VISITING THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

It’s the world’s largest library with as of now, more than 167 million items .

That’s millions with an M , people .

It was number 134 on my bucket list and it’s the Library of Congress .

It was established in 1800 when the country was in its infancy .

During the War of 1812, like many buildings in what was the capital of the new country of the United States, the Library of Congress was burnt down by the British, destroying everything .

Enter former President Thomas Jefferson, who was in retirement down in Virginia.

He donated his personal library of books, which totaled 6, 487 books.

To say that the former president did a lot of reading would be an understatement.

If you happen to be in Washington taking a tour of the Capitol Building , which is right next door, here’s a tip for you .

You can enter the Library of Congress right through a tunnel which connects the two buildings .

If you went through security at the Capitol Building, you don’t have to do it again once you get to the Library of Congress .

Once you get inside , the building that you’re in is, what else , the Thomas Jefferson Building .

You’ll get to see many of those books that he donated in a small area called, Thomas Jefferson’s Library.

There are technically three floors of the library , but the second floor is the one that most tourists go into with the marble staircase and the statue of the goddess Minerva.

There’s also exhibits at the library.

The day I went, there was an exhibit on women getting the right to vote.

I don’t care what your party affiliation is, this is an exhibit that one should see if you happen to be doing your own 30 Plus Teams Tour of Washington or if you happen to live close by.

I was told by one of the information people that coming up there’s going to be an exhibit on Rosa Parks .

As with most of the museums in town, visiting the Library of Congress is free and easily accessible by the Washington Metro .

Use your Smart Card and get off at the Capitol South Metro station on the Blue, Silver or Orange lines.

You can also get off here for the Supreme Court Building and the Capitol Building .

Trust me, visiting all three of these places is worth the trip.

Even if they aren’t on your bucket list.

KILLING TIME AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND

Now you might think that I spent all or most of this 30 Plus Teams Tour of Washington DC either looking at embassies , eating or sleeping .

No, the Sports Diva isn’t checking out colleges for neices , nephews or children of neighbors either.

I couldn’t check into my hostel until 3pm and it was now 9am.

Plus , I was having lunch with a friend that I hadn’t seen in 10 years .

So what’s a Sports Diva supposed to do to kill all that time?

On all of my trips to DC , I wanted to go see the big campus of the University of Maryland in College Park , Maryland, home of the Terrapins .

( A Terrapin is basically a big turtle and I was looking for the statue of the big Maryland Terrapin. No such luck . )

Since the University of Maryland, like the U Street Hostel , is on the green line of the Washington Metro, it was easy to get there .

Sort of .

Once you get there, you aren’t on campus , oh no .

You have to get a free shuttle bus that takes you to one of the main buildings .

There’s construction going on so the bus can’t drop you off at the metro station .

Bring those walking shoes because this is a big campus with most of the buildings set on a hill.

One of the most inspiring buildings on campus is the Hornbake Library with the statue of Maryland native son, Frederick Douglass in front of it.

In the library plaza right in front of the statue , are inspirational quotes from Douglass .

Some of the quotes are words that hold true today in the political climate that we’re in here in the United States .

MEMORIES OF LOS ANGELES AND YES THEY DO HAVE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION THERE.

When I first moved to Los Angeles from Boston in 1996 courtesy of Delta Airlines , I really didn’t know that much about the city,

People would give me all sorts of advice.

One especially I heard from everyone including family members, “It’s LA, you NEED a car,”

Being from New York City , you don’t miss what you don’t have.

I didn’t need a car, and I didn’t drive.

After seeing those infamous LA freeways, I’m glad I didn’t drive and I sure wasn’t about to learn, either.

I lived in one of the South Bay cities of Los Angeles called Torrance , California for 10 years and I never drove.

I took public transportation, either a bus or a train.

People are surprised when you mention that the city has a subway system,a very good one called the Metro.

You can get a day pass, which with fees comes out to $9.

We don’t even have that on the New York City subways and our trains run 24 hours, something the Metro in Los Angeles doesn’t do.

When I first lived here, there was the Blue Line that went from Los Angeles to Long Beach, the Red Line from Los Angeles to West Hollywood , and the Green Line that can get you to a shuttle bus that will take you to LAX, Los Angeles International Airport .

Not only are these train lines still around, but while I was there recently , I discovered that there’s an extention of the Blue Line that goes from DTLA all the way to the beach city of Santa Monica .

These trains can get you to the major tourists spots in town.

Union Station is the main terminal so the red and the blue lines can get you there, even if you’re coming from Santa Monica .

Want to see the famous Chinese Grauman Theater with the stars footprints or the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

The red line will get you there.

Since you are on a 30 Plus Teams Tour , you KNOW you want see some basketball or hockey action at Staples Center .

The Blue Line will get you there,just get off at the Pico/Chick Hearn Station.

If there’s a game, you won’t get lost .

Just follow the crowd.

Hold onto to your TAP card.

That’s how you get anywhere on the Metro in town.

Some of them are reloadable and there are machines at every station to guide you.

As I rode the train from Long Beach back to my hostel in DTLA, it brought back a few memories .

Good memories of a place where you wouldn’t expect to see a subway .

SPORTS DIVA’S GUIDE TO GETTING CHEAP SPORTS TICKETS

Many thanks to blogger Itinerary Planner for suggesting a post like this.

(Check out her blog, Travel Itinerary for tips even if you aren’t doing a 30 Plus Teams Tour . )

You’re going to either Dallas, Houston , Los Angeles , Miami, or even Tampa – St. Pete for a little rest and relaxation , right?

ABSOLUTELY!

But this is a 30 Plus Teams Tour , remember, so you’ll be going to a sporting event whether it be a baseball , hockey, football or basketball game .

It might be your favorite team that you’re going to see, or a team that you really don’t like, but you want to see a game anyway .

Or it could be a team or sport that you know nothing about , but you want to take in everything in the city.

Besides, all the travel guidebooks about the United States and Canada all say that this is something you should do when visiting both countries, so why not?

Set some money aside and join in the fun at a game.

This is where the Sports Diva comes in.

I’m going to give you some tips for getting to a game on “the cheap”.

I should tell you that as much as I love to watch football and some of the stadiums are on my bucket list , attending an American football game, aka the NFL , can be VERY expensive , depending on the team.

A lot of fans either get their tickets from other fans who don’t go to the game or the majority of them are seasons ticket holders and there’s no way in hell they’re giving up those seats, unless the team is really bad or moves to another city, which seems to happen a lot in the National Football League.

I rarely go to the football games, because as much as I love football, the Sports Diva isn’t mortgaging the house for the most popular sport in the United States .

Instead, I’m going to tell you about the three sports whose games I attend the most, baseball, basketball and hockey.

Let’s say you’re in New York City , and you want to attend a New York Knicks basketball game.

Sounds good, but don’t even think that you’re going to get a cheap seat right on the basketball court so that you can yell and scream at Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, along with the rest of the Golden State Warriors .

That’s not going to happen in any basketball arena no matter if you’re in New York City to see the Knicks or if you’re in Memphis to watch the Grizzlies .

We’re talking cheap tickets, not blow your budget on your trip.

You have other things to do while on your 30 Plus Teams Tour .

You want tickets at a reasonable price .

Depending on the team, you can get tickets from the team’s own website, from NBA tickets.com, or a third seller .

I happen to use a site called VividSeats.com, but there are others.

I use VividSeats.com for hockey and baseball tickets also.

Don’t worry if you think these tickets are fake, they’re very legitimate and they’re the seats that ticket holders don’t want .

If you’re from another country, keep in mind that you might not be able to use some of the websites that I mention, so your best bet is to just go onto the team’s own website.

You want to attend a hockey game while you’re in town?

Depending on the city or team, tickets are fairly inexpensive.

If you happen to be in a city like Toronto , Montreal , or New York City , hockey tickets are some of the most expensive due to corporations buying up tickets and giving them to clients, who spend most of the game on their phones and not watching the game.

They hardly have a clue who any of the players are.

If you happen to go to a game, you can spot these “fugazy fans” a mile away .

They’re the ones in the suits or the team apparel that they just bought from the team’s store a few hours before the game started and they and the person they brought to the game with them , are taking selfies like they’re the newest hot model.

But I digress , and I’ll talk more about these posers passing as fans in another blog post.

When I go to a hockey game, I get my tickets in a couple of different ways.

You can go on the NHL ticket exchange, the team’s own website or have a friend that’s a season ticket holder.

That last option only works if you know someone in the city that you’re going to visit.

As with basketball , don’t get it twisted.

For some unknown reason, people who go to a hockey game either want to sit directly behind the glass or next to or behind the benches of either team.

These aren’t cheap seats, no matter how good or bad the team is.

The whole purpose of going to a game is to do it as cheaply as possible .

Sitting right behind the glass just isn’t it.

While I’m throwing out tips, let me give you a real important tip on seeing a hockey game on the cheap.

The higher up you sit, the more action you’ll be able to see, and believe me, this is a sport where you don’t want to miss ANY action.

If it’s too expensive to see a NewYork Rangers hockey game at Madison Square Garden , you’re in luck.

The New York and New Jersey area have two other hockey teams.

One plays in Brooklyn at the Barclay’s Center and the other one plays at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey .

Tickets for both of these teams are very inexpensive and the good news is that you can get to both of these arenas by public transportation if you happen to be anywhere in the New York City area.

The last sport, baseball, is the cheapest of all, no matter what stadium you watch it in.

You can sit in the bleachers, behind home plate, behind the dugouts, where the teams come out of, and the nosebleed seats.

You can even do standing room, which isn’t as bad as its sounds, and you’ll be able to see EVERYTHING.

For baseball, there are several different ways to get cheap seats if you want to see a game.

You can go to the team’s own website of course, a third party, and MLB.com.

(That stands for Major League Baseball . )

There’s another way as well.

Depending on the team, you can walk right up to the window at the stadium either the day of the game, or on a “do nothing in town” day and buy your tickets.

It’s hard to do this with any other sport but baseball, and who knows, you might be at a game where it’s “giveaway day”.

You might leave the game with a team scarf, hat, jacket or a bobblehead of the team mascot or a current or former player .

One word of warning though, and this applies to all three sports.

Beware of people approaching you and asking if you either need or are selling tickets.

Just say no and keep it moving.

These people are scalpers and by and large the tickets they’re trying to sell you are bogus.

You want cheap but don’t take it to the point where you’ll get embarrassed or in jail.

Scalping is illegal in most of the United States .

Do your homework before you leave.

Check the team’s schedule to make sure that they’re going to be in town.

If you have friends that live in the city that you’re going to, ask them if they want to go to the game too.

If so, send the money or give it to them at the game.

I dont need to tell you how many times I’ve done this.

Another thing you could do if you happen to have friends in the city is get a big group together and get a suite at the arena or stadium.

That might sound great, but do you really want to see the game in a place where you have unlimited food and drinks or do you want to be where the action is , near the other fans?

I can see many of you saying , “I’ll take unlimited food and drink for 1,000, Alex.”

Also in some of these cases, you won’t get a paper ticket.

It’s all mobile now so have your phone ready because it’s going to be scanned by ushers as you enter the building .

Don’t worry if the name on the ticket isn’t yours.

It’s the name of the person who sold the ticket.

Here are some of the websites to use:

MLB.Com

Ticketmaster.com

VividSeats.com

NBA tickets.com

SeatGeek.com

NFL.com – Good luck finding an inexpensive football ticket. If you find a seat for less than $100, depending on the team, go for it.

NHL Ticket Exchange is part of Ticketmaster, so let’s say you’re doing a 30 Plus Teams Tour of Vancouver , Canada and you want to see a game up there .

Go on your mobile device and plug in NHL Ticket Exchange Vancouver Canucks and it will bring you right there.

Whew!

Sorry that this post was so long and I want to thank Itinerary Planner for suggesting it.

Leave me a comment in the comment section if you want more ideas about seeing a game cheaply.

As usual , thank you so much for liking and supporting my blog .

RIDING THE SELECT BUS TO THE BRONX ZOO

New York does have a lot of trains and especially train stations .

There’s also a lot buses on the streets as well.

It seems as though all five of the New York City boroughs have these blue and white buses going down their streets , no matter how wide and small some of them are.

If you happen to be in New York City , and no matter what borough you’re visiting, you just might see some brightly colored yellow and blue buses with the words “I Love New York ” on them.

These buses run all over the five boroughs and are known as “Select”buses.

These select buses made their first appearance in 2008 and they run in certain areas of the city.

Yes, all of them are painted in blue and yellow , even on the inside.

The seats are very comfortable .

Unlike the regular New York City buses , which are blue and white, you don’t pay on the Select buses.

There’s machines at the bus stops for these buses,and they don’t take cash or credit cards, which means you need to have a Metro Card all ready.

You can get a Metro Card at one of the subway stations or if you’re staying at a hostel, the front desk clerk may have them for purchase .

Once you put your Metro Card into the machines, you’re given a receipt , that shows that you paid.

Hold onto this because not only does it show that you paid , you’ll need it to show New York City transit police who will be boarding the bus at ANY stop, that you did actually pay to ride the bus.

You can get on the front door or the back door of the bus since you don’t make a payment when you get on the bus.

How do you know what Select bus to take?

Like the regular bus, the letter in front tells you what borough you’re in.

As I am in Queens, I took Select bus Q44.

I was going to the Bronx Zoo, which I will talk about in an upcoming blog post .

The Select Q44 bus starts in Queens and goes to The Bronx over the Whitestone Bridge , which separates Queens from The Bronx.

The final stop is the Bronx Zoo but along the way not only will you see the Queens Botanical Gardens, which I will also be talking about in a later post, but you’ll get to see the second largest Chinatown in New York City , which is in Flushing, Queens .

There’s also WiFi on the bus as well.

Is your tablet or phone running low on juice and you have no place to plug in your charger?

They also have a place where you can plug in that charger .

These buses are a pleasure to ride and I didn’t seem to mind that even though the ride was long, it was comfortable .

Although, with some of the construction going on and around the Whitestone Bridge , it was kind of bumpy.

So the next time you’re in New York City , take one of the Select buses .

Have fun, enjoy and just remember to hold onto that receipt .

It’s your proof of purchase .

RIDING ON THE J TRAIN FROM QUEENS TO MANHATTAN AND BACK

When I take the subway into Manhattan, the two subway trains that I usually take are the E and F trains.

Today, I took the J subway train, which like the E train leaves from Jamaica Center.

Like the E train, you can connect at JFK Supthin Boulevard to get the Air train to take you to JFK airport if you ride on the J train.

Unlike the E train, the J train goes from Queens to Brooklyn over the Williamsburg Bridge to Manhattan .

This train is fairly clean as not too many people ride it.

(Ok, it’s clean by New York City subway standards.)

The final stop on this train is Broad Street , which is in the Financial District.

If you wanted to do some sightseeing , like Wall Street and the famous Wall Street Bull, this is the stop that you would get off at.

As I was going back home and noticed people walking and biking over the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn , I saw a sign in the distance right as you get into the largest borough of New York .

The sign read,

“WELCOME TO BROOKLYN . YOU NAME IT….. WE GOT IT.”

Brooklyn was once known as “the borough of churches” and it seemed as though all the churches that the train passed were now banks.

Not surprising seeing that before it became a part of New York City , Brooklyn was the financial capital .

As my train pulls back into the station at Jamaica Center, I think of how peaceful my ride into the city was compared to the E and F trains.

Maybe from now on I might just take the J train.

RIDING THE LIGHT RAIL IN PITTSBURGH

It’s not really a subway like you’d find in New York , it’s a light rail like you find in other cities.

Given that the unofficial colors of the city are black and yellow , I expected the two train lines to be the same colors.

They aren’t .

They’re the Blue and Red lines.

The transportation department in Pittsburgh is called the Port Authority of Pittsburgh , but for some reason they call it “The T”.

The light rail doesn’t run all night, but here’s the best part if you happen to be in Downtown Pittsburgh and let’s say you want to go to either a Pittsburgh Pirates , Penguins, or Steelers game.

Unless you start at Station Square, you pay nothing .

It’s free.

If you get on at Station Square, you have to dish out $2.75.

The stations are very clearly marked not only with a grey letter T on it, but with the name of the train station.

If you get lost or need some transit info, some one dressed in a yellow jacket will help you .

The trains have only two cars but there seems to be seats for everyone .

They’re clean and there are signs everywhere to tell you what’s allowed and what isn’t .

You get a nice view of the city and the surrounding area as well.

This is a good way to sightsee as well.

You can’t be free no matter how hard you try.

Let’s say you want to play the slots while you’re in town.

The Rivers Casino is in the same neighborhood as Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team.

You get off at the train station, Allegheny, and there’s the casino almost across the street.

Are you going to see the Pirates play at PNC Park or the Penguins at PPG Arena? (of course you are. This is a 30 Plus Teams Tour of Pittsburgh after all.)

The light rail can get you to both places , just get off at the North Shore and Steel Plaza train stations and walk.

The light rail is a good way to get around the city, and in some cases you didn’t have to pay a thing.