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World’s Most Impressive Hotel Suites

The Chairman Suite Bathroom-marina bay sands

The Chairman Suite Bathroom-marina bay sands

by Kevin Maddox,

What makes for a really great hotel suite? Is it the quality of the furnishings, the amazing view that you can get, or the level of personal service that you can receive from a hotel? When looking at the most impressive hotel suites, it’s worth considering different suites from around the world, and what sort of features they offer, as well as what kinds of price ranges they fit into. From the Chairman Suite in Singapore to the Presidential Suite in Paris, why are these suites so impressive?

Chairman Suite, Singapore

The largest suite in the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore, the Chairman Suite includes four bedrooms, spas, marble baths, and a baby grand piano, as well as a pool table and karaoke system. Rates for the suite start at around $13,000 per night.

Royal suite of the Ritz carlton, NY

Royal suite of the Ritz carlton, NY

The Royal Suite, New York

The Royal suite in the Plaza hotel in New York has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a private lobby area, and great views out over Central Park South and Fifth Avenue. Original art is hung around the suite, which also has a grand piano, a dining room for 12 people, and a personal library of books.

Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Luxury is easy to find in Dubai, but the main suite of the Burj Al Arab hotel takes it to a new level. The two-bedroom suite has its own private elevator and a private cinema, as well as a spa bathroom, a lounge, and library.

Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Plas Rhianfa, Wales

This five-star luxury hotel in north Wales is distinguished by its Chateau Suite – the suite includes king sized beds, en-suite bath tubs, sea views, and access to personal services, making Plas Rhianfa worth visiting if you’re exploring the UK.

Royal Suite, London

With floor to ceiling windows, and a view over Buckingham Palace, the Royal suite in the Lanesborough Hotel on Hyde Park Corner is ideal for visiting dignitaries. The suite includes a butler service, your own kitchen, drawing rooms, and personalised stationery.

Sultan Suite, Istanbul

Visitors to Istanbul can opt for a night in the Sultan Suite in the Ciragan Palace. This includes features such as crystal and silk furnishings, and the world’s heaviest chandelier. Room rates are about £26,000 a night.

Plas Rhianfa, Wales

Plas Rhianfa, Wales

Presidential Suite, Moscow

Located in the Ararat Park Hyatt in the centre of Moscow, the Presidential Suite costs £7,000 a night. It includes crystal chandeliers, original art, 180 square metres of space, a fully fitted kitchen, and dining room for eight guests.

Presidential Suite, Paris

Another presidential suite from one of the world’s best hotels, in this case the Four Seasons George V, this space includes a marble bathroom, a dressing room, chandeliers, and access to the centre of Paris. The suite costs about £11,000 a night.

Villa La Cupola, Rome

Royal Suite, London

Royal Suite, London

Part of the Westin Excelsior Hotel in Rome, the Villa La Cupola suite is modelled after a Roman villa and includes frescoes, terrace space, and original art. The suite can be rented for around £16,000 a night.

Royal Penthouse, London

This suite in the recently opened Corinthia Hotel in London provides oval dining tables, a walk-in wine cellar, a private spa suite, a mini bar stocked by Harrods, and a nightly price tag of £18,000.

Spring’s Most Inspiring Photograph Locations

by Deborah Clark,

Ask any artist: the search for inspiration is constant. For photographers, a new breed of inspirational beauty comes with every season. We love the clean crisp winters and warm colors of fall, but nothing sparks a creative eye like the vibrant allure of springtime. While the entire world comes alive, there are some places that truly embrace the spring season. Turn your camera’s lens to these locations to capture the magic.

Newark, New Jersey

Most people think of Washington, D.C., when they imagine the famous fragrant cherry blossoms. In a recent segment on NPR, Branch Brook Park in Newark, N.J., was featured for its jaw-dropping inventory of the tiny white and pink spring flowers. Not only does Newark hold more of the trees than Washington, D.C., they are No. 1 in the world for cherry blossom tree varieties. Once a grim depleted place, Branch Brook Park now receives thousands of tourists each spring viewing and taking photos of the beautiful flowering fields.

Branch Brook Park (public domain photo via Wikimedia)

Tuscany, Italy

Vineyard in Tuscany

Vineyard in Tuscany

Visiting Tuscany is like stepping back in time. The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Tuscany exudes old-world culture and beauty. This time of year, the tourism crowds haven’t quite taken over and the farmlands are full of life. Italian towns hold plenty of spring festivals that celebrate age-old traditions and medieval novelty, such as the Festa del Grillo and Scoppio del Carro in Florence.

Tuscany in May (Photo credit: Guido Haeger via Wikimedia)

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam canals

Amsterdam canals

The weather in the spring is still cool and the smell of blooming gardens fill the air. While Amsterdam is arguably a perfect landscape year round, springtime is exceptional. May is full of festivals and special occasions, such as National Cycling Day and National Windmill Day. The multitude of tulips in every color imaginable are available in markets all over the city. If it’s still not quite enough for you, the Keukenhof Gardens showcase more than seven million daffodils, tulips and hyacinths across 32 acres of nothing but flowers. View the garden’s website for a list of spring flower shows through April and May.

Amsterdam in May (Photo credit: Patrick Clenet via Wikimedia)

Paris, France

Jardin du Luxembourg

Jardin du Luxembourg

The City of Lights is always a photographer’s dream, but when spring rolls around the city is almost surreal. Classic European architecture, street-side cafes, remarkable city monuments and romantic cliches around every corner— if that’s not enough to get your creative juices flowing, nothing will. Many famous gardens surrounding the city abound with seasonal blooms, such as the 60-acre 15th-century Jardin du Luxembourg. The near-perfect weather brings out tourists and locals alike to pepper the streets of Paris with springtime cheerfulness.

Jardin du Luxembourg and Luxembourg Palace (Photo credit: Rdevany at en.wikipedia)

Victoria Falls, Zambia/ Zimbabwe

Of course any photographer would leap at the chance to capture an image of one of the Seven Wonders of the World. This time of year, Victoria Falls is more wonderful and awe-inspiring than usual. The rainy season ends in early April, according to Mother Nature Network, leaving the mile-wide waterfall with an earth-shaking rush of clear water. To get the best shots of Victoria Falls and the connecting Zambezi River, helicopter tours can be booked for stunning aerial views.

Victoria Falls in April (Photo credit: Wikimedia)

Unexpected Summer Fun in New York City

Hudson River

Hudson River

by jason Hall,

Breezy autumn sightseeing and Christmas at Rockefeller Center are still the top attractions to New York for vacationers, but summer in the city, especially  with a detailed itinerary- can thrill even the most well seasoned travelers.

All of the iconic attractions, sans the famous Christmas tree, of course- are still there to enjoy, and it’s easier to get around without the threat of ice and snowstorms. There’s Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty (fact: it’s technically in New Jersey!), The Empire State Building, Broadway Shows, Shopping on Fifth Avenue, The Freedom Tower, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and so many more. But today we’re going to take a look at some attractions- locations  and events in New York- that are best, and in some cases only available- during spring and summer.

Outdoor special events are plentiful and most of them are free and open to the public. Macy’s Fireworks over the Hudson on Independence Day is perhaps the most famous, but there’s lots to do outside almost every day from June through September. there are cultural celebrations and parades, loads of free concerts, Shakespeare in the Park ,The Museum Mile Festival, Broadway in Bryant Park, and the Big Apple Barbecue to name just a few.

Being an island, NY has many piers and summer is the right time to get to know them. Some are huge and some are slim but they each have their own character and provide unique, grand views. There are lots of communal spaces for recreation that are popular with locals and tourists alike.  Architecture aficionados should check out the ultra modern Pier 15, which is bi-level and boasts its own built in ‘grassy knolls’, glass pavilions, gardens and a covered walkway between the two levels. Another favorite is Pier 84, smack in between the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum and The Circle Line Cruise Dock. The pier itself has it’s own charms: bike rentals, a water park and even a dog run where you can watch the local pooches play and schmooze.

Another very special part of New York comes alive, literally- only in the summer. We’re talking about gardens. Just take to the streets downtown and keep your eyes peeled. There are pops of color peeking out everywhere, once you start looking for them, you’ll be astounded at how many you find.  Follow through the ones with open gates and you’ll be enveloped in meandering gardens that run the gamut from funky and bohemian looking, dotted with sculptures and folk art, to meticulously manicured rose gardens in the English tradition.  On the other end of the spectrum, there’s baseball.

Atlantic City Beach

Atlantic City Beach

Atlantic City Beach

It may be America’s pastime, but no place does it like New York City. The fact that it is home to two top major league baseball teams, the New York Yankees as well as the Mets, makes for, in true New York fashion- a one of a kind situation. Different loyalties and traditions make for a storied history, and both team’s stadiums, Yankee Stadium and Citi Field (formerly Shea Stadium) are brand new as of just a few seasons ago.  They are museums in their own right, and both are a must-see for even a casual baseball fan.

Summer time means beach time and beach time in New York means Coney Island. Developers have been chipping away at the old school charm of this beach town but the dark cloud that was hard-hitting damage from Hurricane Sandy did come with a silver lining- a renewed interest in preserving this special place.   The Coney Island Museum is slated to reopen before June of 2013. The very best beach excursions, though, are just west of New York in New Jersey. With so much more to offer than what is showcased on MTV’s ‘Jersey Shore’ TV show (although the boardwalk there actually IS a ton of down ‘n’ dirty fun) savvy travelers will grab a budget car rental and find beach town after beach town all the way up and down the coast, each with it’s own unique personality. Also ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey’s shore needs the revenue as much as you’ll need a break from the stone and steel in the hot city.  Some highlights are the wonderful nature reserve at Island Beach State Park and The Stony Pony in Asbury Park, the venue Bruce Springsteen made world famous early in his career. Then there’s Wildwood, with it’s immense, sprawling beaches dotted with hotels that are astounding examples of 50’s and 60’s ‘Doo-Wop’ architecture.  Just south of that is Cape May, quaint and quiet, with block after block of stunning Victorian homes.  On the way to Wildwood and Cape May, which is about three hours out of the city, hit what locals call “A. C.” Of course, Atlantic City.

Atlantic City’s beaches are free and never really that crowded- probably because ‘beach’ isn’t the first thing people think of these days when they think of ‘Las Vegas by the Sea”. But they are large and lovely-definitely worth checking out before or after trying your luck at the tables.

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The New York Art Scene: Classic to Contemporary Inspiration

New York

New York

New York has earned its rank as one of the ten art capitals of the world, sharing its title with global greats including Paris and Rome. The city is a hive of modern and classic activity in the dramatic and visual arts world.

Below the Hustle

Hidden beneath a bustling business capital, New York’s culture is almost entirely formulated on the arts. Residential streets are lined with towering examples of architectural history. Its galleries collectively represent almost every visual art school in history and Broadway competes with the world’s most renowned dramatic centers. Even the residents of the city act as walking representations of the most cutting edge international design trends. Students on the cusp of an academic career in the arts will struggle to find a more inspirational city to begin their vocations.

Contemporary Spaces

It’s easy to pack every New York minute with icons from the Renaissance, impressionist and surrealist eras, but the contemporary art scene reveals an underbelly that is less likely to have been seen in text books. The city introduces a new art superstar to the world every week from the halls of hundreds of vibrant contemporary exhibition spaces. History has its place, but contemporary work teaches students on senior class trips in the USA about the living world into which they are about to enter. Become acquainted with evolving names such as David Zwirner, Elizabeth Peyton and Cory Arcangel. The New Museum of Contemporary art is more than an exhibition space: its architecture is an international attraction in itself, bragging some novel resolutions to ancient design challenges. Chinatown’s west end displays a pulsating Eastern European scene entirely absent of commercialism. It aims to represent the politics, ecology and culture of its residents, which results in a far more transient picture of the current moment. A titanic collection of galleries attempts to answer the question, “what is art,” by presenting contemporary talent as and when it emerges.

A Snapshot of History

The city’s more classical spaces are celebrated globally for the comprehensiveness of their collections. The Guggenheim is an architectural marvel that visitors may become lost in for days. Its novel perspectives present painting greats in unusual ways. Picasso is viewed in monochrome, impressionists are presented through their lesser known paintings in the Thannauser collection and classic European masters are collected according to palette. The Metropolitan, considered one of the top ten galleries in the world, brags two million artworks including masterpieces from the cubist, impressionist and expressionist movements. Nestled within the museum mile, it is only a taste of the classic art collection on offer on a single street.

A World of Entertainment

Broadway celebrates every area of the dramatic arts world through musicals, concerts, ballet and serious theater. A list of the month’s top shows at any given time boasts some of the most famed titles of recent years in star studded splendor. Expect a line up crammed with Golden Globe, Tony and Emmy awards. Traditional year end productions repeat the most well loved classics annually.

For budding artists of all kinds, New York opens the eyes and minds of students by bringing textbooks to life in full, dynamic color. It is the background culture of the city that gives resident artists the stimulation needed to continuously produce fresh work. Brisk centers that epitomize New York’s energizing character are best explored through the city’s neighborhoods. It is here that locals of all cultures paint the town with colorful character. Times Square, Ellis Island and Ground Zero all add sobering flavor to this educational trip.

 Useful info:


Things to Do In the Hudson Valley-NY

    Mohonk Mountain House - N. Morrish

Mohonk Mountain House – N. Morrish

by Nancy Morrish,

New York’s Hudson River Valley has an abundance of activities for any visitor. Hiking, sight-seeing and excellent food is a good place to start.

If you are visiting the historic Hudson Valley in New York this year, here are some suggestions to help you plan your trip before you go. The Hudson Valley has much to offer in addition to its lush foliage and rich history. Whether you are planning a vacation centered around hiking and climbing; sight-seeing, studying New York’s history, or a combination thereof, surely the beautiful Hudson Valley will not disappoint.

Mohonk Mountain House

Situated near New Paltz, NY, the Mohonk Mountain House serenely sits overlooking Lake Mohonk. The Victorian castle was built in 1869 and is one of the oldest family-owned resorts in the United States. You don’t have to stay at the historical resort to enjoy everything it has to offer. Experience the ambience of the Mohonk dining room and feast on a meal prepared by an award-winning chef; or pay for a day pass which will allow you to try your hand at rock scrambling up through the Lemon Squeeze and witness the breathtaking view from Skytop. For those more cautious, meander through the pretty flower gardens or take a stroll around the lake on one of the many available hiking trails. On the other hand, if you are looking for more adventure including some intense rock climbing, venture a little ways from the Mohonk Mountain House to the Shawangunk Ridge where you can watch or participate in some world-class rock climbing.

Culinary Institute of America

Culinary enthusiasts may want to put aside a half-day to visit Hyde Park to take in the Culinary Institute of America located on U.S. Route 9. Enjoy a public tour, which is worth the visit alone, or better yet, make plans to dine. The CIA has five student-staffed public restaurants for your dining experience. St. Andrews Café, American Bounty Restaurant, the Escoffier Restaurante, Ristorante Caterina de’ Medici and the Apple Pie Bakery Café. With the exception of the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe, reservations are recommended well ahead of time. Cancellations do occur, so if you don’t have any luck; try again one or two days ahead. While visiting Hyde Park, other nearby attractions worth visiting are the Vanderbilt Mansion Historic Site and the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site.

West Point Military Academy

An often-heard expression at West Point is, “much of the history we teach was made by people we taught.” Considering that some of the military students that attended the Military Academy include Grant, Lee, Eisenhower, Patton, MacArthur and Schwarzkopf; it would seem there is indeed merit to that statement. Nearly 3 million people visit West Point each year making it one of New York’s top three tourist attractions according to the New York State Department of Tourism. You may not access West Point on your own. In order to see it, you must go to the West Point Visitors Center where you can take a reasonably priced guided bus tour . Photo ID is required for anyone over 16 and children must be accompanied by an adult.

Walkway Over the Hudson

In 1889 trains began using a bridge that was then, not only considered a technological wonder of its time, but also the longest bridge in the world. Unfortunately a fire severely damaged the bridge in 1974 after nearly a century of use. In 1992, Walkway Over the Hudson started a project which would eventually, after years of acquiring funding and partnership with the Dyson Foundation, turn the bridge into a pedestrian park and walkway. The bridge links Poughkeepsie to Highland and at 1.28 miles, is the world’s longest pedestrian bridge. It is worth a visit to read about the bridge’s history while walking across and standing 212 feet above the Hudson River.



Culinary Institute of America NY:

West Point Military Academy: About the Academy

Walkway Over the Hudson:

A guide to Six Flags water parks

Six flags- Cr-socal.catholic.org

Six flags- Cr-socal.catholic.org

Six Flags is the largest amusement park company in the world. It owns and operates 21 properties in North America, including theme parks, water parks, thrill parks and family entertainment centers. Most of the water parks(eleven in all) are located inside Six Flags theme parks so, you get two parks for the price of one. Each water park is different, but they all have some common features, such as a variety of slides, wave pools, lazy rivers, and shopping areas. If you live near one, you may want to buy a Season Pass, which will save you money and help you stay cool all summer long.

Here are the Six Flags water parks:

Hurricane Harbor, Los Angeles, California

Hurricane Harbor is located not in, but next to Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park and requires separate admission fee. You will need more than one day to visit both. The park offers 23 different water slides, a wave pool, river rafting, a large play area for younger children and a 1,300-foot-long lazy river. Most of the rides are mild to moderate and can be enjoyed by all family members (some rides have a 48” height restriction). The park is famous for its thrill water ride, the Tornado, which is seven stories high.

White Water, Atlanta, Georgia

Six Flags White Water offers over 30 rides on 40 acres, including thrill rides, moderate family rides and child-friendly options. The best thrill ride is the Cliffhanger, a 9-story tall water slide, one of the tallest free-fall slides in the world. For the little kids there are: Captain’s Kids Cove, an interactive play area, Tree House Island, four stories of chutes, slides and bridges and, opening in May 2010, The Wiggles Water World, The Wiggles-themed area.

Hurricane Harbor, Chicago, Illinois

This Hurricane Harbor is located inside the Six Flags Great America theme park. This Caribbean-themed water park measures over 100,000 square feet and offers lots of moderate to extreme water rides, Hurricane Bay, a 500,000-gallon wave pool, and Skull Island play area for children. The park’s admission includes both, the theme park and the water park.

America/Hurricane Harbor, Baltimore/Washington DC, Maryland

America water park is located next to Six Flags America theme park and you can visit both for one admission fee. The park offers a variety of mild to moderate body slides, tube drop slides, kid’s size twister, Bamboo Chutes and a couple of thrill rides. The newest water slide, Tony Hawk’s Half Pipe, opened in 2008, is shaped like a skateboarding half pipe and is four stories high. It is quite intense and is not recommended for young children.

New England/Hurricane Harbor, Springfield, Massachusetts

New England is a family-friendly water park located within Six Flags New England theme park. It has two 500,000-gallon wave pools, several slides, river rafting, an interactive play area for children and an extreme water coaster, Typhoon. In 2010, the park is adding another play area (16,000 square feet) for the youngest kids, Mr. Six’s Splash Island. It will include 30,000 gallon wave pool and an interactive lazy river. One admission fee includes both parks.

St. Louis/Hurricane Harbor, Saint Louis, Missouri

St. Louis water park is a 12-acre tropical paradise. It is located within Six Flags St. Louis theme park and it is free with admission to the theme park. It offers many slides, including Wahoo Racer, a six-lane water racer with triple drop layout, five-person raft ride, 560,000-gallon wave pool and a play area for children, Hook’s Lagoon.

Hurricane Harbor, Jackson, New Jersey

The water park was built next to Six Flags Great Adventure and Six Flags Wild Safari. Each park requires separate admission fees. It features the most impressive one-million-gallon wave pool, a half-mile long lazy river with rapids, waterfalls and geysers, three extreme body slides, Cannonball, Wahini and Jurahnimo Falls. In 2010, the Tornado will make the newest addition to the park.

Splash Water Kingdom, Lake George, New York

Splash Water Kingdom is located within Six Flags Great Escape theme park. It offers many slides, including Black Cobra, two completely dark enclosed tube slides, 500,000-gallon wave pool, interactive play areas and some fun water rides, such as the Tornado or Mega Wedgie, a 100-foot tunnel slide. One admission includes both parks.

Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Water Park, Lake Gorge, New York

This is the first indoor water park in New York State and the first one owned and operated by Six Flags. It was opened in 2006 and it made a great addition to the existing Six Flags Great Escape theme park. The 38,000-square-foot indoor water park is opened year-round. However, it serves only lodge guests. The main attractions are: a FlowRider surfing simulators, lazy river, raft ride, and Boogie Bear Surf.

Fiesta Texas/White Water Bay, San Antonio, Texas

White Water Bay water park was built right next to Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme park. The admission includes both attractions. The water park has a 500,000-gallon wave pool, multi-passenger rafting, lots of tubes, slides and rides. Children can play at Splashwater Springs, a play area filled with rides and other activities. There is also a family interactive play area, Texas Tree House. For thrill seekers there are three rides, the Tornado, Whirlpool and the Big Bender.

Hurricane Harbor, Arlington, Texas

It is one of the largest Six Flags water parks. It offers lots of attractions for everyone, including a massive one-million-gallon wave pool, Surf Rider surfing simulator, play areas for children and many moderate and high-thrill slides and rides. Hurricane harbor is located just across the street from Six Flags Over Texas, but tickets have to be purchased separately to each park.

Six Flags water parks have some of the best water parks in the country. They offer a variety of activities, from mild that can be enjoyed even by the youngest family members to high-thrill rides providing some unforgettable experiences and lots of fun.

New York – Facts & Figures


NY facts & figures

New York  state is the 11th state to be admitted to the union on July 26th 1788, located on the east coast of the USA. It is bordered by NJ and PA to the south and by CT, MA and VT to the east.

State Capital Albany

Largest City: New York City

State Motto: Excelsior

State Nick name: The Empire State

State Song: ” I love New York”

Area: 54,475Sq Miles. NY is the 27th  largest state in the United State.

Residents: New Yokers

Population: 19, 465, 197  July Census 2011 according to the US census Bureau. New York is the 3rd most populated state in the nation after California and Texas.

Major Industries: Tourism, finances, communications, fashion, international trade, farming.

Highest point: Mount Marcy, 5344 ft above sea level.

Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean

Main Rivers:  Hudson River, Mohawk River, Genesee River.

Counties: 62

State Bird : The Eastern bluebird

State Mammal: Beaver

State Insect: Nine Spotted ladybug

State Fish: Brook trout

State Fruit: Apple

State Flower: Rose

State Tree: Sugar maple

State Fossil: Sea scorpion

State Gem: Garnet

Climate: NY has a humid subtropical climate. The winter seasons are cold and long and summer temperatures usually between upper 70s to mid 80s F. Between mid July and mid august, the temperatures can go up to 100 F with 90% humidity.

Best time to visit: No matter what the season is, there is always great stuff going on in NY, so, there is no real best or worst time to go. Hotel prices are fairly higher than any other state specially in NYC. The bargain hunters might want to try the winter months. Spring and fall are traditionally the most expensive months when its come to hotels in NYC. You can always negotiate for a decent rate.

 Few Fun Facts about New York State:

* New York  state has more ski mountain than any other states in the country.

* New York is the country’s third-largest wine-producing state, with more than 250 wineries growing over 35 varieties of grapes.

* The original Buffalo wings were invented in Buffalo at the Anchor Bar.

* In the nineteenth century, New York State was known for therapeutic mineral springs. The waters of Saratoga Springs became very famous.

* About 40 million gallons of water flow over Niagara Falls every minute.

* The Adirondack Park has over 6.1 million acres, larger than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Parks combined.

* Niagara Falls is approximately 12,000 years old. The Falls have actually moved seven miles from its original location.

* With over 800,000 square feet and 220 stores, Woodbury Common is one of the largest outlet shopping centers in the world.

* The first railroad in America ran the 11-mile distance between Albany and Schenectady.





Online Resources for Navigating New York City

New York

New York

Where to Look for Maps & Routes of the Public Transportation System

Where are there easy online answers to the question, “How do I get from Point A to Point B in New York?” Here are a few places to start in the search.

For those visiting or new to New York City, navigating the public transportation system may seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, it is not as difficult as it looks, and there are plenty of resources online to help travelers and newcomers find their way around the city. Here are some websites that are great for planning ahead, from figuring out the best routes to basic information about public transport.

New York’s Public Transportation Websites

For maps of the bus and subway systems, as well as timetables and other relevant information, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) homepage is the premier source for those looking for answers about getting around New York. Regional rail and bus information is also available, which is helpful for those coming into the city via public transport. The New York State website also has some helpful public transportation links.

Planning Out Routes in New York

Another wonderful resource is HopStop, a website that allows visitors to either click on Point A and Point B on a map of the city, or to enter addresses in specific boroughs, and the best public transportation route is charted by the site. There is also an option to create alternate routes, a wise planning source in terms of anticipating potential changes in subway schedules due to maintenance. The HopStop website also includes travel time estimates, maps, and city guides as an added bonus.

Other Websites with Information on Getting Around the City

Basic travel directions sites, such as Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, MapQuest, and so on are also worth checking out; there is usually an option to select for travel on foot or by public transportation in the preferences. These sites, like HopStop, include travel time estimates. Though Google’s Street-view feature is somewhat controversial, it can also be helpful to show visitors what to look for when arriving at a particular bus stop or area. When unfamiliar with a place, having something visual to go on can be extremely useful.

While New York City’s public transportation system may at first appear confusing or overwhelming, the above resources can serve as a valuable preparation tool to make travel much easier and less stressful. Of course, there is always the option of hailing a taxi and having someone else do the navigating, but forms of public transportation like the bus or subway are much more economical, and with the Internet, finding one’s own way around has never been easier.

Climbing Slide Mountain, West of Shandaken, NY

Slide Mountain-cr-Wikipedia

Slide Mountain-cr-Wikipedia

Highest Mountain in the Catskills of New York State

The Curtis-Ormsbee Trail up Slide Mountain (4,203 feet) offers the most sweeping views to the hiker including the summits of Cornell, Wildcat, Table and Lone Mountains.

The four-mile Curtis-Ormsbee Trail to the summit of Slide Mountain (4,203 feet) begins at Big Indian, two miles southwest of Shandaken, New York. There is no other way to get here other than by private car where there is enough parking for twenty-five cars or so. The starting point of this trail is 2,400 feet above sea level. Hikers should sign the register just beyond the parking area. The best times to climb Slide Mountain are mid-April through mid-October.

Be Aware of Possible Summer Thunderstorms

Be aware that afternoon thunderstorms may develop making the trail quite muddy. The worst times to climb this mountain would be from late October through early April. There are no man-made hazards on the trail but the hiker should take care while walking after the first mile or so when the trail becomes quite rocky.

Once the hiker is under way, she will enter a lush mixed hardwood forest of maples, birch, oaks, aspen and hemlocks, and one may be treated to a summer forest floor of wildflowers and ferns.

A Very Rocky Trail Cuts Through the Woods

After the first mile or so of a woodland trail that is soft underfoot, the trail bounds upward over a very rocky/lumpy terrain through beautiful hardwood forests. Though one may be anxious to gain the summit, one should stop and enjoy the many flowers that seem to set the forest aglow. One such flower is the white beam (sorbus aria) that grows at the foot of maples and oaks in a bright circle of white blossoms. The lower forests are full of chirping thrushes, vireos and sparrows. This rocky portion levels a bit at a 3,500 foot marker over two and a half miles from the trail head.

A Solid Evergreen Forest Begins Above 3,500 feet

Above 3,500 feet, the Catskill Mountains are capped with an evergreen forest of aromatic spruce and pines. This zone is marked at trail side as being more fragile and hikers should not camp above this elevation. The climber will notice here a distinct chill in the air, even in summer time. The lush ferns of the lower woodland are mere unfurling fiddle-heads up here. Even the white beam flowers are much smaller with barely blooming rings of blossoms. Yellow birch up here appear gaunt and struggling; some of the dead or dying ones may serve as perches for woodpeckers in search of insects within the tree bark.

A Laurentian Forest Takes Over at 3,900 feet

As the trail winds back and forth steadily gaining elevation, one is treated to sweeping views, three miles from the trail head, of the entire Catskill Mountains including Wildcat and Table mountains and distant Shokan Reservoir. It is easy to see why the author John Burroughs loved to climb this mountain over a hundred years ago. At 3,900 feet the hiker enters a distinctly Laurentian zone of northern balsam firs housing, in the springtime, arctic longspurs. A few hundred feet higher as one approaches the summit above 4,000 feet, one gains views of Wittenberg, Panther and Peekamoose mountains as well as all of Shokan Reservoir in the misty distance. If one were to climb to the summit of Slide Mountain at night, he would see to the south a brilliant array of the city lights of New York. The hike takes up to a half day with a vertical gain of 1,800 feet. Bring sufficient water as there are no water sources on the trail nor are there any restrooms. You can download a trail map from the Catskill 3500 Club web page.