Tag - NY

The World’s 4 Best Bike Tours This Summer

 Best Bike Tours

Best Bike Tours

by Gino Teller,

From urban, bike-friendly cities to unspoiled and majestically alluring countryside, destinations all over the world make delightful journeys for you and your two-wheeled BFF. If Lance Armstrong has you fiening to ride, check out these four picks for fascinating places to bike all over the world

New York City

Though some people see New York as a hectic nightmare filled with cussing taxi drivers, ornery pedestrians and psychotic bike messengers, a bike tour of this city can be remarkably peaceful, so long as one stays away from the high-density areas like Midtown and the Financial District.

There have been numerous projects that have made the city more accommodating for bikers, including designated bike lanes, bike rentals and several paths, including one that follows the Hudson River from the southern tip of Manhattan all the way to 181 Street. There are also several guided tours offered by Bikeandroll.com.

Montreal, Quebec

Montreal is one of the most charming cities in the Western Hemisphere. On top of being a thriving metropolis and a premier destination for foodies and craft beer enthusiasts, the city is also remarkably beautiful, both on account of the natural splendor of the St. Lawrence River and the city’s rich history of architecture.

By taking a bike tour through Montreal, you can ride through eclectic neighborhoods such as Le Plateau, take in the sights of Old Montreal or even visit Saint-Helen Island, the site of the 1967 World’s Fair. Montreal On Wheels offers some of the most affordable and informative tours of the city.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam offers far more than just cafes. This is certainly not a “sepulchral city” as Joseph Conrad once wrote, but a vibrant and thrilling center of culture filled with magnificent architecture and gorgeous scenery. Touring Amsterdam by bike will allow you to immerse yourself in this incredible city. Mike’s Bike Tours, for example, will allow you to explore either the city’s harbor and famous dykes, the city’s center or the beautiful Dutch countryside.

Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany has become synonymous with bucolic landscapes and tranquility. By taking a bike tour through the Tuscan countryside, you will not only get to experience this sense of serenity firsthand, but also get the opportunity to dive into the culinary and architectural history of this beautiful region. Tuscany Bike Tours offer many options, including a trip deep into Chianti and through Florence, as well as private tours.

Beyond the Helmet

Before you set out on a biking expedition, take a few precautions before you leave. This goes beyond simply wearing a helmet.

Make sure your home is safe in your absence. Websites like SecurityCompanies.com have numerous links and recommendations that will allow you to set up a security system that’s both effective and affordable, and may be accessed and controlled with a smartphone.

Before you leave on your bike tour, leave valuables in the hotel safe. This includes jewelry, credit cards, phones and important travel documents, such as your passport. All you need to carry is a map and enough cash to get you through the day.

After one of these tours, you’ll realize just how incredible it can be to bike the road less traveled.

Photo by Flickr user Bratislavská župa

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.

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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.