Posts Tagged ‘Vizcaya House’

April has always been my favourite month..not just because it’s my birth month, but also, because not one year has passed when I did not pull a prank on someone on April’s Fools day:)

This particular year I was looking forward to April even we decided with Richard to choose the USA as our holiday destination in April.

As a child I have always dreamt about visiting New York..and as strange as it sounds after all these travelling NYC was still on my list. I think I wanted to give New York a special time..when I can fully enjoy it as an individual trip with enough money in my pocket, that’s why I waited until now…and after what happened here, I don’t regret the decision for a minute as New York City  is in my heart forever…

We  left Heathrow on the 9th April around 11am on a BA flight to JFK. It was just under 9 hour, and fairly smooth, with the exception of an unexpected announcement above the Atlantic ocean half way between the two continents : ‘ATTENTION, ATTENTION! PLEASE PUT ON YOUR OXYGEN MASKS WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT’. I was day dreaming and Richard was sleeping when this message echoed in the plane and my first thought was: ‘I knew..this moment had to come..this is my last day, but at least I will die while travelling’ 🙂 I was thinking of Lubitz and the German Wings catastrophy..I was thinking of those poor passengers having to live that 10 minutes terror when they knew they would least it should have happened suddenly but no..they had 10 long minutes to think over the best things that happened to them in their short lives…I guess there was no need to think about the worst.. thought funnel was ended by another announcement by the captain apologising to everyone and confirming that there is no need to use oxygen masks as the automatic announcement has been made in error.

We made it safe to New York and passed security fairly quickly, hopped in a taxi and around 4pm we were in the flat we booked from home a corner away from the Empire State Building.

Here is the view from the lovely room:

NYC Apartment 35th 5th View from flat

The owner, Serrana greeted us nicely and explained the house rules, we then went out to make the most out of the afternoon and evening. Saw the Public Library, Grand Central Station, walked up to the edge of Central Park and on the other side back on Broadway and through Time Square. Just as I was still fairly cold but luckily one of my pre-birthday presents from Richard, a pair of EMU ear muffs kept me warm. After our walk we met my colleague, Danielle who works in the New Jersey office and came into Manhattan just to meet me. She came with her friend Talia and we had a few drinks, chatted a bit, then around 11pm I was out..jetlag and general tiredness.

Grand Central station NYC streets Time sq Time square Danielle

On the second day we pre-booked from home a 6 hour walking tour around Downtown, 9/11 ,Soho, Little Italy and China Town, finishing up in Greenwich village and Chelsea market.

Our guide Onel was fantastic, originally from Puerto Rico living in Brooklyn. His enthusiasm and quirky comments made the trip amazing! What was even more special to it is that he discovered at early stages my keenness on the Sex and The City series therefore we made an extra stop at 66 Perry Street- Carrie’s apartment and the Magnolia Bakery:) I had shivers when I was standing by the stairs..where Mr Big was always waiting for her….oh..I forgot to mention that the day before in the Public Library I had similar feeling when I saw the staircase and remembered of Carrie running down the stairs when Big stood her up on the wedding!


9/11 Little Italy China Town Gay movement starting point 66 Perry street- SATC That famous staircase.. Chelsea market

After the walking tour we went to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) – it’s free on Friday afternoon therefore queues were inevitable.

You cannot leave New York without watching a Broadway Show…the last program for the day was to watch Chicago. It was very entertaining and superb!

On the next day we picked up the remaining tickets we needed which was tickets to the Empire State Building, as we bought these combined with Sunset Cruise tickets around Manhattan. Once we got them we took the subway to Downtown and walked through the Brooklyn Bridge…this was one of my favourite parts. Lovely sunny day..and breathtaking skyline….

MoMa Radio City Times square Brooklyn Bridge NYC skyline Arty




We spent the whole day in Brooklyn. First we walked on Brooklyn Heights to get a perfect view on Manhattan, then we went to the Brooklyn Flea market where we had a snack, then went to Williamsburg to have a pint of the famous Brooklyn beer and go around the quirky shops and take pics of the graffities.

In the evening we found a lovely restaurant, had dinner and headed to the night bazaar open from 7pm-1am. We got home around midnight…perfect day!

Brooklyn Flea Market Those amazing walls.. ...and shopping... Sunset in Willisamsburg Night bazaar

On Sunday we started in Central Park. Again weather was beautiful and the park was stunning. If we had a bit more time I would have loved to go for a run there. We then headed to Bloomingdales and I bought some lovely dresses and shoes..<3 awwww New York shopping:)

Central Park Ice rink in Central Park


Central Park

After this little shopping we went for more shopping to a camera department store called B&H. It’s a 3 level department store …if you can’t find the perfect accessory for your photographs it does not exist.

I got a flashgun and GoPro for my future diving here. Then we popped all the shopping home so that we do not need to carry it with us to the Empire State Building and on the boat.

It was handy having the flat right in the centre as we could have a 5 minutes break and unload all the stuff. Serrana was always smiling as she never saw us. We literally just went home sleeping hence why the flat was a very good deal.

The Empire State Building was one of the highlights….perfectly clear sunny weather and incredible!

Manhattan from Empire SB Manhattan Manhattan

By the time we finished..I was very tired..all I wanted was a coffee and a chair. But I only had 5 mins as we had to be at the pier to catch the sunset boat by 6.45. It was 6.20. After a bit of struggle we managed to get a taxi..we realised it was a bit late. What we did not expect was that a supposedly 10 minutes taxi ride will be 40! We got stuck at every red light..I was already pretty disappointed as I could see us missing the boat.

When we were about 500m away Richard jumped out of the cab and started running giving me the instructions to wait in the taxi till we arrive and he would hold up the boat. So I sat there nervously and almost crying when I saw a group running on my left on the pavement. So I jumped out of the taxi, paid and ran with the group the last 300m. The funny thing was that the taxi driver waved me when i arrived to the pier as we arrived the same time! damn it!:)

Richard came up to me smiling..he said we made it! And it was only because that group did not turn up in time.

So we got 2 seats..probably not the seats I would have chosen but the rest were taken and then the boat left. Manhattan in the sunset is stunning…our tour guide gave us a very comprehensive description of the main buildings.

Sunset cruise Sunset cruise Sunset cruise Statue of Liberty Statue of Liberty

When we came up to the turning point, we had a little break…when Richard suggested that I put down my camera and enjoy the moment for a bit…he stood up in front of me, then went down on his knees and told me:

‘Aliz, I know I have been chasing you today so that we can make the most out of it..but now I hope you understand what was the main reason….I wanted it to be perfect. Would you marry me?’

I felt so overwhelmed….I cannot describe the feeling of having your love on his knees in front of you (and other 100 people) asking you to spend the rest of your lives together….I said YES! The experience was enhanced by the other participants of the trip bursting out in cheering and applauding.. what a proposal!!!

Proposal Proposal

I do not remember much from the boat trip after I was mainly crying of joy and looking at him..trying to understand what happened and how it happened.. it was a proper movie scene..I was living the Sex and the City story in New York! So people, who told me in the past that do not imagine New York as it is in the movies I have to say you were wrong. My experience there was EXACTLY how it is in the movies…LOVED IT!

After the boat we went to celebrate with a lovely meal at Sushi Samba..Having been previously in the London one, I have to say in New York the place was not as glamorous as here in London. It was for me though. Free champagne and food was our engagement present from them.

Post engagement dinner

On the last day we checked out the Chrysler Building’s lobby, then went to Woodbury Common, a fantastic shopping outlet about an hour and half bus ride away in Jersey state. We went early in the morning ..and we did it so well as we spent the whole day there..incredible prices of the big brands…highly recommended to every shopaholic wanting to buy great brands for affordable prices.

When we got back to our flat it was late, we packed and next morning left for the Bahamas.

We flew to Miami first as we decided afterwards that it would be amazing to spend a few days in the Bahamas as well given that it’s about 45 mins away on a jet plane.

We got to our hotel, the Compass Point Resort in Nassau around 5pm on Tuesday, it looked just like on the website. We could even see the little huts from the plane when we flew into the island.

Compass Point The colour...

The room

The horizon...

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For the next day we booked diving as this was the only day we could do it (cannot fly for 24 hours after). We dived with Stuart Cove and we did not regret it. Saw some impressive shipwrecks, one was a scene in a James Bond movie. I would say it was a typical Caribbean dive site…I have done more than 50 dives in the Caribbean and it never disappoints me:)


Stuart Cove

After 2 morning dives and 2 afternoon dives we were literally wrecks, went back to Compass and indulged in the food. Bahamian people are very nice…friendly and open.

On the last day we decided to just chill..We did an hour island trip on the local bus, then Richard treated me with some manicure and pedicure at the hotel, and in the afternoon we had a happy hour bucket to enjoy the sun!

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We had a lot of fresh fish and seafood ..yumm! So healthy.

It was time to leave the next day to the last destination of this trip, Miami! We got there on the 17th April, in a lovely hotel (Miami Beach Spa Resort)

Miami Beach Hotel Spa Miami Beach Hotel Spa

In the afternoon we did an ‘art deco’ walking tour in South Beach and booked a trip for my birthday to the Key West. The South Beach is tacky according to many people. I did not find it tacky at all. It’s a great day and night party scene..people dare to express themselves, money shouts at every corner, Lamborghinis and Ferraris and luxury! But it’s fun!

South Beach South Beach South Beach South Beach South Beach South Beach

Giant cocktail

Next day..the Key West…6am start. It’s a 145 miles trip on a narrow road into the Caribbean towards Cuba..4 hour trip there and 4 back. On the Key we went snorkelling to the third biggest reef in the was brilliant! On the way back happy hour on the boat..the breeze, the turquoise colours of the sea…my fiancé …there is not much more than one can wish for really. Perfect birthday! When we returned to the land we literally had to run to grab some lunch..lobster roll yumm! And then to check out the Southern Most Point of the USA where we were actually closer to Cuba (90miles) than to Miami…

Key West Snorkelling trip Key West Snorkelling trip Key West Key West Key West Key West Southern Most Point

The heat was incredible…only 29 degrees but the humidity made us feel as if it was 40!

Upon return to the hotel around 9pm we had some dinner and passed out.

Last day…but full day with an evening flight, the 19th April. We decided that Miami has so many parts, the best thing to do is to get a hop on hop off ticket and see the whole city with a few stops. It was a great way of seeing how it’s structured. We stopped at a lovely house that used to be owned by a Chicago business man called Vizcaya house and then in Little Havana….now that was like being back in January 2014..cigar, mojitos, lobster lunch, domino park and lots of Cubans! 70% of Miami are immigrants, mainly from Latin- America…probably that was one of the reasons why I absolutely loved Miami 🙂

Vizcaya Garden

Vizcaya House



Little Havana

Little Havana

Calle 8

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The flight back was quick and easy, upon arrival a fully decorated room was waiting for me along with Sasha and Claudia, my Colombian friend! And I had an extra week with her to celebrate. On Sunday we went to Richard’s parents for some more celebration, my mum was super delighted for the news as well.

April was a fantastic month for me..and I shall never forget it. Thank you all who made it special and especially thank you Richard for making me the happiest girl!

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