Day One In New York

We arrived in New York at about 8.30pm last night, after one of those flights that seems to take an absolute age. Neither of us were feeling great, but once we arrived at the AirBnb apartment we are staying in, we felt miraculously better and could finally get into holiday mode! We’re staying in Chelsea for most of this trip and have yet to book our last nights accommodation… Living on the edge because I can’t bring myself to pay the crazy prices the hotels are asking for and I still haven’t found someone who wants to rent their home out to us for one night only. There’s no doubt we’ll end up in the first hotel I looked at months ago!

Today we decided to stroll around until we could stroll no more. I’m exahuasted, but we’ve had a great day. The weather has been lovely and we’ve just about sussed out where everything is from our last visit five or so years ago. I thought I’d just do a picture heavy post for you as I currently resting my weary legs and relaxing for a few hours.

Here goes – Some of the things we did on day one in New York…

Alex waiting for me to get ready, as usual.  We’re staying in a great little place with everything we need.

AIRBNB NYC

Our first stop this morning was Chelsea Market. The place is packed with what looks like some great places to eat, but we were a little early for lunch, so I made the logical decision to have some gelato for my mid morning snack…

Chelsea Market copy

Chelsea Market NYC

I read somewhere that L’arte del Gelato does the best gelato in town, and I have to say that it was extremely delicious.

L'Arte del Gelato

Alex

Next stop – Blue Bottle Coffee for Alex. He said it’s the best coffee he’s ever had… I’m not sure whether to believe him as he says that every time he discovers a new coffee!

Blue Bottle Coffee

Then we hit the High Line (a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side), which wasn’t here last time we visited. Was a bit blustery up there as you can see… A really great and alternative way to see part of the city.

Breezy High Line

View From the High Line

Our #Selfie which was nearly ruined by someone asking if we wanted her to take our picture. Not so cool.

Zoe&ALEX

All that walking had made us hungry so we stopped in at Bill’s Bar and Burger for the juiciest burgers you ever did eat (despite their slightly non-glamorous exteriors). Alex went for the bacon and cheddar…

Bill's Burger Bar

… and how could I not have the Fat Cat?!

Bill's Fat Cat

Wasn’t that Fat, but was sure filling!


Fat Cat Burger

I wish we did sweet potato fries as well as the Americans…

Sweet Potato Fries

All served with two ice cold beers, which went down very well indeed – Bill’s Brew and Cold Ass.

Beer

Then we took a stroll through Hell’s Kitchen before heading back to our apartment for a pitt stop.
Then it was back out again for more.

Hell's Kitchen

NYC

Now, I’m off for a snooze.

Until next time x

Read day two in New York
Read day three in New York

Berlin I Love You So

Last Friday night, Alex and I set of to Kreuzberg in Berlin for a long weekend. No laptop. No time for planning and four whole days off from work. BLISS.  A good friend of ours has lived there for five years, but rather typically had skipped the country to DJ elsewhere on the only weekend we could get there… There went our tour guide! Luckily for us, he had the time to give us some top tips over iMessage and we were pretty loaded up with apps for the area. Gotta love technology. I think this was the first time that I had ever left my laptop at home, so I truly did no work at all, but apps on phones are definitely a must when we travel these days.

We were pretty lucky with the weather, which was perfect for all the walking that we did. Berlin is a city of bikes, but I’m lazy I prefer a stroll, so we covered a lot of the city on foot… Obviously rewarding ourselves with plenty of great food stops on the way. Although we visited the major tourist attractions, Berlin certainly had a lot more to offer us after dark and once we had got the lay of the land, I really fell in love with the vibe of the city.

We walked the streets to see the Festival of Lights one evening and yes, I’m just going to come right out and say that it was one of the most underwhelming light shows I’ve ever seen! It’s pretty hyped online, but boo hiss to that. OK, so it does take quite a lot to impress me and I do live in London, so maybe don’t write it off if you are visiting next year. I’m well known for being hard to please and wouldn’t want to say you definitely shouldn’t take a look.

On Sunday night, we found ourselves on the guest-list for Free Spirits at The Prince Charles. Four Tet, Gilles Peterson, Floating Points and Alex Barck (Jazzanova) were all on the line-up. Alex was there for the live Jazz and I was there for the DJs after, which resulted in a pretty good night, leaving us with a tad bit of a hangover the next day. If I’m at home with a hangover I usually refuse to leave the house and simply curl up and die on the sofa, but there was no way i was missing out on Berlin, so I dragged my butt out and we went to re-fuel with delicious bargain value rotisserie chicken at Das Huhnerhaus, drank delicious vegan juice from Goodies and continued to knacker ourselves out by roaming the streets.

There’s so much more I could tell you about Berlin, but you really should get online and book yourself a ticket to go and see it for yourself. Perhaps go after the winter though as I hear it gets pretty nippy. We’ll definitely be going again and hopefully we’ll have the time and money to add it to our annual trip list. Next time we’ll make sure our friend is there! Useless.

 

Holocaust Memorial   Berlin Art Lunch at WestBerlin   Berlin NeighboursGluten Free Katies Blue Cat    Horace Tapscott Tribute  Musashi Berlin   Berlin I love you so

Berlin I Love You So.

Home and Away – Home Swapping and Renting

Alex and I are currently camping out at his parents house while they are away, as we are renting our place out via Airbnb again. This is the second week in a row that someone has rented our home and as much as I miss my creature comforts, it has meant that we can now afford a long awaited trip to Berlin in October. I’ve been dying to get there for years and can’t wait! I love to travel and without home swapping or renting our place out on occasion, we certainly wouldn’t be able to do it as much as we do. We’re pretty frugal when on holiday and it helps that we don’t like to take in the usual tourist attractions. We’re just happy to roam the streets sucking up free atmosphere!

This year, a few of our really good friends have chosen to get married over Christmas – One in India and the other Australia. With the peak season flight prices and increasing workloads around the festive season, we have had to pass and unfortunately can’t go to either. No amount of saving would have covered the costs and we couldn’t get any home swaps. Christmas is always a tricky time for those. Most long distance swappers like to swap for over three weeks and we only had a max of two. We really struggled to make the decision to turn down the invitations, but it just didn’t work for us. *sad face*
If all of my friends would move back to the UK, that would be much appreciated!

Anyway, mustn’t grumble. I’ve got more travel out of this year than I expected and have been a lot luckier than many that have never ventured outside of the UK. For those of you that are keen to know more about home swapping or renting someone’s pad below are a few links that you may find useful. There are hundreds of site out there, but these are the ones that have worked for me over the years. You do have to pay to register on the worthwhile sites, but if you search in Google, there are often promo codes or free site trials. Give it a go if you can and see more of the world than you might have done otherwise.

Home Swapping:
https://www.lovehomeswap.com
http://homeexchange.com
http://www.homeforexchange.com

Rentals:
https://www.airbnb.co.uk
http://www.flipkey.com
http://www.booking,com – Select apartments

Have you every considered home swapping or renting out when you can?

My favourite room in our home…

Home and Away - Home Swapping and Renting

Lounge2

 

 

 

 

Our Break In Devon

I thought I’d do a quick picture-heavy post to show you some of the images from our recent break in Devon. I always like to be pretty active when I’m away from London and having the dog means that there’s no excuse not to take some lovely picturesque walks by the sea… Even if it’s a still a tad bit chilly and I have to walk along looking a bit Eskimo-like in my puffer coat!

We spent most of our days within an hour-or-so drive of Plymouth, and spent quite a fair bit of that time eating. As. Per. Usual.
We tried out some dog friendly places, such as Saveurs French bakery and the Millbrook Inn (which I found on the Budweiser Budvar Top 50 Gastropub Awards). I’m going to review them both on Dog Friendly UK sometime soon, so keep an eye out for those posts. You really don’t have to have a dog to go to either of them and I’d definitely suggest a visit if you are near either, in the South Hams district of Devon.

We also ate at the new Gary Rhodes restaurant at the Plymouth Dome whilst we were away. Unfortunately, I have to say it was a very odd experience… I really wanted to like it, but I’m not sure it’s a place I’d recommend to anyone who really loves food. It was great value for money, but just not my cup of tea, with some slightly odd dish accompaniments that, in my opinion, were a little pointless.

Anyway, we had a great time and I’m looking forward to going back again some time in the warmer months.  I’m gaining some serious winter podge, so this week will all be about hitting the treadmill again and cutting back on those nasty things we call calories. *Face of gloom*

 

Malmaison Belfast

On Christmas Eve, Alex and I booked in to stay at the Malmaison Belfast. Aside from the fact that I love staying in fabulous hotels, we had pretty much planned this visit to avoid an extremely early Christmas Day wake up call from my very excitable nieces. Nothing messes with me and a good night’s sleep – Especially not Santa!

The Malmaison is a dog friendly hotel and this was extremely important to us because we had Betsy the Chihuahua tagging along. I emailed the hotel in advance to double check and they confirmed that Betsy was indeed allowed. They also said that they could even provide a dog basket and bowl for £10 if we needed it. We had Betsy’s bed with us so didn’t need to pay any extra, but a very useful option if you are aiming to travel light. Both the Mal and Hotel Du Vin allow dogs, so we’ll certainly be making more use of  both in 2013 when we launch our new blog.

As we were staying on Christmas Eve, Alex and I decided to treat ourselves. We booked a spacious superior double room with dinner, bed and breakfast included – This all came in at £150, which was more than reasonable for what we got. Nearly everything about the Malmaison Belfast was fantastic – From the welcome at reception, the exceptional decor, right through to the food at dinner time. Our room was gloriously spacious and the bed was oh. so. comfy! The bathroom products also came in unusually large bottles and all smelt divine. I usually always let Alex take hotel products for his wash bag, but this time there was a bit of a fight! The mini bar was well stocked and all the items in it were reasonably priced. They also offered a bottle of red wine for about £13, which is pretty unusual for a hotel of this standard.

So, was there anything wrong with this marvelous hotel? Just a few things really… The service at dinner wasn’t quite as good as it could have been (but not overly shabby) and my breakfast of eggs benedict arrived on the table a tad cold. I didn’t want to complain (due to it being Christmas Day) and I’m sure they would have changed it for me had I asked – I’ll just presume this was one off festive hiccup as the rest of the food was great. One other problem was that the rooms were a bit dark. If you wanted to work at the desk in the bedroom then you really would be straining your eyes, and you definitely couldn’t get any decent light for make-up application before dinner! However, on the flip side, the dim lighting really made the hotel feel sumptuous and romantic – Who wants to be working in a place as nice as this anyway?!

I loved every minute of my stay at the Malmasion Belfast and Betsy the Chihuahua loved the fact that she was allowed to join us in the bar area after 8pm. What a lucky dog she was!  We’ll all be back, that’s for sure.

I give Malmaison 9/10

 

Malmaison Room Belfast

 

Mal Hotel Room

 

Mal Restaurant
(Restaurant pic from Mal flickr page)

Malmaison Decor

 

Malmaison Menu

 

Christmas Menu Malmaison

 

Malmaison Christmas

 

Baileys

Honycombe Ice Cream

 

Alex

 

Mal Bar

(Bar pic from Mal flickr page)

Malmaison bathroom products

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