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2012 has been an exciting year – one that has taken me to 11 countries and six domestic cities. Here are the top five posts that you all deemed the most worthy of reading throughout the year.  Allow me to get misty eyed and thank you for all the comments, “likes” and views this year. I look forward to more adventures in 2013 and cannot wait to share with all of you.

grand-oasis-cancun-21. the 90s are back in cancun

This journey from last January took us to Cancun of yesteryear, where girls strip down to the very bare minimum and beefcake dudes line up to drink tequila out of their belly buttons. It makes me smile that my readers found this to be the most popular post.

 

2. an affair with anthony bourdain

Not surprisingly, my encounter with my hero (and the hero of many of my readers, I’m sure) was worthy of your attention.

 

3. airport idiocy: top five pet peeves

We all have been to the airport, so we all know just how much of a hassle they can be. Plus, everyone likes reading complaint pieces where they get to say, “oh yes, that is soooo true!”

 

delposto4. five overrated restaurants in nyc

I don my snark cap and tell you that those restaurants with the $$$$ rating just aren’t that worth it.

 

5. summer of fun 2012

Every summer I make a list of the top 50 things in New York that I would love do between Memorial Day and Labor Day. You all came along on that journey with me this summer. I hope you were able to create some memories of your own!

 

Like what you have read this year? Follow me on Twitter at @tripptravelogue, or “like” me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/trippintravelogue. Thanks everyone and Happy New Year!!

If you have never been to Memphis I feel for you. That city holds a very dear place in my heart. It could be because of the slamming barbecue food, the chilling Civil Rights Museum or views of the Mississippi, but the truth is it’s because that city is abuzz as the sun goes down and the seedy parts of your soul come alive to blues music.

New Yorkers will be unleashing their soulful angst tomorrow night, July 11 through Thursday July 12, as the Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival comes to the World Financial Center.

Blues legends Buddy Guy and Neko Case will be the headliners at the second annual event. Other acts include Charles Bradley and John Mayall – both of whom have made deep trenches in the world of blues music today.

Best part? The festival is FREE! Performances will run from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. both nights. For now, enjoy some of the soulful stylings of Mr. Johnny Holiday, Memphis blues legend.

View of Manhattan’s Upper East Side from Roosevelt Island

There is nothing wrong with seeing your own city through the eyes of a tourist. Most local New Yorkers are so obsessed with seeking out the “underground” and the “obscure,” that they miss some of the amazing parts of the city that have been deemed a little too “obvious.”

I can give you a long list of locals who have never been to the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building, because they figured that these structures have always been here so they’ll hit them eventually. Not to be morbid, but I know many people that never visited the World Trade Center, owing that to the same mentality. The point is, you can’t predict the future so you might as well soak up every little ounce of your own city. You never know what hidden gems you will find. Carpe diem and all that sh*t.

Taking my own advice, yesterday I decided to explore Roosevelt Island. From 1921 until 1973, Roosevelt Island was known as Welfare Island, and before that Blackwell’s Island. In the 19th century it was home to the New York City Lunatic Asylum, as well. It runs for approximately 40 blocks in the East River.  Truth be told, there still isn’t much on the island today – unless you are into exploring hospitals and apartment buildings. But if you are looking for a bite to eat, a frosty beverage and a killer view, keep reading.

Along the west side of the island, just steps from the F train, is Pier NYC, a small wharf with a wet bar and both a raw bar and BBQ stall. Good to know: The seafood stall, Santos seafood shack, is the brainchild of former Per Se man David Santos. The BBQ joint, John Brown’s Smokehouse, is helmed by Josh Bowen of Long Island City BBQ fame. We sat sipping ice cold beers and indulging in shrimp cocktail while watching the yachts and sailboats cruise against the Manhattan skyline. Not bad for a 90-degree Sunday. Beers are a little pricey ($8), but you are doing something touristy so it’s to be expected. Note: The raw bar accepts credit card but the BBQ joint is cash only.

Roosevelt Island can be accessed from Queens via a bridge at Vernon Boulevard and 36th Avenue. The F train also stops on the island, or you could take the sky tram from Manhattan.

New York is known for many things, but Southern BBQ is not one of them. As I consider BBQ to be some sort of epicurean gospel, when I hear of a new joint in NYC to scope out, you can bet that I’ll be there.

During last year’s Summer of Fun series, I wanted desperately to investigate The Smoke Joint in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood, but alas, there just was not enough time. So this summer, it went to the top of my list…and I kicked myself for having not gone sooner.

Stepping into the restaurant is like pulling over to the side of a dusty southern road and stepping into a wood shack with smokers smoking and flames licking turning hunks of meat. However, once you get a look at the list of obscure bourbons and artfully concocted cocktails, it’s easy to remember that you are still in Brooklyn’s hipster-meets-haute center.

I sampled the pulled pork sandwich (because that is one dish I can never say no to). It comes with pickles and cole slaw, but be sure to leave room for sides. The mac & cheese is epic, as is the corn bread.

Some in our dinner party felt that the sandwich was a bit too greasy, but you can order the pulled pork as a platter without the bun if that is your concern. Personally, I don’t mind a little grease dripping down to my elbows, however when you’re off to see a lecture at the nearby Brooklyn Academy of Music (as we were), you may not want to be smelling of pork.

Anyway, this restaurant gets my vote and is yet another reason to venture outside of Manhattan.

“If you don’t get out of the street you WILL get hit by a bus,” NYPD.

This is what I love about New Yorkers: 1) Our unabashed desire to not miss out on anything, causing us to jump in lines or into crowds without really knowing what we are there for. 2) Our complete disregard for auto traffic, and 3) The lack of disappointment we feel even when something is a complete bust.

Over 100 people gathered on the corner of E 34th Street and Park Avenue last night (and hundreds more at other prime intersections throughout the city) to witness Manhattanhenge – that special time of year when the setting sun perfectly aligns with the street grid, washing steel with sun. And sure, it would have been as poetic as that were it not for the giant-ass cloud covering said sun.

One cloud in the whole damn sky and it was blocking the sun. But c’est la vie, am I right? That didn’t stop hordes of people from running into the middle of the intersection at red lights to snap pictures, nor did it stop the mingling of like-minded wannabe astronomers. And really, no matter that it was a failure. We all live relatively close by…except for that couple that drove 400 miles to see the spectacle. Yeah…that blows.

But fear not. For those of you who attempted this time and were bummed, there will be another shot to see the half sun on the grid on July 12, and the full sun on July 11.

With Memorial Day Weekend fast-approaching, it is time to formally introduce the Summer of Fun 2012 list. For those of you unfamiliar with Summer of Fun, it is that time in New York when we go out and explore just why this is arguably the best city in the world (and we also go out in search of justification for the ridiculous rent prices we all pay to be here).

Summer of Fun officially kicks off Wednesday, May 30, with Manhattanhenge and will run through Labor Day.

So for those of you looking for things to do in NYC this summer, here is what I will (be attempting to) do and report back on. Feel free to join in on the journey.