Setting up a life in Australia

Well, here we are again, back in Australia mate. This was definitely not something we considered when we were shipping all of our stuff back to Ireland. We had expected to set up a little closer to home after our stint in South America but alas Australia called…again. It’s definitely easier the second time around but I thought I’d note a few things in case our experiences could help anybody else out there 🙂

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Bank Account

This is obviously one of the first things you’ll need here. We actually set up an account before we even left Ireland back in 2011. The process was simple. There are a few big hitters in terms of banks in Australia and we went with National Australia Bank/NAB, mainly because they offer fee-free banking. We didn’t need a Sydney address to get our cards either. Really helpful. The other main banks here are Commonwealth Bank of Australia/CommBank/CBA and Westpac.

Finding a Home

Sydney is known as the City of Villages and picking a place to live is exceptionally difficult! I came across this City Hobo site, which has an (awesome!) index of all of Sydney’s ‘burbs, and includes an ‘if this suburb was a shoe it would be…’ section. Hilarious…and bloody true! Paddington = Jimmy Choo; Newtown = Converse/Campers; Woolloomooloo (just wanted to type that to be honest) = Puma.

Honestly, finding somewhere to live was an absolute nightmare first time around. We went to loads of estate agencies and it’s seriously like they can’t get you out of their offices fast enough. It’s quite a stressful experience coming to a new country and staying in a hostel waiting to find your ‘home’; they definitely don’t make it easy for you… We actually ended up in our first apartment in Sydney by accident. We went to see an apartment and saw a sign outside the building advertising another open viewing so we went along and ended up being the only people viewing it. Obviously the agency had done just put the sign up outside and hadn’t done a thing online! Thankfully though…one week later it was ours. So we didn’t move until we left Sydney 3 years later… This time around things couldn’t have worked out better. I spotted a place on Domain (a pretty good site but it’s very easy to get sidetracked and start looking at million dollar listings) on a Tuesday, we went to the open-house on Wednesday, applied on Thursday about 1.30pm and got it about 4.30pm – unbelievable! The word delighted doesn’t even come close. We move in this Saturday – soooooo excited 🙂 RealEstate is another great website for finding accommodation. If you’re looking for a share-house then gumtree is the way to go.

Finding a Job

Before looking for a job you’ll need to apply for a Tax File Number/TFN…otherwise you’ll pay waaay higher tax than necessary. Seek is probably the most used job search engine – they also have a pretty useful app. LinkedIn is excellent if you’re looking for a professional role. Indeed and ApplyDirect are also worth checking out. Recruitment agencies definitely have Sydney employers tied up in a bow here – many roles honestly don’t even get openly advertised (I work in HR so I know this is true!) so it’s absolutely worth signing up with agencies. Generally, I find that specialised agencies are better to deal with as they know the roles and businesses they’re dealing with inside out so they’re more likely to do more for you…It’s also important to find a recruiter that you’re comfortable with – they’re working for you as well as the employer.

Some recruitment agencies I’ve had experience with in Sydney are:

General – Chandler Macleod, people2people, Hays, Robert WaltersMichael Page

Administration – OfficeTeam

Construction – Constructive Recruitment

Human Resources/Learning & Development – Tandem Partners, The Next Step

Financial Services – Robert Half

Next: You gotta get out there and do things! Time Out Sydney and What’s On Sydney are pretty good for diary dates 🙂

Bordeaux, France

We stayed in a lovely apartment we rented on Airbnb about a 15 minute stroll from the centre of the city. Airbnb really is awesome – you definitely feel like you’re living in the place you’re visiting. We had 2 days here and honestly one of them was pretty much dedicated to perusing the ol’ shops. The streets of Bordeaux are perfect for ambling around, stalling for a vino and photographing doors…haha I can’t stop taking pictures of doors and windows. They’re just so bloody awesome sometimes!

Chateau en route to Bordeaux

Chateau en route to Bordeaux

Our street

Our street

One of the most beautiful places we saw in Bordeaux was the St. André Cathedral at night. It has been here since 1096 (yep! ok, only one wall is around since then, the rest since the 13th and 14th centuries) and is an absolutely stunning building (currently undergoing some renovations). It’s absolutely worth strolling in here – it’s a behemoth of a building and the internal architecture is amazing. The 66 metre high Pey Berland Tower adjacent to the cathedral is a tourist attraction all on its own; you can climb 200-odd steps to get a view over the city. Randomly, the tower was home to residences and a lead factory prior to getting its bells. It was built separate from the cathedral so the (eventual!) bell vibrations wouldn’t damage the cathedral. Just next door is the beautiful Hôtel de Ville or Town Hall.

There seems to be a hell of a lot of places to eat in Bordeaux – plenty of cafés with outdoor seating for people-watching. We stopped in at a few cafés but none of major noteworthiness – we did have cocktails one evening in Cafe Brun, a pretty cool music bar on Rue Saint-Rémi. The main shopping street here is Rue Sainte-Catherine. Bring your flats – it’s suuuper long. There are plenty of high street stores here;  Galeries Lafayette is pretty large, Sephora is here (yay!), Mango, 7000 or so shoe stores, Zara, H&M etc. etc. – it’s not a bad weekend shopping destination.

One place I couldn’t find in Bordeaux was Ladurée. Can’t a girl get a damn macaron?

St. Ándre Cathedral

St. Ándre Cathedral

Little sculpture outside the Cathedral

Little sculpture outside the Cathedral

By moonlight

By moonlight

Hôtel de Ville

Hôtel de Ville

There are lots of little windy streets in Bordeaux and a wealth of architectural surprises at every corner. The French know how to pretty concrete up you know! The 18th century Place de la Bourse is probably Bordeaux’s most beautiful spot. Designed by Jacques Gabriel and his son, Ange-Jacques for King Louis XV and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s a glorious square with a stunning water mirror across the street which reflects the image of the building…not that we got a picture of that. Pat on the back for that one…

Place de la Bourse

Place de la Bourse

Fountain of the Three Graces

Fountain of the Three Graces

Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux

Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux

Bordeaux's adorable carousel

Bordeaux’s adorable carousel

Honestly, such a random sculpture - it's completely flat

Honestly, such a random sculpture – it’s completely flat

Oh the loveliness!

Oh the loveliness!

You're coming with me!

You’re coming with me!

Typical Bordeaux buildings

Typical Bordeaux buildings

Street scene

Street scene

Pretty details everywhere

Pretty details everywhere

Just delightful

Just delightful

Lovely streets

Lovely streets

Cocktail hour?!

Cocktail hour?!

Little glimpses :-)

Little glimpses 🙂

Colour in the city

Colour in the city

Rustic :-)

Rustic 🙂

 Porte Dijeaux - the gate in to the heart of the city

Porte Dijeaux – the gate in to the heart of the city

Since when?!

Since when?!

The coolest cinema in the world?

The coolest cinema in the world?

John carrying Mum's shopping :-)

John carrying Mum’s shopping 🙂

Local life

Local life

Eglise Saint-Pierre

Eglise Saint-Pierre

Too true lads

Too true lads

 

Dordogne Region, France

We (along with my lovely Mum) just took a little trip to the Dordogne region in South West France to have a look at a place for our wedding…in 2 years. Oh so organised I know but since we’re moving back to Australia we need to get these things in motion. Yay! Anyhoo, I won’t mention the place as it’s not set in stone just yet but here’s a little looksie at the surrounding areas – Poitiers, La Tour Blanche, Verteillac, Brantôme, Excideuil, Ribérac and Saint Émilion. Phew!

imageFields and fields! 🌻🌻🌻

Fields and fields! 🌻🌻🌻

We flew in to and out of Poitiers…which I believe is just a Ryanair airport – pretty small with absolutely nothing to do…except rent a car – which we did – a teensy little Toyota Yaris but it was perfect for buzzing around the countryside. I felt just like Russell Crowe in ‘A Good Year’ AKA Best Film Ever (although that was filmed in the Luberon region down near Avignon). We did take a quick tour of Poitiers in the rain – their cathedral is an absolute work of art. Stunning. We did visit on a Sunday and every single place was closed. Mainland Europe still does it’s own thing on a Sunday 🙂

City Hall in Poitiers...on an exceptionally grey day

City Hall in Poitiers…on an exceptionally grey day

Checking out Cathédrale Saint-Pierre

Checking out Cathédrale Saint-Pierre

From the front

From the front

La Tour Blanche

We used the little hamlet of La Tour Blanche as our base for exploring a few villages in the Dordogne region and stayed at Le Patio Chambres d’Hôtes – honestly the nicest B&B I’ve ever come across. It’s run by the friendliest couple from Scotland who provide the most amazing breakfast. God and the bathrooms are the size of studio apartments! There’s little to do around here except hop in your car and explore the surrounding sunflower fields. Um, yes please!

Verteillac

We came to this little village and its restaurant Le Perigord Vert for dinner 2 nights in a row. The menu is pretty much choc-a-block with a duck and even though we were 3 non-duck eaters we were looked after. They happened to have a night food market on our second evening so the whole village was buzzing – it’s so nice to come to place which is so neighbourly!

That would be some sunset to watch from the top of the church

That would be some sunset to watch from the top of the church

Lost in conversation with Mum outside the restaurant

Lost in conversation with Mum outside the restaurant

Preparations for Verteillac's Night Market

Preparations for Verteillac’s Night Market

Just like little hearts - adorable!

Just like little hearts – adorable!

Brantôme

The medieval town of Brantôme was about half an hour from our B&B so we took a little wander around here one afternoon. It’s just so beautiful. It’s situated on the River Dronne and you can rent a canoe or a little boat and take in the sun. Brantôme has been likened to Venice but I’m not entirely sure about that one… Brantôme’s Abbey is probably the epicentre of all things tourist and you couldn’t miss it towering over the river. Just across the street, Le Moulin de l’Abbaye, is a hotel on the site of an old mill which sits right on the river. It’s definitely going on the ‘have to stay here’ list. There wasn’t much happening around the town on our visit, it was oddly quiet actually – but Friday is market day so I think on our next trip I’d like to get that in.

Walking into Brantôme

Walking into Brantôme

The prettiness!!

The prettiness!!

Brantôme's streets

Brantôme’s streets

Brantôme's Abbey

Brantôme’s Abbey

Inside the Abbey grounds

Inside the Abbey grounds

Pedestrian bridge and the Abbey

Pedestrian bridge and the Abbey

Perfectly manicured town

Perfectly manicured town

Wouldn't say no to this hotel

Wouldn’t say no to this hotel

Perfect hotel location

Perfect location

Don't know what my act should be...

Don’t know what my act should be…

Excideuil

We visited Excideuil on a Thursday and just missed their market – which seems to be totally over by about 1pm. God damn it! None of us are early-risers by choice but I think that needs to change 😦 We had some food at Kitsch Kafé, a really cute English-run café with seating on the sunny street and a cool courtyard too.

Some homes in Verteillac

Some homes in Excideuil

Just gorgeous

Just gorgeous

Up close! 🌸🌹🌺🌻🌼🌷

Up close! 🌸🌹🌺🌻🌼🌷

Ribérac

On the drive down to Bordeaux we took in Ribérac on a recommendation from our B&B hosts since Friday was market day. Thank Jesus. Needed a market fix. This was a typical French market brimming with flowers, local honey, awesome straw baskets and bags, hats, teas, cheese, breads and obviously the quintessential French fare that is escargot. I wouldn’t say it’s the prettiest of towns but the market is a saving grace – definitely worth a stop off for a potter around.

Riberac's market

Riberac’s market

Tea all round

Tea all round

That's some POTENT bee pollen

That’s some POTENT bee pollen

Saint Émilion

Well this place was an absolute find! The sunflower and corn fields on the drive from the Dordogne give way to rows and rows of beautiful vines and chateaux en route to Bordeaux (which I’ll write about in the next post). The town itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and sits on a hilltop which allows for the most beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. Mum went a little crazy in a handmade soap shop so we definitely won’t be running out of soap ANY TIME soon. There are plenty of wine stores here with lots of different offers making this a great place to stock up 🙂 The Hostellerie De Plaisance looks like it would be an amazing place to stay right in the centre of town, just next to the hill-top monolithic church. Saint Émilion is only about a 30 minute drive from Bordeaux.

Wine hugging. All the rage.

Wine hugging. All the rage

Vines and the village

Vines and the village

La Tour de Roy

La Tour de Roy

A hilly spot

A hilly spot

Sometimes older is better

Sometimes older is better

Poser

Poser!

St. Emilion from above

St. Emilion from above

Walls around the town

Walls around the town

Up close of the Tour de Roy

Up close of the Tour de Roy

How nice would it be to come home to this?

How nice would it be to come home to this?

Ivy clad everything

Ivy clad everything

Step 1 to owning your own vineyard 🍷🍷

Step 1 to owning your own vineyard 🍷🍷

Touristy bits and bobs

Touristy bits and bobs

St. Emilion's monolithic church

St. Emilion’s monolithic church

Hello lovely garden

Hello lovely garden

St. Emilion from another angle

St. Emilion from another angle

 

Ooh a secret garden!!

Ooh a secret garden!!

Oh the beauty

Oh the beauty!

London, England

Walk London Tube Map from Ary & Joe

Walk London Tube Map from Ary & Joe

So we had a grand plan to move to London but since fate sometimes has other plans we’re actually heading back to the balmy Aussie climate and Sydney. Yay! We did however, manage to do a little touristing about in London so I guess that’s worth a post!

One of the nicest walks we took in London was down along Southbank to Tower Bridge. We happened upon the Southbank Centre Market next to the Royal Festival Hall (Waterloo underground stop) just in time for lunch one afternoon. Handy! There are so many places to eat around here and plenty to see so it’s the perfect place to while away an afternoon. There was a really cool book market on this walk and you pass by the Tate Modern too. We happened upon Borough Market (London Bridge underground) around here and must have revisited 3 or 4 more times in a number of days. Worth it! The sweet potato fries from Scotchtails were delicious and John’s coffee fix was had at the awesome Monmouth Coffee (the original is on Monmouth Street in Covent Garden) – queues out on to the street but worth the wait. Since we’re on coffee – in a world a million miles away but still on the tube was Brickwood (just across from Clapham Common) which has some seriously tasty banana and walnut bread with espresso butter (who knew?). Anyhoo…back to Borough Market and let’s just say some chocolate was had at Rabot 1745. Awesomes! The Shard is around this area and that’s one building definitely worth checking out.

Southbank Centre Market

Southbank Centre Market

The coolest book market

The coolest book market

Reminder

Reminder

Borough Market with the Shard in the background

Borough Market with the Shard in the background

London baby!

London baby!

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

Reminder

Reminder

Notting Hill and Portobello Road are definite must visits in London. We unfortunately didn’t make Portobello Road for the infamous Saturday market so I guess I’ll just have to sit and watch Notting Hill again. We stopped off for some Pimm’s on a Sunday afternoon instead. Tough life!

So yes, I would live here!!

So yes, I would live here!!

Shopping in London

I’d probably say that my favourite shop to visit in London is Harrods (Knightsbridge tube) and that’s honestly fully because of the Food Hall. First stop Harrods, next stop Hyde Park to enjoy the food haul. We came across Park Close, a cute little alleyway to get you across to Hyde Park and you’ll pass by the trés cool Bvlgari Hotel on the way. Nice! Since we’re on food I’d have to say that Fortnum and Mason (Piccadilly Circus or Green Park tube) AKA mecca for tea and coffee lovers comes a close second. Amazeballs. They sell overpriced everything but it’s worth meandering here anyway. Their hampers are absolutely beautiful and they’ve a great range of tea and biscuits too. Selfridges (Bond Street tube) needs a mention. I’m currently obsessed with the Mr. Selfridge show so it was pretty cool to wander around this store. It has everything. Everything. Topshop (Oxford Circus stop) is probably worth a visit since it’s so gigantic and Liberty a short walk from here is housed in the coolest building in London. Forget Buckingham Place/may as well be an office building. Liberty is where it’s at. Just around the corner from Liberty is Regent Street – probably my favourite street for shopping in London. All the shops you could need are lining up for you on Regent Street. There’s a lovely Anthropologie which is really good for gifts and homeware. This is also where Hamley’s Toy Store is; enter at your peril… We were wandering around SoHo feeling hungry one evening and came across a place called Spuntino – I guess you could call it a bar/diner hybrid that sells some full sized meals and tapas. Pretty damn good tapas at that. And the staff were very friendly.

Hello Harrods!

Hello Harrods!

Goodies from Harrods

Goodies from Harrods

Selfridges

Selfridges

A whole block!

Selfridges – a whole block!

Loving Liberty

Loving Liberty

In all its glory

In all its glory

Regent Street

Regent Street

The Ritz, by Green Park tube stop

The Ritz, by Green Park tube stop

The Covent Garden area seems to be where every single tourist congregates in London. It’s mayhem, particularly around the Covent Garden Market. Maybe because Shake Shack is here?!! Oh and Ladurée is too – they actually want £5.40 for ONE macaron. Eh, WHAT NOW?!! They’re nowhere near that price in Sydney and that’s a damn long way from France. Just across from the market lies St. Paul’s Church with the most peaceful garden in the middle of the city. Such a nice place to chill out in the sunshine. Neal’s Yard is also around here and of course Neal’s Yard Remedies, the natural beauty/apothecary emporium.

I took in the National Gallery, just off Trafalgar Square one morning (free entry) and got to see some Van Gogh and my favourite, Monet. So lovely. It started to get unbelievably busy about 11.30am so I definitely suggest getting here as early as possible. Although everybody seems to hang around the Van Goghs and Monets anyway! The National Portrait Gallery is just behind here and they’ve an Audrey Hepburn exhibition until 18th October. Tickets were all sold out for the time we were there, sadly 😦 You can easily walk from the National Gallery down to see Big Ben and Westminster.

Covent Garden

Covent Garden

Entering the market

Entering the market

Inside the market

Inside the market

Old school shop

Old school shop

The garden in St. Paul's, Covent Garden

The garden in St. Paul’s, Covent Garden

Locating Neal's Yard

Locating Neal’s Yard

Neal's Yard Remedies

Neal’s Yard Remedies

Van Gogh's Sunflowers

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

Monet's Japanese Bridge

Monet’s Japanese Bridge

Westminster and Big Ben

Westminster and Big Ben

The London Eye

The London Eye

Camden

We took a little trip to Camden Market and obvs it rained and rained. Not that that has ever stopped an Irish person in the history of ever. Honestly, we went to Camden because I wanted an açai bowl from Samba Swirl. I’ve been researching açai bowls outside of Brazil since we went there and I haven’t been able to find one that didn’t taste like bananas or water. Unfortunately this one didn’t live up to Brazilian standards either. God damn it!! It’s a problem of an obsession 🙂 Camden Market is ridiculously busy at the weekends so we also went during the week and had a lovely potter around. The surrounding area is really cool too; lots of pretty houses, small cafés and awesome graffiti. Ooh and a Whole Foods. Awesome.

Getting to Camden Market

Getting to Camden Market

Camden Lock

Camden Lock

That famous entrance

That famous entrance

Game Plan

Game Plan

Within the Market

Within the Market

Obviously had to get this pic :-)

Obviously had to get this pic 🙂

Fair enough

Fair enough

Horsing around

Horsing around

Colourful streets around Camden

Colourful streets around Camden

It's Emily!

It’s Emily!

Nothing to see here

Nothing to see here

Artland Road

Artland Road

Day dreaming

Day dreaming

New York…below Central Park

Ok, I know I went on about some of this stuff in another NYC post but that was like a year ago and some of it is STILL worth going on and on and on about!! So this is basically a post detailing our favourite haunts in New York and pretty much covers everything south of Central Park! In true us-ness (got to be a word, right?) this one’s mostly food. A girl’s gotta eat.

Firstly though, on a non-foodie note we went to see On the Town on Broadway. Some pretty cool songs but Jesus it was a long show. At least John didn’t fall asleep…unlike our trip to San Francisco’s Christmas Nutcracker performance. Nope, he shall never live that down. Pup.

Times Square

Times Square

Times Square

Times Square at night

Helping you find your way

Helping you find your way

Broadway, baby!

Broadway, baby!

Pretty sunsets

Pretty sunsets

Chelsea/Meatpacking/SoHo/Little Italy

The Chelsea Market takes up an entire block of the Meatpacking District. There’s a really good Anthropologie store and a sister Artists & Fleas Market to the one in Brooklyn; there’s a lot of lovely delicate jewellery on sale here. Visiting the Chelsea Market is all about eating though. The Lobster Place is my favourite spot in the entire market. Crab clubs, lobster rolls, even whole steamed lobsters to chow down on – yes, please! It’s always packed full of people and always awesome. Lucy’s Whey has really tasty cheese toasties and lovely, friendly staff. Buon Italia has got lots of food options from Italy at really good prices. More so foodstuff for cooking yourself though so it’s really only good if you’re in an Airbnb. Chelsea Market Baskets sells artisan food, gifts and eh, baskets. A good perusing spot. Away from food again and Posman Books have a fantastic selection of New York themed books, cookbooks and beautiful cards too. I could spend HOURS in here! Once you eventually decide on a place to eat within the Market you could hop up to the High Line (if you visit New York and you don’t walk the elevated park that is the High Line then you’re missing out) and find a bench between the trees or overlooking the street to devour your haul but if you don’t fancy total strangers staring your food down then I suggest crossing the street to the 14th Street Park for your very own table for 2.

Chelsea Market entrance

Chelsea Market entrance

The prettiness!!

The prettiness!!

Up on the High Line

Up on the High Line

Empire State from the High Line

Empire State from the High Line

Street Art from the High Line

Street Art from the High Line

14th Street Park - free wifi!!

14th Street Park – free wifi!!

One of my favourite cafes in New York is Maman. It’s right across the road from the beautiful old Police Building (which is now a seriously luxurious apartment block – we’re talking Net-a-Porter delivery vans constantly arriving at the door). I just cannot explain the deliciousness of the hot chocolate at Maman, the prettiness of their coffee cups or the awesomeness of their bathroom. They’ve a lavender hot chocolate too. They can do no wrong. No wrong. They just opened in Toronto too.

Since our visit to Brazil I’ve developed a bit of an addiction to açai bowls. I’ve tried to recreate them with the frozen pulp from Whole Foods (crap) and the açai powder. My skill level isn’t there yet either. Liquiteria does them but they just taste like bananas and although they’ll make them without bananas they’re just not right. Whatevs! Two Hands does their own version; super pretty but again very banana-y. Damn it people!

Maman

Maman

Aw, they're a friendly bunch

Aw, they’re a friendly bunch at Maman

Old Police Building

Old Police Building – fantabulous apartments these days

Around the Police Building

Around the Police Building

Liquiteria's açai

Liquiteria’s açai

Two Hands

Two Hands

Gansevoort Market is a cool, industrial style market in the Meatpacking District, which is easily accessible from the southern end of the High Line. We had awesome pizza from Luzzo’s here. It’s not a huge market but there is plenty of choice so it’s definitely worth a look. Another market similar to this is Gotham West up in Hell’s Kitchen (near Times Square). It’s a down-with-the-cool-kids sort of spot. They have a Blue Bottle Coffee Bar; we’re talking coffee for serious coffee lovers. They even have their own book. Oooh, very fancy!! There’s also a Blue Bottle across from the Chelsea Market. Since we’re on coffee I guess I should mention Joe Coffee (various locations), which, according to the coffee connoisseur that is John has the best coffee in New York. So there you go!

Gansevoort Market

Gansevoort Market

Gansevoort Market

Across from Gansevoort Market

Up close

Up close

Back to NoLita and the Little Cupcake Bakeshop still reigns supreme as one of the cutest bakeries on the planet. Just look at it. Black and white tiles inside with red velvet and coconut cloud goodies. Adorable.

Little Cupcake Bakeshop

Little Cupcake Bakeshop

Harney & Sons Tea Blenders in SoHo. Oh the Paris tea. I don’t even need to say more.

The BEST street to wander in New York is Bleecker. It’s full of great boutiques (hello MAJE), a lot of beauty stores (MAC, Fresh! and Marc Jacobs Beauty) and lovely eateries such as the Magnolia Bakery (yes, that of Sex and the City fame). Need I say more? Get them and pop up to Washington Square Park to people watch. Perfection! Across the street from the Magnolia Bakery is Bookmarc NY, a small bookstore by Marc Jacobs. It’s small enough and sells mostly fashion books but they also have cute gifts and book bags. If you’re down around this area then you shouldn’t miss a trip to 64 Perry Street AKA Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment. Molly’s Cupcakes way down Bleecker street is a cute little spot to grab a hot chocolate and some sweeties. They have indoor swings! Right next to Molly’s is Winston Churchill Square – a cherry blossom filled haven in the city! Just across the street from here is the Porto Rico Importing Co. which is, it seems, a mecca for coffee and tea lovers. It’s been around since 1907 and is just a lovely store to wander around. Back up near Washington Square Park is probably one of the coolest old school pharmacies in the world – C.O. Bigelow is just special.

In Winston Churchill Square

In Winston Churchill Square

Porto Rico Importing Co.

Porto Rico Importing Co.

Flatiron District

Eataly in the Flatiron district is perfection. Their meat and cheese plates with a glass of vino or a craft beer makes for a splendid evening 🙂 A stroll in Madison Square Park after a feed here and you’re sorted. The Lego store is right next door and it has the most amazing creations of New York scenes. Some people have talent. Toby’s Estate coffee in the Club Monaco flagship store around here is pretty good for a coffee to go. There’s a well curated Strand Bookstore within Club Monaco too. The destination with a destination in a destination!! The main Strand Bookstore is at 12th Street and Broadway – if you’re in to books then it’s absolutely worth a visit here. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese Shop does an amazing cheese and fig toastie. DEFINITELY worth some pennies!

A 'flat' side of the Flatiron!

A ‘flat’ side of the Flatiron!

The Flatiron's behind that!

The Flatiron’s behind that!

Lego creations

Lego creations

A glimpse inside Eataly

A glimpse inside Eataly

The Strand within Club Monaco

The Strand within Club Monaco

Greenwich Village

We were very well advised by our Airbnb hosts that Mamoun’s is THE spot to come for falafels. It’s tiny and the decor looks decades old but that just adds to the experience. It’s right next to the lovely Café Reggio which incidentally houses the coolest coffee machine on the planet. Oh and they served the first cappucino in the US. No biggie. Tea & Sympathy is a great (albeit teensy!) spot for British style afternoon tea, it’s actually run by Brits so you can’t go wrong with the scones here. They’ve got a store next door selling British goodies too.

East Village

We hadn’t spent any time in the East Village on previous trips to New York to be honest but we were keen to try out Jennifer’s Way – the cutest little bakery specialising in gluten-free goodies. Actor Jennifer Esposito owns it. HA and OWNS IT, go Jennifer!! You could pick up some goodies and enjoy them in Tompkins Square Park, just down the street. This park was a great find for us – there was a market around the edges, some cool music and lots of beautiful flowers. A little oasis in the city. Ninth Street Espresso is a block away from the park and although it has a few outpost  John liked this one best. A very chilled out spot to grab a coffee. Since we’re on food…the Clinton Street Baking Company. Sweet Jesus, just go there for brunch.

Jennifer's Way

Jennifer’s Way

East Village residents

East Village residents

Keeping the East Village nice and cosy

Keeping the East Village nice and cosy

Battery Park

Battery Park, waaay down the southern tip of Manhattan (Bowling Green subway stop) is a lovely place for a walk, it’s also where you get the free ferry to Staten Island or have a stare at the Statue of Liberty. You could walk from here up to the 9/11 memorial and the World Trade Center. We happened upon the Irish Hunger Memorial around here, it’s uncanny how like Ireland they managed to get a spot in the middle of Manhattan. I’d continue up to TriBeCa to the adorable Tiny’s bar then.

Freedom Tower

Freedom Tower

Irish Famine Stone

Irish Famine Stone

John's home county

John’s home county

Ireland's most important county

Ireland’s most important county

Staten Island Ferry

Staten Island Ferry

image image

Tiny's

Tiny’s

Here’s all of our favourite New York spots!

Central Park, New York

Central Park has to be one of the nicest places to mooch around in New York. We spent quite a few afternoons stocking up on chocolate pretzels in Zabar’s (check out the Upper West Side post) and sitting in the shade of a tree watching baseball games and chatting. Bliss. Honestly, the people watching is beyond awesome. My favourite sport 🙂

In all its glory

In all its glory

Good mood tunes!

Good mood tunes!

A Central Park sky

A Central Park sky

Working your way through Central Park

We walked from the top (up near Harlem) down through the park (ending up by the Plaza Hotel and 5th Avenue) in a couple of hours one afternoon. We spent some time up by the Harlem Meer, a man-made lake way up north (Central Park North subway stop) where you can catch-and-release fish or chill out by the beautiful weeping willows. It’s definitely more serene than the lower half of Central Park. It’s almost like a ‘Locals Only Club’. The Conservatory Garden (created in 1898) is also up here (around E 106th street), which is supposed to be stunning in full bloom (case in point in this picture) but unfortunately there was zilch going on during our visit. Sucks to be us eh?!

Harlem Meer

Harlem Meer

Conservatory Garden

Conservatory Garden

If you keep strolling down through the park you’ll eventually come across the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (86th street), a behemoth of a watering hole. Jackie O used to jog around here and it was one of the last places she was seen alive before her death in 1994 so it’s really nice that the city honoured her with the name. The whole city jogs around the 2.5km track around the reservoir. Don’t make the mistake of walking the wrong way though – you’ll actually get run in to. Just after the reservoir lies the Arthur Ross Pinetum, emmm…an area filled with pine trees for you to enjoy!

A touch windy here...

A touch windy here…

I guess the next piece of Central Park you might recognise on your walk would be the Great Lawn, which is in fact, a 55 acre pretty great lawn. There’s so much to see around this area – it’s easily my favourite part of the park. On the east side of the Great Lawn lies the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Roof Garden Café and Martini Bar here has stunning views of the park and skyline. On the west side of the Great Lawn is the American Museum of Natural History (also see the Upper West Side post). On the corner right next to the Museum is the beautiful Beresford apartment building where Jerry Seinfeld and Diana Ross live/used to live. Just after the Great Lawn you’ll find the Delacorte Theater where they show Shakespeare in the Park FOR FREE every summer. How nice! Next there’s Belvedere Castle (79th street) built in 1869, an oh so adorable folly which has been in shed loads of movies. Get your Rapunzel on here 🙂 There are absolutely amazing views of the Great Lawn and Turtle Pond just below from the balconies at Belvedere Castle. The Shakespeare Garden is just under the castle, filled with flowers and plants good old William mentioned in his works. It’s adorable.

View from the Met

View from the Met

Turtle Pond and Belvedere Castle

Turtle Pond and Belvedere Castle

Belvedere Castle

Belvedere Castle

Some oh so interesting facts. But actually interesting.

Some oh so interesting facts. But actually interesting 🙂

Turtle Pond (last summer)

Turtle Pond (last summer)

Just by Shakespeare's Garden

By Shakespeare’s Garden

The Ramble is up next and it’s exactly that, a ramble around in lots of circles. It’s pretty rugged here and purposely unkempt. It’s supposed to be dangerous at night too so be warned should you decide to take a midnight stroll. At the bottom of the Ramble you’ll find Central Park Lake, where you can rent one of those oh so rosmantic row boats whilst waiting for your table in the Loeb Boat House. We had lunch here on our last trip and it was delicious, although there was a serious wait to get in – reserve if you can…Very close to here is the Alice in Wonderland statue (East 74th street) and the bronze statue of Hans Christian Anderson reading a book AND the lovely Conservatory Water where model sail-boating (pretty much in every film ever!) takes place. Phew!

I guess parallel to the Loeb Boathouse is the beautiful cast-iron Bow Bridge adorned with cast-iron urns (it’s closed for a couple of months now for some restoration). Just after Bow Bridge is the angel-topped Bethesda Fountain. On the west side of Bow Bridge is the Strawberry Fields, a 2.5 acre area of the park dedicated to John Lennon. He lived in the Dakota apartment block on 1 West 72nd street just outside the park, which was also sadly the location of his murder.

Loeb Boathouse

Loeb Boathouse

So romantic

So romantic

The Alice in Wonderland sculpture

The Alice in Wonderland sculpture

Bow Bridge

Bow Bridge

Bethesda Fountain

Bethesda Fountain

Continuing on down Central Park you’ll find Tavern on the Green, Sheep Meadow AKA sun-lounging central, the Central Park carousel and of course, Central Park Zoo and that beautiful area housing the Trump Skating Rink in the winter months. Oh and the gorgeous Gapstow Bridge is here too! God there’s just so many beautiful places in the park!!

Gapstow Bridge

Gapstow Bridge

Getting around NYC style

Getting around NYC style

All the people on the planet gather here!!

All the people on the planet gather here!!

Obsessed

Obsessed

Dreamy

Dreamy

Blending in with my outfit choice here

Blending in with my outfit choice here

Starting from the bottom of Central Park and in need of picnic food? East Side – You could pick up some trés fancy picnic items in the Plaza’s Food Hall and chill out for the day pretty much anywhere you fancy. West Side – I love the salads in Whole Foods – you get a take-away container and fill it with any salad item you could possibly imagine – it’s so filling and a fantastic picnic-pick-up-spot. There’s one near Columbus Circle so you could easily pick up your food for the day here, add a few magazines and you’re golden.