Author: Heather

I love travel, ballet, cats and my hometown of NYC.

Ocean Grove’s Tent City

I spent both days on the beach, this weekend. Even though the weather was a little cooler and the beach a tad more crowded than I’d prefer, it’s always wonderful to leave the city and spend some time in the sand and surf.

My new goal in life is to buy a beach house within train or easy driving distance to NYC. I don’t have anything fancy in mind. Just an airy place where I can go to escape NYC on the weekends.

Last week, I stumbled upon a very interesting community that mostly fits that description.

Ocean Grove is a NJ beach town about an hour away from NYC. It has Victorian architecture, a boardwalk, a small downtown area—and “Tent City.”

It’s exactly what it sounds like: a community of people who reside in canvas tents during the summer.

Colorful awnings and flowers decorate tent houses in Ocean Grove

Tent City evolved from a campground, where people stayed while attending religious meetings, in the 1800s.В At one time, there were as many as 600 tents.

Today, 114 remain, with some modern touches, like wooden back rooms, kitchens and bathrooms.

Inside an Ocean Grove tent

The tents don’t offer much privacy—they’re close together and residents can hear what’s going on in the ones around them. There’s no BBQing allowed, and Ocean Grove is a dry town. And, true to its origins, Tent City is still a religious community.

Each tent goesВ for $4,000 to $7,000 a season. Yet, the wait list is rumored to be decades long.

The interior of the Le Duc family's Ocean Grove tent

I can certainly see the appeal. I would happily move into a beachy tent for the summer…though preferably in a non-denominational tent community that allowed BBQing and booze!

(Images via the State of NJ, NJ.comВ and NJ Monthly)

So Ready for a Beach Weekend!

Large Wall Art Large Scale Photography Coney Island Beach II Archival Art Print 30x30"

Happy Friday! For the first time in ages, it’s the weekend and I have absolutely nothing planned. But since the weather forecast is looking pretty good, Evan and I are thinking maybe two beach days in a row—or sneaking away for a night at a nearby beach town. Ahh, summer weekends…

Hope you have a relaxing few days planned, as well. Until next week, a few of my favorite travel-themed links from around the web:

Gorgeous beach photos, including the one above, of Coney Island, by NYC-based photographer Mina Teslaru.

Books that feature flying. Have you read any of them? I’ve been wanting to check out The Skies Belong to Us.

Photo #28. Talk about the coolest World Cup-viewing party!

Amazing photos of floating markets.

A few of NYC’s coolest park benches.

How powerful is your passport?

A bike pizza slicer!

Where’s my jetpack rental?!

(Image via Minagraphy)

A National Parks Checklist Map

When I was growing up, national parks weren’t really on my radar. I come from a very-NYC family—i.e. not outdoorsy—and our summer vacations usually involved relaxing on an east coast beach, rather than hiking trails.

And as I got older, I preferred to spend my vacation days exploring new countries rather than stateside attractions.

But over the past few years, I’ve found myself wanting to visit more national parks. I’m astounded by the diverse landscapes that exist in this country—everything from beaches to volcanoes, mountains to deserts. I’ve started to make up for lost time by visiting some, like the Grand Canyon, Acadia, Volcanoes National Park.

I’d like to see many more. Which is why I’m loving this National Parks Checklist Map by ElloThere, an awesome, Brooklyn-based, husband-and-wife design team.

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The map shows all the national parks, which are denoted by numbered green trees.

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It comes with numbered gold tree stickers—so after you visit one, you can mark it off.

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A cool whimsical extra: The map also comes with a little explorer’s patch!

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I feel like I may need to plan a national park trip soon…

(Images via Ello There)

World Cup Fans in NYC

While I haven’t been watching much of the World Cup, I do appreciate the effect it has on the city. I love walking by fansВ clad in their nationalВ colors, spilling out of bars or huddling around TVs in shop windows.

It makes me feel like I’m in another country—pretty much any other country than here, where this kind of communal viewing is common.

Today I stumbled upon an amazing site, Global Soccer, Global NYC, that wonderfully illustrates this phenomenon. Its founders,В Braden Ruddy, Owen Dodd and Rob Navarro, depict NYC soccer fans watching matches in gathering places (usually bars and restaurants) relevant to their home countries. The photos and accompanying text give a nice snapshot of the countries, their teams and NYC’s immigrant communities:

Ghana vs. Germany, Papaye Restaurant, The Bronx

Ghana vs. Germany at Papaye Restaurant, The Bronx

Argentina vs. Iran at Boca Juniors Steakhouse, Elmhurst

Argentina vs. Iran at Boca Juniors Steakhouse, Elmhurst

Croatia vs. Cameroon at Veslo in Astoria

Croatia vs. Cameroon at Veslo, Astoria

Uruguay vs. Costa Rica at La Gran Uruguaya Bakery, Jackson Heights

Uruguay vs. Costa Rica at La Gran Uruguaya Bakery, Jackson Heights

I’m definitely going to be keeping up withВ Global Soccer, Global NYC.В (And checking out some of those bars and restaurants!)

(Images viaВ Global Soccer, Global NYC)

So Ready for a Summer Weekend!

marcelo gomes

Happy Friday!

Even though I mark the start of summer on Memorial Day, the season officially starts tomorrow—and I’m thrilled to be in the midst of my favorite time of year. I have a few very NYC summer plans for the weekend: seeing ABT’s Giselle, going to a friend’s birthday at this rooftop bar. I may also hit the beach and catch some of the World Cup.

Speaking of ABT and the World Cup, how awesome is the photo above? It’s of ABT principal Marcelo Gomes—he’s originally from Brazil, and had a chance to have some fun at one of the new World Cup stadiums.

Until next week, some links from around the web:

Seven (non-beach) swimming spots near NYC.

I’ve made a few trips to South America, but those little countries in the north still eludeВ me—so I enjoyed reading the Frugal Traveler’s foray into Suriname and Guyana en route to the World Cup.

I could not stop laughing at this. (Try it—it really works!)

An ice cream truck for cats.

Here’s to the start of summer!

(Photo via ABT)

NYC Artist Gives Late Father His Dream Trip

I found this so moving:

Jinna Yang is an NYC-based artist who was raised by her father. He was a PGA-certified pro golfer, but was never able to tour because he wasВ taking care of his family. Instead, he owned a dry cleaning business in Virginia, and dreamed of traveling the world.

Unfortunately, he never had the chance to do so. He passed away from stomach cancer at the age of 52.

After more than a year of grieving her father, Yang decided to give her father what he always wanted: the opportunity to travel. She set off on a month-long trip through Europe, with a six-foot tall cutout of her dad. Along the way, she posed for photos with him at famous landmarks:

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Upon returning, Yang’s photos have gotten a lot of buzz. But better yet, her trip helped her and her family in the healing process. In a follow-up note on her blog, she writes:

My entire family was so moved from the support we’ve received through the community, and the photographs of me and my dad together around the world made them so happy. It was such an amazing feeling to see my grandmother, mother, brother, cousins and aunts/uncles so excited to see the photographs. It brought me and my family a form of peace, and that was the purpose of this project.

Beyond these photos, Yang’s blog is pretty awesome—so be sure it check it out!

(Images via Grease and Glamour; thanks to Evan for showing this to me)

A Genius Way to Learn Spanish (It Involves Cats!)

Over the years, I’ve used many methods to boost my Spanish proficiency. I took group lessons and attended Meet-ups, here in NYC. I spent two weeks getting one-on-one tutoring at a language school in Guatemala. I went through an entire Spanish podcast series while riding the subway.В (A sporadic task that took years to complete.)

Now that it’s summer, I’m feeling the need to brush up on my Spanish again. I’m considering another Latin America trip for the fall, and I’ve barely used Spanish since my trip to Argentina.

This time, in addition to using podcasts, I’ll also try to watch Spanish TV shows—I’m a sucker for reality competitions, so I’m thinking Telemundo’s Top Chef Estrellas or La Voz Kids.

I’ve also downloaded an app that I’m admittedly addicted to. (Dog-lovers may want to stop reading now.)

It’s called “Cat Spanish.” And it’s exactly how it sounds. Photos of cats—often, really funny ones—illustrate Spanish phrases.

hablo espanol

The pictures are so ridiculous that it makes me want to keep going to the app to see what it’ll serve up next.

no me gusta

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What has helped you learn another language? Please let me know—I can use all the ayuda I can get when it comes to espanol!

(PS – I had a fantastic week at the beach. I pretty much completely unplugged—which explains my lack of posts—but I’m looking forward to sharing some pics from my trip soon!)