New York, USA

I’ve lost track of the number times I’ve been to New York. It’s as familiar to me as London, and I love them both just as much. This time, however, I owe a debt of gratitude to my cousin Priyanka, who earned an expensed trip as a reward for her hard work. She kindly chose me, and our sister in law, Krupa, as her travel companions. This five day break was as therefore, as much about quality time with family, as it was the world class settings.

It wasn’t all perfect. Our Virgin Atlantic Flight was the worst long haul I’ve been on in years. They didn’t even have salt and pepper. On arrival, immigration took 2.5hours; I can’t remember it ever taking this long. But rant over, moaning out of the way, the rest of the trip was a truly refreshing break. I came back to England reenergised.

Over the course of the trip I got to catch up with relatives on both Hamel’s and my side of our family, as well an old friend from London. These connections made the trip that much extra special. But, on top of this, I also managed to find some time for myself. With some early morning runs, I pushed myself to strengthen both my mind and my body. ‘If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere’, right?!

I’ve always loved the food in New York. This time, I got to visit an old favourite pizza joint, Rubirosa, and also got my Taco Bell fix before the end. I compensated for this indulgence by doing a lot of walking and rowing on the boating lake in Central Park.

On a trip where socialising was the focus, I’ve got to give mention to all the different eateries and drinking establishments I got through this time. In no particular order, I loved all the following: El Vez, Grand Banks, Juniper, Boqueira, Los Tacos @Chelsea Market, Buddakan, Baar Baar, and Mr Purple Rooftop Bar.

I’ve got to give a special mention to the Speakeasy at Beauty & Essex, in which you get a complimentary Prosecco in the female toilet (sorry gents).

In search of a unique view, we paid $44 to go up to the Observation Deck at The Edge. This was perhaps a little over priced for what it was. But if you do decide to go, then a free attraction next to The Edge, The Vessel is also worth a visit.

The other special thing I managed to do on this trip was take in a Broadway Musical. These are world renowned for a reason. Hamel was green with envy because somehow I combined Aladdin (no longer showing in London’s West End) with a date with one of his closest cousins, Shivani. We had an amazing evening.

Prices seem to have gone up considerably in New York, since I visited last. Despite this, the City still retains its magic, and I know it will draw me back again soon.


As a couple, this was our first trip away together, without our kids.  With my husband, almost forgetting to get an up to date ESTA, having changed his passport recently, I nearly left him behind too.  Anyway, after a last minute panicked application the night before, he got himself authorised for travel, and joined two of our friends and me, as planned.

We only had three nights, and knew that this was likely to be a one off holiday without the children, so we set out to make the most of it.

We stayed at SLS Brickell, which is a stylish but slightly kinky hotel, complete with a ‘Naughty Lovers’ kit on the mini bar, and a mirror on the ceiling.  The first night, we had dinner booked at Bazaar Mar by José Andrés, which was conveniently located within our hotel.  Our waiter, Trevor, promised us ‘an experience’, and that’s exactly what he delivered.  After dinner, we went to the Sugar Rooftop Bar which is on the 40th floor of the EAST, Miami Hotel.  The lift that takes you up, offers a funky photo opportunity, and the views of the city at night are pretty cool.

The next day, we decided to go to Miami Beach.  This happened to be Memorial Day weekend in the USA, and South Beach was gearing up for a massive party, including a military airshow.  The weather, however had other plans.  Subtropical Storm Alberto was moving in, but before it could unleash it’s torrent, we took a lovely 3km walk from South Pointe Park along the shore.  Although it was relatively early in the day, the beach was a lot quieter than I’d expected, and so the walk was actually quite relaxing.  Along the way, my husband picked up a small collection of shells, as a gift for our children.

Just as the rains came, we reached our intended exit point off the beach, and we made our way onto the corner of Collins Ave and 15th St, to Taquiza, for some truly delicious blue masa based tacos and Mexican street food.  For the rest of the afternoon, we hung out at the Delano Beach Club, which is part of the same chain as the hotel we were staying in.  The club kindly gave us a cabana to shelter from the rain, where we drank cocktails and played Monopoly Deal.

Tip: we’ve often benefited from using facilities of sister hotels of the one we’ve booked to stay in.  It has the potential to give you another comfortable base to experience a different part of the city, and sometimes hotel chains offer free transfers from one site to another.

After taking an Uber back to our hotel, we changed our dinner reservations from Cantina La Veinte, opting to stay in our hotel again, to eat at Fi’Lia.  We only made this change of plans to stay out of the rain for a bit, but we were more than happy with the food.  We then went for a drink after, at the peculiarly named, locally recommended, Blackbird Ordinary.

The rain persisted on and off throughout the third day, but we refused to be imprisoned by it.  There’s a free trolley bus from Downtown to Little Havana, and we’d heard this neighbourhood was worth a visit.  We’d earmarked a small local Cuban burger place that we wanted to try for lunch, but after struggling to find it for 10-15mins in the downpour, we picked up a cab and proceeded to the Dolphin Outlet Mall.  This was the day of the UEFA Champions League Final, and three out of four of us are lifelong Liverpool FC fans, so we watched the game in a sports bar, while our fourth member shopped.  In actual fact, I left early, returning to Brickell to have a deep tissue massage in the Spa at the Conrad Hotel.  The disappointing result in the final mitigated my decision.

Our final dinner, was one of the highlights of the trip.  We had reserved our table at Zuma one month in advance.  The staff were incredibly attentive, and actually enhanced the food, which was incredible in it’s own right.

There were many, many other recommendations and Miami hotspots that we would’ve visited if we’d had more time, but by the end of the weekend, we were satisfied with our break, and keen to return home to our kids.

Washington D.C. and New York City

Washington D.C. – The White House, World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, United States Capitol, Thomas Jefferson Memorial & National Air & Space Museum.

New York City – Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street & Broadway, Statue of Liberty, Staten Island, Ground Zero Memorial, Central Park, High Line, Empire State Building & Freedom Tower.