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Sailing on the Hudson River

June 18th, 2012 Alina Guzman NYC, Yelp Reviews No comments

Yesterday marked one of the most exciting things I’ve done to this day. Last summer I impulsively purchased 2 Yelp deals (I’m subscribed to so many of these kinds of sites, its hard not to find something you like everyday), and booked a Father’s Day sail for me and my dad. Manhattan by Sail is a company that offers an array of sailing options around the Hudson River. I booked a 90 minute day time trip on the Shearwater, and 82 foot classic schooner. They have so many other intriguing options, including the Happy Hour sail with a free open bar, 4th of July Fireworks sail, Wine tasting sail with an expert, and a romantic late night sail.

The Shearwater is located in the North Cove Marina in Battery Park City right by a beautiful park where you can sit and enjoy the views. With about 30 passengers, the schooner set out to sail pretty close to the Statue of Liberty, made a U turn and came back to dock. Along the way, you see amazing views of the Manhattan, Jersey City, and Brooklyn skylines. You also come across plenty of other ferries, boats, and yachts along the way with eagerly waving passengers. There really is nothing better than sailing, sipping on a cool glass of wine and enjoying the view. Definitely something to try again.

Here is a more detailed review of my experience on Yelp.

North Cove Marina and the Shearwater schooner



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CUNY Students! Behold the Theatre Development Fund

June 14th, 2012 Alina Guzman Art, NYC No comments

I usually don’t pay any mind to the “This Week at CUNY” emails we students are constantly bombarded with but one recently caught my eye. ‘Broadway Discounts and Beyond’ is not something I can readily ignore. Upon closer inspection, I found out there is a not-for-profit organization, the Theatre Development Fund, that specifically caters to the support of the theatrical arts. Their mission is to both support the art and to allow diverse audiences to attend performances.

Membership with TDF includes a small annual fee for the opportunity to purchase tickets at up to 70% off. The prices range from $9 to $41. Full time students are one of the groups that qualify to TDF Membership. Other groups include teachers, recent graduates, union members, retirees, and performing arts professionals. CUNY students get to join for a reduced annual fee of $10. Its a ridiculously simple process and once completed, you have at your disposal 7 categories of performances to choose from around the city including Broadway, Off Broadway, Dance, Opera, and Rock.

Most importantly, members can purchase up to 9 tickets for each performance so you can bring your friends and family along. This is a great way to become more intertwined with New York culture. I’m looking forward to my first show. I haven’t picked up any tickets yet but once I do I’ll go over the process.

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Williamsburg Art Scene: BYOB Painting Class

June 14th, 2012 Alina Guzman Art, NYC, Yelp Reviews No comments

Lately I’ve been on such an art kick; letting it take me to places I never thought I’d go. Namely, Williamsburg. I have just about every “daily deal” account under the moon that offers NYC deals. Months ago I stumbled upon a Groupon deal for a Bring Your Own Booze Painting Class that really intrigued me. Booze and painting? Sounds like fun.

The Painting Lounge, of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, offers super fun and unique BYOB classes where you recreate a work of art. I was dying to paint Van Gogh’s Starry Night so I waited a few months and finally got into a class for it! You can read the rest of my detailed review on yelp but here is the main gist. The owner Kevin, who has incredible taste in music, provides all materials necessary for the class. Paints, brushes, canvas, apron, bottle opener, cups for your booze, you need it? he’s got it. The best part is you get to keep your canvas at the end! Choose to have it framed (for about $30) or just staple a string onto it and hang it up (finally managed to hang mine up, evidence right here). I put it smack under the poster of the original Starry Night, just to keep things interesting.

Hikalu (check out the visual blog she curates, its amazing) agreed to come with and we had a blast. To our surprise, our class session was being covered by the press! Lore Croghan from the Daily News was there with a photographer interviewing each student and snapping away pictures. You can read the article here. (Yes, that is me in the photo. To my dismay, I somehow managed to sit right in the hot seat for the photographer.)

Since then, I have seen another Groupon deal that I am itching to snatch up. Kevin has also expanded the collection of art available to be painted so there will surely be something that interests you!

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A week of the life in New York

July 18th, 2011 Alina Guzman Art, Night out on the town 2 Comments

I realized that I had an uncharacteristically active week that just passed. Monday night I went to the Bryant Park film festival. Tuesday night was my Broadway experience.  Thursday after work I went to my first ever hip hop dance class. One of my besties, Bonnie, often takes classes at Dance New Amsterdam and asked me to join. I was obviously super excited at first and couldn’t wait. Day of, however, I was starting to get butterflies and imagined just about 100 different scenarios where I could get out of this commitment. Even after I paid and was waiting for class to begin, I thought of leaving- everyone just looked so into it and I have no rhythm whatsoever. Long story short, I ended up going through with it. The instructor goes through the steps pretty fast and I was able to keep up, I just looked stupid doing it (I have no swag). Now I appreciate the talented dancers on SYTYCD even more. I think next time I’ll go back for a contemporary dance class, that IS my favorite style after all.

On Saturday, I went to the Merce Fair | Lincoln Center Festival. The Merce Cunningham Dance Company performed two ballets- Duets (1980) and Squaregame (1976) with a musical performance “Entr’acte” during the intermission. I wish I could say it was brilliant. But the truth is I don’t understand modern ballet for the life of me. Give me 10 minutes with someone who does and I’d be set.

This was part of the Andy Warhol exhibit in the fair. We played with the balloons for a bit before the ballet began.

I ended my week of activity with a lounge at the beach. I went to Coney Island for the second Sunday in a row to get some swimming time in. The water was pretty cold but it was still fun. Afterwards, I walked along the boardwalk and went to the amusement park for the first time! Been living in NY so long but never trusted/had any interest to go there. Maybe next time I should go on a weekday because it was super packed. I did find some rides I want to try though. For another day..

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On Broadway, REALLY on Broadway

July 14th, 2011 Alina Guzman Night out on the town 3 Comments

Tuesday night marked one of history for me… I went to my first ever Broadway show. I know I know, NYC is known for this, so its kind of unbelievable that it took me so long to finally see one. But in my defense, I have been to off off…off Broadway and even to a Lincoln Center piano performance– just never on Broadway. My good friend Aya was back in town on business after graduating and leaving to live in Asia in the real world of the 9 to 5 (who am I kidding, its probably closer to 9 to 9 in finance). I was beyond excited when she said she preferred watching a Broadway show to our usual restaurant or pub debauchery.

On the nights agenda was “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”, an AMAZING show starring Daniel Radcliffe. Yes, DANIEL RADCLIFFE! Ok, I might be a bit too excited about this but after all, I DID grow up on Harry Potter. I remember staying up all night reading the latest addition to the series and later reading fanfictions like a CRAZY person for months after watching Hollywood’s latest installments. So FORGIVE me for sounding insane, but I almost fell off the balcony seat we rush purchased when no one other than DANIEL RADCLIFFE appeared not even 10 feet away from me the opening scene! I was too shell shocked to even pay attention the first 20 minutes of the show! In all honestly, I’m quite disgusted with myself! I always try to advocate that stars are people too! Nothing to go nuts about. But nothing held me back from the brink of insanity when he came out. Three hours later when the show ended, I could still barely believe it- and I willed myself to think that I only just saw a movie. ‘No Alina, he wasn’t actually within touching distance of me for the last 3 hours. Impossible’.

 

That’s how crazy close I was to the stage, can’t believe we got such great rush tickets.

Forgive the crappy quality, it was dark and I was on my phone- an usher came over forbidding us from taking any pics…snapped one anyway.

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I just wish people would dress up more, I thought that’s what you do when you go to a show so I was SUPER fanc while the majority was in jeans. Either way, it was one of the best experiences of my life. I can’t wait to see more shows. Next on the list? The Addams Family! To be continued until then…

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Bryant Park Summer Film Festival

July 12th, 2011 Alina Guzman Films 1 Comment

I continue my summer with more free film festivals. You really gotta love NY- can’t say that nothing is free when you live here. Apparently New York has a taste for free summer movie screenings. Tribeca Cinemas hosts Korean Movie nights, Syfy hosts Brooklyn Bridge Park’s movie nights with an amazing backdrop view of Manhattan – swoon. And now I’ve attended an HBO Bryant Park movie night. I met up with my friend Emily who I haven’t seen in wayyyy too long to see “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

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The lawn opened up at 5pm. By 5:30 when we got there, it was already packed. But the movie didn’t start until sundown so we sat on the side, ate amazing “snausages”, and people watched. Three hours later when the movie still didn’t start, we couldn’t take it anymore and left. Note to self, come a lot closer to the movie start next time.

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Karaoke Fever on Yelp

July 11th, 2011 Alina Guzman Dining out, Food, Yelp Reviews 1 Comment

My Yelp adventures continue with the second activity I like to think I’m the authority on – karaoke. Maybe Yelp thinks so too? My list “Karaoke Fever” was featured on the weekly newsletter =O. I almost fell down from my chair when I got that email.

So here’s the ever expanding list in case you want to know where the good Karaoke spots are.

Karaoke Duet 35

If I’m in midtown and I’m looking for a karaoke place, this is definitely my first choice. (Duet 48 is just as great, though maybe more crowded than 35)

Sure the Korean karaoke spots on 32nd st are good, but they are always more expensive. Plus, the English song selection at Duet 35 is one of the best I’ve found in the city. They have all the recent hits on a separate list somewhere in the books. They also have a Top Picked Songs list thats amazing because for some reason, all the songs I love to sing are up there! (hmm… I wonder why)

Pick up the phone thats in your room and you’ll get an answer immediately to order whatever you want. Drinks are decent priced, pretty cheap wine, love it.

Just to be sure, if you want to go on a weekend night, you should call in a reservation or you might not get a room!

They also have a marathon option you can look into during week days. I forget the details but it basically means a looot of singing (hours upon hours) for really really cheap.

 

Japas 27

Love this place!

They have open karaoke and private room karaoke options. Pay something like $1.25 (I can’t remember exactly) for a song and sing your heart out in front of strangers who I guarantee you, by the end of the night, will become your friends.

It gets crowded in this bar by nighttime so if your group was looking to sit in the one large table it has, try to get there early!

As for the private rooms, my favoriteeee deal ever is unlimited soju/beer/wine for 2 hours for something like $35 bucks per person! Now, you might think this is expensive (and many of karaoke virgin friends that I brought out complained about it being grossly overpriced) but if you go to karaoke a lot and if you drink a super lot, you know that its actually a deal.

^ Thats just one of the combo deals they have. They also give you the option of regular pricing. Its been awhile since I went there for regular pricing so I can’t remember how much it is per person/per hour.

Some things I don’t love about this place compared to other karaoke spots -

If you come without a reservation at night, there will most likely not be any rooms available. If you know in advance you are going out with friends, its fine, just make a reservation! But sometimes, its a spur of the moment decision to sing some karaoke, and chances are you won’t find a room in Japas 27 on a weeknight, and definitely not on a weekend night.

The hallway and staircase is tiny. So getting to the bathroom or going downstairs for a cigarette when you are a little tipsy and its really crowded is such a hassle.

Other than that, Japas 27 is a great and fun place! Going there will definitely be memorable.

U2 Karaoke

Saying I go to sing karaoke a lot would be a gross understatement. And U2 karaoke is one of my all time favorite places. Heres why,

Great location and its pretty cheap as karaoke goes in the city (cheaper than most Ktown karaoke spots, not quite as cheap as Japanese karaoke though). $8 per person per hour is the baseline. They have various combo deals depending on how many people are there, what time it is, what drinks you order, and so on – but so do most karaoke places.

They have an amazing balcony for smokers such as myself that is right on the same floor, and for anyone who needs a little air, as it can get rather hot jumping around and singing with a lot of people.

They have a bar and open karaoke section right when you get out of the elevator if you just wanna have a fun time in front of everyone. Its cool at night with steam blasters and club lights. The bar is great, and the staff is friendly.

They also have so many private rooms (also a lot more on the 4th floor) of varying sizes, so you are guaranteed a room pretty quick- unless you have a big group on a weekend night- then I would really recommend reserving a room.

Music selection is good. Decent American song collection, they also have recent hits that you find in the back of the books. Good Korean selection. I heard from some friends that the Japanese selection is not all that great (but you can go to a Japanese spot if thats what you value the most).

Theres two cons I can think of.

  1. If you’re paying with credit card, they charge you a fee percentage, which gets annoying especially when your bill is huge.
  2. They have a weird two system karaoke thing going on if your room wants both Korean and English songs. I found that the English song system that pairs with Korean songs is not as good as the system you would get if you were only singing English songs. I hope this makes sense. (Not an issue if your group is only singing English songs.)

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Disclaimer: Photos featured here were taken from the public profiles of these restaurants on Yelp.com which are thought to be public domain.

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Yelp – my humble beginnings with Ktown

June 24th, 2011 Alina Guzman Dining out, Yelp Reviews 5 Comments

One fateful day last summer, I went online to, once again, pour over 100′s of reviews on Yelp to find the perfect place to have dinner that night. From the collection of Zagat’s sitting on my desk to the tabs of restaurants sitting on my browser, I realized I know a thing or two about food. Anyone who knows me knows my obsession with New York. I’m grateful out of my mind for having grown up in this city, there’s never a dull moment. Restaurants with every cuisine you can imagine fill the streets and I pretty much dream of trying every single one of them. So back to that day last summer, when I got the idea in me that I’d share my experiences on Yelp. Everyone’s gotta start somewhere. Well I decided to start with something I know best – Ktown.

You can read all my new and old reviews on my Yelp profile, but I thought I’d start sharing some of them here. So far I have three lists up. The first one is Ktown Adventures! Here are a few of my reviews of this list.

“Koreatown is definitely one of my favorite places in the city. Here are the spots I just love to obsessively frequent.”

Shilla

I really like Shilla. Probably because it was the restaurant that popped my Ktown and Korean-food-in-general cherry many years ago! Its nothing super exciting or stand out great. Its just a normal Korean restaurant, one of many others on the block.

The food is very good, the price is very decent on the Ktown spectrum, not the highest, not the lowest, and the service is good. My very first time, I didn’t know what I was ordering or doing with the food and the waiter saw me struggling and went out of his way to explain things to me. What more can you ask for?

You won’t wait long, or at all, for the table- its a big restaurant. And it’s comfortable. Its basically a good choice if you’re looking for a moderately priced Korean restaurant in the city.

Pocha 32

REALLY fun place if you come with a group and order a ton of drinks. Beware, there will most likely be a wait. Unless you go at 6pm or something. I’ve actually gone so early that they were barely open and I somehow managed to stay until late at night- the change in crowd was amazing. It went from empty and quiet, to drunk, drunker and super drunk and crowded.

Anyway, when there is a long wait, you can just give your number down to the waiter who calls when the tables available. But if you’re in a hurry, don’t go there at night! Even weeknights were crowded, its a popular place.

The service isn’t fantastic. It gets really really really crowded in there and its loud and pretty dim so I can maybe understand it. I find that screaming out “excuse me” in Korean while they pass by really gets their attention! If you’re American, or just don’t speak Korean- its ‘jeogiyo’ pronounced more like “cho-gi-yo” for the American ear.

It gets pricey if you stay for a long time and keep ordering soju, as I find myself doing quite often. It won’t be expensive if you’re looking for a place to just eat some meat or soup though. Food’s not bad.

Be sure to leave a soju bottle cap on the ceiling, you will know what I’m talking about if you go.

I recommend it if you’re looking for a cool Korean experience (its definitely not an American style bar, for one thing- theres no bar).

 

Kang Suh Restaurant

This is by FAR my favorite restaurant in Ktown. I have been here dozens of times over the years and it never gets old. Its very big (two stories), so you can expect to get seated really fast- the only times I’ve had to wait was during dinner rush when I had a medium sized group, and even that wait was under 10 minutes. They also offer two large and private rooms for parties that I’ve used a few times (call in a reservation to make sure you can get it).

Its open 24 hours so its the first restaurant I think of after I’m exhausted from dancing. Been here several times at 4 or 5am and I’ve never been disappointed.

The prices are slightly higher than some of the other restaurants in Ktown but the food is worth it.

Dinner~ I’d say that the average amount I pay when I go there is $40 per person for dinner- counting drinks, two bottles of soju and up. Without drinks, you can pay as little as $15-$30, depending what you order of course. Side dishes are great. Pajeon and galbi are my favorite dishes to order. If you are ordering bbq, make sure you have at least two people who want it because its a two-minimum order for a table (but you can combine the meats- 1 galbi and 1 samgyopsal, for example, is fine).

Lunch~ Coming here for lunch is nice. Its not very crowded and they have a nice lunch menu. It ranges from $10-$20. They have great boxes! My favorite is the bulgogi box. It comes with salad and some other things that vary, like little fish balls.

They also have an amazing sushi bar to sit at. Over all, great place. Might get a little pricey, but foods good, and so is the service and the atmosphere.

4. Woorijip

Woorijip warms my heart. I love Ktown to death and I spend most of my time there but the prices do catch up with me! I’m a broke college student so sometimes, grabbing a bite in Ktown before debauchery doesn’t mean going to a restaurant, it means going to woorijip (which, if i’m not mistaken, means “our home” in Korean….i think).

Why 4 stars and not 5?

I’m the kind of person who prefers a restaurant atmosphere to a deli/buffet atmosphere- which is how Woorijip is- but you can’t play with these prices! I can order enough to fill me up so much that I can’t even finish eating for only $8-$15 bucks. Theres a microwave too. I like the kimbap (little Korean style sushi rolls) and bulgogi meals, for example. But theres a huge selection.

They also have cheap soju, which is the cheapest I’ve found in the city. (Go to Queens for the super super cheap soju). So grab a bottle, and the window seat if you’re lucky ~very crowded place~ and look at the passersby before the real fun of Ktown begins.

Space Billiard Café

||| I’m happy to say that my review of Space Billiard Cafe was featured in Yelp’s Weekly New York newsletter! Probably next to one of the most exciting days of my life when I saw it. |||

Best place ever.

It’s open 24 hours. It’s cheap ($15 per hour for the whole group, tiny bit more if you have more than 4 or 5 people). Its got free hot tea, cheap beer ($4!), and a door that leads to a scary fire escape for smokers! Win. Just don’t get drunk and fall off, please.

It offers normal tables and the no pocket tables for Korean style billiards games. I tried to play those…not easy, I’ll just stick to pocket ball haha. And theres also a bar if you just wanna sit and have a drink while your friends play.


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You can read the rest my reviews of Ktown Adventures here. :)

Disclaimer: Photos featured here were taken from the public profiles of these restaurants on Yelp.com which are thought to be public domain.

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Interior design dreams

June 23rd, 2011 Alina Guzman Interior Design No comments

Lately I’ve become obsessed with interior design. Watching Bravo’s new show, Million Dollar Decorators, might have had something to do with it. Open, clean, and simply decorated spaces are abso drool worthy. Refinery29 often runs stories about various people from the fashion industry and their apartments. I like to imagine that my future apartment would look something like theirs… and now I have something to go by other than Ikea catalogs.

Now if only the contents of my closet could match theirs, I’d be set.

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Korean Movie Nights

June 22nd, 2011 Alina Guzman Films No comments

The Korean Cultural Service in New York is hosting a series of (FREE!) Korean movie nights this summer. Tonight, I went to the premiere of Cafe Noir with my bestie Hikalu. Now, before I say anything else, let it be known that I’m a BIG fan of Korean culture, films, food, etc. Its pretty obvious if you know me well enough. Despite all that, I just HATED Cafe Noir. I have never ever left a theater before finishing a movie, no matter how dull it was (except for that time there was a family of rats nested around my feet), but I just couldn’t sit through this! It could have had something to do with a horrible woman sitting in front of me blocking my way. But no. It was everything. It was too long (198 minutes!), too weird, and too dull.

But maybe its just me, don’t let this keep you from experiencing the rest of the movies! Or even this one. I hated it, you might love it.

“The Hollywood Reporter calls it “enthralling” while other trade papers have violently rejected it like a bad cheeseburger, but either way there’s nothing else out there like film critic Jung Sung-Il’s epic CAFE NOIR. A sprawling, multi-character feature in the vein of a postmodern Robert Altman movie, the film tells the tale of a rejected young lover and his married mistress, juggling visual styles, points-of-view and references to everything from Korean monster movie THE HOST toDostoevsky’s White Nights and Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther. Truly unique.”

Decide for yourself but I fully intend on going to as many of the movies as I can this summer. (:

They’re played at the Tribeca Cinemas at 54 Varick Street.

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