Category Archives for "Travel"

New York in October

New York in October. Always a solid trip. How much has been written about this city? It is the most famous in the world. There’s probably more content in cyber space about New York than any other city.

I am always excited about about travel, especially to New York. My grandfather got out there every time he could according to my dad. So much happened there.

So much is happening there.

Whether it’s your first time or your tenth time, there’s always something to do, see, eat and spend your money on. The thing that I like about New York more than anything…is how easy it is to get around. Metro, cab, by foot…it doesn’t matter.

It’s an easy town to get around in. However you do it, just bring good shoes.

We stayed in Mid Town at a fairly decent hotel and took in as much as you can in 3 days.

  • Times Square
  • Grand Central Station
  • Rockefeller Center
  • Liberty Helicopter Tour
  • Central Park
  • Soho
  • Canal Street
  • Mid Town

For admission to over 40 of New York City’s best attractions (including the Empire State Building) I always check out New York Pass for the best deals.

We also went up to Hauppauge by train to visit a new friend whose art we’ve been buying – Maria Noma Bliss.  Maria picked us up at the train station and opened her home to us.  Hauppauge is a beautiful two hour train ride north of New York.

While up there, we drove down to Terrytown – another small suburb of the Big Apple – and also did some shopping at one of the best outlet malls I’ve ever seen – Woodbury Common.  In fact, I would suggest you skip shopping altogether downtown and make a day trip to this outlet mall call.

The deals here defy description ON EVERY BRAND NAME GOOD YOU CAN THINK of.

Just get yourselves up there and do it.  You’ll thank me.

While just outside of NYC, near Terrytown, I couldn’t believe that I actually saw Sleepy Hollow cemetary.  Yes, it DOES exist!

…it reminded me of that whole Halloween story about Icabod Crane and the headless horseman. I think I will watch the movie again soon. 10 days before Halloween.  How fitting.

While up in Hauppauge, we went out for dinner and dined next to Paul Teutul Jr. from Orange County Choppers. I didn’t get the chance to talk with him, however on the next day while driving, we drove past their original shop and also saw the new one, which is quite a production.

Here are just a few shots.  (Click on any of them to view them larger, in a slide show)

new york sleepy hollow cemetery

new york sleepy hollow cemetery

new york october building

new york october building

Amazing culinary ability for sale at Dean and Deluca

Amazing culinary ability for sale at Dean and Deluca

new york mid town outdoor market

new york mid town outdoor market

new york empire state building

new york empire state building

new york canal street

new york canal street

new york ruby foos times square

Ruby Foos restaurant in Times Square -  good food when your feet are tired

2

Boston in October

If you asked me to name one of my favorite places to visit – it HAS to be Boston. We had never been there before and this place is fantastic!

History, culture, great food, architecture and lots to do. It’s a good thing we walked a lot, because we ate and drank a lot.

We stayed at the Westin Copley place (after so many years of business travel I have accumulated tons of Starwood Points – so the Westin was a logical option).

The hotel is well situated right downtown and was terrific in every way.It’s a business hotel, but I DO love the heavenly beds and the Westin level of service. So you would be pleased with the Westin Copley if you were having trouble deciding where to stay.

The thing that I liked the most about Boston…was the history.I had no idea just how much stuff happened there…and how many influential people lived there.

Being a shutterbug, camera-geek, photo freak…I found Boston a dream to shoot at all hours of the day.

There’s just so much history to learn about in Boston and it’s fun to consume. It seemed that every time we turned around, there was something to learn about or see.

  • The first Post Office
  • The Boston Public Library
  • The Freedom Mile
  • Beautiful old Brownstone Walk-Ups
  • Street lamps still burning gas
  • Harvard University
  • REAL brick buildings
  • Beacon Hill
  • The home of Robert Frost
  • Faneuil Hall
  • The Old State House
  • A cemetary where Benjamin Franklin’s PARENTS, James Otis, John Hancock and Paul Revere are buried.
  • The fattest squirrels I have ever seen (they are in Boston Public Garden in case you’re into that sort of thing)

Newbury Street is Boston’s Rodeo Drive – but a thousand times better and totally authentic. Go there.

Walk it end to end and shop.

Traci and I took a day trip up to Salem, MA because we were getting into the spirit of Halloween.

We didn’t see any witches, but did find the coolest black cat named (are you ready for this?) Boo and got to learn about and eat a candy called Gibraltars – America’s first commercial candy.

The stuff never goes bad, is guaranteed to destroy your fillings, teeth and only comes in two flavours: lemon and peppermint. You’ll try it once and then use the rest as paper weights.

While in Salem, we also stumbled into the coziest restaurant EVER – a place called the Lyceum Bar and Grill, which happened to be the same building where Alexander Graham Bell made his first demonstration of the telephone in 1877.

I felt SO COOL whipping out my Blackberry.

Not.

A visit to Harvard was on the agenda and boy did I feel smart just walking around out there. Now I can tell everyone that I went to Harvard – and when they ask “what for?”…I’ll just change the subject quickly and hopefully leave ’em THINKING that I’m really educated.

Harvard is cool and serious at the same time. It’s an awesome place in so many ways. I could write a post just on the experience of being there.

REAL wrought iron and some amazing architecture that I remember studying in University were in every corner of the old campus. Seeing the Widener library (Harvard’s most photographed and published building) in the flesh (or in the ‘brick’, I should say) was awesome.

My most favorite building however, had to be the Boston Public library. It is breath taking. Even if you don’t like architecture, you will still be impressed. The building is downtown, and you cant miss it.

Go to Boston in the fall. The weather is perfect for being a tourista.

Here are just a few of the shots we took:

The Boston Skyline

The Boston Skyline

The Boston Westin Copley Place

The Boston Westin Copley Place. Gotta love the Heavenly Beds!

Boston has done a good  (not great) job of mixing urban and commercail

Boston has done a good (not great) job of mixing urban and commercial

The Boston Publc Library at night.  Stunning.

The Boston Publc Library at night. Stunning.

Inside the Boston Public Library.  No cameras allowed.

Inside the Boston Public Library. No cameras allowed.

An alley in old Boston. Something about this shot compelled me to take it...

An alley in old Boston. Something about this shot compelled me to take it...

Old World Lantern and New World Architecture

Old World Lantern and New World Architecture

Boston the Old State House

Boston the Old State House

The Paramount in Beacon Hill. A great, casual spot for breakfast or lunch

The Paramount in Beacon Hill. A great, casual spot for breakfast or lunch

John Hancock's Head Stone. I wonder if mine will be this grand...

John Hancock's Head Stone. I wonder if mine will be this fancy?

Harvard Architecture and Wrought Iron. Are you feeling smarter yet?

Harvard Architecture and Wrought Iron. Are you feeling smarter yet?

The Widener Library

The Widener Library

Boston Beacon Hill Post Office  -  America's First

Boston Beacon Hill Post Office - America's First

The Lyceum Bar and Grill Restaurant. What a lovely receipt.

The Lyceum Bar and Grill Restaurant. What a lovely receipt.

Gibraltar Candies in Salem, MA

Gibraltar Candies in Salem, MA

Boston Sunset. Looking West (does the sun set any other way?)

Boston Sunset. Looking West (does the sun set any other way?)

7

A Beautiful Wedding In Montreal

Last weekend we had the privilege of attending the wedding of some old friends. We combined the visit to Montreal with some vacation time.

Truth be known however, this trip was really about the wedding, despite our best efforts to sneak in some shopping and relaxing.

And what a wedding it was.

Having been to many weddings and receptions, I must admit that this was probably the most beautiful and romantic wedding I can recall having been to.

The night before the wedding we went to the apartment the bride and groom had rented near McGill University.  I love that old architecture with the high ceilings. At this pre-wedding event, we met some totally wonderful people.

Most of the guest list had flown in from western Europe – predominantly Holland, the UK and the Netherlands, since the bride and groom had relocated there many years ago, yet they met in Montreal.

Being Dutch, it was great to reconnect with some of my brethren.  Although I had never met any of these people before, we were quick to become friends and offer open invitations to visit each other in the future.

Montreal has some of the best night life that I have enjoyed.  Crescent street, off St. Catherines has some great pubs, bars and restaurants.

 

Old Montreal is even better.

The night before the wedding some of us went out to a great spot called Santos and enjoyed some killer tunes and great drinks, which is where the above photo was taken.

The wedding took place at Birks Chapel at McGill University.  This was followed by a beautiful outdoor reception at an incredible hotel in old Montreal.

Inside the beautiful Birks Chapel

Inside the beautiful Birks Chapel

Bride and Groom on their way

Bride and Groom on their way

One of the great surprises of this wedding, besides the great people we met, was how the bride and groom celebrated their friendships with each of the guests:

Before arriving, we each had to send a photo of ourselves with significant other, or alone if single. These pictures from the entire guest list were then professionally framed and showcased in classy, clean white frames.

Below each picture, within the framing, were words describing the meaning of the friendship from the bride and groom to each of those people.

Guests were all surprised to see these mounted on two large easels at the reception.  Most couldn’t get away from reading those pictures and really got to know each other and how they fit into the bride and grooms lives.

As a gift to each guest, we were presented with this frame and photo to take home.  I thought it was a terrific, classy and warm touch to an already special day.

The food, the music, the people, the speeches and the setting were all superb.

perfect outdoor setting

perfect outdoor setting

beautiful table setting

beautiful table setting

S and G the Wedding

S and G the Wedding

Fantastic Italian Wines

Fantastic Italian Wines

It all went so fast and was such a positive experience. The next morning those who could make it had brunch at a local eatery in old Montreal, called Eggspectation to say goodbyes.

I hate goodbyes…………………………..

Hong Kong

Hong Kong in July. Hot, humid and fun. Hong Kong is a digital photographers paradise with all the light, textures and rich detail you could ask for. Plus – it’s a great place to buy electronics because they are so inexpensive.

This is a photo and text summary of a recent trip with the top 5 things you’ve got to do if you’re limited for time and want to get the most out of your visit.

I flew on Cathay Pacific out of Vancouver for the compulsory 13 hour flight.  I think I was the only person doing a few push ups and sit ups in the aisle to keep my self limber.

However, the service was awesome with two hot meals, tons of snacks, great movies and decent service.

The only other airline that I’ve found to be better – is Singapore Airlines – which i’ll have to write about in another post.

Anyway, I was there for 5 days on business and loved every minute of it.  Temperatures were usually high 30’s and very humid. 10 minutes outside and this white boy (and everyone else) is soaking wet. The experience was a total culture shock for me.

If you’re used to living in North America, Hong Kong is an assault on the senses (until you get used to it…and then it’s an incredible place).  Here’s my assessment of the city;

  • Drivers are crazy and only seem to use the horn and gas
  • Cars always have the right of way – pedestrians don’t matter
  • Ambulances and Fire Trucks seemed non-existent
  • There wasn’t one car crash I can recall
  • Everybody smokes. Everything smells like smoke. Even non smoking rooms smell like smoke
  • Every baby is a boy.  Even the girls look like boys
  • Everyone is on their cell phone while eating, walking and driving
  • Everyone eats out, all the time
  • Most things are quite reasonable, outside of Hong Kong things are very inexpensive
  • Six foot one, two hundred plus pound white guys like me REALLY stand out
  • People’s homes are the size of my bathroom
  • It’s common practice to wipe your dishes and cutlery before eating
  • It’s WAY more chaotic than New York
  • Yet, the place is surprisingly clean (the subway was the cleanest I’ve ever seen in ANY big city)
  • Bamboo is the scaffolding of choice
  • HK’ers don’t like mainland China money and vice versa
  • The architecture is fantastic

We stayed in Causeway Bay at the Regal Hong Kong Hotel, which was clean and comfortable.  It has a killer restaurant up top with an amazing view and an even better roof top pool (see below).

Here are the top 5 things you’ve got to do if you get to Hong Kong:

  1. Go shopping at night.  The atmosphere is festive and the place comes alive.  Hong Kong is the place to buy anything electronic, watches and jewelery.
  2. Take the Star Ferry accross the bay to Tsim Sha Tsui and go shopping (Rolex store on every corner). When you’re there, take the double decker bus.
  3. Take a quick ride up to Victoria Peak any time of the day and take in the incredible view.
  4. Eat.  Hong Kong had some of the best food I can remember in any city I’ve visited. In Causeway Bay, where we stayed, there is a mall called Times Square which had some amazing restaurants.  Even the best restaurants in HK are resonable.  The street food is also clean and tasty.  Just be sure to go with a local so that you know what to stay away from and what you’re eating.
  5. Use the subway to get around.  It’s incredibly clean, safe and efficient.

Here are some more pics of the visit:

Hong Kong Pedestrian Overpass

Pedestrian Overpass

Hong Kong in a Taxi

Hong Kong in a Taxi

Two hours for what?

Two Hours for What?

Hong Kong Night Shopping

Inside Sasa – Hong Kong’s answer to Sephora.  One on every corner.

Regal Hotel Roof Top Pool

Roof Top Pool at the Regal Hotel.  Awesome views.

Constuction Hong Kong Style

Construction Hong Kong Style. No safety equipment of any kind.

Bamboo Scaffolding

Bamboo Scaffolding.  Cheap, strong, light, quick to put up and take down.

The Star Ferry Company

Boarding the Star Ferry Company

Crossing the bay

Crossing the water. Great sights.  A must do if you go.

Dinner at Wasabsabi

Dinner at Wasabisabi inside the Times Square mall.

Hong Kong Street Scape

Hong Kong at 7:30 in the morning. Things are quiet. Hong Kong is a night life city.