Fleet Week 2014: The Fun Has Returned!

Standard

[This is a belated post on all the good things occurring during a holiday weekend in New York.]

selfiewithasailor3

Every year around Memorial Day Weekend wonderful things tend to happen in this city. Usually, it starts warming up and beach season is called out for the last weekend of May (I said usually, not always, and unfortunately not this year). Then, people get together to grab a hotdog or have a BBQ at each other’s apartments, tiny backyards or on top of their ridiculously wobbly rooftops.

Last, but certainly not least, a ton of sailors and other military types flood the city and make it an almost magical place to be. And indeed, this so-called Fleet Week was in full bloom during the entire past week once again. After being cancelled during the previous year (because Bloomberg New York allegedly did not have the money for it), the sailor’s event was on for 2014. I say this happily, as I am one of those people who really like to watch the events and entertainment going on in the five boroughs, especially in the Manhattan area.

Therefore, this past weekend I was practically glued close to Times Square and saw the groups of white and green flocking through the streets. The amount of uniforms diminished at night, because most were on a curfew at 1am (as every year). But surprisingly others had just come here on their own to celebrate Memorial Day, so they were able to stay out late. There are a ton of events happening during this time:
Free concerts in Time Square, airshows at Jones Beach, and boat tours in Staten Island and Manhattan. For a full list of events, check out the official homepage dedicated to Fleet Week.

FleetWeekNYC1

Aside from watching the concerts and airshows, visiting the boats can be a great highlight of the sailor’s visit. Standing in a painfully long line and almost suffering a heat stroke aside – it can be quite an entertaining thing to do. On Memorial Day I opted to check out the Navy boat at Pier 92. Of course it was the hottest day in ages. Being in slow-moving line for over an hour (!) perhaps didn’t help. Even though the queue was similar to 2 years ago, there seemed to be way more people this time around. Also, when standing in line, I saw that you were able to snap a picture and hashtag it #fleetweeknyc and #selfiewithasailor, which was new and different from the previous years. From thereon, my goal was to get as many pictures as possible to spread over the world wide web and share with others.

FleetweekNYC5

FleetWeekNYC4

FleetWeekNYC2

FleetWeekNYC3

Fleet Week is one of my most favorite events in the City. It jumpstarts summer and all the other lovely events that will be happening in the Tri-State-Area during the hot season. It was great to have it in town again, after the year-long break in between. I love the vibes that are spread and the moods that tend to change from negative into positive. People become happier when the sailors are in town and most events are usually family-oriented so it typically draws a diverse crowd to the masses.

Of course some bars can also be slammed but thanks to the curfew at 1am, that settles it. Although I have to say, that bars were not all too crowded this past weekend. It appeared like a good portion of New Yorkers escaped the city and its until now horrible weather (we did not have an all too hot May month in 2014, which is quite unusual for this city). Fleet Week, boats, and sailors – there is almost nothing which tops the week-long fun.

For some past posts on Fleet Week, go to my previous articles:

New York City Fleet Week – May 25 to June 1, 2011
Fleet Week 2012 OR A Tour of the USS Wasp

Now here are just a few of the #selfieswithasailor I took:

selfiewithasailor2

selfiewithasailor1

selfiewithasailor4

Phila or Philly? Visiting Pennsylvania’s Grandest City for One Day (Part II)

Standard

[continued from Part I]

Self portrait at the Magic Garden

Self portrait at the Magic Garden

I got to see a few shops here and there and even grab a bite at a Turkish bistro. South Street is known for its “novelty stores” as a local told me and it has a bunch of bars and restaurants in addition to it. While there was a little bit of browsing opportunity, I really wasn’t in the mood for some shopping that day.

Philly's Magic Garden

Philly’s Magic Garden

Therefore, my next stop was the Magic Garden: An institution I had wanted to check out for a while already. My friend had told me about but it’s quite a sight once you stand in front of it. Constructed by the Brooklyn native and artist Isaiah Zagar, it took about 14 years to complete. It’s a formerly vacant lot on South Street and 11th Street, which has been constructed into small alley ways and two stories worth of mosaics, broken glass, shards of mirror and lots of other props. This might not sound very appealing, but check out the pictures below to get a better understanding. You will find hidden stair ways, nice hand rails, and artistic exhibitions (which are shown inside).

Philly's Magic Garden

Philly’s Magic Garden

Philly_Magic_Garden_portrait

Philly's Magic Garden

Philly’s Magic Garden

Art indoors

Art indoors

Due to the colorful murals, stones, and mosaics, it is quite a magical place to be in and I was happy to have had the chance to tread around for roughly an hour. Then the garden was closed due to a private event (think wedding party), so I left at 3pm. For more information on the garden and its opening hours, please check out their homepage.

From here on a random passerby gave me the tip to check out the Annual Italian Fest on 9th Street. I expected it to be similar to the San Gennaro we have every year in NYC but this one was a street fest Italian style, with lots of beer, different Italian tastes, and a bunch of handmade stuff. Since it took place in May, the vibes were completely different. Nothing beats a great spring festival at the beginning of the season. People were in a great mood and not too drunk early-on in the afternoon. Maybe this changed later-on in the evening, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you.

At 4:15pm I redeemed my prioritized ticket entry to the Independence Hall. The tour was only 30 minutes long but a great one to watch. The guide must have been a former actor or such. The way he theatrically pointed out various mile stones of history and played out the part of when the Declaration of Independence was signed… Really passionate and amazing! By the way, it wasn’t signed by all parties until August 2nd, which most people (including me) didn’t know. And supposedly, out of all 13 colonies, New York was the only one that was rather neutral to the entire ordeal… What a shame, isn’t it?

Independence Hall

Independence Hall

I still had 3 hours to kill, so I decided to go full speed on and went to see City Hall. Close to it is a water fountain called Love Fountain, because it has the red love symbols/ letters displayed next to it. On to Logan Square, which is close to the Museum Hill – indeed, you are able to see the Museum from it but it appears to be quite a hike from there. Logan Square is a circle-like construction, which has a huge fountain in between and then a garden with flowers around it. There was a wedding couple stereotypically being photographed in front of the gardens, which made out for a great backdrop.

On top of the Museum Hill you will find the famous statue of Rocky. It’s typical to take a picture in front of it with the arms reaching out (this one is from Dec 31, 2010). I’ve had the chance to do so back in the days but didn’t have the time to make the trek up there on Saturday. I can only recommend checking it out if you’re in town.

Love Fountain

Love Fountain

Logan Square - panoramic view

Logan Square – panoramic view

My bus back home went around 8 PM. After grabbing a bite and then strolling through a few shops, I was more than ready to sit in a moving vehicle and take a nap. I was happy to have taken the trip out and am once again thankful for how well-connected the cities on the East Coast are.

Now, the only question remaining is: When to call Philadelphia Phila and when Philly?

Phila or Philly? Visiting Pennsylvania’s Grandest City for One Day (Part I)

Standard

liberty_hall_liberty_bell

Lately I’ve been figuring out where to go for the duration of a weekend without venturing too far from New York. There are some great towns on the East Coast, so making a selection did not pose any difficulties. Such as during this past weekend, when I was able to get out of Manhattan for one day and make a detour to the state of Pennsylvania.

I had only been to Philly once, about 3 ½ years ago, and that was during a pretty cold winter. While back then I had visited my cousin and spent an amazingly celebratory New Year’s Eve in town, I had only seen about half of what the city had to offer. During my visit on Saturday, my main goal was to take with the other half and check out way more touristy sites than I had in 2010/2011.

Philly is about 2 hours by bus (and 1 ½ by car) from Manhattan. I got up super early and was on the bus at 8 AM already (keep in mind – on a Saturday!). Since I live close to Chinatown, I took the Chinatown coach, but I know the Megabus and Bolt Bus leave from Penn Station and Midtown, which are also easy travel points. After getting off in Philly’s Chinatown, I walked straight over to where the historic parts of Phila are accumulated: The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are adjacent to each other and relatively easy to find in Society Hill.

There was a long queue in front of the Liberty Bell and I was contemplating whether or not I should waste my morning by standing in line, when I overheard a couple say it wouldn’t take much longer than 20mins. And sure enough, while passing a group of people who were practicing Chinese relaxation techniques on the lawn and listening to fine tunes of Asian music, I was inside in about half an hour.

Chinese relaxation techniques while waiting in line - coincidence?

Chinese relaxation techniques while waiting in line – coincidence?

The bell is located indoors but you can also take a snapshot of it from the outside if you don’t feel like standing in line. There are a few reading materials available and I got to see the how the Liberty Bell is related not only to the Independence of America, but also slavery (during the civil war) and the women’s liberation movement.

The bell itself is lined up against a glass front. Since only a certain amount of people are let in one at a time, it wasn’t hard to get a got glance at it. You can see the crack clearly – this crack has a lot of history: When the bell was made of old iron material, it had to be re-cast multiple times after it came into existence. Within the 18th century, it cracked twice, and then during 1841 (Civil War Time), it cracked again. This final crack was never mended successfully, so what you see in Philly is indeed the original bell with its original crack. You are prohibited from touching it, of course, but while scouring through the reading cubicles, you are able to stretch your hands out to an original, engraved iron bar, which fell off at some point.

Liberty Bell and its crack

Liberty Bell and its crack

When exiting the building, I checked in with a security guard to see how easy it was to get into Independence Hall, which was literally right across the street. He pointed me towards the visitor’s center and told me that I should get my ticket right now as there were usually only a limited amount of vouchers left for the day. Sure enough, I was able to obtain one for 4:15 PM (keep in mind I showed up at the visitor’s desk at 12 PM). The tickets are free, but in order to go onto a guided tour you have to get it way in advance. Not sure how to spend the next four hours, I walked past a gorgeous library and made my way across town over to South Street.

Blog Anniversary: 3 years at German-American Abroad!

Standard

Today, I had intended on writing a very different post. Finally motivated to tell you about some great performances of last week and our Wine Tasting in the Bronx, I logged into WordPress. And was stopped immediately by a small but very important notification:

Congratulations, you’ve been at this blog for 3 years!

Wooha! Trying hard to not ignore the fact that I hadn’t blogged in about a month, I went ahead and took a screenshot. Memories to be captured. Immediately!

blog anniversary 3 years

So here I am going, through my posts Blog Anniversary 2 and 1st Bloggiversary, trying hard to re-collect my memories of how it used to be. Back in the days, when I actually took the time and wrote up 4 posts a week. Or even 2 posts. Basically, more than the past 10 articles I’ve composed this entire year (so far).

I keep emphasizing how much I love blogging but it’s not until I sit down and write, that I get the long-lost feeling back. The feeling of loving to write, to share thoughts, to contemplate. Every once so often, a binge overcomes me, where I want to come up with 2 or 3 posts at once but then for a long time nothing happens after.

My life is busy. Everyone’s life is busy. New York is an insanely busy city. For example, yesterday I chose to go to this alternative music show around the corner from where I live to support my friend instead of just staying at home and writing a post or doing some editing or just relaxing. Every day we have distractions like this. Especially now, with the summer months approaching and the weather finally getting better.

I haven’t had much of an intimate relationship with blogging in the past 4 months. Sadly. Some relationships end, some are at a stand-still, and some blossom. I’d like this one to blossom again but realize that time is a crucial component to it all. Perhaps the key is more effective time management. Not over-using social media or wasting precious minutes by scrolling through useless feeds online but being free of distractions for a set time of day.

My third year of blogging has ended. Today this makes me feel great. I haven’t changed the design of my blog in probably 2 and a half years. Maybe I will just take the time to see what other formats are out there and incorporate it into a new concept. Or I will finally come up with a few more posts and get this blog going, into its fourth year of existence.

However it may be, I thank you, my loyal 295 followers, for sticking through and still visiting my blog quite frequently on a day-to-day-basis. What connects us all is once again: Creativity. And motivation to share thoughts, to live through one another, to meet exciting new people, and to experience different world views.

If it hadn’t been for this little online space of mine, I don’t know what kind of person I had become nowadays. Some bloggers have helped me keep my sanity, others have opened their wonderful world to me. I’ve lived vicariously through blogging and I’ve also lived miserably without it. I cherish the time I’ve spent on it so far and I hope to see more great posts created!

Cheers to this amazing Saturday!

Power Monday: Here Are Some Quotes For Y’All (Part 2)

Standard

instagram michael bearden

More from Michael Bearden and Power Quote Monday. After coming across his Instagram, I found some really nice posts I wanted to share with you. Last Monday was epic (check it out here) and today will be, too. And look, the sun is shining and it’s actually almost as hot as during an early summer day! Finally, spring has caught up. [Although it appears that it will be colder throughout the week (thanks to New York's mood swings).]

Here we go:

sometimes its not the people who change

the greatest prison to live in

They wanna see you do good

to live is the rarest thing

try to nothing negative about anybody

worrying wont stop the bad stuff from