Tuesday, 18 October 2011
This towns motto is 'Populus Felix en Urbe Felic', which means 'Fortunate People in a Fortunate Land'. Now if your lucky enough to stay here you'll see exactly why these sentiments ring true. From the beautiful boulevard to a perfect view of the Pacific, this place has everything from the Ocean to one of the nicest drives down the Pacific Highway that you'll take as you head to the magnificent area of Malibu. Still let's keep it here with Monica. She's one beautiful girl.
She features the iconic, arch 'Santa Monica Harbour' sign which leads to the picturesque pier and the place made famous by Tom Hanks's character 'Forrest Gump' and his famous run in the hit Oscar winning movie. It's not time to go home yet however as speaking of Forrest, why not run to the decked out film-famous Bubba Gump restaurant for Shrimp anything or something different? The Santa Monica pier also holds a lot of attractions-old in style and nature-but with classic carousels and talented street performers here still appeals to the new crowd. There's also the iconic 'Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome' Ferris wheel which is a certified 'National Historic Landmark'. The Harbour and pier also makes a perfect place for a date night as it all illuminates that much brighter once the Sun falls on the coast and evening rises. This makes for a great view from Venice but a much more personal experience if your right in the thick of it. Don't get left behind.
To the left or right of the pier there is nothings but beautiful beach to help you get the sand in your feet and really experience California. Under the pier makes for a cool, calm perspective of this hip and happening place, but just be careful-you never know what's down there. After a bathe in the sun and sea why not take a trip back into town and visit Santa Monica's shopping district. This place has stores at the drop of your bag. If you didn't lose your money in the Pacific you may lose it now.
First and foremost lets head downtown to the 'Third Street Promenade' near the wonderful Wilshire Boulevard. Third Street makes for a great start to your 'to do' list. From a big 'Urban Outfitter' to a 'Foot Locker' and all the typical stores you can find your familiar habitual feet and spend, spend, spend here. On these classic, cobbled streets there's also plenty of stalls, independent owned business' and tourist places that help welcome everyone and anyone, along with some peculiar but pretty, prehistoric Dinosaurs sculpted in hedges and cast in iron. Don't forget your camera.
Montana Avenue and Main Street also make for ideal places to shop, still easily the most impressive place to shop is literally the Santa Monica Place. Recently renovated from the design by Frank Gehry. This new place features three floors of boutiques, high-end fashion shops and places to eat. This mall is open to everyone and the sun and was recently made famous by the hip, hot romantic comedy 'Crazy, Stupid Love'. It's the place ladies man Ryan Gosling took funny man Steve Carrel to shop for clothes and girls, so you never know spending a few bucks here might not hurt.
It'll do no harm to visit the great restaurants, cafes and bars in this Coastal city either. From the 'illy's' to the English themed pub, for a great, different experience for everyone not born in the British Isles and a nice home away from home for English tourists. There's also a store here dedicated to everything good and proper British, from souvenirs, to today's papers and the biggest selection of U.K. tea. Now nothing beats a good brew.
Unless its walking round this place at night. From the natural, to the street lights it's glowing if effervescent shine. Santa Monica in the cool of the evening is one of the calmest, classiest places you could hope to visit. There's an atmospheric and ambient feeling about this place at nightfall that can only be described by being there and experiencing it all. No wonder this place is the home of countless celebrities, or movies (like 'Iron Man' or 'Beverly Hills Cop III') -this isn't even the main attraction. This great area located next to the picturesque beauty of the Pacific Palisades is a perfect, laid-back paradise in itself. From the bay to the people, this is one of the realest, genuine resorts you could want to rest or reside in.
Make sure you take your time and take it easy here and stay a few nights. Why not stay in the 'Hotel California', sound familiar? It was good enough for The Eagles and they don't do things until hell freezes over these days. Also the hip and hopping 'Hi International Hostel' for travellers is a great place to meet more like-minded folk in this friendly and welcoming place. Sure this charming place is calm and laid back but there's so much going on here. From the annual Film Festival to the classic Aero Theatre and Criterion Theatre cinemas that have been showing films since the 1930's. Still if you prefer to sit back and relax then sit and watch movies the tranquil Palisades Park is for you.
Not everyone takes it easy here however as just like Venice it's a spot where the health conscious people of L.A. like to work out just like the steep Santa Monica Steps that lead to the serene Santa Monica Canyon. From the serious skateboarding scene to the flat slope that leads to the outstanding Ocean Avenue there's so much to traverse while you travel here. From the sensational sunshine to the depths of an atmospheric dusk and the tranquil trappings of the city at twilight you don't even have to do much for this to be one trip you just won't forget. Remember this place may be tucked in the corner of Los Angeles but it still stands out on the Californian coast. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 2 September 2011
On this walking tour we'll get our Sherlock Holmes on and investigate why this city has much more culture then it's typical stereotypes. Firstly however, whether you've arrived at Heathrow Airport, Euston train station or Victoria coach station, you'll have to ride the tube at least once for experiences sake, hate it or love it (we're somewhere in the middle). Take the subway service a few stops (and maybe a few changes, depending on the route) to the core and epicentre of the big smoke and lets start our journey in Oxford Circus in this big top town from East London to Westminster.
Oxford Circus really is an extravaganza of great shops, coffee houses and restaurants. From walking up London's royal, infamous, high-end, boutique bountiful Regent Street to heading up to Marble Arch (which also makes for a great photo opportunity) by way of dominant department stores like the world famous Selfridges and its notorious, grand shop-front designs. Still let's stay on course with Regent's Street (if your wallet can take it) and pass the magnificent marble buildings that these shops inhabit. This is London, in all its traditional, epic, structural stature. As is the legendary, classic Carnaby Street, if you take a side street on your left. This pedestrian street is driven by the perfect mix of shops and independent restaurants, bars and business'.
Keep up pace and you'll end up in what should really be called the entertainment district of London, as you reach Piccadilly Circus. Sure you won't see any clowns or lions, but what you will see is a nice group of neon signs that are almost as famous as Times Square. Also a famous fountain is a fond place for tourists to sit as the Ripley's 'Believe It Or Not' museum opposite, but let's keep it moving, even past the new, great M&M store (I know you want to stop and snack, but we can get back to that).
Now you'll find yourself central in Leicester Square. Which if you circle round you'll find it covers an equilateral mix of great restaurants (like Chiquito's, Garfunkels, or the many self-owned, tasty Pizza joints) and epic cinemas. Speaking of movies this place was (until recent renovations due to be finished in 2012) and will again be the perfect place for world premieres and the best way to meet and be struck by your favourite Hollywood star. From Clint Eastwood, to DiCaprio, Depp and R-Patz, they and many more scrolls down the A-list have been and will be here, once this place re-opens next year. Except the park in the middle of this square to look even more picturesque than it already did. Plus for all your premieres you can divert to the Westfield Shopping Centre in Shepherds Bush, which also makes a great place to spend a few hours and pounds with all it has to offer.
Still let's forget about currency and stay current for a minute. Staying on with the squares its time you reached Trafalgar Square, and how's the nice National Gallery, Nelson's Column, beautiful fountains and royal lion architecture and a countdown clock to the Olympics for your four corners? Speaking of the Olympics, this is another reason why you should visit this city, London is hosting the Olympics in 2012 and we've been to the Olympic Park and it looks incredible and almost ready too. It's just a shame its all getting scrapped after the games as it should stand as a great memory and legacy to it's holding of the worlds best sporting stage.
Once you've taken in the vast triumph of Trafalgar you've got two choices to make as you go forward. You can head right to the magnificent, Paris feeling Mall, en route to a royal appointment with the beautiful Buckingham Palace, where her Highness resides along with those guards that don't smile or move whatever you do, but just you try. Or on your immediate left as you head forward you can pass 10 Downing Street (where the Prime Minister lives and worth a visit, just don't expect to get an answer if you knock on his door) on your way to the bold and brilliant Big Ben and the historically perfect Houses of Parliament, one of the city and countries most iconic images is ready for your camera lens. As you take in all the delicate detail you have to wait around to hear it's legendary chime on the hour.
Then nearby this and 'some' protesters is Westminster Abbey, another wonderful site and the place where Prince William and Kate Middleton got married this year in front of the whole world. Worth writing home about and saying you where there. Past Big Ben however is the infamous London bridge. London's bridge falls you in perfect line with views of the terrific Thames and colossal Canary Wharf, the great Gherkin building and the developing financial district (there's even more towering towers being built right now) which is well worth affording a visit. London Bridge is not to be confused with the legendary Tower Bridge in the distance. You must bridge the gap to see this incredible landmark, but before you to take in some of the amusements and fun on the way and to gain the best perspective and view on everything why not take a look through the excellent London Eye and take the perfect vantage and look of this city on this wheel, day to night. Don't sleep on the eyes truly epic and evoking look of London.
Then you almost circle round and be back to Trafalgar and square one, this time however before getting back to Oxford Circus via the happening Tottenham Court Road you must spend an afternoon or evening in the classy Covent Garden with its quaint, vintage Europe styling. There's great places to eat, drink and relax and unimposing street entertainers bring family fun and frolics all night long to this classic, cobbled stone, ambient area. Still if you want to relax more then how about taking a walk in the park. From the glorious Green Park to the highs of Hyde Park (who's vast greatness is rivalled only by New York's Central Park) you can be at one with the nature and atmosphere of this city that really is friendly if you look in the right place. This is the place too. Especially Hyde decked out with deck chairs, bikes, fountains, bridges and interesting walks for your exploring. This walk in the park also doubles up as a great, epic venue for concerts as the Summer season rolls round the traditional 'Hard Rock Calling' has seen legendary acts like Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Bruce Springsteen grace the stage over the last few years. Now tell me you can't rock with that?
Speaking of concerts and other entertainment, London really is the ticket. Venue from the massive O2 (which even headlines some NBA games) to the bunker beauty of the Barbican Theatre and many more in places like Hammersmith and Camden (which is also home to a favourite, must-see market) have everything you need for bringing your favourite acts live. Still just like New York, the city of London is a theatre town and you can see it all from Billy Elliott to Wicked, or Thriller to Mamma Mia, in London's legendary theatres (like the Royal Court or the Old Vic) littered around the city but concentrated in Leicester Square where you can also pick up legit discounted tickets for your travel budget. Musically speaking, listen to this; from Waterloo, to Bakers Street and a couple of tube whistle stops to The Beatles famous Abbey Road you can crossover pop culture and history in just a few tube connections. Now isn't that worth a picture?
Still if you fancy something a little more ordinary with all these different things London town still has plenty more to do and offer. With great restaurants for all cultures (try the Chinese 'Yauatcha' near Carnaby Street) to the traditional British tastes of fish and chips, bangers and mash, and beef and ale pie, these pub classics are must eats. Pubs also make a great place to relax, drink and socialise, but for those less easy going, their are hip and happening bars, like the below zero 'Icebar' in Mayfair (woolly coats provided) which is real cold and cool. Then when its time to hit the dusty trail London will lead you to an endless list of hotels from the quaint and quiet stop overs to the bold, extravagant, more expensive than the flight places. Just take your pick. Still either way your guaranteed a great nights sleep in this after midnight calm city. Just make sure you set you alarm as London's calling for your next travel trip. Its time to answer, no question. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Wednesday, 31 August 2011
Off the sublimely serene River Seine, in this town your perspective of the world will change once again. What stands out most about gay Paris is the enormous, historical evoking Eiffel Tower that scrapes above the sky and towers above everything else. A cast-iron structure of epic, man-made proportions, this is bold and beautiful and in iconic status associated with France and Europe as a whole as much as Paris. Elevating your way to the top (if you don't have the shoes to walk the serious experience that is these staircases), you can almost see the whole city from the top of this tower. The view is as amazing as it is vast, all-encompassing in the day, golden and bright at night. Ooh la, la, this sure is beautiful. Words in any language can't describe, you just have to view it for yourself and take your time.
From the Eiffel Tower you can catch an upfront view of La Défense behind it. This stunning business district is well-endowed with sky scrapers and architectural structures that look more like something out of Asia or America than a traditional European city that has seen little change since 1860 (and believe me that's a good thing, as this cities positive percent is at a century). Nonetheless La Défense is inoffensive to the tradition of its home and a perfect part of Paris, a classic attraction and one of the worlds favourite cities that continues to make dynamic developments, just like neighbouring European city and country London in England.
Take another view from Eiffel and you will get an eye full of the long and epic Champs-Élysées. A road that doubles up as a boutique of restaurants and shops and mainly as a mall. One so magnificent it could even put London and Washington's malls in their respective places. Travel and traverse down this tree-lined mile that helps Paris make it's footprint as a green city and you'll really see a city rich in colour, texture and tradition. When the annual, worldwide appealing, tradition of the Tour De France reaches its destination here, you can really see it in all its glory. Take the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the mall for example. This really is an arc of triumph and iconic structure in the forefront of tourist attractions and the background of the capital of France's history. It rests as a monument and symbol of Paris' timeless culture and architectural greatness. White marble has never looked so perfect or pure.
As a matter of fact there's more to Paris then what meets the tour guides eyes. Every road, vestibule, alley and rue is rich with beautiful culture, character, tradition and history, making even a stop at any hotel, restaurant bar or coffee shop a memorable experience to cash into your memory banks. Still for a good nights sleep may we suggest Hotel Eiffel Seine. A good meal, Le Grand Véfour (where atmosphere and ambiance is on the menu). A good coffee (and lunch), Da Stuzzi which was used in 'Inception' (no it didn't really blow up) and a good time Le Baiser Salé. Or if you want to get real wild and fancy a cabaret how about the majestic Moulin Rouge? All these places are great and wonderful places to stay even with your world on a string. Speaking of money, this may not be Italy or London you best believe this city is in fashion with serious shopping, as the grand Galeries Lafayette department store really makes for one heaven sent shopping experience, especially in the magical Christmas season.
There's so much more to see in this city sight wise too. Where else can you read the 'Da Vinci Code' next to a pyramid that looks like a greenhouse and the 'other' Statue of Liberty. A place that has so many museums and galleries that you might just catch a glimpse of Napoleon or the worlds most famous painting and if that's not enough, why not save time and take it all in on the wheel that shows you all the WOW factors of this amazing place? Like the praise-worthy testament of the 12th century cathedral Notre Dame de Paris, the grace given Tuileries Gardens, the epic, song-worthy Opéra Garnier or the loving Louvre which will capture your heart.
Or how about the romantic street of Lycée Louis-le-Grand, again recently made famous by the Leonardo DiCaprio movie 'Inception' (but again, don't worry the street won't really turn in on its self). Places like the lavish Latin Quarter, the evocative Élysée Palace or the canvas of the Canal Saint-Martin help paint this town whole. Paris is pretty and as perfect as a picture, from the Place Vendôme to the Place de la Concorde there's plenty to see and do in this cityscape. While the sensational Sacré-Cœur Basilica almost looks like something out of India. Still the Jardin du Luxembourg gardens are distinctly French and distinctly beautiful. For sports too, football or otherwise, no stage is greater than the Stade Da France, while for other forms of family entertainment, don't forget Disneyland Paris too.
This is why Paris is the most visited city in the world and all these millions of people can't be wrong. So take une minute as its time to wave au revoir to work for a week or two and wave hello to a city you'll really adore. The French have it all from the magnificent Marseilles to cool Calais but nothing is more of an exclamation to the country of France than the perfect place that is its capital, Paris. So brush up on your Francais, take the last train to Paris and live it up. Just make sure you say hello to Mona Lisa while your there. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 27 August 2011
Welcome to fabulous, viva Las Vegas. As soon as you drive past that infamous, iconic sign after miles and miles of desert you know you've entered a whole different world all together. One full of light, life and money (even if it is yours) but Vegas is more than just a place for gambling or the city where Frank Sinatra-along with Dino, Sammy and the rest of the Rat Pack boys-did things his way. So whatever your vice, in this city do as you please, but here's some recommendations we're sure you can bet on. Let's roll the dice...
Whether your looking to get hungover with your wolf pack, or look as slick and smart as George Clooney and Brad Pitt as you try and take over some casino's (forget the 'Ocean's Eleven' speech the house always wins), this city in Nevada makes for the perfect night to hit the town. You can party on like Wayne and Garth in this world. I mean where else can you venture to New York, Paris and Egypt in the same night? Plus driving or walking the strip reveals the best this place or neon has to offer. From the vintage, classic signs of the past that where a part of American history to the constant modernisation the Las Vegas strip shines so much brighter than anything else, even New York's Times Square (hey, that's here too) the epicentre of the world.
It's little wonder from Mase's 'Feel So Good' to Lil' Wayne's 'Lollipop' that they've been filming expensive, money burning hip-hop videos here for years now. Sure there may be no account for taste or tack here, but hey your in Vegas and if you can't live it up here, where can you? Besides with escalators on the streets you really can walk in style in this visual orgy that really has everything for the eyes to see, stimulating all the senses too. If you really want to splurge (depends on how much you win) a helicopter ride really gives you an aerial, awesome-inspiring, amazing view of this strip that plain and bare really is something else.
I know your waiting to hit the casinos though right? If you can take your eyes off all of the lights and play your cards right then see if your gamble pays off when the chips are down in this strips classic, famous casinos. From the palms, to whatver you can get your fingers on, just make sure you play a good hand. Take the beautiful Bellagio for example in all it's bold brilliance. Or the fabulous flaunt of the Flamingo, a place that inspired the name of the stunning solo album from The Killer's frontman and hometown hero Brandon Flowers. Or why not hit Paris or New York or the French feel of the Monte Carlo? Or if that betrays your God like status (please!) then why not take a trip up to Caesar's Palace (and no, he didn't live here, stop asking and annoying the staff).
All these casino's and many more will guarantee you an unforgettable, classic night in all their grand spectacle. You don't even have to wait for Cher or Barry Manilow to get here (but you really should try and catch a truly magic Penn & Teller show, those two entertainers don't miss a trick). These places really make for one a real interesting night, whether your rolling dice or rolling out on the dance floor. Gambling or clubbing where else can you see woman smoking Cuban cigars so casually? Plus can you ever say you've danced the night away in a pirate ship, buying rounds for American troops that have come home? HOORAH!
'The Entertainment Capital of the World' has more to exclaim than a vast and vibrant nightlife however. With magnificent malls in the many numbers and beautiful boutiques that will leave your girlfriends mouth and your wallet open, shopping is also on the cards and in the bags here with even designer labels painted at a lower, more affordable price. You see these places don't need your money, the house and the city will take care of doing a pretty good job of that. Plus when a place can afford to put a roller coaster in the middle of a shopping centre you know your good for a bargain.
Thinking a little less green, even the hippest hotels here are in budgets price range, no need for hotels here really. With so many unique, incredible places to lay your hat at, the choice and the theme is yours. May we suggest you rock out at the legendary Hard Rock of all Hard Rock's however? You know the place whose guitar front was totalled by a plane flew by Nic Cage and John Malkovich in 'Con Air'. Where else but a place where you can check in with Bruce Springsteen motioning at you to keep quiet or wake up to Prince's purple suit staring at you? Money still plays in this casino/hotel as does Johnny Cash's guitar. Plus everybody loves the famous Hard Rock Café, so how about breakfast?
Still if that doesn't whet your appetite, even more food is on the menu for brunch, lunch dinner or even a light snack in Las Vegas. Just make sure you take a bite or two out the Tao Beach or the Mon Ami Gabi. Mmm, mmm. How's that for a review? Or if you like it a little tougher how about the meaty Delmonico's Steakhouse? Or the Mesa Grill for your fill?
It's clear to the average holiday maker that Las Vegas is more than just cards and dice. There are many great concert venues bringing performers in from Donny Osmond to Wayne Brady as they all perform marathon dates that cross off more calendars than excited kids waiting for Spring break. Sports also play here with the Thomas & Mack Centre just outside the strip. Home to UNLV, some great college basketball and even some preseason Lakers and Summer league NBA (not this lockout year however) but as for an NBA franchise, after the 2007 All-Star game, forget about it.
Still if you want to get further away from the strip and the beaten track why not drive out the city, from the beautiful, isolated and serene desert scene and sublime Spring Mountains, to nearby (ish) state Arizona and visit a National Park American landmark and one of the worlds eight wonders; the Grand Canyon. Your close enough, and the incredible, structurally grand Hoover Dam is on the way. As for the canyon, this inspiring, vast beautiful wonder can not be done justice by words or the new, groundbreaking, glass floor 'Skywalk'. You simply have to see this unforgettable experience for yourself. Still, this isn't Vegas, so let's get back on track.
A track that trains the eyes to Black Jack, Lady Luck and a festival of neon that runs all night, every night. The city of Las Vegas will take you everywhere and the Fremont Street Experience is the best mall and most attractive, pedestrian by name but not by nature with it's lavishing cool, 'Viva Vision' LED canopy and much more to offer below, amongst and beyond. An experience as classic as the waving Binion's Horseshoe sign, which is pure, Americana vintage and second only to a neon lady waving her leg in iconic and synonymous status with this place.
Believe us, you can make it in this town. Vegas has New York in it's pocket as the real city that never sleeps, even with it's cool eerie daytime feel. The casino's never shut their lights off, so expect to be kept awake by a place so illuminating Frank Sinatra built a house on the outskirts when he was banned from the city just to be close to it. Love it or loathe the thought this is just one place you have to visit and what happens here shouldn't stay here. Go tell a friend how fabulous this place is. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Thursday, 25 August 2011
Don't waste a second in this sensational city but take your time and relax as you take in everything. Just walking by the sea of this place on the Californian coast makes the most of your future memories. The beautiful boardwalk and serene perfect ports really take you away as the Bay Area really is all encompassing in this Golden State. Speaking of Oakland as you walk by the shore in the distance you can see the beautiful bridge that will take you there. Before you walk any further however don't forget the attractive, appealing Pier 39, or the favourite Fisherman's Wharf, which still functions as a tourist destination and a place to reel in the customers. Above all though it's simple but meaningful elements of community and beauty really add colour and character to this city.
Walking across the Golden Gate bridge in the day or driving across at night is a real inspiring and beautiful trip. The grand design of this red iron structure is truly remarkable, it's little wonder this single bit of road has been used in countless cinematic moments in many big-budget blockbusters (most recently it was taken over by the 'Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes' but don't worry it's just a film). With the misty, awe-inspiring atmosphere and the most perfect view of the Pacific, words don't do this unforgettable, magical experience justice. You will literally have to see it for yourself, but trust me it's well worth the price of admission for this holiday. The Golden Gate bridge stands as one of the brightest gateways and one of the greatest things you'll ever see or do. This American landmark really is one of the realest wonders of the world.
If you want to see more American landmarks that have made for some massive Hollywood blockbusters why not head to 'The Rock' or Alcatraz as it is more commonly known. This famous former prison famously homed Al Capone and a Clint Eastwood movie ('Escape From Alcatraz') amongst others. Even as you head down on a boat amongst the eerie mist and creepy, 'Shutter Island' esque atmosphere you almost feel like a prisoner yourself and you'd really feel it if it wasn't for the choppy ride over. Today the jail stands as a relic and a brilliant piece of history. As you make your way round this prison, you can feel what it's like to be behind bars and even hear stories of some infamous escapes or attempts at escape. You be the judge, but see for yourself one of the most strangest/intriguing places in the world. One of such interest that it draws 1.5 million visitors per every 365 days. Plus from the penitentiary you can really catch an incredible view of the city.
As you take the boat back and head back downtown you can delve into the depths of the brilliant view from the sea. The Financial District of San Fran affords some of the best buildings you'll see like the 1925 Pacbell building that really stands the test of time but nothing stand out more than the perfectly perplexing, transfixing Transamerica Pyramid building in all its architectural creativity and beauty. If you head down California street you can really see the economical effects of the California Gold Rush, but if your really want to mine the best nuggets out of this city then you have to walk or better yet drive down the famous, iconic hilly streets of this town. This is where this place really shines, especially with the classic, vintage, cable car trams that take you on a real trip down this town. Drivers beware however, you are not Steve McQueen and this is not 'Bullitt' (or any other of the many more movies inspired by this place). Your speeding tickets or cars chassis can not take your best impression.
The mix of modern and Victorian architecture give this place the perfect big city/small town feeling mix while the beautiful descending row of houses really gives this city an uprising and warm feel. Still, however unless your couch surfing you may want to find yourself some accommodation and from the Edwardian hotel, the aptly named 'Good' hotel and the 'Hi' hostels you ll be hard-pressed not to find somewhere and some place so welcoming. Plus from Bar Jules, to the Sweet Sugar Lounge and the Millennium Restaurant and Zuni Cafe there are plenty of places for your food and drink needs, wants and desires. In the core of the city you can find everything from shopping to dining in the unifying Union Square. An area which is cool, calm and also doubles up as a really great outside library, complete with fountains and views pouring with character and charm. So bring a book and take a load off. This city is made for relaxing too.
Don't stay too long chopping it up in coffee houses however as talk all you want because there is so much more to see in San Francisco. From Chinatown to Japantown, the bold Baker Beach, the grace of Golden Gate Park and the awesome Aquatic Park. The famous Silicon Valley is worth processing, while the Pacific Heights will really take you higher. Or add the classic City Hall and the traditional Ferry Building which is just classic California all over. Still if you've had enough of the sights how about some entertainment. There are lots of great gigs and music venues here like Annie's Music club. Or how about some sports? Where the 49er's of the NFL and the Giants of baseball make for some legendary sports franchises and memorable evenings out and tourist experiences. Or if you like to relax a bit more, why not hit the links on the Harding Park Golf Course? A beautiful green that's PGA approved.
Take a trip to the incredible twin peaks and you can really see all this city has to offer and take a photographic memory opportunity of everything you've traversed during your San Francisco chronicles. This place is rich in history and culture and from the majestic museums to the pretty, pretty nice people you have to take it all in. One trip isn't enough but you really have to make the most of a place you'll want to see again and again. With a cool climate, with just enough Summer breeze too you can really feel the atmosphere of this bright and beautiful place. The legendary crooner Tony Bennett left his heart in this city and this towns so loving you just may find his or even yours here. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
As soon as you touch down in this town the amazing atmosphere and humidity hits you, even at night giving this city a fresh, new feeling. Some may not be able to stand it, but this feeling really helps you take in this place and make you realise you really are on holiday and somewhere else. So as you hitch a ride downtown in a cab (see if you can find one that isn't a hummer these days) it's time to lay your hat. Miami has any hip and happening hotels and hostels to stay in from the art deco to the constantly developing 'Manhattanized' high rise buildings. Our pick however is the affordable yet idyllic Indian Creek Hotel. It's quaint, friendly and a pebbles throw away from the beach and everything after. Plus it has a grand garden in the middle and you'll be sure not to lose the cool alligator room keys.
After your first nights sleep and before you get this travel show on the road its time to fuel up. So why not take a rest stop at one of the many brilliant diners, cafes and/or eateries which house a great way to get full and spend an hour or two? Our choice from the menu is the 'Big Pink' restaurant, which is perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even cocktails (I had a corn beef hash with scrambled eggs there which is among the biggest, best things I've ever chowed down). This diverse, do it all giant place may have a dodgy name but it is coloured by bright and friendly staff. Plus if your in to your big portions you have to try the mammoth corned beef hash and scrambled eggs, ready for anytime of the day. Now if you can handle that you have to go hard and try one of the many delicious desserts. Nobody does portions like the U.S. or them in the Pink. The proof in the big pudding is in the ordering and of course the tasting.
Now you have to leave time to digest for this next one as its time to hit the beach for one of your trips highlights. From the stunning sun to the beautiful people South Beach keeps the good times going from dusk 'till dawn. As a matter of fact watching the clear sky turn from day to night on the shore of this beach is one of the most beautiful, inspiring things you'll ever see-but safety first-this isn't the best place to be at night. Still from wonderful white sand to the sublime turquoise sea, you'll fall in love with this city the moment you have to pour sand out of your shoes.
Even going under the boardwalk like the Four Tops or sitting on the dock of the bay like Otis Redding gives you more memorable moments in South Beach, you'll feel a million miles away but strangely at home with all the twists and turns this place has to offer if you take a walking tour. From watching grand hotel complexes being built to seeing beautiful boats and yachts chug by it's clear a lot of money is going in to the development of this city, a place definitely worth investing your time in.
South Beach has more to offer than just sand and sea however. The South Beach strip is also home to one of America's most hip and happening nights out with clubs and bars adorning the street and facing the ocean. You can do everything from grabbing a quiet drink and listening to some alive, live music to dancing the night and the morning away in some of South Beaches best nightspots. Our ideal night out however is 'The Clevelander'. What better in a hot city like this then an outside club? Now just try getting rejected or thrown out of this place. Plus with great music, people and surroundings this really does make for one of South Beaches most memorable moments whether your a clubber or not.
Still if this really isn't for you then why not save South Beach for the next morning and check out some shops. With streets and streets of famous stores and boutiques this retail sector really offers everything to your credit card. The Kardashian's even have made a 'Dash' here. Still if this isn't your reality the streets have much more to offer with cinemas and beautiful, white-stone buildings galore. From the feel of art deco, to modern neon lights South Beach glitters in all it's colorful gold. Seriously this place even has one of the brightest looking banks you'll ever see, now you can draw a lot from that.
Then again if you'd like to get away from the South Beach scene you could always head downtown, where even more developments are happening and coming along in the heart of Miami. The streets are lined with murals and new building projects as the city looks more and more like New York by the day. Also from the Port Of Miami to the beautiful Bayside you will see some of the best perspectives of this town and all that's down here. This 'Cruise Capital Of The World' has great markets and imported and exported promise. The Freedom Tower and the Miami Tower really do stand above everything though, looking grand and eye-catching whether it be in the heat of the day or the bright neon of the night.
Downtown is also home to the American Airlines Arena and its Miami Heat basketball team one of the best forms of sports events and entertainment in the state of Florida. This team really is giant with their new big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. So make sure you take your tickets down to South beach so you can really feel the Heat and one of the best teams in the NBA If roundball isn't your sport however then why not make a pitch for the Miami Dolphins NFL franchise and call down to see how formidable this football franchise really is.
After this gridiron trip there's still plenty more afield to see in Dade County, so make sure you pack plenty of oranges and get your passport Miami inked because in the heart of Florida there's not much more that beats faster. From famous streets like Ocean Drive to the classic area of Coconut Grove and more beautiful neighbourhoods. Next door too, Miami is only a few tricks away from the magic kingdom of Orlando and a beautiful drive away from the tranquil Florida keys this cities reach spreads far and wide across the Atlantic. With a futuristic skyline and a present-day feeling of comfort and peace this is one place you don't want to pass up on. It's time to give in to temptation and visit vice city. TIM DAVID HARVEY
Tuesday, 2 August 2011
As soon as you touchdown in LAX (whose large letter entrance really initials the innovative place) in the day one of the things that takes your eye-if your looking out the window and not away with the fairies-is the Hollywood sign in the far distance. One of the city, countries and worlds most iconic landmarks, this district is definitely worth a visit as you surreally get closer to the famous streets and stars...but not yet. Just wait.
First-as you step off the plane-you have to get acclimatised to this place with a Mediterranean climate. From the hotter then July weather to the breathtaking scenery, this city of angels really is heaven sent. You have to hit the beach first-off because what else is better to do in your shades and shorts? In the soul of California and the heart of Los Angeles is the vast Venice Beach full of character, sand and beautiful sunshine. This is the place where they filmed 'Baywatch' and the location for a great tan and Los Angeles experience. From great courts to play sports-whether your game is tennis or basketball (the Venice Beach playgrounds are legendary)-to a muscle beach that isn't for the faint physiqued, Venice Beach is almost like a different world.
The bold boardwalk is even full of life from stalls to shops to magnificent murals. You can get everything from rock band T-shirts to your palm read and between shops if you look up you may be greeted by late legend of The Doors and L.A. son Jim Morrison amongst others painted on the side of the buildings, giving this place a Miami esque art deco feel. There are more beaches available in this city sand canvassing the Los Angeles map, from the magnificent area of Malibu to the picturesque Paradise Cove and an old favourite down in Newport with a beach tha'ts always fresh and never out of reach. Still nothing tops Venice...apart from the namesake city in Italy. Rollerblade, cycle or walk down the boardwalk and you'll be greeted with so much character and personal charm.
Then walk a little further and you'll find yourself in the sweet, memorable Santa Monica. A place dedicated to by many written songs and worn T-shirts around the world-it's that popular-even for people who've never been. You can see why to, with the famous pier-littered with old school amusements and the iconic 'Welcome To Santa Monica' sign, that's where Forrest Gump finished his epic run. Santa Monica is also home to many great restaurants, shops, cinemas, boutiques and beautiful people. There are even hedge sculptures and water fountains shaped like Dinosaurs in this perfectly peculiar plaza that is anything but prehistoric. Everything and everybody's here, from the best designers to the great self-owned business', making for a perfect day out or place for a cuppa for the English, as there is even a British themed store full of English tea, delicacies and all the British trimmings. Plus with the recently renovated Santa Monica place, you needn't shop anywhere else than this perfect place.
Unless you'd rather take a trip downtown. Los Angeles recently improved downtown area is a great destination, just be smart about what you do and where you go after hours. Shopping on the other hand (full of bags) you can do 'till you drop. From the Macy's mall to all sorts of shops, places, coffee houses (the Starbucks near the STAPLES Centre with great outside seating is a favourite), fast food joints and restaurants you'd be hard-pressed to find nothing to do here. Looking toward the STAPLES Centre this place is your home for some of America's greatest sporting events from the cool as ice, Los Angeles King's hockey team to the new Blake Griffin dunk show that is Los Angeles Clippers basketball. Still for your best basketball and sports experience you have to check out the team that plays in purple and gold as the STAPLES Centre really is Kobe Bryant and the Lakers house. These former champs really are the biggest draw in downtown Los Angeles and the NBA period, bringing in all sorts of Hollywood celebrities with everyone from Leonardo Dicaprio to courtside mainstay Jack Nicholson cheering the side on.
Or if basketball isn't your sport of choice how does baseball pitch you? Where taking a drive to the beautiful, legendary Dodger stadium would rank amongst some of the best experiences in this city. Still back at STAPLES, there's lots of impressive things to be seen from the illuminating building to the bronze statues of sporting legends Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Chick Hearn (of the Lakers), Wayne Gretzky and Oscar De La Hoya. Or the three tiered Hotel Figueroa (also a remarkable place to stay) nearby and it's ever changing with the times design. Also across the way is the newly designed Nokia theatre and L.A. Live building, which really brings this illuminating downtown area to life after hours. Here makes for a great venue for gigs, cinemas and bar and restaurants, making for the best before or after game activities(s). As does the 'Team L.A.' or new Niketown stores that offer some great sporting memorabilia for your momentous occasion.
Plus with beautiful, big, art, architectural buildings bookending everything, and sensational skyscrapers rising above it all, downtown really makes for a grand day out. Make sure you make an effort to see the innovative Disney Concert Hall up the road, one of the best steel, structured sculptures you'll ever see. Make sure you try and catch a classic performance there too. These futuristic buildings really take you further at nightfall, combined with the hot, clear air to make this cities skyline look more like something out of 'Blade Runner'. The Michael Mann movie 'Collateral' captures the shimmer and shine of downtown Los Angeles futuristic beauty at night. It's no wonder this place is used for so many movies.
Speaking of which, it's time to take that trip to Hollywood, from it's soul to the bowl. From walking past everyone from Spiderman to Marylin Monroe, to walking across the star lined streets of the Hollywood 'Walk Of Fame', this is the place to see everything from John Wayne's hand prints to Johnny Depp's star, floor sign. If you want to get even closer to the stars then maybe it would be a good idea to try and win some tickets for the hilarious Jimmy Kimmel television show, that rivals Conan, Leno or Fallon in New York. Hollywood boulevard is also the place to check out the magnificent Grauman's Chinese Theatre (and if your lucky a star-studded premiere) or to take a snap of the cool Kodak Theatre. The place where winners and losers are made at the Oscar's. Mid-February would also be the time to go if you'd rather catch a glimpse of George Clooney and Brad Pitt as opposed to just seeing their names engraved on the floor. If you want to get you full stalker on however then why not take a star map or guided tour to the Hollywood Hills and check out how some of the towns best stars are living, door to door as you take a trip round some of the most famous streets and homes in this city. Just remember, these are people too. Do not disturb. Or how about taking that guided tour to some places even mre famous then some stars? Like the sensational Sunset Boulevard or the magnificent Mulholland Drive.
Still if you don't want to reach the heights of the Hollywood hills then why not scale some other hills? Beverly Hills is famous for more than 90210, Eddie Murphy's comic cop and a Weezer song. It's also famous for being a great area and a cool place to pass through. Nearby you'll also find Rodeo Drive. An affluent place where you could snap up a camera phone picture of a passing celebrity or a not so bargain buy. This is actually the place to shop, if your bank account won't drop. These grand, great streets are full of expensive boutiques and designer shops. It's a place designed for the wealthy-even the bums won't except anything less than ten dollars-still it's an experience you can't afford to lose out on. Plus there is something for everyone.
There's more then this though, from beautiful areas like La Cienga (home of a famous Ryan Adams song) to La Brea and those infamous prehistoric filled tar pits. Or how about a walk in the park. From the evocative Echo Park to the famous MacArthur Park. Take a drive or a tour and there's plenty more to see like the classic, cool Capitol Building, which is a place where many hit records have been cut. Or how about where everything goes down in the timeless City Hall. Still if it is movies that really move you then you could spend a day in Universal Studios where you can visit some sensational sets (who would know that the crashed plane from 'War Of The Worlds' would be just round the corner from 'Desperate Housewives' Wisteria Lane, they'll have to be careful when they film there) and ride some radical rides like the Jurassic Park or The Mummy themed ones.
Now that's a hell of a lot of things to see in this city right? Well this place really is vast and one of the best ways to truly see everything is by looking out for the Griffith Observatory, a landmark that makes for an awe-inspiring, epic perspective of this awesome place. The drive up to the observatory is nice to as you pass the incredible, iconic Hollywood Bowl (a great concert venue, where everyone from The Doors to Ben Harper have played and filmed a live show) that is only rivalled by the hip Hollywood House Of Blues or the legendary Greek Theatre. Like the bowl, the observatory is a white stone, old-fashioned, but innovative building that evokes elements of Greek stylings. Nothing comes close except the old Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, look hard enough and you may see it from here. Still the observatory makes for your best view of the entire city (downtown even looks tiny, the views that grand) or the Hollywood sign (if you turn around) so don't forget to bring your cameras. Griffith also is high up in some of the most beautiful hills in Hollywood and also has some perfect surroundings. There's even a nice tribute to James Dean. The bust of his profile cementing his iconic work in the legendary 'Rebel Without A Cause' movie that had a vital scene filmed here.
You think that's it for Los Angeles' sites? Then take a trip to some other destinations here that highlight this holiday before you vacate this vacation. Why not take a car, put the top down and drive round this town with some cool Los Angeles radio station playing the songs that will serve as instant nostalgia as you cruise around a city rich with character and culture on every street corner, just watch how you go. From Wilshire Boulevard and the development of it's Grand Tower to Bel-Air if you want to try and find the Fresh Prince. Or the perfect Pacific Palisades, great Getty Centre and the wonderful works of art that are the Watts Towers are more things you must cross off the list.
Then after all this your going to want to refuel so how about some dinner? There's all sorts of great, recommended places like Cicada on 617 South Olive Street, The Pacific Dining Car on 1310 West 6Th Street, or many more, memorable places you'll be able to seek out. Then after some chow how mixing it up with the locals or your friends in one of the many great bars or night-clubs this city has to offer? From Johnny Depp's 'The Viper Room' on Sunset (just don't expect him to be pulling pints), all the way to Seven Grand on West 7Th Street (515 to be exact). Then you got to find somewhere to stay and from the best hotels (the Marriott serving your downtown needs and the 'Hotel Erwin' getting you a little closer to the Pacific) to hostels (there's a great 'Hostelling International' in Santa Monica that doesn't feel so rigidly official and a friendly one called the Hostel California which may not be a hotel or have anything to do with the famous Eagles song, but it still makes for a great little place to stay).
Now you've got all that out the way, coupled with your rest and recuperation (your going to need it) you best believe there's even more things to see and people to meet in one of the biggest and most populated cities in the world. Plus the perfectly beautiful Pacific Coast will take you to some sensational, surrounding cities (Orange County, San Francisco and Diego) and on the drive of your life. So make sure you get yourself out there. With a cold Winter coming for most places (except L.A.), now the time to take a trip you won't ever forget. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Wednesday, 29 June 2011
As soon as you arrive, the amazing architecture and clinically perfect streets will take you away. Evoking elements of Philadelphia and even Boston this city is distinctly American, with a New England charm. Still, this city is a place in itself, from some of the worlds wonders, to the most down to earth, lovely locals you'd ever like to meet, it's time to lay down your hat and call this place home for a few days, because it'll certainly feel like that. Now where to stay?
How about them sites? Some of the most sensational you'll see. Obviously the wonderful White House is the top drawer and Mr. Obama's home truly is something to marvel at, from it's rich history to it's grand look, just don't expect to be invited in for a game of basketball...not that he's not nice like that, but he's pretty busy. The biggest, most eye-catching building however is the place where all the Presidents take their oath on inauguration day. The Capitol building really defines D.C. to the letter (or should we say letters). It's one of the first-things you see, even streets away and it is bold and beautiful. The grandest of all buildings no wonder newsmen stand next to it when giving reports. It looks like the White House with a face-lift.
Still for something even more epic you have to take a walk down The Mall. From it's tranquil, calm lake to the perfect pinnacle of the Washington Monument it's vast and breathtaking. As you make your ascension up The Mall and up the marble steps you meet a good ol'friend Abe at the Lincoln Memorial, this statue of the former president that freed the slaves as as awe-inspiring as the man himself. So detailed and moving too looking at his speeches you won't be able to take your eyes off of him. The same can also now be said for the beautiful and touching Marin Luther King Jnr, memorial and tribute. It's finally here.
Still turn around, walk a few paces and take a seat on the marble steps and you'll be greeted with one of the best views you can sit, see and take in for free. Many more incredible speeches have been made around here, so take a minute and pay respect to Martin Luther King Jnr. They have also used this perfect location for many introspective scenes in movies, just ask Clint Eastwood, Owen Wilson or Vince Vaughan. Count on some company, unlike the movies however, but this heavily visited tourist location still has sedate calm (like the city) and is also a great place to shoot the breeze and share some history with other tourists (again like the city).
Plus from memorable memorials to the perfect precision of the Pentagon building there are many more must see places here to pay your respects to. There is also an alumni of must see attractions like the grand Georgetown University or the historically compulsory 'Frederick Douglass National Historic Site'. This city is rich with history from museums and galleries (check out the 'National Museum of the American Indian' and the ' National Gallery of Art') the to the marvellous Mural of jazz legend Duke Ellington on U Street.
Beyond all the world-famous sites there's much more to see in this cool city, from the sublime streets to the character of every vestibule and alley. Just check out the Row houses on Logan Circle or the Eastern Market for more delights. One of the best things about Washington is that everything blends in and nothing overpowers the skyline or streets, even the epic architecture blends in to a suitable, subtlety in this cool and calm community. Everything just feels nice and welcoming here, with a laid-back feel despite the very stressful and important decisions that go on amongst some of the inhabitants of those aforementioned architecture.
At the unique, and classically fashioned Union Station you can catch more then a train (which in itself is a great experience with the grand, stone-cold stations). With a small wood and marble laid, appealing shopping arcade and a feel-good food hall, this station has a great network of shops and eateries for a quick stop off. A visit at the Union, really is a rewarding one. Outside of this there are plenty of other restaurants and coffee shops to dine in, from the classic Chinatown, to even more places that blend into the cities overall feel. From the gorgeous 'Georgia Brown's' to the French favourite 'Cafe Du Parc'.
Still if you'd rather say bonjour to a good drink over a good meal then why not frequent one of the cities batch of brilliant bars. From tabbing the 'Rocket Bar' or the 'Lucky Bar' to searching for 'The Big Hunt' D.C. has the streets paved for your crawl. Then again if you prefer dancing to staggering (all depending on how many left feet you have) why not hit up 'Ultrabar', or clock into the '9:30 Club' or even grant yourself 'Asylum' at many of the towns night-spots and clubs? When it comes to a night-life Washington really hits the heights.
Still if that's not for you why not head further downtown and catch some basketball and the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Centre? Hey, if it's good enough for Obama. Still if that or other ball-games aren't your field why not catch a concert at the Verizon Centre? Or a show at the nice National Theatre? 'The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' also makes for a perfect site and view of presidential talent in performing. Art really is brought to life here.
After all this from the historic 'Willard InterContinenta' hotel to the classy 'Capitol City Hostel' there are plenty of comforting places to get your head down and when you rise and shine the next morning you'll really have to open your eyes as there's much more to see in the city of D.C. Plus the beautiful Baltimore isn't far down the wire from this linking city. Still between Maryland and Virgina what really stands out is the real America and nations capital. Next time you make a point of taking a trip put D.C. first. TIM DAVID HARVEY
Sunday, 12 June 2011
Now then, straight out of O'Hare Airport where's the place to be when everywhere is what you need to see? Well, how about just taking your own, individual walking tour of the city of wind, breathing it in at your own pace? Standing above everything the 'Willis Tower' (formerly known-and still by most people-as the 'Sears Tower') really shows you everything this city has to offer and from the awe-reaching aerials to the Matt-black finish there really aren't many structures as sensational as this. Going inside and up to the 'Skydeck' of this towering landmark really gives you the best view of outside. The literally 'outstanding' clear floors gives the seriously scariest and highest, aerially amazing perspective of the city literally below you...if you dare to sit.
You can also catch a great side-on view of the skyline from a seated position on the grand, lasting legacy that is the Navy Pier and it's favourite Ferris Wheel. Navy Pier not only offers a great view of the city, it also offers a sensational perspective on Lake Michigan's shoreline. Also there are plenty of cute little shops and eateries inside the pier, decked out in a wood, boat feeling style. You can even go up-top to the high-reaching beauty of the Navy Pier Greenhouse, (for you film fans it's where Chi-town based actor Vince Vaughan spied on Winona Ryder in 'The Dilemma') or outside to many of the classic carousels and amusements that make for a pleasant afternoon for all the family, no matter their age.
Now if you head back down to the heart of the city, that itself is a sight to see inside itself. Every street-corner and alley is paved with character and detail. From the rich, red iron supports and bridges to the legendary, everlasting Lake Michigan that runs through them. Along with this are the signature subway trains that pass outside and over the city, offering every passenger an incredible view and those below something to marvel at. Plus with old but outstanding architecture and buildings enveloping the city (and some new foundations too) there are plenty of picture opportunities to take and send home. Day and night the heart of this city beats with life and the grand buildings have a great Gothic feel.
It's no wonder this city was used for the latest, greatest 'Batman' films. Speaking of which this city is also the place of many famous movie landmarks like the aforementioned 'Batman' series', including the street featuring the 'Chicago Board Of Trade Building' (another must see), where Christian Bale's Batman and Heath Leger's (rest in peace) Joker had their famous fight. The Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Sean Connery and Andy Garcia classic movie 'The Untouchables' about Al Capone and Elliott Ness was filmed here also. With so many locations made infamous like the unique 'Union Station' (worth a visit in all it's vintage, bold, beauty itself) where the iconic, stairway action, set-piece scene was filmed. No city could have captured both the fictions Gotham City or the early 1930's so perfectly then this one. Now that's the Chicago way.
Speaking of art, designed in the canvas of this city is some amazing, astounding architecture. Millennium Park and it's new generation 'AT&T Plaza' opens up a world beyond the city in an atmosphere of astonishing art. The 'Cloud Gate' (or that big silver bean as it's more commonly thought as) makes for some great photo, or 'how's my hair' opportunities. With it's great perspectives and strange allure it really does stand out in this already outstanding city. Also from many new developing sculptures and structures to fountains featuring changing faces, (the 'Crown Fountains' profile changes every 5 minutes) this plaza always pleases those looking for something fresh and new. With an ice-rink in Winter to boot, this plaza skates through the seasons with ease and all-year-round appeal.
Still if you'd rather site the latest bargains, Chicago's shopping district is among the best any city has to offer. All-round the city is a network of incredible shops from the new to the niche. Still the 'Macy's' mall may be the most memorable place that offers it all under one roof. From eating delicious deli to receiving one of the closest and best shaves you'll ever get you can really get it all here. Still even out-of-town there are so many private owned business' that offer some perfect, more personal service, whether your after some new music, or new clothes. Chi-town also boasts some of the best places to eat and drink. Even the mad-looking, 'Rock-N-Roll McDonald's' (on the North Side of town) stands next to the Hard Rock Cafe in more ways then one. From it's designs to it's escalators (really? In a McDonalds) that take you up to a cafe bar. Oh and with it being open all night, it's a great place to hang out and catch a bite with some friends, 24/7. Speaking of the fast food chain, there's also a great one on 'Martin Luther King Dr' where the walls are adorned with all the great civil-rights leader accomplishments. Something you really have to take in, so don't take out.
There are so many great places to eat in Chicago that you really will want to seek out your own unique place to eat, but if Chicago is known for anything it's their perfect, prominent Pizza Places. The Windy City is renowned for it's rich, traditional, Deep-Dish Pizza and trying one is a much-delicious-eat. With so many places to choose from however, these dishes really do deep, but for great ambiance and atmosphere why not check out 'Lou Malnati's' (on the North Side)? That's as long as you don't mind Shaquille O'Neal's sweaty, gym shorts staring at you while you eat? That's a great piece of memorabilia, but enough to turn even the biggest of men off his food. Still if you really want to see memorable memorabilia and have a great choice to chomp down on, nothing beats the almost cattle-market excitement of Portillo's. Also from the clear-cut, classy 'Proof' and 'Vision', there are plenty of great Nightclubs in the area to take your night away. Still if your prefer a quieter evening why not check out a bar? There's plenty of brilliant ones in and around the city, vibrant with character and charming locals. Still in the soul of downtown nothings more soothing or calm then 'The Cove'. It's bottled up with tradition and style and hey it was good enough for Sandra Bullock in 'The Lake House'.
For eating out and nightlife Chicago has plenty more delightful districts to quiet things down, if you want to take a break from downtown. From Lakeview to Lincoln Park (you won't find Mike and his band there however) Chicago's lovely atmosphere lasts. If your in to sports and burgers you have to check the game out and the taste and variety of 'Duke's Bar & Grill'. From fond and friendly staff, to a classic, cool, cabin-wood look this daddy of burger joints really is the duke. Still if you actually want to catch a real game for yourself then Chicago really is the place for that too. Take a trip to the United Centre and you'll see one of the NBA's most legendary and best basketball teams today in the Chicago Bulls. From a legendary legacy charged by Michael Jordan (you have to check out the incredible statue) to the latest run of great players (including 2011 League MVP, Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah) your in for a great night of good team sport. Beyond the Basketball too, the centre stands to attention with incredible live music and displays from the championship trophies to the banners and legendary jersey's retired to the rafters. Or if you bounce at the sight of a basketball then how about we pitch you some baseball? Where seeing the Chicago Cubs play at the classic Wrigley Field is among one of the best experiences you could have on this trip in this town. Regardless if your a fan or not. Don't sleep on the other sports and teams either as the Bears, Blackhawks and White Sox will all show you why this town of the Chi is proud of it's sporting traditions.
Or if you like your evenings a bit more theatrical why not check out the legendary 'Chicago Theatre', that really illuminates at night from the outside to what's going on inside? This lavish landmark also serves as a great snap shot or meeting place for a date...hey it's easy to find. Still if that isn't the ticket (watch out things aren't sold-out), the 'Oriental' makes for another outstanding evening. or you could just simply marvel at this city as you walk around and take in the sites. Or why not take it even easier and take a boat trip right through the Michigan Lake and the ever pumping heart of the city, checking out every beautiful beat, day or night?
After all that surely you'll need some rest and there are plenty of great places to do that from the relatively cheap to the real rich. Whether your into towering the heights of the 'Trump Hotel', or keeping it homely and welcoming in the great 'Getaway Hostel' (a truly warm and friendly place to meet locals and fellow travellers), or even finding some middle ground in the real nice, recently renovated 'Red Roof In'' your guaranteed a great nights stay and sleep if you look the right way. As you head for some shut eye, you better keep it brief as if you miss any more of this city you really will miss out. So wake up and realise that Chicago is one of the classiest and coolest places to visit and set a date. Even if you've already had your first-look it may just be time to open up your eyes again and take a second look at the sublime second-city. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 5 June 2011
The first thing you notice about Boston is the classic streets that are full of calm character. Looking somewhere between old British pubs and homes in the suburbs everything here blends in with a welcome, 'make yourself at home' vibe. From the shops to the restaurants everything is unique, holding it's own, but still nothing imposes or stands out more then the general feel of the city itself that remains distinctively traditional, individual and real.
This Irish green city is blue collar in it's hard-working nature. You can tell this from the status of their colleges to the characteristics of their sports teams and locals and the iron on the Charlestown bridge, but still the aforementioned calm of this place makes it a great place to relax. This work-hard, play-hard city makes the most of everything. Bars are your best bet for an enjoyable evening and from the hometown favourites to the traditional Irish joints every place has it's own character and distinction from the way their made up to the regulars that inhabit it. The 'Beantown' and 'Bull & Finch' pubs are must drinks. A pub crawl is perfect in this city because it's best to see as much of it as you can.
Or you could go 'where everybody knows your name' and visit some classic television history with the legendary 'Cheers' bar. A popular tourist destination for photo's of the sign and door outside, the interior is different to the show (a typical Hollywood hallmark of having the set inconveniently located miles away elsewhere (what happens when somebody storms out the bar?)) but still a great place to go inside. From nice memorabilia to a great atmosphere, coupled with show like decor, this decorated show is channelled in all the favourite ambiance of this place. Plus with great food and drink, 'Cheers' doubles up as a nice sports bar. So why not catch a Celtics and Sox game while chowing down on a 'Frasier Panini'? Just don't expect to see Norm...you'll feel just as welcome though.
Speaking of sports, with legendary, vintage and still great Baseball and Basketball teams, nothing beats Boston...except the Lakers (sometimes). If your up to bat make sure you pick up a cap with a red 'B' on it and watch the legendary Red Sox show why they really are a powerhouse. At the coliseum of Boston, Fenway Park you'll visit one of the greatest, epic arenas for sports, from the fans to the stands...and you thought Yankee Stadium was impressive.
Still if you'd rather hit the court you have to visit the Garden (OK, the legendary Boston Garden is now rubble but the TD Bank Garden still stands up. There is no basketball team more synonymous with the NBA then the storied sensation that is the Boston Celtics. With legends going from the floor to the rafters like Bill Russell and Larry Bird this Garden blooms with lasting sport legacy. Even today with great players and future Hall of Famers like last years Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and sole survivor Rajon Rondo your still in for a classic night. When it comes to the spirit of sport you have to believe in Boston.
Now if you haven't filled your boots enough on the foot-longed, super sizes of the concessions at the sporting stomping grounds then why not get a little more romantic in some of the best restaurants in the city? From the Moo cow 'Mooo Restaurant' for serious steak to the vegetarian, vegan, Vietnamese 'Grass Hopper' restaurant for people who like their cows alive. Or if your looking for love, or just a great night out why don't you hit the town and it's many clubs and night-spots for a real, alive nightlife from the 'Mojitos Latin Lounge' to the self-dubbed 'Greatest Bar' (go see and judge for yourself).
Then you better hit up some of the best, home-like, welcoming hotel and hostels (from 'The Charles Street Inn' to the hostel on 'Friend Street') for a great nights sleep because your going to need it for the full day of stuff to do ahead of you. So the following day you better get a good breakfast down you and a hearty recommendation is the delightful 'Dempsey's' (just outside the city limits on 438 Broadway, Everett, MA). A traditional greasy spoon full of flavour. Get ready to make the most important meal of the day the best one from the griddle plate to the fond, friendly staff and locals.
Now it's time to go see about those sites. Beantown has it all from the front of the incredibly grandiose Christian Science Church to the beautiful Back Bay with it's sublime serenity and beautiful ships off the classic Charles River. Plus the popular Boston Common and Copley Square areas to the magnificent Massachusetts State House and the sublime Symphony Hall will have you singing their praises. Boston is a traditionally bold, historical town, so why not take a walk through history...literally.
The red brick lined 'Freedom Trail' (with the popular Faneuil Hall stop) is an incredible walk to take and will take you on the road of Boston and American culture and history. Just make sure you take it all in and don't get lost. One of the cities most heartfelt and meaningful bits of history is the memorial to colonel Robert Shaw and the first all black infantry in Civil War. A must for any historians or younger people who would have been educated about this in history lessons and the classic Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington picture 'Glory'.
Or one of the most prestigious pieces of New England history is the legendary Harvard University, so why not take a tour round the college campus? Or if your more of a shopper then a sightseer Boston has it all from the malls to the old favourite Newbury Street district (both featuring an impressive Macy's and Niketown). Newbury Street is also another great road for bars, restaurants and the perfect evening. Before and past this street-even if you don't take the freedom trail-this city has a lot of great walks. From taking in the natural beauty, to the impressive architecture (you must see the Public Library or the John F. Kennedy Library and the John Hancock Tower) and from film locations for fantastic films set in this city (from 'The Town' to 'The Departed'), you have to see these places of this city before you leave. With green parks and great, traditional streets (originally meant for Horse & Carriage, and you can still catch one or two of them if your lucky) to boot, your shoes better be made for strolling.
With all these great sights to see, if you don't have the time to view them all you do get the chance to catch a glorious glimpse of them at the top of the Prudential Tower. For a few bills you can go up and see an incredible, inspiring view of beautiful Boston and for a few dollars more you could go up another level for a drink or meal while you take in the sensational city. Or you could even go further ashore and take in the view from the Boston Harbour as the river runs to another real view of the city.
Even Boston's South Station makes for a great snap-site and Logan Airport makes for a great place to shop and eat but by the time you get there you won't want to leave this town as you won't be done with Boston. Not only is this city one of the most dynamic and different destinations in America (if not the world) it's also one of the most welcoming and easy going. Proud but not imposing everything and everyone fits in here...and you will too. So much that this home, familiar feeling city may make you want to lay a foundation. Still for now a holiday will do for one of the greatest vacations you'll ever take. So make sure you take a trip and if your first or not pay a visit again and again.TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Tuesday, 24 May 2011
Sure out of all the worlds most famous countries and cities New York, London, Tokyo and Sydney remain at the forefront but Toronto stands right next to them. From sky-scraping structures to down-to-earth locals and with calm streets but still a real city feel this town has just the right, perfect mix. If you land at Pearson or right downtown once you hit the T-Dot your greeted with one of the worlds best architectural designs. The 'CN Tower' is formerly the worlds largest free-standing structures but is still one of the worlds biggest attractions. It's the first thing you'll see coming in on the highway and the one thing that will help you see the whole city (other then the cities famous 'red line' which is your best way to get round). From glass floors to all the bells and whistles you'd expect from a tourist attraction of its kind including perfect photo opportunities and fantastic facts this has it all. Even if you climbed most of the worlds most famous, tallest skyscrapers you still won't see a view as incredible or as beautiful as this, especially when the sun goes down. You can even literally climb it now too, with bungee rope on the new death-defying and scary 'Edge Walk'. In a word...(if you don't have yours taken away with your breath)...WOW!
From the 'CN Tower' you can see the whole city and every little incredible, intricate bit that makes it up. Still two landmarks that really stand out are the 'Rogers Centre' (formerly the Skydome) and the 'Air Canada Centre' (which at this rate may soon become another Rodgers centre. These impressive, innovative buildings (the 'Rogers Centre'-which looks like a space observatory-has a roof that opens on game day) house some of Toronto's most popular and sought-after sports franchises. The 'Rogers Centre' is home to the worldwide popular Blue Jays baseball franchise. While flying with the 'Air Canada Centre' is the legendary Maple Leaf, hockey franchise (you must check out the 'Hockey Hall Of Fame' too, of course Canadians do this sport better then anybody) and basketball's Raptors (the only NBA franchise in Canada). All will guarantee an incredible night and also act as incredible concert and event venues and there's a long range diverse ones occurring in this happening city. Speaking on diversity there is also a versatile range of concert venues, halls and theatres around the city for all ages from the prestigious 'Royal Thomson Hall' and 'Royal Alexandra Theatre' to the cool 'Kool Haus'.
Still if this isn't your ticket you could always check out these events and many more at a local sports bar or restaurant. There's an abundance of great places to do this but a personal favourite is the 'Loose Moose' Bar and grill. With walls lined with every sport going and welcoming and friendly staff on hand this is the place to take in a game or nine with a brew and your closest, and the 'Loose Moose' fries are to die for. Speaking of food there are so many incredible and appealing places to chow through from home to Japanese cuisine and everything in between. I even went to one place where my side of coleslaw was like a bowl of cereal...and I'm not complaining, beat that Americans. Still one of the best bars/restaurants to visit is 'Jack Astors' (check out which letter's aren't illuminated on the sign too). Warm, friendly, inviting and distinctively Canadian, from a drink with the game to a meal for two, everyone is catered for. The waiters/waitress also write their names with crayon on your table. Don't worry-you know Canadians don't graffiti-the table cloth is paper. So once the staffs introductions are over you can scribble to the child in your young hearts content.
Then again if you want more from your evening out then why not hit one of the T-Dot's most happening nightspots for a bit of clubbing. 'Lot 332' on Queen Street West is a great party place and hey if it's good enough for Diddy-who's held it down here-you know it'll make for one hell of a night out. The 'CiRCA', 'Mod Club' and 'Mink Nightclub' are also among the best searches for a good trip round town. Or for a quieter night you could pub crawl around some of the finest, diverse bars any town could offer littered around the city. Nothing is more cool, calm, laid-back and relaxed however then the inspiring Irish bar 'P.J. O'Brien' on Kings Street. There's always a royal mix where King's and Queen's align. or why not drink in your passion for wine in the historic Distillery district?
Still if you want an even quieter night then that why not catch a film at one of the many impressive large or intimate cinemas? Most making for real nice venues for date night with plenty of cool bars and places to walk nearby. Why so many great cinemas? Well speaking of movies every September marks the 'Toronto Film Festival'; a true star, studded spectacle and second only in the movie industry to the untouchable Cannes festival. With plenty of film stars to spot and chances to even see future films on screen (if you book early enough) this is a great way to spend a couple of days. You could catch Johnny Depp, the latest and even the most obscure showings, or even the strangest things-like when Colin Farrell ran away from the paparazzi to buy a homeless man he knew camping gear and time in a hotel (what a guy).
Still if your star-struck serious about celebrities and not in town September then get yourself down to the 'Much Music' building, where Canada's answer to MTV opens it's glass window to fans who couldn't get a ticket for the show and allows autographs and photos for fans from the celebrities that are being interviewed on the program. Everyone, who's anyone ranging from Gwen Stefani to Toronto Raptors basketball player Jose Calderon have drawn in the fans over the years. It's a much, must see.
Then again the best things to see in a city are it's own individual, intricate sights and from the beautiful buildings of old Toronto to the new, space-aged futuristic City Hall (complete with ice-rink) the Dot has it all. With inventive, incredible modern architecture canvasing the city constantly (like the 'Art Gallery of Ontario' and the 'Royal Ontario Museum') and sky scrapers that look grand enough to match New York and most of Asia, DO NOT leave your camera at home. Also make sure you make a royal appointment to see the classic Casa Loma, out of town and this modern day world. Speaking of out of town; one of the world's eight wonders Niagara Falls is just a short trip away. What more could you possibly want?
Natural beauty is the greatest however and between all the bricks and mortar and iron and glass Toronto has plenty of nature in abundance, just check out the almost Caribbean-in parts looking Scarborough Bluffs. For your best view why not take a leaf from Otis Redding's songbook and sit on the dock of the bay and take in the beautiful Lake Ontario in all it's clear and pure clarity? Or why not cross it and take a boat on an unforgettable trip across that offers the best view of the city day or night? On the other side of your short journey is the Toronto Islands; a beautiful landscape of many attractions and communities. Making for a great park in the Winter and great venues for concerts, festivals and mini-theme parks in the hotter, scorching Summer season.
Then again if you prefer looking for a great bargain or outfit then Toronto has the shopping market to rival New York, London, Seoul or Tokyo. From all the big chains to the small influential, independent business this city bags it all. The shopping is so advanced here that it moves underground in those icicle, bitter cold Winters. With a subway of shops, the excellent Eaton Centre and the Times Square/Piccadilly Circus esque Yonge Street district above ground this city has it all covered. Music really seems to be the beat of the street however setting the tone for the town with all sorts of shops. It's just a shame the legendary, record looking 'Sam's Records' is now defunct and demolished, you could have found any CD you wanted in that perfect place.
After all this I bet your ready to drop right? So how about laying your hat somewhere in this place that feels like home. From the up most, high hotels like the fabulous 'Fairmont' building to the budget, backpacking Hostels like the colourful 'Global Village' to the cabin class of the 'Canadiana' and many more. Before you sleep, make sure you say goodnight and a little more to your fellow travellers and the locals because that's one of the greatest things about this familiar and friendly city; the perfect people. Seriously, share your favourite memories with some memorable new friends. So if your stuck for a new place to visit this year I guarantee this developing and established city will never get old. The home of many Hollywood movies (even if you can't tell) and everyone from the late comedy great John Candy and today's top rapper Drake is ready for you. The most peaceful and unsung city in the world, go see why I fight to sing it's praises. TIM DAVID HARVEY.