Month: April 2012

A Great Cause

CitySightseeing New York Blog

Tuesday, May 8th 2012 is going to be a special night.  One of our brand new cruise ships will gather the contestants for the Miss USA pageant as well as Alyssa Campanella, the reigning Miss USA.  The boat will head out into the enchanting New York Harbor for a scenic ride as the sun sets over Manhattan, and all of this is being done in the name of charity.

That’s what makes next Tuesday so great.  Yeah, it will be fun to host America’s greatest pageant queens, but the fact thousands of dollars will be raised for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation makes this such and incredible event.

Would you like to join us on this magical cruise next Tuesday?  Well, this is your chance.  With limited availability remaining, we are offering an invitation to the general public to join Miss USA on her cruise.  For $100, all of…

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What is Cinco de Mayo a Celebration of?

image via Wikipedia

This weekend, cities all around the United States will participate in the celebration of Cinco de Mayo.  There will be parades, fireworks, fairs and of course, great specials on Corona no matter where you go.  I myself have reservations for a Mexican restaurant where I will partake in Saturday’s festivities, but unlike most people, I will also know what I’m celebrating.

If you think that Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of the Mexican Independence Day, you are wrong.  Don’t feel bad, most Americans believe this as truth.  In fact, Mexico’s Independence Day is celebrated on September 16th and is widely considered the nation’s most important holiday.  So then what is Cinco de Mayo and why is it so popular you ask?  Let’s take a look at history to answer that question:

image via Wikipedia

In 1861, amid financial desperation, Mexican President Benito Juarez announced that Mexico was suspending payment on all foreign debt for the next two years.   France didn’t like this.  They were so angered by this declaration that they were going to take Mexico by force and appoint a new leader.  On May 5, 1862, the French army was marching to Mexico City when they hit the State of Puebla.  It was here that the Mexican army led by General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated the much larger French army.

When word of this victory got to Mexican miners in California, they were so overjoyed with the news that they began firing weapons in the air and singing songs.  Since then, every year in California there has been some sort of celebration of Cinco de Mayo and the Battle of Puebla.

Cinco de Mayo may not be the celebration of the Mexican Independence, but it is still a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.  While celebrations in the United States have grown over the years, there are not many fiestas to be had in Mexico itself.  Outside of the State of Puebla in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is not celebrated much at all.

In the 1980’s the holiday became very commercialized by advertisers, which is why there is so much confusion about it today.  Beer companies in particular began pushing for celebrations and now, they have their wish.  Last year, Time Magazine ranked Cinco de Mayo #4 on their “Top 10 Drunkest Holidays” list.  So this year, after you take your shot of Cuervo and chase it with a Dos Equis, try to remember what the holiday is actually about.  Happy Cinco de Mayo!

The Space Shuttle Enterprise Flew Over Manhattan Today

What an awesome sight this was!

The Enterprise, on route to JFK Airport from Washington DC, decided to fly over Manhattan before landing.  The shuttle flew up around the Intrepid on the Hudson River and then over to the Airport.  This video was captured by our friends at New York Waterways!

Also, check out these photo’s this photo (some photos have been removed from the original post) from NASA (Click the images for the full gallery. Really, do it, all the shots are incredible!):

This Weekend in NYC

Well, another week has passed us by and another weekend is set to begin.  Let’s take a look at what NYC has on the agenda:

NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall

Most people would argue that the first pick in the draft is the one that you want to have, but I’m a firm believer that there is nothing better than the 32nd spot.  Yeah, other teams may get better players, but they won’t get to hear Commissioner Roger Goodell say this:

“With the 32nd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants select…”

The Colts will get Andrew Luck, but the Giants are still the champs!

The line at Radio City last night
image via @sohodutch

If you want to get ticket to watch the first round of the draft live from Radio City, you’re too late.  Sorry.  The line started forming last night for tonight’s event, and at this point there is no doubt that tickets are all gone.  But, you can still get in line tonight for tickets to Day 2 of the draft on Friday.  Head over to the Radio City Music Hall website for more details.

To get to Radio City Music Hall, hop off the Downtown Loop tour at Rockefeller Center

Tribeca’s Final Weekend

In last week’s TWiN, we mentioned that it was Tribeca Film Fest’s opening weekend.  Well, this week we’re talking about it again since it’s closing weekend.  On Sunday, The festival will close with The Avengers staring quite the cast.  If you’re a normal person like me, you won’t be able to get tickets to that event, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck.  Remember my story from earlier this week?  You never know what will happen in this crazy city.  So look at the schedule since this is your last few days to catch a screening until next year.

There are screenings all around lower Manhattan, so don’t just hop-off the bus when you hit TriBeCa.  Check out their theater map and compare the theater that you want to go to with our hop-on hop-off map so you don’t get caught walking across half the city.

Go to a Market!

Ok, this sounds a little demanding, but really, you should check out a market this weekend.  The weather is getting nice and the weekend markets are hitting full stride again.  This past Saturday I accidently stumbled upon a market and had a blast.  Great, homemade food for a fraction of the regular NYC price?  You can’t go wrong with that combo.

Like Tribeca, there are markets all around Manhattan.  Check out this handy NYC Market website and compare it with our hop-on hop-off map.

So, that’s what the weekend looks like.  One more day of work tomorrow and you’re home free!

The Tourist’s Guide to Taking Pictures in NYC

Have you ever wanted to take a picture but worried about looking “too much like a tourist?”  One of the most common fears that many tourists have is in regards taking pictures.  Is it appropriate to take that picture?  Will the locals look at me with disgust and judge me?  I don’t want to be a walking cliché, but that I really want to take that picture.  What should I do?

Does this sound like you?  Don’t worry, almost all tourists face photographer’s anxiety in some form.  The following flowchart will serve as a way to check yourself.  When you want to take a picture in New York City, but don’t know if it’s appropriate, go to the chart.  If the chart says that it is ok to take the picture, then take the picture! (Click to enlarge)

Tourist Picture Flowchart

click to enlarge image

Whatever you’re comfortable with, take it!  Don’t let other people’s dirty looks deter you.  Take as many photos as you can and make this vacation one that you’ll never forget!

One Crazy Sunday at The Tribeca Film Festival

image via

Yesterday I had some errands to run downtown.  I was in no particular rush, but since I woke up early, I was able to finish what needed to be done by noon, leaving basically the entire day to do something.  I decided to pull out my phone and look up the schedule for the Tribeca Film Festival since my plans to spend all day Saturday at screenings had fallen through (I knew that was going to happen).  As it turned out, there was a free Tribeca Talk about to begin at the Union Square Barnes and Noble, which happened to be just a few blocks from where I was.  What luck!

The panel featured three directors of films that are being shown at the festival and discussed the topic of adapting a film from a book.  It wasn’t really something that interested me, but I figured that I’d go anyway just to experience it.  I mean, it was free after all.  I hadn’t heard of any of the directors, nor was I familiar with their films that they talked about, but all-in-all the discussion was pretty interesting. (My favorite moment was when somebody asked director Pan-ek Ratanaruang about finding the right book to turn into a movie. He responded by saying “I don’t read much so the book kind of found me.  Reading is for lonely people.  I have friends.  I party.” Only about half of the crowd in the Barnes and Noble found this comment to be funny.)

By the end of the discussion, director Charles Matthau (son of the late Walter Matthau) had mentioned that his movie, Freaky Deaky, was premiering later that afternoon at the SVA Theatre.  Still not knowing much about Matthau or his film, I decided to walk over to see if I could get rush tickets.  My plans were open so again I figured, why not?

Standing in the rain 😦

When I got to the theatre, I was a bit surprised by all of the attention.  Despite all of the rain, there was a legit red carpet surrounded by a hoard of media.  Realizing that this was the world premiere of the film with many of the cast and crew in attendance, I began to have doubts that there would be any rush tickets at all for this screening.  Nonetheless, I got in the rush line (about 15 people in front of me) and began to wait.  Note: if you plan on waiting for rush tickets to a film this week, look at the weather report.  Most, if not all, of the rush ticket lines are outside of the theatres.  With my day of randomness taking me from here to there, I did not have an umbrella with me and if there were going to be any rush tickets for this screening, I was still 50 minutes away from finding out.  After about five minutes in line, the rain really began to come down.  My coat didn’t even have a hood.

I started thinking about leaving.  Maybe I should just cut my losses and head home.  I probably wouldn’t even enjoy the film if I’m soaking wet from standing in the rain for an hour, right?

With that thought, my day took another twist.  An older gentleman with a special Tribeca Film Festival pass hanging from a lanyard around his neck walked up to me with an umbrella.  My first thought was that he worked for the festival, but it’s also possible that he may have been involved in the film.  I wasn’t sure.  He held the umbrella out allowing me to stand under it with him. (I still have yet to find any credence to the saying that New York can be a “cruel city.”)

The man and I quickly struck up a conversation about why I didn’t have any rain gear and how my day had led me here.  I asked him about the chances of me actually getting a ticket and he returned a look that said “don’t get your hopes up.”  Still, he generously offered to go into the theatre to find out for me.  When he came back, he pulled me out of the line to share with me his findings.  “Yeah, just head right in there and make a left in the lobby,” he said as if answering a question that I had never asked.  With that, the man sneakily slipped a ticket into my hand.  Before I even knew what had happened, the man began walking away with a smile.  I called out’ “Thank you!” and turned into the theatre, still 40 minutes before the screening started.

Most of the cast with Director Charles Matthau

As I made my through the lobby, I almost bumped in Andy Dick who was standing in a circle telling a joke.  That’s when I realized that Freaky Deaky was, in fact, a comedy.  When I went to find a seat, the theatre was still fairly empty, leaving me with a wide choice.  Naturally I took the best seat I could find: dead center of the room, not too close, but not too far back either.  Just to the right of me sat the family of lead actress, Sabina Gadecki.  To my left was associate producer Timothy Leonard, grandson of author Elmore Leonard.  Within a few rows of me sat some of the film’s stars including Crispin Glover, Michael Jai White and, of course, Andy Dick.  At this point let me remind you, I had never even paid for a ticket.  Hell, I hadn’t even heard of the movie three hours ago.  I planned on spending my day running errands.

I share this story with you because it really shows how crazy New York can be sometimes.  If you’re coming into town on vacation, or even for a long weekend, you don’t know what’s going to happen.  Sometimes, you have to let this city take control and just follow its lead.  There will always be something going on in New York.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t make plans and stick to them, but when you’re in town, make sure you leave some time to just go where this city takes you.  You never know where you’ll end up.

Yesterday, I ended up rubbing elbows with Hollywood’s elite at the world premiere of their new film, without spending a penny.  The film itself was fantastic (very funny) and the Q&A afterward was even better.  If you are going to a screening at Tribeca this year, make sure you stay for the Q&A after the credits.  You really get to know the actors and what it was like to put the movie together.  Three days prior to shooting, the cast of Freaky Deaky was still only half full.  I never would have known that if I had left when the credits rolled.

When all was said and done, I spent the better part of my day at the Tribeca Film Festival.  I got to see the world premiere of a movie and didn’t even spend any money.  Chances are, if you try for rush tickets this week, you will not have an experience similar to mine, so don’t plan on it.  But if you are in Tribeca and are willing to leave your schedule open, you never know what will happen.

This post was written by the Gray Line New York social media strategist, Kevin Lawless.  If you have a story about something crazy happening to you in New York City, drop him a line at and we may share it on our blog!

This Weekend in NYC

What’s going on in NYC this weekend? We’ve got a few good ideas:

Tribeca Film Festival

Knuckleball has a free screening on Saturday Night

We love the Tribeca Film Festival because it embodies what it really means to be New York.  This weekend, there are a ton of screenings and events that you won’t want to miss.  Personally, I plan on seeing a few films this year, but I’m not sure which ones yet.  I’m leaning towards Jack and Diane and Knuckleball, which show this weekend, and then trying for rush tickets to Take This Waltz on Sunday, but I’m sure my plans will change.  That’s what’s great about Tribeca; even if plans do change, there are so many films over the next 10 days that I will undoubtedly see something that I love.

St. George Day Festival

Head over to Staten Island (on the free Staten Island Ferry) to experience this year’s St. George Day Festival.  Celebrate arts, culture, Earth Day and more on Saturday when two stages will be set full of song and dance.  There will be children’s performances, live painting, literary performances, a craft workshop and the traditional Giant Dragon Puppet Show making this year’s festival all the rage.  It will be a great day for people of all ages!

A Streetcar Named Desire

Sunday is opening night of A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre.  See the revival of the Tennessee William’s classic staring Blair Underwood and Nicole Ari Parker as Stanley and Blanche.  While Sunday’s opening night is a strictly limited engagement, tickets for Thursday through Saturday are still available for purchase (even though opening night isn’t until Sunday. I know, Broadway can be confusing sometimes).

NYC Bus Tour

Here’s the thing about our bus tours: they go everywhere!  Not only are they a fantastic way to see and learn about the city, but since we offer hop-on hop-off tours, they also serve as a mode of transportation.  Want to see A Streetcar Named Desire?  Hop off in Times Square, right next to the Broadhurst Theatre.  Have tickets for a film screening?  Hop-off in Tribeca.  Going to the St. George Day Festival?  We drop you off right at the Staten Island Ferry!  Experience New York City by enjoying some of our weekend tips, but don’t forget to see Manhattan aboard our famous double-decker buses!