like, I’m going to wait to go touristing (I know it’s not a real word) until Sunday or Monday, or maybe even actually Tuesday.
And this weekend started out so lovely (how’s that for foreshadowing??!)! We had friends over for dinner on Thursday, and then on Friday, we drove to Connecticut to spend the Sabbath and weekend with our brethren in the Hartford congregation. On Sabbath, we had a really rewarding Bible Study, followed by a potluck and services.
Often, when we go to Connecticut we stay with our deacon and deaconess in Stratford, and we were this past weekend. We had other visits planned as well… and then. and then. Three out of four of us came down with food poisoning. The next 12 hours were so disgusting. I’ll spare you the details. Suffice it to say, there was no touristing this weekend. But that’s life, eh? Even living in a big fancy town, we still have real life. Which sometimes means real-life food poisoning.
If there is a specific place you’d like to have me write about or post pictures of, leave a comment!
Known to be a fishing village in pre-colonial times, in the early 1900’s it had developed into a yacht club haven. The tradition of sailing and boating in the bay continues to this day.
Along the north side of the bay you’ll find a row of restaurants and fishing charters. It’s always vibrant and thrumming with life. Along the south side of the bay are ridiculously expensive homes, with the peninsula terminating in the Kingsborough Community College. A pedestrian bridge connecting these two sides of the bay was first built in 1880.
But at the top of the bay sits a beautiful and sobering tribute; a Holocaust Memorial. In the Spring and Summer the area feels almost secluded with trees and foliage forming a barrier around the memorial from the car and foot traffic surrounding it. In the late Fall and early Winter the ground plants get cut down, giving a more open view of the beautiful memorial. Conceived in 1986, the park was officially dedicated in 1997.
It’s worth a visit if you can make it to the neighborhood, and if you’re a bit peckish after your visit there are tons of restaurants to choose from along Emmons Avenue (burgers, bakeries, Turkish, crepes… pretty much anything you can think of). Also! There are swans in the bay! They’re beautiful and peaceful to watch.