Colombian Food, Italian Ice & Taiwanese Snacks Along the 7 Train

There are plenty of great Asian restaurants in Flushing, but the most impressive site I’ve seen there is the food court at the New World Mall.

Mention of the 7 train elicits mixed reactions. Only 6 of the 22 stations connect to other lines and it’s the only subway line that serves Manhattan and Queens (it does not go out to Brooklyn). On September 13, 2015 the first new station of the new millennium opened on the 7 line near the Javits Center. This is very convenient for anyone arriving by boat from New Jersey.

Queens is known as NYC’s most international borough. Over 1,000,000 of the more than 2,300.000 residents are said to be foreign born. If you like food, culture and some nature, you can spend an exciting day along the 7 train.

During my most recent trip, I started at the new 34 St-Hudson Yards station and took the 7 train to 82 St-Jackson Hts. I’ve been to and blogged about this area before. There’s such an amazing selection of Latin American food along Roosevelt Ave. For lunch, I chose La Pequeña Colombia on the corner of 83rd & Roosevelt. I asked their friendly staff what seafood dishes people eat in Colombia and they suggested Pargo Rojo Marinado, which is more prominent is the coastal areas. $27.95 may sound like a lot of money, but most people would not need an appetizer or dessert with this entrée. It’s a whole red snapper over a bed of seafood in a creamy white sauce. A side of yuca with rice is only $3.95 and makes an excellent addition to the sauce after you’ve finished the seafood.

After a meal like that, some walking is in order. I did not have room for any of their hearty desserts and you may not either. My next destination was Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. It’s the fourth largest park in NYC and if you are using the 7 train, there’s a couple different ways to get there. I chose to take the train two stops from 90 St-Elmhurst Av to 103 St-Corona Plaza. Although this is a bit west of the park entrance on 111th Street, you can pass by The Lemon Ice King of Corona if you just walk east to 108th St and go 12 (short) blocks south to 52nd Ave. They are open all year round and have more than 30 flavors. Small cups cost $1.50 each. They do not mix flavors, so it’s worth buying a few different small cups to sample the flavors.

From there, you can walk east on 52nd Ave to 111th Street, which will put you near the main entrance to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. It’s more exciting in the warmer months, but you can still spend hours there in the winter. If you go to the nearby museums, you can spend days.

My last stop in the park was the Unisphere. From there, the 111 St and Mets-Willets Point stops along the 7 train are just a short walk north. The one you take will depend on whether or not you are going east or west. The last stop to the east is Flushing-Main St, which will leave you in the heart of what some call the largest Chinatown in NYC. It’s certainly the largest in Queens and is different from the more famous Chinatown in Manhattan in that most of the people there are Mandarin speaking.

There are plenty of great Asian restaurants in Flushing, but the most impressive site I’ve seen there is the food court at the New World Mall. Although the Chinatown in Flushing is generally not as crowded as the one in Manhattan, the food court in the New World Mall is. There’s an amazing selection of Asian food there and it really did remind me of my numerous trips there. There’s bubble tea, Korean, Thai and everything in between, but I always liked Tea Twitter. I first discovered them at the Queens International Night Market and they have excellent Taiwanese fast food. I’ve had salt & pepper chicken at numerous places (including Taichung and Taipei) and theirs is as good as any.

Flushing gives you the advantage of two different transit options back to Manhattan. The 7 train ends in Flushing and the Long Island Railroad has a stop there as well. From Flushing-Main St. you can be at Penn Station in 20 minutes with only a couple stops between if you take the LIRR.

If you follow my itinerary, you can eat Asian, European and Latin American food and also visit an iconic park in less than one full day using one subway line. Of course you should make sure there is no construction on the 7 line, especially if you are visiting on a weekend. The subway would cost you $11 ($2.75 X 4 rides) if you start and finish in Manhattan. Taking the Long Island Railroad back from Flushing will cost more than the subway and unlike the subway, the cost varies depending on when you are riding. On weekends, the City Ticket is the best option at $4.25 one way.

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7 Tips to Make Travel More Affordable

In New York City, an afternoon in a parking garage, a five minute cab ride or going in and out of the Holland Tunnel can cost more than 10 subway rides.

USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Two of my four favorite cities are a day trip for me. I visit New York City at least one weekend every month and Washington, D.C. at least a couple times every year. Free parking is difficult to find in places like this and if you do find it, you will have already paid for tolls before you get there. In New York City, an afternoon in a parking garage, a five minute cab ride or going in and out of the Holland Tunnel can cost more than 10 subway rides. For people who visit once or twice a year, driving in and/or using taxi cabs may be fine, but if you want to go every month, that adds up quick!

If you don’t live near a train station, drive to one and leave your car there! When going to New York, I park at the Newport PATH station in Jersey City. When going to Washington, D.C., I park at either the Shady Grove or White Flint station on the red line.

Cities like San Francisco offer public transportation passes with unlimited use. Take advantage of these! During my last visit, a one-way street car ride was $6, but a one-day MUNI pass was $7. Enough said.

GET FREQUENT FLIER CARDS

I’ve flown for free to southern cities like Charlotte and Atlanta as well as my beloved San Francisco on the west coast. Frequent flier miles add up! This is especially true if you fly internationally and are earning 10,000 miles per round trip. The key here is to pick one airline out of the groups that are available and keep using them, no matter which partner you are flying with. Although partnerships are constantly changing, I try to earn points with United States based airlines. I don’t fly often enough to earn free flights overseas, but cutting out the airfare portion of trips to places like Charlotte, Atlanta or even San Francisco helps.

Companies like The Parking Spot also offer rewards programs and have lots near most major airports. In addition to usually costing less than actual airport parking, they run frequent promotions which save you even more money.

GET REWARDS CARDS FROM HOTELS & CAR RENTAL COMPANIES

If you are traveling once a month and staying at the same hotel brand, points add up. I didn’t get any rewards cards of any kind until around five years (like the David Bowie song) after I first started to travel on a regular basis. Don’t make the same mistake! Most hotel chains and car rental companies offer rewards programs and let’s not forget Amtrak. For those who prefer to travel by train, Amtrak offers a rewards program. Now I know that the Americas are seriously lacking behind Europe and East Asia when it comes to train service, but in California and the Northeast, it’s a viable option. I’ve used it several times and have no complaints.

USE CREDIT CARD POINTS FOR TRAVEL

Most airlines and hotels offer credit cards, where points can be redeemed for flights and hotels. Even if you don’t choose one of these cards, most give rewards, which can be redeemed for travel. My main credit card does not offer the cash back option, so I use the points for a hotel or two every year.

CUT BACK ON DRINKING

My drinking days are ten years gone (like the Led Zeppelin song). When I’m out with friends or family and they order drinks, they are often as expensive as appetizers. For those who consider drinks to be just as important as food, cutting out the drinks may take away from the experience of travel. I’m not recommending this for those people, but for me, drinking does not add to the experience so it just makes travel more expensive. I’m also getting older and have a sweet tooth, so I don’t need to take in extra calories from something I don’t enjoy.

OFFER YOUR SKILLS IN EXCHANGE FOR FOOD!

Travelers are the most open minded people in the world. Many are well-educated and technology-savvy. These skills can be exchanged for food! Yes, I’m suggesting that it can be worthwhile to offer to handle the social media account(s) of your favorite restaurant(s).

Many new (and existing) restaurants have nobody to handle social media accounts, which are essential to growing their businesses. Handling the Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter accounts for that amazing Thai restaurant you visit every week in exchange for free Pad Thai or Thom Kha is time well spent. Add a Peruvian restaurant here, an Italian one there and you can cut down your food bill quite a bit and still eat well. Oh, and have more money for travel!

CHOOSE TRAVEL OVER “FAMILY LIFE”

This is a difficult decision for some. Many people can’t imagine life without their family, while others live for travel and everything else is secondary. Like Henry Rollins, the freedom to travel is more important to me than anything else.

Unless you’re Rick Steves or another celebrity who has the time and money to take their wife and children around the world, it will be difficult to dedicate your life to family and travel. Most of the people I know who are married with children travel twice during a good year. These same people still ask me how I travel so often, but like the Slayer lyric, “I’ve made my choice.” Money is meant to pay for travel!

FINAL THOUGHTS

I wrote this based on my own experiences. There are other options like Airbnb and CouchSurfing which can save even more money on accommodations. In addition to saving money, you can gain insight from a local. For those who live in an area that tourists want to visit, you can earn extra money for travel by offering your own place to travelers. Although I have accounts with Airbnb and CouchSurfing, I haven’t used them yet. I’m fortunate enough to have family and friends in good locations throughout the United States, Italy and Thailand, but I’m sure using Airbnb or CouchSurfing is inevitable as I travel more and more.

Macaron class

I thought I would learn how to make french macarons in a 210 minute class, but not so easy.

An expensive addiction! I thought I would learn how to make french macarons in a 210 minute class, but not so easy. The funny thing is that I didn’t get into macarons until the year after my most recent trip to France.

My favorite restaurant

My favorite pizza places are mostly in NYC.

L & B Spumoni Gardens is my favorite restaurant in the world. There is no close 2nd. My favorite pizza places are mostly in NYC. I like this place because you have the option of parking (for free) or using public transportation. A walk along 86th street under the D train is always nice too. I’m always thinking about the future, but when I’m eating their Sicilian pie, I am really in the moment.

My favorite neighborhood in NYC

If there was one band I wish I could have seen live, it’s THE CLASH. LONDON CALLING is one of my favorite albums. The East Village is one of my favorite neighborhoods in NYC as well.

If there was one band I wish I could have seen live, it’s THE CLASH. LONDON CALLING is one of my favorite albums. The East Village is one of my favorite neighborhoods in NYC as well. I love taking the L train to 1st Ave. and walking south. Luzzo’s (in the picture) is probably my favorite pizza after L & B Spumoni Gardens.