NEW YORK CITY

New York is a city you have to visit at least once in your lifetime. We decided to spend a long weekend in style and thought what better way to do so than in the city that never sleeps!

NYC has one of the highest rates of any tourist attraction in the world, with around 60 million people visiting each year. There are around 800 different languages spoken in New York making it the most diverse city in the world.

We had the best time and have made so many memories, there was only one issue though and that was the weather. It was absolutely freezing! The coldest we’ve ever felt in our lives. We highly recommend layering up if travelling during the winter months, we’re talking thermals lol! 

We decided to spend a long weekend in NYC but we will definitely stay longer next time. There was so much to do and see with such little time, so if you’re travelling to New York for the first time we suggest writing up an itinerary before you travel with the places you want to see and eat. It really does help organize your day ahead.

This is the second trip we arranged through Travel Counsellors (here) who specialise in luxury travel and really look after you, making sure you have a trip to remember. We stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel (here) situated in the best part of town! The hotel is located at Madison Avenue in the centre of Midtown Manhattan which is great as it is a short walk from Times Square and very close to Grand Central station. We were taken aback by the decor of the hotel which is very grand and looks more old school glamour which is so nice to see as hotels are a lot more modern nowadays. We fell in love with the chandeliers but The Roosevelt’s is on another level.

Times Square

It is actually a crime to visit New York and not see Times Square (just joking). During Times Square’s busiest time around 460,000 people walk through the iconic streets. Known for the massive billboards, sparkly advertisements and not forgetting the yellow taxis which constantly drive through the busy New York traffic. The home to many great Broadway shows Times Square has so much to offer. From loads of clothes shops, the M&M store, Mac make up, sweets and milkshake shops, Disney stores and loads of bars and restaurants, there is definitely something for everyone. 

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station is the most beautiful and picturesque stations we have ever visited. Located at Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, Grand Central opened in 1913 and is one of the busiest stations in the world. We loved the turquoise decor to the ceiling.  

It was great to experience travelling on the subway as we’ve seen the Subway featured in so many films and music videos. Shout out to Jlo ‘On The 6’ album lol.

Empire State Building

The Empire State Building is the 28th tallest building in the world, standing at 1,454 metres tall.

We took a lift to the top of the building and as it was so cold, being on top of a tall building…the wind was ridiculous! It was a struggle trying to take pictures battling the wind and cold, but being up there made up for it. The views are just breathtaking, we could see the whole of NYC!

NYC Sightseeing Cruise

A fantastic way to explore New York is by taking a boat trip. We took a ferry cruise from Midtown Manhattan on the Hudson River and it travels to the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge. We were lucky that it was a very sunny day, so although we had to brave the cold it was a really lovely way to see New York on water.

TAO

If you fancy a spot of fine dining, we highly recommend TAO restaurant. The Pan-Asian dim lit restaurant was full of the most delicious food and cocktails. We dined at the TAO Uptown which has a ‘Sex and the City’ vibe to it. It is known not only for its amazing food and cocktails but the giant Buddha centerpiece in the middle of the restaurant. Once you have finished your meal, why not head downstairs to the main bar area, for some more cocktails and good music that has a club like ambiance.

Ellen’s Stardust Diner

If you want to experience a unique dining experience, you have to visit Ellen’s Stardust Diner. You can enjoy your food with singing waiters/waitresses. It is not that cheesy stuff either, the staff are true performers that will blow you away. It is a family friendly restaurant and is worth a visit if you are ever in NYC. Also, the cocktails are so good!

Sylvia’s

We could not go to to New York and not visit the ‘Queen of Soul Food’ Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem. It is truly Southern home made comfort food and is a place you have to experience. The restaurant has a home like feel and the walls are filled with the likes of Barack Obama, Whoopi Goldberg and Nelson Mandela who are few of the famous faces who have eaten at this famous restaurant. From warm biscuit, chicken wings, ribs, macaroni and cheese to peach cobbler, there is something to suit your taste buds. Sylvia’s is a place not to miss!

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Shelley & Michelle xx

WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT CUBA: PART TWO

Good weather, idyllic beaches and beautiful sunsets are just a few of the reasons to spend the New Year in vibrant Cuba.

In part two of our Cuba travel guide we highlight some of our favourite places to visit, where to stay and enjoy some relaxation outside of the busy capital Havana.

Museo Hemingway

One of our highlights on our Cuba trip was a tour of American novelist Ernest Hemingway’s villa. Located in San Francisco de Paula – 15km southeast of Havana – the author lived in his home for 20 years before returning to the US in the 1960s during the Fidel Castro revolution. He donated his house to the Cuban people and is now a museum which has remained relatively untouched.

Visitors are not allowed inside the house but there are plenty of open doors and windows to get a glimpse of the interior of the property. Hemingway’s home boasts a swimming pool, a fishing boat and a three-storey tower next to the main house. You’ll be blown away by the views in the heavily wooded grounds.

Jibacoa

If you are looking to spend some time away from the Havana buzz, discover Jibacoa. A perfect place for nature lovers and diving enthusiasts, we stayed at Memories hotel which is located along the northern coast and is in the heart of the beautiful Cuban countryside.

It is an adult-only resort and offers guests plenty of fun activities to take part in. You’ve got mountains, a powder-white beach and an impressive coral reef. The hotel sits on Arroyo Bermejo Beach and sits in 17 acres of lush gardens and is an hours drive away from Havana.

When you’re not sunbathing you can spend your time scuba diving, snorkelling or playing volleyball. Also, if you want a work out we would definitely recommend mountain climbing in their lush forests. If that tires you out be sure to pamper yourself at their in-house spa.

Rum, fun and cigars

When you embark on your Cuban adventure it would not be a perfect trip without enjoying some of their famous rum and cigars. There are plenty of tours where you can visit cigar factories and see first hand how they’re made on the production floor.

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Shelley & Michelle xx

WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT CUBA: PART ONE

As women who like to travel, Cuba has been one of our dream destinations and recently became a reality for us. Any preconception you may have about this island will most likely be a distant memory once you’ve experienced Cuba.

The country has an infectious vibrancy that is incredibly magnetic no matter which part of the island you visit. We both agree that Cuba is an amazing place that will certainly blow you away. There is so much to see and do in a country seeped in culture.

We both want to give you an insight into some of the best places to visit while staying in Cuba.

Havana

One of the first places we visited was Cuba’s capital…Havana. From the crumbling buildings, to the cobbled streets this city is filled with life. Our best advice would be to take a guided walking tour through Havana. You’ll get to hear the amazing history and discover new things while exploring the old town.

Top recommendations

Take a ride in a classic car – It would not be a trip without taking a classic car ride around Havana. Cuba is home to American cars from the 1930s to the 1950s. They have a wide range of vintage cars to choose from, so definitely take the opportunity to flag one down and take a joyride through the city. You’ll get to have your own personalised tour and get to know the history of this amazing country. We would recommend you negotiate a price and length of time with your driver before taking the trip.

Necrópolis Cristóbal Colón – Far from being eerie Havana’s main cemetery (which is a national monument) is known for it’s striking religious and marble statues. You’ll get to stroll through 57 hectares of elaborate religious designs showing the graves of politicians, artists, writers and revolutionaries.

Tropicana Club – Prepare to be blown away with the bright colours, sultry salsa moves and the Latin sounds at Tropicana. A fabulous Cabaret show located in a lush tropical garden. The show is literally out of this world which features an array of performers. Their costumes are flamboyant adding a level of sauce to their eye-popping dance routines. It is the same venue where famous faces like Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack would hang out when staying in Cuba. You are provided with a bottle of rum at your table as well as mixers. So you can sit back and enjoy a Cuban cigar, enjoy a strong beverage and watch the delights of the show.

Castillo De Los Tres Reyes Del Morro (El Morro)- A fortress which was constructed between 1589 and 1630 to guard the entrance to Havana Bay is the quintessential Cuban landmark. The two castles feature a variety of experiences including a Maritime museum and another museum dedicated to Che Guevera. We would recommend visiting during the evening to attend the famous cañonazo ceremony. This nightly ceremony reenacts an 18th century ritual of sounding a canon to signal the closing of the city walls.  You can sit on the massive walls and watch the sunset, listen to the sea crashing against the fort and get some breathtaking snaps of Old Havana’s skyline.

Look out for our Part II: Why you should visit Cuba.

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Shelley & Michelle xx

Our Trip To Jamaica

When planning our trip to Jamaica we were so excited! It’s been years since we last visited plus we’re half Jamaican so it was like going back home. We stayed in the beachfront resort, ClubHotel Riu (here) in Mammee Bay that is located in Ocho Rios.

Jamaica is an island filled with the most amazing foods, drinks, beaches and adventure. The island has plenty to offer, with it’s long sandy beaches, stunning rainforests and amazing waterfalls, Jamaica has something for everyone.

Below are our top things to see and do when visiting Jamaica.

Dunn’s River Falls

Dunn’s River Falls is one of the main attractions to visit in Jamaica. The famous waterfall is located near Ocho Rios and is one of the few waterfalls that enters the sea.

When you arrive you are given water shoes which prevent you from slipping as the rocks are quite slippery when you’re climbing. Dunn’s River falls is 1,000 feet (300m) but fear not! There is help at hand by the friendly park tour guides who are with you every step of the way.

The waters are so refreshing and there is a massive vegetation that shades you from the sun when climbing the waterfall. For that extra security you can decide whether to climb with other tourists in a hand-holding chain which is lead by a guide. Or if you’re like us and just want to go and explore you can do it alone (only if you feel comfortable to do so). The cost for adults is $20USD and $12USD for children.

Bob Marley Mausoleum

When visiting Jamaica the home of Reggae you have to visit Nine Mile which is the birthplace and final resting place of Bob Marley. We travelled in the Zion bus which was filled with pictures of the reggae legend and a hilarious tour guide explaining the history of Jamaica, Bob Marley and his family.

Located deep in the St Anne countryside this is the place which influenced a lot of Bob Marley’s songs. The tour is conducted by Rastafarian guides who are so relaxed and friendly. They even sing for you with a steel pan band playing alongside them.

There are two tombs in the Mausoleum where Bob Marley is buried alongside his half-brother Anthony Booker. The second tomb is where Bob Marley’s mother Codella Booker is buried. No one is aloud to film or take pictures inside the tomb area, but what we can say is that it is peaceful, there are candles and it’s the most beautiful resting place. We visited Bob Marley’s bedroom! It’s amazing knowing we were standing so close to the bed Bob Marley slept in! We finished the tour in a room full of portraits and pictures of Bob Marley. The museum included guitars, awards and historical artefacts. The tour costs around $25 for adults and $12 for children aged 4-12.

The Blue Lagoon

A stunning location with deep blue waters and lush greenery, the Blue Lagoon which is located east of Port Antonio is an absolute beauty. The waters are literally turquoise blue!

Before we got into the waters for a swim the guide said that the water is that calm and refreshing it will make you look at least 10 years younger! With that said they had to drag us out! Lol. As you enter the boat and take in the scenery you have a tour guide who talks about the history of the Lagoon, celebrities that have visited and the movies the Lagoon has appeared in.

Rafting on the Rio Grande River

The Rio Grande is one of the largest rivers in Jamaica that runs through the rainforests of the island.

There are Bamboo Rafts which you have to yourselves. The scenery is so beautiful, calm and relaxing. There are friendly raft captains to each raft. Our raft captain was so nice! He even let us have a go rafting down the river (which is much harder than it looks). You’re using so much of your upper body strength! We even jumped in and had a little swim. It’s also very romantic so anyone planning on proposing to their partner in Jamaica. This trip is the way to do it. Prices start from around $78.

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Shelley & Michelle xx