New York City is THE city, it's got its reputation and it's always the one place I'm excited about visiting. Every visit is different and the city is constantly changing, there is so much to do and see!
It's one of those cities that on your first visit can be pretty daunting, so I thought I'd pop together a couple of tips that can help you on your first visit.
Leaving or Departing the City
JFK is normally my airport of choice but there's really not much in it. The easiest way into the city is to jump in a yellow cab, it costs a $45 flat rate, plus tips and tolls. Upon making your way to the taxi line you'll be offered all sorts of bus and limo services, ignore them, it's only the cabs that are properly licenced for this. You can of course also book your own car, I do this for the return back to the airport using Dial 7 who charge a decent rate and use fairly new sedans.
New York has so many hotels, so find one that's close to where you're going to be based. I normally use The London, which is well located on West 54th street, not far from the park and Times Square. It's a lovely new hotel with one of the best concierges in town. It's also home to Gordon Ramsey's restaurant, which is perfect for that dinner on expenses... But if you're paying yourself, go at lunch time, same food, half the price. Yum yum.
You could write a book on the places to eat in New York… in fact, hundreds of books are already out there, but for my money the top places for a business lunch or dinner are: Gordon Ramsey at The London, The River Café in Brooklyn, Prune for Brunch in The East Village and The Spotted Pig in the West Village. The Spotted Pig is probably the best Gastro Pub in New York, and a perfect places for fans of meat! The River Café has a simple but beautiful menu and offers incredible views over the river to downtown NYC… ask for a window table. Gordon Ramsey I've mentioned above and Prune is a delightful little local place that does THE best brunch in the city in my view... Complete with a huge menu of Bloody Marys. Get there early though or be prepared to wait an hour or so. Just down the road from Prune is Katz Deli which is always rammed and a classic NY food experience - give it a go.
If you're not too busy then why not pick up a jogging map from your hotel concierge and take a run round the park to stay in shape. I also love going to the Top Of The Rock at the Rockefeller Building, giving you stunning views of the city and especially usefully in getting to know it in your head if you’re a first time visitor. You can see where everything is and get a rough idea of distances. 5th Avenue is probably your best place for shopping with plenty of places to visit, including the maddening Abercrombie and Fitch which will give you a headache. But you can get your stuff much cheaper from there than in the UK. Department store-wise I find Bloomingdales always serves me best. Don't forget to go shopping in the village as well, Spring Street has some classic locations where you can find the most random of things. If you get a chance to see a Broadway show, rock up to the TKTS half price booth in Times Square and get into a show on the cheap. Spring Awakening seems to be one of the best shows on at the moment. And if you're there on a Friday you can pop into many of the big museums for free, MoMA being a great one to kill a few hours in.
The best thing about New York is that there is always something new, and it's the one place I've never got bored in despite many trips. So make the most of it.
The new place for doing business is the Bandra Kurla Complex; the Grand Hyatt is five minutes away and is very good, with an Italian restaurant that serves excellent pizza. The area’s a bit grungy but the hotel has its own ten-acre plot and once inside it has everything you’d want – including faxes in the rooms and Wi-Fi.
There’s a restaurant called Indigo Colaba, which is just adjacent to the business district of Nairman Point, and it serves very good European food with pan-Asian influences and has a lovely ambience. It’s very popular, so get your hotel to book you a table.
For the best, fresh Indian food, try Mahesh Lunch Home on the Juhu Road. You can choose your own (huge) live crab and have it cooked in whatever way you like. All their fresh fish is fantastic. It's also very reasonably priced. You'll find it 100-200 yards from the JW Marriott, Juhu as you turn left out of the hotel.
Juhu Road, Juhu, Mumbai
Great food (lentil soup is amazing!) and incredibly friendly staff. Ask to meet Nemo, the owner - he can also arrange all your trips for you and if you need any shopping done, he's your man! A visit to Luxor without a visit to Smileys simply wouldn't be right!
Passport Street, Opposite Nile Palace Hotel
A great place to sample typical Catalan pastries, chocolates and take a coffee. The window display is an attention grabber and the bunyols, coca and croissants live up to their appetising appearance. The young manager is a friendly chap happy to serve in English.
On La Rambla de Catalunya
If you want to see a quiet and impressive part of the Great Wall, take a taxi to Simuatai (about two hours). Once you entered the Wall area, just before you about to climb on to the wall, walk through the wall and carry on the track for about 300 metres - you will come to the Dongpo Restaurant. It looks from the outside more like a shed but the owner is lovely and the Chinese food fantastic. An English menu is available, the owner will try her best to improve her English while talking to you.
It's a buffet restaurant, with gourmet food, considered one of the best restaurants in Rio. I recommend it because the food is great! It's sophisticated and has a good price.
Rua General Urquiza, 104 - Leblon
(55) (21) 2540-6486
It's a restaurant in Rio, where you can order good native food from northern Brazil and eat looking at Rodrigo de Freitas's Lagoon. I recommend it because there you can feel closer to nature and have a fantastic view while you are eating. Pai d'égua e arrombado was one of the plates I ate! Delicious!
Avenida Epitácio Pessoa, S/N Qiosque 20 - Parque do Cantagalo - Lagoa
(55) (21) 2227-0837
Located in trendy Gazi among lively clubs, Sardelles has fresh Greek seafood at affordable prices. There’s a selection of decent salads and fish dishes, including delicious grilled sardines which are a bit of a specialty and where the restaurant gets its name. Tables on the pavement make it a pleasant al-fresco spot in summer.
Persefonis 15, Gazi
Situated in Colares Velho, overlooking the church square and bandstand is a beautifully restored 18th century grocery store converted into a restaurant and tea room (Salão de chá).
A great place for a romantic dinner. We had a wonderful meal, the staff were so friendly and with Fredo playing the guitar, what more could you ask for?
This agritourism (organic farm) is convenient for the Villa del Casale mosaics and other sites. The dinner is fantastic, mainly beautiful fresh produce off the farm. We stayed three nights and had antipasti misto, pasta then a meat dish and salad, followed by dessert and fruit, plus wine. The cooking is extremely high quality. Breakfast included fresh figs straight off the tree. The drawback is that the beautiful swimming pool is open to the local teenagers in the afternoons and there's loud pop/disco music until six! Dinner (including wine) bed and breakfast cost 55 Euros each.
Just outside Piazza Armerina on the road to Caltigirone
Lovely restaurant in the town square, overlooked by the Norman cathedral. Had a breeze in July so very pleasant. Helpful and charming service, very good food with the wide range of dishes available using the day's catch explained as you choose your fish from the cabinet and it is weighed (and priced) on the spot.
Cefalu historic centre
In the Old Town, this little café is friendly and cheaper than most places in the area. The coffee is decent and there’s a little cult bookshop downstairs along with free wi-fi for all which is a real bonus for travellers with laptops as using the internet can be a pricey experience in Stockholm.
Stora Nygatan 35
Youthful crowds of artists and designers have made this neighborhood in the southern inner city of Stockholm into a trendy destination. Actually called Sodermalm but nicknamed SoFo (inspiration from London’s notorious Soho?), it’s a bohemian mecca that’s home to numerous individual shops and tiny cafés and restaurants, all with a fun, lively atmosphere. Take a stroll around its squares or enjoy a picnic in the park at Nytorget, right in the center of SoFo.
Nearest metro station is Medborgarplatsen (Green Line)
The oldest cake shop in Copenhagen, this is where to head for an amazing sweet treat. The cakes taste as good as they look and the old-fashioned décor and atmosphere of this little patisserie make it worth splashing out (although at about £5 a cake it’s not exactly extortionate).
I can recommend the ‘H.C. Anderson’, named after the famous author, which is a delicious mix of raspberry, lemon, nut and white chocolate.
Skoubogade 3-5, Copenhagen
A great tapas restaurant in the very heart of old Cordoba, in the Jewish district. It was so good we went twice while we visited this amazing city. The kids loved tasting all those different dishes and the people were so friendly.
Calle Romero 1, Córdoba
The hotel Laura in Madrid is a great place for families in the very centre of this wonderful city. Modern and comfortable design, friendly staff and affordable. It's just a B&B so you have to explore the city for food. Go to the Latina district for tapas and avoid the Plaza Mayor for overpriced and badly cooked food.
Don't join the long line of people waiting to get in the Prado. If you are with your kids go to the Reina Sofia instead and see some marvellous contemporary and modern art paintings like Picasso's 'Guernica'.
After, go to the café/restaurant for some great food and of course a bottle of wine from the Ribera Del Duero region, superb.
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