Hammarskjold Street, Mendoza. #graffiti
Nurturing an abiding love for Latin America, I've traded big city lights for sunshine and grapes in Mendoza, Argentina. A perennial traveler and writer, I'm inspired by locals, culture and creativity. This is my patchwork.
Venice may be for lovers, but it turns out Wroclaw has the key to romance. Couples searching for eternal love need not look further than the Tumski Bridge, which connects Ostrow Tumski and Wyspa Piaskowa. All you need to do is buy a padlock, color it with your initials, hook it to a steel barrier on the bridge and toss your key into the bottom of the Odra River. You are locked lovers forever after. Easy peasy.
If you are just looking for a good ole fashion steamy travel romp, Wroclaw’s got that covered too. You can grab a can of Black Sex Energy in most grocery stores. We’re not quite sure if it’s labeled black because you turn dark and sadistic after drinking its contents, or it’s just their favorite color. We leave it to you to discover. Isn’t that the fun of travel anyway?
Wroclaw has a rampant gnome population proliferating like wildfire. You’ll spot around 180 of them throughout the city in public parks, doorways, street corners, alleyways and in local shops. The gnomes were born during the 1980’s as an anti-establishment symbol created by the "Orange Alternative" movement – an underground protest movement against the communist regime, which used absurdity and nonsense to stage peaceful, yet subversive protests.
The gnomes were originally a graffiti calling card, but in the early 2000’s statuettes were commissioned to celebrate the history of the Orange Alternative. Local artists began producing the gnomes, which were publicly planted around town, and shortly after, businesses began displaying the iconic munchkins as a sign of Wroclaw pride. If you find yourself on a geocaching gnome hunt in Wroclaw and are hankering for some helpful hints, check out this website: www.krasnale.pl.
Below is a graffiti reference to George Orwell’s infamous communist pig, Napoleon, in his 1945 novel Animal Farm.
If you are not securing eternal love, having sex or gnome hunting in Wroclaw, there is always a good reason to start a revolution.
Written by Nora Walsh, Photography by Sarah York Rubin
If there was an award for New York’s biggest cupcake fan, I have no doubt in my mind that Mariana would be a frontrunner. She is highly critical and extremely loyal, willing to risk the possibility of not getting her rental bike back on time so she could pay a visit to one of her favorite bakers.
Here she is at Baked savoring her favorite flavor: red velvet cupcake with vanilla icing.
From Red Hook we had to book it back to Manhattan in 40-minutes max to return the bike to Chari & Co in the Lower East Side.
Graffiti near Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn
As we raced over the Williamsburg Bridge and were ripping through traffic at dangerous speeds, I realized my reckless behavior could be construed by some as tell-tale signs of a cupcake addict enabler. (I have, more than once, seen her scoop and savor the remnants of a smushed melted cupcake from the side of a plastic bag with more enthusiasm than a chain smoker puffing her first cigarette after a long intercontinental flight.)
When we pulled up to Chari & Co. they were rolling down the metal door to close the shop, which prompted us both to scream “Wait!”
I could not believe we made it.
With beading sweat and burning muscles I sat on the stoop and waited for Mariana to pay the $40.00 rental fee. Next door there were two women picking at a gourmet spread.
"That’s a nice picnic you got there," I complimented.
"That is the idea. It was put together by the founder of PerfectPicnicNYC.com,” she responded.
That was a timely discovery to inspire our next summer outing.
This weekend I dusted off my bike for its first summer spin. My friend Mariana and I wanted to enjoy the summer weather splashing around in Red Hook’s public pool. We biked the four miles from the East Village to Red Hook in about 45-minutes.
Over the last four years, New York City has added more than 250 miles of bike lanes, including expanded lanes on First and Second Avenue that make bicycling downtown much quicker and safer. We used the Google Maps app on the iPhone to get us across Brooklyn to Red Hook.
Lower Manhattan & Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Smith Street, Brooklyn
Smith Street, Brooklyn
When we finally arrived to the Red Hook Rec Center, we learned that the pool was closed until the following weekend. I wasn’t too surprised because I had read that all public pools in New York City wouldn’t open until June 28, 2012, but I had also found another website for Red Hook Pool that provided contrary information. Since no one answered the phone when I called the numbers listed, we took our chances and rolled the dice.
We of course lost that bet, but as Ralph liked to quip, “life is a journey, not a destination,” so we cut our losses and plopped ourselves down under a shady tree in a quiet park across the street.
(To follow the Red Hook biking journey back to the Lower East Side, read Part II tomorrow.)