Biking At Central Park: What I Thought versus Reality

 

Riding our bikes while listening to birds singing beautiful, coordinated melodies. I can smell the strawberries from the Strawberry field from the distance. We parked our bikes and pick some of the berries… We continue our bike ride, the fresh wind caress my face and hair. Where ever I looked, people are smiling and they look as happy as we are. The sun is shining with glory but not too hot, so our day looks clear and perfect. Families all together playing on the park, a couple having a romantic picnic over the green, emerald grass. The sound of the city disappears with the distraction of nature, the smell of flowers, the glowing pond and lakes… The Castle enchanted the moment, feeling like I was in another era. Perfection is all around us. The shade of the millions of trees is comfortable and the bike track is so smooth and flat that^&^##$%^&(*&(*&*&^ WAKE UP!!!!!

That was just my day dreaming adventure of what I tought it was going to be biking in Central Park. Now the real story went a little bit different…

 

I been in Central Park before, about 3 times, but only to the area between the W 59th St. and Bethesda fountain and The Loeb Central Park Boathouse (The Lake).

 

 

So, I was guilty of dreaming unrealistic dreams about my next visit to Central Park. Specially…. Number 1, I wanted to see the whole park and number 2, I want to take a tour bike… I thought it was going to be easier to bike, that to walk around so much. The park is huge and there was a lot that I wanted to see and learn about it… besides I love biking (but far from being a professional).

OK!Check this out. First, we got late to the bike tour, so instead we rented the bicycles for 4 hours (it was included with the NY passes that we bought)Central Park Sightseeing Bike Tours & Rentals

Second, there are no strawberries on the Strawberry Field!(This was so funny to me because I thought that I never visited the Strawberry Field before,I thought it was called like that literally because had strawberries. But I did visited before, but didn’t know that the John Lennon Memorial was the Strawberry Field.) O____o

Third, Central Park is Not Flat! I did not know that the park has hills… You know, up and down hills!! I love biking but I do it more recreational not as an exercise event. I am not used to ride going up hills! Did I mention that Orlando is flat! So, if you are not in good shape or at least you are not used to ride bicycle up hills you will have a tremendous work out.

After getting our bikes, I was designated to be the “tour guide” because I had the list of things to see. After studying the map, and get a little lost we found the bike lane. For my disappointment the bike lane runs along a street that goes around the outer part of the park. The park doesn’t have a bike trail through the park where the trees, ponds, lakes, castle and all the pretty scenery is. For us to be able to see anything in our list we supposed to leave the bike lane and walk our bikes through the interior part of the park, is prohibited to ride bicycles on the walking path. Another little detail, we were not able to leave the bicycles unattended because we didn’t get the locks that were provided for us… We tought we were not going to need them. Oops!

We started and there it came the first hill, without breath we decide to take our first break.

 

 

 

 

Later continuing our bike ride our speed was almost none, many bikers continuously went by passing us. Our second stop was by the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, by the 5th Ave. It was my first time seen this pretty sight. Jay stayed guarding the bikes while we went to see the reservoir. Remember, we left the locks… we thought we were not going to need them… Hmmmm we were wrong!







As we continued, more hills came along followed by tiredness, sweat, thirst, back pain, leg pain, and all the complaints, and pain list that you can imagine. The fun part was every time we went down the hill… Weeeeeeee! I loved it! The wind, the speed, it was awesome until… the next hill. My son Jay was having a blast, he loved the challenge. He is in great shape and exercise almost every day, so for him was just one more day of exercise. He had to stop many times to wait for us. Jorge and my mom were on a tandem (2 person bike) so when my mom couldn´t do it any more she walk and Jorge kept going on the bike but at Snail speed. My daughter Jadzia and me, we invented a new technic… it’s called riding & walking bike technic. Walk your bike up hill and ride it down hill as simple as that. It was the only way for us to do it. I know! I know!! Its terrible!!

For some reason none of us wanted to stop to see anything, we wanted to finish. We didn’t stop anymore,there were not pretty, inspiring sights, just the street and people passing by us.

At the end we laugh at ourselves and had fun with our funny experience. My mom felt pretty good with herself after riding a bike now that she is 66 years old and haven’t ride a bicycle for a long time. Something I can tell you for sure the “Biking in Central Park” bucket list item is checked mark and have a DONE! in bold letters on the side. 😉


 


Reality hit me, my expectation of riding a bike in Central Park were different of what we lived, but still I loved the fact that we had own story to tell. It was a great experience because as a family we created memories, we had bonding time and our own unique travel story. Travel is about been real and enjoy the experience no matter if is not a Cinderella setting. Travel with family is about having a great attitude, is about making the decision of enjoying and embracing life with happiness.

Have you ever had a similar experience? Where your expectation were too high? Share your story with me!


Until then,

xamlinnette 🙂



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Road Trip 2014 Ups and Downs

Jay on the road!
Jadzia on the road!
“I am tired” “I want to hang out with my friends!” “The summer is going to be over and I haven’t had any fun with my friends.” “My back hurt!” “When we are going back home?” “I am hungry…” ” Uff I can’t be sitting on that van for 6 more hours!” ” Ohh my feet hurts!” ” My stomach hurt, I am breaking my eating routine.” ” Can’t wait to sleep in my bed!” ” But how it come that you don’t know where we are going? I thought you knew!” ” Is this way or that way?” “I want to go home! I am tired!” After hearing this and more from every member of my beautiful family, for a week and half, over and over again you want to go home too. Traveling with family has its awesome moments of bonding, laughter, fun, memories and more, but also brings the responsibility of feeling responsable for the group, especially if you were the one doing all the planning.
At the World War II Memorial
Walking to the Capitol.

Our road trip was a completely success no matter what! We enjoyed everything we did. We had plenty of laughter, learning, discoveries, exercise, fun and more. Thanks God I had everything plan, but still things did not run smoothly and perfect like I would it like it to be. This was our first road trip and with it, came a lot of lessons for the next time. In general was an awesome experience, we all did and saw things that we never had before. But definitely what is fun for me, not necessarily is fun for teenagers. The way I appreciate things is not the same for teenagers. The endurance that I could have for the day, it’s not the same for everybody in the group. I love learning about different places, I have travel inscriptive in my mind and soul. I want to see everything here, close to home and around the world. I like to take time to see and learn new things, I want to continue even when I am hungry or tired… but not everyone in the group have the same mentality as me or the strength to keep going no matter what. So, big lesson for me, I have to take it easier when I am with other people. Not expect so much or want it to do so much. Anything like that happended to you ever? Or its just me?!

Walking in DC
Resting in Central Park for a little bit after biking around the park.
Next time when planning a road trip that includes so much walking and physical activities, it will be good to plan for some days off and/or relax days. Like sitting by the pool, or go out only to eat in a good restaurant, something that doesn’t require a schedule. Also for next time, I would take in much consideration to save more money to get better hotels closer to the areas that we want to visit. For example, even though it was an awesome experience learning to take the metro in DC, and also it was the first time ever for the kids to take the metro, we could it save a lot of time on the riding back and forth to and from the hotel. Because hotels in DC are expensive, we got one hotel a little far to the east of DC. Taking the metro was only about 15 to 20 minutes, but waiting for the metro, finding what station was the appropiate to get off takes a lot of time and still there was a lot of walking involve after getting off the metro. In the morning we didn’t care much, but at night we were so tired that all the trouble of going back to the hotel it was like walking barefooted through rocks with fire, like each of us were caring thousands of backpacks in our back. Once back to our room we were 5 tired complaining individuals, all wanting to use the bathroom at the same time. Understand this, we all wanted to take a shower and go to sleep as soon as we could, but we only had one room with only one bathroom.

-______- Can you imagine?

Brooklyn Bridge Tour, our tour guide took the picture! 🙂

 

Wifi and the DVD player on the van were great tools of entertainment on the road. We rented movies using Red Box and when we were done, we used the Red Box App to find another Red Box on the road. We returned movies and rented some more. Between the two major cities that we visit, kids enjoy much better NY City than DC. On DC the kids finished watching and “exploring” the museums in two hours top, while we, the adults still wandering in the same area for the same two hours. After that the “I am board! What are we doing next?” came right along. In NY the drive was much better, the excitement and constant movement of the city was enough to keep us busy. Still we did so much, we took 3 different bus tours around the city, we walked, took the subway, and try to keep with a schedule and still we didn’t do everything we wanted.

Night time bus tour in NY City.
Night time bus tour in NY City. Jay’s selfie!

 

In both places DC and NY City we stayed 2 1/2 days in each place. In both places after leaving the hotel or friend’s house (in NJ) in the morning, we didn’t come back until night, we didn’t took much free time, only for eating and keep going. I think here is where my biggest mistake was.

After NY city we were supposed to drive to the Niagara Falls but everybody was so exhausted that I thought it was going to be better if we headed back home. I couldn’t imagine eight more hours driving north and then having to drive all the way down to Florida. So, the decision was made… We went back home with no Niagara Falls experience. I will sit and meditate better our options for our next family vacation. I have to think in less heavy schedules, more relax time, and even more fun… That is for sure.

Virginia Beach, on our way back home.

Any suggestion for family vacations with teenagers and grandma? If you have one please feel free to share it!

Until then…

xamlinnette 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research, Research and more Research

I am at the second stage of my road trip planning. In my last post about this subject (Planning Road Trip 2014 – How you Plan a Road Trip), I mention my intentions of researching or knowing some apps that could help me to plan our itinerary. All the applications that I will be mentioning or using I found them at the apple store because I will be using my I pad. I am pretty sure that most of the apps also come for android users.

I love the fact of being able to have a device that you can carry around and it is multi-usable. I love the fact that you can have all the maps, attraction lists, metro maps and information, in other words your everything with you at all times y one same place! Amazing!

Ok, so I first started with Washington DC. I went to the App Store, look through the options. First I started exploring the free applications that have information about the city, maps and attractions. I got CityBot DC and City Walks for Washington DC. I found out later that this two apps comes for many major cities in US, including NY City. After playing with this applications for a while, my conclusion was:

CityBot – Gives you good information but constructing an itinerary is a little hard, at least was for me. I decided to used it as reference for prices of places and for research of places.
City Walks DC – I liked this application very much, but I have to confess that I upgraded for $4.99. At the beginning was a little hard to used but that is when I realized that if I wanted to used it the way I wanted, I had to upgraded. I didn’t fight it much. It really is a great tool to move around and have a step by step itinerary in a place that you never been. The app comes with some standard tours that covers pretty much everything that we or any other tourist will like to see from DC.

 

You can also make your own itinerary from scratch or use the standard tours that they suggested mixing them in a way that works for you. That is what I did, I created my own tours based on the ones that they suggest but accommodating it to our needs. It also will give a map, for you to arrange your tour and stops in the order that is more convenient for you. Here is one of the tours that I made for Saturday May 14.

Here is another App, this one I found for free (MX for Metro in DC). I think this one is great, comes with a metro map of the city and you can enter the metro station from where your departing and where you want to go, it will show you which metro to take and the time of your ride. For anyone that it’s not familiar with the metro system in DC its a good start. I eventually will let you know if it really works.

 

 

For New York I used the same applications for the City of NY. For the metro system in NY, I will be using the App NY Subway. This one is a little bit more confusing but basically works the same way as the DC one. Of course, the metro system in NY is a lot more complicated than in DC. Here is a pic so you can have an idea.

 

I got you a closer look, in this map you can touch one of the stations (round/square numbers or letters) and it will open asking if this is where you want to come from or go to. Then you pick up the other end of your trip and it will trace your route, giving you the information of how many stations you will pass and the time of your ride. I think it will be very helpful too.

 

Well this is all I found out on my research, I hope this will be helpful for you and me. 🙂

Now I am working on my options for coming back home and a plan B if we decided not to go up to the Niagara Falls.

Until then,

xamlinnette 🙂

 

 

 

Planning Road Trip 2014 – How you Plan a Road Trip?

This week I been doing all the hotels reservations for this trip. It's been crazy for me, it is my first time planning a road trip. First let me tell you where we plan to go and when. We live in Orlando FL, so we will be leaving from Orlando and my goal is to go up to the Niagara Falls in Canada. We will be starting our trip on June 12 around noon and we should be back in Florida around June 24.

Our major point of interest are Washington DC, New York and Niagara Falls. This will be a family trip with my two teenage kids, my mom and my fiancé Jorge (even though probably he wont be able to be with us all the time due to his work).

The Driving

This is my first time planning a road trip like I said before and I didn’t know where to start. So, giving some thinking I thought that I wanted to know first the amount of time I want to be on the road driving. I checked on the map how far we will get in a 8 to 10 hour drive. After studying my options, I decided that our first day we will be stopping in Florence, South Carolina. Because our first day we will be leaving around noon, I didn't want to drive more than 8 hours, I thought Florence will be a good stopping point, according to the map is about 7 hours.

 

On Friday we will leave early in the morning (whatever that means…) on our way to Washington DC. The plan is to be there for three nights, until June 16. Then that Monday morning of the 16, we will head out to NY!! We are also planning to stay 3 nights.

Now at this point of my future planning I decided to put it on hold. My desire is to continue our trip to Niagara Falls, Canada, but at that moment we have to evaluate our expenses, and other factors to see if is worth it to drive up there to stay for two nights.

If everything goes the way I want it, we will be heading back on June 21 from Niagara Falls. On our way back down I want to make our stops in different places than the original ones. My plan is that every day we travel for 8 to 10 hours and spend the evening and night somewhere and repeat until we get to Florida. I don’t know yet where we will be stopping, I am still studying the situation.


Hotels

At the beginning, when I tought about this trip, I wanted to be spontaneous and drive until we were tired and then at the moment check the hotels around the area and pick one for the night. But I can't help myself of trying to have everything under control and planned. So, I started the planning… I don't know what kind of websites or apps people use to do their reservations, but I always used Expedia.com . For this trip, I wanted to check all the possible options that could be out there. We are under a budget, for that reason I wanted to find something good and not expensive. I tried Hotels.com, Booking.com,and TripAdvisor.com to check ratings, reviews and more. It's funny how after all my research I ended up doing all my reservation through Expedia. One of the things I had to pay attention and I was looking for, was for hotels that would let me cancel my reservation for free or a small fee. Just in case something happens or we change plans, I wanted to have the option of canceling. Another thing I was looking for it was breakfast, wifi, free parking and access to metro stations, bus stops. Well I think I was successful on my search, I would really know that, once we get there.


For now, that’s all I have done, my next step is doing the list of things that we want to see in each place. I will be working on that this next week.

If you have any suggestion or website that could make the reservation of hotels a better process, let me know! Expedia works fantastic to me, but I would love to know if there is more options. I already know about some apps that could help me doing my itinerary for DC and NY but also I am open to suggestions.

So… until then

xamlinnette 🙂