I've just come back from a four night shopping trip to New York with my mum. It's my eighth time there and I still love it; it's a truly amazing city. Here's some tips for my favourite alternative places to vist.
For the first time, we stayed downtown in the financial district, with a view over the River Hudson. It's lovely and peaceful in the evenings and weekends when all the city workers are at home. All along the river there are long walk ways amongst beautiful manicured lawns with stunning views across to New Jersey, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, as well as waterside places to dine al fresco. It's a good choice for those looking for an oasis amongst the chaos and I saw Holland America's Prinsendam ship sailing along the Hudson too!
Walking distance from our hotel was Battery Park, a leisurely 45 minute riverside walk away. We were also just five minutes from Ground Zero, where work to rebuild the area continues in earnest. Next to Ground Zero is Century21, a superb outlet store, selling designer and branded clothing, bags, shoes, accessories and upmarket cosmetics at a fraction of the normal price. Great for American brands and sportswear such as Ralph Lauren, Clinique, Diane von Furstenburg and Juicy Couture.
The first morning, we went to Woodbury Common Outlet Centre for more retail therapy. It's simple to get there by coach from the Port Authority, takes about an hour for $45. The list of shops is vast and I recommend that you take a small empty suitcase to pull along so you're not carrying all your purchases. A lot of the famous New York stores and designer shops are there with clothes at a significantly reduced prices. It's good to go here on the first morning as you're awake so early (you can also sleep on the coach on the return journey back to Manhattan)!
I ate at three excellent restaurants:
The Modern, which is the restaurant at MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art. It's gourmet French cuisine, but $88 for a delicious 3 courses. The place was buzzing and the food was wonderful, as was the service.
The Oyster Bar is a traditional New York restaurant located in Grand Central Terminus. It offers sensational fish and seafood, with a daily changing menu. Pop for a post dinner drink at the Campbell apartment also located in the station. It's a secret cocktail bar set in a completely restored private apartment, like stepping back in time.
Buddakan is a relatively new restaurant in the trendy Meatpacking District. Either sit in the bar or in the downstairs room with it's high ceiling and huge chandeliers. The atmosphere is buzzing and the food is out of this world. It's Chinese with a twist, fairly expensive but portions are huge. We opted for Duck & foie gras spring rolls with passion fruit sauce (outstanding) followed by Moroccan Lamb (3 huge cutlets of melt in the mouth lamb with ginger & spices) and Char Sui Pork, extremely tasty and served with mini pancakes. The vegetable rice with coconut foam was also out of this world, mouthwatering. I've recommended this restaurant to quite a few people as I've never had Chinese food like it, 10/10
I was held up by the ash cloud but thankfully only for four hours, which gave us the opportunity to take a traditional New York city tour on an open top bus around the city centre. It's an excellent way to get your bearings in the city, as it visits all the major sites and it's hop-on / hop-off ($42 each).
I'm away again next week on the Queen Victoria for a five night cruise, my first cruise on Cunard, so will send an update when I return!
Written by Simone Clark
This past weekend bared witness to yet another exciting Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix. With the usual glamour we have come to expect in Monte Carlo in the form of Jennifer Lopez and Gerald Butler walking the grid, to the surprise of Fernando Alonso almost not making it.
For the mere mortals out there getting flights and accommodation, let alone tickets, to this event is out of our reach. Until now. Azamara Club Cruises are offering a four night package that takes in the stunning locations in the French and Italian River ia and included full board and UK departure flights.
The weekend started as usual with the first practice on the Thursday, the only race that does, followed by the drama of Alonso's crash which resulted in him missing qualification. An exciting race saw Mark Webber win from pole (not so exciting I know), four safety cars, two high speed crashes and Jarno Trulli's Lotus mounting the HRT car of Karun Chandhok. Not forgetting the controversial Michael Schumacher moment, over taking under the safety car, that currently has him relegated from 5th to 12th on the Grid.
For most F1 fans Monaco is the race they want to see. The famous street circuit, beautiful people, vast yachts and James Bond-esque casinos make the backdrop the one of motorsport's most prestigious events.
For those who want to experience this incredible event, this could be a great way to do so. If your partner isn't convinced you could mention the romantic lunch in Portofino's harbour on the Friday, the day of celebrity spotting followed by an evening of St. Tropez's fine cuisine and nightlife on the Saturday. Then maybe mention the GP on the Sunday, with an overnight stay in Monaco to take in a post-race party or those famous casinos.
Though the race tickets are not included once they go on sale, you can either book them yourself or arrange them as an addition to your cruise. With prices from £899 pp for inside cabins and £1219 pp for balconies you can witness this wonderful weekend in true style without Monte Carlo prices.
Written by Stephen Adam
Fancy sampling a 1930s cruise liner but don't have a time machine? Well this September get yourselves down to St. Katherine Docks in London and board the ss Atlantica which will take you on a journey back to the glamorous 1930s cruises.
The ship will be adorned with 1930s music and cocktails and styled with periodic decor. All you need is dress the part, and everyone truly does, and join the party...
The people behind this fabulous evening currently operate some of London's hidden gems in themed evenings. This weekend, for VE day, saw on an old warehouse turned into a 1940s bunker where the wartime Blitz Party was held and later this month they will be running the 1920s prohibition party in venue to be announced shortly before (they can't have those pesky prohibition Police busting them now can they).
The Blitz Party was one of the most enjoyable evenings I have experienced in a long time. There wasn't a pair of jeans, trainers or a hoody in the venue! All 800 tickets had sold out and everyone had dressed the part. The ladies had gone for full on 1940s hair-styles, floral dresses and drawn on stocking lines. The gents came in a mix of military uniforms and high trouser lines, pressed shirt and braces.
The entertainment was also a joy to behold. A live band played authentic 1940s music and the DJ in between sets played wartime classics, you really were transformed back in time. With war time cocktails on the menu and scotch eggs or pork pies to snack on, the crowd really got into character.
Going by this fantastic event and the reputation of the Prohibition party Bourne and Hollingsworth surely won't disappoint on board the ss Atlantica. With no other cruises planned for September I will be attending for sure.
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