“YOU ARE THE BOWS FROM WHICH YOUR CHILDREN AS LIVING ARROWS ARE SENT FORTH” BY KAHLIL GIBRAN”
I never even realised I was a day late with my Living Arrows post again. I blame the Bank Holiday weekend. We had another day as a family yesterday and of course I didn’t want to spend that on blogging. Instead we made some more memories and went to a harbour festival close to where the kids uncle lives.
When my friend comes over for a visit from Germany, we always do a day of exploring around Ireland. Generally around the region of Sligo. She hasn’t been to visit me since we moved to County Kildare. Can you imagine how much we have to explore here? It would take us days, if not even weeks. We only live at the border of County Dublin and everything is so easily accessible once you have a car with an up to date insurance ie. Chill.
On Saturday I turned the big thirty. Instead of celebrating with hubby and kids, I decided to go away for the weekend. I was undecided at first whether I should travel around Ireland or going to London. In the end I went for London. Last time I was only there for 24 hours when the Blogfest was on so I didn’t really have much time to explore.
I took the Friday off work which meant I had a good solid three days to spend in London Baby. My flight was pretty early. I left the house at 6.30am. The kids weren’t even awake at that time yet. So I sneaked off. My flight was with Ryanair which is always straight forward enough. I didn’t check in a bag. A carry on suitcase with 100ml toiletries is the handiest for a weekend trip. The plane got into Stansted airport at around 9.30am. The problem was that check in wasn’t until 2pm. This left me plenty of time to tick off a few sights.
It can be quite restricted doing sightseeing with a suitcase. My hotel was located near the Victoria Station. Buckingham Palace was in walking distance so I decided to walk up. I was just in time for the change of the guards. Hundreds of people had settled in front of the palace and around. Due to my suitcase I couldn’t go near the gate. I suppose safety reasons. It was really cold and chilly but the sun was shining which made it all worth.
Shortly after I went back to Victoria and bought a dress for Chloe in GAP. I just couldn’t find anything online and rather getting it shipped, I thought I’d pick it up in store. Still loads of time left until I was able to check into my hotel which was not until 2pm. Down I went to London Eye and the South Bank. It was heading toward lunch time so I popped into a Subway on the way and had something to eat first to refill my energy. Unfortunately the London Eye was closed for refurbishment until Wednesday. That was that off the list then. I picked up a die cast taxi and bus for Matthew and a magnet for my collection and enjoyed the view in the beautiful but cold weather.
It was heading towards 2pm and I walked back to check into my hotel. The hotel I stayed in was called Park Plaza Victoria. It was only a few steps from Victoria underground and rail station. Very central as I was getting the tube from there to wherever I needed to go. The hotel was very impressive. I think it’s four star. I had breakfast included because I can never function without a proper breakfast to start the day.
My room was very impressive I have to say. First of all I had a king size bed. A whole bed to myself, with uninterrupted sleep for two nights. Second of all, how cool was the remote on the table and on the wall to control temperature of the room, the light for reading, or the light for the night. But to control the curtains via the remote to open and close them was the coolest thing. You can probably imagine I played with that for a bit. By the way, check out the carpet they have throughout the bedrooms and hallway.
As it was getting close to sunset, I took the tube to Tower Hill to see the Tower of London and Tower Bridge while the sun sets over the Tower Bridge. It was a different photo opportunity rather than a boring photo of the bridge during the day. Before heading over onto the other side, I’ve done a quick pitstop at Starbucks for a hot chocolate. It was cold after all and that was the right medicine for a cold winter day. That day I did a good bit of walking and my body is still aching now particularly my legs. I went from Tower Bridge to London Bridge. 21000 steps that day.
I took the tube from Monument station up to Kings Cross. I was planning to go and do the Harry Potter Studio Tour, but because it was over seven hours long, I decided against it as that would have been a whole day gone. Instead I went to platform 9 3/4. I didn’t queue to get my picture taken though, which I do regret now. I bought a mug that changes to the secret map when it gets hot and Bertie Botts Beans. There was so much stuff you could buy, even wands!
It was time to go back to the hotel, put the feet up and decide where to go for dinner. There was an Asian restaurant just around the corner. I am glad I went because it was the most delicious Asian I had in a long time. As the starter I had duck spring rolls and main course was Chicken Teriyaki with noodles. Divine. I would definitely recommend it to anyone. The place is called dim t. Seems like a great place for bigger groups as well. They have little couch corners.
Saturday morning started at around 8am. My inner clock doesn’t want to sleep in whether there are kids or not. Anyway I had a good uninterrupted sleep which is worth a lot more. It started off with an English fry, some fruit, a chocolate muffin and of course a cup of coffee. Shortly after I got ready to head to Greenwich, where East meets West. First of I went to see the Cutty Sark, then off to Greenwich Park, making my way to the top of the Royal Observatory and see London from way up high. The walk up the hill was killing me. Out of breath for sure. You had to pay admission to be able to access the meridian line. I didn’t pay but if anyone is looking to visit, it’s £9.50. I also visited Greenwich Market. It’s like every market in London to be honest.
As this was my actual birthday (Yay I turned the big 30) the rest of the day was spent shopping, eating and drinking. I took the tube to Oxford Street. Nearby where Oxford Street meets Regent Street I went for lunch in Kingly Court which was on my list. It’s a cute little food court. I went to Pizza Pilgrims for some well deserved pizza. Generally I don’t manage to eat a whole pizza but this pizza purely Italian and so delicious. Definitely worth a visit. I was lucky enough to get a seat because after me it was getting busier.
After some successful and some not so successful shopping, I drove back to the hotel and chilled out a bit with some TV. I planned to have my birthday dinner in London’s Hard Rock Cafe. Yes, on a Saturday evening which is probably the most busiest time. It can be quite handy when you’re dining there on your own. I mean you have to sit at the bar and eat your dinner but you certainly get a chair almost instant. People who require a table could wait for an hour. I was able to get in straight away. I got the usual which is the Big Cheeseburger. They do new chips with garlic and herb. I had to try them our and they were the most delicious chips I have to say. I couldn’t manage to eat it all unfortunately.
With my meal I treated myself to a cocktail too. You only live once after all. I was chatting away to the waiter and he asked why I was in London and he soon found out I was here to celebrate my birthday. Well, that evening I even received a free birthday Sunday Ice Cream with a candle in it. It is a thing they do when it is someone’s birthday. How cool is that. (At least one treat off someone !! ) Like every other Hard Rock Cafe, I had to pick up a T-shirt from London’s one too after.
Sunday was the day of checkout. Breakfast first. I checked out at around 11.45am and drove to Kings Cross to see what the queue is like for the platform 9 3/4. It was massive so I decided against queuing. After that I took a few tubes to get to Harrods. Unfortunately they have the policy not to take any suitcases into the building and to leave it in a lock. I couldn’t be bothered with it and left to go back to Oxford Street and visit Europeans biggest Disney Store store. Here I picked some small gifts for hubby and the kids. I was a bit disappointed because there was a lot of princesses and Moana going on. I was struggling to pick something up for Chloe.
It was on route to Liverpool Street. That weekend the trains were replaced with buses. I treated myself to a small Mc Donalds meal and took the bus to London Stanstead airport. A bit earlier than expected. But better early then too late. Overall I really enjoyed three days away and just do whatever I want.
This September marks 10 years of me living in Ireland. How time flies. I can’t believe I have lived on the Emerald Island for 10 whole years. Neither have I thought that I am going to actually stay here. The plan was to spend one year in a foreign country which in my case was Ireland. I had no intention of staying, finding a job, a home, a man and start a family. After spending one year in Ireland in 2007, I wanted to stay a bit longer. It dragged out. Soon I realised it was mean to be. Leaving my home country Germany behind and starting a new life in a complete new country.
I’ve been quiet on the blogging front for the last week. The reason is I was on a mini holiday in Germany visiting my bestie in Berlin. We celebrated her 30th birthday. It’s always nice to get a mini break away particularly when it’s in my home country Germany.
We didn’t make any massive plans because 30 is only a number after all. I still have my 30th birthday (January) ahead of me but I don’t plan on doing anything big either. It more than likely will be me and her going away somewhere again. To get the most out of my visit, I flew over on Friday early morning. When I say early I mean early. The flight was at 7.20 am.
With such an early flight and a journey of 2 1/2 hours to the airport, I booked a hotel 10 mins away from the airport for the night before. The Clayton was the one I picked. First time I stayed there. Such a big, lovely and family orientated hotel. I can’t recommend it enough. Plenty of room.
Last week was first time for everything. It was also the first time that I flew with Ryanair to Germany. It’s always Aer Lingus. Wow…the check in was a bit confusing. You basically have to do everything yourself. That is scanning your boarding card, make sure the bags aren’t too heavy and put the tag on the suitcase. It’s supposed to speed things up. I didn’t that. The queue was extremely long and you were seriously wondering if you are going to make it on time.
First day was a chill out day. I did my usual shopping. I brought everything back that I can’t get in Ireland. This can be quite a lot sometimes but because I flew with Ryanair this time, I was pretty limited as I only booked 15 kg.
In the evening we had a BBQ. The eye always sees more than you can actually eat. But oh my god the meat, skewers and sausages were so good. On the side a bit of delicious potato salad.
We made some delicious cocktails Karo found on Pinterest. One of them was Sangria. Very refreshing and tasty.
Saturday was shopping and sightseeing day. Would you believe it, even though I was born in the Eastern part of Germany, I have never actually seen the Berlin wall in the East Side Gallery. I have to say Karo is a great little tour guide.
We also went to the Mall Of Berlin which is a huge shopping centre. It’s two buildings connected with a bridge. I didn’t actually buy anything, very unusual I know. Karo always wanted to go to this place called “Wonder Waffle“. They basically make waffles and you get to choose what you want to put into it. It’s oh so yummy but yet so filling. The coolest thing is though that they take your name and write it in chocolate writing.
In the evening time we took the train to “Alexander Platz” and met one of Karo’s school friends for dinner. We went to the ALEX restaurant. The food came pretty quick but other than the waiters were really slow. I was told they are quite good and efficient most of the time. When I am in Germany I always need to have a portion of chips, Schnitzel and mushroom sauce and that’s what I had. They also made this delicious lemonade which they have in different flavours. I had the Pink Passion one. We all had two lemonades because they were so good.
On Sunday it was one of the hottest days… 29 degrees. That didn’t stop us from doing a bit of sightseeing. Karo, her mum and I drove down to Potsdam. There is not much you can do on a Sunday in Germany because shops are closed. We walked around Sanssouci Park. Jackson, who is Karo’s dog came with us. He loved it. He did need to have a pit stop and drink some water in that heat.
To everyone who doesn’t know what Sanssouci is:
Sanssouci is the former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, in Potsdam, near Berlin. It is often counted among the German rivals of Versailles. While Sanssouci is in the more intimate Rococo style and is far smaller than its French Baroque counterpart, it too is notable for the numerous temples and follies in the park.
When we came back to the house, Karo and I went off and got some ice cream for us three from my favourite restaurant “Madlen”. At that point it was only an hour to dinner time. You can probably gather from my post that I ate a lot in those 3 1/2 days. I still needed to eat my favourite meal… a doner kebab. Just around 8 pm we decided to get one. I enjoyed every bite of it. The rest of the evening we watched a horror movie and had some cuddles with Karo’s new kitten called “Fussel” (Fluff). She is only 8 weeks old. It makes me want to get a third cat.
Monday was spent with a bit more shopping in the local town, some lunch and off I went to the airport to catch my evening flight back to Dublin. I had a great time and can’t wait for our next trip away. Of course I need to consult this with hubby first. Our next trip away will be Spain at the beginning of August. I might be going away on a short trip with Karo for my 30th in January.
Welcome back to the last instalment of my travel journal from New York.
Sunday 6th March Another day, another adventure. This day was actually a pretty quiet one. We didn’t do too much. Karo wanted to go down 23rd Street again near the Flat Iron building. She discovered some sort of Craft store online that she wanted to visit. After a bit of difficulties, we found it and spent quite some time. The amount of Easter stuff they had was crazy. Not just decorations and paint Easter eggs, they also had made up Easter Baskets starting at 9.99$. If I had the space in my suitcase, then one of them would have definitely had to come with me.
On the back going uptown I picked up a sandwich because it was lunch time already. I have to say food in Manhattan is very expensive and the most annoying part of it is that there is generally tax cost on top of it so you never know what you actually pay.
We walked back to 49th Street as we planned to go up to Top of the Rock. The building is massive and you can certainly get lost in there. Once we found the entrance and where to purchase tickets, we decided against it though. 32$ was a bit much in my opinion. I think it included a tour but still too expensive for my liking.
Instead we went to Nintendo World store and I picked up a present for hubby. A new Nintendo World T-Shirt. He already has 2 from New York but a new one was in order as clothes stretch overtime. I am a big Nintendo fan myself. It is just a shame that I barely get time to play the games.
Our next stop was Central Park. Right beside Central Park was the Apple Store. The reason why I wanted to see that was because it was built in a glass cube. Pretty cool and you go down the stairs then but oh my god, it was mad busy. We left pretty quickly again.
Shortly after we entered Central Park. Along the park there are a lot people with horse carriages. I didn’t see the price how much it would be but I’d say it’s not cheap anyway. I did see a sign and it said 50$ max. Central Park has a zoo but it’s tiny so we didn’t bother going in. The park is much nicer during the summer so we didn’t spend too much in it. The squirrels in the park are so friendly that they touch your hand with their nose and you are able to feed them no problem. It is not advised to feed wild animals though because it attracts rats, there are signs all over.
To roll of the day, we walked down to… guess where… Times Square again. This time for some well deserved Cafe Latte in Starbucks. The amount of people with coffee, frapuccionos or simple water from Starbucks on the streets is mad. It’s a shame we don’t have Starbucks in Sligo. Down the road from our hotel, Papa John’s was our dinner for the evening. Pepperoni Pizza and Harry Potter movies in the hotel room. After so much sightseeing and walking, I think we deserved it.
Monday, 7th March For me this was my last day really as my flight back was the next day at 5.30pm and I had to get onto the subway pretty much by 1pm which meant there was not much to do and we couldn’t go too far from our hotel.
Just outside our hotel we had the subway station that led us to Chinatown for the day. I have never been before and this was definitely on my to do list in New York. Once you come out of the Subway station, it’s like another world. It’s still New York like but it’s so different. All buildings and houses have chinese signs. People sell tons and tons of food on the streets and chinese sweets. You certainly feel weird walking down the street with all the Chinese people passing you. After taking it all in, we walked back to the Subway station off to Lexington Avenue.
Lexington Avenue is located near Roosevelt Island. A tram takes you from Manhattan to the island just across from the Queensborough Bridge. The ride is basically the cost of the Subway and you can take the Metro Card for it,too. Once we got on, it was a bit scary because we were so high and went over the river and under all the cars. On the way back though, we got used to it and took some lovely photos.
We decided to walk down Lexington Avenue and pass some shops and have a look inside them to see if we can find anything nice. It was more looking and window shopping than anything else though. On the way we passed another Starbucks, as you do in New York, there is probably one in each street, and because the weather was so nice and it was so warm, I wanted to get a Caramel Frapucciono. Walking down the avenue further, we passed Grand Central Station.
In the evening to celebrate our last evening in New York, we walked up to Times Square and went for dinner in Applebees. I used to love Applebees when I stayed in New York for a few weeks a few years ago. With the dinner we had a big glass of Sangria which was I have to say delicious.
Tuesday, 8th March The day of check out. We had to check out by 11am but we could leave the suitcases behind until we headed off to the airport. Karo didn’t leave for another 2 days but she was staying in a different hotel then. That day the sun was absolutely booming. It was so warm. I managed to do a bit more shopping for myself and Karo picked up a new pair of converse in a converse shop that had sale on. I wanted to go to the Disney store again and pick up a Mickey T-Shirt for Matthew. On the way back to the hotel I got a sandwich, it was more like a baguette which I ate in the hotel.
Shortly after I said my goodbyes to Karo and took the Subway to the airport. I arrived just around 3pm which gave me plenty of time. We left on time and landed at Dublin airport at 4.30am. This was a bit of a killer because I didn’t exactly sleep properly and the time difference had me jetlagged for 2 days. But after all I had an amazing time.
A blogger asked me if it was worth the money and if it’s expensive to go…
Well, if you book early enough, hotel and flights can be got just over €1.000. I do not recommend to go to New York during the summer time. There are 2 simple reasons for it. 1. It’s way too warm, it’s unbearable and 2. This is a peak season which makes the hotels extremely expensive. The best time to go is March/April or September/October in my opinion.
Is it expensive to commute in New York? Subway: Recommended is the Metro Card which can be topped up with desired amount. We started off with a 10 dollar card and had to top of up another 10. One ride is around 2.75$. Doesn’t sound expensive but the system is a bit unfair. If you want to take one line from Manhattan all the way down to Brooklyn you pay the same price but yet when you commute in Manhattan only 3 or 4 stops, it’s the same.
To be honest if you have good footwear with you, then nearly everything can be reached by foot.
What’s the cost of the food like? Food: It seems expensive to me. A normal baguette/sandwich you can buy for 8 dollars which is around 7 EUR. In Ireland I can get one for 4 Euro. But I suppose it’s New York. That’s not the annoying part though. Everywhere you go, anything you buy, there is tax on top. You never know what the end sum is of what you are paying. It’s something you would have to get used to.
How much money should I take with me?
Cash: I took 300 Dollars with me thinking I will return some of it. Not at all. Even you are not the biggest spender, you will need quite a good amount of money if you are staying in New York for 5 days or longer. In the end, higher amounts I paid by card which made it easier and it meant I had cash on me for other things like snacks or lunch.
A credit card in New York is the way to go. You really have to mind it though. In some shops, they don’t even require for you to sign what you paid which means anyone can buy stuff when they have your credit card. Whereas other places, like Hard Rock Cafe, is actually asking for ID to make sure it is your card.