Video Of The Day: Cuban Trapeze Artists, To The Sounds Of The Temper Trap

With the Olympics in full swing, it’s easy to focus on the athletes’ accomplishments – the scores, the times, the medal counts – instead of celebrating the journey that brought them to London in the first place. Though not specific to the Olympic Games, this music video from Australian rock band The Temper Trap chronicles a journey that is probably familiar to many Olympians, particularly those in parts of the world where athletic training is less of a big business than it is in the United States.

The video, recorded in Havana for the band’s latest single, “Trembling Hands,” follows a young Cuban trapeze artist as she prepares for an upcoming performance, capturing all of the struggles, the frustrations and the raw emotion that comes with pursuing a passion. The video relies on the talents of real aerobatic athletes and exposes a part of Cuban culture that isn’t often visible to the public, with the faded streets of Havana as a backdrop.

[via EcoSalon]

10 unusual things to do in New York City

Many people who visit New York often have the same itinerary: Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Staten Island Ferry. While all of these experiences are worthwhile and should be included in any first-time tour of the Big Apple, here are some fun experiences that can be added to the travel plan to make it a bit more quirky.

Create your own New York-style pizza

New York is world-renowned for its delicious pizza, with many tourists visiting just to sample a slice. Instead of simply trying the pizza, why not learn how to make your own? Pizza a Casa Pizza School will teach you how to make artisanal pizzas without using fancy ingredients or high-tech equipment. Instead, students will learn the school’s genius pizza recipe and how to bring the delightful art home to recreate again and again. Click here for a full class schedule and to order tickets.

Taste the best dumplings in Chinatown

For first-time visitors Chinatown can be overwhelming. Navigating the busy streets, and trying to find the best of what the area has to offer, is basically impossible without help from a local. If you have interest in learning about the history of the area as well as sampling different local specialties, I would highly recommend a tour with Ahoy New York Tours & Tasting. The tour takes you through Chinatown as well as Little Italy and the guide, Alana, is extremely knowledgeable about the area’s past and present. As you learn about the area’s murder-filled and difficult history, enjoy sampling delicacies and Chinese candy. Moreover, if you’d like to solely focus on eating delicious dumplings, for $20 dumpling connoisseur Mark Birch will take you on a dumpling tour to sample the best Chinatown has to offer.

Learn the trapeze

Trying new things when traveling can make your trip fun and exciting. While many people attempt feats like skydiving, bungee jumping, scuba diving, and hiking, it’s not all that often that you hear a friend talk about how they learned the art of trapeze on their latest trip. Why not be the first? Trapeze School New York (TSNY) has an array of levels and class styles from flying trapeze to silks, and from trampoline to acrobatics. The classes are designed for anyone who has ever wanted to experience flying gracefully through the air. Click here to see a class schedule and sign up.

Explore the city through a scavenger hunt

New York is home to some of the world’s most quirky and unusual scavenger hunts, which are not only fun but an interesting way to explore the city. My favorite is Accomplice, which is “part game, part theater, and part tour”. Basically, participants are sent out on a mission through the city while receiving clues and encountering various cast members along the way. It’s a great way to be an NYC detective for a day while discovering some of the city’s most off-the-beaten path spots. Another great option is Watson Adventures, which sends participants through various neighborhoods, museums, and public spaces to answer tricky questions. Some of their hunts include “Murder at the MET,” “Secrets of the Jewish Lower East Side,” “Haunted Times Square,” and “SoHo Chocolately.”

Browse the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market

Fifth Avenue isn’t the only place to shop in New York, as the city is also home to myriad boutiques, bazaars, and markets. One unique market is the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market that is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 9AM-5PM. There are usually about 100 vendors selling vintage clothing, jewelry, antiques, furniture, art, housewares, decor, and more. It’s fun to browse and feels great when you come across an interesting find. Remember that bartering is standard practice here so bring your best negotiating skills.

Learn about NYC’s quirky history at the City Reliquary

While the MET, MoMA, and Museum of Natural History are all worthwhile museums, there is another more unusual type of museum that is definitely worth checking out on your next trip to New York– City Reliquary. Here you will find odd New York artifacts including everything from old photographs and videos to the bones of subway rats to pigeon feathers and bed bugs. On certain nights there are also events where collectors will “show and tell” their unique items. Best of all, there is no outrageous admission fee; instead, you can leave a donation and even grab a beer for $3.

Take a trolley tour of Green-Wood Cemetery

While wandering around a cemetery probably isn’t what you picture when you think of your ideal vacation, Green-Wood Cemetery is worth the visit. The 478-acre Revolutionary War site was actually founded in 1838 as one of the country’s “first rural cemeteries” and, due to its international fame and beauty, came to be a “fashionable place to be buried.” In fact, it is Green-Wood that actually inspired the creation of many of New York’s famous parks, including Central Park and Prospect Park. Some features of Green-Wood include 19th- and 20th-century statuary and mausoleums, glacial ponds, picturesque paths, valleys, and hills, in addition to its rich historical background.

Check out an improv show

Instead of shelling out a ton of cash for a Broadway performance, a great and budget-friendly alternative is to check out an improv comedy show at one of the many great theaters in New York. For $10 or less, you can see up-and-coming comics try out their funniest, raunchiest, and most outlandish routines, while often inviting audience members on stage and incorporating them into the act. Some of the top improv comedy venues include: Upright Citizens Brigade, the Peoples Improv Theater, and Magnet Theater.

Enlighten your inner Beatles fan

New York is home to many iconic Beatles locations and holds a lot of history for the band. Signing up for an Ultimate Beatles Tour can help you learn more about New York as well as Beatlemania while exploring sites like the Ed Sullivan Theater (shown right), Carnegie Hall, the Plaza Hotel, Strawberry Fields in Central Park, and the Dakota Apartments.

Explore art, nature, and design at the High Line

Built in the 1930’s, the High Line was once the site of an off-the-ground freight train system that was built in order to remove dangerous trains from the streets of the industrial district of Manhattan. Today, the site is an elevated park that is home to some of the most beautiful flora, public art, and architecture in the city. Walking on the High Line will allow you to not only see some great city views, but also, learn about the interaction of art and nature through exhibitions. Additionally, visitors can hike through “woodlands” and relax on aesthetically-pleasing park benches. Click here to check out a map of the High Line.

Undiscovered New York: Getting sporty

You probably already know New Yorkers are a competitive bunch. Whether it’s fighting it out for designer duds at the latest sample sale, running down a taxi or climbing the corporate ladder, it’s a city that thrives on getting ahead. What you may not realize, however, is that these very same facets of New York City also make it the ideal place for athletic pursuits.

Despite all the glass and concrete, New York is an increasingly athletic and outdoor-friendly city, with residents (and visitors alike) reaping the many benefits. Recent years have seen new city regulations to make the streets of the Five Boroughs increasingly bike and pedestrian-friendly. Just a few months ago, a project was announced to convert a stretch of Broadway between 42nd and 47th streets to a pedestrian-only mall. What’s more, large-scale projects like Hudson River Park have redeveloped once-gritty industrial waterfront areas, adding new trails, running paths and parkland.

Perhaps the most surprising fact of New York’s athletic culture is the variety of great outdoor-centric activities you can do just by jumping on the subway. Ever wanted to paddle a sea kayak next to a canyon of skyscrapers? How about a rock climb on one of the highest man-made climbing walls on the East Coast? Or maybe you’d like to “clown” around on a trapeze for the day? Lace up those cross-trainers and click below – this week, Undiscovered New York is “Getting Sporty.”
Climbing and Bouldering
You probably already associate New York with towering skyscrapers and climbing the corporate ladder, but it’s also a great place for some climbing of the more natural sort. Not only can visitors learn climbing skills like bouldering within Manhattan’s Central Park, there’s also a wealth of large climbing walls located all over the city.

Organizations like Climb NYC over a wealth of climbing info to help you find a wall that’s right for your skills and interests. Over at Chelsea Piers, visitors can tackle a 46′ high x 100′ wide climbing wall – one of the largest (and most expensive) man-made climbing walls on the East Coast. Others prefer the City Climbers Club, which offers a more modest but also more reasonable climbing area. Whether you’re just a beginner or a climbing expert, you’re sure to get a challenging experience.

Hudson River Kayaks

The image many visitors have of New York City waterways is grim. Visions of the East River are likely to conjure garbage and decomposing mob victims. Thankfully a concerted cleanup effort has left New York’s waterways in 2009 surprisingly clean – clean enough that you can now ride a kayak on them.

Visitors interested in taking a FREE kayak ride should head to Piers 40 and 96 as well as 72nd Street along the Hudson River. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation rents out free boats for 20 minute rides every weekend during the warmer Spring/Summer months. No prior experience is necessary other than knowing how to swim. It’s a great way to spend the day, paddling your way along the surprisingly serene river between the protected nooks of the river piers. You’re certain to get a view of the city you wouldn’t otherwise get back on dry land.

Trapeze School
Ever harbored a secret fantasy to run off and join the circus? You might finally get your chance when you come to New York. Just a short walk from Hudson River kayaking at Pier 40 is the Trapeze School of New York. Complete with all the necessary swings and safety nets and harnesses to get you up and swinging, the school has been attracting urban daredevils and just the plain curious for almost 10 years.

There’s quite possibly no better setting to learn – as participants flip, swing and glide their way through the lesson they are greeted with panoramic views of the city waterfront and skyline. Visitors can purchase a two-hour lesson starting at around $50-60 plus a one-time $22 registration fee. The school has a second indoor location at 30th Street.

GADLING’S TAKE FIVE: Week of March 18

What a week here this week! We had the chance to experience deja-vu or something like it with the announcement of another New Year’s being celebrated. I finally had the chance to sit down and provide you with some of the details from my island adventure in St. Lucia and we found out about more explosive destinations and food than one could ever possibly handle from Iva, but now I turn your attention to these five picks selected to help you on your journey – one way or another.

5. Make Your Own Guidebook:
Neil brings up a fine point on guidebooks – most of the time we don’t need but a handful of information from them, yet we’re stuck paying $25 bucks if not more to help us navigate the land of the unknown. Now there is a way to create your own guidebook for $5 from the folks at DK guides. If you act fast you can make one now and get it for free.

4. Build a $25, 10-Day Survival Kit For Your Car:

Breaking down is the last thing anyone wants to think about on a long road trip across the state or the beautiful land of America, but should it happen you’ll want to be prepared. Learn how to stay alive for at least ten days by building a survival kit.

3. Man Uses Air Sickness Bag as Mini-Urinal:
File this one under: Random. Dave Luna brings interesting and slightly stomach turning news about a gentleman who could no longer hold his bladder in flight and took matters into his own hands and air sickness bag because the lavatory could not be used in flight. You wonder the outcome of such an awkward public display and use of an air sickness bag? You’ll have to read further.

2. 5 Destinations for Learning the Flying Trapeze:

Looking for something new to try on your trips out and about? Tired of the endless number of cooking courses and yoga classes offered at every destination? Why not try your hand at learning the flying trapeze man!

1. World’s 10 Most Magnificent Trees:

Spring is here and who doesn’t want to get out of their home and go hug a tree? In this short blurb we discover 10 of the world’s greatest giants and odd-shaped beauties in nature.

5 Destinations for Learning the Flying Trapeze

I love the idea of taking a vacation to learn about something. But sometimes a cultural tour or a museum just isn’t what I have in mind. Sometimes, I just want to, I don’t know, float through the air with the greatest of ease. Yes, I want to be the daring young man on the flying trapeze. And now you can, too:

  1. The Toronto School of Circus Arts works to extend circus arts to the general public on a recreational and professional level. Drop-in sessions run $25, though you can sign up for longer courses. Can’t make it to Toronto? Montreal’s Trapezium offers similar programs.
  2. The Trapeze School of New York has offices in Boston, Baltimore, and of course New York. Open flying time gives you an opportunity to try out the trapeze with $10 individual or $25 triple swings. (The triple swings give you the opportunity to learn the “flippy dismount”– a somersault in the air as you land in the net!) They also offer 2-hour long classes, and 8-week-long intensive courses.
  3. Trapeze High, located in Escondido, California, offers 90-minute intro classes for $45. No experience necessary, and the only word they don’t allow on the bar is “can’t.”
  4. Flying Trapeze Australia moves round the country offering instruction from 2-hour intro sessions to concentrated training sessions ranging from 2 to 5 days for intermediate/advanced flyers.
  5. Miami’s Flying Trapeze and Circus School offers trail swings and intensive coursework. Beginner classes start at $45.

If none of these locations coincide with your travel plans, check out this list of trapeze-y links and see if you can find a school where you’re headed. Happy flying!