23 June, 2012

My 'Sex and the City tour' of New York

One of the highlights of my trip to New York was the 'Sex and The City hotspots'  tour I did with the 'On Location Tour company. I would highly recommend this tour, it was great fun. Our tour guide was clearly a big fan of the series and so knew it inside and out. It was great as we were shown snippets of the series in the bus as we went around the city and after we visited the various landmarks.

First up was the 'Pleasure Chest' where the gang all buy their 'rabbits'. I may, or may not, have bought one of my very own (that is between me and my rabbit!). It was really funny as the guide got the whole bus laughing and cheering about all the various naughty sex things on the series before our visit, but as soon as we got into the shop, they all went very quiet and shy (although I have to say there were a few things there that surprised even me in there!). Next stop was Buddakan Bar and Restaurant, which is featured in the first Sex and the City movie. It is where Carrie and Big's pre-wedding dinner is held. I am sooo not a fan of the SATC movies, but this restaurant was glorious and absolutely HUGE. It was reasonably priced as well, so it would be great to come back and pay it a visit if I come back to NY. I understand that it is only open for dinner so bear that in mind if you want to go.

Buddakan Restaurant NY. Above is the spectacular function room where Carrie and Big held their bid pre-wedding dinner. The restaurant was closed to the public when we made our visit (at lunch time).

Next stop was one of the sights I was dying to visit - The Magnolia Bakery. It didn't disappoint. It is tiny inside so there is no room to sit down, so you get your cupcakes to go. Their coffee is very nice too. The cupcakes and coffee are very reasonably priced and I have to say that the cupcakes were the BEST I have eaten. 

Magnolia Bakery NY.

 Apparently the store started as a 'Mom and Pop' operation but it was so popular it was bought up and now there are franchises all over America. The original store still retains charm and the staff were friendly.
The most delicious cupcakes - yuumm!

The icing was amazing. Being a home baker myself, I am fussy. But I thought these were pretty much perfect.

Some of the houses near Magnolia. I love the exteriors of these buildings and the iconic fire escapes.

Next stop was the bar owned by Aidan and Steve in the series, Scout (really a bar called O'Neals).

There we all enjoyed a nice Cosmo with the other lovely ladies from the tour . .

I have to say, as a big fan of the series, I really enjoyed this tour. It goes for 3 and a half hours, so you get to see many more sights than I have shown here. The above just really shows the main spots were the bus stops and you can get off to walk around.

I would have also have loved to have done the Seinfeld tour, but that does not start until the warmer weather in late May, so I just missed out. I am HUGE Seinfeld fan so that is another one for the wish book (and I good reason to save up to go back to my beloved New York!)

Bus tour: On Location Tour company (they also do other tours, like the Sopranos)
Duration: 3.5 hours
Price: $46 plus gratuity. Cupcake is free, Cosmo is $9.

13 June, 2012

A night out at the Carlyle NYC in a Houndstooth capelet

One of the best nights of my life was spent at the Carlyle Hotel during my recent stay in New York. For those who are not familiar with this beautiful hotel, it is a very understated, historic hotel in the 'Upper East Side' of New York (the fancy schmancy area).

But first of all, my hubby and I started the day with a bike ride through Central Park . . .
The Reservoir, Central Park NYC
I thought the above photo, whilst obviously not chic, was a funny way to illustrate what difference a nice hairdo, make up and vintage clothes make. I do not always dress up, particularly if I am going to be out and about exercising on a bike. My only concern in these cases is that I put lots of sunscreen on and have a hat. So it was nice in the evening to get dressed up for our trip to the Carlyle . . .

Pictured on the steps of the Post Office, New York

I look a little different here than the first picture, no?! Navy and red are one of my favourite colour combinations, the effect is striking and seems to suit my very fair complexion. I would like to get a pair of vintage red gloves to match, I think they would look better than the navy, but red vintage gloves are actually difficult to find (? not sure why?). I like capelets because they don't overpower my fairly petite frame (I am only 5 feet and a half so I have to be careful with full size capes).

Hailing a cab in true New York style. Did I mention how much I love New York??
Before I get to my night out, I'd better mention my outfit details before I forget . . .

Outfit details:
Pussy bow blouse ebay
Houndstooth capelet etsy - seller: Chiffonier
skirt: Vintage Lilli Ann ebay
Gloves Love Vintage fair, Australia
Shoes: Novo (an Australian store, bought 2 years ago so prob no longer in stock)
Handbag: etsy PhotographicAmy
hat: etsy VintageVoyce

Now on to my night out at the Carlyle . . . We went to see the most fabulous jazz trio led by the composer/pianist Earl Rose (called, funnily enough, the Earl Rose Trio). I would highly recommend this performance if you go to New York. At the time of writing, the trio had a permanent booking there each Sunday and Monday nights at 9/9.30. We hadn't actually heard of Earl Rose before, but he is actually quite a well-known composer of film and TV music. He is quite simply an astounding pianist. Both my husband and I play the piano and we were amazed by his piano playing. The other musicians were great as well. Together with a few great cocktails, we had one of the best nights of our life.

As you can see, the Carlyle is a lovely, understated hotel (which is how I like 'em). If you have been watching Season 5 of Mad Men, you may remember that when the Jaguar guy gets 'entertained' by the Mad Men regulars (Don, Pete and Roger), and the Jaguar guy drops the hint that he is in the mood for a little 'excitement', Pete Campbell says 'Well, we can go to the Carlyle, it always gets a bit crazy there' (or words to that effect). Soooo not what the Jaguar man had in mind (Roger, a little more astute and wordly, took him to a high class brothel!. The Carlyle just oozes class. Real old world class. I loved it.
Photo courtesy of http://www.carlyle.com/

Photo courtesy of http://www.carlyle.com/

I couldn't get a photo of Bemelman's bar, which is where the Earl Rose trio plays, but I got a photo of Cafe Carlyle, which is a 'rung above' Bemelman's Bar. Woody Allen plays regular gigs here, so check out the entertainment calendar on the Carlyle website if you would like to see him play (he plays with a band). I will warn you that tickets to this venue are much more expensive than Bemelman's Bar - I am BIG fan of Woody Allen but bar tickets were $135 and premium seating (at a table) $185. This doesn't include drinks or tips. So I decided not to do that in the end (!). Still, if you have the money, it would be a memorable night and I may try to do it if I go back to NYC.

Above photo courtesy of the JFK digital library

Lastly, I couldn't finish this post without mentioning the Kennedy connection. The Carlyle Hotel is actually a very historic venue. JFK and Jacqui were regular patrons, in fact JFK had an apartment in the hotel for a number of years. In the lobby there are photos of Jacqui and JFK coming out of the hotel through the revolving doors. The facade looks a bit different in the photo above as they have an awning over it for the visit. It is truly a classy place.

The Carlyle Hotel, 35 E. 76th Street at Madison Avenue, New York NY 10021
Look on their website for the entertainment calendar so you can plan your trip.

01 June, 2012

The Hell's Kitchen Flea Market, New York

I recently spent 6 fantastic days in New York - a city I absolutely love. It rained quite a bit whilst we were there (I went with my hubby), but fortunately there are heaps of things to do in NYC when the weather is bad.

On our first day it was sunny and quite warm so I decided to pay a visit to the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market.  It is an open air market which runs every weekend - weather permitting (see further details at the end of the post).

The market is has an interesting mix of vintage clothes, bric a brac and memorabilia. When we went (at about 11am on a Sunday in May) it wasn't too crowded which was nice.
The market had lots of second hand, 80s and 90s clothes and a small-ish selection of what I call 'true vintage' - 50's and 60s stuff in particular. There were a few stalls which had a very nice collection of furs and I tried on a very nice brown fox fur capelet, but it was $125 and I didn't have that sort of cash on me (and I also thought that was quite steep for a flea market!), so I let that one go. I think that price wise, it is probably a bit more than I would like to pay for flea market goods, but it is stil fun to go and browe.

As you will see above, one stall had a very good selection of vintage wicker bags, which are a favourite of mine. As I already own about 8 of these (!) I didn't purchase any, but I thought they looked great and were in good condition. I am not sure how much they were, as when I looked inside some of them, there were no price tags.
Apart from vintage clothing, there were stalls with bric a brac.

There were some also very quirky things on sale - including a stall solely comprised of boxes of people's old photos. It was funny as there was a sign at that stall saying 'No photos permitted of the photos' (!).
My hubby spotted this interesting item at one stall - A Calibrated Absorber Set. What is that, you well may ask. My hubby did tell me on the day, but now I sort of forget. But from memory, it is a set of medical/scientific instruments that are used to do radiation treatment. By the look of it, it is from the 50s or 60s (?). It is amazing to see some of things which survive all these years.

Hell's Kichen Flea Market is located on West 39th Street between 9th & 10th Avenues and open 9 AM – 5 PM every Saturday and Sunday all year long (weather pending).

Please see their website here for further details