Sunday, September 19, 2010

1 year anniversary of the 'NY Destinations' column: My top stories

This month marks the one year anniversary of my New York Destinations column on

It's been a year marked by change, both personally and professionally. I got married, changed careers, moved back to Manhattan, landed a cover story in a New York City newspaper, went on my first press trip and became a Twitter addict.

Not too shabby-- considering I was backpacking around the world a little over a year ago, wearing the same shirt every single day and negotiating with street vendors to save 50 cents!

Of the 127 articles I've written for the NY Destinations column, the following are my most popular (as measured by Google Analytics).

Travel Safety

Several of my best read articles are breaking news stories with original reporting. They appeared at the top of Google, Bing and Yahoo news searches and most of the readers were unique visitors.

Three of my top articles deal with the impact of violence and terrorism on tourism. Travel safety in Bangkok, Mexico and Uganda was clearly at the top of readers' minds this past year.

Street Artists

Three of my top 10 stories are investigative reports about street artists who sell their work in Manhattan parks. My articles appeared in NY Destinations and were picked up by several blogs and online newspapers.

The artists are fighting new Parks Department restrictions on "expressive matter" vendors, which drastically reduced the number of art vendors in the city's most popular parks. In researching this story, I spoke with dozens of street artists, community activists, parks advocates and the Parks Department.

After hearing that artists sometimes sleep in the park or pay homeless people to secure spots, I decided to take a closer look. I arrived at Union Square Park at 4 am on a Saturday and shadowed a park artist as he reserved his space, attended an artist rally, and dealt with customers.

It was a fascinating experience and resulted in my first cover story, which appeared in the print edition of the NY Press.

Ice Skating Diva

Not all of my top stories are hard-hitting news reports about travel safety and politics. One of my favorite feature articles, "Destination Johnny Weir," made the top 10 list.

During the Olympics I became a die hard fan of American figure skater Johnny Weir. I enjoyed watching him apply his makeup, take a bubble bath with his male roommate, and assume the character of a Russian woman on his reality TV show Be Good Johnny Weir.

Weir was proud of who he was and seemed to have a great relationship with his parents, who hailed from rural Pennsylvania. I wrote about the places that shaped Johnny Weir-- from his boyhood in Quarryville, PA to his first real apartment in Lyndhurst, NJ.

This article apparently resonated with Weir fans. It was re-posted to a Yahoo group and received a fair amount of Google traffic.

NY Destinations Top Stories
Sept. 2009- Sept. 2010

1. Twitter provides latest news on Bangkok political violence
Tourists and expats in Bangkok turned to Twitter on Wednesday for the latest news on clashes between the Thai army and political protesters. English-speakers used their smart phones and laptops to access Twitter and find out which streets were safe from the violence.
>> Keep Reading

2. Travel safety: Mexico welcomes Spring Break visitors as drug violence threatens tourism
Mexico remains a popular spring break destination despite the recent murder of an American couple and a State Department travel warning. However, tourism revenues for 2010 may be affected by increasing drug violence in Mexico.
>> Keep Reading

3. Union Square artist market threatened by new Parks Department rules
The Parks Department has proposed new regulations that would drastically limit the number of artists allowed to sell their work in Union Square and other Manhattan parks. The Parks Department claims the rules will decrease congestion, but critics accuse the city of pushing out independent street artists in order to replace them with more lucrative vendors.
>> Keep Reading

4. Destination Johnny Weir: The places that shaped the Olympic ice skater
Johnny Weir awaited his Olympic scores with a crown of roses on his head, clutching a lush bouquet of red and white flowers that spelled out his first initial. Weir managed to top his previous appearance at the Olympic rink's "kiss and cry" station, when he hugged a heart-shaped pillow that matched his ruffled, pink-trimmed and tasseled skating costume.
>> Keep Reading

5. Travel Safety: Uganda says Kampala safe for tourists despite terrorist bombings
Travelers are second guessing their safari plans after a terrorist attack gripped Uganda on Sunday night, killing an estimated 74 people. At least one American was killed in the bombings, which took place at a restaurant and rugby club in Kampala where crowds had gathered to watch the World Cup. Ugandan officials are urging foreigners not to cancel their travel plans.
>> Keep Reading

6. Bangkok restaurant creates Tiger Woods statue out of condoms
A Bangkok restaurant has immortalized Tiger Woods with a life-size statue-- made of condoms. Cabbages & Condoms is a popular restaurant in Bangkok which serves traditional Thai cuisine and promotes safe sex. The restaurant's motto is "our food is guaranteed not to cause pregnancy." Woods himself could learn from this message. According to Woods' mistresses, the golf great did not wear condoms.
>> Keep Reading

7. Free camping in Central Park this summer
You can camp out in Central Park this summer for free - and you won't even have to bring supplies! The Urban Park Rangers have scheduled three nights of free camping in Central Park this summer: June 5, July 3, and August 7. This is an amazing deal, given the high price of lodging in New York City.
>> Keep Reading

8. Strange foods from around the world: Crocodiles, dogs, worms and... human flesh?!
Dogs, crocodiles, ants and even raw chicken are popular dishes from around the world that seem outright bizarre to most Americans. The next time you are traveling to Asia, Australia or South Africa, check out one of these tantalizing local favorites. With a bit of courage (and a strong constitution), you could be the next Andrew Zimmern.
>> Keep Reading

9. New York Daily News calls street artists 'freeloaders'
Art vendors are “freeloaders” who misuse city parks for commercial gain, claim prominent supporters of a Parks Department plan to restrict expressive matter vendors in public parks. This argument is detailed in a recent Daily News editorial, a New York Times op-ed, and a WNYC radio interview with senior Parks Department officials.
>> Keep Reading

10. New York street artists unveil anti-Bloomberg poster in fight against Parks Department rules
New York City street artists are escalating their fight against the proposed Parks Department regulations on expressive matter vendors. In Union Square Park, vendors started displaying "Artist Power!" signs on their stands last weekend. Robert Lederman, president of advocacy group A.R.T.I.S.T., unveiled a new poster today that accuses Mayor Bloomberg of violating street artists' First Amendment rights.
>> Keep Reading

Do you have a favorite NY Destinations article? Share your opinion by leaving a comment below!



  1. Wow, your accomplishments are really something! Glad to know you.. though recently, I really hope to meet up with u one day. Congrats and keep up the good blog:)

  2. Thanks Ciki! It's been a great year.