Friday, July 31, 2015

Things to Do: Flying Tiger Copenhagen, NYC


Flying Tiger Copenhagen  920 Broadway, btw. 21st St & 20th St., Flatiron District, (212) 777-1239.  I first saw a branch of this colorful Danish store in Reykjavik, Iceland.  It grabs your attention with a head-spinning selection of brightly colored home goods and gift items. 


colorful merchandise at Flying Tiger Copenhagen in NYC

The merchandise is arranged along a zig-zag path through the store, sort of like at Ikea, so you get a chance to eyeball everything.  I wound up buying several packages of colorful dinner napkins for $1 (I love the ones with little clouds on a sky-blue background), and my daughter bought me a really cute birthday card.
napkins and candles at Flying Tiger Copenhagen in NYC

I wish now that I had purchased one of the tins of butter cookies but was concerned about getting them home on an airplane; it turns out I had space.
butter cookie tins at Flying Tiger Copenhagen in NYC


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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Things to Do: Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, NYC


Beecher’s Handmade Cheese  900 Broadway, btw. 19th & 20th sts., Flatiron District, (212) 466-3340.  Stop in for a meal, a cheese snack to eat on the street, or a chunk to take home for later.  Cheese-making can be observed in the middle of the large, dramatic shop through glass windows, and you can also watch while dining on the main floor or from a cozy upstairs loft where a deli cafe dispenses cheesy specialties.  Items you’ll want to try include the Flagship and aged Flagship cheeses, honey crackers, and what is claimed to be the “world's best” mac & cheese.

cheese case at Beecher's Handmade Cheese in NYC

cheesemaking at Beecher's Handmade Cheese in NYC
  

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, July 24, 2015

Things to Do: abc carpet & home shop, NYC


abc carpet & home  888 Broadway, Flatiron District, (212) 473-3000.  The name of this warehouse-size shop is misleading.  Though it does have some lovely home items, it is filled with an interesting inventory provided in sub-areas operated by individual shops.  You’ll find Buddhas galore, plus wonderful light-cotton Indian blouses and even everything to make a birthday party beautiful. 

interior of abc carpet & home in NYC

buddah at abc carpet & home in NYC

elephant carving at abc carpet & home in NYC

birthday candles at abc carpet & home in NYC

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sights to See: Flatiron District , NYC


FLATIRON DISTRICT 

Flatiron Building  175 Fifth Ave./23rd St.  This early 21-story skyscraper was designed with a wedge shape by architect Daniel Burnham because the building needed to fill a triangular space created by the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway.  Built in 1902, it is actually covered with limestone and terra-cotta, not iron, and at its narrowest end measures only 6 feet across.  It was originally named the Fuller Building, then became known as "Burnham's Folly" because people were sure it would fall down, and now is named for its resemblance to the handheld clothing appliance.

Flatiron Building in NYC


Free walking tours are scheduled every Sunday at 11 a.m.  Meet at the southwest corner of Madison Square Park (23rd Street and Broadway).  In addition to viewing the famous Flatiron Building, this 90-minute tour includes other notable landmarks--the New York Life Insurance Building, the MetLife Clock Tower, the Appellate Courthouse.  You can also download a free self-guided walking tour.

23rd Street Subway Station  Pop down here if you can to take whimsical selfies under a crown or hat painted onto the tiles. 


rider wears crown at 23rd Street subway station in NYCrider wears hat at 23rd Street subway station in NYC


rider wears crown at 23rd Street subway station in NYC


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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, July 20, 2015

Good Eats: Hundred Acres, NYC


Hundred Acres  38 Macdougal St., SoHo, (212) 475-7500. 
exterior of Hundred Acres restaurant in SoHo NYC

Diners here might be seated in any of three rooms, each with a different atmosphere.  I think each has its bliss, so it isn’t worth waiting if you don’t have to.  The front room has a bank of windows that open to the street and is particularly nice on warm days.
front room at Hundred Acres restaurant in SoHo NYC

The bright back room is an enclosed patio, where hard surfaces can cause it to get quite loud.
back room at Hundred Acres restaurant in SoHo NYC

In between is a darker room with no windows and that is where my group sat.  We were quite comfortable with the banquette seating.
middle room at Hundred Acres restaurant in SoHo NYC

From the inventive brunch menu we selected cinnamon rolls and a pot of jalapeno grits as shared starters.  May husband’s main was roasted country ham hash with fried eggs on top.
ham hash at Hundred Acres restaurant in SoHo NYC

My soft scrambled eggs were cooked just right and with a generous amount of asparagus, but disappointingly the gruyere cheese was barely detectable.  I really liked the accompanying cornbread, which was long and shaped like madeleine cookies, but I had to ask for honey butter, which took its flavor over the top.
soft scrambled eggs at Hundred Acres restaurant in SoHo NYC

I had my eye on my son-in-law’s griddled pimento white-cheddar-cheese sandwich and will try it next time.
grilled cheese at Hundred Acres restaurant in SoHo NYC

But the queen’s dish here seems to be the super-tasty goat cheese-sage bread pudding topped with poached eggs—the house version of eggs Benedict.
goat cheese-sage bread pudding at Hundred Acres restaurant in SoHo NYC

Though cocktails are available—an assortment of bloody marys and the usual mimosa, bellini, and more—we stuck to coffee.  The cold-brewed on ice was particularly nice on a warm day.  The menu changes regularly.
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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Friday, July 17, 2015

Good Eats: Magnolia Bakery, NYC


Magnolia Bakery  401 Bleecker St./11th St., West Village, (212) 462-2572.  This small spot is the original location of the boomingly popular cupcake shop put on the map by the TV show “Sex & the City.”  It is certified Kosher and now has franchises around the world.  My favorite cupcake is the vanilla with thick pastel frosting—I selected one here with aqua frosting on my recent birthday--but delicious chocolate and red velvet versions are also available.  The banana bread pudding dessert is also a don’t-miss, and the cookies and ice cream sandwiches are well priced and tasty.
exterior of Magnolia Bakery in NYC

interior of Magnolia Bakery in NYC

cupcake case at Magnolia Bakery in NYC

happy customer with cupcake af Magnolia Bakery in NYC
image c Suzanne Flores

my birthday cupcake af Magnolia Bakery in NYC
my birthday cupcake at Magnolia Bakery in NYC

Since there is nowhere to sit inside, eat it on the run or take it away to linger over at little Bleecker Playground park located diagonally across the street. 
entrance to Bleecker Playground park in NYC


Bleecker Playground park in NYC


view of Magnolia Bakery from Bleecker Playground park in NYC
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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Travel Articles: Best Souvenirs of China


It’s always a good idea to have a few souvenir ideas in mind before any trip.  That way you can do a little research in advance and, if you’re lucky, make a bee-line for what you want.  If you’re taking a guided tour of China, this is a particularly good idea because often you are taken to visit well-priced government stores that are so big it made my head spin.  It was difficult to know which way to go first.  More . . .

silk pillowcases and duvet packed for travel, souvenirs of China
These silk pillowcases are my  favorite souvenir from China.

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image ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers
 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Misc.: travel insurance for jewelry and valuables


About two years ago, in an Atlantic City casino, I lost a big, beautiful, color-changing, synthetic/manmade Alexandrite stone from a gold ring setting.  I was traveling self-insured, as I often do, so considered it just one of those things.  Fortunately, it wasn’t a diamond and was not valuable beyond sentiment (though real Alexandrite stones are usually more costly than a diamond of equal size).  But it did have sentiment aplenty, because I always wore it (it was subbed in as an engagement ring on my first wedding anniversary) and enjoyed watching the color changes as I traveled (it changed in different light and at different latitudes from a deep purple to a deep blue-green, and to a light purple or light blue-green).  A while after I returned home, it occurred to me that the ring might be covered on my homeowner’s policy and, indeed, it was.  So I was able to make a claim and discovered I was covered from dollar one up to $500.  The insurance company arranged to replace it for me.  But ultimately this process took too long and I had too many unanswered questions about how it would be done, so I opted for a cash settlement.  Unfortunately, my vintage Alexandrite from the 1930s is not an easy stone to replace, so I finally replaced it with a slightly smaller, less beautiful contemporary stone in a silver setting from England that I purchased on Amazon for $99!  I am happy with it.  So keep in mind that if an item is lost or stolen while you are traveling, check with your home insurance as soon as you return.  Always document such an incident as best you can—collect information from any witnesses, etc.  And if you travel with a precious piece of jewelry, always keep it with you (never check it in your baggage), take a picture of it, and check settings for possible damage.  If it is valuable above $500 or whatever your homeowner policy covers, secure a rider on it for full value (this is something to do even if you don’t take it on trips).  Bottom line:  love your gems while you have them and enjoy wearing them, but be aware of their value and the need for insurance. 

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gold ring settingsynthentic alexandrite in silver setting



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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 



Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sights to See Old City/Bazaar Shanghai, Shanghai, China


Old City/Bazaar Shanghai  South of The Bund, by Shanghai Old Street/Shanghai Lao Jie.  The city’s original core, this warren of narrow pedestrian-only lanes is lined with large reconstructed Ming and Qing dynasty buildings featuring ornate rooftops.  Many now hold food and souvenir stalls.  Farther from the core are tenements with laundry hanging over railings to dry, backstreet businesses, and a few temples.  At the western end of the street at Henan Lu, you can catch a taxi back to your hotel.

perimeter of Old City in Shanghai, China

pedestrian street in Old City in Shanghai, China

militaristas taking photo in Old City in Shanghai, China

shop in Old City in Shanghai, China

children enjoying peep show in Old City in Shanghai, China

Sights
Yu Yuan/Yuyuan Garden  132. Anren St., in the heart of Old City.  Daily 8:30am-4:30pm.  Dating back 400 years to the Ming Dynasty, this famous garden was built in 1559 by Pan Yunduan as a private garden for his parents.  It is said to be the most beautiful classical garden in China--more beautiful even than those in Suzhou.  "Yu" translates as "peace and health," and this garden is indeed a place of peace and comfort in the heart of busy Shanghai.  It is a large walled complex of tranquil gardens and traditional Chinese houses, with rock gardens, ponds, bridges, and pavilions, and, of course, it attracts plenty of tourists.  Fat golden Chinese carp and Japanese koi fish swim in a pond.  Try your luck at the wishing waterfall, where, after you find the four stone dragons hidden among the stones, the tradition is to throw a coin out onto them.  If your coin stays on the stone, your wish is granted; if it falls in the water, you’re out of luck. 
     Just outside the garden to the north, The Bridge of Nine Turnings/Jiu Qu Qiao Bridge/Zigzag Bridge leads over a pond to the Huxinting Teahouse/Huxinting Chashe/Yeshi Tea House, a classic mid-lake pavilion that is the perfect place to stop for tea.  Service is inexpensive, but costs about twice as much upstairs as it does downstairs because of the view and more serene atmosphere. 

Yuyuan Garden in Old City in Shanghai, China

dragon detail in Yuyuan Garden in Old City in Shanghai, China

golden coi in Yuyuan Garden in Old City in Shanghai, China

Shops
Tea Garden  158 0091 3143.  This shop is loaded with tea in tins.  I especially like these tins because the tops twist off and can be reused.  The tea is displayed so you can touch and smell samples, and clerks are helpful.  I also liked that teas are packaged in small containers that allow you to sample several kinds.  I selected Lapsangsouchong black tea and Big Red Robe oolong tea for my souvenirs.
Tea Garden shop in Old City in Shanghai, China

tea display in Tea Garden shop in Old City in Shanghai, China

Restaurants
Xinxiang steamed bun restaurant  This is the town’s most famous place for Shanghai’s famous xiaolongbao steamed dumplings with crab meat.  I hear there is always a long line of people waiting to buy dumplings from the first-floor stall (they then eat them on the street just like we would a hot dog).  If you want to sit down, go upstairs where you will pay a cashier twice as much for the privilege and you will also have to hover to secure your own seats.  When you are finally seated, a server delivers the goods and picks up your chit and check.  We waited on the second floor for about 20 minutes before some kind, already-seated Chinese people offered us two empty chairs at their table (like in Germany at a beer garden, it is customary to share tables here).  We then engaged in pleasant conversation via sign language.  For more menu choices, table service, and a view, head to the third floor where everything costs three times as much.  By the way, I didn’t detect the taste of crab meat in the buns. 

Shanghai dumplings at Xinxiang restaurant in Old City in Shanghai, China

diners texting at Xinxiang restaurant in Old City in Shanghai, China

the bill at Xinxiang restaurant in Old City in Shanghai, China

Shanghai dumplings with straws from street vendor in Old City in Shanghai, China

Yu Garden Tea House  133 YuYuan Old Street, in first block outside Yu Garden exit gate, 021-63264514.  I knew we had to stop here for refreshment when I saw from the street below the second-floor table for two set out in the open on a tiny sheltered balcony.  I longed to sit there for a while and observe the activity below, which I was currently amid.  Once seated, I realized it was pretty much only hot tea that was on the menu, and since it was also a hot day I preferred to drink cold beer.  The solo beer choice on the menu was the equivalent of US$8, which is outrageous in these parts.  Times two that was US$16.  We got up to abandon ship, but were convinced to stay by an offer of two beers for US$8.  Still a ridiculous price, we decided to take it and did not regret this atmospheric break.  I learned that people generally come here for extensive tea tastings.  Instead of what we did, I would advise you to plan to drink beer elsewhere and come here for some tea tasting and tea purchasing because it is fairly-priced for that.  When you depart, ask for directions to the nearby Zigzag Bridge.

Yu Garden Tea House in Old City in Shanghai, China

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 


Monday, July 6, 2015

Great Sleeps: Renaissance Pudong Hotel, Shanghai, China


Renaissance Pudong Hotel  100 Changliu Rd., Pudong District, +86-21-38714888.  Pool; fitness center.  This new hotel is remote from established tourist areas, which is fine if the night you’re here isn’t the night you have on your own.  In spite of this obstacle, people from my tour group ventured out fearlessly in taxis and even used the subway.  A few shops and restaurants are across the street if you aren’t as energetic.  The breakfast buffet included really good French pastries, unusual fresh fruit juices (watermelon, cucumber), and several dedicated stations preparing omelettes and noodles.


check-in desk at Renaissance Pudong Hotel in Shanghai, China


lobby at Renaissance Pudong Hotel in Shanghai, China


lounge at Renaissance Pudong Hotel in Shanghai, China


guest room at Renaissance Pudong Hotel in Shanghai, China


view from guest room at Renaissance Pudong Hotel in Shanghai, China


breakfast juice bar at Renaissance Pudong Hotel in Shanghai, China


plate from breakfast buffet at Renaissance Pudong Hotel in Shanghai, China

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers