Explore NYC: City Walks

Apparently in some areas of the country summer has forgotten to arrive – I’m looking at you Minnesota! Not so here in NYC. We’ve had some incredible weather and absolutely lovely weekends. Once the weather warms up I am like a kid who just got out of school, I want to be outside as much as possible. I love to pack the summer weekends with fun excursions – beach trips, picnics, festivals and tons of extremely long walks.

One of the things I love most about NYC is how incredibly walkable it is. Despite being home to more than 1.5 million people, Manhattan is only 13 miles long and  about 2 1/2 miles wide at its longest point.  Even Brooklyn, our home and favorite borough, is much smaller than you would expect. I know from experience that you can make it from the Brooklyn Bridge to Coney Island on foot in just a few hours.

A few years ago my Mom, one of my best friends and I decided to participate in a 3 Day, 60 mile walk for breast cancer. 60 miles in a long weekend is quite the feat and it requires a fair amount of training. Because neither of my teammates lived in NYC, I needed people to walk with. I stumbled across a group of people training for 3 Day events and began to walk with them on the weekends. Despite having lived in NYC for 6 years I felt like the city opened up to me. I figured out that nothing was really that far apart. If I was willing to strap on some tennis shoes and stay hydrated I could explore a ton on foot. One of my favorite training walks started at Penn Station and continued down the West side of Manhattan, across the Brooklyn Bridge and all the way to Nathan’s Hot Dog Stand on Coney Island. It was a whopping 21 miles and over the course of the day I got to see all sorts of New York neighborhoods I didn’t even know existed.

I’m no longer training for the 3 Day, but that summer changed me. I love to get out and explore NYC on foot. This last weekend Andy and I met up with our old 3 Day crew for a “short” training walk. This time we only walked from Penn Station across the Brooklyn Bridge, ending with pizza in Brooklyn Heights – a total of about 10 miles.

Along the way we explored the Highline, Manhattan’s elevated park located in Chelsea:

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Caught a glimpse of Lady Liberty (she’s little but she’s there!):

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And struggled through the crowds of tourists on Brooklyn Bridge – no matter how many times I walk across this bridge I never cease to be amazed.

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If you’re visiting NYC for a few days, just moved to the City or even if you’ve lived here for years I encourage you to take a half day and see how far you can walk – if you get tired out you can always grab a cab or jump on the subway, it’s like magic! Don’t forget comfortable walking shoes (As I’ve said before, I can’t recommend my Newtons highly enough!) sunscreen and a bottle of water. With those safety measures covered you should be all set for an amazing adventure.

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Minor Obsession: Kettlebell Kickboxing

Last summer, a friend of mine started attending Kettlebell Kickboxing classes in New York. She raved about them enough times that, when I moved back to the city for the summer, I started going with her. And then I started raving. The classes are a pretty awesome mix of cardio and strength training and I’d leave them with that exhausted but exhilarated feeling that accompanies a great workout.

And, while the movements (martial arts and lots of kettlebell swinging) aren’t exactly intuitive, the instructors do a great job of demonstrating and of making sure newcomers get in the swing of things (pun intended, sorry). Even better, the instructors are all that perfect mix of badass and inspirational. Over the summer, I loved the sense of accomplishment that went with switching to a heavier kettlebell or realizing that I was moving faster. Even more than that, I loved the results. I felt better almost immediately; stronger, and more flexible. After a few weeks, I could also feel a difference in how my clothes fit. And, after several weeks, I could see a difference, particularly in my arms and back, both of which are areas I’ve always had trouble shaping on my own.

When I decided to move back to the UK, I was wary about switching from the live classes to the DVDs, but, they’re actually pretty great. While I definitely miss the energy of the live classes, it’s been great to be able to do the workouts entirely on my schedule. The ideal situation, I think, would be a mix of live classes and DVDs. Unfortunately, while more and more cities now have live class options, Edinburgh’s not yet one of them. Luckily, for those of us living outside the KBKB live class universe, the DVDs do the trick.

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DVDs

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Equipment

I’m homesick.

I am currently in the midst of my longest stretch in Britain without a trip to the U.S.  For the record, it’s only been four and a half months since I was in New York.  It’s been eight months since my last trip to South Dakota, but I’m used to long stretches away from home home.  Anyway, the point is that I miss New York.  Pretty soon, that first magical day of spring will arrive and New Yorkers will stumble out into the streets and the awesomeness of spring and summer in the best city in the world will start.  And I want to be there.

But, that’s not going to happen this year.  I’m traveling to the States in April/May but the itinerary won’t hit NY.  And, after that, I won’t be able to make another trip back until at least September.  So, for now, I’m pining.

What I really want is a lazy weekend of hitting up my favorite spots for cheap food and good drinks in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights and Boerum Hill.

Food:

Tacos from Fast and Fresh on Hoyt between Atlantic and State.

Corned Beef Hash from Mile End on Hoyt between Atlantic and Pacific.

Bahn Mi from Hanco’s on Bergen between Smith and Hoyt.

Turkey leg sandwich from Henry Public on Henry between Atlantic and Pacific.

Drinks:

A Jack Rose from Jack the Horse at the corner of Hicks and Cranberry.

A Wide Awake Cocktail from Henry Public.

A Prospect Park Sour from the Clover Club on Smith.

A glass of wine, while sitting at one of the sidewalk tables at Bar Tabac.

A Pacifico on my friend, Mim’s, roof deck on Atlantic.

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Euphoria, indeed.

Posted in NYC

Gluten Free NYC – Bistango

One of my best friends is visiting me this week from Minnesota. She’s recently been diagnosed with a wheat allergy, so we’ve been exploring gluten free options in NYC.  On the recommendation of  a GF veteran we had dinner at Bistango in Midtown East on Tuesday night.  I cannot say enough good things.  We met and chatted with the owner who was incredibly friendly and helpful. He talked with my friend about her diagnosis, empathized and offered to be a resource if she has any questions in the future. Not surprisingly with such an attentive proprietor, the staff was upbeat and knowledgeable and the service was superb. But all of that paled in comparison to the food. The GF bread and pasta were so good that my friend thought she had been brought the wrong dish, she couldn’t believe something GF could be so amazing. In fact, she confessed later that she almost cried, it had been so long since she had truly enjoyed bread and pasta. If you are GF (or really, if you have any food allergy) and are in NYC, I highly recommend checking it out, you will not be disappointed.

Bistango Ristorante