Wednesday, December 19, 2012

'The Nutcracker' at the New York City Ballet

Every Christmas since moving to New York I have wanted to see 'The Nutcracker' ballet. I finally managed to get tickets and was very excited to go last week.  

The NYC ballet is located within The Lincoln Centre on the Upper West Side.  It is a beautiful venue and worth arriving early to enjoy the views from the balcony.  I somehow managed to completely mess up the seating, so we ended up being right at the back of the theatre!  However, it wasn't a full house so we were able to sneak to slightly better seats.

The Nutcracker is a family ballet and although aimed more towards children, it is enjoyable for all ages.  If you haven't been to a ballet before it is a great one to see as it's not too long (1hour 45mins) and you will probably recognise a lot of the music.  The sets are spectacular, with a Christmas tree that grows to 40ft, falling snow and a flying sleigh.  

The dancing was amazing and my hairs stood on end when watching 'The Sugarplum Fairy' and 'The Snowflakes'.  Although the children were great, I enjoyed the second act more than the first as there were more adult performances.

It was a lovely experience and I left the theatre feeling very Christmassy and excited for the holidays!  

'The Nutcracker' is running until the 30th December and tickets start at $34.  For more information and to book tickets, visit http://www.nycballet.com/Ballets/G/George-Balanchine-s-The-Nutcracker.aspx.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

'Dr Oz' Live Show Taping

I had so much fun at the 'Jeremy Kyle Show' live taping, I wanted to go and see something else.  I managed to get tickets for the 'Dr Oz' show which is filmed at the NBC studios by Rockefella Center.

A week or so before the taping they sent out an email asking for people to help Dr Oz on the show, and although I would have been too nervous, my friend jumped at the chance.  She was going to assist him on a segment and that meant we got to go backstage before the show!

We arrived at the studios and were greeted by a producer who checked us in and took us upstairs into the dressing room.  It was very exciting, there were lots of people rushing about preparing for the show.  Everyone was friendly and took the time to say hello and explain what would be happening during the recording.  My friend had a visit from wardrobe and then went into hair and make-up.  I stayed in the dressing room and tried some of the mini muffins and fruit skewers on offer, much better than the dry old bagel we got on the Jeremy Kyle show!

When it was time to start taping they took us into the studio.  The rest of the audience was already seated, so after the comedian warmed up the crowd, Dr Oz came out to start the show.  He was really friendly and said hello to the audience.  My friend said he put her totally at ease during her segment, chatting with her and making her feel comfortable. 

The show is taped as close to real time as possible and took about 90 minutes to record in total.  We were able to see most of the action, the cameras only blocked our view a couple of times, and it was a great fun.  At the end of the show Dr Oz came over to thank everyone for taking part and I got to shake his hand and say Hi.  As we exited the studio we were given a free gift and my friend received a Dr Oz mug for being a guest. 

I enjoyed the whole experience and would recommend you go if you get the chance, and definitely participate if they ask you!  That way you get the opportunity to go backstage and really see what goes in to making these shows happen.

To apply for free tickets, visit http://www.doctoroz.com/get-show-tickets.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

After Super Storm Sandy

Although 'Sandy' hit New York City 3 weeks ago, many areas are still dealing with the aftermath and devastation caused by this super storm.  It will take a long time for the hardest hit areas to rebuild and make a full recovery.

I was extremely lucky as we were largely unaffected by the storm.  We were still living downtown at the time and our building lost power the night of the storm.  We were due to move back uptown that week, so decided to go early as we discovered that building had power and water.

We had no idea how we would get uptown and were expecting to walk the whole way.  We walked down 12 flights of stairs in the dark (I was very thankful we weren't on a higher floor!) and found it to  be eerily quiet once we got outside.  Although there were lots of people walking around, it was strangely still and absent of the usual New York City sounds.  There was a very strong police presence on the streets which was comforting.

As we started walking uptown it began to rain again and we thought we would be in for a long wet walk.  Then, completely out of no where, a taxi pulled into the street just as my husband turned around and we managed to hail it down!  I could not believe our luck.

As we drove up you could see the damage caused by the storm, peoples' businesses were completely flooded and ruined, there was debris and rubbish everywhere.  You could see how high the water had risen from the water marks left on the buildings.  It was like something from a disaster movie.

As we got further uptown the power was on and I couldn't believe the scene compared to what we had just left.  Uptown restaurants and shops were open and people were queueing for brunch!  There were many fallen trees, but apart from that the neighbourhood was almost untouched by the storm.  Central Park had taken a hard hit, but it was nothing compared to other areas of the city.

When we got home we were able to see how other areas had been affected by the storm.  It was terrible to see how many people had lost their homes and belongings.  I felt guilty having a hot shower that evening as I knew what others would be facing.

I watched the coverage of the aftermath on the news constantly for the next week.  It shocked me that so much damage was done and how complete areas had been obliterated.  You could have been looking at scenes from a war rather than a modern day NYC.

Everyday I watch how people are rebuilding their lives after the storm and greatly admire their strength.   It will take time for the city to recover from 'Sandy', but I am getting a sense of the New York spirit and that no matter what, New Yorkers will overcome anything.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A shameless plug.......

I have been nominated for an award by www.expatsblog.com and was hoping that if you had a couple of minutes you would go online and vote for me!

If you do have a chance, please click on the link below:
http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/604/new-girl-in-new-york

Thank you so much and I'll let you know how I get on!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tribeca Restaurant Reviews-'Tamarind', 'Tribeca Grill' and 'Gigino Trattoria

One of the good things about living in the Financial District is it's close proximity to TriBeca and it's great choice of restaurants.  As it can be a pain getting downtown on a Saturday evening (cabs are hard to find and who wants to get on the subway all dressed up ;-), we thought we would take advantage of the 15 minute walk and try some new places to eat.  I have reviewed some of my favourites:

Tamarind
I love Indian food and as Tamarind has a Michelin star I really wanted to give it a try.  The restaurant decor is cool and trendy and there was a good atmosphere.  They offer an extensive menu with familiar classics as well as some more interesting dishes.  

To start we had the Kashmiri Tikki (beetroot and ricotta cheese patties) and Bataki Kosha (spicy duck wrap), both of which were delicious.  The portions were much bigger than I expected and next time I would only order one dish to share.  

For our main course we had the Morg Kolahpuri (chicken with various spices) and Daab Chingri (prawns in a coconut curry sauce) with pilau rice and naan bread.  Everything was scrumptious, the food was spicy and very tasty.  We left the restaurant feeling absolutely stuffed!  The service was excellent, the waiter was one of the nicest I have come across since moving to the city.  Great place, definitely worth a visit!


Tribeca Grill
I have always wanted to eat in here and my lovely husband took me for my birthday.  The exposed brick gives the place a warehouse feel, which makes it feel spacious and airy.  The tables aren't too close together, which I always appreciate as it is so rare to get a spacious table in NYC! 

I had the 'Main Lobster Salad' to start which was very light and I enjoyed the citrus flavours.  I had another appetizer for my main course,  the 'Jumbo Lump Crab Cake' and I shared some sides with my hubby.  We finished off with the cheese plate, which was a great way to end the meal. The food was of a high standard, the ingredients were fresh and everything tasted delicious.

The only small criticism I had was regarding the service, it was quite slow and it took ages for our order to be taken.  However, we had a great evening and I would love to go back in the future.


Gigino Trattoria
I wish we had tried this casual Italian sooner as it has a great atmosphere and the food is excellent.  It is decorated like a traditional Italian restaurant and has a homey feel to it.  

They have a large menu full of various pizza's and pasta's as well as meat and fish dishes.  They also have a specials board which changes regularly.  We didn't have a starter as we enjoyed nibbling on the bread basket and the portions looked generous.  I went with the amatriciana pasta special and my hubby ordered the 'Paradiso' pizza made with apple, chicken, gorgonzola and provolone cheese.  Both dishes were so good!  We ended up sharing everything as we both liked the food so much.  

The service was good and nicely paced out, they didn't rush us even though it was busy.  It was also priced more reasonably than some of the other restaurants in the area.  It is definitely a neighborhood gem!


I would make reservations at these restaurants, especially at the weekend and you can book them for free via http://www.opentable.com/new-york-city-restaurants.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tickets to see 'The Bill Cunningham Show' live taping


I haven't seen this show, but I got this email today and thought some of you might be interesting in getting tickets for later this week.  If you are interested send an email to tickets@billcunninghamshow.com.

"The BEST talk show to see LIVE in person!"
Free tickets are available for CW’s The Bill Cunningham Show taping in New York City!

Thursday, October 11th: 
9:00AM
2:45PM

Friday, October 12th: 
9:00AM - Looking for couples in audience for special taping!
2:45PM


For FREE tickets please respond back with all of the following information:
Name:
Daytime Phone:
Date/Time or both times:
# of tickets:

Bill is excited for you to help him “Put the Cheese on the Cracker!
if you have already been scheduled, please do not respond, you are all set!
For later dates please call 1-888-710-8425 .

Saturday, October 6, 2012

David Blaine 'Electrified'

David Blaine started out as a street magician, but is now famous for completing some of the most crazy stunts imaginable.  He has been buried alive, frozen in a block of ice, starved himself in a suspended glass box and stood on a 100ft pillar for 35 hours.

When I found out that David Blaine was completing his latest illusion in NYC this weekend I really wanted to go.  His new stunt, 'Electrified', sees the magician standing on a 20ft podium surrounded by 1 million volts of electricity for 72 hours.

We headed to Pier 54 in the Meatpacking District and queued for just a few minutes before going inside.  It's free to get in and you can stay for as long as you like.  The electricity currents are extremely loud but you are given ear plugs to wear.

It was an amazing sight to see David Blaine standing in a ball of electricity.  It looked like a lightning storm and it was brilliant when he move the currents to music.  The audience were loving the show, cheering and clapping as he moved the currents and held different poses while volts of electricity came in and out of his body.

David Blaine 'Electrified'

He was wearing a special suit and visor and seemed happy as he was smiling and interacting with the crowd.  While we were there, a cage carrying two people went into the 'Electrified' area.  I'm not sure if they were part of the crew or audience, but David was chatting and joking with them.  I would have loved a go in that!

The cage lifting visitors to David Blaine
'Electrified' finishes on Monday 8th October at 7.30pm, so if you are in the city this weekend I would definitely stop by and take a look.  I am sure it is much more spectacular once it's dark, so it might be worth going in the evening.  If you can't go in person you can see everything as it happens live via 'You Tube' at http://www.youtube.com/ultrabookexperience?cid=sem131p9882.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

'5 Pointz' Graffiti, Long Island, Queens

I was visiting a friend in Queens today and she took me to the see this huge building completely covered in graffiti.  It is an amazing sight, a block covered from head-to-toe in graffiti art work.  There are some interesting and brilliant pieces on the building, I really liked some of the bigger murals and comic-book work.

When I got home I did a bit of Internet research and found out that '5 Pointz' is an aerosol art centre that uses a 200,000 square-foot factory building as it's canvas.  '5 Pointz' is so-called as it represents the 5 boroughs of NYC coming together as one, however people from all over the world have come to contribute to the "graffiti mecca".

'5 Pointz' Graffiti Centre

It is also a car park!
The graffiti centre is located on Davis Street, Long Island City and is easy to get to using the E, 7, M or G trains.  It is definitely worth checking out!  For more information visit http://5ptz.com/graff/.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sunday Night in the Financial District

It is extremely busy living in the Financial District.  During the week it is full of office workers and tourists visiting famous sights and landmarks.  At the weekend it is slightly quieter, but the tourists still come in droves.  However, on Sunday nights the area is almost deserted and it is my favourite night of the week in the Financial District.

It can become quite frustrating living in such a busy area.  It takes ages to walk anywhere, people stop suddenly in front of you or take up the entire pavement so you end up walking in the road.  That said, on Sunday evenings I can walk freely on the streets and really look at the amazing architecture that I am normally to busy to notice.  Now is the time to have your picture taken outside the New York Stock Exchange or with the famous Wall Street Bull.  

There are many great restaurants in the area and on Sundays you can always get a table without waiting or being squashed into a tiny space.  There are still enough people about to create an good atmosphere, but it has a much more relaxed and peaceful feel.  

If you haven't ventured down to the Financial District I would recommend visiting on a Sunday evening, although don't tell too many people as I wouldn't want it to get too busy! 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

'What Not to Wear' casting in NYC

Casting is currently underway for Season 10 of the make-over show 'What Not To Wear', and they are looking for women in New York City.  I received an email from the casting director who is looking for suitable candidates for the show:

"Casting is currently underway in the New York City Area for Season 10 and we would love to feature a woman with different or an outrageous sense of style who is in need of some MAJOR fashion intervention! In case you aren't familiar with the show, each episode Stacy London and Clinton Kelly SURPRISE a deserving woman whose wardrobe is calling for attention and needs to be updated with a complete makeover worth over $5000!....Oh, I forgot to mention that this person should not be aware they are being submitted... the makeover is a SURPRISE! :-)"
Martin Hardy, Casting Director 'What Not To Wear'

If you know someone you would like to nominate, all of the information you need is below:


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Spa Week October 2012

I just wanted to let you know that bookings are now being taken for October 'Spa Week'.  There are $50 treatments available at many spas across New York and now is the time to book.  I missed out during the last Spa Week, so I am getting in early this time!

Spa Week runs from 15th-21st October and to find out which spas are participating you need to sign up at http://www.spaweek.com.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

South Street Seaport

It was my first visit to South Street Seaport and I was pleasantly surprised at what I found in the area.  It is full of shops and restaurants, with some tourist attractions and museums.  As it is located by the water  you can walk along the river and catch some great views of the Brooklyn Bridge.

We started out at Pier 17 which is home to a small mall with a food court, as well as a selection of restaurants and pubs.  On the pier there is an array of stalls and vendors and you can often catch street performers and entertainers.  The mall has a few familiar stores such as 'Express', 'Bath & Body Works' and 'Victoria Secret', but is mostly independent shops selling souvenirs and gifts.  There are some interesting stores in there though, so it is worth checking out.

We then headed inland to the Seaport Marketplace where you can find more shops and restaurants as well as the 'Bodies' exhibit.  If you explore the area further you will find cobblestone streets full of great places to eat and unique shops.  It's a lovely place to sit outside and eat, there are views to enjoy rather than sitting by the side of a busy road.  

At the weekends the 'Fulton Stall Market' runs along South Street between Fulton and Beekman Street. It is a great food market and you can often get free samples or try most of the food for sale.  They sometimes have live music and exhibits in addition to the food stalls.  Check out the website for more information http://www.southstreetseaport.com/Fulton-Street-Market.

Some people think this area is too touristy, but I think it's great fun and well worth a visit.  New York can take itself a bit too seriously sometimes and I don't think there is anything wrong with being a tourist now and again. 

For more information visit http://www.southstreetseaport.com.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

First Impressions of Downtown

I have been living downtown for almost a week now and I am enjoying my experience so far.  I am  in the Financial District, right by the NYSE, so it's a real change of scene from the Upper West Side!

Here are some of the differences I have noticed so far:

It doesn't smell like a dog toilet.  So many people have dogs on the UWS and it often smells strongly of dog urine and feces.  I was always dodging dog pooh and hated watching dogs relieve themselves where I would later see children playing.

It smells of cigarette smoke.  It seems I have traded one nasty smell for another!  Lots more people smoke down here, it is a mixture of tourists and those working in the many office buildings in the area.

There are lots more people.  This is the hub of financial institutions and many people work here, add to the that the number of tourists visiting Wall Street, the 9/11 Memorial and The Statue of Liberty and it is really busy.

Less green more blue.  I miss having Central Park so close, but I have traded in green trees and parks for the Hudson river.  Walking around the tip of Manhattan allows you to take in some great views and you have access to the various boats, ferries and water taxis leaving from the harbour.

Amazing architecture.  Many of the buildings in the area used to be financial institutions, and therefore the insides of the most random places are beautiful.  The local Duane Reade has marble pillars and decorated high ceilings and my gym is a converted art-deco building.

Lack of local supermarkets.  Although there is a Wholefoods 15 minutes walk away, I haven't found a decent supermarket nearby.  I get most of my shopping from Fresh Direct, but I liked the convenience of a local store to pick up odd bits and get stuff they don't stock.

Great Subway Access.  You can get to almost anywhere from here.  There are many subway lines within walking distance and its easy to get to East or West side as well as Brooklyn and New Jersey.

I am planning to explore more this weekend and will let you know how I get on!


Monday, August 20, 2012

The 'C' Train Subway Spitter

Since writing the post about my Terrible Subway Experience I have had quite a lot of emails and comments from people who have seen the spitting homeless woman on the 'C' Train.

I completely agree with one of the comments saying she is a 'public health hazard', and I would hate for anyone to go through the same experience as me.  I wanted to take this opportunity to warn people about her so they can avoid her if they come across her on the subway.

She is is an old skinny woman with long frizzy hair who sometimes claims to have cancer.  You will know it's her as soon as she starts approaching people on the carriage as she gets very close and will touch you or your belongings when talking to you.  It's a game of Russian roulette when it comes to who she spits on, although from the feedback I have had she seems to spit more on young women.

Every time I travel on the subway I keep a look out for her and hope I never see her again.  If you see her move as far away as you can, change to another carriage or get your umbrella out!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Downtown Girl

For the last year I have been an Uptown girl living on the Upper West Side, but due to building works we are moving downtown for a couple of months.

I am looking forward to living in a different neighborhood and exploring another area of Manhattan.  I have become incredibly lazy lately when it comes to trying new things in this city, so this move will give me the kick I needed to continue making the most out of living in NYC.

Having become accustomed to the grid system, I'm sure I will get lost a few times before finding my way around.  I haven't had to remember street names since I lived in the UK, and I'm got great with directions.  I'll have to dig out my street map and be a tourist all over again!

I'll let you know how I get on!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

'Internations' Expat Website

One of the great things about writing this blog is when I am contacted to write an article or interview about living in New York.  I was recently contacted by a website called 'Internations' to complete an interview about relocating and I was very excited to be featured on their New York pages.

'Internations' is a website for expats all over the world.  Each city has their own area on the website providing local information and help with relocation.  They also organise local events to help you meet expats in your area.  I haven't been to anything yet, but they have had some really fun looking events.

You have to be a member to access the website, but its free and they don't bombard you with emails or messages.  It seems to work like other social networking sites where you can look at peoples profiles and add them as friends.

For more information to check out my interview visit their website at
http://www.internations.org/new-york-expats/guide/recommended-expat-blogs-new-york-15729

Monday, July 23, 2012

'16 Handles' Frozen Yogurt

There is nothing quite like an ice cream to cool you down on a hot summer's day, and one of my favourite places to go is '16 Handles'.  Although it's not actually ice cream, but frozen yogurt, you won't be able to tell the difference.

It's called '16 Handles' because there are always 16 different flavours of yogurt available.  It is self-serve, you choose your cup size, pick your flavor and pull the handle to fill it up! They have a great selection of flavours, including 'NY Cheesecake', 'Birthday Cake', 'Red velvet cake' as well as the traditional favourites.  Nutritional information is available at each handle, so you can make an informed decision when choosing your flavour.  They have lots of low fat and lower calorie option, so you can have a treat without feeling too guilty!

However, I think the best part about '16 Handles' is the toppings bar.  They have a huge choice of fruits, syrups and dry toppings, like fudge, various forms of chocolate, nuts and sweets.  It's so funny watching the kids pile on the toppings, often you can't tell they have yogurt in their bowls!  

The yogurt and toppings are weighed, so the more you have the more it costs.  You can get a decent sized yogurt with toppings for under $5 though.  They also have rewards cards where you collect stamps for a free serving.

I'm a big fan of this place and often go to the locations on the Upper West Side.  For more information and to find a shop near you, visit http://16handles.com/index.php.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Terrible subway experience!

I had a really horrible experience on the subway last Friday morning.  I was on the C train going downtown and a homeless woman got on and started talking to the whole carriage.  For those who use the subway regularly, you will know that it is a common occurrence to come across beggars on the train.

This woman made a speech informing us that she was homeless and living on the streets and wanted money.  Normally at this the point, the person will walk through the carriage hoping someone will give them something.  However, this woman was very aggressive and was addressing each person on the carriage individually, touching them or getting very close to their faces.

When she reached me I was playing with my phone, which she pushed to get my attention.  She said "have you got any money" to which I replied "No, I'm sorry I don't have anything today".  I thought she would walk away but instead she swore at me and spat all over me!  I was in complete shock and completely disgusted!  She had spat all over my bag and my clothes and I really didn't know what to do.

As she continued through the carriage I heard her spit on someone else and then saw her get off at the next stop.  No one did or said anything, a few people looked at me in disbelief and some horrible tourists thought it was funny.

I didn't say anything as I thought she would become even more aggressive if I approached her, so I cleaned myself up the best I could and sat feeling sorry for myself until it was my stop.  As soon as I got to my destination I disinfected myself as I felt so dirty.

I have heard many subway horror stories, but this was the first time anything like this has happened to me.  Throughout my time in New York I have often been approached by people asking for money, but I have never been attacked for not giving anything.  I will be more cautious in the future, but I think I will be sticking to cabs for a while!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Celeb Spot! Morgan Freeman!

I was visiting someone in a downtown hospital, and on my way to get coffee 'A-List' movie star Morgan Freeman got in the lift with me!  He smiled at me as he walked in and whistled all the way down to the lobby.

A few other people got in as we stopped on our way down, and although I could tell some recognised him, no one approached him.  I am always too shy to go up to celebs, but thought it was especially important not to bother him as we were in a hospital.  He was much taller than I thought he would be and was impeccably dressed.  It was great to see him and it really made my day!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Keeping cool in Central Park

I had forgotten how hot it gets in NYC over the summer and it seems that the heat waves are starting early this year.  New York doesn't have the best air conditioning and many apartment buildings end up like saunas at this time of year.

I am lucky enough to live near Central Park, so I often pop over there to cool off in one of the many shady areas.  The park gets even busier at this time of year, especially at the weekends, but there are still quiet spots to be found.  The park tends to be quieter the further north you go, there are also fewer tourists and you avoid the horse and carriage tours.

I haven't been yet, but there is a free public swimming pool located mid park between 106th and 108th Street.  The Lasker pool is open from now until Labour Day.  For more information visit http://www.centralpark.com/guide/attractions/lasker-pool-rink.html.

For those of you who don't want to actually get wet, or go to a communal pool, Central Park offers row boating on a 22-acre lake.  Boats can be hired from the Loeb Boathouse from 10am-5.30pm.  Rental starts at $12 an hour and then $3 for every 15 minutes after that.  Although it sounds idyllic, it is a very popular attraction so you may have to wait a while before you get on the water.

Central Park is a wonderful facility to have in such a big, crowded city and although the park has a lot to offer, I enjoy escaping into a quiet corner to read a book and look up at the trees!


For more information about Central Park and upcoming events, visit http://www.centralparknyc.org.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

'Slowgirl' at the Claire Tow Theatre, Lincoln Centre

The Claire Tow Theatre is the newest at the Lincoln Centre and is home to LCT3 which produces shows by new playwrights, directors and designers.  LCT3 believes that theatre should be accessible to everyone, not just the privileged and so only charges $20 for all seats all the time.

'Slowgirl' is the first production to play at the Claire Tow Theatre which is located on the rooftop of the Vivian Beaumont Theatre.  I prefer small venues (there are only 112 seats) as you are really close to the action and almost feel like part of the performance.

I went to see 'Slowgirl' during the previews on a Sunday afternoon.  I booked last minute and was sat in the front row.  As the theatre is so small there isn't a bad seat in the house, and although I was sat at the side I could see everything perfectly.

The play is about a teenage girl (Sarah Steele) who visits her self-exiled uncle (Ċ½eljko Ivanek) in Costa Rica following a horrific accident involving a fellow class mate.  Both characters have their own problems and as the story continues you learn that they are both running from something.  It was acted brilliantly and I found the story engaging and emotive.  The production was great and the set was cleverly designed, it almost felt like you were in the Costa Rican jungle.

I thoroughly enjoyed 'Slowgirl' and would recommend you see it if you get the chance.  I will also be keeping an eye out for future performances at this theatre as it is a great venue and fantastic value for money.  'Slowgirl' is running until 29th July 2012 and you can get tickets online via the LCT3 website at http://lct.org/index_lct3.htm.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Anthony Leonard Hair Salon

It took me ages to find a decent hairdresser when I fist arrived in NYC.  I tried some of the well-known salons, but wasn't happy with the end result nor did I enjoy the experience.  I was really unhappy with the colour (I get highlights) and the condition of my hair. The extreme weather here, cold and dry in the winter and hot and humid in the summer, was really taking it's toll.

When I saw that 'Gilt City' were running a deal for the 'Anthony Leonard Salon' about a year ago I thought I would give them a try.  The salon is located on 54th Street and Madison, and although the building doesn't look great, don't let it put you off as it is lovely inside.

I received a warm welcome when I arrived and was made to feel comfortable straight away.  I was taken over to meet my colour artist, Jane, who was so friendly that I felt as if I had been coming to the salon for years.  She listened to how unhappy I was with the current state of my hair and called over my  stylist, Tiffany, so we could come up with a plan of action.  Tiffany was just as lovely as Jane, and between them they came up with the best way to treat my hair so I would be happy with the end result.  They worked their magic for 3 hours and I left with an amazing colour and fantastic hair cut.  I was so thrilled with the results that I have been going there ever since.

What I love about this place is the atmosphere throughout the salon.  The staff aren't bitchy and you don't feel that anyone is whispering about you while you are in the chair.  Everyone says hello and ensures that you have a positive experience every time you visit.

I have found that decent salons are expensive in New York, and this salon is no exception, although is is cheaper than the others I have tried.  I try to think of it as an investment, you wear your hair everyday and everyone can see it, so it's worth going to the best place you can afford.

I would definitely recommend the Anthony Leonard Salon, so if you are looking for a decent hair dresser in the city give them a try.  For more information visit http://www.anthonyleonardsalon.com.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

9/11 Memorial

I am sure that most people remember where they were on September 11, 2001.  When I came to live in New York I became more aware of the horrific events that took place that day, and how people are still affected.

It took many years to decide what should be put in place of the twin towers and what would be the best way to honor those lost in the attacks.  A competition was held to design a memorial, and in 2004 'Reflecting Absence' was chosen.

I went to visit the 9/11 Memorial last week and I think they succeeded in creating a place where visitors can pay their respects and reflect on what happened that day.  There are two large waterfall pools where the towers used to stand and the names of the names of those killed are inscribed on bronze parapets around them.

The North Tower Pool
The pools are surrounded by the trees of the Memorial Plaza which is one of the most Eco-friendly to be created.  As you can imagine there is a lot of construction work taking place around the memorial as the area is rebuilt.  I am sure that once this is finished the area will feel even more calm and peaceful.

1 World Trade Center-The Freedom Tower
Tickets are required to visit the 9/11 Memorial and can be obtained online.  Although entry is free there is an opportunity to make a donation when you reserve your time slot.  Visitors will have to go through security before entering the memorial, so be prepared to queue when it is busy.

I was very moved during my visit to the 9/11 Memorial.  Seeing all of the names listed in front of me made think about how many lives have been affected by this event.  Visiting the memorial gave me the opportunity to pay my respects to those people.  

For more information, to reserve tickets and make donations please visit  http://www.911memorial.org/.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Boat Basin Cafe-Restaurant Review

It seems that summer has well and truly arrived in NYC and restaurants have spilled out onto the pavements so people can enjoy eating outdoors.  I'm not a fan of eating outside on the pavement, I don't like sitting by a busy road or watching dogs go to the loo while I eat!  I had looked online to try and find restaurants with nice outdoor areas and came across the 'Boat Basin Cafe', so I thought I would give it a try.

The 'Boat Basin Cafe' is located on West 79th street right by the Hudson River and you have to walk underneath the West Side Highway to get to the restaurant.  I was pleasantly surprised when I got there, there was a lovely view of the marina and you could see across to New Jersey.  We were seated on the outdoor patio, but there is an indoor section and another large outdoor area which turns into a bar in the evening.

View from the restaurant looking out onto the Hudson River

The servers were really friendly and came over straight away with water and menus.  The menu consists of  sandwiches, burgers, salads and bar snacks with a couple of fish dishes available.  They also have daily specials.  I got the chicken Cobb salad which was tasty, it was a good size and there was a decent amount of chicken, egg, avocado and cheese.  One of my friends had the grilled chicken sandwich which also looked good and seemed to go down well.  I thought the prices were reasonable, most of the sandwiches and burgers are around $10 and sides start at $2.  

Enjoying lunch on the patio
It is a great spot to relax, there was no traffic and it was very quiet.  I imagine it gets pretty busy at the weekends and in the evenings, and as you can't make reservations there might be a bit of a wait to get a table.  I really enjoyed my experience and will definitely be going back to the 'Boat Basin Cafe' over the summer.  For more information check out their website at http://www.boatbasincafe.com/index.html.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Where is home?

I have just got back from a trip to the UK and preparations for the Olympic Games and The Queens Diamond Jubilee are in full swing.  There are lots of exciting events coming up over the next few months and I must admit I almost didn't want to come back to New York at the end of my trip.

There is a great sense of British pride in the country at the moment, and it was lovely to see so many British flags flying.  The shops are full of 'Team GB' and Olympic merchandise, so I bought a few bits to bring home with me so I feel part of the whole experience even though I won't be there.

Although I am really enjoying my New York adventure, it can be hard living as an expat in another country.  I sometimes feel as if I missing out on events happening in the UK, both personally and nationally.  Each time I go back I know less and less about current events and popular culture, which can make me feel out of the UK loop.

I think it's perfectly normal to feel this way now and again, and I wouldn't change my circumstances as I love living in the US.  However, the longer I am living out of the UK the more I question 'where is home'?


Monday, April 30, 2012

Zip Car

It can be very expensive to own a car in NYC.  Not only do you have to pay for the car, taxes and insurance, it can cost a fortune to park the thing.   Chances are the car will be parked at least a block away from where you live, and then you have the fun of trying to get it out of the garage.

We decided that we didn't need a car living in Manhattan as the public transport, although smelly and crowded, is pretty good.  However, there are always times when you need a car, so we joined 'Zip Car'.

'Zip Car' is a car sharing program that allows members to rent cars on an hourly basis.  You can pay by the hour or the day, depending on how long you need the car.  This rate also includes petrol and insurance, so it works out cheaper than hiring a car from a rental company.  They have loads of cars located throughout the city and you can search online to find ones closest to where you live.  The website is user-friendly and it's easy to book online.

You do have to pay a membership fee, but they have different packages available depending on your usage.  Car rentals start at $9 an hour during the week and $13.75 at weekends.

We have used the service a few times bid and it has always worked well.  Our car has always been ready for us and we have always been able to book a car when we needed one.
For more information visit http://www.zipcar.com/nyc/find-cars.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

UK Shops that deliver to the US

Although living in New York means access to an amazing variety of stores, sometimes it's nice to shop from places in the UK.  I have recently bought items from both the 'Next' and 'M&S' websites, who now deliver to the US.  


I don't care what anyone says, although I like Victoria Secret, I love M&S undies and missed shopping there when we moved to New York.  Now I can stock on up on all that stuff and it isn't too expensive either.  The items cost the same, but you have to pay £15 for shipping and wait 7-10 days to get your delivery, which I think is quite reasonable.  For more information and to get shopping visit http://www.marksandspencer.com/


I also bought a few bits from 'Next Direct'.  They offer free 2 day delivery to the US, which is amazing, but the products cost a bit more than in the UK.  For example a top that is £30 in the UK costs $55 (about £35) online.  So although you save on the shipping and get your stuff quicker, be prepared to pay a little more for it.  I like their Union Jack range of clothing in preparation for the Olympics, they have some fun stuff that looks great and you can be patriotic!  Visit http://www.nextdirect.com/us/en/home to view their full range.


Although 'Next' and 'M&S' aren't the most amazing shops, I bought a lot of my staple items from them in the UK.  They are reasonably priced and mostly good quality, which makes a difference as the washing machines in NYC are mostly dire!  There is also much less chance of bumping into someone with the same outfit as you!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

'Tea and Sympathy'-Restaurant Review

I really should have heeded the warnings from friends and other British expats about 'Tea and Sympathy',  an English restaurant located in the West Village, but I thought I should try it out for myself.

I went with my husband on a Friday lunch time and the place was really busy.  We went inside and it was tiny, everyone was squashed in and it was boiling hot.  Not a great start.  We were told that the wait would be 5 minutes and to wait outside on the bench.  Fair enough.

They also have a shop next door so I popped in to get some Branston pickle.  I found it to be very expensive and they were charging a lot more for items that you can easily get in your local supermarket such as Fairway or Morton Williams.  For example, they charge $4.95 for a bottle of HP Sauce, whereas Fairway only charge $3.49.

After 5 minutes I went back to the restaurant where my husband was still waiting on the bench.  Lots of people came out of the restaurant, so after a few minutes we popped our heads in again to make sure they hadn't forgotten about us.  We were met by one of the rudest English women I have ever come across.  She didn't even bother to look at me when she barked at us to wait outside, then as we were still in the doorway she kicked the door so hard it slammed on us.  Well, as you can imagine we didn't bother staying and found a lovely little French cafe down the street.

My husband was fuming and was adamant that he would write a review about the place when we got home.  However, it turns out that almost everyone who has been there was treated the same way and the Internet is full of negative reviews about the rudeness of the staff, this woman in particular.  I don't know why this place is still in business, but I would avoid it at all costs if I were you.

So, I still haven't tried the food at this awful place and won't be going back again either.  I should have listened to my friends when they told me the service was awful, the restaurant was cramped and the food was ordinary.  I'm sure you can get tea here, but I would definitely go somewhere else for sympathy.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spa Week 2012

Spring 'Spa Week' runs from 16th-22nd April.  During this week spas taking part in the promotion offer treatments for just $50.  You can get facials, massages, luxury manicures and pedicures, acupuncture as well as a variety of other services.  

There are some good spas taking part in the event including 'Fresh', 'Exhale', 'State Salon at the Peninusla' and Elizabeth Arden's 'Red Door Spa' on 5th Avenue.  

It is a good way to try some of the more expensive places and try some treatments at a much more affordable price.  For a full list of spas taking part and the treatments on offer visit http://www.spaweek.com.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Equinox Gym

I wasn't happy at my current gym (New York Sports Club), so when my membership ran out I thought I would bite the bullet and join a more expensive place.  It seems that in NYC you have to pay a lot for a decent gym membership.  Although there are cheaper gyms out there, I found that I had to compromise on facilities, classes and in some cases, cleanliness.

There were quite a few gyms in my local area that I looked at, but I chose Equinox as they had the best facilities and classes that suited my needs.  I have been a member there for 4 months now and have to say that it's the best gym I have joined since I arrived here.  The classes are excellent and there are loads throughout the day.  If you get an all access pass membership you can use any of the Equinox gyms, which is great as some of the locations have swimming pools and offer different classes.

I'm lucky enough to be able to work out during the day, but it can get extremely busy during the evenings and weekends.  However, I rarely have to wait for a piece of cardio equipment during these times, which is good as the group classes are often extremely crowded.

The classes are great at Equinox and the majority of instructors are friendly and approachable.  'Powerstrike!' and 'Barre Burn' are my favorite classes, but there is enough of a choice to suit everyone.  You can try 'JuKari-Fit to Fly' which is based on 'Cirque Du Soleil' training, or 'FORZA' which is based on Samurai sword movements. They also have all of the regular favourites including 'Zumba', 'yoga' and spin classes. They have separate studios for spin, cardio and mind & body classes.

I have always found the staff to be friendly and the facility is always clean and tidy.  There is an endless supply of clean towels and 'Kiehls' toiletries in the changing rooms.  They have a great spa (separate post to follow), a small cafe, shop and a creche.  You can also make use of the computers and free wi-fi available throughout the gym.

There is a good atmosphere in the gym, but Equinox does have more than it's fair share of posers and people more interested in looking at themselves in the mirrors rather than actually exercising.  I find these characters amusing and they help me pass the time when I am looking for distractions while on the running machine.

Equinox is very expensive ($179 a month), but you can get a free 3-day trial if you go online.  Also, never pay the full joining fee, it is ridiculous and they often run promotions where you can get it much cheaper.  They also have special offers for referring friends (I got $250 to spend when my husband joined).

I really enjoy working out at Equinox and would recommend you give it a try.  For more information on the gyms and to get a free pass, visit http://www.equinox.com/.

Celeb Spot! Kevin Bacon!

I have seen loads of celebs lately, I must have a good eye for spotting them in the crowds!  Today I have another good sighting to share with you.

I was walking to meet a friend and saw actor Kevin Bacon crossing the road on Columbus Avenue.  Kevin Bacon has been in loads of movies including 'Footloose', 'Apollo 12', 'Hollow Man' and 'X-Men: First Class'.  He looked very inconspicuous in a black hat and dark glasses, and blended into the New York crowds without recognition.  I thought he looked great and was very excited to see him walking around my neighborhood!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Celeb Spot! Matt Dillon!

I was lucky enough to see the actor Matt Dillon heading towards Central Park in his running gear.  He was with two friends and looked great in his black outfit.

Matt Dillon has been in loads of great movies including 'Crash' and 'There's something about Mary'.  I will definitely be keeping an eye out for him on my next run in the park!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Churchill Pub-Restaurant Review

I found out about The Churchill Pub when they started following me on Twitter and after researching them online I thought would try this 'traditional English pub' for lunch.  The pub has only been open a few months and is located on E 28th Street between Madison and Park Avenue.

I went for a late lunch on a Friday and the pub was fairly quiet which meant it was easy to get a table.  I was impressed with the layout and decor of the place, it looked very much like a British pub.  The menu consisted of typical English fare and during the week they offer lunch specials which include a soup or a salad to start.  They have an array of sandwiches for $10 or if you want something more substantial like sausage and mash or pie and chips it's $15.

I chose to have a salad followed by a cheese and Branston pickle sandwich.  My friend went for the streak pie and chips.  My salad came out pretty quickly and was fine but a bit salty.  However, we then waited over half an hour for the rest of our lunch, which isn't great if you have to get back to work or are hungry!

When our food did eventually arrive mine was less than impressive.  It was 3 slices of toast consisting of one very thin layer of cheddar cheese and one extremely thick layer of Branston pickle.  I love pickle but even I couldn't eat that much of the stuff.  It made me wonder who was cooking the food, as based on what I was served I doubt they have ever eaten an English cheese and pickle sandwich.

However, my friend's steak pie and chips was delicious.  The crust wasn't soggy and the meat was tender and of good quality.  The chips tasted authentic and luckily my friend was willing to share, otherwise I would have left hungry.

Before I left I made a quick trip to loo where they play Winston Churchill speeches into the stalls.  I'm not sure if I found that creepy or funny, but it was a talking point when I returned to the table!

I wouldn't rush back to The Churchill, but I might give it another go if I'm in the area in the future.  Some of the other dishes I saw looked great, so maybe I was just unlucky that day.

Their website (http://thechurchillny.com/) doesn't offer much information, so I would visit http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/the-churchill/ to get a better idea of the menus available and overview of the restaurant.


Celeb Spot! Ralph Lauren!

Last night I went to Madison Square Garden to watch 'Michael Jackson The Immortal" by Cirque du Soleil.  While waiting for the show to start I spotted designer Ralph Lauren taking his seat a few rows from me.  He was with a group of beautiful people and of course looked great himself!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

'Time Out New York' Magazine

Although it may seem an obvious way to find out what is happening in NYC every week, it took me over a year to get a subscription to 'Time Out' magazine.

It is full of local events, restaurant openings, reviews, movie releases, shows and concerts, museums, book signings, special offers and loads of other NYC information.

It is a good way to keep up to date with what is going on in the city and provides inspiration if you are looking for something to do.  I have found out about some great events and tried some lovely new restaurants that I would have otherwise missed if I hadn't read 'Time Out'.

It currently costs $30 for 55 issues, and I enjoy getting my weekly copy of the magazine delivered to my home.  However, you can access most of the magazine's articles and lots more NYC information for free on their website at http://www.timeout.com/newyork.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The New York Historical Society

The New York Historical Society is the oldest museum in NYC and is home to a large collection of exhibits about the City, the State and the rest of the US.  The museum is located in an impressive building on the Upper West Side.  It contains four floors of exhibits, so we started at the top and worked our way down.

'Revolution! The Atlantic World Reborn' looks at the American, French and Haitian revolutions and the fight for human rights across the world.  It was really interesting and well presented.  I enjoyed looking at the photographs from 'Harlem: The People' and the paintings in the 'Portraits of the City' exhibit.  

Also on display is a collection of photographs from 9/11 which were taken by the public.  The images are extremely moving and depict the awful events through the eyes of the people who were actually there. 

Some of the exhibits are interactive and enable you to use giant touch screens to find out more information about the items on display.  These were especially popular with the children visiting the museum.  

We finished our visit by watching the film 'New York Story', which is an 18-minute film presenting the history of the city.  It was worth seeing and was a good way to end the trip.

I had a great morning at The New York Historical Society and would recommend you to visit.  Entry is $15 per person, but they are running a promotion until the end of March where tickets are 2 for 1 if you present a metro card.

For more information on exhibits and opening times visit http://www.nyhistory.org/.

The New York Historical Society

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Celeb Spot! Catherine Zeta Jones!

Last night my husband and I were having dinner in the Ocean Grill on the Upper West Side and whilst enjoying our meal, Hollywood A-lister Catherine Zeta Jones, walked right past our table!  I have always thought she was beautiful, but she is absolutely stunning in the flesh.  She was wearing black and had her hair pulled back in a bun.  Unfortunately Michael Douglas wasn't with her and she was accompanied by a female companion.

I think New York must be one of the best places for celebrities to live/visit as no one paid her any attention.  If she was recognised, no one said anything and she was left to enjoy her meal in peace.

A great NYC celeb spot!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Energy Kitchen

I have been on a health kick since the beginning of the year and in addition to my exercise routine I have really been watching what I eat.  I have gone down the calorie counting route, which is working well so far, but does mean that it can be tricky to eat out.

New York has an abundance of restaurants, but I have found it quite difficult to find healthy places to eat.  When searching online I came across the website for 'Energy Kitchen', where nothing on the menu is over 500 calories and everything is either baked, steamed or grilled.  There are quite a few locations across the city, so I found the one closest to me and headed there for lunch.

The 'Energy Kitchen' is similar to a fast food restaurant where you order at the counter and they call your name when the food is ready.  However, it was very clean and the staff were very friendly and helpful.  They have an array of healthy burgers, wraps, salads, entrees and sides to choose from on the menu.  I opted for the 'Buffalo Chicken Burger' with two sides, baked fries and a corn and edamame salad.  All of this was $9.99 and just over 500 calories-a bargain for both my calorie and bank account!

The food was extremely flavourful and I very much enjoyed my meal.  It was both tasty and filling and I felt as if I had had a real treat.  The burger was just as good as a regular chicken burger, and the chips and salad were lovely.  If you want something sweet afterwards they offer low fat frozen yogurt for under 150 calories per serving.

The 'Energy Kitchen' isn't somewhere you would for a nice meal out, but it a great place for lunch or to grab something to eat before heading out for the evening.  They also deliver, which is great if you fancy take out but don't want to eat anything unhealthy.

I have been back to the 'Energy Kitchen' twice since my first visit and will definitely be going back again soon!  For more information on the menu and to find a located near you visit http://energykitchen.com/.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The London Candy Company in NYC

One of the things I sometimes miss about living in the UK is the chocolate.  There are certain sweet treats that you can't get over here or the US versions don't quite taste the same.  When a friend told me about 'London Candy Company' I was keen to pay it a visit.

The store is located on the Upper East Side at 94th and Lexington and is owned by British expats.  They have an excellent selection of British chocolate, sweets, biscuits, crisps, hot drinks and various other yummy products.  They stocked loads of the chocolates I had been missing, and although not good for the diet, I enjoyed picking out some of my favorites.

However, be prepared to pay significantly more for these products than you would at home.  Full size bars were about $2.25 and you are looking at $15 for a bag of fun sizes.  I only bought a few items because of this, but at least it means I won't be stuffing my face with too much chocolate!

I really like 'The London Candy Company' and will definitely go back when my sweet tooth gets another craving.  For more information visit their website at http://thelondoncandycompany.com/.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Great East Japan Earthquake Commemoration Free Concert

It has been a year since the Japanese earthquake and tsunami devastated the country, and The Japan Foundation are commemorating the event with a worldwide series of free concerts.  These concerts are to give thanks from the Japanese people to the rest of the world for all the help and support they provided after the disaster.  It is also to show how those affected are rebuilding their lives with the help and support of the global community.

The musical concert features a variety of Japanese artists including 'Ondekoza', who play giant taiko drums, and 'Wakumizu Kagura', a folk group who are actually from the area affected by the disaster.

The New York performance of "Overcoming the Disaster: Gratitude from Japan to the World" takes place on Tuesday 6th March at 7.30pm in the Rose Theater at Columbus Circle.  Tickets to the event are absolutely free and can be ordered online or collected at the theatre box office.

For more information about the concert, the artists performing and to get tickets visit
http://gratitude-concert-march6.org/concert.htm.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Museum of the City of New York

Located on 'Museum Row' on 5th Avenue at 103rd Street, the Museum of the City of New York offers an interesting look at the past, present and possible future of the city.  The museum is housed in a beautiful building that alone is worth visiting.

My favourite exhibit was "The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011" which looks at how the New York grid system was designed and created.  It was an extremely informative exhibit with lots of photographs of the city before the skyscrapers and millions of people!  I enjoyed finding out what my current neighborhood used to look like and found the hand-drawn grid designs fascinating.

'Police Work' is an absorbing collection of photographs of the NYPD during the 1970's taken by the late Leonard Freed.  Freed spent years following members of the police department around the city, capturing both their lives at work and home.  The photographs on display show a very different New York to the one we live in today.  It is an up close and personal look at the lives of law enforcement during a time when New York had one of the highest crime rates in the USA.

Other current exhibits include 'Cecil Beaton: The New York Years' and 'The Unfinished Grid: Design Speculations for Manhattan', which were both interesting.

I really liked this museum, it wasn't overwhelming and you can comfortably see everything in an afternoon.  Admission is only $10 and I think it is worth a visit.  For more information on current exhibits and opening hours visit http://www.mcny.org/.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

'Rent' Off Broadway

I first saw the musical 'Rent' in London over 10 years ago and thought it was great.  When I heard that it was making a revival Off Broadway I really wanted to see it again.  Luckily I got a good deal through www.broadwaybox.com and got tickets for $40 each.

The show is playing at the New World Stages in Midtown West.  It is quite a small theatre, which I prefer, and we had fantastic seats in the orchestra section.  I don't know much about production, but I liked the set.  It was on two levels with lots of ladders and stairs that the cast climbed up on and in-between.  I thought the cast were brilliant too, especially Roger (Justin Johnston), Mimi (Ariandra Fernandez) and Angel (Xavier Cano).

If you don't know the story of 'Rent' prepare yourself for quite an intense ride!  It is about HIV, AIDS, homelessness, drug abuse and sexuality in the early 1990's in NYC.  Although the subject matter is serious there are lots of fun scenes.  It is a very moving and thought provoking show with great music and routines.  I love some of the songs in the show and haven't been able to get them out of head all week.

I think 'Rent' is great and the show hasn't dated even though it has been running for more than 15 years.  I wouldn't recommend taking children as the subject matter might be inappropriate for them, but otherwise go and see it!

For more information and to get tickets visit http://www.siteforrent.com/.  Also, check out http://www.broadwaybox.com/shows/rent_nyc_tickets.aspx as you can tickets for $60 at the moment.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

'Swamp in the City' at Chelsea Market NYC

I am a huge fan of the TV show 'Swamp People', and when I heard they were turning part of Chelsea Market into a swamp with live alligators to promote the new season I couldn't wait to head down there and have a look.

The 5,600 square foot exhibit contains a 6,500 gallon swamp with live alligators, turtles, Cyprus trees and other plant life from the Louisiana region.  You walk out onto a small pier that overlooks the swamp and use torches to find the alligators hiding in the plant life.  It was good fun trying to find them, I found two, which means I am a natural alligator hunter ;-).

As well as the swamp they have live music and Cajun food tastings throughout the day.  There is also a smaller alligator and turtle exhibit where it is easier to get a closer look at the creatures.

However, the most exciting part of the experience was getting to meet Troy, Jacob and Chase Landry from the show!  They were so friendly and it was great to chat with them, get autographs and have photographs taken.  After watching them catch alligators in the Louisiana swaps it was quite surreal to meet them in the middle of Manhattan!

The exhibit is completely free and runs until Sunday 12th February.  The Landry guys are there tomorrow from 12-3pm.  For more information on the exhibit visit http://www.history.com/shows/swamp-people/interactives/gator-cam.

Entrance to the 'Swamp People' Exhibit


Happy gator hunting!



Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tickets on sale for 'Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL by Cirque du Soleil'

I am a huge fan of 'Cirque du Soleil' and think their performances are brilliant.  I have been lucky enough to see quite few of their shows and am always amazed by the sets, music and acrobatics.  My favourite is 'Love' which is based on the music of The Beatles, and is one of the best shows I have ever seen.

Their newest show 'Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL' incorporates music from the late pop legend, video footage, live dance and the unbelievable skills of Cirque du Soleil.  The show is currently touring the world and comes to New York's Madison Square Garden from 5-7th April 2012.  Tickets are on sale now and range from $54.50-$179.50, which is expensive, but I think it will be a fantastic experience.  It got great reviews when it premiered in Las Vegas and I can't wait to go!

For more information and to purchase tickets visit http://www.thegarden.com/events/2012/michael-jackson-the-immortal-world-tour-by-cirque-du-soleil-at-madison-square-garden.html

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Health Care in New York City

After being ill for most of the week (woe is me ;-) I thought it would be fitting to write about my experiences of New York health care.

In the US there is no NHS or state health service, almost everything operates on the assumption that you have decent insurance which will cover any medical costs you incur.  If you don't have insurance you will have to pay for every doctors appointment, check-up, prescription, hospital visit, etc out of your own pocket.  They charge for absolutely every test they give you, even something as simple as weighing you and taking your blood pressure.  It is vital that when you locate to or visit the US you have medical cover otherwise you could be charged a small fortune.

Once you have medical insurance it can be quite confusing finding out how everything works.  You will be issued with an insurance card which you should carry with you in case of an energy.  Printed on the card will be the contact information of your provider.  I found the best place to start was by visiting their website and finding out exactly what I was entitled to and what was covered.

The next step is finding yourself a GP, or Primary Care Physician (PCP) as they call them here.  Again, the website is probably the best place to start.  They will have a list of all of the doctors available to you with your insurance.  You can also call your provider directly and ask them to find you a PCP in your area.  Some companies will make you choose just one PCP, whereas others will let you visit any doctor on the list.  If you end up with a doctor you don't like, call your insurance company and ask them to switch you to someone else.

When receiving medical care you may be charged a 'deductible' or 'co-pay' which is an amount you are responsible for paying at the time of receiving treatment.  For example, you may be charged $20 each time you visit the doctor.  These amounts should also be printed on your card.

I found it very frustrating when I first went to the doctor here.  I was kept waiting for an hour, the reception staff and nurses were extremely rude and unhelpful and they carried out a number of completely unnecessary tests.  Needless to say I won't be going back there again!  One good thing about the system here is that it is a competitive business, so if you don't like the service you receive you can go somewhere else.

When filling a prescription it works very similarly to the UK, you go to a pharmacist and then pick up your medication.  Be prepared that you may have pay a 'co-pay' for certain medications.  Also, even though your doctor may give you a six month prescription, the pharmacy won't give it to all at once making you go back each month, which is really annoying!

Like anything else, it's it difficult getting used to a new system, especially one so vital.  I am slowly but surely learning how the health system works over here and hopefully be able to pass on any good tips I find along the way!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Celeb Spot! Anjelica Huston

Yesterday I spotted Anjelica Huston walking along 81st Street on the Upper West Side.  The Oscar winner has been in loads of movies including 'The Adams Family', 'Daddy Daycare' and '50/50'.  She is also starring in the new TV show 'Smash' which starts in February.

Anjelica Huston looked very much the New Yorker, wearing a black outfit with sunglasses.  She is very tall and slim and I was very excited to see her walking around the neighbourhood!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

'Alice's Teacup'-Restaurant Review

'Alices Teacup' is one of my favourite place to go to for tea.  They currently have three locations across Manhattan, but I always go to the 'Chapter 1' which is located on 73rd Street and Columbus Avenue.

It is a relaxed, cosy little tea shop with friendly staff.  They have a huge selection of teas to choose from, probably the biggest I have seen in New York.  They serve breakfast and lunch, but my favourite item on the menu is 'Alice's Afternoon Tea'.  There are 3 types of afternoon tea to choose from and I enjoy sharing the 'Mad Hatter' tea with a friend.

Make sure you go hungry as the portions are huge.  You get a choice of 2 pots of tea, 2 sandwiches, 3 scones with cream and jam, a big slice of cake and a selection of cookies.  The tea costs $45 for two people, and considering how much food you get I think it's really good value.

The 'Mad Hatter' Afternoon Tea 
The food is delicious, especially the scones and cakes.  I have had afternoon tea here a few times now and still haven't managed to eat everything.  Although I do like taking home a goodie bag of the leftovers!

There are lots of other options available at Alice's Teacup and you don't have to pig out to enjoy the experience.  They have a good selection of salads and sandwiches as well as a soup of the day.  You can also enjoy the cakes and scones individually too.  

I would definitely recommend Alice's Teacup and always enjoy my visits there.  For more information please visit http://alicesteacup.com/.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy Birthday New Girl in New York!

Today is the first anniversary of 'New Girl in New York'!  I can't believe I have been writing this blog for a year now, it has gone so quickly and I have had some amazing experiences.

I feel I have learnt a lot about New York over the past year, but there is still so much more I want to see and do.  I have heard that it takes 10 years to be considered a real New Yorker, so I guess I can still call myself a New Girl for a while yet!

Blogging has given me some amazing opportunities, I have been lucky enough to write an article for a magazine, given interviews for websites (more information to follow!) and met some great people online.  I have been very lucky!

Thank you so much to everyone who takes the time to read my posts and follow my blog.  I know there are lots of people writing out there and I really appreciate you checking out mine.  Thank you to those who leave comments or email me directly, I love your feedback and am always happy answer questions if I can.  

I hope that you continue to read and enjoy my blog over the next year and I'm looking forward to sharing my New York experiences with you!



Saturday, January 21, 2012

The first snow day of 2012 in NYC

Today was the first snow day of 2012 in NYC.  I had forgotten how pretty the city looks after the first snowfall, especially in the parks.

I finally got to wear my snow boots and giant coat (think a sleeping bag with arms) when went for a walk in Central Park to enjoy the scenery.

The lower path around the reservoir
Perfect snow scene

Snow day in Central Park
The park was still busy with lots of children racing down hill on little sleds, cross country skiers and of course, joggers!  No matter what the weather you will always find people running in Central Park.

The first day of the snow is always beautiful in New York, before it gets all brown and sludgy, so we made the most of it.  We took a long walk around the reservoir and through the park, but once the snow on our coats started to freeze we decided it was time to head home for tea!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Visiting Inwood

Inwood is located above Harlem and Washington Heights, running from Dyckman street to the tip of Manhattan.  I have a friend who lives in the area and she invited me to lunch and for a walk around some of the great parks up there.

Inwood is much quieter than any other area of Manhattan I have visited so far.  It seemed a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of mid-town, but was only 20 minutes away by train.  It is a diverse neighborhood with lots of families and students living there.  I took the C and A trains up, getting off at Dyckman Street, which is located on the main high street.

We went to lunch at the 'Indian Road Cafe', which is a lovely neighbourhood restaurant.  It was a great place to chill out and my food was delicious.  The lunch menu contains a wide variety of sandwiches and salads and the baked goods looked yummy (damn the new diet!).  The dinner menu looked well worth trying, with a good selection of cured meats and cheeses, as well as various other dishes.  For more information visit http://indianroadcafe.com/.

After lunch we went for a walk in 'Inwood Hill Park' which is really pretty, even in the winter.  It is home to the last natural forest and salt marsh in Manhattan.  It was much quieter than Central Park, very serene and relaxing.  Unfortunately the rain cut our walk short so I will be going back to have proper look when the weather is better.  Check out the park website at http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/inwoodhillpark.

Inwood also has one of the most famous liquor stores in the city, PJ wine. This store has one of the largest and most reasonably priced selection of wines and spirits in Manhattan.  Visit http://www.pjwine.com for more information.

I really enjoyed my afternoon in Inwood and will definitely be going back for another visit.  When I told my friend I was going to write about the neighbourhood she said, 'Oh no, don't tell everyone about this place, it's our little secret!'.

Monday, January 16, 2012

'Broadway Week' and 'Off-Broadway Week' Jan-Feb 2012

'Broadway Week' runs from the 17th January to 4th February 2011. You can get 2 for 1 tickets for many performances including 'Chicago the Musical', 'Jersey Boys' and 'Spider Man-Turn off the Dark' to name a few.

For a full list of the shows participating and to buy tickets, visit http://www.nycgo.com/broadwayweek.

'Off-Broadway Week' is also coming up and runs from 30th Jan-Feb 12th 2012.  Again, 2 for 1 tickets are available for the majority of shows including, 'Avenue Q', 'Carrie' and 'Rent'.

For a full list of the shows participating and to buy tickets, visit http://www.nycgo.com/offbroadwayweek.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Museum of Art and Design

There are many museums and galleries that I have yet to visit in New York, so I thought I would take a trip to the the Museum of Art and Design (MAD).  The museum describes itself as the exploration of the "blur zone between art, design, and craft today", so I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the exhibits.

The exhibits are situated over 5 floors, so we started at the top with the "Crafting Modernism: Mid century American Art and Design".  It was a very basic exhibit of various bits of furniture, jewelry and art from the 1940's-1960's.  There was a distinct lack of information about the pieces and therefore it was not very interesting.

The "Beauty in All Things: Japanese Art and Design" exhibit had a few interesting pieces, but to me it looked like an expensive furniture store.  Again there was little or no information about the items, so it was difficult to grasp the concept of the exhibit or understand why those particular pieces were of interest.

The only exhibit saving this museum from being a complete waste of time and money was the "Korean Eye: Energy and Matter".  The 'BullMan' life size sculpture by Ji Yong Ho was amazing.  It is made from old tires and scarp metal and the creepy looking creature dominates the room.   There were some brilliant paintings and installations, and many of the artists had provided information about their work which was interesting and gave the pieces meaning.


I have to say that MAD is the least friendly and least relaxing museum I have ever visited.  The cashier was extremely rude when we purchased our tickets and the rest of the staff followed suit.  They have signs everywhere saying 'Do Not Touch' and there are a number of surly security guards watching your every move, shouting 'don't touch!' if you breath too close to an exhibit.  It was uncomfortable to say the least!  

Entry to the museum costs $15 and there isn't much to see, we were in and out in under an hour.  There are so many great museums to visit in New York and I'm sorry to say that I don't think MAD is one of them.

For more information about MAD visit http://www.madmuseum.org/.