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An Under the Radar New York City Gem: The Borough of Queens


For most visitors to New York City, perhaps understandably it’s all about Manhattan, with most of Gotham’s big attractions, dining, shopping, and entertainment. But those back for another visit, or who have time for an excursion beyond Manhattan, it’s well worth hopping the subway (underground) to other of its five boroughs. This blog has taken us to Brooklyn and the Bronx, and now we move across the East River to NYC’s largest and second most populous borough, Queens.

Originally established in 1683, today Queens is one of the most diverse corners of the Big Apple, with more cultural institutions than you might expect, as well as neighbourhoods that provide visitors with fascinating microcosms of literally the entire world, especially when it comes to truly authentic dining along with a burgeoning microbrewery scene (these neighborhoods include Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, and especially Astoria, particularly near and dear to me as the place where my own immigrant Czech grandparents made their lives, and later became NYC's Greektown). And by the way, if you’re arriving from abroad, Queens is actually the first bit of NYC you’ll experience, as it’s the location of John F. Kennedy International Airport (along with the mostly domestic LaGuardia Airport, long a mess and now thankfully undergoing badly needed modernization).  read more

 

Algeria's Second City Oran and its Compelling Raï Music

In the West these days, we rarely if ever spare a thought for North Africa's largest and second-most populous country - except for recently with the ouster of the country's authoritarian leader of 30 years. And Algeria is an underrated gem, from the history and culture of capital city Algiers to ecotourism to ancient Roman ruins to amazing ecotourism.

Furthermore, its second most important city, Oran, 4½ hours by road and an hour by air eastward along the Mediterranean coast from Algiers is also well worth at least a day or two. Founded in the 10th century by traders from al-Andalus (Moorish Spain), today it's dynamic, buzzing, and dubbed "The Cheerful" by Algerians. The city center feels like a movie set with its fading but still impressive French colonial buildings, revolving around its main hub, the Place du Premier Novembre...  read more

 

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