Monthly Archives: October 2011

October Snow

by Richard, CEO

The weather forecasters get it wrong so often that when it happens like they predicated, it really is surprising.

The view from Community Manager Louise's window on Saturday afternoon

So it was this past Saturday. After being inside/underground for an hour, I emerged at 11AM on Saturday to a full fledged snow squall- heavy, wet flakes that kept on falling.

I chose to stay inside until mid-afternoon making a pasta soup that seemed perfect for the weather conditions until I had to venture out to pick up my car that was in for an oil change and a checkup.

On my slow journey from the middle of the Long Island to the north shore I encountered a good number of trees toppled over and a string of broken street lights.  Members of the Fire Department were stationed at the Long Island Expressway reminding drivers to keep it slow. Personally, I’m one of the people who absolutely love snow and all of its challenges. I like driving in it, like walking on it and now enjoy watching others shoveling it (anyone not in great shape or over 40 years old – let someone else do it).

But there wasn’t enough snow to shovel – just enough to slip on. Just enough to finish off my impatient plants- which one year lasted till Christmas. Killed the basil in the yard and made a whole bunch of other plants head into the ground till spring.

2 weeks ago was in a boat –on LI sound – in 80 degree weather

1 week ago I was nursing more blooms from my roses

Saturday – I was looking for salt for the sidewalk

Have to love living in NY… and I do.

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The Bodies Exhibit

by William, New York Guest concierge

Disclaimer: Contains some photos from the Bodies Exhibit which may not appeal to everyone. Proceed with caution!

Since the dawn of time, the human species has been intrigued by exactly how our bodies work; what they are made of, how they move, how they are reproduced, and what happens when they die.  Animal dissections gave us a better understanding of our own bodies, however, human dissection was outlawed in many ancient civilizations.  Over the millennia, theories changed, human dissection was allowed, technology improved to the point that we could explore many of the body’s workings without causing harm to the body itself.  After all this time, we have the fruits of our labor, Bodies: The Exhibit, which culminates centuries of exploration and study into a concise, yet thorough journey of discovery.

The Exhibit started off with a timeline of the major turning points in the understanding of the human anatomy.  Some of the names were familiar; Hippocrates, Pasteur; Watson & Crick (they discovered DNA).  We were told that we would be seeing real human cadavers preserved with a special technique which replaces all the water in the body with silicon.  This ensures that the structure of the body is kept completely intact, on a cellular level.  There was a quote on the wall here, a simple gesture but one of my favorite points;  “Our bodies are the one thing we carry with us from the moment we are born till the moment we die.”  This explains the never ending need to find out as much as we can about our bodies.

After this quaint introduction, you are taken through different sections of the body, the skeleton being first.  There are bones on display that run the complete gamut of the bones in our body, from the thick and tough femur all the way down to the brittle inner ear bones and vertebrae.  This is also where we were first introduced to a really cool feature of this exhibit.  Besides, displaying the bodies, in each section there is a short video explaining how the respective part of the body works in concert with other body systems to do its job.  The video also gives great rules of thumb to help maintain and take care of each part of the body.  It was neat the see these videos throughout the exhibit.

After the skeleton, came the real meaty part; the muscles (pun intended).  As we made our way into this room, we saw this wasn’t just any exhibit.  There was artistry to how the bodies were prepared for presentation.  Bordering on the cusp of the realm of knowledge and the realm of creativity, the sculpturing of the bodies offer a vantage point that is unavailable anywhere else as well as adding a pleasing atheistic to the exhibit.

Next, came the Nervous system where we had great views of several different brains, the spinal cord, and the nerves themselves.  There were some fascinating examples of just how fast the nervous system works.  There was also an interactive game called “Mind Ball” which uses takes a measurement of your brain activity and uses it to push a ball into your opponent’s goal.  Despite the title of the game, the point was actually to relax, and have less brain activity.  I lost every time.

Turning the corner we came upon a powerful display.  Set up in a symmetrical fashion, a healthy respiratory system was displayed next to a smoker’s respiratory system.  The difference was overwhelmingly apparent.  In front of the display was a sign which read, “Stop smoking today,” and a chest-high clear plastic bin that was halfway full of cigarettes packs, loose tobacco, rolling papers, and other paraphernalia.  It was a humbling sign of how we treat our bodies.

Moving onto the digestive system, there was an interesting display of the entire torso with the skin and muscle removed.  This unique perspective painted a clear picture of how the internal organs fit snuggly together, almost like a jigsaw puzzle – a totally different view from the pictures in your high school textbook!

Next stop, the reproductive system, and a special section on fetal development.  It is truly breathtaking to see how we develop from one cell to trillions.  When you see a newborn baby it looks like a small human; but the embryo it comes from looks nothing like the baby.  For the faint at heart, or those who simply don’t feel like explaining it to their children, there is another pathway which allows you to bypass this section.

The end of the exhibit focused on diseases of the body; the fatal, the harmless, and mostly everything in between.  There were also a few specimens who displayed signs of surgery – metal plates, braces, and joint replacements – mankind’s attempt to conquer disease and death.  After being told the entire time not to touch the bodies, there finally was a point where you were allowed to handle a few specimens.  Don’t worry this part is not required, but it was most definitely a fun time.  As we made our customary exit through the gift shop, I was reunited with one of my long lost childhood friends: The Magic School Bus is a children series I adored as a child, and their book on the human body found its way into the Bodies gift shop.

As we traversed the cobble stone streets of the historical South Street Seaport outside the Bodies exhibit, I reflected on all the surprising treasures the exhibit had shown me.  It was more than what the name lends it.  It was not just a bunch of bodies laid out for display.  It was an artistically rich exploration of the human form through the careful arrangement and orchestration of a collection composed of organic and naturally occurring samples.  It was a complete tour presented in a logical, easy to follow manner giving the viewers a comprehensive tutorial on how their bodies work so they may understand what is needed to healthily maintain them.  It was a visually stunning experience that paradoxically humbles you and brings great pride to the amazing collaboration that is our bodies.  It was Bodies: The Exhibit.

Bodies is located in South Street Seaport, convenient to hotels such as the Holiday Inn Wall Street or the Sheraton Brooklyn. Order your tickets to Bodies online by clicking here!

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Autumn in New York: It’s good to live again

by Louise, Community Manager

I don’t keep it a secret that autumn is my favorite season. I love the crisp, cool breezes, light jackets, and foliage, not to mention pumpkins, maple syrup, apples, pears, concord grapes, and butternut squash.

If you’re visiting us before the leaves turn brown and the snow begins to fall, here are some autumn delights you should seek out

The Union Square Farmers Market I may be guilty of always suggesting this to everyone, but anyone who has been will agree that I am justified! And Autumn is my favorite time to go. For one thing, the colors of the bounty are amazing to behold and you can make a serious dent in your camera’s memory card just taking photos of produce (or is that just me? Nah, it’s everyone…right?) Plus, even if you don’t have a kitchen on your visit you can load up on awesome autumnal treats like hot apple cider and of course sweet and moist apple cider donuts, maple sugar candy that will keep you awake for days but it’s totally worth it, and the freshly-harvested local honeys from the late summer that will safely make the trip home with you (just don’t forget to put them in your checked luggage).

Belvedere Castle (on 79th street in the middle of the park) If you want a stunning panoramic view of Central Park’s foliage, I highly recommend paying Belvedere (Italian for “beautiful view) Castle a visit. Open 10 AM – 5 PM from Wednesday-Sunday during the fall, it is free to visit (but relies on donations to continue operating). Inside the castle you’ll find natural history artifacts and resources for birdwatching and hiking in the park, and at the top you’ll find the highest and best view of the park available. The castle was originally built in 1869 (much older than most NYC buildings!) and since 1919 it has been used by the National Weather Service to record meteorological data – so when you hear “it’s 60 degrees in Central Park” they really mean it’s 60 degrees at Belvedere Castle.

Cookshop An amazing thing happens when the cool weather sets in here in NYC: the restaurants come out with fall cocktail menus. Few things are as satisfying as a well-made cocktail, unless it is a seasonal well-made cocktail. For my money, Cookshop (at 10th avenue & 20th street) can generally be counted upon to have some of the most delicious ones. Definitely seek out the Concord Fizz, where they muddle fresh concord grapes with organic gin, lemon juice, and rosemary syrup and top the whole thing off with Prosecco. Remember that little girl from the Welch’s commercial who told us that “purple things taste special”? Well…she may not have been speaking directly about this cocktail, but it applies.

I could go on and on about Harbor Cruises, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Bronx Zoo, and a million more things I love to do in the fall but how about you start with these three and e-mail me at lgeller@newyorkguest.com if you need more suggestions. Enjoy the autumn!

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Priscilla, Queen of Broadway

by Kelly, Guest Services Manager

I’ll admit it – I’m a Broadway fanatic.  In my time off from working hard to bring the best of New York City to our clients here at New York Guest, I am a professional singer and actor, so nothing makes me happier than a night on “The Great White Way.”  This week I was lucky enough to see a performance of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” along with my colleagues Michael, Kelly and concierge Isa.

 Based on the cult hit movie from 1994, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” follows two drag queens and a transsexual on a cross-country journey through the wilds of the Australian Outback in a giant pink bus they lovingly christen “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”  Frustrated with his career in Sydney, Tick (played by Broadway favorite Will Swenson) receives an invitation from his ex-wife to perform his drag show at her casino on the other side of the country.  Tick enlists the help of his two best friends: Bernadette, a transsexual who is grieving the loss of both her recently deceased husband as well as her glory days as a performer (played by Tony nominee Tony Sheldon) and Adam, a young and restless troublemaker making his mark on the drag queen world with his new style of performance (played by Nick Adams).  As the trip kicks off, Bernadette and Adam’s personalities clash, while Tick is busy hiding his personal reasons for taking the cross-country trip – the chance to meet his young son, Benji.  The journey is far from smooth – the trio encounters mechanical problems along the way, casing them to encounter an array of Australian citizens – some of whom are less than welcoming of their drag queen lifestyle.

A unique part of “Priscilla” is the way the songs are mixed into the show.  The drag queens alternate between singing their own numbers as well as lip synching along to three “Divas,” who spend the majority of the show singing their faces off in three-part harmony, all while dangling from the top of the stage area.  These three extremely talented ladies move the action along from above, occasionally dropping onto the stage to join in a full-cast production number, of which there are many.

 The trio of leading men will win your heart right from the start.  Touchingly acted by all three, I was extremely impressed with the depth of each of the characters.  The witty barbs exchanged between Bernadette and Adam had the entire audience laughing, and the tender scenes between Tick and Benji as well as the trio of men literally had me in tears.  Special props must also be given to Nick Adams – he is an unbelievable dancer, with a voice that had me from the first note (and trust me…being a trained singer, I am a TOUGH vocal critic.)

Now, I’m not going to lie to you – this show is not for everyone.  If you’re uncomfortable watching drag queens “shake their groove thang” with the occasional curse word and innuendo tossed in for comic effect, then you might want to look for a different show.  However, if you want to see energetic dance numbers, over 500 colorful, sparkly and imaginative costumes (for which “Priscilla” won the 2011 Tony Award for “Best Costume Design of a Musical,”) bounce along in your seat to an epic list of disco and dance hits like “It’s Raining Men,” “I Will Survive,” “Hot Stuff,” and “Material Girl,” all while experiencing a truly heartwarming story about the importance of family, friendship, tolerance, and loving yourself for who you are, then this is the show for you.

Kelly, Kelly, Michael & Isa loved the show and the boas!

I had a blast at the show, and ever since I have been singing bits of the soundtrack to anyone who will listen…and a few who won’t…haha!

Did you know you can have your bachelorette party at Priscilla, and the bride will get to dance on stage? You can also propose or even get married on stage during the show! If you’re interested in any of these, or just want to see the show on your next trip to New York, check out the Priscilla Concierge Website at http://www.priscillaonbroadway.com/concierge.html or email me at kshoemaker@newyorkguest.com or give us a call at 212-302-4019 to secure your seating today!

Priscilla Concierge Website: http://www.priscillaonbroadway.com/concierge.html

Priscilla Concierge Contact Info: 212-575-1044 x. 235 or priscillapartyconcierge@namcousa.com

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What to do in New York City on Halloween

by Louise, Community Manager

Two weeks until Halloween – a holiday we LOVE in NYC. If you are going to be in town that weekend, you MUST partake in one of the many events going on around the city.

Here are just a few of our top picks:

The Village Halloween Parade

This one is obvious, but it’s a big deal in the city and if you love parades you should definitely check it out. Marching bands, amazing floats, and some of the most creative costumes you’ll see anywhere – you never forget your first time at the Village Halloween Parade. Be forewarned though, many of the costumes and floats may not be appropriate for children

When: October 31st, 7-10 PM

Where: 6th Avenue from Spring Street to 16th Street

Who: All ages, may not be suitable for children

Cost: Free

More information: http://www.halloween-nyc.com/

 

Phantom’s Halloween Masquerade Cruise

All aboard for an early and spooky celebration of Phantom of the Opera’s 10,000 performance! Wear a costume and don a mask, enjoy complimentary champagne and pumpkin ale, and if your costume is worthy you may win two tickets to see this Broadway legend claim another milestone.

When: October 29th, 9 PM – 12 AM

Where: Pier 83, 42nd & 12th

Who: Adults 21+

Cost: $40

More information: http://travel.newyorkguest.com/Activities/Phantom-Masquerade-Cruise

After Dark at Madame Tussaud’s

Wander the darkened corridors of Madame Tussaud’s, New York’s haunted wax museum, as thousands of eyes watch you and the screams never end. This year’s haunted wax museum promises to be creepier than ever, but the smiling celebrities will still be there to comfort you when (and if) you get out.

When: October 20th-23rd and 27th-30th, 9 PM – 12 AM

Where: Madame Tussaud’s at 234 West 42nd St

Who: Adults and kids age 12+

Cost: $25

More information: http://afterdarknewyork.com/

 Nightmare Fairy Tales

One of NYC’s most renowned haunted houses has chosen traditional fairy tales as their 2011 theme, and the results are certain to be as unsettling as they are awesome. You will walk through a haunted forest with a small group of people and observe terrible things happening to characters you know from classic fairy tales while terrifying things happen to you as well. If it turns out to be a little too disturbing for you, just know you’ll be on the Lower East Side, where there are plenty of nearby spots to have a nerve-calming drink.

When: Select dates 9/30-11/5

Where: 107 Suffolk Street

Who: Adults

Cost: Starts at $30

More information: http://www.hauntedhousenyc.com

Toys ‘r’ Us Spooktacular

If you’re traveling with young children, you may want to skip the truly terrifying offerings that are available all around the city, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate Halloween! At the always amazing Times Square Toys ‘r’ Us you and the kids can partake in Geoffrey’s Halloween Parade, face painting, character appearances, and gruesome snacks made by a mad scientist!

When: October 29th from 12-3 PM

Where: Toys ‘r’ Us 1514 Broadway at 44th street

Who: All ages

Cost: Free

More Information: http://www.timessquare.com/Latest_News/Times_Square_News/Toys%22R%22Us_Times_Square_Will_Host_a_Spook-tacular_Halloween_Event/

 Boo at the Zoo

Okay so it’s not really going to be that scary, but it’s tons of fun for kids, adults, and all of our little friends who live at the zoo! Meet some of the zoo’s spookier critters (like bats and reptiles), get your face painted, participate in Halloween crafts, take a haunted safari, and more. A little learning, a little playing, and a lot of fun!

When: Weekends in October at the Bronx Zoo, 10/29-10/30 at other city zoos

Where: Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo (all activities may not be available at all zoos)

Who: All ages

Cost: Starts at $8 for zoo admission

More information: http://www.bronxzoo.com/plan-your-trip/events-calendar/boo-at-the-zoo.aspx

 

Coney Island Nights of Horror

What’s scarier than going on the country’s oldest roller coaster at a haunted amusement park? Nothing? That’s what I thought you’d say! Take the train out to the very end of Brooklyn, enjoy unlimited access to Luna Parks 12 rides, and check out the extremely spooky Coney Carnival and the possibly-even-spookier Cudie Farm. Enjoy this excuse to check out one of NYC’s famous beaches before it gets too cold!

When: Weekends in October starting at 6 PM

Where: Luna Park, 1000 Surf Avenue in Brooklyn

Who: Adults and kids 14+

Cost: $30

More information: http://lunaparknyc.com/nightsofhorror

None of these tickle your fancy? Need help planning the spookiest possible weekend? E-mail info@newyorkguest.com with all of your Halloween questions

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It’s true! New Yorkers are nice!

by Richard, CEO

Like nearly everyone these days, I am attached to my smart phone – in my case an Android. So when I noticed that it had gone missing, I envisioned hours and days spent trying to duplicate what I had on the phone – and never recovering the photos and special messages. But thanks to the sharp eye and smart thinking of a NYC high school teacher, my phone was back in my hands about 4 hours after it was lost.

Somehow my phone fell out of its holder while I was on the subway. A nice young lady picked it up and tried to decide what to do with it. Hand it to a conductor? No…it might take weeks or never find its way back to me.

So she decided to carry it home with the thought that someone I knew would call me and she could answer and find out my identity. Within a half an hour that is exactly what happened – one of my daughters called the phone and the plan was put in place to meet with my phone savior. If that hadn’t worked, she was going to go to a Verizon store where they could find me.

Everything she did was smart and caring and helpful. These are traits that many many New Yorkers have. I see it every day as I watch my fellow New Yorkers help tourists find their way. While it’s our business, it is many other peoples’ nature. (Of course, it’s our nature too – that’s why it’s our business!)

Next time you think about New York …remember how nice we really are. And thanks to the young woman who teaches ESL and reunited me with my phone.

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Go East: The North Fork of Long Island

by Richard, CEO

The North Fork of Long Island is virtually unknown outside of locals and those who live and work in Manhattan. About 75 miles and 90 minutes from Midtown (when traffic is good) is the start of the Hamptons and the North Fork.
Starting at the Town of Riverhead on Route 58, you will travel through the towns of Mattituck, Southold and end at Greenport. Along the way, you will pass through villages and hamlets that are some of the oldest in America- some founded in the 1600’s.
My best advice is to start out early and wander among the farms and vineyards as you travel east. Stop for lunch and a snack – hit the little inlets and small villages. Walk around Greenport. Ferry over to Shelter Island and then head back west at the end of your day and eat dinner in Southold, Mattituck or Riverhead.
Here are the some key distinctions between The North Fork and its more famous South Fork neighbor, the Hamptons. The North Fork is:

  • More families; fewer celebrities
  • More farms; fewer mansions
  • More friendly; less attitude
  • More pumpkins; less perfume
  • More vineyards, less sand
  • More Wrangler jeans; less Gucci

There are two main routes from Riverhead to Greenport. Both have their charms:

  • Route 58 – sort of heads down the middle of the North Fork and skirts along Peconic Bay
  • Sound Ave runs along the North shore and skirts Long Island Sound.

Where there was once a real shortage of good restaurants, now they are abundant. To get a flavor for things here are a few recommendations (maybe even musts); but please don’t expect haute cuisine- think good, simple and local.

  • Briemeiers Pies – at the top of Rt. 105/Sound Ave in Riverhead
  • Duffy’s – just a simple but quaint deli in Mattituck
  • The Elbow Room – for marinated steaks – Mattituck- local flavor; not
  • Magic Fountain in Mattituck – for ice cream – lines all year long and worth it
  • Country Inn – on Rt 58 for breakfast
  • TR’s In Riverhead – a throwback kind of place
  • Farm Country Inn – Riverhead – for lunch and dinner – try their Montauk sandwich
  • The Barge in Southold – very good lobsters
  • Buoy 1 – Riverhead for simple seafood and great clam chowder

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