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Host Bonjour

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About Host Bonjour

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    Cruise Critic Host

About Me

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    NYC Metro Area
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    Travel, photography, cinema, mixed-media painting, chocolate
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Love new places, returning to favorite places, & going home.

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  1. The providers you mentioned are all reliable and have been mentioned by CC members here and on other of our port boards. I've used 3 (Three) in Italy (works in UK and elsewhere in Europe to call/text/go online wherever) and was simple, easy to use. I was overseas for an extended period when I had 3 and it was easy to top-up the account when I needed more data but it was a good value and didn't run down too quickly. I compared at the time and the rates w/Vodafone seemed to more or less even. I wasn't keen on spending too much time running around shopping for a card because I hadn't purchased it prior to leaving the U.S.; it was easy to do comparison shopping in Italy or England or wherever. To top-up requires only visiting their website and takes about a minute. Easy peasy. A lot of the time though, there's wifi accessible and so you may not ever really need the card, as Bruce stated. Plan on sending messages and making whatever calls only when you're on wifi and you'll be fine. Maps can be downloaded at those times too and then accessed offline. Google maps can be used offline too. It can also be a relief to not have the phone pinging while out and about, quite freeing. If you find you need something, a wifi signal usually isn't too hard to find these days. Should you be far from a wifi, it's quite possible you may be far from a mobile signal too and might not have cell service either when out and about, depending upon where you are. Think about it and decide what works for you. But as to any of the above services, you can't go wrong in terms of how well they work. Mostly it will come down to which one offers a bundle that best suits your requirements and budget gigs/euros etcetera. Do unplug when you can though 😉
  2. If it were me, and I were trying to differentiate, that phrase would give me the answer straight away. I went to double check, and I couldn't find an Italian site either; typically by clicking on a national flag, one may switch over to the language of another country, be it French, German, Italian, English, Chinese, Russian etc. or, a browser lands on the page in its original language and immediately translates it, and so my guess would be there definitely is no Italian page. It exists for visitors who do not speak Italian. In other words, probably Americans and other visitors living in countries that are accustomed to paying gratuities in addition to all the other fees already added to the charge one is paying for the service. Is it wrong? I don't think so. It's business, profiting from something that has crossed borders. Why not keep it going, even if it isn't in keeping with traditional cultural norms and employees are getting paid normal wages for the jobs they do and the government collects the significant VAT? Everyone gets paid, and then some! The websites and businesses are clever, but not in the most noble way, of capitalizing on something that is happening anyway. Why would they try to stop people from handing over free money? They don't boldly state that tips or gratuities are expected or necessary, as when actually paying for the cruise, there's no opting out of them. On this website in question, it's clear they are not mandatory. There is no tipping in Italy other than the rounding up, if one was so inclined, at best. If there was an Italian version of the website, I'd be shocked to see any reference to tipping or gratuities; I don't recall learning a word for that in Italian which doesn't mean a phrase couldn't be created but I think, and some of our Italo-philes may concur, that it's difficult to translate something that...doesn't translate. Hence our tipping thread and ongoing discussions. And you haven't fanned any flames or poked any bear or lions, it's a valid question, not made easier by this website. It's exactly the kind of question you're meant to ask and maybe we can help everyone to be comfortable and believe, gradually, that it's ok to do what's expected in Italy (of Italians, not visitors), and be able to return again. No need to pay extra...unless of course it's for a better room, dinner, tour etc. But the price is the price, that's it. It's all part of traveling and the experiences of doing things differently: it's not always comfortable at first but it's usually not a big deal either, it's simply different. Simply a hurdle to jump over and then...ahh, you're on the other side. 😎
  3. The owner of the shop might have made their own, or perhaps they had an arrangement with a shopkeeper to cross-sell (legit or not) each other's merch in their respective stores? Ceramics in the wine shop, wine/spirits in the ceramic shop; maybe family members or paesans...who knows. If it was home-made, probably had no tax on it and so under the table, and he cozied up to the proprietor (cool!!) and did the transaction, bet it's yummy! So glad you bought ceramics for you and your mom, you'll enjoy them for years to come. And use them! You'll always think of Amalfi whenever you put that bowl on your table. Thanks for following up with us on the board to share your shopping report! 🙂
  4. ...and in case anyone was wondering, it was a requirement to take three philosophy (and three theology) courses at St. John's University in Queens, NY, not to mention public speaking. And yes, of course, St. John's was founded in Brooklyn on Schemerhorn Street by Vincentians. 😉 They eschewed possessions and devoted themselves to education but they absolutely believed in following rules and I do too. So please don't anyone cause a kerfuffle trying to push in at the Vatican, or anywhere, to make change or express disagreement. It is what it is, keep calm, and we'll see how things go. I have been known to move the odd police barrier or traffic cone when seeking street parking in Manhattan (it was just there) because seriously....parking. And they ought not just leave these things about when there's nothing going on and there's a legit parking spot. Someone obviously just forgot to collect/move them; I just helped. It's totally different....is my story. 🙂
  5. HI! The original thread is linked up above in the first post that I wrote to begin this new topic, please scroll through to find a link to the original topic so that you can refer back to the original at any time when visiting this new version of the topic. Any time this thread is visited (I expect it will be frequent, just as the previous topic was!) and remains visible in your new posts, the original topic will immediately be available to you in the very first post, should you wish to access it. One click and you're there! We didn't want you to have to search for the original version, so keeping it within this new edition seemed to make the most sense. Again, I do apologize for any inconvenience that creating the new edition has created. Hopefully before long, this new version of the wonderful topic will be as famous and visited as the original has been for so many years. Thanks for your patience and understanding during the crossover period. If anyone feels inclined to do so, feel free to post a link to the old topic within any post you make here in this new thread, just like this: Thanks everyone!! 🙂
  6. Bay Ridge! I had friends that lived a block from Dahlgren place (it's the one with the tudors right? So pretty, but chopped off....) and I lived less than a mile from there, as the crow flies, on the other side of the park and VA hospital, Fort Hamilton Army base. My parents are from Flatbush (I think everyone was from Flatbush) and my father talked all the time of going to the Polo grounds or Ebbetts Field. Until maybe, hmm, I'll estimate 15 years ago, there was a sports bar in Bay Ridge on 3rd Avenue called the Brooklyn Dodger, and yes, it was a fun place (now known as the Salty Dog) that had an antique fire engine inside it; I don't know why. I went there to eat and watch Ranger games (NY not Texas, all respect to Texas!) Parents went to Brooklyn Prep and Catherine McCauley HS, and of course catholic grade schools, which I did too almost all of grade school, part of high school, all of university, jesuit grad school. No one had ever heard of a St. Mel, but there is one..it was my elementary school. There's a basilica on 65th street between 10th and 11th ave called Regina Pacis and John Paul II had visited too, it's quite lovely and it was our basilica; I have one near me now but it's not as pretty–I think it's just the florescent lights, less gilded too, maybe. The one in Buffalo is gorgeous. No, I don't tour basilicas, but indeed they are awe inspiring structures–I love our St Patricks, and great places to take time to....contemplate, reflect, meditate, when mass is not in progress and if the doors aren't locked, which mostly they are but they kind of have to be now. What a gorgeous sculpture. When I see work like that...well, I am glad it is near Termini so everyone can see it. It reminds me of a sculpture I photographed in the d'Orsay, with detail so beautiful, I couldn't move away from it for awhile. Breathtaking. Interesting about the pagans too, but I wouldn't presume to think they did or didn't dress a certain way because they were pagans, they probably had a tough enough time being pagans. It's easy to pre-judge and requires self checking to ensure one doesn't slip into it when an area arises in which one isn't adequately informed or, perhaps where pre-conceived ideas might precede judgement. And different groups have different style of dress for different reasons or occasions, none of which I am experienced enough to speak on! So interesting of course. And I hear the very significant, relevant points everyone has raised, especially as it goes to reverence and standards, all of which I understand and acknowledge and value the merits of, none more so than the value of humility. I guess I wonder though, if the meaning or objective of humility doesn't get lost sometime...the point of it, or where it's directed. What is required to show humility? How does that differ from code of conduct? How can anyone tell the difference from the outside? What does humility or having awe/reverence have in common with physical appearance? Truth is truth. It's not always easy to ascertain truth, it certainly cannot be ascertained or certified based on appearance or an item of clothing, although rituals and comfort and tradition (or indeed, a type of reverence, but not the only type) have long defined established norms in many places, such as robes and, in some cases, wigs, in courtrooms. I hear it's been questioned lately, even the wigs. Whether it will go....who knows, and certainly isn't for me to say. And thank you for realizing that I do abide by rules 🙂 because I wasn't ever trying to suggest not abiding; society doesn't function without order and established set of generally acceptable principles. That said, things do constantly grow, evolve, progress...even religion, kings or queens, prime ministers, technology, to fit the times and correct the errors and intolerances of the past and, I don't know, just get current, stay relevant, be accessible. To everyone or as many as possible. In the MDR? Oh goodness no. Standards!!!! I cannot absolutely stand when I see people wearing flip flops out to eat but I think that's because I come from this area where it's not a year round shoe thing (well, to me it's not a shoe, but a thing for...yes, the beach) and so, seeing as it's only seasonal, it never caught on as a year round shoe thing here, thank goodness. Also, I think because here we have, how do I say: not so much dirtier streets because they really do get cleaned, sidewalks and streets, but just....well, it's busier. And I can't imagine why anyone would think it's a good idea to wear flip flops in the subway but that's just me and I started riding it when it was more of a taking my life in my hands, tracks are on fire (literally) sort of prospect. So if they're not bouncing people from MDR for wife-beaters (or flip flops, thank you!) to the deck to eat, then me and my big NYC mouth (not really) would have something to say. No (proper) shirt, no shoes, no service! I laughed out loud when I drove into a Georgia gas station for the first time and saw a sign like that, because I thought, it's real? When there's money changing hands, a certain level of something or other is expected. When it comes to church and the soul, I keep coming back to, and trying to keep it as low key as possible here (might be stepping boldly close to the edge) wwjd. I just scrolled up too to see if I missed anything and can't believe it didn't occur to me either, when I saw about the crowds at Sagrada Familia and St Peter's, reminded me of a year or two ago when I randomly went into St Patrick's. I had a beverage so I had to finish that before I went in but otherwise they just were checking bags, like poking inside. It wasn't super crowded but the crowds come and go. Anyway, I just realized what our primary concern is here, well everywhere, but here and has been for 18 years now: you got bombs or guns? That's it. (And apparently, beverages!) And yes, I have 0 degrees of separation to that, including a former view from the 101st floor of tower 1, but that's only part of it. Who knows, I hadn't thought of it until just now. Maybe that's why all of this to me is just....why. My first visit to Rome was less than a year after 9/11. So now we go through getting wanded, searched, showing ID, seeing long guns pretty often but...I feel pretty safe, I don't mind at all. So, it's an American cathedral but it's very beautiful, not as much history but part of the same history, frequent Papal visits, and so long as we only bring our own regular stuff, we can go in. Even for mass. Does it help if I tell you my birth sign is Taurus? 🤔 Gets me into trouble sometimes. I truly appreciate all the thoughtful comments and conversation, it's a wonderful and interesting dialog.
  7. I'm of the same thinking: use the ship transport to get to Times Square and take the Downtown HoHo. As I mentioned above, if it was the Big Bus, I'd take stop 10, I believe it was, for Brooklyn Bridge/Park Row (Wall Street was next, that would be a bit too far past the WTC) or alternatively, you could stay on two more stops, loop around the tip of Manhattan, and get off at stop 12, Statue of Liberty/Battery Park (might be a bit south also, but a nice walk up West St to the WTC) and then indeed, visit the 9/11 Museum and perhaps go up to the top of the Tower if you wished, etc. Trinity Church inside is closed to visits as it undergoes renovations but the churchyard can be explored and it is definitely an interesting place and worth passing by. Viewing the Oculus from the outside is a must, it's quite a thing to see (the large white dove-like installation that covers the subterranean mall and subway/train stations at the WTC plaza. I have only seen it up close myself just last summer, I wasn't ready to be near to it previously. I once worked up on the 101st floor of One World Trade Center and the views are brilliant, dining up there at Windows actually got boring but it was NOT boring at first. Admission to the tower is waived if you dine up there now so it might be nice? I think that goes for just having drinks at the bar too. On a clear day I could see my train (well, it will still be visible, the A train!) crossing a bridge over the water from Broad Channel in Queens. It's also lovely just to enjoy the green space along the Hudson River, you could get some lunch and sit down and relax before heading back over to the Oculus and down inside to get a subway train back up to Times Square to meet your shuttle back to the ship or.... ....as has been suggested, maximize your free time and, keeping in mind the time you must be back aboard, choose a conservative time to hop aboard the ferry (it's a quick trip across to Red Hook, Brooklyn) and stay down town or, take your time getting down town, maybe visit SoHo first or Greenwich Village or, any other place along the way that might have interested you or which you hadn't considered. One of the best things about NYC, like London, or Paris, and other metropolitan cities around the world, there are many options for getting around. Any combination of a variety of options will get you from here to there successfully. Sometimes I change things up based on the weather, or traffic, or quite often construction on a subway line (the dreaded track work), or I'm just bored and want to go a different way, or I want a less crowded train. And don't think just because you don't live here that you can't do the same thing too. You can. As I said, it's easy to use the transportation here and you can always ask people anytime. One thing is certain, there are always lots of police around the WTC, so if you weren't sure where to go, you can ask one of them, or pop inside anywhere to use wifi and check your maps, everything transit related is online but you can download the maps to your phone as well. Digital signs in/around the subways provide updates on train arrivals or delays and signs posted will indicate what to do if something isn't running, in other words, what line to take to get where you're going. Frequent announcements are also made. It wasn't always this way and I think some of those old stereotypes still linger, that people will become lost in the underground, never to return or get where they are going. It was once....challenging. Overall, it's just fine now. To sum up, use the transport to get from Red Hook to Times Square. Go via HoHo to...wherever you wish heading down town, eventually aiming for the ferry terminal to go back to Red Hook. While indeed there are lights on every street, sometimes lights are synced to be mostly green when heading northbound are southbound on avenues to keep traffic moving although less so on the weekends; events might be happening and there are fewer vehicles in the city. Nevertheless, no point in wasting valuable time you could be exploring, sitting back on a bus heading in the direction you have already been. Use the time creatively to your advantage exploring what interests you and don't worry, you'll make it back to the cruise port just find. The ferries run frequently. A failsafe, if for some unimaginable reason the ferry wasn't running (it will be) is you can catch a subway to Brooklyn and an Uber or Lyft to the port. So, again, it will work out without returning to Times Square. And there are many subway lines running into Brooklyn too, so don't worry about that!
  8. Traffic isn't so bad the day before the marathon and if you come into port early in the morning and are able to leave ship early, you'll be fine, no worries. As 138 mentioned, there is a ferry port not far off but since you already booked a trip that includes transport to Manhattan, and it included the HoHo bus, that should be ok going into the city over the Brooklyn Bridge or Manhattan Bridge mid-day. The marathon starts in Staten Island coming over the Verrazzano bridge near where I lived for 20 years and things are marked off, signs are up throughout the marathon route but the roads don't shut down until just prior to the race starting. We cannot withstand roads being shut down for any time longer than it has to be! Since you want to visit the 9/11 Museum, I'd definitely take the downtown HoHo. Do you know which line it is? Big Bus, Gray Line? They all have downtown routes that then finish up around Times Square/Midtown but of course you can get off and just get a metro card and choose to go wherever you please based on your interests. The HoHo might not be too bad on a Saturday so it may be ok to do the ride, or, as I mentioned above, think about what interests you the most and definitely do not feel overwhelmed about mapping out your own route to see and do what interests you. For example, once you've finished at the 9/11 Museum and you feel like going to the Intrepid, or Central Park or MoMA or...a Fifth Avenue walk, which is ideal to maybe start around 34th street, or even 42nd, up to 57th (aka Billionaires Row) head west to Columbus Circle and then come down Broadway into Times Square after maybe a sojourn into the park? Have a think. Don't feel put off about asking someone on the subway, bus, or sidewalk for directions. We looked glazed over, hurried, or angry but we're not. It's just the city maze we all run through because we know where we are going, we move quick, and we are trying not to bump into anyone. Don't get me started about the ones looking at their phones while they walk!! We are happy to help once we're popped into consciousness because guess what: when we are other places and need to get somewhere, we need help too sometimes! It's just a busy place, lots of people, but mostly everyone is ok. A little cranky sometimes but who isn't? We probably just are more openly vocal sometimes but it releases the pressure 😉 Ferry costs the same as the subway or bus by the way, $2.75 one way. https://www.bigbustours.com/en/new-york/red-route-new-york/ I linked here the Big Bus downtown route, but this may not be your bus. I would take the number 10 stop at Brooklyn Bridge/Park Row which would put nearest the World Trade Center, and from there you'd likely only need to walk a few blocks west, assuming it lets you off on Broadway. Maybe it stops near Dey or Fulton or Vesey? Walk straight west and you can't miss the new tower and then just adjacent to it is the museum. Any more questions, let me know! The ferry would probably be ideal for getting back the next morning but allow LOTS of time on the 3rd as everything will be closed before 8 or 9 am when the marathon gets its start. Subway might just be your best option, and then a taxi to port from the subway if you've got a lot of luggage.
  9. I'd say good call on skipping the lottery. I'm thinking if anyone asked who the winner was, there'd be nothing but a blank stare from the train conductor, or alternatively, an offer to buy another ticket. Stick to the chocolate, you obviously cannot lose with that. And thank you for the tip on Big Smile store 🙂 Awesome!
  10. Thanks so much for the updates on the entry policy! We appreciate you keeping us current as to what's happening in the Vatican. Did you enjoy the visit? What was your favorite (or was it all wonderful?) part of the experience? I can't stop laughing at Hank's comments (and definitely appreciate the shout out for all the host's efforts!!) but recommend caution to anyone talking about Brooklyn: touchy subject! 😳😍🤣 I'm second generation Brooklyn, my grandpa emigrated from Ireland via Ellis Island and settled in Brooklyn, and except the time of my growing up in Queens (on the BK/QNS border) until only recently, that's where I lived too, near the Verrazzano bridge. Now it's sort of Epcot Brooklyn–what they'd build if they were creating an NYC in Epcot, but without the flavor, and by flavor I don't mean cannolis (see below). Also, they'd have a tough time finding anyone who actually WAS from Brooklyn to work in the Epcot Brooklyn (you know how in Epcot France the workers are from France?) because mostly everyone in Brooklyn now is from Ohio or Michigan or Seattle or Texas...which is fine, but they all used to go live in Manhattan. The boroughs was just the ordinary folk, immigrants and previous immigrants, mostly. And I love Disney, don't get me wrong. And progress too. I'm just worried it will get to the point where, and it's nearing it, regular folks that are required to keep regular things going (schools, buses, stores, shops, cleaning) cannot live or even commute there. And then it all falls into ruin again. But I digress....(PS: Manhattan is cheaper now, basically!) Ebingers I think preceded Entenmans? This is like my father saying "remember when such and such used to be on that street?" No. I wasn't alive then. Black and Whites have made a comeback but....I don't know if they are legit: they're known as part of the retro Brooklyn/NYC food culture, and as such, it's been reclaimed as de rigeur alongside among the morning pastry selections. Egg creams aren't being whipped up everywhere but a few people make them–one place in Manhattan does, the right way. Decent pizza - don't even get me started. FYI, most of it in Manhattan is obviously not worth it unless you're positively starving. That said, there's a smattering of brick oven pizza here and there that's acceptable. I am in DUMBO a lot for meetings and see the throngs in line for Grimaldis whatever it's called, and Juliana's....I don't get waiting in line for pizza. In Brooklyn. For pizza. I almost went in recently, late one night on my way home, out of curiosity, there was no line; but on principle (and because they only accept cash, which I had but I was like, what?) I said NO. What if it's awful? And I'm sure it's overpriced. And I'm from Brooklyn. The borough of churches and pizza. There's L&B Spumoni Gardens and Totonno's and Da Vinci and more in regular Brooklyn if I need it. And yes, even in Brooklyn, you'd only ever wear the wife-beater into the pizzeria, maybe not even then if your mother saw you going out, not into church. If I had to guess, Pope Francis is likely overruled in modernizing things by his Cardinals or Bishops; they just won't have it. I always get the idea Francis thinks beyond the strict parameters, within reason of course, trying to avoid leaving people feeling excluded. Again, not departing too far from doctrine here; just relaxing a teeny bit. It's not about me traveling a long way to be sad and disappointed, it's lots of people. The general thought and feeling is, as Dr King said, how one acts/behaves/is far more important, the most important, beyond what they look like. If anyone is decent to be out and about in public, or at worship in their home church, why not there too. I noticed on the Spain board marazul that you particularly made mention of a loosening of rules in Spain, perhaps the relaxing of the rule hadn't been deliberate, but that it had seemed to take hold and was sticking, and that it did rather make sense (which was also around the same time as this discussion). Spain is as reverent and pious as Italy. I wondered why the point made sense on the Spain board, but not here...because it's the Vatican? The debate and topic question were virtually identical, I almost copied it into this topic but didn't, because it's a strong topic of conversation and didn't want to have to give myself a warning. 🤪 It makes me feel, if anything, Rome should be where the most mercy should be granted, where the church was deemed founded–someone had brought up Peter's crucification. And anytime I hear Francis speak, I feel like that's what he's getting at; sending that message, that he is flawed, we all are, he asks for prayer. He doesn't wear the fancy robes or miter or ring or carry the gold relics. Simplicity, basics, come as you are. But then you have the Swiss Guard–great outfits by the way–definitely not simple. So...men not being recently let in because of knees being shown. Goodness. I look at pictures of ancient costumes and, I know cruisemom42 will provide context and accuracy, but men were wearing clothing for various occasions that showed knee. The leather skirt type things, togas (think maybe that wasn't for walking around and certainly all B.C.) so...not a great argument. I agree: rules are rules and necessary for order and the regular functioning for everyone to enjoy equally, things in society. What maybe I didn't express as well previously, and what we see now more and more is how places like churches or any religious house can become so much more to people than a religious house but also a place of sanctuary to people in the community, and not only exclusively to those who worship in that house. Insofar as a place of worship can be or is a museum (which has more or less been agreed upon) that generally doesn't exclude people (except for non-payment, if applicable, or lack of ordinary decorum) or as is becoming more typical, as a place of contemplation, community, education, safety, and indeed, sanctuary. Now, wearing a wife-beater into a dining room (other than Hooters or Jack-In-The-Box or a drive-thru) of pretty much any sit down place would be a huge fuhgettabouddit even in Brooklyn. I can remember a time when, in some restaurants if men weren't dressed a certain way, they'd give out jackets or ties to them to wear. Didn't seem to go over well, but I was a kid so...I don't know. Sometimes you just gotta look the other way and que sera sera. Be happy. They have to look at their own pictures! I'm going to see Tony Bennett in 9 days and I plan on dressing up for the occasion even though Tony will not see me; it's Tony although Tony is older than my father, I know that when people first started going out to see Tony sing, they went out dressed proper to see Tony sing. I still may not be as well dressed as they would be back in the day, but I don't have Edith Head doing my dress so Jason Wu will just have to do. I don't think Tony probably much cares, just as I doubt Pope Francis would either. But oddly, this simple black retro-style dress is sleeveless, about hits my knees, though probably still could not get into the Vatican. It's ok. Tony isn't singing there. People don't dress up much for classical performances anymore at Lincoln Center but they dress OK; depends upon the $$ level I think. Or if one is dining before/after maybe. I think they are just glad people attend now. Well, maybe it's not bad company...Joseph and Mary were turned away trying to find a place to have Baby Jesus. Oh the irony. That would never happen in Brooklyn. 😉You come in, have some pasta fagioli and then cannolis and cappuccino (or espresso) for everyone!! Come to the new Brooklyn, Hank...you won't believe it. You can take a ferry over next time you're in Manhattan. There are still cobblestones in DUMBO, and the outsides of the old buildings, but everything else is new, new, new. Well, not the bridges. Yet. And they're still free....for now. But it's home, and I love it and it's the greatest city in the world. Go ahead razz me. I can take it, I'm from NYC. #LetsGoYankees
  11. Thank you Patrick, for your past contributions and for your enthusiasm to continue to help continue the success of this topic going forward. There's nothing like information from someone who knows and loves the place where they live, right? It helps visitors put together an itinerary for a visit that suits them just right and that's unique, more personalized than what's in the usual guides everyone else reads. We appreciate you. 🙂 Merci beaucoup.
  12. I live here and there are lots of different bus companies and routes offering tours (and even specifically themed tours if you were interested) so it's different than some cities and places where there are just a few main companies. I guess a big one here is Gray Line, Big Bus (I used in London and I think Berlin and I never do HoHo buses!) which are two that seem to be reliable. I see hawkers on the streets in midtown selling tours to...I don't know what bus tours sometimes. Probably fine, but lots of different companies, and on a crowded street trying to make a decision, well it annoys ME when I see them because I don't think this is the way to go about doing business, getting in people's faces and overwhelming them. I digress. Anyway, here's the thing: I don't think doing a HoHo bus in NYC really is a good idea at all because traffic during the day is usually so intense that I don't see how it can be any fun or what anyone really gets to see on the tour in the amount of time it takes to get it done. One might possibly get lucky and the traffic is ok that day so things are moving but we're supposed to get congestion pricing next year I think (that's for bridges and tunnels, won't affect you!) so that provide an idea for what they're doing to try to minimize traffic in the city. It won't help, but they'll make money to use on the subways, I think. London has congestion pricing; don't know if it made a difference there, I doubt it. That said, there are times of year when it's less busy than others, from a tourism standpoint, which is of course not in the summer or around Thanksgiving week and the Christmas/New Year holiday. Just after Thanksgiving weekend and before Christmas is a good time to be here as it's quite pretty all decorated and festive, but not yet mobbed. And of course in shoulder seasons, Spring/Fall. My suggestion, oddly, would be to get on another boat and take a Circle Line cruise which does a semi-circle from the west side of Manhattan, they are berthed right next to the Intrepid Museum at 42nd street, West Side Highway, and it cruises down to the Statue of Liberty, up close, then loops back around and up the East River, past Governors Island to the 59th Street/Queensborough/Ed Koch Bridge before turning around to dock back on the west side. There are snacks and drinks on board (if desired) and it's my favorite way to see the city, preferably at sunset if you don't have to be back on board too early. I've had this experience multiple times, on the Circle Line and on Spirit Dinner Cruise, and on private yachts, and there's nothing better. I might look for walking tours, if you can manage, in certain areas that are of interest in the city such as Downtown: Financial District, Lower East Side, the Village (West, East, Greenwich) SoHo, Chinatown. Maybe choose some of those and finish up in Times Square...the later it is the more dazzling that is. You don't say if this is your first time to NYC and if you like big cities or might rather just have a small taste of that, say pop into Times Square, and possibly Bryant Park not faraway behind the landmark NY Public Library building, before then heading up to Central Park South/Columbus Circle Area, very nearby via two train stops, or 15-20 minute walk, go up 5th Avenue finishing near the Plaza Hotel (passing Tiffany's, Cartier, a certain Tower, Bergdorf's) and enjoy Central Park. The zoo is there. Everyone can find their own NYC. Not everyone likes the same things but there's a way to find and make your experience be more tailored to the way that you'll like it. If you're into food, maybe make it be centered around food more. Or whatever. We definitely have everything here, you don't have to do the obvious stuff. If heights don't bother you, go up the Empire State Building. It's one of my favorite views in the city because of where it is on 34th street so you see an ideal amount of Manhattan, both rivers, Queens, Brooklyn, tiny bit of Staten Island, New Jersey. There's a fancy, beautiful duck in Central Park that is not indigenous to these parts. No one knows how it got here, but it's here. But the HoHos will keep you stuck on a bus. I don't think they are allowed to use the bus lanes that are dedicated to mass transit and so to get around I'd say, hop on a bus. They move ok-ish if you need to go uptown or downtown but they can be crowded so you might not see much. I jumped all around I know but absent specific interests, dates, and other info (been here before?) it's hard to know what else to write to help. Let me know if I can help further. Hope this helps a little! 🙂 🗽
  13. Hello, Bonjour: As we do on other message boards, when popular topics reach an exceptionally high page count, we close the original and open up a new edition. The original, or previous chapter, (see Wonderful Copenhagen, which has an annual edition) remains visible on the boards, and is only closed to new posts. To continue any open conversations, instead of using the usual reply button, it will be necessary to cut and paste from the previous topic (which I will embed in this post) into your reply in this topic. I get that this is a bit of a drag but hopefully before long, conversations will be off and running here in the new edition, and any inconveniences will be soon forgotten. Why the second edition? We were up to 27 pages in the previous version, and as with other multi-page topics, they can be time-consuming to read and search for information, and, as was the case here, outdated, as it was started back in 2013! Keeping a lower page count also helps keep the topic free of spam (this can be a good place for it to be hidden) but please remember that if you ever see anything that appears to violate our guidelines, you can always click on Report-A-Post function within any post in a topic. This will immediately notify staff and the post will be looked at and removed if necessary. Thank you, merci bien to everyone past/present who has contributed to the topic and helped make it such a wonderful asset to the Canada/New England port message board. Two of my great grandparents came to the U.S. from Montréal, and I have not yet visited this part of Canada 😳 so I'll certainly be one who is keeping a particularly close eye (pictures!!!) on the new topic, and not solely because I'm a CC host. (I had a choice of boards to cover 😉 ) And yes, I struggled with the French title, I know there are many options to say Anything Montréal, but I had to settle on something. Go easy on me, svp.
  14. If a conversation ever veered too far off track, rest assured one of us would pop in either to steer the conversation back on track or take further steps, if necessary. As you know, our community is so friendly and based on sharing information, which leads to familiarity and friendships both online and in real life. It's one of the hallmarks of what makes our community so special. It might slow down the process of seeking a quick answer to a question but, your remedy is always to just skip through posts or even better, start your own topic! With regard to mobile phone use, wifi, SIM cards overseas, it's a conversation we see frequently on the boards but it's not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Everyone has different carriers, phones, needs, and budgets! And so while initially a topic may seem to be going in the direction one seeks, it can veer off quickly, even when it remains directly on the topic of conversation. I absolutely recommend posting a new topic, after doing a search of recent threads to see if anything related might serve your needs and provide answers to your particular question. Chances are, one of our members has an answer since most of us travel with our devices and might need to send a message somewhere, or at a minimum, look something up–maps or local spots–while we are traveling, and wifi can be so handy. Finally, for what it's worth, I'm a Verizon user and last time abroad I used local SIM cards for my phone combined with wifi (for phone and extended wifi use or texts etc) and found it to be perfectly adequate. I can pay less to get the same capability w/o overpaying Verizon which for me, is a win every time. Thanks everyone 😎
  15. Ahhh, now we see the Aloynka allure...wow, the photo and illustration likenesses are striking! Could there have been some spying involved when searching for imagery to create packaging, you never know. (Oh and thx for the great chocolate imagery too, except, not great when there's none for us to eat, lol!!🙄) I like a good spy story to go with my chocolate...which brings me to.... I would call this Propaganda Candy. But I'd eat it anyway, however suspiciously 😉 I'm going to look for the Aloynka here, or perhaps I can find it in the city or if not, Brighton Beach might have it. I love the Russian Stoli labels, sold so much of it once upon a time when family had a store in Queens. Kalinka was just the way my friend Dina familiarized my name, I think because C sound in cyrillic is K and the 'ka' is the way names are made endearing or familiar among friends and family; her husband was Chris but she called him Krisusha. She was Dinka. It's equivalent would be, sort of, like adding the -san to someone's name in Japanese except that knows no male/female versions where in Russian, there are difference. Hence, Colleen/Kalinka, Chris/Krisusha but, I dig Kalinka Malinka and believe it or not, I have a raspberries connection to my name from a work colleague. I know. Weird. Or not? 🤣 More excellent images...I'd heard about the swimming pool, I have a Stalin bio here waiting to dive into on my bookshelf. I'm still not over all I read about the Cultural Revolution and Mao after I got back from China. Train looked nice. The lottery? I think I'm too jaded, color me skeptical of train lottery roulette (1-36 random numbers?) sounds like a hustle to me but maybe I'm (probably) jaded. Now I need some of that red wrapper chocolate 😉 Awesome posts everyone, spaseba!
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