Tuesday, 30 June 2015


Four of us ended up here at Black Cow Bistro in May 2014 after being so offended by the staff across the road at the Mexican restaurant. It was clearly meant to be. We had been at a quilt retreat at the Grand Chancellor for the weekend and were now under our own steam for dinner. To our surprise, this little find was absolutely packed with people.
We were greeted at the door (and I am so sorry that I now can't remember this chap's name but he was lovely) and made to feel so welcome even though we did not have a reservation.
We were seated and proceeded to enjoy what the BCB had to offer.
Dylan took care of us- what an amazing man. So proud of the restaurant he works in. So proud of the team he works with. He is constantly checking around the restaurant for drinks to be filled, plates to be cleared, orders to be taken. His service is worthy of that found in a Michelin star restaurant.
Our first night we tried a selection of entrees- but knew that we would have to be back when we saw the steaks come out.
I tried the pork belly. Best I have EVER eaten. Please consider I have eaten in top restaurants world wide including those with Michelin stars. I never expected to find a restaurant of this quality in Launceston, but it must be on your list of must do's for this town.
For dessert I had the Frozen Caramel Slice- OMG- you will die and go to heaven.
Ever single meal that came out was thumbs up at our table.
The next day we called to make a reservation and Dylan could only fit us in at 8. Not a problem.
When we arrived, we were about 5 minutes early, he was beside himself as he had given himself a buffer for our arrival but he was so upset our table was not ready for our arrival. We were not worried as we knew that we would have a great night and we were early. We went outside and watched the tv at the real estate agents (to snoop on the houses for sale) and he CAME OUT to meet us and bring us in and welcome us again.
Apologising profusely (for something that was really not an issue), he bought our first round of drinks.
I had come for steak and I was not disappointed. One of the most amazing steaks I have eaten. Equal billing with #1 which was at Gordon Ramsay Steak in Las Vegas where I ate in 2013. Asked for the rare side of medium rare and it was perfect. I cherished every morsel of that steak.
This is safely in my top restaurants worldwide. 
Dylan- the complete professional. The food, total taste sensations.
I cannot speak highly enough of this restaurant and will be recommending this to clients. 
Dylan, you should be so proud, you do a fabulous job in a fabulous restaurant. The food is unbelievable.
Thank you for taking care of us and indulging us 2 nights in a row.
An amazing experience.
Pork Belly (photo a bit dark)

Green Beans

Nicoise Salad

Frozen Caramel


Eye Fillet Steak

Monday, 29 June 2015


Being an agent, I am usually wary of private rentals and the "deals" people get. I have heard too many sad stories where I just think "Why did you even think that was a good idea?".
In March 2015 I was going to New York to run the NYC Half Marathon. The rate of exchange of the Australian dollar to the US dollar had dropped and so what I would normally call a great deal was now well above budget.

I decided to give Air BNB a shot to:

1) See what all the fuss was about
2) Get some cheaper accommodation that I could afford for the last 6 nights of my 10 night stay.
3) Find somewhere that I could recommend

I really do have to put a disclaimer here:
Short term rentals in NYC under 30 days are actually apparently not legal.
So I do need you to note:

1) You make a booking at your own risk
2) If you do not feel comfortable, do not hand over your money
3) Understand that not everyone is as ethical as you.
4) Do you research on different properties- read the reviews.
5) Be patient, sometimes the first one you choose may not be available. Properties are being loaded all the time.
6) Read the terms and conditions of each rental. You are entering into a contract. Know your rights with Air BNB as well.
7) Understand that you are staying in someone's house. They want you to have a good stay.  Respect their space like you would want someone to respect yours.You are not staying in a hotel, so don't expect those facilities.

After 1 cancellation (and then a credit from Air BNB to help me get a better property), I found a great little studio. Amazing mid-town location, right near a subway and eateries.
I can safely say MY experience with Air BNB has been positive. The young man's studio I stayed in was clean, warm and suited me perfectly. Communication was fabulous and he was so flexible with key pick up and drop off. I just loved the experience and will stay here again on future trips. I can safely say now that if people want to use Air BNB, I now get it. It certainly has opened my eyes to options.

My top criteria in NYC for an apartment are:
1) A lift- I do not wish to climb 5 flights of stairs to get to my digs
2) Wifi
3) Clean
4) Reviews, that are positive
5) Near a subway

 Click here for my referral link for Air BNB and get up to $33AUD off your first rental!
The apartment I stayed in was hosted by Ricky Perez and the link is here (create your account first and get a credit towards your booking).


It took me 6 trips to NYC to get here. Finally on my trip for the NYC Half Marathon, I made it. On what I now call my "snow seeing" day as it was snowing from 11 am..... continuously  I am not normally one to go to tourist style restaurants as the food and service is usually really bad. However, every now and again, my faith is restored. Katz's Deli was where this happened. I suppose that because it does seem to attract quite a few locals as well made it what it was. I walked in and was met by Eddie. He was happy to answer ALL my questions about how to order and how I wanted my pastrami sandwich. He was my first contact in this deli and was friendly and happy to answer my questions which he had probably been asked 100 times that day already. That is the sign of good service. Even when I sat in the table service area (after I had got my meal from the counter), the waiter was very friendly and just let me know that I needed to sit in the middle part instead. He was very diplomatic and made sure I didn't fell embarrassed I was sitting in the wrong area. How important is this? Often as a tourist when you do the "wrong" thing you are made to feel about an inch tall. Not here.
You get given a ticket at the door (say by Eddie) and they write what you order on it at each counter you visit, doing a running tally and then you pay at the end before you walk out the door. Quite a good system really. DON'T LOSE YOUR TICKET- it is a $50USD fine if you do. 
I made my way to the counter and ordered. The guy making my sandwich gave me some pastrami to try. He was also attentive with what I wanted on it, say mustard etc. I got some of the Russian dressing on the side, but I will be honest, I wasn't so much of a fan. The rye bread is to die for and I was to wash it all down with a cream soda. You can have your pastrami lean (with no fat) or "not so lean" (proper term escapes me), which means you get the fat with it.
The sandwich was great. Massive and really you can share it. The pastrami was fabulous. I didn't partake in the pickles as they are not my thing.
For the "When Harry Met Sally" fans, there is a photo of the cast on the wall and a dangling sign above the table where Meg Ryan gave her "performance".
Safe to say, it's the most expensive sandwich I have ever and probable will ever order and consume. My sandwich alone was $22.50, the soda $2.50. Total including tax, a little over $27USD. But, this is what the cost is. I would recommend a visit. And if you don't understand how it works, ask. They are really friendly people.
It's constantly packed but tables are always coming free.
The food is good, so despite the price, you aren't paying good money for bad food. 
I loved it here, would I go again, yes, but I would take someone with me to share a sandwich.


The Pastrami Sandwich (Lean)

The Pastrami Sandwich (Lean)

Old style lit up boards with their fayre.

Where Harry met Sally

The cast of Harry Met Sally.

This place is always busy. It was a great place to people watch

 Right here was where Meg Ryan gave her performance

Outside, and it was snowing. 

Sunday, 28 June 2015


I stayed here a while back but have had clients stay since and report back the same feedback as mine. This hotel is great. Such a great location with great facilities for shopping (Miracle Mile) and eating all around. We stayed in a Hollywood hip room twin beds (both Queen). Great decor, great beds. Good for youngies, friends, families (please note it can get a bit rawkus with the youngies at the pool). Anyone can stay here really, but the above is probably who it would appeal to. I found check in really easy. There are some deals which now include a coffee/bagel style breakfast as well which helps with costs. There are a number of different room types including strip, mountain and fountain views. There are also a number of different types of suites which I would love to stay and play in. Click here to see the room types offered. 
Always ask about resort tax to your agent as this is usually paid direct upon arrival to the hotel and at current rates is about $29USD per room per night and includes wifi internet and access to the fitness centre. 
I loved this hotel and I would stay here again.

When I was here last this hotel was part of the Harrahs Group all day buffet. 
Click here to read about that!


Ah New York. I could talk about this town all day and the things I have found and the things I want to do. I have a list as long as my arm of restaurants I want to eat at in this town. My main problem is the number of places I want to eat at far outweigh the number of meal opportunities open to me on any given trip.
I am a lover of food. I like street food, I like Michelin Star Cuisine. Travelling now is about food and being able to try out as many different restaurants on any given trip.

So for New York, here are my current Top 10 eateries. Click on each name to be taken to their website.

1) Risotteria (on Bleecker) - I recommend anything with goats cheese or asparagus :)
2) Totto Ramen- I love the spicy ramen with pork. Great value.
3)  Loeb's Boathouse, Central Park - One of the places to eat in NYC.
4) Buddakan - I recommend the pot stickers, the green beans, the broccoli, char siu pork and the
    charred beef
5) Becco - Go for the Sinfonia Di Paste
6) Capizzi - One of the best little pizzerias
7) Katz's Deli - purely to have what she's having.
8) Ayza Wine and Chocolate Bar - Midtown location
9) Magnolia Bakery -  6th Ave location, red velvet cupcake.
10) Zabar's - perfect place to pick up stuff for a picnic in the park.

Saturday, 27 June 2015


We booked this through http://www.opentable.co.uk/london-restaurants, an online booking system that I cannot fault. This restaurant is nothing short of first class. I expect nothing less from a restaurant with Gordon's name against it. We had the roast on Sunday from the a-la-carte which was prime rib of beef with Yorkshire pudding. It came with potatoes and red cabbage. We ordered other vegetables on the side. Roasts on the trolley change daily and range from about £22-£30. Wednesday we saw was beef Wellington day, check before you go in case they have changed it. One of the most spectacular meals I have had. Had treacle tart for dessert - to die for, but I believe they have taken it off the menu. Service was amazing. I expect this in an establishment of this kind. Cannot be faulted on any level. Book here. You won't be disappointed.

Click here to go to the website.
Click here for the menu.


My mum and I stayed here over the London Olympics. All in, I was there 17 nights, my mum, still there, 21. I am a travel agent and booked this through wholesaler Infinity holidays. I booked this accommodation mainly based on location and the fact the hotel had its rates out for July 2012 in Sept 2011. Having worked in this area of London for many years, I cannot tell you how amazing this location is. 4 mins walk from Green Park Tube which accesses 3 lines. Selection of pubs and restaurants downstairs in Shepherds Market ( try Sofra, the turkish restaurant, great stuff). Walking distance from Hyde Park, Piccadilly, Oxford Street and Regent Street. There are 3 mini supermarkets around, the Tesco express to the right, just past Caffe Nero, there is a Marks and Spencers " simply food" at Green Park Tube and a Sainsburys on Berkeley Street. As mentioned in one of the reviews below, these apartments used to be Pied A Terres.  From looking at the property website, I knew that the decor was definitely olde English. It's quirky and as long as you are aware of it, you won't be expecting fine lines and modern colours with a leather suite etc. As we stayed more than 5 nights, the property provided a private arrival transfer from the airport. Lovely to be picked up and taken in a Merc to your digs for the next few weeks. Check if this is still offered  We were met by the lovely Ruth at reception who had everything ready for us. We had paid for the night before to guarantee check in upon arrival. I can happily say that all my communications with the property prior to my arrival and then all our dealings with them during our stay have been fantastic. Any minor issues have been dealt with immediately (our central heating somehow came on- and the problem was rectified as soon as we mentioned it- the staff were mortified as it was 28 degrees outside!) and any questions we had were answered. Please be aware the the reception only operates during office hours on weekdays and for a few hours on a Saturday. They do have an emergency mobile and when my Mum blew the power she called them and they were there within minutes. If you want 24 hour reception stick to a hotel. We stayed in Apartment 9 , which is a 1 bedroom at #44, on the 4th floor. The lift is small ( big enough for 2 people really, remember this is a VERY old property, so the lift is old too) but hey, it means you don't have to walk up and down the stairs. The apartment was just what we wanted, they are on European standards - spacious. The furniture is by no means modern, this adds to the charm. The bedroom had a tv as well as the sitting room. In the bedroom There was a large wardrobe and a chest of drawers. We had the beds as twin. The bed was a King Split, so you could have a big bed if you were a couple. The bathroom has a double vanity, and is a shower over the bath. The hairdryer however is one of those ones attached to the wall with not much guts, so if you want a good hair dryer, take your own :). The sitting room, which is quite spacious, has a 3 piece suite with coffee table and a dining table and chairs as well as a tv. There is an in room safe in the sitting room. The kitchenette is as you come in the front door. There is a small fridge with a freezer to make ice. The kitchenette is fully equipped with cutlery and crockery as well. There is a microwave/oven/grill combo and a 2 hot plate hob as well as a toaster and a kettle. Big enough to self cater if you wish. The maids come 6 days a week. They make the beds,change your towels, empty the rubbish and wash your dishes. They are lovely. If you are happy for them to clean while you are having a day off from events and just watching tv, then just let them know, so they know it is ok to come in. In the one bedroom we had, there is no washing machine. I know some apartments do have them but I think they are the apartments with 2 or more bedrooms and not every apartment of this category. Always ask your agent or the property and never assume. The property does have a send out laundry service which does run on hotel rates. The property has free wifi and I am pleased to say it is probably the best wifi I have ever used. It never dropped out and was VERY fast. There is also an iron and ironing board in the apartment. There was NO air conditioning (I knew this when I booked) only fans. Be aware of this. The apartment door is electric card key, but the main door to the property is a good old fashioned key. There is a trick to the opening the door, pull it towards you as you turn the key clockwise. The little gold handle inside has to turn so you can get in. Nothing major, just a handy hint. There are 4 small stairs up to the main door, so you'll need to get your bags up those to get in. Hopefully this review enables you to feel confident in staying here. It really is a fantastic property in the most amazing location. It's certainly a great alternative to a hotel which in this area is the same price if not more per night. Some of the comments below I feel are not just, but appreciate that everyone has a different experience/perception. If you check the property's website, I feel you will get a great idea for how fab this property is and want to stay here. I will now be offerring this to my clients as a preferred alternative to a hotel when in London. Thank you to the staff of this property for making my trip back London for the Olympics an amazing time. 
I have had clients stay here since I stayed here and report back that it was amazing.

Friday, 26 June 2015


I last stayed here in 2008. It still is one of my favourite hotels and clients return to tell me it still lives up to my description.
Having stayed in many hotels in Vegas, I would have to say that this is one of the best hotels on the strip.
The refurbished rooms and fabulous service from all members of staff is difficult to beat.
Good price for strip view room esp. as all rooms/public areas have been done up.

DECOR- modern and just what I like.

Room was available at 11.30 am which I was pleasantly suprised about. I am not sure this would be the case over busy holidays/ events but hey- give it a whirl, they will look after your luggage if it isn't.

Good value late night restaurant in the cafe- Vietnamese option excellent value- try the chicken curry.
I didn't get to try the desserts, but go ahead...they look great.

I have also eaten at the coffee shop here on a more recent stay to Las Vegas.

Lovely pool area as well.
Interconnecting rooms available.

They do now charge a resort fee which they didn't when I was there. It covers internet and all sorts.

I usually prefer to stay around the Bellagio corner, but this is just a short walk away and still in a magnificent position.

As an agent, I recommend this hotel to my clients often. I always book strip view for them.
If you are considering staying here, do- you won't be disappointed.


We ate at the one in Stratford just at the Westfield Shopping Centre right at the Olympic Park, twice. I had the bolognese both times - go large as this is the main size. Entree size is quite small. Mum had Jools tuna pasta one day and the vongole dish the next. The vongole has quite a lot of chilli so if you don't like chilli ask for no chilli. Polenta chips, ok for a novelty, but won't have them again, nothing wrong, just not my thing. Side veg ok. They don't take bookings but even during the Olympics the longest we waited was 8 minutes for a table. The restaurant is 2 stories and has ample seating. Service is good but varies between waiters. Good value though and great for a meal post/ pre event at Olympic park or during a days shopping at Westfield.
I also thought it was really well priced and good value.
Click here to go to the website. 
Click here for the menu.
Click here to view other UK locations.

Thursday, 25 June 2015


I have many Vegan and Vegetarian friends. I like to keep myself across some of the eateries for them.
Yet to eat at any of these, I have had them recommended to me by others.
Click on the restaurant name to go to their website.

1) Dirt Candy
2) Cinammon Snail - used to have a spot every day, now you need to check their FB page or website for locations of the truck
3) Candle 79
4) Blossom

Message me or comment below if you have some other great Vegan eateries :)


New York- My all time #1 favourite place on the planet (besides my couch).
So much to do here, people often never allow enough time to take in the ambience of this town and what it has to offer. After 6 trips there are still so many things I want to do. It's hard to narrow down to a Top 10 for me as I think you should see all of this town in it's entirety and if it takes you a lifetime, so be it. My Top 10 encompasses some of the not so common things to do and things that I think are kind of cool. Everyone knows they need to go to see the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Centre and the Empire State Building, you may not even think of going to the Christmas or Spring Spectacular. So see below for some of the things I love to do when in The Big Apple.

1) Go to a show on Broadway - click here for my tips on getting tickets
2) Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
3) Radio City Christmas or Spring Spectacular Spectacular
4) Run, Bike or Walk thru Central Park (get the subway up to Central Park North (110th) and then walk down the west side path to 59th)
5) Have a Red Velvet cupcake at Magnolia Bakery on 6th Avenue.
6) Grab a slice of Cheesecake at Juniors
7) Take High Tea at The Plaza- click here for my review
8) Tour of Yankee Stadium
9) Take a tour with freetoursbyfoot.com, click here for my review
10) Have ice-cream at Chinatown Icecream Factory - I love the Black Sesame and the Zen Butter.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015


Going to a show on Broadway when in New York is probably one of the most quintessential things you can do when in this magnificent town.

There is always the question, "Do I buy tickets now or do I wait until I get there?".

As I often have specific shows I want to see, I do often buy full price tickets before I go. I use tele charge to do this. I have never had a problem and although they charge a fee they are reasonable. I pick my tickets up at the theatre on the day of the show.  So, if there is something that you just must see and cannot miss out on, book before you go. One of the reasons I suggest to do this is not all shows are offered through TKTS. Also the big popular shows may not have tickets on discount when you are there, or may be sold out by the time you get to the counter. What if the show was sold out for the days you could go, even on full price?

TKTS is the operator for the discount ticket booths in NYC. 3 outlets, Times Sq, South Ferry Seaport and Downtown Brooklyn.

If I am on a whim and am walking past and there is no line later in the afternoon then I will call in to the Times Sq booth. However, recently I used the South Ferry Seaport booth and all I can say is, the line was almost non existent AND I could buy tickets for that night and the next days matinee. So saves lining up twice. Perfect!

Times Sq booth often has long lines and although they can move quickly and are well organised, I have better things to do with my time than line up for sometimes well over an hour for theatre tickets. So head down on the subway to the South Ferry Seaport booth, grab 2 sets of tickets and get back to your shopping or sightseeing while all the others are lining up at Times Sq wasting time. Even if you are only grabbing tickets for that night, totally worth going down there. There is a Starbucks on the waif you are desperate for a coffee.

Please note that in Times Sq there is also a "Play Express" line that does plays only as opposed to musicals and moves quicker than the other lines at Times Sq.
You can also get a "Fast Pass", once you have used them, for the Times Sq booth that allows you to walk up to window #1 avoiding some of the queues. More info is available if you click here.

Click here to go to the page showing the hours of each booth and how to get there.
Click here for a list of helpful tips for buying tickets from TKTS, available in 5 languages.

So my top hints are
1) If you have a show that you just can't miss, book your tickets in advance
2) When buying tickets from TKTS, consider heading to South Ferry to avoid the queues
3) Have a list of shows you want to see in order of preference and be flexible.
4) Check a few days in advance what shows are being offered by TKTS and what discount so you know what might be on sale when you are lining up, some days the same show may have a different discount for the matinee vs the evening show so check this as you can save money by changing the show you go to on a particular day. This is particularly useful if using the South Ferry booth and you are buying for that night and the next day matinee.
5) See as many shows as you can- you won't regret it.



I love travel books and stories about people's adventures. I love to read about travel comedy and this book provides just that. It tells the story of Brian and his adventures as a tour leader through Europe for an 18-35's company. Starting in the UK, and heading to Belgium , The Netherlands, onwards through Germany,  Switzerland, Austria, Italy, France and Spain on a bus where they sightsee on the lower deck and sleep on the upper deck.
Imagine being in charge of up to 48 sexually charged, often single 18-35's, getting blind at the bars across the continent while trying to show them the best of Europe in 5 minutes.
This is comedy. If you like travel and you like a laugh, this is a great book to read. Have it ready for your next holiday, or long plane ride. You'll only put it down because you are crying from laughter.

Affiliate Link

Tuesday, 23 June 2015


I was lucky enough to go here in 2011 on a work trip to Hong Kong. High Tea is my thing and I go as much as I can. I particularly like to go to iconic hotels like this to enjoy such an occasion.
For High Tea at the Peninsula you can't book, you have to line up and wait for a table.
It is worth the wait. I really wish that PLAIN scones were the focus, I dislike sultanas in scones, but that is my personal thing. The spread has the usual sandwiches, but some different cakes and petit fours.
Click here for up to date pricing and menus. 
Put it on a Hong Kong itinerary :)

Hotel Frontage, Kowloon

 Tea for Two

 High Tea

 Cake and Petit Fours

 My friend Jakki and I


I stayed here in July 2012 as part of a work conference. I had a premier room on the 5th floor which also had a large balcony. The rooms are enormous with nice decor. I had a twin room with 2 double beds. If you want a separate shower and a bath you need to book premier and above. The bathroom is marble with a double vanity and a toilet inside the bathroom with a separate door. My only criticism is the shower area which is separated by a glass partition is like a wet room and can get very slippery. There is a rubber mat you can put down. Wifi is free when paying the resort fee. If you book thru an agent, this is sometimes included, but make sure you ask or check your invoice. I loved this hotel. The Infinity Pool upstairs is superb. It can get busy though. There is also a kids pool at one if the ends. A must do is dinner at Ce La Vi (formerly Ku De Ta) and reservations are essential, click here for my review. Try the apple and ginger martini. The pork belly is also amazing. This is definitely a hotel offering the full package. Mall across the road with excellent selection of shops and a food court by the ice rink that does cheap but tasty food from a number of different countries. Cabs are cheap in Singapore so head to Clarke Quay for a great selection of restaurants for something different and don't forget high tea at raffles - book in advance.

 This is the room, the bathroom to the right and balcony to the left.

This is the balcony with a view out to the newly created gardens.

 Infinity Pool

  Infinity Pool

 View from Infinity Pool

 Me in the Pool!

Monday, 22 June 2015


I ate here in May 2011 when it was known as Ku De Ta. Part of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, it truly is one of the best restaurants. When we dined, there was a storm in the distance, so we had a light show while we ate. The service was magnificent and the food just amazing.  Make a reservation in advance- it is essential. We went for dinner. Check the website here. Sangria and also Apple and Ginger Martinis amazing. Pork belly amongst other foods all superb. If you like top restaurants and great food, you wont be disappointed. 

There is a dress code:
Stylish chic from 6pm onwards in the Restaurant and SkyBar and 8pm at the Club Lounge (No shorts, slippers, singlets and tank tops). We operate a more relaxed dress codes on Sundays.

The restaurant is open as follows (correct as at 21 June 2015)

12 noon till 3pm (Daily)
Last orders by 2.45pm
11.30am – 3.30pm (Saturday & Sunday)
Last seating 2.30pm
Sundays to Wednesdays: 6pm till 11pm
Last orders by 10.30pm
Thursdays to Saturdays: 6pm till 11.30pm
Last orders by 11pm
A minimum spend of $80++ per person is required for dinner.


 I love High Tea. That is all I have to say. I have had High Tea here at the Plaza twice in 16 months. It is just great. The room is opulent and the staff fabulous. It's worth the cost and is such a wonderful, memorable experience. Do make a reservation and do dress up.
I love the sandwiches which include cucumber, smoked salmon and chicken. I start to get a bit lost of the sugar but still manage to chomp my way through. The petit fours are eclairs, tarts, macarons and other yummy treats. They will bring you extra cream, jam and lemon curd for your scones if you ask for it. The photos are from the New Yorker High Tea and I had the Tropical Fruit Basket tea which was lovely and light.


Las Vegas- The Paradise of Vice. There is much more than casinos here to entertain the masses. It's a favourite city of mine, a glittering collection of some of the biggest hotels in the world, smack bag in the middle of the desert.

My top 10 things to do are my personal recommendations based on experience and 8 trips to Las Vegas.

1) See a show- my recommendations are Mystere, O, and Le Reve

2) Enjoy a fillet steak at Gordon Ramsay Steak

3) Dine at the Cheesecake Factory in Forum Shops, Caesars Palace- Read the menu here

4) Shop at the North Outlets

5) Dine at the Bellagio Buffet

6) Take a tour of the Grand Canyon by helicopter with Maverick Tours

7) The Roller Coaster at New York New York

8) Watch the Bellagio Fountains dance in front of the iconic hotel

9) A tour with Pink Jeep tours

10) Walk the Strip


For those travelling to New York for the first time, The New York Pass is an absolute must.
It is available in 1,2,3,5,7,10 day options and provides admission to 80 attractions including Empire State Building, Rockefeller Centre, Madison Square Garden, Radio City, Statue of Liberty, Yankee Stadium to name a few.

I have used this pass twice and each time made use of more than what I have paid for it. The benefit of this pass is front of line access to a number of attractions (there is often a separate line).

Watch for specials that happen often on the website. Big discounts making this pass even better value.
Team a 7 day New York Pass with a 7 day subway pass and you have all your New York sightseeing paid for.

Click here to go straight to their website! Prices start from $90US for a 1 day pass (correct as at June 21 2015). A 10 day pass is $260USD (correct as at June 21 2015). Passes are for consecutive days.

Sunday, 21 June 2015


When you have been to a city a number of times, I find you need to discover things that aren't necessarily on the tourist trail, or offer you a different view of the city you know so well.
A friend told me about freetoursbyfoot.com , a company that offers just that, free tours.
Run by some of the best guides, I have come across, they offer the tours for free, you just pay the guide at the end what you think the tour was worth.
So far, I have done two of their tours:
Brooklyn Graffiti and Street Art Tour
Central Park: Lower Section
Each time, I have paid my guide a $25USD tip. Each tour has been at least 2 hours long and provides a great insight into some of the great things to see in NYC.
Free Tours by Foot offer tours in a number of different cities. You can book on their calendar online and you receive an email confirmation. The day before, your guide contacts you by email and gives you more information as well as contact details.
It is a simple process and best of all- free to reserve your spot.
I now recommend this company to my clients in addition to the New York Pass  and $31, 7 day subway pass.

Bethesda Fountain- the day before there had been 3 inches of snow.

View towards the boathouse

Strawberry Fields- Tribute to John Lennon


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Cabin selection.
It can either make or break your holiday. It doesn't matter whether it is an inside cabin or a suite. Choose your cabin wisely. A lot of cruise ships have their suites (that is their MOST EXPENSIVE cabins) under heavy traffic public areas like the pool. Why would you want to pay good money to stay under one of the areas that attracts the most people walking above you.

In some instances you cannot choose your cabin number as you are on "guarantee". In some instances you are paying less for this, so always check to see if you can pay a slightly higher fare to actually choose a cabin.

My tips for cabin selection.

1) Have a deck plan at the ready to see where your cabin is.

2) Do not choose a cabin situated over the theatre or the dining room or even a bar area. Also, think carefully about having a cabin under the pool deck.

3) If your cabin category is on multiple decks, choose the deck that is between two levels of passenger cabins rather than the deck below or under a passenger area like the pool or the shops.

4) When booking with P&O/Princess, if you have got the ideal cabin, opt out of the auto upgrade. Why? Because you can be "upgraded" to a cabin anywhere on the ship, thus you may end up in a cabin in a location that is above/below one of those high traffic areas you were trying to avoid in the first place, and if you don't like the cabin you have been upgraded to, that is too bad, you can't get back your cabin you originally booked. However if you are on "guarantee" then I usually would pick auto upgrade as you don't get a cabin number allocated until check in anyway.

5) Cabins near lifts and stairs, can be noisy due to the amount of traffic that has to go past them. Not always, but sometimes. So try to choose a cabin nearby but a little way down the corridor (3-4 cabins) so that you are still near the lift but not right outside it.

6) Look where the cabin categories change on the deck plan. You can sometimes save yourself a small amount of money by booking the next category down. If it is within a few doors of the last cabin in the higher category, you are essentially getting the same location for maybe the difference of a meal in one of the specialty restaurants (costings vary, check the rates and compare for yourself).

7) Obstructed Ocean-view cabins- this is the lead in category of ocean view. As you have a lifeboat in the way, your view of the ocean is thus obstructed. If you want to look at the water, think about booking a full ocean-view cabin (check pricing but sometimes costing is not much more), or a balcony (pricing is significantly higher usually for balcony, but this gives you the freedom to enjoy a drink in your cabin).

8) Inside cabins- I spent most of my ship life in an inside cabin. I love them. Don't underestimate their value. If you are going to be "on deck" most of the time or you just want the cabin "to sleep in", this may be an ideal choice and a bit of a cash saver.

9) Please note if you are travelling with children and need two cabins, NEVER book on a guarantee. Your cabins will more than likely not be next to each other and this means that the holiday will be off to a bad start as one adult will have to be berthed with the hold permanently rather than having the 2 kids in one and Mum and Dad in the other. When travelling with kids, cabins next to each other work well if they are older. Interconnecting cabins sell out quickly and there are only a few cabins that do interconnect on most ships. So never just assume that all cabins interconnect, they don't.

10) Forward, mid ship or aft? It is the age old question and cabin location to me is quite a crucial part of this type of holiday. I always look to book cabins mid ship first or just aft of mid ship. Physics says the lower your cabin and the closer to the middle you are means you are closer to the centre of gravity thus meaning less movement. However, if you are wanting a balcony, these are on the higher decks, so I always recommend booking mid ship or nearby to bring you towards that centre. I really am a cabin snob and look at what cabins are available in a few different categories online before getting my agent to book the cabin I would want.
I'm not keen on forward cabins personally, but this is because I do get a little bit of motion sickness.

Destination tips:

For Alaska and the inside passage I recommend balcony in any part of the ship as there is nothing better than sitting on your balcony whale spotting. However, if you can't afford a balcony, never fear, you can sit on deck with a nice hot chocolate and enjoy the view as well.
If you are heading NORTH (either to Seward or round trip from Seattle or Vancouver), book a cabin on the STARBOARD side as this is the side the coast is on when heading in this direction before getting in to the passage. Please note if you are round trip from Seattle or Vancouver, when coming back to these ports your cabin will not be on the coast side after you turn around and start heading South.
If heading SOUTH (from Seward) then book a cabin on the PORT side of the ship.

For Venice, if you are DEPARTING Venice and booking a balcony, get a cabin on the PORT side of the ship this is the side that faces St Marks Square as you go by. If you are ARRIVING in to Venice and you are booking a balcony, get a cabin on the STARBOARD side of the ship (as this is the side that faces St Marks). For those booking ocean-view and inside, there is always an event on top deck for sail away.


Most people have a top 5. I have had a top 6 for many years now (I have always been different). I just can't take out that one extra city. These cities have helped form who I am in one way or another. Each of them holds special memories, be it from the people I have been there with, the things I have done there, or the people I have met there. The first 4 are cities I keep going back to often. I know them like the back of my hand but continue to return because there is still unchartered territory in each. They are cities I feel at home in from the minute I arrive and it often pains me to leave because I wonder when I can get back there to "be at home" again. The last 2 are cities I would be quite happy to go back to. They are off the beaten track and require all sorts of ridiculous hurdles to get in there.

1) NEW YORK- My absolute #1 favourite town by far. Nothing can beat it. I can't put my finger on what makes it so mesmerising, but I just have a love affair with this town.

2) LONDON - Holds special memories as it was my home for over 6 years. A city with magnificent history Plenty to see and enjoy.

3) TOKYO - Capital of the country I spent a few years living in. Now I fly here, base myself here and  explore all this city has to offer. I am known also to escape the insanity and jump on a Shinkansen to a restaurant 3 hours away for lunch and then come back again.

4) LAS VEGAS - The Paradise of Vice in the middle of the desert. I was a casino dealer in the UK and on cruise ships for 12 years. I love this place. I love to play poker. I just love being here.

5) MOSCOW - A city still shrouded in a little mystery as the Russians make you jump hoops to get in, but full of fabulous history. A must for those who have been to the European staples and are looking for something a little more off the beaten track.

6) RIO DE JANEIRO - I spent my 27th birthday here visiting Copacabana Beach and the Christo Redentor. Nothing beats a visit to Carnavale in February or a meal at Porcao in Ipanema.

Saturday, 20 June 2015


One of the key motivators of travelling for me now is about food and sourcing great restaurants. Great doesn't have to be expensive either. Great is defined by many variables; the food; the staff; the company. New York possibly has enough restaurants for me to try over 20 lifetimes and I still wouldn't get to go to all of them.

I was recommended to eat at Becco by friends who often do so. You must make a reservation otherwise you may not get in. I sat at the bar to eat as there were no tables on a busy night. After much consideration on what to choose, I went for the Sinfonia which for $22USD, is great value considering you can have unlimited pasta. Caesar Salad (or antipasto misto, your choice) to start, followed by unlimited amounts of 3 different types of pasta. On the night I went it was swiss chard cannelloni, pesto and green bean linguine, and penne alla vodka with shrimp. Bread and olives are given and it is tempting to fill up on them, but don't if you can avoid it! Great selection of wines as well, either by glass or bottle. The 2 boys behind the bar were just wonderful. They were attentive and chatty. Names escape me but 1 was from Mexico and the other from Algeria. They are a credit to that bar and run it like a well oiled machine. If you get a chance, try the sweet red wine Brachetto for dessert. It is chilled and will blow your mind. The restaurant is open until late and I would highly recommend it. I am glad I sat at the bar and not at a table. I am sure the service would have been just as good, but it was nice to be able to chat with the boys. Totally recommend this restaurant for service, value and great food. Make a reservation, you won't  be disappointed.


I'll be honest, New York City is my number one town. 3 trips in 16 months, 6 trips in total and counting. It's an addictive city. There is something about it that I can't put my finger on, but every time I arrive and make my way in to Manhattan, it is like I am somewhat coming to my home.
My most recent trip, in March this year for the New York Half Marathon, I stayed in 2 hotels and also I used an Air BNB apartment for the first time.

One of my favourite areas is around 34th St. It has an amazing array of shops, catering to all budgets and requirements. Hotel Metro, was a gem of a find in this area for me.
I stayed in this hotel as I was looking for a cheaper option than what I had originally booked due to the sliding value of the Australian $ against the USD. My main criteria are location and free wifi. I got a fantastic deal on this hotel from 12-14 March 2015 (Thurs-Sat) for $382 AUD including breakfast and free wifi. It fit the bill perfectly. I am a solo traveller most times so I don't need a massive room but I do like a NICE room to come back to. What is the point of spending the day out, only to have to return to somewhere unpleasant? Yes, I use my room "just to sleep" but I do like to enjoy where I sleep.

The reviews on this hotel are spot on. This hotel is one of my favourite finds in NYC and I will definitely return and recommend this hotel to clients. Upon arrival I did have to come in and get the bell hop, but he was friendly and efficient. The check in staff were so friendly and I also got an upgrade to a PREMIER room. I was in room 1217 which does not have Empire View ( the building is on the other side) but it is one flight up to the roof garden where you can get fabulous photos of the Empire State. In the summer this roof garden would be wonderful to enjoy a drink on. I had a Queen sized bed and also got complimentary bottled water and soda in my upgraded room. Thank you again for the upgrade. The bathroom is very small, BUT the shower is MAGNIFICENT with THREE water outlets including a rain shower. I think a sliding door would be better on the entrance to the bathroom here are you push the door in (rather than pull out) and this takes up most of the space in the bathroom unless you close it again. Even then sitting on the loo got a bit cramped, so I left the door open (it was only me in the room). Small thing, and didn't detract from my love of this hotel and I still give the hotel full marks. Wifi was free and fast and I had all my devices on it no issue. Breakfast that was included in my rate was continental. So it's juice, cereal, bagels, toast, pastries and tea and coffee. Simple but effective in filling a hole. You can pay to get a hot breakfast upgrade but I didn't need that. Breakfast was open from 6:30 until 10:30 and  on weekends they extend that until 11am. The location of this hotel cannot be beaten. It is on 35th and within about 30 yards of the N,Q and R subway with direct access to 42nd street, Columbus Circle and other connections. It's in the heart of my favourite shopping area of Manhattan and also with plenty of great restaurants nearby. You can go to O'Briens across the road for drinks and they also do dinner which I have heard is good. This hotel was a last minute find in a quest to save some $$. Not only did I do that but I found a fabulous new place to stay.

There will be more posts to follow on this great city, including some of my favourite eateries and things so see.


I'm a runner, quilter, traveller. I have been lucky enough to have been travelling since I was 5.
I love sharing my experiences and tips with others. I work in the travel industry and have done so for many years. My focus is to give reviews on anything I do, eat or anywhere I stay.  I like to do things a little bit differently to others, I like to hunt down unusual restaurants, I like to do some off the beaten track activities. So come join me as I take you through a number of different cities seen from my eyes, with tips, ideas and things to do.