Filed under: Travel Swellness

Travel Swellness: New York Citypass

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As a longtime fan of Citypass (I’ve used it a couple of times in Chicago, and once in Toronto), I was happy to receive the New York edition from Citypass for this August. which I spent in Brooklyn with Billie Jean.

If you’re unfamiliar with Citypass, here’s how it works: For each city (Citypass is available in 14 cities), they’ve rounded up a group of the top sights to see. If you were to add up all of the admission prices for these attractions and compare it to the cost of the Citypass, there’s a significant savings. So the pass makes a lot of sense if your travel plans include seeing many of the sights included in the pass for your city. The New York Citypass costs $183.99, which is a savings of 44 percent on the six sights and attractions included.

The New York Citypass includes:

  1. Empire State Building
  2. American Museum of Natural History
  3. Metropolitan Museum of Art
  4. Top of the Rock Observation Deck OR the Guggenheim Museum
  5. Ferry access to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island OR Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
  6. 9/11 Memorial Museum OR Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

How I used the New York Citypass:

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The Empire State Building. I actually am not sure if I have ever been up the Empire State Building… possibly once when I was a kid. Since that was a long time ago, I was keen on visiting this iconic building once again. I lucked out with beautiful weather the afternoon I visited, and it wasn’t too crowded. The displays they have along the way as you make your way to the observation deck are fun, too: the pics of celebs who’ve visited, the King Kong photo opp, the example of the old elevator (what beautiful art deco details!).

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The Met. I’ve been very interested in revisiting the Met as I haven’t been in several years. And I was even more stoked to visit because the Met Camp exhibit was still on while I was there. This was such an incredible exhibit (I loved how the over the top outfits were displayed), but it was overwhelmingly crowded, so much so we didn’t spend as much time as we would have liked at it. Also, a bit of a fail: I didn’t realize my ticket to the Met included also visiting the Cloisters. I visited the Cloisters a few days later and paid the $25 admission. In any case, you should definitely make the effort to take the subway uptown to the Cloisters. It’s been on my wish list for several years, but I never have enough time in New York to carve out the time to go there, but I finally did and it feels like a wonderful castle perched the top of a hill in a quiet park. You won’t believe you’re still in Manhattan when you’re there!

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Top of the Rock. So  you have to choose between the Guggenheim and Top of the Rock on the Citypass. The Guggenheim was what I chose initially to visit, as I was last at the Guggenheim more than five years ago. But I’ve also never been to Top of the Rock, and I knew the views from Top of the Rock are great (as my friend Jenn pointed out, the view from Top of the Rock is better in that you get to view the pretty Empire State Building from it). So I had decided I’d just use the Citypass on the Guggenheim, and pay to go to Top of the Rock. Then I did some recon and I saw that the Guggenheim is pay what you wish on Saturdays from 5-8 p.m., whereas the Top of the Rock costs $38. So up to the Top of the Rock I went, and it was fantastic. It was a windy, cloudy day, unfortunately but we still enjoyed our visit; the view looking uptown with Central Park stretching out before you is breathtaking. As for my plans to go to the Guggenheim on a Sunday, they never panned out, as I think I got too lazy to head there from Brooklyn on Saturday evenings.

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Circle Line Cruises. I chose the Circle Line Cruises over the Statue of Liberty (since the cruise would bring me by the statue anyhow) and I’m so happy because the night of the cruise there was an incredible sunset with the sky unbelievably vivid pinks and oranges and purples. It was phenomenal to be out on the water at sunset. I highly recommend this but be prepared to stand if you want to be outside (there are limited seats on the upper deck).

What I didn’t get to use the Citypass for:

I’d decided to put the American Museum of Natural History as low priority on my itinerary. I had planned to visit since I have never been, but then a friend pointed out it’d be very crowded with kids. I think I have romanticized notions of this museum from movies filmed in NYC, and in my head I hadn’t pictured it chaotic and filled with little ones. I would like to go visit on another trip to NYC, though.

I did plan to go to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, but somehow my time in New York flew by quickly and the one day I was in the area, I had timed my day poorly and ran out of time.

Why pick up a Citypass for your next trip?

Citypass offers great value if you’re able to fit in many or all of the sights, or if you’re a first time visitor to a city and love seeing all of the main sights when you’re traveling. Another benefit of having it? Citypass holders typically have quicker access to the sights (that said, I found that the signage is often unclear, so a few times I did end up waiting in the same line as everyone else).

Citypass is also offered in other cities I enjoy (such as Philly, Boston and San Fran) and others I haven’t had a chance to explore ever such as Denver and Orlando, so I’ll have to make sure to pick up a pass the next time I’m in these cities!

What are some of the ways you find savings when you travel?

 

Leave a Comment November 26, 2019

Travel Swellness: How to make a destination race less stressful

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Running a marathon is a stressful endeavour. As a first timer, you’re stressed about evening being able to complete the distance. As a regular marathoner, you may be focused on trying to run a personal best and there are so many factors you can fret about (getting enough sleep, fueling properly, whether you put in the training that’ll get you that PB, etc.).

And when it’s a destination race you’re running, a whole slew of other factors come into play. You’re not sleeping in your own bed, the travel may have tired you out, you’re eating foods in a different city—there are simply a lot more unknowns to contend with.

My most recent destination race, the Detroit Marathon (where I ran a great race and tried to BQ—check out my race recap) I incorporated a lot of factors to help make the trip less stressful (and learned a few new things that’ll be sure to keep in mind for future destination races):

1. Drive a comfortable, safe car for your road trip. Bonus if it’s sleek and luxurious, too. General Motors Canada let me test drive the Buick Enclave Avenir to Detroit for the race. I’ve driven the Enclave before but not the Encave Avenir. It had so many features that made the drive so much more comfortable and stress-free (more on that later) but the car was so spacious and luxurious (the leather interior is sleek and the seats were so comfortable for our five-hour drive to Motor City). The temp dipped in the evenings, so the heated steering wheel was much appreciated, too. I’ve been on a few road trips where we’ve run into car trouble and you do not need the stress of that when you’re heading to another city to run 42.2k!

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2. Have a GPS you can count on. I have zero sense of direction (anyone who’s traveled with me can attest to how horrible my sense of direction is!), and I know I’d be so much more stressed driving without a GPS. And they’re not created equal. When I drove from Calgary to Jasper, the GPS in the car rental often couldn’t find the destination I was looking for (and if I had a signal, I had to resort to using my Google Maps on my phone). The one in the Buick Enclave Avenir is reliable and gives plenty of advance notice of when you need to make your next turn (I’ve had ones that would only notify you when you are right at the intersection, which meant we always drove right by our turn). The Enclave was also equipped with OnStar, which we didn’t end up having to use, but I always feel safer in a vehicle that is equipped with it.

3. Feel confident about your safety as you drive. When I got my driver’s license when I was 18, cars were very different. Test driving this Buick Enclave Avenir, I appreciated the modern features that allow you to feel really safe. I’d say in general, I find driving to be a bit stressful, but with features like blind-spot assist and the safety-alert seat, the vehicle is helping you to drive more safely, and more safely translates to less stress. Also, not only was the Buick Enclave Avenir equipped with WiFi, it also features wireless charging, and as I count on my phone way too much (that’s another story for another time), nothing stresses me out more than my phone being low on battery and wireless charging is so convenient!

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4. Have great playlists for your road trip. Music plays such a big role in setting the mood. For the first time ever, I created a playlist for my race (mostly a mix of Backstreet Boys, NKOTB, a few 80s hits, 90s hip hop and R n B) and in the Enclave, we had Sirius XM, which for most of the time in the car we had on hip hop but the day before the race, I just needed to chill so switched to a station with low key indie music. I don’t need thumping beats to go with my pre-race jitters! I need to do whatever little rituals I have to do to quiet those nerves about the race, and the SirusXM in the Enclave helped to do that.

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5. Stay in a cozy hotel room filled with natural light. I know some people thrive on being surrounded by runners and the excitement for the marathon, but I prefer an environment that’s relaxed and serene. We were hosted at the Element and it was an ideal place to call home for race weekend. Other runners were also staying here, but not huge groups of runners (or not that we saw anyhow) so I didn’t have the nervous energy of other marathoners to make me feel more anxious about the race. Our corner suite was so spacious, and had so many windows it was filled with natural light and we were able to wake up to the sunrise (well, except for race morning when we got up at 5 a.m.!). With a full kitchen, it would’ve been an ideal spot to prepare a simple pasta dish for dinner before the race rather than wait way too long at the Italian restaurant we went to (which doesn’t take reservations, hence the crazy long wait). I also loved that there’s a Drought juice spot just a few steps from the hotel, and you can stash those cold-pressed juices in the kitchen’s fridge (we indulged in this beet juice post-race, delish!). The Element is a Westin hotel, so it features that Heavenly bed that is so comfortable (we had no problems falling asleep!). The hotel is also nice and quiet; it’s peaceful and serene, but if you’re in need of some white noise, the room also is equipped with a white-noise machine. Oh, and parking the Enclave? It’s simple as a guest at the Element with the valet parking. Parking is not my strength (I will park blocks away rather than parallel park) so I was more than happy to pull up to the Element and hand over the keys!

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I could just as well have gone in a regular car, stayed at an budget-friendly Airbnb and probably could’ve run just as good a race, but having this sophisticated car and a great place to call home while in town for the race made this marathon weekend so much simpler and stress-free.

Thank you to both General Motors Canada and the Element for helping make this Detroit Marathon weekend (and my first visit to Motor City!) an incredible one.

 

Leave a Comment October 29, 2019

Travel Swellness: Road tripping in a 2019 Buick Envision to Montreal

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I think the Buick slogan, “That’s a Buick” is pretty clever, because the brand has truly changed my (and I’m sure other people’s) perception of what a Buick is.

Thanks to Buick Canada, I had the opportunity to test drive a 2019 Buick Envision to Montreal in April. And I comfortably drove for 2.5 hours straight; this is the longest stint I’ve ever been behind the wheel ever since I started driving at the age of 18. And I felt comfortable (great ergonomic design), safe (thanks to features such as the heads up display making me aware of my speed and blind-spot detection system) and aesthetically, the car’s very sleek (appealing to my design sense — check out the dashboard in the photo below; and love the huge sunroof!) and the Envision we test drove was in the Galaxy Silver Metallic, which is the colour I would get the car in (although the Summit White is pretty hot, too). Oh, and the OnStar (which provides turn-by-turn navigation and if you know me at all, I have zero sense of direction) and 4G LTE WiFi hotspot (which I used aplenty when I was a passenger to catch up on work). And the car had Sirius and I was able to listen to all my faves:

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Plus there was plenty of space, both in terms of leg room (Billie Jean curled up in the floor area of the passenger side) and in the trunk (we drove back with several dozen bagels and loads of food that my mom cooked, and she cooked for days and days since she knew I had a car that I could load up).

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Even though I grew up in Montreal, it was great to have the Envision to try somethings I’d never done in my hometown. I got a chance to see the two apartments I lived in as a baby (which I’d never been back to before); we stopped for a sweet and creamy drink at Orange Julep (which I haven’t been to since I was a kid even though I have passed by it for years on the way downtown); and we hiked with Billie Jean on a trail I’ve never been to at Mount Royal, one just off of the observation deck area.

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Yep, that’s a Buick, and it’s a car I’d seriously consider when it comes time to get a car.

Thank you GM Canada for the test drive where I got to explore a bit of my childhood and discover new things to in the city I grew up in! I think Billie Jean enjoyed seeing where I came from!

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Leave a Comment June 4, 2019

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