He waved a gun at the entire bus while yelling, “Shut up, everybody!” Then he grinned and said, “That’s how you say ‘hello’ in Chicago.” The gun was fake, as was his “gangster” accent, but he stayed in character for the whole bus ride. He was “Baby Face Bambino,” the bus driver was “Shoulders”, and I was there for “Chicago’s Original Gangster Tour” with Untouchable Tours.
While many people I’d told about my February travels hadn’t yet heard of Bratislava, Slovakia, I’ve known about it for quite some time. During high school and college, I worked at a local restaurant for six consecutive summers. Some members of the staff visited during the summer season from Slovakia. I became close friends with a few of them. They told my other friends and me all about Europe, taught us how to say “please” (“prosím”) and “thank you” (“dakujem”) in Slovak, and, well, bought us beer before we were of age. When I saw that Bratislava was on the way to Vienna from Budapest, two cities I already had on my list, I knew I had to check it out for myself.
I didn’t expect to visit Cologne on my last European trip, but sometimes your flight from Berlin to Paris is cancelled and while rearranging plans to get to Paris as quickly and inexpensively as possible, your best bet is to take a train to Cologne for the evening and head out from there the next morning. I had a deadline so I wasn’t able to leave my hotel until around 4 and left Cologne right after breakfast. My time was limited, but I saw enough to make me want to return one day.
You all knew I was going to make this pun at some point – a tiger doesn’t change her stripes. Maybe I even had it in my plans before I went to Hungary, because it’s too obvious to not take advantage of. But I had NO IDEA that Budapest was going to be the source of some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life. Seriously.
If you had asked me a month ago if I knew about Franklin Delano Roosevelt, I would have said “of course.” Even though we never made it that far into history in elementary and middle school, I felt like I knew all about FDR’s New Deal, Fireside Chats, his response to Pearl Harbor, and the adorable ‘lil pup, Fala, who sits at his feet at his memorial in DC. But a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit Hyde Park in Dutchess County and I learned so much more about our longest-serving president. If you are a history nerd (like I am sometimes), Hyde Park is a must-visit, and is relatively easy from NYC.
When I first moved to Jersey City and later, New York City, I spent many a night on the Lower East Side in crowded dark bars, feeling out of place because I wasn’t wearing heels and my dress actually covered my behind. Nowadays, I prefer the Lower East Side during the day, especially after a recent tour that my sister, Katie, and I took with Jeff from Walks of New York.
I have been interested in Pompeii for about 20 years when I received a Kids Discovery magazine with the title. This issue was devoted to the ancient city buried during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. I read and reread the Pompeii and Pyramids issues as much as I read my Samantha Parkington books, never expecting to actually explore Pompeii myself one day. But that day did actually come, when my family and I traveled to Italy this past summer. The site is a quick day-trip from Rome and therefore is pretty crowded with tourists, but even with the crowds, this day in July was definitely one of my favorite travel days ever.
I have had beef with Philadelphia before. And not chopped up, grilled, and covered in Cheez Whiz kind of beef. I’m talking about, you tell me you’re from Philly or going to Philly or like the Eagles and I raise my eyebrow, scrunch up my face, and sigh kind of beef. This all stems from growing up on the Jersey Shore. On our particular beaches down south, every summer there is a huge invasion of Philadelphians to our otherwise calm and pleasant seaside towns.
Now that summer is winding down, the nights of drinking on boats are coming to an end. My friends and I have decided this fall that instead of going to whatever bar has the cheapest happy hour specials, we are going to finally explore NYC’s most historic bars. This idea was sparked with a trip to McSorley’s earlier this month and brought a few of us to Marie’s Crisis Cafe in the West Village last week.
The other night, Kater and I found ourselves in the East Village and decided to end our evening at McSorley’s Old Ale House. McSorley’s claims to have opened in 1854 – there are some disputes on the actual opening based on records of the building / census reports – but it *is* widely recognized as the oldest Irish Tavern in NYC. The bar had been on both of our to-do lists for ages and we were both surprised to find out that the other had not been yet either.
Libraries and I have a good thing going. When I was younger, I would beg my parents to take me to our township library almost weekly. Our local librarians were just like Lori Beth Denberg in All That in that they were loud, obnoxious, mean and they also always made me pay extra money when I lost my library card every few months, but I loved going there.