Top Ten Destinations of 2015

And so, 2015 hath come to a sudden if not abrupt end.  This year just flew by, did it not?  And in the time it did came another year of exciting adventures to many wonderful places; some near and some far.  Before this year expires and we transition into 2016, let us recount the top ten highlights of 2015 and all the most memorable moments, shall we?

10)  Amagansett, New York, USA:

"Visit Beautiful Napeague!"

“Visit Beautiful Napeague!”

When summertime rolls around, one is left with one of the toughest questions of the summer: Do I go to the beach or do I prefer the pool?  For me, I choose both!  In a quiet little corner of The Hamptons, in the town of Amagansett, in the dunescape that is Napeague, my summer home presents both options in all their grandeur.  Long days under the blue sky while holding my breath in the deep end or exploring the briny deep at low tide in the Bay of Napeague are some of my favorite things to do when it is summertime in the east end of Long Island.

9)  Chicago, Illinois, USA

The Chicago Theatre

The Chicago Theatre

Since my sister got married in 2014 to a very handsome, and very tall young man from Lake Forest, IL, I now have relatives in the Windy City.  Which means one thing: an excuse to ride the L while feasting on Italian beef sandwiches and Polish sausages!  Well, that plus seeing the sights of one of America’s biggest and most amazing cities is a plus, I guess.  This year, I paid a visit to all my favorite haunts like Al’s, The Loop, Sunny Side Up, and all the other places that remind me why it is so very hard to explore this city on an empty stomach!

8)  New York City, New York, USA

Christmas Eve at 30 Rock

Christmas Eve at 30 Rock

I know, I know this one sounds a bit unfair seeing as how I am in this city almost every day, or rather, every day now that I live here.  I would be a bit remiss, however, if I did not include it in my list of 2015 for how it has opened my eyes up.  When I tearfully left Rockville Centre in January, I was unsure of how I would make it in the Big Apple.  Nearly 12 months later, I feel as if I have made it as a bonafide New Yorker.  In doing so, I have managed to survive living in an apartment, I have discovered exciting new restaurants like this killer hot dog joint in Brooklyn, I have learned how to navigate the highways in and around Manhattan, and I have met some cool new people on the upper west side.  I will say, however, I wish the cars on the West Side Highway would keep it down late at night; they just won’t stop their stupid drag racing!

7)  Durham, North Carolina, USA

"The best eatin in all of Durham!"

“The best eatin in all of Durham!”

You're in Bulls Country!

You’re in Bulls Country!

In July, my friend Heather and I made our way to North Carolina’s research triangle for the annual Friends Stuttering Conference which was held in Raleigh’s neighboring city of Durham.  While this small, yet scenic city is mostly famous for being the home of prestigious Duke University, it is also famous for being the home of the Durham Bulls minor league ball team.  These minor leaguers were made famous by Kevin Costner in 1988’s Bull Durham, but they won me over with a smorgasboard of southern eats that one cannot get in New York.  Saucy pig wings, a chili dog topped with coleslaw, and cold bottle of Cheerwine made for a memorable night at the old ball park in the heart of tobacco country.

6)  Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Welcome to Milwaukee!

Welcome to Milwaukee!

The tar heel state wasn’t the only new state I added to my list of 50 states; the badger state was the next new one.  On a frosty morning in November, I boarded a train from Chicago’s Union Station, bound for Milwaukee’s Intermodal Station in the heart of dairyland.  I was most impressed by the city; it felt like something out of upstate New York but with fewer mountains and more waterfront scenery.  The buildings displayed a turn-of-the-century style architecture that was both well-preserved and looked stunning.  But I didn’t come for the architecture and ambiance.  The food drew me like a beacon.  Sure, the cheese and beer was satisfying, but the oodles of edible eats at the Milwaukee Public Market beckoned me.  You have got to try their donuts and preserves!  And don’t pass up a visit to the Red Rock Saloon for some of the spiciest wings this side of Dante’s Inferno.

5)  Bankstown, NSW, Australia

Me with Sam Aretem (aka Aretem Art).  The Bunny and the Bulldog!

Me with Sam Aretem (aka Aretem Art). The Bunny and the Bulldog!

Aretem Art inks his awesome talent onto my 2015 Rabbitohs poster.

Aretem Art inks his awesome talent onto my 2015 Rabbitohs poster.

During my yearly excursion to the land down under, I paid a visit to a friend in Sydney’s Bankstown suburb.  As a Rabbitohs fan, I knew it was a bit of dangerous gambit since I was venturing into Bulldogs territory.  But since that was where my friend lived, I got on the first train from Lidcombe to Bankstown and paid him a visit.  Sam Aretem (aka Aretem Art) is a master of his craft and presented me with a beautiful bounty of Rabbitohs decals, stickers, and a t-shirt made for the World Club Challenge.  He took me through his hometown, an eclectic mix of Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants in a neighborhood that looked so much like Queens.  In fact, between the Chinese and Arabic writings, the shopping mall, and the train station, it could have easily have been Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, or Flushing but with the metric system.  Small world, eh?!

4)  Sydney, NSW, Australia

Sydney Opera House: It is even more beautiful than in the picture books!

Sydney Opera House: It is even more beautiful than in the picture books!

Sydney Opera House: much bigger on the inside!

Sydney Opera House: much bigger on the inside!

Well surprise, surprise!  One of my favorite cities in the world featuring my favorite sports team made this year’s list!  2015 marked my third consecutive visit to Australia’s biggest city.  This year, I walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, dined with fans in Redfern, ate out in Parramatta, explored the neighborhood of Doonside, and bathed in the cool waters of Kuring-Gai National Park in Berowra.  One of the biggest highlights, however, was that I took in my very first show inside the world famous Sydney Opera House.  My seats may have been high up in the rafters, but I could hear Renee Fleming’s heavenly voice echo beautifully from every corner of every clamshell roof.

3)  Liverpool, Merseyside, England, UK

Liverpool's Crown Hotel

Liverpool’s Crown Hotel

In February, I made a first in my life: my first solo trip to Europe.  I took a redeye flight from New York to Manchester, England where I boarded a train bound for Liverpool.  For the next four days, I made my way around the city that gave birth to The Beatles.  Prior to my arrival, I had not been back to Europe since 2011 when I cruised through the Mediterranean and rode the Chunnel from London to Disneyland Paris.  Also, I had not been to any other part of England other than Bath Spa and Hampton Court.  While I was there, I dove into the history of the Fab Four, shopped till I dropped (Liverpool is a big shopping capital of England, apparently), dined on bangers and mash, fish and chips with a side of beer and crisps, and took in the waterfront scenery on a windswept morning.

2)  St. Helens, Merseyside, England, UK

Reggie popped out his rabbit hole and has arrived at Langtree Park!

Reggie popped out his rabbit hole and has arrived at Langtree Park!

A Brit, A Bunny, and a Bear!

A Brit, A Bunny, and a Bear!

Back in 2015 when I heard that the World Champion Rabbitohs (it feels SO GOOD to finally say that out loud!) would be playing 3,000 miles closer to New York in Liverpool, I knew that I had to be there.  My excursion to Liverpool was all about chasing the Rabbitohs in merry old England.  Just like Australia, I learned how being an American rugby fan overseas is the best way to make new friends.  And boy was I right!  I met a delightful couple named Nigel and Nada who mistook me for an Aussie because of my jersey.  He spotted me with a copy of Watership Down inside a Boots Pharmacy and he had to take a selfie with me.  More importantly, he scooped me in an article in the Daily Mirror where I appeared in the same headline with Russell Crow!  Booyah!  The Rabbitohs game took place a few miles away in the nearby town of St. Helens where the fans bought me ale for being the sole Yank in red and green.  Everyone wanted a photo with me and they were unbelievably kind!  Even the BBC camera crew couldn’t help but film me outside the festivities!  It was practically a one-sided victory for the Bunnies; they conquered St. Helens 39-0 in front of a packed crowd.  Glory glory, indeed!  Not bad for my first major sporting event in Europe.  After that madness, I hope a Manchester United game can measure up…

1)  Dangar Island, NSW, Australia

A Rabbitohs warren in the middle of the Hawkesbury!

A Rabbitohs warren in the middle of the Hawkesbury!

And the winner for the most exciting, if not memorable place I visited in 2015 goes to this little slice of paradise in the Hawkesbury River.  Nestled just up from the town of Brooklyn where the Hawkesbury River Marina is, Dangar Island is a residential area where most of the Hawkesbury River denizens dwell.  Whenever I think of the idyllic tableau that is the Australian bush, this place is it.  The way the trees waft in the breeze, the sound of kookaburras and gallahs singing high in the treetops, flowers blooming everywhere, the gentle sound of the tide crashing in on the shore, and sailboats bobbing in the distance.  What made this place memorable was that I was invited by a Rabbitohs friend of mine named David (aka Dangar Dave aka Dangles).  For the entire day, he took me on a grand tour of the place made famous by Oyster Farmer.  We dined on fish and chips in the middle of the river, we explored a shipwreck, we trekked up to an Aboriginal camp site, and an island cemetery.  What made this day memorable was how David invited me into home with his lovely wife, Rowena.  He too, had an extensive Rabbitohs collection including a rulebook from 1913.  And like me, he was writing a book about Souths first “golden era” from the 1920’s and 1930’s.  It was days like this one that reminded me why I am so proud to be both a Rabbitohs fan and have the coolest friends from halfway around the globe.  When traveling abroad, more tourists oughta have a day like this one.  Don’t just be another shutterbug in the city; be a local and spend the day with the natives!

About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
This entry was posted in Australia, Brooklyn, Chicago, England, Europe, Food & Drink in Chicago, Hawkesbury River, Illinois, Liverpool, Long Island, Manhattan, New South Wales, New York, New York City, North America, North Carolina, Raleigh/Durham, Sports in Liverpool, Suffolk County, Sydney, The Hamptons, Transportation in Chicago, United States of America, What to See in Chicago, Where to eat in Brooklyn, Wisconsin and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Top Ten Destinations of 2015

  1. Alisoun Brewster says:

    Love this Jared!!! HAPPY HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!🍾🎉💥🎊

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