More Places To Eat While In Cincinnati

The second in the series of great places to test your culinary palate while visiting the fair city of Cincinnati, Ohio.

There are several cities in the Unites States that are known for its pizzeria. Chicago, Illinois, New York, New York and the state of New Jersey all come to mind when one would like to find a great slice of pie. Nott too many people would think that Cincinnati, Ohio would be amongst one of the major cities where pizza is king. The next time that you are in Cincinnati, and you are crazing a calzone or a piece of pizza, I would suggest making a stop in at Mio’s Pizzeria.

Mio’s Pizzeria is located at the corner of Paxton and Isabella Ave in the quaint neighborhood of Hyde Park has several other locations through out Cincinnati.

Once you taste Mio’s you will not want to go to another place for a slice of pie. This neighborhood pizzeria stands by its name. The small seating area (seats 18) is a great place for an after school snack or a pre date appetizer. A full menu boasts of anything from breadsticks to meat filled calzones. One thing that is unique to this neighborhood pizza joint is its authentic stuffed pizza. Mio’s original crust is not lathered in oil like the larger chains. It’s naturally, oven baked crust will keep you coming back for more.

This small, but popular operation has their employers doing it all. Taking delivery and walk up orders, along with preparing orders. Taking a brief glance over the well-illustrated menu, you can choose a small antipasto salad and, surpassing the pre-packaged selection of pizzas, you can choose a large (15″) and select your own toppings to see how they handle variation. The server will accept ‘off the menu’ requests without blinking. If you like a lot of tomato sauce, this is not the place for you. Instead of being overshadowed by tomato sauce sprinkled with shanty toppings, the taste of a pie prepared here at Mio’s is enhanced equally by the fresh tasting tomato sauce, hand chopped red onions and green olives, and thinly sliced portabella mushrooms. Piping hot and ready to eat, this pie is a prefect ending to a long Sunday afternoon of moving,

If you brought your children along for your trip to Cincinnati or hosting a Sunday football marathon? Mio’s also has an easy to read kids menu and pre package catering packages printed on the back of the menu.

Mio’s Pizzeria 3703 Paxton Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45209 main (513) 531-4200
Monday – Thursday: 11 am – 10 pm Friday – Saturday: 11 am – 11 pm Sunday: 12 pm – 10 pm Cash – Visa – Master Card Non-Smoking Only

Staying just north of downtown Cincinnati? Wake up and grab a rich cup of java at Pleasant Perk Coffee in Pleasant Ridge.

Walking into the morning sunlit shop, the sun’s glow will bounce off the dark red furniture, giving the inside a deep shine. The barista is buried behind the varied displays of pastries coffee posts and glistening appliances. Though located in a quaint northern suburb of the city, you can find an eclectic variety of people who give patronage to this small coffee shop. While waiting for your order, it would be no surprise to see either a jogger, esthetically clad in running shorts and Under Armor top, or a person on their way into the office, dressed as though on his way to an early Monday morning business meeting at Procter & Gamble’s downtown office.

Not only does this small, but pleasantly roomy coffee shop boast its eclectic array of customers, the coffee also is varied.

Pleasant Perk is a great little shot to visit before you out of town business meeting.

6105 Montgomery Rd.Cincinnati, OH 45213(513) 531-4126Monday through Thursday: 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Friday: 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday: 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Moving back Downtown, where you will most likely be staying when visiting the Queen city, you can find many different places to fill your tummy. When heading out for lunch have you ever had a craving for a mix of Thai and American cuisine? I did not think that you would, but if you ever did, you can stumble into Rise & Shine restaurant, located in the heart of downtown Cincinnati.

Though this restaurant has traditional American breakfast and lunch menus all hours that it is open, this place also boasts of a Tai buffet from 11:30am to 1:30pm Monday through Fridays. It also includes a full menu of traditional Thai cuisine. This is great for the downtown worker who has little time for lunch but likes to pack a plate.

After being seated, you are handed the menus and find there are a plethora of choices for such a small operation. There is a complete Tai menu accompanied with a menu solely devoted to its western counterpart. Everything from steak and eggs to the traditional Tai curry are sparkled though out the menu. Bottoming out the list of selections are different types of French toast, pancake combinations, Thai vegetable dishes, traditional noodle dishes and breakfast combinations.

130 E. 6th St.Cincinnati, OH 45202(513) 421-33087 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Rise & Shine is a great place to get quick and easy Thai food when you are in a pinch, but if you ask anyone where the BEST place to get Thai food while you are visiting Cincinnati, 10 out of 10 people will say Teak Thai Restaurant.

Teak is located in the historic neighborhood of Mt. Adams and is un-arguably the best Thai restaurant in the Greater Cincinnati area.

The quant, semi crowded space over looking Cincinnati and The Steps of Cincinnati, is a welcomed changed to the strip-malled frenzy and other tourist traps that Cincinnati has to offer.

Seated outside, here were several pockets of urbanites that had also decided to forgo the indoor oriental decor for a traditional Cincinnati scenic view. Here, before you order your meal, you can waver back and forth from a tradition American drinks to an authentic Asian flare or finally opt for a glass of beer made in Thailand.

Teak’s service is one of the best in the city. Even on busy nights, you never wait more than a few minutes for a table to open, and you never wait more than 20min (at the most) for a dine in order. Ordering the Holy Basil with Tofu at a spiciness level of 4 is a must if you are only in town for a few days. The rich spicy flavor was welcomed and even the tofu was full of flavor

To top it off, you get a fortune cookie at the end of the meal.

Monday – Friday: Lunch – 11:30 AM – 3:00 PM – Dinner – 5:00 PM – 9:30 PM, Saturday: 5:00 PM – 9:30 PM, Sunday: 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM

1051 Saint Gregory St Cincinnati, OH 45202-1733(513)665-9800

So, again, the next time that you are in Cincinnati, do not bolster yourself in your hotel room and settle for that mundane hotel eatery. Get out and enjoy the different type of food that you can experience while in the city of Flying Pigs (no pun intended).

Where To Get Your ‘Grub On’ While In Cincinnati

There are few things that you HAVE to do in life. Some would say those things are to die and pay taxes. Most of us know that dieing is inevitable and paying taxes is questionable. I go against the grain and say that in addition to meeting your maker, you also, in life, HAVE to have sex and eat not necessarily in that order)

Travel is somewhere near the top ten of that list as well. Let’s combine the latter of the short list mentioned above with the joy of visiting other places to chronicle the some of the great places to ‘get your grub on’ while visiting Cincinnati, Ohio.

A Breakfast of Champions

It has been said many times over that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Mostly attributing to the fact that when you wake in the morning, it is indisputably the longest amount of spent without indulging in a meal. So when you are traveling, one must make sure that breakfast that you find will both satisfy your growling stomach and wake you up to get you started for the day. The combination of coffee with your morning chow is a great way to do this. This is one reason why coffee shops have expanded to serve much more than just your regular cup of java. Large coffee chains have added to their menus a different bevy of barista wares. This phenomenon has not been lost on the smaller, locally owned coffee corner stores. While in the Queen City, you should find your way downtown to Coffee Emporium, which is a perfect place to find the regular cup of Joe and more. For one thing, they roast their own coffee beans and have a mariade of coffee beans to choose from. They only have a select few that are readily available for the drink and go crowd, but you can wait a few minutes longer for whichever flavor you want.

If you are in town on a Saturday morning, it is one of the better times to go because you miss the sometime hurried bustle of the downtown crowd. Along with a Grande Carmel Latte, you can order a sausage, egg and cheese croissant. Again, something else that can not be found at that larger coffee stores (such as the one based in Seattle, Washington). Not only are the baristas very pleasant, the also know how to make a sandwich. Clad den with wireless internet access, if on a business trip, you can park yourself on the very comfortable couch and place your lap top atop of your lap to work on your business proposal and await your order. Stay awhile, relax with your cup of coffee and maybe you will run into one of Cincinnati’s who’s who. Coffee Emporium has another location in Hyde Park.

110 East Central ParkwayHistoric Over-the-RhineDowntown Cincinnatit: 513.651.5483Store HoursM-F 7a – 4p
A Touch of Paris

When looking for French cuisine in Cincinnati, there are a few different places one can frequent. Un-surprisingly there are all run by the famous Jean Robert, who has recently branched out and scudded across the Ohio River to quaint street of Greenup Ave to open the Greenup Cafe.

This cafe on Greenup Street in Covington, KY surprisingly brings a touch of Rue De Champs Elysee to this Northern Kentucky city. Its outdoor seating, few tables in the front and the side and a larger number in the back, was a perfect compliment to a Saturday morning of next to perfect weather.

You can walk inside the small service area where there were customers lined to by freshly made pasties on display, but most simply seats themselves, a great way to cut the tension and relax the customer.

Here you can ponder of a very limited but varied menu. If you make it here, you should try the Omlette Medley or buttermilk pancakes.

The Omelet medley is filled with mushrooms, tomatoes, gruyere cheese, asparagus and creme fiache, topped with parsley and accompanied by home-style potatoes, cut in quarters and seasoned with a slight spicy Cajon sprinkle.

308 Greenup St
Covington, KY

6am to 4:30

Far East In The Mid West

Staying just across the river in Covington, KY, if Asian cuisine is what you fancy, you can try a taste of Korean cuisine. Riverside Korean Restaurant, located just blocks from the Greenup Cafe on Madison Avenue, is so named because of its close proximity to the water of both the Ohio and Licking Rivers. This small and quaint restaurant is nestled in Covington’s old downtown district. Opened limited hours during lunch and dinner (as are most restaurants in this area) a reservation is not necessary at dinnertime, but they are taken and highly encouraged.

Like many other Asian cultures, it is customary to serve dinner ban-chan, a number of small dishes that we would call appetizers. These are pictured in the white bowls. The ban-chan included kimchi, dried radish, cold kimchi, cooked yams and spinach, all delightfully seasoned with authentic Korean flavor.
Surprisingly, there are a number of selections for such a small and limited restaurant. Not too used to spicy food, if eating with a large group, you should decide that the consensus to order all of the dishes mildly hot, because they are meant to be shared.
I do have to say that there are a limited number of establishments that serve authentic Korean faire (I do believe there are only a handful in the entire Cincinnati area) but being a former Korean Linguist in the US Army and obtaining a degree in Korean Studies, after eating a meal here, I thought that I was once again in South Korea.
512 Madison AveCovington, KY 41011-1506 (859) 291-1484
Mon-Fri 11:30am- 2:00pm Fri-Sat 5:00pm-10:30pm Sat 12:00pm- 2:00pm Sun-Thu 5:00pm- 9:30pm
Korean is not the only Asian fair that you will find in Cincinnati. Thai food is also very prominent here as well. While in Cincinnati, you should venture to the new Thai place in the Kenwood neighborhood of Cincinnati called MeKong.

This newly opened eatery specializing in Thai cuisine is located on the south side of Kenwood on Montgomery road just past Kennedy Heights and Silverton. It is located in a very non descript strip mall on the side of the road. You would pass it if you were not looking for it. The all boothed (all lined one behind each other) dining area poses a tight fit if you want to have a business luncheon but is perfect for the late evening dinner before heading back to your hotel for the night.

So the next time that you are in Cincinnati, do not bolster yourself in your hotel room and settle for that mundane hotel eatery. Get out and enjoy the different type of food that you can experience while in the city of Flying Pigs (no pun intended).

Edmonton, Its Mall and Other Points of Interest

The West Edmonton Mall is said to be one of the largest in North America. It boasts as many as 140,000 visitors on a busy day and many of these are from the United States. The West Edmonton Mall is located in the city of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

The city of Edmonton is located on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River.
Home to about 937,845 people, Edmonton finds itself the sixth largest city in all of Canada. The city of Edmonton is also home to the West Edmonton Mall. This is a mall of gigantic proportions and features over 800 stores and other amazing things to do, but more about the mall a little later.

The city of Edmonton boasts many things to do and places to see besides the mall. The downtown area is famous (not to mention old). The City Market (the Rice Street Market, located at 97 Street and 102 Avenue ) is older than the city itself and a much visited place to get fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers. The Old Strathcona District is also a must see. It is an area of the city that was once the town of Strathcona and dates back to 1891 and features several buildings from this era. The area now entails many pubs, eateries and several fine shops. The city of Edmonton is also home to the Alberta legislatures (it is the provincial capital); the Odyssium (a space and science centre); The Edmonton Art Gallery; The Commonwealth Stadium (where the Edmonton Eskimos Football team plays. They play with the Canadian Football League); The Valley Zoo and the Provincial Museum of Alberta. The city of Edmonton boasts over 2,000 restaurants and offers much choice when dining out. The hotels in the city are top notch and offer all the comforts of home and even a few extras. There are plenty of things to do and see in downtown Edmonton.

A short skip and a hop away is the West Edmonton Mall. This mall is the largest in the world and is truly a sight to see. It offers over 800 shops from the usual that one would expect such as Claires and Sears and truly Canadian shops such as The Bay (formally known as the Hudsons Bay Company); Winners (a fashion must stop for men, women and children)and Tim Hortons (donuts and coffee) as well as funky stores such as April Cornell (clothes for women) to B Sweet (a candy store). The mall also features truly unique stores such as The Mounted Police Outpost (the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and their symbols are the third most recognized in the world following right behind Coca Cola and Mickey Mouse!) and Pride of Kenya (a store that features African arts and other treasures). It is truly a unique place to shop!

Not only a paradise for any shopper, the West Edmonton mall offers so much more than shopping! Travel to the mall, but do not forget your bathing suits! The mall has an amusement park (Galaxyland Amusement Park) that has 25 rides to choose from, all indoors! The mall also has an indoor water park that has water slides and a wave pool! The indoor park also boasts a couple of mini golf courses, an ice skating rink (an official hockey sized rink that the Edmonton Oilers (NHL) occasionally practice on and the mall even has a marine centre that you do not want to miss either! There is also a lot to keep you busy if shopping is not your thing!

The West Edmonton Mall also is home to two fine hotels. One is the West Edmonton Mall Inn and The Fantasyland Hotel and true to its name, it is a fantasy land. This hotel offers rooms that revolve around a theme such as an African Safari or a as an Arabian for a night and with many eating establishments in the mall and in both hotels, you are sure never to go hungry.

If you are planning a trip to visit the largest mall in the world, keep in mind the temperatures of Edmonton. The city has snow from November until March and therefore has temperatures that reflect that. During the summer months, the city reaches a pleasant 20C (70 F) with lows at night in the teens. The winter is very cold, so if you visit during the winter season, you will want to make sure you take plenty of warm outer wear, along with a hat, scarf and mitts.

The city is a great place to visit and especially if you are a shopaholic, the mall should be first on your list!

Cincinnati Is Happening

Over the past few years, Cincinnati has been plagued with negative national publicity. The Cincinnati Riots of 2001 coupled with the multiple killings of African American youth have given a black eye to Cincinnati, especially its downtown area. Shortly after the Cincinnati Riots of 2001, many prominent African American celebrities and leaders canceled their engagements in Cincinnati in the name of a boycott. Some among the list of ‘boycotter’ were Bill Cosby (comedian and Cosby Show fame) and comedienne and Academy Award winner Whoppie Goldberg.

Things are starting to change here in Cincinnati so do not let the past negative press deter you from visiting the Queen City. While here not only can you take in either a Major League baseball game in Great American Ball Park, you can also walk a few city blocks and partake in the fervor frenzy of a National Football League football game in Paul Brown Stadium. Currently, Cincinnati’s professional football team, the Cincinnati Bengals are well on hier way to recapturing the AFC Championships as they did in 1988, and on their way to another appearance at the Super Bowl.

Sports are not the only thing that Cincinnati has going for it. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is unabashedly positioned in between Cincinnati’s two professional spots team’s stadium. Located on The Banks of the Ohio River, you can meander through this state of the art museum and learn about Cincinnati’s role as being the gateway and primary destination for African Americans as they escaped the horrid institution of slavery in the South.

This museum was one of Cincinnati’s first instances in its pro-active stance to bring culture to this city. Other attractions, thought not permanent, that you could find here at Cincinnati are its annual MidPoint Music Festival, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati or you may be able to catch the high flying antiques of Cirque de Soleil.

This push towards cultural diversity is nothing new to the downtown area of Cincinnati. The ‘Final Friday’ (FF) event that has been taking place in the Pendleton neighborhood has been a staple of downtown living for at least the past two decades. Over the years this display of monthly exhibition of artesian expression has spread to other parts of downtown and Over-the-Rhine (OTR) areas to include the downtown business districts and Main Street. This event occurs (as you may know from the name) on the last Friday of every month, from 8pm to 10pm, where art gallery and shops in the downtown keep their doors open later than normal, seducing patrons with free wine and appetizers. I fell in love with this even my first year of college when the parent’s of a high-school friend opened an art studio in this area and invited my to my first FF event.

The crowning jewel of Cincinnati and one of the most notable landmarks of downtown is Fountain Square where you will find the Tyler Davidson Fountain. A must see if you are visiting within 50 miles of the area or any area in Greater Cincinnati. Currently, The Square, as it is so affectionately called to those who were born and raised in the Queen City, has been under a major face lift. The last time that The Square was remodeled was in the 70’s. Closed for the past several months, The Square is scheduled to re-open October 14, 2006, with a celebration that you should not miss if you are visiting the area. There are many hotels in the downtown area were you can stay to experience the re-opening celebration where the unveiling of the poem, ‘I am Cincinnati’ written for and read by native Cincinnatian and distinguished author Nikki Giovanni.

The weekend of the re-opening celebration of The Square is a perfect time to visit the city of Cincinnati and experience all of the uniqueness that this city has to offer. At the celebration, there will be performances by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Ballet and the Cincinnati Opera, in addition to the unveiling of the new and improved Tyler Davidson Fountain. Other attractions of this weekend will be performances by OK Go, a band that is mixed between indie, stadium and straight up rock. Nationally known Talib Kweli and the band Los Lobos will also e in attendance for performances.

Tour the Jennie Wade House: A Civil War Survivor

There are few houses within the borough of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania that have as much history and folklore as the Jennie Wade House. Gettysburg is home to many old residences, but this small brick house is of particular interest. Built in the early-to-mid 1800s and only about twenty years old when the infamous Battle of Gettysburg occurred, the Jennie Wade House was actually known in 1863 as the McClellan and McClain House. On one side lived Catharine McClain and her children, on the other, Georgia and John Louis McClellan. After John went to war, their half of the house was occupied by Georgia and their baby son, who was born just before the battle.

Georgia’s sister Jennie Wade, twenty, died in the house after a fatal bullet found its wayward mark. She was diligently baking for hungry soldiers at the time of the tragedy. Despite this dark history, the house is a fascinating place to visit. It is very easy to find; if you travel up Baltimore Street, one of the town’s main thoroughfares, you will see the huge Holiday Inn Battlefield. Up on a hill next to the sprawling hotel, a small brick house perches. This is the Jennie Wade House. If you’re fortunate enough to be staying at Holiday Inn it is only a short walk over. You can get tickets at the small gift shop adjoining the Baltimore Street home. At least when I took the tour, it was self-guided. Feel free to take your time and explore each room, looking for evidence of the past. If you love old houses as I do, it won’t be any trouble to find something that will capture your imagination.

One thing you will be shown is the place where the actual bullet that took Jennie’s life entered; it can still be seen in the old red door. The McClellan kitchen is one of most striking rooms in the house, with its period furniture and quaint Victorian wallpaper. Each room is decorated to look much as it did in 1863, and this only adds to the sense of history you get as you look around. When you visit the parlor you might wonder why there is a bed situated against the wall. Georgia McClellan had the bed placed downstairs to reduce the chances of anyone getting hit by shells from the battle. Notice the “talking soldier,” one of the main attractions in the house’s lower level. After seeing the downstairs of the McClellan side, you will trek upstairs (you might notice the creaky steps; it certainly adds to the ambiance). Upstairs is a series of bedrooms and small nooks and crannies.

One of the upstairs walls was a casualty of war, as can be seen by a gaping hole. Even the bedrooms are tastefully decorated. You can also visit the McClain side of the double home, including a small but elegant parlor. You are free to visit the cellar, but be warned; this is purported to be a haunted house, and for good reason. Not only was young Jennie killed upstairs, but her body was kept in the cellar for awhile before its initial burial. There are definitely “odd” feelings and happenings in this part of the house. Bursting out into sunlight again, you may want to find some photo angles and check out the rough brick texture that survived the Civil War. You will find evidence of more battle damage in the small holes that dot the masonry.

Outside the home in the front lawn, a statue of Jennie guards busy Baltimore Street. The Jennie Wade House is like a 19th century oasis in the middle of the very modern, 21st century traffic. It is obviously contrasted by the hotel and parking lot that it is sandwiched between. Interestingly enough, you can see one of the Union positions from the parking lot; Cemetery Hill’s monuments are visible from the road. It is easy to see how dangerous it was to live in this location during July 1863. Found elsewhere on Baltimore Street is the huge red brick Evergreen Cemetery gatehouse. Jennie Wade, as well as her soldier sweetheart Jack Skelly, is buried in this cemetery which was begun in the 1850s, just before the battle. Her grave is topped by a likeness of her and an American flag honoring her sacrifice.

By Lacie R. Schaeffer

New York’s Underrated

By J.L. Soto

As anyone who’s visited or lived in New York City will tell you, there really is a ton of sights and things to do. Truth be told, depending on your taste, you can’t possibly see or do everything within a two-week period let alone a standard vacation week or weekend excursion. All too often, after talking with someone who has visited the Big Apple, I find out there wasn’t enough time to visit a particular place. These same people seem aghast when they find out about spots they passed up and instead went for the typical tourist traps. It seems as if places like Times Square or the Statue of Liberty suck up all the attention and visitors wind up leaving the city without experiencing all it has to offer. Part of that reason probably has to do with location or convenience. Seeing these spots sometimes requires going to the other boroughs and usually there isn’t time or misperceptions keep visitors from taking the extra effort to venture out of their comfort zones.

These are just some places that in my opinion should be visited since I feel they’re usually passed over and are worth the effort even though too many tourists pass up the chance to check them out. It may be useful for veteran visitors who are looking for something else to do besides fighting pedestrian traffic in Times Square. By no means is this a complete list nor will it cater to everyone’s taste. Check out the official NYC websites which have more complete listings of attractions and interests that cover all kinds of interests.

Brooklyn Bridge: While San Francisco’s Golden Gate gets all the hoopla as far as monumental bridges go, the one connecting the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan is just as deserving of that fanfare. One of the earliest suspension bridges ever built, this bridge has panoramic views of downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn. Many would just zip through the edifice while driving but visitors should try the pedestrian walkway that is usually laden with bikers and joggers. Don’t worry there’s plenty of space for gawking at the skyscrapers. It takes about an hour to cross by foot and it’s free to boot. Then again there are walking tours that give visitors the full history lesson, etc. for a fee. For a different view of the bridge try one of the many boat or air tours. But visitors who go by foot will find that both ends of the bridge provide nearby walking access to places of interest like City Hall in Manhattan and the Fulton Mall in Brooklyn. To reach it by train, take the number 4 or 5 trains to the City Hall stop in Manhattan or in Brooklyn, the Borough Hall stop by the same trains as well as the 2 and 3 trains.

The Brooklyn Museum: This art museum often gets overlooked by museum patrons busy visiting the Met which is a shame. It’s located on Eastern Parkway just behind the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and has an impressive collection of traditional and modern art, some temporary, some permanent. Visitors will even find art and artifacts dating back to ancient Egypt, Africa and Asia. Also on the first Saturday evening of the month, admission is free as a festive atmosphere takes over the place. Drinks and food are served as the museum becomes a unique place to mingle. It’s very popular with the locals. In addition to the just-mentioned Garden, the museum is in walking distance to Prospect Park (with its own zoo and playgrounds), Grand Army Plaza (an elaborate arch dedicated to Civil War veterans that serves as an entranceway to the park), and downtown Brooklyn can be reached quickly from the museum through public transit. The number 2 and 3 trains have stops just outside the museum. The station is called Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum.

Central Park Zoo: First of all, the best zoo in the city is the Bronx Zoo. But that is an all-day affair that is worth the visit but unless there’s time to spare go with the small zoo in Manhattan. Just inside Central Park and off Fifth Avenue between 63rd and 66th Streets, the zoo boasts more than 130 species of wildlife. Basically it’s divided into three environmental areas and they are the Tropic Zone (with a recreated tropical rainforest complete with free-flying birds), Temperate Territory (featuring red pandas and macaques) and the Polar Zone. The last spot is home to one of the zoo’s main attractions, the polar bears that delight many with their playful underwater antics. What probably makes them popular is that they are displayed so close to spectators and that sense of display is prevalent throughout the zoo making a visit to be a more intimate experience. Expect to spend a couple of hours or more if you have children. Take the M1-4 buses on Fifth Ave. to 64th St. or the N and R train to the Fifth Avenue station and walk four blocks to 64th St.

Chelsea Piers Sports & Entertainment Complex: This 30-acre sports village is located on the historic Piers 59-61 between 17th and 23rd Streets in Manhattan facing the Hudson River. The waterfront center is perfect for sports fans who want a more hands-on experience aside from catching a major league game. Sports-related activities include bowling, golf, ice and roller skating, and there’s a field house with facilities that allows youngsters and adults to play their favorite sports from soccer to baseball. If all these activities have you tired, there’s a spa at the Complex to let you unwind and relax. But even if you’re not a sports fan, there are shopping and dining venues options, a marina where boat and yacht tours are available, plus live bands play at the Piers during weekends. The M23 and M14 buses make direct stops at the northern and southern entrance of the Complex.

The Cloisters: New York is synonymous with world-class museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim and the American Museum of Natural History. But this branch of the Met is hardly ever mentioned in brochures and that is a shame. Devoted to medieval art and architecture, the four-acre museum overlooks the Hudson in Fort Tryon Park, Manhattan. Featuring about five thousand art pieces dating back to A.D. 800, the museum’s collection includes tapestries, manuscripts, metalworks, and stained glass pieces. Walking through the medieval-inspired rooms will take any visitor back in time to Europe. It’s hard to think of another museum in the city quite like this one. To reach the Cloisters take the A train to 190th St. and walk north for ten minutes along Margaret Corbin Dr. or take the M4 bus to the last stop (Fort Tryon Park).

Fashion and the City- Halifax’s Own Fashion Maven

During a recent trip to the mall, my friend Jensen remarked that it’s not easy to be fashionable in a city that isn’t fashionable in any sense. “Halifax is not in touch with the rest of the planet,” she commented. “This city has no idea what’s in or out. I bet if you stopped most people on the street and asked them when New York fashion week is held, both for the spring/summer and fall/winter lines, very few people would know. It’s too bad because this city has so much to offer in other areas. We need to become more cosmopolitan, more up on the trends. But fashion?” She wrinkled her nose and shook her head. “It’s nada here.”

With a knowing smile I responded with raised eyebrows, “Except for us of course?”

“But of course. That goes without saying.” Her eyes lit up and her smile was mischievous. “You and I are Halifax’s own fashion mavens. We care about fashion and we’re not afraid to show it. We are an unheard of breed in this city my dear friend.”

Her comments got me to thinking. Sure Halifax, being the capital city of Nova Scotia and also the most populated of the Atlantic provinces, is not exactly a thriving metropolis like Montreal or Toronto but let’s face it, we are also considerably smaller. The greater Halifax area has approximately 100,000 people while Halifax and surrounding area is home to 400,000. As compared to the millions in Montreal or Toronto, I don’t think we are doing too badly. Granted we’re not a hotbed of fashion activity like New York City, Paris or Milan but we can hold our own all right.

Can’t we?

Not everyone can be Carrie Bradshaw (and of course not everyone wants to be) but I do my best to be a stylish and “in the know” woman about town. I love to dress up and go out and like Carrie, shoes really are my best friend (or come in a pretty close second). Let’s see what I have on the social agenda … tonight it’s a wine and cheese party and I’ve chosen a pair of soft black trousers, a sexy navy camisole, and a pair of dressy mules. A chic and classy look in my humble opinion. Of course there’s a pair of gold hoop earrings, a gold bracelet, a spritz of … oh what kind of cologne will it be tonight? I can’t make up my mind, my vanity table is replete with choices. Oh yes I can now- Obsession by Calvin Klein it is going to be. It’s my old standby, my can’t-make-up-my-mind fragrance. And now what should I wear, my velvet jacket or that new dressy wrap I just bought? Decisions, decisions …

Halifax may not have it’s own fashion week twice a year but I’m doing my part to show others that fashion should (and most definitely can) be a priority in this city I have always loved. I’ll let my friend Jensen be her cynical self and think as she wishes. But a city without its eye on fashion? I beg to differ!

Note- If you were stumped by Jensen’s question at the beginning, here is the answer: New York City hosts fashion week twice a year. The fall shows are held the preceding winter in February while the spring shows are held the preceding late summer, in September. The actual dates vary from year to year. The shows are held in a place called Bryant Park which is located at 42nd and Sixth. Bryant Park is an eight-acre park that for the sake of the high profile galas, is converted into an area full of tents and lots of frantic fashion activity. Anybody who is anybody in the fashion world attends these events.

The closest fashion mecca to Halifax is to be found in central Canada, which is to be more exact, stylish Toronto, Ontario which is home to 4,682,897 people (according to a census done in 2001). Toronto is the largest city in Canada and is the fifth most populated city in North America after Mexico City, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. The dates of October 16th to the 21st of this year are set aside for Toronto’s fashion week when all fashion designers and self confessed fashionistas will be out in full swing enjoying the festivities. During this exciting week in Toronto the spring collection for 2007 will be unveiled.

Now aren’t you glad you learned something new today?!

Travel Woes

By Christina VanGinkel

From drinking water to being stranded in an airport, travel woes are varied. Knowing upfront what some of these things are that can go wrong, is often the best way to avoid such pitfalls in the first place.

Drinking Water No’s

If you are traveling a few cities over, or across the globe, avoiding drinking any amount of beverages that are made from un-boiled or un-bottled water can help keep you feeling healthier than if you do. Water is necessary for life, yet it can also harbor disease and germs. Even going from drinking well water to city water, or vice versa, can be enough of a knock on our systems to leave us running to the bathroom every few minutes. If you are flying, stick with bottled water or beverages too. A glass of water from an airline could have potentially come from so many different sources, all depending on where that plane has recently been, it is just not worth the risk. It is important to drink water though, just make sure it is bottled or has been boiled. For long flights, be aware that you can dehydrate rather quickly, so using moisturizers for your skin along with drinking bottled beverages can help you feel overall healthier at the end of the flight.

Stuck in Traffic, Airports, Train Stations and More

Airports, bus or train stations, and even traffic, all have the potential to be backlogged. You might find yourself sitting in a terminal or stuck in traffic for hours longer than you ever imagined. Once, on a car trip to Colorado to visit family, my husband and I, along with two of our three children, ended up in a major backlog of traffic outside of Denver, when a car sheared off the back axels of a semi, and traffic in the area became a congested mess. Life Flight was called in, and the accident victims were soon on their way to help, but cleanup of the accident occurred only after investigators arrived on the scene. Nearly five hours passed before traffic was able to proceed anywhere close to a normal pace. Thankfully, as we were already in the midst of an extended car trip, we had snacks, games, and reading material. I am sure though that many of those around us in other vehicles were not as lucky. A lesson we learned from this was that even if you are taking a short jaunt, if it involves being on an expressway or freeway, where backing up, or turning around are not an option, then take along a few things to pass the time if any sort of lengthy delay should occur.

No room at the Inn

You never want to think about it, but it does occur. You arrive at your destination, and the person behind the counter looks at you and says they have no record of your reservation. Sure, you probably have your credit card that the reservation was reserved under, but by the time, they track it down via that information, a major sized headache can be settling in. Keep all reservation numbers on your person, and if any reservations were made over the phone write down who you talked to and when. While hotel staff is trying to figure it out, tell them you will wait in the bar or restaurant, and inform them that you expect them to pick up the tab while they figure it out, as they are the ones inconveniencing you. I do not suggest that you run up a huge bill, just that you keep comfortable while they straighten their error up.

Medical Information Musts

Be prepared for accidents or other medical emergencies. While no one wants to entertain the idea of being sick or hurt when on vacation, having with you all your medical cards and information on yourself and your travel companions can be a huge advantage. Make sure someone else in your group knows where the information is stored, and in the event, you are traveling alone, be sure to keep a card in your wallet or purse with all identifying information that a caregiver might need to provide you with the best medical attention they can. Insurance cards, allergy information, medication list etc., should all be with you at all times.

Traveling to the UP

Summer vacations can be the high point of anyone’s year. The long and warm summer nights, sipping margaritas on the beach with you loved one. If you are clad den with these miniature copies of yourself than there is no doubt that you would be enjoying the summer no sipping a martini, but frolicking in the surf with them. Conversely, if can also be the down fall of many families. There are far too many stories of family vacations that did everything but bring the siblings, parents and other kinfolk closer together. Can anyone remember the movie “National Lampoon’s Summer Vacation”?

One of the most beautiful driving trips of the summer was taken by me as I left the Queen city of Cincinnati and drove 8 hours to the gracious isle of Mackinac. The drive took me through a few of Ohio and Michigan’s greatest cities to the meeting place of the Lake Ontario and Lake Michigan. As stated, we start our trip at the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati Ohio. The Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium behind us, we never look back as we traveled up Interstate 75. We pass the United States’ first zoo as we make our way to Dayton Ohio.

I have been to Dayton many times, mostly for the great sports bar called Roosters and the new and innovative gay dance club…. I had never been north of Dayton on interstate 75, It was strange, to say the least, to see how much farmland there is once you get past the city of Dayton. The deterioration of the roadway did not deter my fervor for traveling the open road and seeing the most of Ohio as I could. With two very sleepy friends in the back seat and an over excited one in the passenger seat. I trekked on.

Less then a few hours later (and a multitude of bathroom breaks along the way) we made it to Findley Ohio. You may not think that there is much in this central Ohio city, but Findley boasts being the Flag Capital of the world. What, pret ell, do you think that means? Well, but of course it means that this city has been charged with the patriotic tasks of producing Ol’ Glory, the official flag of the United States. Along Interstate 75 you could see why this small city was called this. Everything from a sign stating its Flag name to a statue of a star spangled four legged animal graced the seen along the high way.

Traveling on, the two backseat passengers were wide awake and now graining my nerves, but I kept everything jovial. As we neared Toledo Ohio, the three riders-along were welcomed (I guess more because I had been driving non stop since 8am that morning). We worked our way around the Glass Capital of the world via two separate by-passes. I hindsight, I guess we could have drove straight through the city to see more of Ohio’s northern sister city, but we stood steadfast with the Trip-Tick provided to us by AAA and we the recommended route.

Surprisingly, the trip through Michigan was very uneventful. If you call the beautiful wildlife, the picturesque forestry, the vibrant colors found in the landscape and the less than un-perfect lakes and other waterways found in that glorious state to be uneventful. The island of Mackinac and its bridge are the crowning jewels of this oven mitted shaped state. These two pieces of Michigan’s land and history are so appropriately named because of their proximity near the northern most point of the state.

All in all, traveling the open highway of interstate 75 through the Buckeye state of Ohio and continuing through Michigan on a clear summer’s day is a great way to see both of these majestique states. Make sure that you take your time and that you are not to rushed trying to get to your destination. Looking back on this trip I wish that I had heeded my words so that I could take in some of the sights and attractions that could be found on this trip. Well, there is always a next time. Where will you go on your next trip?

Visit Harrisburg, PA: History and Scenery

When you’re thinking of historical destinations in Pennsylvania, the state capital of Harrisburg may not be your first thought. Surprisingly, there are quite a few history- and culture-related attractions in this city and it is a place to consider if you love traveling to the past. Due to its size and traffic level you may want to consider taking a bus or finding some other way to get around the city, but it is worth the trouble. Your first stop should be the capitol building. If you’ve never seen it, here’s a quick description:

Like many government buildings in America, the capitol has a noticeable likeness to Roman building style. The impressive dome, white columns, and beautifully descriptive artwork take the visitor on a journey through history. If you are able to catch one of the tours offered, don’t forget to look up when you reach the rotunda. The stunning ceiling decoration brings the cathedrals of Europe to mind. St. Peter’s in Rome was used as a guide for this part of the building. You may not realize how big the rooms in the capitol truly are until you visit for yourself.

There are many sections of the capitol building to enjoy; you can view impressive architecture, take a brisk walk and admire the Italianate facade, or even work on your family tree at the archives. Don’t forget your camera because few people realize how many awe-inspiring photos are possible. The town of Harrisburg dates from the late 1700s, but the capitol was constructed in the early years of the 20th century. Before it was built, the land belonged to the aptly-named John Harris. If you’re traveling to Harrisburg’s capitol building you will need to find out when tours can be taken and when the building is open to the public.

Another impressive historical attraction in Harrisburg is the National Civil War Museum. If you can’t get enough of the American Civil War this place is definitely the perfect stop for you. One of the museum’s most interesting facets can be found before you even go inside; it’s called the Walk of Valor. Relatives of Civil War soldiers can buy a brick and inscribe it with their ancestor’s name and other information they may have about the person. The brick is then placed in the walkway for all to see. The Civil War Museum has two levels, each crammed full of informational exhibits. Just some of the exhibits you will see include weaponry, causes of the war, music, battles, and the role of women during war times. Don’t leave Harrisburg without stopping to admire this terrific museum.

Check out the State Museum, also located in Harrisburg, on North Street. This is a huge place that will tickle the imagination and is an especially great field-trip opportunity or a suggestion for those traveling with kids. Even children who have never shown any interest in history or culture will find it hard not to discover an exhibit that leaves an impression. Walk inside and prepare to learn everything you ever wanted to know about Pennsylvania history. Ancient Indian items, pottery, personal effects from long-gone decades – these things only scratch the surface of the exhibits that are offered. Also, don’t forget to stop by the gift shop before leaving; you might tell yourself you’re only shopping for the kids, but you may be surprised!

For a trip of Harrisburg that frees you from the obligation of navigating through traffic, take a calm cruise on the riverboat known The Pride of the Susquehanna. Not only will you see some wonderful views, but if you plan your trip just right you can even have your meal aboard ship. Cruises available to the general public are offered in the summer months (there are some during spring and autumn but you will have to check as the schedule is not as fixed as it is in the summer), but those wishing to rent the riverboat for a personal gathering will have to check a separate timetable. You can also eat some delicious goodies while you enjoy the view.

If you’re in the area for more than a few days but are tired of noisy, crowded attractions in the downtown area, consider Fort Hunter Mansion. The house dates from the early 1800s and got its name from a military outpost. One of the best attractions the mansion has to offer is the elegant furnishings and colonial architecture you will see on your tour. An 1800s tavern is also located on the site; known as the Practical Farmer, it is a beautiful partial-brick structure that has been lovingly kept for centuries. You may be allowed to visit if you time your arrival right, but it is not a constant attraction and usually isn’t open to the public.

By Lacie R. Schaeffer