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holidays in New York CIty 2013

TBP 0025 Holiday Season in New York City 2013

Posted on 16 November 2013 by Leslie Lello

holidays in New York CIty 2013

The Holiday Season In New York City! Even when I was living in Los Angeles, I was watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV and looking forward to visiting the decorated windows on 5th Avenue when I came home for the holidays.

Here is my overview and advice about celebrating New York during the holidays. There are TONS of holiday related things to do… just be sure to wear a comfortable pair of shoes and dress warmly!

For more advice and details, check out this week’s podcast TBP 0025!

PODCAST NOTES FOR TBP 0025 “Holiday Season in New York City 2013”

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – The kickoff of the holiday season in New York City!
It’s on NOVEMBER 28, 2013, Starting at 9am.

The parade Begins on 77th and Central Park West. The route is south on Central Park West until 57th Street, then continue south on 6th ave to Herald Square. I never knew this but the route is 2.5 miles. Seems shorter than that to me.

To view the parade (and get a good spot) get there early, wear VERY WARM clothes and comfortable shoes, and try to get near a public restroom or a coffee shop so that you can use the bathroom. Bring snacks and beverages (but not too many beverages). 😉

Here are more tips for attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade:
http://gonyc.about.com/od/tipsforvisitingnyc/tp/thanksgiving-parade-tips.htm
http://gonyc.about.com/od/thanksgiving/tp/2011-Macys-Thanksgiving-Day-Parade.htm

If you can’t deal with the crowds, go to the Balloon Inflation in Central Park(79th and Columbus) on November 27th.
http://gonyc.about.com/od/thanksgiving/p/Macys-Thanksgiving-Parade-Balloon-Inflation.htm


Windows on 5th Avenue:

http://gonyc.about.com/od/christmassights/tp/holiday_windows.htm
http://gonyc.about.com/od/christmassights/tp/christmaswindow.htm
http://gonyc.about.com/od/christmassights/l/bl_xmaswindows.htm (This is the link for the map of the Window Display Walking Tour)

Rockefeller Center – tree and ice skating – go late at night!
The Christmas Tree lighting will be on December 4, 2013 – ceremony 7-9pm
http://www.rockefellercenter.com/events/2013/11/01/2013-rockefeller-center-christmas-tree-lighting/

Ice Skating alternative – Wollman’s Rink in Central Park at 63rd street. They’re calling it Trump Rink now. You can pre-book to avoid lines or getting shut out.
http://www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/iceskating/5
http://www.wollmanskatingrink.com/

FAO Schwartz
Not on the windows walking tour, but always fun to visit at xmas, whether you are an adult or a kid.
http://www.fao.com/home/index.jsp

Bryant Park is a park behind the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue has ice skating, shopping (more than 125 outdoor shops) and the restaurant Celsius during the holiday season.
http://bryantpark.org/things-to-do/wintervillage.html

The Party and Ball Drop in Times Square finishes the season. Expect insanely crowded public transportation. Bring games and other things to do. Just like the parade – think bathroom breaks, dress warmth, food, water, comfortable shoes.
FYI, the ball is made out of Waterford Crystal (which is why it sparkles so nicely).
http://www.timessquarenyc.org/events/new-years-eve/nye-schedule/index.aspx#.UoZJsY0Z0tI
http://www.timessquarenyc.org/events/new-years-eve/index.aspx#.UoZJs40Z0tI
http://www.timessquarenyc.org/events/new-years-eve/index.aspx#.UoZKm40Z0tI
http://www.wikihow.com/Attend-the-New-Year%27s-Celebrations-in-Times-Square

This is the best page to read if you are deciding to go to Time Square on New Year’s Eve: http://www.timessquarenyc.org/events/new-years-eve/nye-faq/index.aspx#9

If you don’t want to hang out in Time Square on NYE, but want to get a close up look at the ball, you can go to the Time Square Visitor’s Center.

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travel better podcatss episode 24 travel and coffeehouses Leslie Lello photography.leslielello.com

TBP 0024 COFFEEHOUSES ARE THE SAVIORS OF THE TRAVELER

Posted on 09 November 2013 by Leslie Lello

travel better podcatss episode 24 travel and coffeehouses Leslie Lello photography.leslielello.com

Coffeehouses transformed how travelers experience their trip.

Bathrooms are just one of the benefits of coffeehouses becoming popular with the growth of Starbucks in the 90’s.

This is especially true in New York City, where you could spend hours in the 80’s searching for a bathroom. I vividly remember doing the pee-pee dance at the New York Public Library waiting on a HUGE line for the public bathroom because it took so long to fine one we could use and they were so scarce back then.

This podcast is about how travelers can leverage the use of coffeehouses to enhance their travel experience.

Benefits of Coffeehouses for Travelers (there are more than this, but here are a few):

  • Bathrooms
  • Temperature relief from outdoor heat or cold
  • Place to wait for train or bus or traffic to pass
  • Place to relax after/during stressful travel
  • Caffeine
  • Wi-Fi
  • Meet friends
  • Research route, hotels, restaurants
  • Get local advice from Baristas and other patrons

SOME COOL COFFEEHOUSES IN THE CITIES I HAVE LIVED IN:

Los Angeles: Aroma Cafe in Studio City
New York City: Too many… OMG go on YELP
New Jersey – Cool Beans in Oradell
New Jersey- Fine Grind in LittleFalls
Chicago: Eva’s Cafe in Old Town, near the Sedgwick stop which is the El Brown Line you use to get to Second City

My favorite chains are:
Caribou Coffee
Paneras
Corner Bakery

My favorite coffee kiosk is Dutch Brothers, but it can only be found in the Western US and Rockies. Here is the link to the locations.

I mentioned Aeropress again (here’s a link to the first time I mentioned it). Totally recommend!
Aerobie AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker

 

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TBP 0023 TSA Security Checkpoints – Know Your Options…

Posted on 02 November 2013 by Leslie Lello

plane_silhouet_black_white_line_art_coloring_book_colouring-999px

In today’s Travel Better Podcast (#0023) I will be discussing the options you have for going through the TSA Security Checkpoints at airports.

Most people think that you MUST go through the scanner at the TSA Security Checkpoints, but there are other choices that you can make that might appeal to you more and might even be faster for you and your family.

This is especially important during the holidays, which is the busiest travel time of the year, and can often create massive waits at the airport to go through TSA Security Checkpoints.

Listen to today’s podcast to find out what you can do to make the experience faster, or at least more enjoyable, so that you can “travel better”.

TBP 0023: Podcast Notes:

I commented on this post a few months back and this is what inspired the podcast idea for today.

Story from CNN about Precheck Security

RELEVANT TSA SECURITY CHECKPOINT LINKS REGARDING PRECHECK SECURITY

http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck
http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck/tsa-precheck-application-process
http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck/tsa-precheck-participating-airports
http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck/tsa-precheck-how-it-works

HELPFUL STUFF TO BUY:

SCOTTEVEST Trenchcoat and other travel clothes
Homeopathic Time Zone Remedy: Here is the blog post I wrote a few months ago.

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How to Plan a Staycation: My staycation to the paterson museum

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TBP 0022 How to Plan A Staycation That is Awesome!

Posted on 26 October 2013 by Leslie Lello

 

How to Plan a Staycation: My staycation to the paterson museum

How to Plan a Staycation: My staycation to the paterson museum

VACATION IS A STATE OF MIND.

This has always been my philosophy.

It’s just that it is so easy to stay stressed when in a home environment that most people find it hard to reach that state.

And it is also easy to blow off local adventures because there’s no excessive driving or flying. Because most staycations are only one day with flexible commitments (no car or hotel reservation), one can get to Saturday morning having expected to visit a local park that is an hour away and instead choose to stay in and sleep or do chores because it seems more pressing.

But as we get into one of the most busy seasons of the year, it can become difficult to carve out some travel time.

Mini-Vacations, Local Vacations and Staycations are the way to go when you don’t have a lot of time or resources.

Today’s podcast (TBP 0022)  is about how to plan a staycation that is awesome!

PS: The information on the show I mention can be found here.

 

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TBP 0021 Salem Salem Massachusetts – Trip in Review

Posted on 19 October 2013 by Leslie Lello

This is a follow up to last week’s podcast, to round out the bits about Salem Massachusetts that I was not sure about.

Most important additions to TBP 0020 (last week’s podcast):

  • Parking (the main garage in the mall) is $20. Be aware of that so that you don’t get sticker shock.
  • There is a walking tour provided in most of the tourist guidebooks. The tour follows a red line that is literally painted on the ground. Very helpful!
  • If you’d rather take the Salem Trolley, one of the locals said it was awesome and a really good deal for your money. I haven’t done it but probably will on my next trip!

Happy Travel!

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TBP 20 Salem Massachusetts Halloween October Samhain

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TBP 0020 Salem Massachusetts – It’s October and I’ve Gone A-Witching

Posted on 12 October 2013 by Leslie Lello

TBP 20 Salem Massachusetts Halloween October Samhain
October and Autumn always makes me think about Salem, Massachusetts.

Salem is very special to me.  It is a place where I find what I am looking for.

There is definitely a special energy there. It’s a different vibe than Sedona and probably has more to do to the people that are drawn there then the energy of the land, which is where Sedona’s special energy is based.

History of Salem, Massachusetts:

Salem is well known for the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.  Several witches were cruelly hanged during the hysterical witch hunts in the Americas. Today, Salem has a large witch population – those that practice the Wiccan religion. I think like minded people like to gather here because of like minded people, and that it is a way of honoring those that were sent to trial and to their death unfairly.

Visiting Salem, Massachusetts:

It’s awesome to go to Salem in October. It is a festive town all year round but especially in October.

If you’re looking for a haunted house or the typical Halloween spooky/scary stuff, I guess you can go to Salem to find it, but that’s kind of cheesy to me and a bit of a waste of time and energy because you can find spooky/scary anywhere in October.

The difference with Salem is that it is the real deal.  Why not honor the celebration of Samhain and respect the religious culture of this town?  It is a different way to experience and understand Halloween, and it is a great trip to make for those who simply like the travel and tourism side of it.

Samhain Vs. Halloween:

Samhain is the Wiccan new year, and is considered the time when the veil between the living and the dead is lifted so that better communication can occur with those on the other side.

It is a great time to honor loved ones that have crossed over, very similar to Day of the Dead in Mexico. I do this honoring of my ancestors on my own with a silent supper. But going to Salem is a great way to enjoy the celebration of the holiday and honor ancestors because they have a public Silent Supper which, though I have not attended it in the past, I bet is quite a powerful experience (and a great meal!)

This year (2013), Silent Supper/Dumb Supper in Salem is October 27th, 2013. Again, I’ve never participated in this one, but it will probably be awesome and a beautiful way to honor loved ones: http://www.festivalofthedead.com/dumbsupper.html

Side note:  The honoring of the dead is about love, not fear. It bums me out that they make it all spooky scary, but that sells tickets and is what most people associate with this time of year. Wiccans honor the earth, which is about abundance and love, not fear.

A lot of the links I have listed below imply the spooky/scary elements that are associated with Halloween. While I understand why that is done, I feel that it misses the opportunity to show people that this could be a completely new, unusual and more fulfilling way of experiencing this time of year.

FYI: The Witches Ball is on October 25th and this is one of the biggest events of the season.

Finally, Salem is a good place to go year round. Sure, Halloween/Samhain is probably the high point of the year, but don’t forget that the main focus of the people that live in this town are the seasonal changes of the earth, which are celebrated year round and give Salem a different and wonderful flavor all its own no matter what part of the year you chose to visit.

http://hauntedhappenings.org/

http://www.salemweb.com/hh/

http://salemhalloweencity.com/

http://www.festivalofthedead.com/

http://www.festivalofthedead.com/witchesball/  October 25, 2013

http://salem.org/calendar_main/festival_calendars

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g60954-c4113/Salem:Massachusetts:Halloween.html

Wiki about Samhain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samhain

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TPB 0019 California and the Sierras - Ski and Snowboard

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TPB 0019 California and the Sierras – Ski and Snowboard

Posted on 05 October 2013 by Leslie Lello

TPB 0019 California and the Sierras - Ski and Snowboard

 

Today I discuss three separate areas of California where you can enjoy the slopes.

The three ski/snowboard areas I will be covering today are:

  • Big Bear/Snow Summit area near Los Angeles (also a nod to a few tinier snow hills)
  • Mammoth Mountain / June Mountain
  • Lake Tahoe – which includes 7 separate ski resorts

I’ve heard people that typically ski the Rockies refer to the snow on the California mountains as “Sierra Sludge” because it tends to get very heavy by the end of the day and there is a TON of it (usually in big piles) by the time the sun starts going down.

Coming from the East Coast, the “sludge” they are referring to is AWESOME. It took a bit of adjusting in my skiing style, but it’s wonderful compared to the East Coast hard pack.

So I hope you enjoy today’s podcast. I had audio issues on this podcast. I was so enthusiastic to start recording that I forgot to clip my mic to my shirt, so it sounds like the mic is constantly bumping into things (which is it). I apologize for this, but I liked the content and if I re-recorded it I feel like I would have just breezed over the content rather than get into the details, so I chose to post this show with the icky audio.

If you don’t want to listen because if the audio pops, you can glean what you need from the podcast notes.

Thanks!

Leslie

 

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TBP 0018 Ski Utah Powder

Posted on 28 September 2013 by Leslie Lello

Winter is on it’s way! Time to talk skiing!

SKI UTAH!

Inspired by a mega Ski Group Meet-up in New York, I decided to create a show about Utah, one of my favorite places to ski.

I got really jazzed when one of the groups was telling me about their upcoming trip to Brighton, which is one of many ski resorts located around Salt Lake City.

I have skied Utah many times. Most experiences were great but the last time resulted in an injury for the person I was with so I also became very familiar with Salt Lake City, which I also talk about on the podcast.

But most of the focus of today’s podcast is on Park City and the ski resorts that are located around Park City.

  1. Dear Valley (skiers)
  2. Park City
  3. Canyons

I talk about packing strategy, too. When you fly to Utah for the skiing, it’s good to know what NOT to bring because between equipment and bulky clothes, there’s already a ton of stuff to drag from the baggage carousel.

Finally, I also talk about some lodging strategies if you are planning to be in Park City during Sundance Film Festival, which is not only a great time to see some great flicks, but the slopes are great at that time, too.

DEALS RIGHT NOW: https://www.skiutah.com/winter/deals/showme/member/550579887.html

The ski resorts around Salt Lake City: http://www.onthesnow.com/utah/ski-resorts.html

I mentioned on the podcast a lift ticket /ski ticket deal with The Canyons. I have information on last year’s deal, and actually, several ski resorts participated. I have not seen any information on whether this deal is happening this year (2013-2014). Here is some information on last year’s deal (Look at listing number 4 on this webpage): http://www.saltlakecityonthecheap.com/free-or-cheap-ski-lift-tickets-in-utah/

Winter Activities in Park City besides skiing and snowboarding: http://www.visitparkcity.com/things-to-do/winter-activities/

 

*** Sorry no pix this week… photos are trapped on a grumpy computer other than the one I am typing on right now.  Will revise later when I have access. ***

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TBP 0017 Chicago – A Nice Place To Visit…

Posted on 21 September 2013 by Leslie Lello

Ramlbin Chicago - 11

Yes, I know I said I would never do a podcast about Chicago, and to tell you the truth, it took me a while to figure out how to I would present the city in an honest way – both celebrating the fun of traveling as a tourist while also being forthright about my learnings from living there for over a year.

I think I achieved a good balance in TBP 0017, so if you are interested in visiting Chicago, this podcast should give you not only a great overview, but a few tips that most tourist don’t know and tour books don’t tell you.

I would love to hear feedback about this podcast.  Despite all of the trepidation I experienced before the recording, I think this is one of my better ones.  🙂

PODCAST NOTES FOR TBP 0017: Traveling in Chicago: A Nice Place To Visit But I Wouldn’t Want To Live There

Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co.
I refer to it in the podcast as the “red bus tour”

 

Howard Johnson’s on LaSalle
I have heard the quality is questionable. I didn’t mention this hotel in the podcast and have never stayed there, but you can’t beat the parking situation and fabulous location.

 

Museum of Science and Industry

 

Architecture Tour

 

Hosteling International Chicago
There are many hostels in Chicago, but this the one I have stayed at a few times. It’s in The Loop which is the main part of Chicago.

 

Eva’s Cafe
(Near The Second City)

 

The Third Coast (Restaurant)

 

Article on the best beaches of Chicago

 

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TBP 0016 McMenamin’s (Do Doooo Do Do Do)

Posted on 14 September 2013 by Leslie Lello

Ramblin Oregon - McMenamin's - 05
Back in the day when people still read books for pleasure and information, I found Edgefield McMenamin’s in my trusty book of hostel reviews when I was looking for a place to stay around the Portland, Oregon area.

Despite the glimmering review in my book, I had no idea how wonderful and unusual a stay at McMenamin’s would be.

Not only is there a hostel (and one of the most luxurious ones I have visited), but there is the actual hotel where travelers who do not want to share a bunk can relax in a private room.

But as I explored the landscape, I was thrilled to discover that the hostel actually had a resort ‘feel’ to it, with beautiful grounds, artwork everywhere you look, a brewery, a wine tasting room, music events, a screening room and a spa with a salt pool.

You can also play golf or go off the grounds to explore Portland or the Colombia River area.

Today’s podcast is about my discovery and my “Alice-Down-The-Rabit-Hole” experience at this festive and magical surprise location.

SIDE NOTE: If you are in the Portland, Oregon area this weekend, you should see if you can make it in to McMenamin’s “Half Way to St. Patrick’s Day Celebration”. The big party for this year is TODAY September 14th, 2013!!!

http://www.mcmenamins.com/54-edgefield-home

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Welcome and thanks for visiting!

My name is Leslie and I am the owner, publisher and media creator of Travel Better Podcasts.

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