Staten Island Ferry – The Best Free View of the Statue of Liberty

While it is quite possible to visit many sites around New York City for free, an attraction like the Statue of Liberty can really take a bite into your wallet.  If your finances don’t allow for it or if the statue is closed to the public, taking the Ellis Island Ferry can be a costly move on your part ($18 US).  So how does one get a close up view of the Statue of Liberty without paying a dime?

Whitehall Ferry Terminal

Whitehall Ferry Terminal

Operating since 1817, the Staten Island Ferry is a 25 minute boat ride taking passengers back and forth between Manhattan and Staten Island.  This free service is available 24/7, so you can take in some great nighttime scenery of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.  The ferries depart every half hour, except for Rush Hour during weekdays (7am – 9am & 6pm – 8pm) when they run every 15 minutes instead.

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

There are two locations where you can take the Staten Island Ferry:

St. George Terminal (Staten Island)

1 Bay Street

Staten Island, NY

10301

Whitehall Terminal (Manhattan)

4 Whitehall Street

New York, NY

10004

Unfortunately, passengers cannot go on a round trip on the ferry.  You have to disembark at either terminal, but can get on the next available ferry.  I have done this a few times in the past, and the wait isn’t as bad as it may seem.

Riding on the Staten Island Ferry

Riding on the Staten Island Ferry

One suggestion for passing the time at St. George Terminal is to check out the Postcards 9/11 Memorial.  This outdoor sculpture can be found only meters away from the St. George Ferry Terminal on the North Shore Waterfront of Staten Island and pays tribute to the residents of Staten Island who perished during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  The way the sculpture is designed and located, you will have the eerie view of Lower Manhattan where the World Trade Center previously stood.

For more information about this service, you can visit their official website.

Categories: New York | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Explore San Juan in 8 Hours

It was November 2008 when I went on my first cruise vacation.  The reason for going was to attend my friend’s wedding – my first ever destination wedding to be exact.  While the week was going to be filled with plenty of celebrations and events on board, I was really looking forward to exploring our various ports of call, which would give me a bit of an idea of what the Eastern Caribbean had to offer.  The first stop on itinerary was San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Arriving in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Arriving in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Although 8 hours is not nearly enough time to appreciate Puerto Rico, it did give us enough of a taste of what San Juan was all about.  Here are my recommended sites to visit while in San Juan for a day.

Old San Juan 

Chances are if you arrive in San Juan on a cruise like I did, you will most likely center your visit on the Old San Juan neighbourhood.  The reason being is it is located right near the Port of San Juan and is within walking distance of the ships.

Old San Juan

Old San Juan

Old San Juan is generally a safe area of the city and primarily known for its shopping district and colonial Spanish architecture.  The city is lined with cobble stoned roads making it one of the prettiest cities you will see in the Caribbean.  I particularly enjoyed the various pastel colours of the nearby homes.

Cathedral of San Juan Bautista 

While wandering around Old San Juan, you should pay a visit to the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista.  The San Juan Cathedral is the second-oldest cathedral in the Western Hemisphere originating in 1521.  The current structure you see today was built in 1540 after the original cathedral was destroyed by a hurricane.

Cathedral of San Juan Bautista

Cathedral of San Juan Bautista 

For those wishing to visit San Juan Cathedral, you can find it here:

San Juan Bautista Cathedral
151 Cristo St
PO Box 9022145
San Juan, PR 00902

Phone: (787) 722-0861 

San Idelfonso Councillor Seminary

San Idelfonso Councillor Seminary is another religious building found within Old San Juan and worthy of a quick visit.  If you are particularly fond of travel photography, as I am, then you will enjoy the pastel colours and various flowers located within in the Seminary.

San Idelfonso Councillor Seminary

San Idelfonso Councillor Seminary

Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery

Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery is one of the most unusual cemeteries you will ever see.  Located just outside Fort San Felipe del Morro, Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery overlooks the Atlantic Ocean to symbolize the spirit’s journey into the afterlife.

Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery

Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery

Built in 1863, this cemetery is home to many of Puerto Rico’s prominent residents, politicians, and artists.  While we did not walk within the cemetery, we did manage to take a few photos of it along the way to Fort San Felipe del Morro.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro

Castillo San Felipe del Morro – or Fort San Felipe del Morro – is the main attraction of San Juan.  Typically the first site you will see while sailing into the Port of San Juan, Fort San Felipe is a 16th century citadel built to protect the Bay of San Juan.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro

Castillo San Felipe del Morro

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, it is possible to do a tour of Fort San Felipe.  Unfortunately, we arrived after 6pm when the fort closed, and only managed to visit the outskirts of the fort.  Just so you don’t make the same mistake, you can find all the info here on their official website.

Fountain of Roots

Probably one of the most popular sites in San Juan is the Raíces Fountain of Old San Juan – or the Fountain of Roots.  This statue commissioned by Miguel Carlo in May 1992 commemorates the New World’s 500th Anniversary.  Although we stumbled upon it after dark, this area provides one of the most beautiful sunset views over the Port of San Juan.

The Fountain of Roots

The Fountain of Roots

With darkness upon us, we headed back to our cruise ship ready for our 10pm departure.  We had only scratched the surface here in Puerto Rico, and I already knew I was going to miss it.  But alas, we had a few more Ports of Call over the next few days to attend to.  Puerto Rico was just the perfect way to kick-start our Eastern Caribbean adventure.

Categories: Puerto Rico, Weech's Wanders | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Save Money on Los Angeles Kings Tickets

If you have followed my blog for a while, then you know that I am a sports enthusiast who loves to incorporate sporting events into my travels where I can.  Whether it be attending a New York Yankees game, a World Cup match, the Winter Classic or watching the Belizean Premiere Soccer League Championships, I have had quite a few good sports stories over the years.

So it should come as no surprise that during my first visit to Los Angeles that I made every attempt to attend a local sporting event.  Given that it was January 2015 upon my arrival, baseball was out of the question here.  That basically left me with an NBA game (Los Angeles Clippers & Los Angeles Lakers) or the NHL (Los Angeles Kings).  As you can tell by the title of this post, I ended up watching a Kings game instead of basketball as both the Clippers and Lakers were on the road while I was here.

Kings Single Ticket Discounts

Kings Single Ticket Discounts

While the Los Angeles Kings are the current Stanley Cup Champions, they don’t bring in nearly as big of a draw as the City of Angels’ two basketball teams, especially the Lakers.  With that being said, finding a single Kings ticket for me was a lot easier than I thought it would be.  And as an added bonus, I was able to save 50% on my seat!  So how did I end up saving so much money on a Kings ticket?

For starters, you need to go to the Kings’ official website and check out their schedule.  My options were to either watch them play the Anaheim Ducks (January 17) or the Calgary Flames (January 19).  However, by checking out the Single Ticket Discounts page, I noticed that I could get tickets up to 50% off for that game instead.

Staples Center Available Seats

Staples Center Available Seats

Once I decided it would be financially better for me to watch the Kings vs. Flames, I then had to decide where I wanted to sit.  I could have spent as little as $22 US sitting in the 300 Level sections if I wanted to.  However, I noticed there was a seat available in Section 115, Row 11, Seat 13 for $65 US.  There was no question in my mind that this was the seat for me!

Had this been a Lakers game, then my seat would have easily been over $2000 US and to watch my hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, a comparable seat would cost me around $450 – $600 CDN easily.  And the most shocking part of it all?  I am watching the 2014 Stanley Cup Champions play at home here while sitting 11 rows up behind the Flames’ net without breaking the bank.  Talk about a steal here.  I felt like I should have been charged with grand larceny.

Kings Ticket

Kings Ticket

After making my online payment, I received an email confirmation with my ticket for the game.  Now keep in mind that this tip can pretty much be applied to any professional sports team in North America.  Of course the team owners want to fill out their stadiums to fully capacity as much as possible to bring in more Revenue, so it should be expected that single tickets will be heavily discounted.  However, this tip only works if you are going to a game by yourself.  Had I been with anyone else, then it would have been a little more difficult to find a pair of tickets to the game.  Plus, I wouldn’t have gotten this type of discount, either.

Have you ever found significant discounts on your travels?  What was it and how did you find them?

Categories: California, United States | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

In-n-Out Burger – A Los Angeles Treat!

For health reasons, I try to reduce my intake of fast food when possible.  However, I was told to try In-n-Out Burger while in Los Angeles as it is one of the best burger joints around.

Founded in 1948 in the Los Angeles suburb of Baldwin Park, In-n-Out Burger is one of the most popular fast food franchises in the Southwestern United States.  What essentially made In-n-Out Burger popular in California is offering the first drive-thru restaurants in the State (a novelty concept in the immediate post-World War II years) and providing fresh food faster to Customers.  You literally can watch the kitchen staff cook you up a burger in their open concept kitchen right behind the counter.

In-n-Out Burger

In-n-Out Burger

As for menu items, you are limited to three burger choices – Hamburger, Cheeseburger, and “Double-Double” (two hamburger patties with two slices of cheese).  You can also order fries, homemade milkshakes, and pop as sides.  I went for a cheeseburger with large Strawberry milkshake, an order of fries, and large Dr. Pepper.  Total cost was around $10 US, which was reasonable.

Ordering Our Meals Inside In-n-Out Burger

Ordering Our Meals Inside In-n-Out Burger

However, if you know about the ‘secret menu’ as the locals do, then you can also order non-listed items, such as the 3×3 Burger (three patties with three slices of cheese), 4×4 (four patties with four slices of cheese), Protein-style (a burger wrapped in lettuce instead of buns), and Animal-style (burgers are cooked in a thin layer of mustard, and in addition to the lettuce and tomato it also includes pickles, grilled onions, and extra spread. Hot peppers are also available by request.)

Cheeseburger with Strawberry Milkshake & Dr. Pepper

Cheeseburger with Strawberry Milkshake & Dr. Pepper

The décor of In-n-Out Burger takes you back to the popular diners of the late 40s/early 50s, which I very much enjoyed.  That combined with the freshness of the burgers adds to a relaxing, laid-back family environment not typically seen at some of the largest fast food chains, like McDonald’s, Wendy’s or Burger King.

Enjoying In-n-Out Burger with Miguel (Colombia) and Jules (Netherlands)

Enjoying In-n-Out Burger with Miguel (Colombia) and Jules (Netherlands)

Overall, I have to say I was quite impressed with In-n-Out Burger.  The service was prompt and courteous.  The food was fresh and delicious.  And the décor allowed me to enjoy my meal in a friendly and warm environment.  My only wish is for them to expand into Canada, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.  It’s probably for the better, though, for both my wallet and my stomach!

In-n-Out Burger – go check it out when you are in Los Angeles.

Categories: California, United States | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Los Angeles – Behind the Glitz & Glamour of Hollywood

Hollywood celebrities, legendary rock venues, multi-million dollar mansions, bleach blonde hair, chiseled bodies, and plastic surgery are just some of the images that pop into my head when someone talks about the City of Angels.  Until recently, I had zero desire or interest to visit this world-famous city mainly out of fear – the fear of being bombarded with fakeness.

LAX - Airport Logo

LAX – Airport Logo

When the opportunity presented itself for me to spend a few days in Los Angeles for my company’s annual Sales Kickoff, I thought it was time for me to put these preconceived notions of Los Angeles to the test.  It was also an opportunity to reconnect with my friend and former co-worker, Lorie, who I had not seen in three years.  Yes, this is the same Lorie who I went ice skating with on the Eiffel Tower.

Malibu Inn Dinner with John & Lorie

Malibu Inn Dinner with John & Lorie

With three days to spare before Sales Kickoff, I sure as Hell made the most out of my 72 hours in LA.  During this time, I noticed that there is more to this city than we are made to know.  Was I wrong all along about the fakeness of Los Angeles?!?  Behind the glitz and the glamour, Los Angeles (surprisingly) offers a lot more to the first-time visitor than one can imagine!

Gorgeous Scenery & Climate

First and foremost, Los Angeles is one of the most scenic places in the world.  Surrounded by mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Los Angeles has plenty of outdoor activities for everyone – surfing, hiking, bicycling, skate boarding, etc.

Runyon Canyon

Runyon Canyon

Griffith Park Observatory, Malibu Pier, and Runyon Canyon were just some of the places that allowed me to enjoy the grandiose views of Los Angeles County.  Combined with the good weather – it felt like late Spring/early Fall weather in Canada – I was overwhelmed with a sense of serenity unlike any feeling I have had before on past travel experiences.

Cost-Effective Attractions

Los Angeles is by no means short of attractions for its millions of visitors each year!  Beaches, night clubs, amusement parks, and high fashion shopping are just some of the activities that tourists can enjoy here over the course of a few days.  While it is quite easy to spend a boatload of money in Los Angeles, it doesn’t have to be the case.

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Whether you spend a day at Santa Monica Pier or few hours taking photos along the Hollywood Walk of Fame or take a walking tour of Beverly Hills, it is quite possible to still have a fat wallet at the end of your LA trip.  In fact, the most money I spent during my time here was for a hockey ticket to see the LA Kings takes on the Calgary Flames.  Mind you, I just needed a single ticket for myself, and there happened to be seats available for this game with a 50% discount.

Super Friendly People

There is a saying that “people you meet from LA aren’t really from LA.”  Boy was that cliché saying ever true!  Lorie and her husband, John, moved here several years ago – Lorie is from Tennessee and John is from Boston.  I also met a couple of Cougars who were a bit friendlier to me that I would have liked.  Both of them, coincidentally, came from Chicago although neither of them knew each other as I met each one separately a day apart.

Bulgarian Tony

Bulgarian Tony

By far my most memorable moment in LA was meeting Bulgarian Tony, who moved here several years ago to be a photo stand-in for Orlando Bloom in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie series.  Tony helped me find my way to the Staples Center after taking the subway down from Hollywood so I could make it to the LA Kings – Calgary Flames game on time.  Had this been New York City or any other large American city, I am not sure that patience and friendliness would have been reciprocated.

LA Kings vs. Calgary Flames

LA Kings vs. Calgary Flames

So there you have it – three factors that completely changed my perspective of Los Angeles.  By no means is this an exhaustive list of the factors that gave me a positive outlook on LA, but they are enough to make me completely change my outlook on the City of Angels for the better.

Have you ever had a 180 degree view on a city you’ve never visited before?  Where was it and what factors changed your mind – for better or for worse?

Categories: California, United States | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 42 other followers