Archive for September, 2008

Costa Rica, Here We Come…

September 5th, 2008 at 12:03 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

I’m presently sitting in the American Airlines Admirals club San Juan, Puerto Rico with Krystyana, awaiting a flight to Miami and then on to San Jose, Costa Rica.

As I had previously noted, we’ll be spending just over two weeks in Costa Rica taking intensive Spanish language classes in an immersion format. We booked our classes via Bridge Abroad, and Krystyana and I each have separate private instruction so that we can each progress at our own pace. Should be interesting.

But perhaps even more interesting is that while the Spanish language work occurs weekdays, we have the weekends to explore a bit of Costa Rica’s amazing nature. Granted – Costa Rica is in the midst of its long rain season, but even then there is supposed to be sun for as least part of the day. So, tomorrow morning, bright and early, we head off in search of quetzal (colorful, long tailed birds) and explore the paramo (grasslands and shrublands) to find exotic critters and plants. We will spend Sunday white-water rafting – one of the best times of the year for that because of the heavier rains.

And the following weekend we do a three day/two night trip to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica to visit the Tortuguero National Park to try and see if we can find turtles nesting and then spend one of our days in the lagoons and waterways looking for a variety of monkeys, birds, reptiles, and perhaps even tapirs and jaguars. Should be a pleasant, and different, diversion from the language classrooms, as well as an opportunity to practice whatever Spanish we’ve retained by then.

I will try and post pictures during the trip if I can, but probably no travelogues until after our departure so as to not interfere with the immersion process.

We have a couple of days in Miami for rest and pampering and practicing our Spanish after that, before heading home to Bonaire for an 11 day stay before our next journey – this time to the Canadian Maritimes and New England.

But, since today is being spent traveling – mostly waiting in airport clubs, actually – I plan on writing several more posts about specific things we did in New York City, so if you’re subscribed to get notices about new posts, be forwarned that you’ll be getting a number of e-mails from this blog today.


Doing Uncommon Exploring In New York City

September 4th, 2008 at 5:39 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

When we first decided back in July that we wanted to spend a couple of weeks in New York City last month, we knew we wanted to do things we had not done before during prior visits. That meant we didn’t need to go to the top of the Empire State Building, see the permanent exhibits at the Natural History Museum or Metropolitan Museum of Art, or gawking in Times Square.

However, finding out-of-the-ordinary things to do in New York City was a bit of a challenge. Our American Express Concierge service could only come up with a helicopter tour of New York City. And posts on various travel sites also didn’t elicit anything particularly stellar, except for one thing – a suggestion to get in touch with Context Travel.

Context Travel specializes in scholar-led walks of a number of “great” cities, including Rome, Paris, and New York. If only we had known about them when we were in Paris a couple of months ago… We had first heard of Context Travel in a magazine from American Express just recently, and thought they only covered European cities. They were highlighted as having helped director Ron Howard get a private tour of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel in preparation for the forthcoming movie “Angels & Demons”. So when the folks at Indagare suggested we check out their New York City offerings, we jumped at the idea.

Ultimately, we arranged four tours with Context Travel – I will go into those in another blog entry. But I will say all were very informative and educational, and we’re very glad we partook of the tours.

Another uncommon thing we managed to arrange through our contacts at Relais & Châteaux (where we are members of something called Club 5C), was a private cooking lesson with Chef Tony Aiazzi of the famed Aureole restaurant in New York City. And we also attended a presentation on cooking with liquid nitrogen at Astor Center. More on both of those later too.

We also managed to have dinner in the La Cave cheese cave at Artisanal Bistro, found a last minute table at Per Se (well, actually about two weeks in advance of our dinner), enjoyed dim sum and Peking duck in Chinatown, afternoon tea at The Peninsula’s Gotham Lounge and at The London NYC, Korean BBQ in K-town, and a few other culinary delights.

While we were looking for the more unusual experiences, we also did partake of the more ordinary delights of New York, including visiting various museums to see special exhibits, and a personal first for me – visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. That was an especially emotional and moving day for me because of my roots as a first-generation American. We also caught an off-off Broadway performance, saw a couple of movies, and walked and walked and walked.

There also was business to take care of – we spent our first couple of days in New York at the New York International Gift Fair searching for new products to off in our on-line store at And I had a client meeting for my patent-related consulting business too.

All in all we had an excellent time in New York City. The weather was perfect just about all the time, we had a child sitter service available to us at our great hotel (we had two adjacent rooms at the all-suite The London NYC), and we ate very very well. The only downside to our trip was the markedly higher number our bathroom scales showed us upon our return.


Photos From New York City Trip

September 3rd, 2008 at 10:52 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

I finally had a chance to sort through the thousand or so photos I took during our trip to New York City, which ended last Saturday.

You can view them locally on our site at this Gallery link.

Or you can go to Yahoo!’s Flickr service to see the photos.

I hope to get some stories posted tomorrow about our various adventures. For now, however, read the captions for each image.