N E W Y O R K C I T Y
N E W Y O R K C I T Y
I have three, no wait, FOUR, fantastic recommendations for you. I went to London the other weekend (no, not for the wedding, my invite must have been lost by the Spanish Post) and thoroughly enjoyed my hotel, found a great restaurant and a free product from the hotel which I recently ordered a larger bottle of their fabulous pillow spray.
Let’s start with the airline since I needed one of those to get to London in the first place. This was my first experience with Easy Jet and I was happily surprised at how smooth the transaction was with everything. I thought I had paid for my small suitcase to be carry-on but when I got to the gate she put a tag on it for me to check it when I boarded. In the end the plane wasn’t that busy so I was able to just keep it with me. With the return I did check it in London Gatwick and it was a super easy, do-it-yourself process. Plus the flight was pretty inexpensive and the flight attendants were some of the nicest I’ve experienced in quite awhile. Thanks Easy Jet! I will be a return customer.
Okay, what do you want to hear about next? How about the hotel. I met Jeannie at the Andaz London Liverpool Street hotel. There wasn’t a single thing I can complain about. The staff was delightful, the hotel was modern and hip, the room was spacious and clean. It’s a 5 star boutique hotel located in the heart of bustling East London, just next to the Liverpool Tube Station. We used the Central and Circle Line for getting around and getting back but it also connects with the Hammersmith and the Metropolitan. Perfect for traveling cheap!
The rooms have free Wi-Fi, a free (non-alcoholic) daily stocked minibar and we were welcomed with a lovely bottle of Prosecco in the room when we checked in. And in the room they also had a free sample of REN & Now To Sleep Pillow Spray. It’s a soothing natural perfume, blending floral notes of lavender with deeply restful Frankincense, to relax both the body and mind. I loved it so much I just bought two larger bottles for my bedtime routine. I’ve been sleeping like a baby.
You also have free access to the Health Club, where we really enjoyed the steam room. And the free apples for after you have sweated everything out. The last night we were a bit tired and decided to try their sushi restaurant. Try the saki sampler!
But the best thing and maybe it’s just me but the hotel serves complimentary (that means FREE to me) wine and canapes (one night it was small sushi rolls and the other some bread with paté) from 6 – 9 pm. It was lovely to come back from a long day of sightseeing and relax in the lounge area with a snack and a glass of wine. Or two. 🙂 FOR FREE Y’ALL.
And now what I know you’ve been waiting for – FOOD. The restaurant. It was fabulous. If you love Indian food you must go. Dishoom in Shoreditch (they also have a few more locations around London) was where I had the best Indian food of my life. It’s a big restaurant and they only take reservations for parties more than 6. So arrive a little early, put your name on the list and head over to the bar for a tipple or two while you wait for your table. I highly recommend the whiskey sour.
Jeannie doesn’t eat foods with gluten and they had a large variety of items that she could eat. So feel free to eat your heart out. We shared the Crunchy Pomelo salad (with fresh kale, pink pomelo, pistachios, mint and coriander) and the okra fries (not gluten-free but Jeannie had a few). I haven’t had okra since my Oklahoma days! For the main dish I had the lamb Sheekh Kabab and Jeannie had the Chicken Tikki. It did not disappoint. They are also open for breakfast and the menu and teas look totes amazeballs. Just go already.
And I actually have one more rec for you. The good stuff just keeps on coming! If you do go to the Dishoom Shoreditch locatation and you feel like going out and dancing a bit, stop by Momento Lounge bar for some drinks and good tunes from the live DJ.
And there you have it. Great times are made even greater with a good hotel, good food and good experiences.
But nothing compares to GREAT FRIENDS. And when you have this kind of happiness and fun together, it doesn’t really matter where you stay or what you eat.
Happy weekend y’all!!
The first time I visited Barcelona, I was twenty-one years old with a mission to see as much of Europe as I could. I had bought a month long eurorail train ticket and was trying to visit as many European countries as humanly possible with not much money. Back then I only spent one day in Barcelona and it was a mix of seeing the Olympic Park at Montjuic Mountain (which I found a little boring) and checking out the Picasso Museum (amazing).
But the next time (and the next time and the next time) I returned to Barcelona I had a plan. I knew what I wanted to see, which was pretty much everything created by Gaudí – Parc Güell, La Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera and Casa Battló. And all of these are so remarkable and beautiful that I must focus on each, one at a time. And first up is Parc Güell.
A little history for you – in 1890, the industrialist Eusebi Güell hired Antoni Gaudí to design the park which was originally planned to be a garden city with villas high above Barcelona in an area called Bare Mountain. It was inspired by the English garden city movement and its intent was to exploit the fresh air and enjoy expansive views of the city and the coast. There were sixty triangular lots available for luxury houses but nobody was interested. Only two homes were built on the land (neither by Gaudí), with Gaudí buying one of them and living there from 1906 to 1926, it is now the Gaudí House Museum.
By 1903 the two entrance pavilions had been constructed, as well as the main flight of steps, the shelter for horse-drawn carriages, the outer enclosure, the viaducts and part of the great esplanade, together with the water evacuation system.
The Dragon Stairway:
The great entrance leads to the Hypostyle room, which was designed to be the market for the estate. It is made up of 86 striated columns inspired in the Doric order. The outermost ones slope in an undulating movement clearly contrary to the rules of classical composition, while reinforcing a perception of their structural role.
Inside the room the absence of columns in some sections creates spaces that simulate three naves, like a great church. The ceiling is formed of small domes constructed using the traditional technique of clay bricks decorated with original tile-shard mosaics made by Josep M. Jujol, one of Gaudí’s assistants.
My favorite area (and I think most people’s favorite) is the Greek Theatre but it has more recently been rechristened as Plaça de la Natura (Nature Square). Its original name was due to the fact that it was planned for staging large open-air shows that could be watched from the surrounding terraces. Although Gaudí always respected the lie of the land, this large square is artificial. Part of it is dug into the rock, while the other part is held up on top of the Hypostyle room. The focal point is the long bench in the form of a sea serpent and the views are breathtaking. The curves of the serpent bench form a number of enclaves, creating a more social atmosphere.
This bench is world famous, even Salvador Dalí called the bench once the precursor of surrealism. And he has sat there!
I mean seriously, check out the view.
On the eastern side of the Greek Theatre square there is an original iron door which leads to where there used to be the gardens of Casa Larrard, the former mansion that Güell adopted as his own house, but which has been a school since 1931. The route, which runs at a level higher than that of the house, passes through a pine grove with the portico backing onto a retaining wall made from unworked stone. The portico adopts the shape of a great wave atop slanting columns, with a double colonnade that acts as a buttress. It is one of the finest examples of the organic architecture upheld by Gaudí.
While the park is completely enchanting with all of its, let’s just say “stunningness”, my favorites are always the gorgeous mosaic tiles. Which a lot of were planned and designed not by Gaudí but by his often overlooked colaberator, Josep M. Jujol.
And the best mosaic of them all, the dragon which guards the entrance to Park Güell – El Drac. A conduit running inside the Hypostyle toom collects the rainwater that filters down from the square, sending it to an underground tank, which uses the dragon’s mouth as its overflow. Genius, I tell you.
There is a large area of the park that is open free to the public. But all of these areas to visit mentioned above you need to buy a ticket, adults are 7.50€ and children are 5.25€. I would advise to buy tickets online to bypass the long line that sometimes happens with the beautiful park.
I would love to hear about your experience at Parc Güell if you go or if you have been before. I find this such a magical place that it always draws me to it every time I am in the fabulous city of Barcelona.
My 2018 Resolutions.
Visit a new country
Quit trying to please everyone
Do the best I can in everything I do
Do things that challenge me
Try a new recipe once a month
I think that’ll do it for now. How about you? Did you make any resolutions you care to share?
Just south of Dublin is the Powerscourt Estate and Gardens, a beautiful place to spend the afternoon. It’s in Enniskerry, County Wicklow and was recently voted #3 of the World’s Top Ten Gardens by National Geographic.
And let me tell you, it was lovely.
Gardens, statues, lakes, secret paths and even a pet cemetery awaits for you, to come and discover its beauty. Afterwards, drive 5 km to the Powerscourt waterfall, Ireland’s highest waterfall. I would recommend for you to pack a picnic, a blanket and your camera. And a cold bottle of champagne never hurt anyone. 🙂
Come on! From the gardens:
Gorgeous, right? Here’s some more gorgeousness for your eyeballs.
This picture doesn’t do this justice. There was a HUGE wall of hydrangeas – bright pink, lavender, vibrant blue and frosty white. It was like the garden threw up all colors of hydrangeas. But in a good way.
Nice shot, right?
I found the pet cemetery very charming. Some plots with more than one animal. They were loved. Dogs, cats, horses and even cows!
And I tried not to think of the scary Stephen King movie.
Everything good? I hope you enjoyed yourself at the Powerscourt Gardens. But wait! There’s more! Time to get in the car and drive to the Powerscourt Waterfall.
Don’t forget that champagne.
You are surrounded by so much nature.
Beech, Oak, Larch and Pine trees were planted some 200 years ago, plus Giant Redwoods which can grow up to 80m high. If you’re a bird lover keep your eye out for Chaffinch, Cuckoo, Raven and the Willow Warblers. And you may even spot a Sika Deer or two that were introduced to Ireland in 1858. But of course you should know the tale – you won’t see a snake in Ireland! Those were driven out by St. Patrick.
Enjoy the Powerscourt Estate. So much fun and beauty for all ages. Now GO!
Thought I’d pop on over from my island of Mallorca to the slightly larger island (the 9th largest in fact) of Great Britain to see my friend who is working there for a few months. More specifically, I went to London. I was supposed to fly in and out of Gatwick but due to airline malfunctions, I flew into Heathrow. From Heathrow I grabbed the Heathrow Express, which takes you to Paddington station, where you can catch the Tube or a taxi. My taxi ride was quite short, to Oxford Street, but the whole time from airport to front door was around 25 minutes. I love it when things are that easy. It was a rainy evening but it was London, so that made everything okay.
Since I got in so late (thanks plane!), we just hung out in her apartment, drank some wine and ate my favorite snack, hummus. You just really can’t go wrong with good hummus and crackers. And it was soooo nice to have an actual apartment in LONDON to chill at! Made it all feel very luxurious, just how I like it.
Next morning, up and at ’em! Started the day by walking through Hyde Park.
Hyde Park is HUUUUUUUGE. So many different directions to go, so many things to see. A little bit of background history for you. Hyde Park was created for hunting by Henry VIII in 1536. Do you get that song in your head when you hear or see the words Henry VIII? “I’m Henry the Eighth I am, Henry the Eighth I am, I am.” I hope you are singing it now too. Anyways, Hyde Park is contiguous with Kensington Gardens, which are often assumed to be part of Hyde Park; Kensington Gardens has been separate since 1728. But their total area together is 625 acres (253 hectares), so a little bit smaller than NYC’s Central Park.
We entered at the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane, walked past the Marble Arch and the Speaker’s Corner, which has acquired a large reputation for protests and demonstrations. And then we headed towards the center of the park. There are many walking paths to choose from but we needed to get to the southwest corner of the park at Kensington High Street. We passed by some cool older buildings – The Old Police House and Magazine Cottage. Then followed Policeman’s Path towards the Serpentine Bridge. The bridge marks the boundary between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, the eastern part of the lake is the Serpentine and the western is known as the Long Water.
Large numbers of swans nest in this area. It was a beautiful place with the Lido Restaurant on the Serpentine if you feel like resting and doing a bit of people and bird watching. The Princess Diana Memorial is just south of the Serpentine.
The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial wasn’t what I expected. I’m not really sure what I expected actually but when I think of fountain, I usually think of something large and spitting water with a statue or two of something beautiful. Made from 545 individual pieces of Cornish Granite, this memorial is an oval, stream bed that is quite shallow. The design aims to reflect Diana’s life, water flows from the highest point in two directions as it cascades, swirls and bubbles before meeting in a calm pool at the bottom.
There are three bridges where you can cross the water and go sit in the middle. The fountain is surrounded by lush grass where you can sit and enjoy the sounds, the day, the birds, your company, the silence, whatever you would want. This is what the artist, Kathryn Gustafson, wanted to accomplish. Diana was seen as a contemporary and accessible princess, so the goal of the memorial fountain was to allow people to access the structure and the water for quiet wading and contemplation.
And my last memorial from Hyde Park (actually from Kensington Gardens) is the Albert Memorial. The Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens is one of London’s most ornate monuments. It commemorates the death of Prince Albert in 1861 of typhoid. It’s located directly across from the Royal Albert Hall.
There are just so many things going on with this memorial, which is humongous, by the way. First of all, there is a seated Prince Albert, who is now covered with gold leaf. Then, you have the Frieze of Parnassus at the base of the memorial, which depicts 169 individual composers, architects, poets, painters, and sculptors. Then, at the corners of the central and outer area, there are two allegorical sculpture programs: four groups depicting Victorian industrial arts and sciences, and four more groups representing Europe, Asia, Africa and The Americas at the four corners, each continent-group including several ethnographic figures and a large animal. (A camel for Africa, a bison for the Americas, an elephant for Asia and a bull for Europe.)
Within the canopy features several mosaics showing poetry, painting, sculpture and architecture with two historical figures on each side – King David and Homer, Apelles and Raphael, Solomon and Ictinus, and Phidias and Michelangelo. Near the top of the canopy’s tower are eight statues of the moral and Christian virtues, including the four cardinal virtues and the three theological virtues. Above these, towards the top of tower, are gilded angels raising their arms heavenwards. At the very top of the tower is a gold cross.
WOW! That’s a lot of beauty, stuff, things on the memorial. I didn’t think I would spend so much time writing about Hyde Park but I realized there is a lot, so for you I dedicated a post to it. Go see it yourself! Or if you have been what is your favorite area, memorial, of the park?
And that, is Hyde Park, my friends. Stay tuned for more London goodness!
you heard me right. work save travel repeat. do it and do it often.
just getting back from a lovely weekend in london town. coming soon to a blog near you. cheers!