Abundant Travel Tips: Keeping Travel On Your Mind

Abundant Travel Tips: Keeping Travel On Your Mind

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Groundhog Day....again.

Happy Tuesday travels everyone; I hope this email finds you safe and healthy!  It feels like another groundhog day here in Austin; I can’t seem to keep the days straight anymore.  It’s been 38 days since I’ve eaten at a restaurant, and a month since I’ve seen friends.  I am grateful, however,  that my friends and family are healthy, and I’ve remained safe and active during the pandemic.  

This week, I’m keeping it simple, and sharing some great ways to keep travel on your mind while you are in quarantine.  This video shares some fun things to do, from learning a language to rearranging your bedroom.  Anything to keep your mind occupied, and looking on the bright side of things.  I’ve tried each of these tips, and I especially loved cooking amazing food from Spain and India.

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Things to Do in Lower Manhattan | Lower East Side Tour

Things to Do in Lower Manhattan | Lower East Side Tour

Looking for some off-the-beaten-path, unusual things to do in NYC for your next trip? I highly recommend adding the Lower East Side to your next NYC weekend. More specifically, if you have even just a long weekend, consider filling your entire NYC itinerary in this neighborhood. There are plenty of things to do on the Lower East Side to keep you busy without having to head uptown. Here’s how I spent an entire, incredible NYC trip on the Lower East Side.

Check out my travel vlog about the best things to do in the Lower East Side NYC

The Lower East side is located in the southeast corner of Manhattan and has been known as the gateway neighborhood where new immigrants first land after arriving in the United States.  This area is bordered by The Bowery to the west, East Houston to the north, the East River to the east and Canal Street to the south.  It’s bordered by Chinatown, Nolita and the East Village neighborhoods.  

If you’re looking for a unique and off the beaten path NYC Experience, the Lower East Side is the place to go.

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What are the Best Lower East Side Walking Tours and Lower East Side Food Tours?

Start out with a Lower East Side walking tour to get yourself acclimated to the layout of the streets and the historical landmarks. There are many walking tours in NYC, but check out Big Onion walking tours, and peel back hundreds of years of Lower East Side architectural, political, and social history. For Lower East Side Food Tours, I recommend Nice Guy Tours for a fun, delicious way to get to know the history of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side, from pastrami to pastry. Ask for Dante, the owner of Nice Guy Tours, and remember to start out on an empty stomach. 

What are the Most Unique Museums in NYC on the Lower East Side?

Most often, Manhattan’s Lower East Side is not the first stop for museum-goers on their first trip to NYC. But some of the coolest things to do in the Lower East Side are the museums — off-the-beaten-path and quirky, historical, and moving. The Lower East Side is chock-full of unique museums, and The Tenement Museum is an absolute must. This is an actual tenement building on Orchard Street that has been outfitted as an exact replica of how immigrants lived a hundred years ago. You’ll spend a meaningful couple hours learning about life through an immigrant’s eyes. Advance reservations are required for Tenement Museum tours. Afterwards, stop by to see how the “other half lived” with a visit to the Merchant House Museum on East 4th Street — a 19th century brownstone owned by generations of the same wealthy family and perfectly preserved until the early 20th century, now designated as a City landmark. No reservations required, but check the web site for hours; guided and self-guided tours are available.

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Another interesting stop is The Museum on Eldridge Street which is the old Synagogue, where you can learn about the Jewish immigrant history of NYC.   There are also a few art-centric Lower East Side museums not to be missed — the New Museum on the Bowery, with eye-popping contemporary exhibits; the International Center of Photography on Essex Street with incredibly moving, provocative photographs; and the Museum of Street Art, an homage to the best of street art and graffiti that winds up twenty floors of stairwell in the citizenM New York Bowery Hotel.

What are the Best Lower East Side Rooftop Bars and Happy Hour Spots?

Rooftop bars in the Lower East Side are the best way to end your day of walking and eating. Check out the 20th floor of citizenM New York Bowery Hotel (and gawk at the Museum of Street Art as you walk up the stairwell). Or head to The Crown bar at Hotel 50 Bowery, a rooftop bar with vast views and homey little food bites to accompany your drinks. Mr. Purple on Hotel Indigo’s 15th floor offers beautiful views and unusual drinks. And at Last Light on the Bowery, you can take in the lower-Manhattan skyline while sharing wine and craft beers with your friends, or drinks such as the “Naked and Famous” or “Small Victories.”

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What are the Best Lower East Side Clubs?

I’m not much of a club scene girl, but the NY Nightclubs on the Lower East Side are some of the best for dancing and people watching. They range in appearance from frumpy, old, and graffitied to eclectic, colorful, and dripping with velvet. So if you’ve still got some get-up-and-go after happy hour and dinner, head to The Rumpus Room, La Caverna, CBGB, The Pyramid Club, The DL, or The Bowery Electric. It’s one of the things to do on the lower east side that you won’t get anywhere else, and you won’t regret it.

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If you want to extend your trip up the East Coast, I recommend visiting Portland, Maine! Click to read my top 10 Portland things to do.

What are the Best Restaurants in the Lower East Side?

There is no way to qualify the best food in the Lower East Side. You can’t throw a penny without hitting another gem. After you’ve experienced your Lower East Side Food Tour, you’ll be set to conquer the rest of your meals, but it’ll be tough not to repeat. Start your mornings at one of the many Lower East Side coffee shops, including Caffevita, The Roasting Company, or the Ludlow Coffee Supply (my favorite), then grab a great breakfast in the Lower East Side at Yonah Shimmel for the best knishes in NY. It is a must to run to Katz’ Delicatessen for lunch — a Lower East Side Deli that has been around since 1888 and is famous for Katz’ pastrami sandwich.

And save time to spend in the Essex Food Market. Opened in 1888 first for vendors with pushcarts, it has grown to an enormous, modern space with a plethora of cheeses, meats, fish, produce.

Dinner is always a special treat on the Lower East Side.  The restaurants are small with only a few tables, and have an intimate and lively setting.  Start at The Ten Bells for appetizers and a glass of wine, then head to Wildair or Pig and Khao, or The Fat Radish.

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What are the best Lower East Side Hotels?

Trust me — don’t go chain if you want to plant yourself in the middle of New York’s Lower East Side. The best Lower East Side restaurants aren’t chains, and Lower East Side shopping isn’t your typical mall stores, so stay the course and bunk into a Lower East Side boutique hotel — surprisingly, for its small size, the number of hotels in the Lower East Side is more than you’d expect. With so many things to do in the Lower East Side, you won’t want to spend too much time in your hotel, but while you’re there, it may as well be cool and comfortable. Due to its small boundaries, Lower East Side boutique hotels are close to everything in the neighborhood and all the things to do in the Lower East Side. I think the best hotels in the Lower East Side are those that snuggle into the landscape of older, charismatic buildings. I stayed at Hotel Indigo (pictured below), which was hip and trendy, and a little bigger than my other hotel suggestions.  It was, however, part of Marriott Bonvoy, which I love!

The Ludlow Hotel offers magnificent NYC views with huge windows and gritty, urban, chicly decorated rooms. The lobby and bar area quite possibly might be the most comfortable, cozy place to meet up with friends. The drinks are exceptional and fun, although a bit on the pricey side. Sohotel on Broome Street holds the honor of the longest-running hotel in New York City, dating back to 1805. Rooms here are New-York-City-hotel-room small, but they work perfectly for those on more of a budget. Also, Sohotel has “standard twin,” “standard triple,” and “standard family” rooms if you’re traveling to New York alone or in groups with odd numbers. At The Bowery Hotel, you’ll be greeted by a doorman in a top hat before entering the warm, dark, cozy lobby that’ll make you feel like you’ve jumped back in time — right down to the room keys with the red tassels. This is all contrasted with bright, airy rooms decked out in velvet upholstery and modern amenities. Take advantage of drinks at The Bowery Terrace, a second-floor, outdoor lounge laced with brick walls, wood beams, and fireplace. I also love the idea of the Blue Moon Hotel on Orchard Street. This old tenement building has been transformed into a comfortable hotel complete with standard hotel rooms as well as dormitory-style rooms if you’re traveling with friends or on a budget. The hotel sits above Davidovich Artisan Bakery so you can wake up to the homey smell of the famous Davidovich Bagels and pastries.

What are your favorite things to do in Manhattan on the Lower East Side? Let me know in the comments!

Enjoy your trip to NYC’s Lower East Side. Send me some pics of you on your next trip to NYC, and let me know of some of your favorite things to do in the Lower East Side to add to my next NYC itinerary. 

2020 Travel Goals

2020 Travel Goals

Are you looking for 2020 Travel Inspiration?  2020 is a new year and a new decade, and it’s a great time to think big, think exotic travel, think experiential travel.  It’s time to go all out.  I’m thrilled about the new decade because this is the decade of my 50’s.  Enjoy my 2020 Travel Goals and Resolutions.  

A Weekend in London UK

Welcome to my London travel experience! lt’s been 20 years since I’ve been to London and it happens to be an old home town of mine. Keep reading to find out what I did on my short weekend there.

A little about my journey in London…

After graduating college from the University of Texas, I decided not to take the investment banking job on Wall Street I’d hoped to get… Instead, I packed up my bags, had $300 in my pocket, a one-way plane ticket and I moved to London! No, I didn’t have a job. No, I didn’t have a place to live. I ended up couch-surfing on a friend’s couch who I had met a year before and in about three days I found a job typing as a “Kelly girl” in the city of London.

I had planned to stay in London for 6 months but it turned out to be a year and a half! After that, I spent an additional three and a half years living in Europe. To say that this geographical move to London changed my life would be an understatement. This is where my love for travel really took off, and here I am 20 years later back in the city that I love with you.

Tips for Where to Eat in London

One of the most fun things to do while you’re in London is to eat. There are so many restaurants and so many areas of London, it can be overwhelming! My suggestion is

  1. Pick a food genre
  2. Pick an area town
  3. Find out what you think is the best restaurant in the area with that particular food genre.

An example from this recent trip: I wanted something a little French and I wanted to be in Covent Garden. I wound up at a restaurant calle Le Beaujolais and I had some amazing French cheese and wine.

Abundant Traveler Tip: Make sure to try some of the amazing ethnic restaurants that are available. Some people say the Indian food in London is just as good, if not better, than the Indian food in India!

I hope you enjoyed this little blog about my short trip back in London. Tally ho!

What to Know For Your First Trip to London

What to Know For Your First Trip to London

This week I’m in an old hometown of mine, London England and I’m going to share with you some top tips for your first trip to London!

 

London is one of the easiest places for Americans to travel to; it is the mother country, after all!  This city feels like a more formal and ancient version of New York City and has everything you could want. London was my first taste of ex-pat life, where I worked as a temporary secretary in the city of London. I love the city and everything it has to offer. 

 

Flying into London

The first thing to pay attention to when you’re headed to London is which airport you are coming into. Did you know there are six airports in London? You want to make a note which one you are flying in and out of.

 

Where to stay in London

London is EXPENSIVE; there’s no doubt about that!  It’s easy to be overwhelmed and a little shocked when looking for accommodations in the city. Some of the most common questions I get are, “Where should I stay?”, “Is there anywhere affordable in London?”, “What about cheap Airbnbs?”  Honestly, cheap doesn’t exist, and if you think it’s cheap, it’s probably scary or so far out that you wouldn’t want to stay there. Not only is accommodation expensive, transportation is also expensive. So what to do? I suggest staying in a hotel inside The Circle Line (one of the Tube lines) for a couple reasons.  1. Time if of the essence, and you don’t want to waste precious hours riding the tube into the city. (TIP: Make sure your hotel is within 3-4 blocks of a tube station) 2. Transportation is also expensive and the further out you stay, the more expensive it will be to get into the city. If you’re visiting London for the first time, you will want to cough up the dough and stay as central as possible. 

 

Here are a couple great Hotel options when booking your trip to London: 

 

 

Money, Money, Money

A lot of people who are traveling to the UK are also traveling to the continental Europe, but it’s important to note: In the UK, they use a different currency! In the UK they use the British Pound. It is different than the euro that you’re going to using in France, Italy, Spain etc.  A great tip: Don’t bother exchanging money from your home currency into the British Pound while you’re at home. Just wait till you get to the UK and withdraw at any of the ATMs. The exchange rate is typically better. Make sure to notify your bank that you will be traveling so you can take money out.

 

How to get Around

The best way to get around is by the subway or the tube – it is the most efficient and least expensive way to get around the entire city. The tubes were used as bomb shelters during WWII! The subway system is easy to use and efficient, but there are some down sides. There are constant delays and certain lines not working due to maintenance issues.  On my last trip to London, I found this great Tube App that not only shows me the best route and travel time, it shows me which lines have delays. This app was invaluable on my trip, as it saved me time as well as stress when finding my way around the city.  Tip: I suggest getting the Oyster Card. It’s a $5 deposit and then it’s only seven British pounds a day for as many rides as you want to take. When you’re done, you turn in your Oyster Card, get your five pounds back for the card and any money left on your card. 

 

What should you wear in London?

It is 10 latitude degrees further north than New York City and it has 106 days a year average rainfall. That means bring warm clothes no matter what time of the year you’re here. Currently, it’s mid-May and packed with me a lightweight jacket, scarves, long pants and close toed shoes. The best shoes to wear in London are walking shoes. Whether you’re taking the tube, a taxi or just wandering around, you’re going to want to be in easygoing, comfortable shoes. As far as style, London is a lot like New York City, so anything goes! If you want to dress up and go to the Savoy for high tea, go for it! OR if you want to be low-key casual in your yoga pants, that works as well.

 

British English vs American English

I wanted to give you a few tips about the language differences between British English and American English. First of all, when you’re in a restaurant and you need a napkin, in London you need to ask for a serviette. (I tend to make a mess when I’m eating so I need lots and lots of serviettes!) Secondly, the boot is actually the trunk of the car. Additionally, when you are asking for the restroom or the ladies room you can actually ask for the loo. When you’re staying at your hotel and they tell you you’re staying on the first floor, that does not mean you are on the ground level. It actually means that you are one level up. In England G is the ground floor, then the first floor then the second floor. Finally, the difference between chips and crisps. Here in the UK chips are french fries and crisps are potato chips. 

 

Food to Try

Great Britain is not historically known for its food, but I do suggest that you give all the traditional British fare a try. Things to try:

  • Shepherd’s pie 
  • Bangers and mash 
  • Proper English Breakfast
  • Fish and chips 

 

 

Other things to Note

Remember that they drive on the other side of the road! If you’re renting a car, you’re going to be sitting on the right-hand side and if you rent a stick shift you’re gonna be shifting with your left hand. When you’re on the road about to turn, you have to look right, left, right! And lastly, note that the adapters for the UK are different than European adapters. 

 

If you enjoyed these tips and you’re headed to Spain, make sure to check out my video: Everything that you need to know before you travel to Spain. See you on the next adventure!