Night Sailing – Lady Liberty Awaits

On Friday DW and I had the pleasure of night sailing on the Hudson on the sailing yacht Ventura.  The event was organised by NYC Navigator, an organisation that helped us get up an running in New York, who regularly run social events for their customers.

We were out for about two hours, and had some fantastic views of Manhattan, New Jersey, and the Statue of Liberty.

Lady Liberty at Night

The Frying Pan – a most relaxed evening

Last night DW and I had dinner at the Frying Pan on the west-side.  The Frying Pan isn’t really a restaurant though, it’s a 1930’s era lightship on pier 66.

The Frying Pan on pier 66

A lightship is a big, heavy, vessel that serves as a light house in areas where the water is too deep to construct your favourite type of illuminating-tower.  The Frying Pan was named for the Frying Pan Shoals just off Cape Fear in North Carolina.  It served there until 1965 when it was replaced by a light tower (now possible because of advancements and techniques in oil-drilling platforms).  It was decommissioned for about 20 years, until it accidentally sunk and stayed in its under-watery home for 10 years.  It was then restored (mostly on the outside, the inside is apparently still quite ‘sunkish’) and now serves as a restaurant / party venue in New York.

Trolleyway leading to the Frying Pan

This was my favourite excursion in New York so far.  From the wooden trolleyway that serves as an entrance, the gentle bobbing of the boat as you eat, through to the great views of the City and the sailboats (/jetskis) crossing the Hudson, this is truly a great and relaxing experience.

The food wasn’t too shabby either!

Picnic Chick’Wich and Old-Bay fries

My only gripe was that the bouncer refused to accept my ID (IDNYC) which is a tad perplexing as it’s a government issued document.

View of New York from the Frying Pan
The dining area on the Frying Pan overlooking NYC

Coney Island : Hot Dog heaven

Coney Island isn’t a “real” place for me – it’s a fictional place where on the 4th of July thin people try to cram as many hot dogs into their gullet as they can, and Podcast hosts skive off for the day.

Except it is real, and with much improved weather this week DW encouraged myself and one of her friends to head south and check it out.

I’m fortunate to live on the Q-Line, which goes straight to Coney Island – not having to change lines makes the Subway a tad more bearable.

The first thing you see when leaving the Subway Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs, home of the aforementioned July 4 ‘dog eating contest (NB:  Winner this year ate 72 hot dogs in 10 minutes, or 1 dog every 8.3 seconds.  I can’t even THINK of a hot dog in 8.3 seconds).

Nathan’s Famous Hot Togs

It’s worth pointing out:

  • “Nathan’s Famous” is actually the brand name of the restaurant, which I find cheekily clever; and
  • Every single hot dog vendor in Coney Island claims they are “the original”, which I find logically dubious.

Of course I tried the ‘dogs, and they were delicious (but I could eat, max, maybe 60).  I do, however, have an offer to make to Nathan’s Famous, Inc. – give me one day with your staff and you’ll double productivity or your money back.  I’ve never seen a process so in need of optimisation…

Oh – glamour shot of the ‘dog.

The ‘dawg

Coney Island is best known as a place of leisure – it has a very large and sandy beach, a boardwalk, an aquarium, and a Luna Park.  I was pretty amazed at the last part, because in my frame of reference Luna Park is an Aussie chain of amusement parks.  It turns out that:

  • the term “Luna Park” has become synonymous with fun-fairs;
  • there are (or have been) dozens of Luna Parks; and
  • Coney Island is the original.

Well that was a short-lived spout of excited patriotism!

Coney Island amusement parks and beach as seen from the boardwalk

The amusements are set over c.600m of waterfront, but the parks are not contiguous.  Luna Park is split in half by “Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park”, which I’m sure will confuse many as you transition from a place that solely takes Luna Park tokens to one that doesn’t (and isn’t afraid to say it).

Luna Park itself, with Deno’s Wonder Wheel in the back

The main attraction at the Coney Island amusements is the Cyclone, a 20’s era wooden rollercoaster.  It’s wondrous thinking of all the times this 90-year-old structure has seen through, and the vision of someone in the 20’s to manufacture something so tall and fast purely for the sake of amusement.  You immediately lose all sense of wonder when you’re at the top of the first dip, when you question your sanity for riding something constructed in the prohibition era.  I like rollercoasters, but I’ve since discovered I prefer new rollercoasters.

Rockaway Park : A ferry decent journey

My dear wife (henceforth known as “DW“) has insisted that one of the greatest advantages of living in New York is accessible, sandy, beaches.  Now that’s not to say that we couldn’t reach beaches from London, but the decent ones are a few hours away and tend to be covered in rocks & pebbles.  Oh, and the weather – don’t forget the 2 beach-appropriate days per year when the entire populace travels to said beaches.

On Sunday we journeyed to Rockaway Park,  taking the very reasonably priced  ($2.75) ferry from the Wall Street Pier.  This journey was probably the best value-for-money I’ve experienced in NYC so far, considering:

  • it’s an hour long;
  • you get a great view of NYC;  and
  • we didn’t need to subject ourselves to the dismal NYC Subway

I was also impressed that they happened to run two ferries for the scheduled time.  This made the world of difference as we weren’t high enough in the queue to get on the first ferry.

Rockaway Beach, NY

However, we didn’t count on two things:

  1. The disappointing weather which curbed our enthusiasm for beach-related activities; and
  2. A once-and-hour ferry service with an attractive destination means HUGE lines on the return.  My guestimate is that there were 4 ferries worth of folk waiting, and there was only one vessel in sight.

So scratch the “not subjecting ourselves to the NYC Subway” part for the return leg.