A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about tourist sites

New Year's in NYC

New Year’s in NYC 2012
Although I would rather swallow red ants than go to Times Square on New Year’s Eve, I did go traipsing about Manhattan on January 30, 2011. The day was mild and sunny and the crowds were out and about. You would think they were giving away baubles on the streets there were that many people.
I love New York in all seasons. It would be impossible for me to pick my favorite. Every year during the Christmas season, my daughter and I revisit some of our traditional favorite spots and we try to add at least one new one. As many years as we have been doing this, there is always something new to try. This year, we added the Plaza Hotel where the lobbied is adorned with pink decorations and a glorious pink tree, all done by the delightful and inimitable Betsey Johnson. DSC03798.jpg
We love Todd English’s food so we waited for forty-five minutes (after being told it would be a mere 15!) to eat at the Food Court in the Plaza. Although the prices are absurd, we splurged and his food, as always, was delicious. I had a fig and prosciutto flat bread pizza cooked in an open fire oven DSC03803.jpgand my daughter had a tuna burger that was cooked to perfection. DSC03799.jpgWe were seated in the Ocean section of the Food Court. There are eight possible seatings, but you can order from any of the stations no matter where you sit. We got to watch as an intense young chef sliced gorgeous tuna into gorgeous slices. DSC03802.jpgBut the highlight drama was when a purveyor from Urban Truffles showed up, opened a cloth napkin to reveal more than a dozen black truffles. That got the chef’s attention and he stopped everything to make a purchase. It was like watching a high end drug deal go down. I don’t understand how the young purveyor trots around Manhattan so casually with such expensive merchandise. I’d have a minor breakdown. Then again, I probably wouldn’t part with those truffles in the first place. There is no flavor that is more incredible than fresh truffles.
Of course we saw all the windows. Of course we saw the tree. We stopped inside Bloomingdale’s to use the ladies lounge and bought cupcakes at the fabulous Magnolia Cupcakes. My favorite was the Hummingbird. No idea why it’s called that, but it was light and airy and filled with pieces of pineapple. Yum.DSC03806.jpg
I hope everyone had a great 2011. I had two fabulous trips to Europe and a few smaller ones within the US. Happy and Healthy New Year to all!
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Posted by teethetrav 08:07 Archived in USA Tagged food travel nyc times_square tourist_sites new_years todd_english magnolia_cupcakes food_court plaza_hotel Comments (0)

Avignon, France

A Pope, A Palace, A Saint, & Les Halles

Avignon

Avignon is a good base for side trips to smaller towns in Provence. From here I took a day trip to St. Remy, Les Baux, Uzes, Villeneuve-Lez-Avignon. I had planned to visit Nimes but was blocked from seeing it because there were bullfights at the time I was there and was told the roads were impassable.
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The significant structure here is the Place du Palais, the Pope’s Palace. I’ve been to Siena, Italy a number of times and I knew the story of Saint Catherine, the patron saint of Siena, and how she convinced the Pope to return from France back to Italy. In the 13th century things had gotten dicey in Italy and Pope Clement V fled to Avignon. A few Popes later, the Palace was built and Avignon was the de facto capital of Christendom. Young Catherine had a vision and traveled from Siena to Avignon (no easy trip even now) and somehow convinced Pope Gregory XI to leave this lovely place and return to Italy, ensuring her fame and sainthood.
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Popes knew how to choose real estate. The Palace sits on the highest point of Avignon and is still a stunning spot. The views from the Popes Palace are miles long and are still unspoiled. From the Palace and the surrounding gardens you can see the Rhone River, the mountain, and the famous Avignon bridge. statue_in_the_garden.jpgIn_the_Pope_s_garden.jpggrotto_in_.._garden.jpgAvignon_bridge.jpg

I enjoyed strolling through the gardens. They are serene and beautifully kept. The view from there is spectacular. The square in front of the Palace is lively and full of street performers and places to have a snack or a drink.
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Speaking of food, my favorite place in Avignon is the famed indoor market Les Halles. I bought breakfast there early one Sunday morning. I took it outside and sat facing Les Halles in the little square. Me, a few old men chattering in French, a couple of pigeons, and my panecone. I was blissfully happy. I’d rather be sitting there than inside a dusty Palace, even if it was the one where Catherine persuaded a Pope to come back home.
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Posted by teethetrav 08:22 Archived in France Tagged food markets france travel avignon tourist_sites saint_catherine_of_siena_les_ha Comments (0)

OLIVES: New York City Restaurant Week

Living as I do a train ride away from Manhattan I need no excuse to come into the city. But three or four times a year, the restaurants lure me in with Restaurant Week when hundreds of the best offer prix fix menus for lunch and/or dinner. I have eaten at many of New York City’s best restaurants this way for a fraction of what you would usually pay.
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Last week I ate at one of the best I’ve ever tried. It was a gorgeous July day. The sun was shining and there was no humidity. We landed tickets to Anything Goes and headed to mid-town for a matinee. We stopped, as we always do, at Ruby Foo’s for a snack and a Ruby Foo cocktail. Dozens of people were seated outside in Times Square watching the women play France in the World Cup finals. A group roar could be heard over the traffic when the women scored.
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Anything Goes with music by Cole Porter is a tap-dancing, foot-tapping, hum along show that was everything I’d heard it was. See it while Joel Gray and Sutton Foster are still in it.
Then it was downtown to Union Square to eat dinner at Olives, Todd English’s restaurant in the W Hotel. This was my first time here although I’ve eaten at his Blue Zoo in Orlando and loved it.
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EVERYTHING about this meal was incredible. Each dish is layered in flavors and it’s really difficult to explain the complex deliciousness of each course. A basket of breads is brought to the table and while I usually pass on the bread, I couldn’t pass on this basket. Focaccia glazed with caramelized onions, two kinds of flatbread, and two kinds of olive tapenade to spread on the bread is more than I can resist.
I also ordered flatbread with prosciutto and chard for my appetizer. It was a huge portion and I ate nearly the entire thing. I also tasted the consommé with fresh peas. It was light and flavorful; the perfect summer soup.

I had the incredible pasta for my main course. Just what I needed; more carbs. It was so worth it. This was the best pasta I’ve ever eaten anywhere, including Italy. The other entrée I tasted was the pastrami beef which was melt in your mouth tender.
I’m not usually a dessert person but—you guessed it—I ate every morsel of my pineapple upside down cake. Maybe it was because the pineapple was doused in bourbon which gave it an irresistible flavor. The other choice was a strawberry concoction that was fabulous, as well. TJ_in_Olives.jpg
I will definitely come back to Olives, restaurant week or not.

Posted by teethetrav 11:17 Archived in USA Tagged nyc times_square tourist_sites olives restaurant_week todd_english Comments (0)

Feast of San Gennaro NYC 2010

Feast of San Gennaro 2010

For photos see my entry of 20.09.2009

This is the 84nd year the Feast of San Gennaro has filled the streets of Little Italy in NYC with music, food, smells to die for, and a smile on everyone's face. Walk down Mulberry Street during the Feast and you can pretend you are actually in Italy.

You can sit outside at a cafe, sip wine and watch the world go by. Or, walk past the endless array of food vendors (this is after all a feast!). Grab some clams, calamari, and shrimp at Umberto's and walk over to get yourself a fresh squeezed lemonade in a coconut. Delicious!

Graze at the stands offering empanadas-not Italian, but no one cared-, or my personal favorite; a cheese steak sandwich smothered in onions, peppers, and tons of ketchup! The last day is September 26th. Go! It's a fabulous way to spend a gorgeous September day. And I forgot to mention, it's all for charity.

For more, www.sangennaro.org

Posted by teethetrav 16:30 Archived in USA Tagged parties food san nyc charity september tourist_sites gennaro Comments (0)

Andalusian Gardens in Rabat Morocco

Capital of Morocco

Rabat, like most other cities in Morocco is complex and contradictory. The capital of Morocco, Rabat is the official home of the royal family. Rich with historic sites, a medina, and industrial modern buildings, Rabat is also home to one my favorite places in all of Morocco: the Andalusian Gardens. Wander through the lush and peaceful gardens and occasionally catch a fragrant whiff of something almost familiar. Gardenia? Jasmine? As you wander the paths, take time to explore the plantings and the hidden treasures such as urns, doorways, and the traditional archways so characteristic of the architecture here.
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After your garden walk, stop at the nearby café. Sit and have a drink. Mint tea is the drink of choice for Moroccans. Although it seems counterintuitive to drink a hot beverage on a hot day, Moroccans swear by it and have it several times a day. I became a convert. It’s hard not to be since it is such a leisurely, lovely custom. And yes. It does cool you off!
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Posted by teethetrav 06:37 Archived in Morocco Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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