Author: Philippe

Summer dress code

You know the rule for girls : legs or boobs not both on show at same time..sorry guys but same thing for us here… top half or bottom half…not both at same time

Tank top (Never a good choice anyway) and shorts = big no no

T shirt and shorts : camper look

T shirt and long trousers : grandad look

so go for long sleeved shirt, rolled at the elbows, and knee shorts… great favourite of mine when I’m tanned is wide open neck but not adviseable with hairy chest, very pasty or beer belly. Also not to be worm with any other jewellery than ethnic

 

 

 

 

Arias and Sheeps

GLYndebourne

 

 

I can hear you from here..”it’s for old bankers networking !”..”only corporate invites”…  “expensive and fussy”… YES… but this is still an amazing experience…and I can be so categoric about it because I brought there someone who does not like Opera and we’re neither bankers nor corporate… this is an unrivalled experience to anything you’ve ever had…  I agree there’s a big unknown factor which can make or break this unique experience, its  the weather, hence why it takes place in the summer but we all know what an English summer can be like…wet !

However if you are lucky enough to be there by a hot summer day like I was then the moment becomes not just magical but MA-GI-CAL !!!

Glyndebourne is an Opera festival taking place  in a country place in the beautiful English rural countryside, 2h from central London. The grounds are magnificient in a real timeless, effortless (at least in appearance) English kind of way. The auditorium is second to none, small and with a formidable acoustic, all seats are good and you’re not far from the stage but since it does not accommodate many people it is very expensive…but money well spent in my mind.

Arrive early afternoon, bring table, chairs, rugs and your picnic, wander through the fantastic grounds, look for the sheeps, you feel away from all modern life but don’t forget the most important accessory Champagne… and all that in evening gear, deliciously eccentric ! then when the bell rings, take your seat in the auditorium, enjoy the show, then

Go to Cuba now !

Carabean island lost in time but not for long…US investments will soon be flooding in and change it forever, which is probably a good thing fr its inhabitants but a loss from a picturesque point of view

Be aware that

  • food is terrible even in 4 star hotels…but they make it up with their very fresh mojitos…or take it as opportunity to detox
  • Not all beaches are white sand… choose carefully, some are really paridisiac, some others are shingles…even in Varadero
  • Havanna is being turned into  Disneyland, refurbished set for tourists
  • Wifi does not work

 

But very very hot, beautiful sea, great opportunities for really good pictures with these old cars,

Gala night at the Met

thumbnail_FullSizeRender (9) - CopyWhy ?…because Iconic  !  One of the best Opera house in the world and an excuse to dress up ! Fabulous acoustic too…

 

If you’re in NY you’ll want to see a show on Broadway but in comparison the Met is much better value, if you manage to get a ticket that is !… but with a bit of planning, it could be possible and it is definitely well worth a visit and experience first hand this atmosphere so special, the enthusiasm from the audience and a live 50 pieces + symphonic orchestra. Even if you do not like classical music this can resonate with you because the maestria of the artists either vocally in case of Opera or physically in case of Ballet is breathtaking.

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And there is the setting, majestuous grand staircase, sparkling chandeliers and Chagall paintings (over your head in the Grand Tier restaurant)…

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I can recommend the Grand Tier restaurant, reduced menu but surprisingly pleasant food and you can come back to your table during the interval to enjoy your dessert and drink some more Champagne !

 

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http://www.metopera.org/Season/free-met-summer-events/

A legendary island

DSCF0687DSCF9935Zanzibar…just that name evokes the stuff legendary tales are made of…far away land in tropical seas, Arab merchants transporting precious wares on their dhows, 1001 night tale princesses dancing behind the closed shutters of their musharabieh…or if you are a little more prosaic and “rock’n roll” the island where Freddy Mercury came from…

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Whatever it is, Zanzibar excites the imagination and the senses, located in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Tanzania of which it is a semi-autonomous region, it is really a dreamy destination which makes a perfect holiday destination hence why I want to blog about it today, now that summer is near.

DSCF9824DSCF9811You can go all year round but avoid march,  april,  may and november which are the rainy months and remember that it’s  south of the Equator so season are inverted vs northern hemisphere.

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3 reasons to go :

  • very laid back
  • not as busy/expensive/well known as Mauritius or the Seychelles
  • extremely  picturesque, if the Rock restaurant is not on your bucket list, add it there now !

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A restaurant on a rock in the middle of the sea serving delicious Pasta lobster.

3 points to be aware of

  • Make sure your hotel has a massive pool because you’ll need it
  • can be very windy at times, especially in the south of the island…on the plus side, time to learn kite surfing .
  • Food is very decent, lovely grilled fish but don’t expect to be blown away

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Yes, tide goes off far, but I mean very very far, all the time I was there I never managed to get to the water at low tide and sea urchins are a real danger, hence why, even if like me you’re a beach buddy, you’ll end up in your hotel pool. But I was surprised to see they do not have all a massive pool, that’s why I’m advising you to check it first.

DSCF9774Rock restaurant,  choose timing carefully, very close from shore, expensive but worth it Pasta lobster delicicious.

They sell mini safaris in Serengeti on the island and it can be done in 3 days. Most Staff dealing with tourists come from Tanzanian mainland, Zanzibar locals are muslims and seem to shy away from contact with foreigners.

Experience being left on a sand atoll all day and see the tide come up leaving you stranded on a tiny sand patch before it goes out again, photo hunt delicately for colourful and massive star fish.

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NYC secret finds

A kitsch Cafe in the Village

In a small street nor far from Washington Square Park, Caffee Reggio (119 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012) is different…since 1927…ok, the waiters are not that cheery -but aren’t they a quick disappearing breed in NY anyway?- , the food is ok but what makes it special is the setting…antiques, curios, old paintings… strange and wonderful things !

http://www.caffereggio.com/

Cocktails with a view

I particularly like the Library hotel, first because the concept based on books can only appeal to me and secondly because of its bar located on the 7th floor with a beautiful view over Madison avenue. It’s small, off the beaten track and has got either a large terrace with ample seating if you’re lucky enough to enjoy balmy weather or comfortable sofas by the fire if you’ve been unlucky with the weather odds. Decent drink menu too !

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299 Madison Ave, New York, NY 1001                             http://www.libraryhotel.com/

Trad Diner

Not saying it’s the best diner in town…I would be no expert on the question…but if you’re going for it, at least this one, at the corner of Time Square, watching its lighted signs from your booth, seated on red “vintage” leatherette, feasting on double-deckers and onion rings is the closest you can get to a 50’s flashback ! Desserts are a let down though, fudge sundae was all ice cream and cream, no brownie bits..

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view from inside

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212 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019                  http://www.brooklyndiner.com/

An Italian with attitude (pleonasm)

DSCF6768Of course little Italy has lost its soul by catering for hordes of tourists but that’s the way things go, no point lamenting about it but what you can do though is avoiding these “food factories” faux-Italian outlets  which all serve the same unimaginative cuisine and aim instead to this modern Italian called Gelso & Grand reminding me more of Shoreditch than of Sicily but serving some very tasty dishes straight out of the open kitchen. Try the “charcuterie and cheese” platter as a starter…enticing !  Advisable to book in advance .

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186 Grand St, New York, NY 10013, USA                              http://www.gelsoandgrand.com/

NYC long week end

What better way to test your swagger than strutting your stuff down 5th avenue ?

In my mind finding a base near Central Park is a good start because nothing beats a coffee and a doughnut whilst watching the word go by in Central Park….unless it’s raining obviously !

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A stone through from Central Park, on 5th avenue, a tour through the Frick collection (free on sundays) is a must, don’t see it as a museum but as a beautiful mansion where  you have been invited to look at priceless pieces of art assembled in a private collection and there are a lot of true masterpieces here.. Where else can you find in the same room, so many van Dicks, Caravage, Veronese and Renoir? … Free of chronological order or style “ecoles”, I rather like this frontal crash of geniuses… Up to you to decide who comes on top !

I particularly love “the letter from Vermeer”… full of dramatic tension, is she apprehensive of the letter her servant is  just bringing her or is she asking her to take a love letter to a new beau of questionable reputation ? … We’ll never know… We don’t know much about the master of Delft and even less about his mesmerizing carefully constructed small paintings which have travelled to us through the centuries.

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For me that’s enough to warrant a visit !

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See my secret finds in NYC

http://www.frick.org/visit