Monthly Archives: September 2013

Celebrating Autumn With a Walk to Bohemian Hall

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

Every so often, two great ideas combine to form an even better one.

DSC_0616 cropped smallThat’s what happened this past Saturday. Last fall, Vlad suggested we go to the Bohemian Hall Beer Garden for Oktoberfest. This was more than just a yen for drinking beer outdoors—Vlad is actually from the original Bohemia, and he enjoys discovering hidden flashes of the “old country” all the way here in NYC. (Another discovery is Hospoda, an eastside Czech restaurant, but that’s for another post.) Anyway, we didn’t make it last year, but the idea stayed on our list.

Bohemian Hall is in Astoria, Queens. It’s actually very near to where we live—as the crow flies. We can almost see it from our apartment. The problem is that between us and it flows the East River.

But, there is a bridge…

Hell Gate bridgesWe paddle under it all the time. But I’ve been wanting to walk across the Triborough (now Robert F. Kennedy) Bridge for the past few months since my friend Marc mentioned it was possible. The Triborough Bridge was built for cars, with pedestrians a grudging afterthought. But is can be done—Marc lives in Astoria and regularly hikes across the bridge into Manhattan.

And looking at the map, talk about serendipity: It turns out Bohemian Hall is just a couple of blocks from the bridge’s pedestrian exit in Astoria.

What could be more perfect than a walk over the bridge culminating in a visit to the beer garden? To top it off, this weekend, for the beginning of Oktoberfest, Bohemian Hall was featuring authentic roast pig  in addition to the usual sausage, sauerkraut, and beer. And the weather was absolutely perfect: A golden early-autumn day.

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Relaxing Saturated

By Vladimir Brezina

Or is it Saturated Relaxing?

DSC_0616 cropped smallIn any case, The Daily Post‘s Photo Challenge this week is Saturated, and Ailsa’s on Where’s my backpack? is Relaxing.

And the two came together very nicely yesterday, on the first day of Oktoberfest in one of the few remaining beer gardens in NYC.

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Full story is here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Saturated.

This theme is hard for me, paradoxically, because I like saturated color. So many of my photos would be right for this challenge. An embarrassment of riches.

But several photos come to mind that almost embody saturated color. How about this one?

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Travel Theme: Relaxing

By Vladimir Brezina

Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge this week is Relaxing.

On a paddling trip, we don’t paddle all the time…

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Regarding the last two photos… we do seem to have a knack for finding, in the unlikeliest out-of-the-way spots, on tiny deserted islands, chairs.

We call them “dictator chairs”. We’ve probably all seen somewhere that iconic photo of the dictator—well, a would-be dictator at that stage—seated on a cheap plastic chair in his hideout in the jungle, flanked by menacing bodyguards with machine guns and mirrored sunglasses. (So as not to offend any dictators that might be following our blog, I’d better not show any particular photo of that kind here.) The first time we saw one of these chairs, on a little island, that was the image that came to mind. The white plastic chair gleamed in a sinister manner against the dark undergrowth. There was no dictator or bodyguards, but the chair was surrounded by a luxuriant growth of poisonous plants. And it did have a lovely view out over the water…

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A Day at the Beach

By Vladimir Brezina

From dawn to dusk…

(click on any photo to start slideshow)

A Moonlight Manhattan Circumnavigation at the End of Summer

By Johna Till Johnson

(Sorry, no photos this time! For one thing, I didn’t have a camera. And for another, it was, ahem, dark. So I’ve used a few of Vlad’s photos from previous circumnavigations.)

She rose up ahead of us, brilliantly lit in all her resplendent orange glory: the Staten Island Ferry, blazing against the dark night sky.

It was around 3:30 AM, and she was docked at Whitehall, at the southern tip of Manhattan.

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m deeply wary of the Staten Island Ferry. (“Deeply wary” sounds way better than “scared silly”, which is closer to the truth—of all the ferries, this one is the largest and seems to move the fastest, and I worry irrationally that one day I’ll be caught in its churning engines.)

Staten Island Ferry

A daylight view of the Staten Island Ferry at Whitehall

This night was no exception: There were ten of us, and the brisk ebb current was pushing us relentlessly into the ferry’s path.

The question was (with apologies to the Clash): “Should I stay or should I go?” Should we bank on the ferry’s remaining docked for the five minutes it would take us to glide past, or should we hold up and wait, back-paddling against the current, while she departed?

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A Brisk Paddle Up the Palisades

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

IMGP7239 cropped small“Do you think we can make it to Piermont Pier?”, I asked.

“I know of no reason why not,” Vlad replied. A small alarm bell rang at the back of my head: he hadn’t exactly said, “Yes.” And Vlad is a man who uses words very precisely.

But I brushed it off. We’d come quite a distance up the Palisades—just over 19 nautical miles, in fact.  Aided by a stiff flood current, we were almost at Italian Gardens, and we were deciding whether to stop there or continue onwards.

Piermont Pier, the long finger of land extending into the Hudson just south of the Tappan Zee Bridge, was only two miles away. We hadn’t been there yet this year, and the summer was almost over.

And though we’d had a brisk northerly breeze in our faces the whole way, we’d come thus far with no trouble. As Vlad said, there was no reason why we couldn’t make it the rest of the way.

So we set off into the wind-against-current chop ahead of us.

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Happy Fall!

By Vladimir Brezina

DSC_0097 cropped smallThe Fall Equinox occurs this afternoon. So, although we very much regret, especially this year, Summer’s passing—Happy Fall, everyone! (Well, everyone in the northern hemisphere… for the others, Happy Spring!)

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Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns, Take Two

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is From Lines to Patterns.

In response to this challenge, I’ve already posted some of the urban lines and patterns of NYC. Here are three photos of more natural lines and patterns. I’ve selected these three because they show, it seems to me, not merely lines and patterns, but how the lines become a pattern…

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Travel Theme: Through

By Vladimir Brezina

Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge this week is Through.

In our kayaks, we may find ourselves traveling through

— airy mangrove tunnels

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— labyrinthine salt marshes

Milton Harbor

— dark urban tunnels

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— rocky passages…

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… guarded by wild animals :-)

Dry Salvages