Month: October 2015

Visit Little Neck in Queens, NY – bike, stroll, and watch wildlife

Visit Little Neck in Queens, NY

Little Neck in Queens, New York, is a residential neighborhood, not a park. Its appeal, however, is that of a park which borders on an important body of water and a salt marsh preserve.

The community is surrounded by water with views that include the adjacent Little Neck Bay and the Throgs Neck Bridge, a 2,910-foot suspension bridge that passes over the East River where it connects to the Long Island Sound.

The area of Little Neck covered in this article is marked below.

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While you shouldn’t plan on having a picnic in the city proper, touring it is a delight. The best way to see everything is on a bike, but walking is also easy, although you won’t cover as much ground. If you drive around it, you’ll need to pay attention to some one-way streets.

To begin your tour, start at Point [1] on the map, which is the intersection of approximately 36 Avenue and Park Lane. Travel up West Drive until its end, at Point [2]. Turn left onto Shore Road, a one-way street heading south, and drive along it until you return to Point [1], finishing the loop.

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To the right of West Drive you’ll see Throgs Neck Bay and the entrance to the East River as marked by Throgs Neck Bridge

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Beautiful water views remain in sight as you continue your ride. If you are in a car, periodically stop to take pictures, but do so quickly as parking is not allowed on the street.

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To the left of West Drive are beautiful homes, all nestled on wooded lots. Unlike today’s “McMansions,” many of these homes were built in the early 1900s when the community was still a fishing village, although few signs of its humble origins can be seen today. The private community fishing pier (seen above), for example, currently needs repair and is the subject of a fund-raising drive.

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The area between Point [2] and Point [3] takes you along a marshy area to the east and more beautiful homes on the west. There you can explore the Udalls Cove Park Preserve, a New York City park which was created in 1972 to protect the wetlands from being destroyed by the push of city development. The community of Little Neck provides an online guide to hiking trails in this area.

If you enjoy bird watching, Udalls Cove Park Preserve is the place to visit! Check their active Facebook page and meet (and possibly arrange to join) some of their enthused volunteers during your visit.

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If you enjoy seeing neighborhoods built before lovely shore communities were taken over by multi-family condos and yards guarded by fences so tall that you can’t see homes, systematically crisscross the city. Keep in mind that Shore Road runs from north to south, so begin your back and forth travel at the city’s tip.

LINKS:

AUTHOR:

Article and photos by Karen Little. Posted October 17, 2015 on www.Littleviews.com. Request permission to copy any part or all of this article from Karen at Karen@Littleviews.com.

Return to Littleviews’ main INDEX, or check out additional articles here.

Visit Hoboken and the Hoboken Historical Society

The Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy supports the waterfront parkway in New Jersey along the Hudson River between Fort Lee and Liberty State Park. Every inch of this parkway as guided by an interactive map on its site is stunning, with views of boating traffic, New York City, and New Jersey’s palisades. The best way to fully understand its magnificence is to ride its length by bike or kick scooter. To enjoy sections of it, visit communities along its way, many of which can be accessed by car, bus, ferry, and even New Jersey’s Light Rail Train.

Of particular interest to many tourists is Hoboken. This square mile community maintains its early 1900s charm and its association with former homeboy, Frank Sinatra, and today, Carlo’s Bakery. Since 2000, the city significantly upgraded its waterfront area so that visitors and locals can stroll (bike, kick scoot, or skateboard) from end-to-end immersed in world-class views, while enjoying parks, restaurants and, on its southern end, the historic Hoboken Terminal with its Tiffany-glass-covered waiting room.

The Hoboken Historical Museum, at 13th and Hudson Street, welcomes visitors by providing a highly curated collection of city artifacts, as well as maintaining an informative website that lists museum and civic events, many of which will help visitors make the best of their day while in town.

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Among Hoboken events that we have attended was a two-hour tour that took us to locations filmed in the movie, “On The Riverfront,” a 1955 Academy Award winner starring Marlon Brando shot almost exclusively in Hoboken.

Looking east from the Hoboken Historical Museum’s doors, you see one of the vistas of New York City that makes the city (as well as coastal Hudson County) a grand place to visit.

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Hoboken’s waterfront parkway provides many places to relax, with no shortage of restaurants. If, however, you’d prefer picnics, bring your own lunch, stop at a nearby Kings Supermarket for prepared gourmet food, or buy meals from food trucks that line Pier 13 on weekends.

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Parking is limited. Fortunately, an Internet Search will show you where public garages are located. Rather than drive, consider biking or kick scooting around this small city. If you plan to arrive from New York City, use the Path Subway System, which connects New York to New Jersey, or for a more fascinating ride, take a New York Waterway Ferry. Once here, everything is within walking distance from your point of entry.

LINKS

  • Hoboken Historical Museum: Features regularly changing exhibits, plus tours and other activities throughout the year.
  • Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy: Provides a walkway map, plus events and guides related to the public land that ranges between Fort Lee and Liberty State Park.
  • Hoboken on Facebook: Visit this active site for information on ongoing events and city news.
  • Hoboken Terminal: Visit this breathtaking location to view its architecture from the outside, as well as stroll through its active train station and Tiffany glass ceiling above its waiting room. The Path Subway arrives at this location.
  • Carlo’s Bakery: Visit the original bakery made famous by Buddy Valastro (“the Cake Boss”) and his team through reality TV shows on the Food Network and TLC.
  • Stevens Institute of Technology: Visit this beautiful campus which specialises in advanced degrees supporting maritime technology.
  • New York Waterway Ferry
  • Path Subway System: A service provided by the NY NY Port Authority.
  • Hudson Reporter: Read this weekly newspaper for news and events held throughout Hudson County, including Hoboken.

AUTHOR:

Article and photos by Karen Little. Posted October 14, 2015 on www.Littleviews.com. Request permission to copy any part or all of this article from Karen at Karen@Littleviews.com.

Return to Littleviews’ main INDEX, or check out additional articles here.

Six Week Road Trip in France, Spring 2015

On May 20, 2015, my husband, Phil, and I set off for a six week road trip in France, during which time we covered almost 3,000 miles. This post is a summary of what we did and how we did it.

Prior to leaving, we generally knew what we wanted to do in France, but upon arrival at the Charles De Gaulle Airport, the only hotels we booked were for our first and last days in the country. Past that, we were free to drive and stay anywhere. Now that we’ve completed our trip, this map shows the locations of the nine cities where we stayed.

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LEGEND

Match numbers in the green (start and end) and yellow boxes on the map to the legend below:

  1. Paris: We flew into Charles de Gaulle Airport, picked up our car, then drove to our first hotel in La Rochette.
  2. La Rochette: This location is within easy driving distance to the Palace of Fontainebleau and is 45 minutes away from the Palace of Versailles. We stayed here for three days, during which we determined where we’d stay next in the Loire Valley.
  3. Tours: We stayed here for three days and decided to remain in the Loire Valley vicinity for another week. Unfortunately, we could not extend our stay at this hotel.
  4. Loches: Fortunately for us, our six day stay here was far better than in Tours in terms of quality housing and things to do in the city. Here, we were introduced to the Pierre & Vacances Residence chain, which helped us formulate where we would stay in the future.
  5. Lyon/Lissieu: We stayed here one day on route from Loches to Cannes.
  6. Cannes: OMG, what an experience that we did not expect! We stayed approximately 13 days in stunning Pierre & Vacances resort overlooking a infinity pool and the Med. What a pleasure! 
  7. Six-Fours-les-Plages: Based on our good experience staying in a Pierre & Vacances resort in Cannes, we decided to stay at another one of their French Riviera facilities, this time closer to Marseilles. (“Plages” means “beaches” in French.)
  8. Sarlat-la-Caneda: From the Riviera, we headed to the Dordogne, where we spent five days in a delightful boutique resort. If we had had more time, we would have extended time in this area by at least another week.
  9. Douarnenez: Based on a conversation with a Pierre & Vacances manager at Six-Fours-les-Plages, we decided to spend our second-to-last week in another Pierre & Vacances residence on the coast of Brittany. This location was close to her home town, which she loved, and is a major French and English vacation area that is almost unknown in the USA. 
  10. Paris: Our last week was spent in the very center of Paris in a 300 year old hotel that was formerly associated with a Catholic Church.

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THE CAR

We booked our car by phone from Hertz. Upon comparison, Hertz offered the lowest price on a rental that included a GPS. This is the second time in three years we’ve rented a car from Hertz in Europe and were very pleased with their cars, service, and, of course, prices.

THE LONGER DRIVES

During our entire stay, we only had four, 6-to-7-hour drives. They were from Loches to Cannes (with a stopover at Lyon), from Six-Fours-les-Pleges to Serlat-la-Caneda, from Sarlat-la-Caneda to Douarnenez, and from Douarnenez to Paris. Main highways were excellent, with tolls easy to make (we kept a lot of change in the car). Streets in new towns were equal to those found in the USA. Roads in medieval villages were narrow, often 1.5 cars wide, and from time to time, only one car wide.

THE GPS(s)

We used three GPSs and managed to drive throughout France without any problems. In addition to primarily using the car’s GPS, we relied on my iPad Air connected to a Bad Elf GPS and the Maps.Me app for extended detail, which was very important in cities. My husband’s cell phone GPS and offline maps provided further backup, which we did use twice.

THE HOTELS

We used Hotels.com exclusively, booking everything online. Among the many benefits to Hotels.com is their “one night free after 10 bookings,” travel notifications, and keeping of accommodation records since we started using their service.

We booked all hotels “sight unseen.” That said, after a week in France, we fell in love with the Pierre & Vacances chain, which offers small-to-medium sized apartments that are built as hotel accommodations, not rental units. All locations are in prime areas with spectacular views. Their vacation apartments include one or two bedrooms, a kitchen (or kitchenette), a dining table, and two sofas that can be turned into beds. All apartments face some type of fabulous view, which can be accessed by opening a sliding glass wall onto a private balcony.

Note that when using Hotels.com in France as well as in the USA, I choose hotels by customer satisfaction ratings and comments, location (whether a central location is important), and price, in that order. In France, however, it is very important to check the size of a room before committing because it could be as small as 150 sq. ft.

THE PHONE

Learn how to enter phone numbers in France. Test to make sure that you can successfully call your lodging, as well as any 800-number you might need in your home country, before you actually need to do it.

LINKS TO HIGHLY RECOMMENDED HOTELS

Le Grand Monarque, La Rochette, France: A nice place to stay if visiting the Palace of Fontainebleau is in order. The Palace of Versailles is approximately 45 minutes away.

Pierre & Vacances: Hundreds of locations are available throughout France, Spain, Italy, and far more. This chain’s facilities are all in excellent locations with stunning views, and porches on each unit.

Hotel La Verperie, Sarlat-la-Caneda, France: This is a well-managed boutique hotel on the edge of the medieval city of Sarlat. Breakfast with freshly made croissants is included. Simple, but very roomy rooms. Lovely grounds. Sunny glass-walled restaurant.

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MY BLOGS PUBLISHED ON LITTLEVIEWS

MY BLOGS PUBLISHED ON FACEBOOK

Around June 11, I could no longer easily connect to my website’s posting area. From that time on, I posted my unedited blogs on Facebook, anticipating that I would copy the information into my site upon returning home. Instead, I spent time setting up a new, trouble-free posting area (which is where you are now) and decided to link to those Facebook pages to this summary, rather than reproducing them.

You need a free Facebook account to see these blogs. If you don’t have one, Facebook will prompt you to join.

AUTHOR:

Articles and art by Karen Little. Photos by Karen and Phil Little. Posted October 11, 2015 on www.Littleviews.com. Request permission to copy any part or all of this article from Karen at Karen@Littleviews.com.

Return to Littleviews’ main INDEX, or check out additional articles here.

Visit Untermyer Park and Gardens in Yonkers, NY

Untermyer Park and Gardens, Westchester County, NY

We became aware of the Untermyer Park and Gardens after a major article appeared in the New York Times. Located in Westchester County, NY, this park sits on the former estate of Samuel Untermyer; one that once rivaled the majesty of the nearby Rockefeller mansion.

Unfortunately, although the Untermyer family left their property to the state and county in the mid-1900s following World War II, its grounds were too expensive to maintain and eventually, fell to ruins. The mansion was torn down, but the bones of its terraced garden, including its Indo-Persian architectural detail, reflecting ponds, pools, and ancient columns, remained.

In 2010, the philanthropist, Stephen F. Byrns, founded the Untermyer Gardens Conservancy and has since raised $2 million to return the grounds into a stunning public park.

To enter the park’s main grounds at 945 N Broadway, Yonkers, NY, you pass through a small door in the center of a massive wall.

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This leads directly under a tree canopy framing the reflecting ponds, plantings, and the park’s focal point, an area representing the mythical four rivers of Paradise.

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We visited on October 8 after the flowering season, when fountains in the canals were turned down. What was left, however, was a breathtaking fall landscape.

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I was particularly fascinated with the park’s waterlily collection and found it to be more varied than what I’ve previously seen in botanical gardens.

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At the head of the canals, Assyrian winged lions (lamassus, or “guardians”) watch over the meeting grounds.

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A nearby tiled observation area is currently fenced off. When fully renovated, it will provide a gathering place where people can overlook the lower ponds and gardens.

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The estate sits on the east side of the Hudson River Palisade, from the top of the palisade to almost the edge of the Hudson River. Directly across the Hudson is the western palisade.

Because the grounds run down a steep hill, many of its features are showcased on the different levels, some of which are still being cleared along the Carriage Trail during this renovation period (it should be finished in 2016). Access the trail from the columnized structure seen in the picture below.

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From there, you will pass more gardens, a “woodland trail,” and a “vista overlook.” At the lowest level, you’ll arrive at the “Lion and Horse Gate,” which is next to New York’s Old Croton Aqueduct.

Untermyer Park and Gardens, Westchester County, NY

In a different section of the park, where the original mansion once stood, are the ruins of the Temple of Love and a rock garden. (Below)

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As we visited on an off-season weekday, we were able to stroll around this 43 acre park with only a few other visitors. During the season, tours are available. Listen carefully to what you learn and be sure to record your visit with cameras and sketchbooks.

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I most certainly made use of my sketchbook during this visit! The grounds offer inspiration wherever you look.

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DONATIONS

The Untermyer Gardens Conservancy accepts donations and with them, is building a stunning public park. It is the only one of its type in the United States, and is especially important considering its ease of accessibility by car, its location on the Hudson River, and its nearness to New York City and other historical sites. Let’s keep this dream alive!

LINKS

AUTHOR:

Article and art by Karen Little. Photos by Karen and Phil Little. Posted October 10, 2015 on www.Littleviews.com. Request permission to copy any part or all of this article from Karen at Karen@Littleviews.com.

Return to Littleviews’ main INDEX, or check out additional articles here.