The NYC Subway Art Tour Opened My Eyes

A section of Stephen Johnson's Dekalb Improvisation, Dekalb Avenue

Darryl Reilly’s 3 hour subway art tour showed me just how oblivious I have been in my city. New York subway stations feature art by both renowned and emerging artists – and I only noticed a fraction of it.

For one so observant above ground that I wrote about public art here, I must turn into a tunnel-visioned drone when I hit the subway.

After years of living in the neighborhood, I knew of the hats in the Flatiron/23rd Street N,R station – and the gorgeous mosaics in the Lincoln Center station, but I’ve walked by some pretty huge installations without noticing them, apparently for years.

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The Library And The Giraffe: A Tale Of Two Top NYC Hotels. Part Two

In this second installment of our two part New York City Staycation, SuitcaseReady visits Hotel Giraffe, currently #5 on Tripadvisor

Spacious Balcony Room. Photo credit: Hotel Giraffe

Hotel Giraffe offers all the comforts of home…. a very luxurious home. Where the Library is clubby, the Giraffe is sleek. It also seems a lot bigger, although it only has 73 rooms to the Library Hotel’s 60. As members of the same group, both hotels include similar amenities: high speed wifi, large selection of breakfast items, wine & cheese reception. Hotel Giraffe also offers free passes to the nearby NY Sports Club.

The property also boasts the same wonderful service exhibited repeatedly at the Library. A welcoming, informative front desk staff; food & beverage personnel who anticipate the guest’s every need at breakfast and offer just what you’re considering before you even identify it. And, whoever decided to put me in room 806, a massive corner suite.

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The Library and The Giraffe: A Tale of Two Top NYC Hotels. Part One

What makes a hotel a consistent Tripadvisor Top 10? SuitcaseReady visited NYC’s Library Hotel and Hotel Giraffe to discover why they’ve been on top for years.

Library Hotel Middle Eastern Room 400.005

Part 1 - The Library Hotel - currently #3 on Tripadvisor

It’s Friday night in NYC. Am I out having dinner in one of Manhattan’s 20,000 restaurants, viewing a Broadway show, or drinking with friends? No, I’m curled up in my perfectly comfortable bed reading my choice of one of 6000 books The Library offers its guests. In fact, I never left the hotel from the time I entered until I checked out the next day at 1pm.

Detail of my room at the Library Hotel

The comments on Tripadvisor indicate the hotel is loved for its excellent service, amenities, location, books, breakfast and the wine & cheese reception. All of this is true, and more. The attention to detail, the helpfulness and friendliness of the staff, the little touches that extend the library theme all contribute to making the hotel a peaceful oasis in midtown Manhattan.

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NYC’s TMZ Tour – Booking Essential

NYC's TMZ Bus Tour bus

Visitors to NYC can wait to arrive to book many attractions, but not the popular TMZ tour. Every seat of the bus was full when I took the tour on a cold February weekend. One unlucky couple waited in the hope of no shows, but every guest arrived.

I had the benefit of taking a one hour version of the tour after Travel Massive, a worldwide travel industry networking event. Our abbreviated TMZ Tour, lead by Matt, a former Australian Idol competitor was so fun and engaging that I returned at a later date for the full tour. This time, the adorable, knowledgeable Ricky lead us around the city for the 2 hour tour that seemed to pass so quickly, I didn’t want it to end.

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Luggage Review: Karrimor Expedition Duffel 40L

Water resistant weekend bag

Whether you’re traveling from a Panamanian airstrip to a river lodge by canoe in the rain, or just walking to the train station in a blizzard – a water resistant bag is good to have.

Karrimor’s Expedition Duffel is just that bag.

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Cherry Blossoms in DC: Planning Your Visit

Predicting Peak Cherry Blossom Blooming in DC is Not an Exact Science, but the Time to Book is Now.

Cherry Blossoms, Washington DC Tidal Basin 2013

Now that the brittle Christmas trees have hit the sidewalks, it is time to start planning and booking your 2014 Washington DC Cherry Blossom trip.

The official Festival dates are March 20 – April 13, and a glance at hotel rates for weekend stays on Tripadvisor during that period indicates rooms could be filling up. Then again, I booked in mid-March for my 2013 visit and was able to choose from a variety of Kimptons for well under $200/night.

You might want to book something cancelable now, and keep checking for better rates.

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eBook Review: 101 Free Things to Do in New York City (2012 Edition)

Daniel Davidson’s 101 Free Things to Do in New York City is worth the $2.99 price tag, if only for the substantial list of free, quality food opportunities. Items #15-45 cover a wealth of free food.

Designed for visitors to the city, this particular section of the guide would appeal to locals as well. Most of this food is offered with purchase of drinks – and the detailed list encompasses many places I’ve never heard of, despite proximity to my home.

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Paris: Way Off the Beaten Track

Three Nights in Paris: No Seine, Eiffel Tower or Champs Elysee

Area around Rue Mouzzaia, Paris

This is Paris. Really.

Whether to repeat or visit new destinations is the common traveler’s dilemma. Visiting new places usually wins, and yet I find myself returning to Paris as often as possible. Although I’ve been going to Paris since I was 15, I have barely scratched the surface and can easily fill ten days without repeating anything visited on prior stays.

Flying to Malta non-stop from New York is not an option, so when I was investigating flights and realized I could route through any European city, I opted to schedule 3 nights in Paris on the way back to the US.

Planning these 3 days was easy. On the Thursday of my 2010 trip to Paris, I tripped in a pothole rushing to lunch at Bistro Paul Bert and missed the last 3 days of my carefully planned schedule. Two years later, I finally completed that itinerary.

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Weekend Getaway Packing List


weekend luggage

An acquaintance visiting New York for the weekend just asked me if she should take a cab from Penn Station to her hotel 3 blocks away because of her huge bag. How much stuff do people pack for the weekend?

In most cases, if you’re hauling around so much gear for a weekend that a 3 block cab ride is even a consideration, you’re packing way too much. Unless you’re carrying ski clothing/gear or here for Fall Fashion Week, you should be able to work with my very generous packing list.

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High Line Park, NYC – the Undeveloped End

Book the Carol Bove Art Tour for an Inside Look Before Redevelopment and Public Opening in 2014

High Line Rail Yards sculpture exhibit

Carol Bove’s Celeste on the Undeveloped end of NYC’s High Line

I was never hip enough to sneak up to the High Line before it was developed, even though from living in the neighborhood I knew other people were doing it. However, I got to experience it, albeit with a Ranger and 9 other people. You can too.

Last week, I had the unique opportunity to visit the last stretch of the High Line before it is developed, as part of the Carol Bove art walk tour. Reserving this small group tour enables anyone to visit this end of the High Line before it’s finished, and view some powerful sculptures tailored to this very industrial environment.

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