Five Fave Vaca Spots

This has nothing to do with pop culture, but so what?
I’m in a summer-y mood, so here, read about my favorite vacation spots.

1. CRUISES

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OK, technically not a “spot,” but I could cruise every single summer and love it; I wouldn’t even care to leave the ship, making it kind of qualify. As long as I’m out on the water (and in the Caribbean), I’m good. They just so happen to have the added bonus of bringing me to a handful of tropical islands in the span of one week. Next summer will mark my 7th time cruising and I cannot wait. My first was when I was only four and a half; we boarded The Big Red Boat, back when it was still owned and operated by Disney (1985-1993). In 2000, we boarded the then two-year-old Disney Magic—best cruise of our lives, to this day; Disney Cruise Line is just on a whole other level, plus it’s an unforgettable combo of numbers 1 and 2 here—and we have since been on three Carnival ships and what we affectionately refer to as the “tugboat cruise” (long story). Next year we’ll finally try out Royal Caribbean, the cruise line that has long been touted as the best by anyone we ask. I’m not sure what it is about these giant vessels that I love so much, but I do know that some of the best times of my life have been spent singing “Celebration” and “Hot Hot Hot,” enjoying a delicious meal (and a show!) in a crowded dining room, and feeling the wind in my hair while walking on deck at night. Continue reading

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I ❤ New York

21465_938554432738_1788822998_nWashington Square Park, Saturday, August 3, 2013.
Photo by Danielle S. Tepper.

At the risk of sounding like a postcard (or a T-shirt), I love New York. I’ve been a city girl all my life. Growing up on the Jersey shore, especially central NJ, you hear about the city constantly. As a kid, it starts to sound like the North Pole. My family has New York in its blood: My mother was born in Brooklyn and my father in the Bronx. I can feel that lifestyle buried deep inside me somewhere. When I get off the train at Penn Station and ride the escalator up to street level and the noises and smells start to reach me, it feels like coming home.

I was eight when I went for the first time. My parents bought tickets to Beauty & the Beast on Broadway for my birthday and we went in with my best friend and her parents. I don’t remember many details, but I do know that my lifelong love affair with Manhattan had to have begun that very day. I’ve since gone in countless times, at least a couple times a year. School bus trips. Annual family visits. Nights out with friends. Ten Broadway shows. The Met. Madame Tussauds. The Museum of Natural History. The Rosie O’Donnell Show. Rockefeller Center. The NY Public Library. Battery Park. Little Italy. The Harry Potter Exhibition. Darren Criss and the StarKid SPACE Tour. An ED2010 panel. Strand Book Store. Bryant Park. SoHo. NBC Studios Tour. Chelsea. Central Park Zoo. Ellis Island. The Empire State Building. Essentially all the tourist traps and then some. I actually hate feeling/acting like a tourist because even though I have yet to be able to call it home, it’s my city. It’s the city. Continue reading