Rockaway Beach NYC: Better than Coney Island

Did you know that New York has 14 miles (22 km) of beaches? Check it out!

Most people who visit New York spend most of their time exploring Manhattan, hitting the tourist spots in Brooklyn, occasionally they even set out to Queens or the Bronx, sometimes to the beaches on Long Island. Not every tourist knows that New York has many beaches to visit during the summer! In face, New York has 14 miles (22 km) of beaches!

Brighton Beach and Coney Island are the more popular and crowded ones. There is also the popular Manhattan beach and the more out of the way – yet our favorite has been Rockaway Beach. Unfortunately for us, we live in Brooklyn so it took us over 2 hours of subway delays to get here, because the subway lines in New York are mostly horizontal.

We had to go into Manhattan then grab a train down to Rockaway. It would have been faster to drive or better yet, take the ferry. You can take the ferry here from New York and from Manhattan. The ferry ride is the same price as the train, just $2.75 and it’s fast, breezy and offers a unique view of the city!

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Exploring Buffalo, New York

Road trip time!

In 2018 Isaac and I visited 10 countries! After moving to New York and getting a dog we didn’t have as many opportunities to hop on too many flights, but we did take many exciting road trips.

In 2019 our travel goals are definitely more local and will hopefully involve Smiley! Can you say road trip? Right after the move, we visited Niagara Falls for my birthday with included exploring Buffalo. We’re hoping that our future trips go as well as this one!

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Christmas Cheer in NYC & Upcoming Break from Blogging

Merry Christmas from my family to yours! <3

In just one week, we will be leaving Smiley in good hands (I’m still going to cry and worry) while we leave for our 18 day trip to Iceland, London, Kiev and Prague! It’ll be our first time returning to Europe in 2.5 years and I have no idea what to expect with my Shanghai/New York perspective! It’s going to be amazing.

Yesterday we spent a day doing all the typical touristy Christmas stuff in Manhattan with Smiley. It was crazy and crowded but so worth it. Here are the photos! I’ve been posting every other day for months and it’s time to take a break. I’ll be back annoying you with my rants and videos in January!

I wish you all happy and relaxing holidays <3

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Drizly Review: Alcohol Deliveries within the Hour

We placed the order and then we waited… but not for long. Within a minute the order was processed, boxed and out for delivery! Only half an hour later we got a phone call that the wine was here. We just had to show some ID proving we were over 21 (which we unfortunately are) and the wine was ours! 

Yesterday was a cold, lazy Friday night after a long week of work. Isaac and I really wanted a bottle of wine to go with the pizza that we ordered online on Grub Hub but we didn’t want to brave the outdoors for alcohol, so we finally tried Drizly.

This app that promises alcohol deliveries within an hour also happened to have a great selection for reasonable prices. There is a $19 minimum so we got 2 bottles of Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon for just over $20 including tax and tip. Before ordering, Isaac tried Retail Me Not, an app that claims to find you coupons/discounts on things.

We were skeptical that it would work on another obscure app like Drizly, but to our surprise, we got a $5 discount on the already cheap wine with free delivery! It was all too good to believe.

We placed the order and then we waited… but not for long. Within a minute the order was processed, boxed and out for delivery! Only half an hour later we got a phone call that the wine was here. We just had to show some ID proving we were over 21 (which we unfortunately are) and the wine was ours!

Our first experience with Drizly was great and we will definitely be trying it again. Previously, we had tried to use it to buy some almond Baileys, which isn’t commonly sold in stores and that was more difficult. It was being sold for $6 more than average and shipping was $10. But if you’re in a pinch then it’s a great option even with the extra cost.

I definitely recommend you to try it out and feel free to post how it went in the comment section below. Cheers!

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PetBuddy Services in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Starting November 12th, they finally completed their move from Wilson Avenue to 54 Noll Street, Brooklyn. Their new location offers a rooftop playground, pet grooming (through their new partner Pet Wash N’Go and they will be selling organic dog products. Their prices are going up a little with the new facilities, so now cage-less boarding will be $59.99 for 24 hours and $40 for daycare including transportation.

Petbuddy Services is a smaller family daycare and dog boarding that’s currently working on expanding their facilities as well as services. Before they accept your dog, they require a trial day that costs $25 and can last all day. If your dog passes, the daycare costs $40 a day (including transportation) and they are open from 8 AM until 8 PM.

Previously I wrote about a different daycare that we also used for Smiley that unfortunately didn’t work out. He was anxious at the other one and needed one-on-one attention otherwise he would spend all day trying to escape. The staff told me that while they could handle him because they had enough experienced staff to give him the care he needed, he clearly didn’t enjoy being there. So I tried taking him to Petbuddy Services instead.

After meeting Oscar only twice, I am convinced that he has supernatural dog whispering abilities. Him and his dad are dog lovers and are great at keeping up to 20 dogs calm and content throughout the day. The only time the dogs bark at PetBuddy is when someone new is coming or leaving, otherwise they are just hanging out! That’s an amazing feat with so many dogs!

Since Smiley didn’t enjoy the first daycare, I was worried that he would hate all daycares. But he did really well at PetBuddy for 12 hours, two days in a row. He was still crazy at pickup, but when they went to get him for me and put his leash on, he was chilling with the other dogs. It was a huge relief knowing that there’s a place to take him where he was safe and happy.

Although Smiley will be spending most days staying at home where he is more comfortable (we have cameras set up to watch him to make sure that doesn’t change), we will definitely be using PetBuddy again the future. Probably for boarding a well as daycare, since we trust them and know that he is happy there. In the mean time, he gets a 30-minute social walk through his old daycare that is more than enough on our average work day.

Anyway, back to PetBuddy. Starting November 12th, they finally completed their move from Wilson Avenue to 54 Noll Street, Brooklyn. Their new location offers a rooftop playground, pet grooming (through their new partner Pet Wash N’Go and they will be selling organic dog products. Their prices are going up a little with the new facilities, so now cage-less boarding will be $59.99 for 24 hours and $40 for daycare including transportation ($5 increase, but transportation used to cost that much anyway.)

I wholeheartedly recommend Petbuddy Services and vouch for Oscar and his dad. They do cost a little more than other daycares in the area, but it is 100% worth it. I am excited to visit their new place and see how much they have grown.

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Brooklyn Bow Wow – Doggy Services

– $16 for a 30 minute social walk
– $25 for day care under 6 hours
– $35 for day care over 6 hours
– $45-60 for boarding depending on the length

Having a dog in New York can be a little complicated, especially when everyone in the household is busy with full time jobs! When we first got Smiley, we didn’t have to worry about it because I was still job-hunting from home while Isaac brought home whatever the vegan version of bacon is.

Timing is a weird thing, however, and as soon as Smiley came into our lives, I started getting interview requests after two months of cricket chirps. That’s when I started panicking and doing research about what to do when I finally started work.

I first heard about Brooklyn Bow Wow while walking Smiley at a local park. Several people mentioned their dog-walking services and had nothing but amazing things to say. Being the paranoid dog-mom that I am, a walk just didn’t seem enough to keep Smiley safe and happy.

To add to my stress, one I finally got the job, my first week of work ended up being at the same time that Isaac had Walford training upstate resulting in him having to leave at 5:30 AM and returning as late as 8 PM! At the same time, I was leaving by 7 AM latest and getting back by 7 PM for my first week.

Since we had only had Smiley for a few weeks, we didn’t feel comfortable leaving him alone that long even with a 30-minute walk around noon. The only solution was to take him to a doggy daycare. Which was expensive, a long walk away and we didn’t know if he would be happy there.

Before the week we brought Smiley in to meet the dogs and hang out for 30 minutes to see how he behaved. He was extremely calm around all the dogs and seemed content to be there. It was a great start! On my first day of work I dropped him off without a second thought and went to work. I called at lunch to make sure he was okay and found out that he was! It was all great.

By the time I picked him up, I found out that after 2PM he got very anxious and tried to escape. He was so focused on trying to escape that he ignored all other dogs and didn’t respond to commands and basically acted like an unhappy, spoiled child, which was not good.

The daycare said it was normal at the beginning and that we were welcome to bring him back. Which we did for two more days, during which his behavior did not improve. The staff at Brooklyn Bow Wow was great and so patient with both me and Smiley. They explained that he just didn’t want to hang out calmly with other dogs, needed one-on-one attention from the staff and seemed unhappy there.

They explained that they had enough staff to provide the one-on-one care that Smiley needed, which was a great relief… but they felt bad about Smiley being unhappy and so did I. I fully intended to take him to them again on Thursday and Friday, because I just couldn’t leave him home alone, but after walking by a different, slightly smaller doggy daycare that Smiley had previously visited, I spontaneously decided to take him there just to see what would happy.

For some reason, Smiley preferred that particular daycare (which I will write about in another blog post). We were definitely not done with Brooklyn Bow Wow and we were disappointed that Smiley didn’t like their daycare! We did have a trial walk scheduled with them and hoped to switch to daily walks once our schedule got less crazy.

Just last Saturday, while Isaac and I were out, we had a walker from Brooklyn Bow Wow come over (we had left them the key) and walk Smiley for 30 minutes. It went really well so we are excited to keep using them for regular walks!

Being the paranoid dog parents that we are, we also got a $35 camera to watch Smiley at home. Our apartment has thin walls and a no-dog policy (which our landlord waived as long as Smiley doesn’t disturbed anyone) so we wanted to 1. have peace of mind, 2. see if he barks during the day and 3. see if there’s anything he tries to get into so that we can hide it.

So because of the camera, we got to see (and hear) the Brooklyn Bow Wow walker come in, greet Smiley who was excited to see him, put his harness on and then play with him briefly after dropping him off. We’re not sure if he even noticed the camera (and we resisted scaring him by saying hello through the two-way microphone) so we are extremely satisfied with how the pick up and drop off went. We assume that the walk was just as good!

From now on, we will have the walker come Monday – Friday and since we have a less crazy schedules, Smiley will never be alone for too long and we now know exactly what he does when he’s alone – he snores on our bed like a good boy!

If you’re looking for a doggy daycare, boarding or walking, I definitely recommend Brooklyn Bow Wow! They are located by the DeKalb Subway Station (L train) and they have great prices.

  • $16 for a 30 minute social walk (may include other dogs, private walks are more expensive and less fun for the doggies)
  • $25 for day care under 6 hours
  • $35 for day care over 6 hours
  • $45-60 for boarding depending on the length

We have just started using Brooklyn Bow Wow but have so far had a great experience and high expectations for the future. To save some $$ we prepaid $550 for their services that gives us $600 of credit. If you are interested in using them, give them a call or send them an email and schedule a trial visit and/or walk. You won’t be disappointed!

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Buying Carnivorous Plants in NYC

Amazon was an obvious option but the plants there were expensive and didn’t always have the best reviews. Plus ordering a plant online is risky in case it’s not handled correctly. Does any package deliverer look at “fragile” or “this way up signs”? Not in my experience…

I’ve always been a fan of carnivorous plants and had a bunch in Prague. After the move I got back on the hunt and I started searching in for some hungry plants. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any even though I’ve heard of them being sold everywhere including Walmart.

Amazon was an obvious option but the plants there were expensive and didn’t always have the best reviews. Plus ordering a plant online is risky in case it’s not handled correctly. Does any package deliverer look at “fragile” or “this way up signs”? Not in my experience…

Finally I found a place, Midtown Carnivores, but didn’t have a storefront which made me nervous. I emailed the owner with my order and some questions and he answered me almost immediately. He was friendly, communicative and offered to meet me in Brooklyn with wide range of possible times.

He arrived on time with the plants well-packed and healthy. He provided an info packet on care and said to email him any time with any questions. Although I haven’t had any yet, I am confident that he would answer quickly and help me if I did. If you live in NYC and want a carnivorous plant friend, I definitely recommend Midtown Carnivores. The prices are great, the owner is professional and the plants won’t disappoint!

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Nowadays: Pet-Friendly Bar

Their already great beer prices are even more exciting during their 2-for-1 happy hour which runs from 5pm to 8pm on Thursdays and Fridays. It only works for select beers, but where else in NYC can you get a draft beer for $3? 

I am lucky to live next to two great dog-friendly bars with amazing beer prices! One is the Bridge and Tunnel Brewery and the other is Nowadays. Nowadays is located in Ridgewood, Queens but is right next to Bushwick, Brooklyn. It’s just a five minute walk from Wilson Avenue subway (L).

Nowadays has an indoor and and outdoor area. The indoor area is fancier, doesn’t allow dogs and has a cover fee to enter after certain hours. The outdoor area is dog friendly, free and has a relaxed vibe that I love. Nowadays is open Thursday – Sunday, sometimes also on Wednesdays and they are open year round. Make sure to check on Facebook to see if they are open.

Their already great beer prices are even more exciting during their 2-for-1 happy hour which runs from 5pm to 8pm on Thursdays and Fridays. It only works for select beers, but where else in NYC can you get a draft beer for $3?

As mentioned before, they are open year round! So when it gets cold, the outdoor area is heated with chic round fire pits! I was there on a particularly cold October day and the fire was much needed, plus it added to the great atmosphere. I’m not sure if I’ll enjoy it in the snow, but we’ll find out.

In addition to a great space and atmosphere, the staff is also pretty amazing. They are always friendly and let you try the beers, offer shots of mulled wine (that make you end up buying a cup for $11). I’m from Europe, where mulled wine was born and Nowadays made it so surprisingly good that I almost forgot I wasn’t in Prague’s Old Town Square.

If you’re ever in the area or feel like venturing over to this part of town, make sure to check out Nowadays! It doesn’t get hopping until later at night but if you come early you can grab the best spots while enjoying cheap drinks! Feel free to bring your pets as long as you don’t mind staying outside.

My only complaint: the beers come in single-use plastic. However they will let you re-use the same cup all night.

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Happy Halloween: Smiley’s Dog Costumes!

Our first event came up unexpectedly, the Bridge and Tunnel Brewery was just a five minute walk from our apartment but we had no costume! I quickly cut out an avocado out of Dollar Tree cardboard paper and it was a success! Smiley won some toys and we got a growler for our fun last-minute costume. 

You may have noticed the dog pictures on my Instagram, or read the two posts I wrote about our rescue Smiley – you may have even read the viral Dodo article about his rescue story! Our unexpected adoption (it only took two weeks of fostering to realize that Smiley belonged with us forever) changed all our plans. All those crazy Halloween parties we wanted to go to turned into us going to dog-friendly pub events, the dog parade and tonight we’ll be going to the big NYC Halloween Parade with Smiley in tow.

Our first event came up unexpectedly, the Bridge and Tunnel Brewery was just a five minute walk from our apartment but we had no costume! I quickly cut out an avocado out of Dollar Tree cardboard paper and it was a success! Smiley won some toys and we got a growler for our fun last-minute costume.

We ended up going to another last minute event, the Tompkins Square dog parade, so Smiley wore his same avocadog costume and got outshined by popes and other crazy intricate creative costumes! It was a lot of fun and we’re definitely going again next year with a better costume. Although most dogs wore hot dogs, delivery costumes and they rocked them, as a crafter I got inspired to do something a little more creative!

Tonight, the parade is mainly for people but Smiley will hopefully steal the show – as long as he actually wears the costume I made him and it doesn’t fall apart. Stay tuned for photos of tonights shenanigans.

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New York Subway vs. Shanghai Metro

In the last few years I have travelled to some of the busiest countries in the world and visited the most used metros. Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai and New York are amongst the most heavily trafficked in the world. It was fascinating experiencing all of them and comparing how efficient they were.

In the last few years I have travelled to some of the busiest countries in the world and visited the most used metros. Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai and New York are amongst the most heavily trafficked in the world. It was fascinating experiencing all of them and comparing how efficient they were.

Tokyo was insane, with hundreds of people politely waiting for staff wielding a u-shaped stick to squeeze people into the cars like sardines. Most of the subway riders wore masks, remained quiet throughout the ride and were as polite as possible under the circumstances. Compared to my experience in China, it was almost hard for me to comprehend, but I’m getting to that…

If you’re returning readers of this blog then you’re probably sick of hearing me whine about the Shanghai metro, please bear with me! The Shanghai metro has over 360 stops and constantly growing. It is super convenient, air-conditioned, ridiculously cheap and surprisingly clean since many people think it’s okay to spit on the ground. The only thing wrong with the Shanghai metro is the passengers.

People on the Shanghai metro only care about themselves and where they are going, except they are also busy looking at their phones so they don’t notice while they hit you in the head, step all over your new shoes and they shove their way on and off the metro as if they are the only ones using it. Every rush hour metro ride that I took got me a new bruise, scratches on my bag and had me contemplating murder – no joke.

For someone who has never experienced it, it’s probably hard to imagine. But nothing ruins your day as much as people who just don’t care about anyone else to the point of acting like animals escaping a wildfire and shoving each other out of the way aggressively (sometimes covered in sweat). When you imagine that there are a billion of these people, it makes you not want to be on this Earth anymore.

“Haha,” people commented on my whiney posts on Facebook, “that sounds just like New York!” Every time I read that, I began to dread my move. I didn’t believe it at first but when everyone I knew in New York kept saying the same thing, I started to think that they might be right. I was very wrong!

The New York subway is the complete opposite of Shanghai. It is dirty, old, not always air-conditioned, it can be extremely inconvenient – for example in Brooklyn, because the trains only go horizontally so you need to go into Manhattan to get from Bushwick to Brighton Beach which is pretty ridiculous.

It is also extremely expensive at $2.75 per ride no matter the destination. Sometimes Google maps will suggest that you transfer in a place where you need to get off the subway and then get back on, which costs you another $2.75! It’s pretty ridiculous.

When it comes to the people, if you think New Yorkers are unfriendly, you haven’t been to Shanghai. The subway can get pretty crowded during rush hour, but people are generally aware of their surroundings. When they pile on into the cars, it’s not quite as organized as Tokyo, but people will make room. In Shanghai you have to push people out of the way because they won’t move an inch and will block off entire areas of free space because they’re too busy looking at their phones to notice it.

Another thing that was really shocking to me was that most New York subway stations have the same place to enter and exit – this would never work in China. People don’t even wait to let people off the subway before they get on. It would be a massacre! I’m not saying that New York is perfect, I actually saw an impatient crowd getting on once before people got off, but one of the passengers yelled “hey, let us get off first” and guess what? They stopped getting on and order prevailed!

It is arguable that the New York subway is more civilized than Shanghai because New York is a much smaller city. Before you laugh at me, Shanghai has 25 million residents compared to New York’s 8.5 million. People in Shanghai are always running and rushing, never helping each other and sometimes New York can be the same, but I’ve never had to carry a heavy bag up any flight of stairs ever, I was always offered help. That never happened in Shanghai… it’s nice to live in a small quiet city now 😉

Earlier on I mentioned Seoul, which is another busy city with a spotless and convenient metro. I would say that the people in Seoul are somewhere in between New York and Shanghai. People are significantly ruder than in New York but less so than in Shanghai. The actual metro is as convenient as Shanghai, as clean as Tokyo (they get money back if they see a spill, etc.) and more modern than both because they take credit card payments like buses in Sweden!

Comparing all the factors, New York is by far the most expensive, dirtiest, least convenient of Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul. But while rats and dripping walls can be ignored or avoided, people are harder to tune out – especially when they are trying to sell you bags and touching your phone over your shoulder (yes, that happened).

There are definitely crazy people in New York and they do ride the subway. Unlike in Shanghai, these people are the minority. Multiply the rudest person you’ve seen on the NY subway by 25 million and then you can imagine what it’s like in Shanghai.

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