Featured

What I Love About Summer

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I was walking my dog earlier this week and heard the cicadas, which I have to say, I love the sound of cicadas. It reminds me of growing up playing capture the flag in my neighborhood. It just makes me think of summer. So for the rest of my walk, I was thinking about all the things I love about summer. Here’s what came to mind:

 

1. Hanging out with friends

2. SUN, SUN AND MORE SUN!!!

3. Swimming

4. The heat

5. Shorts

6. Flip flops

7. Pool parties!

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8. Jamming out to music

9. Laying out

10. Sun-kissed skin

11. NO SCHOOL WORK

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12. Laughing with friends

13. Fresh Fruit

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14. Cookouts

15. Free time

16. Getting to spend time with your family

17. Going to the lake

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18. ICECREAM!!!

19. Sun glasses

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20. Fireworks.

21.Travel

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Featured

The 21 must-have travel apps for 2019

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With over a million different apps available on both the Apple and Android app stores, sorting the good from the bad isn’t easy. This is as true in travel as any other category—while some apps will genuinely improve your vacation, many others aren’t even worth the time they take to download.

Here are 12 free travel apps absolutely worth their place on your smartphone or tablet computer. All are available for at least iOS and Android.


Google Translate

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If you’re traveling somewhere you don’t speak the language, you’ll find Google’s free translation app very useful. Simply type in the words you need to translate, pick a target language, and away you go.

You’ve also got the option of taking a photo, using handwriting or even speaking a phrase and having the resulting text translated and (in some cases) read aloud.

Most usefully, you can download a language pack ahead of time. This means you don’t even need to be connected to the Internet to translate typed phrases—an important point for international travelers who may not have mobile data.


XE Currency

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There are many different currency conversion apps out there, but XE has long been the best. Choose all the different dollars, pesos, and baht you’d like to convert between, then pick the one you’d like to use right now. Enter an amount, and the equivalent in all other currencies will show on one screen.

It’s quick and easy, and can save you a lot of money when dealing with unfamiliar exchange rates. The app doesn’t require an Internet connection to convert between currencies, but does need one to download rates when you first select a currency.


WiFi Map

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By scanning your surroundings and checking against a database of over 100,000,000 hotspots updated by the app’s seven million users, Wifi Map lets you know the location of the nearest wireless connection.

The app includes any passwords you may need. The free version shows any networks within a little over a mile of your current or a searched location, while the paid version lets you download entire city Wi-fi maps ahead of time to use while offline.


Tripit

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Tripit is one of the most popular travel apps out there, and for good reason. The service makes tracking even complex itineraries a breeze, without having to manually type in the details of every flight, hotel, and car rental.

If the booking was made online, just forward the confirmation email and, in most cases, Tripit will automatically recognize it and update your itinerary.

Once that’s done, start the app and let it download the latest updates. From then on, you can access your itinerary without an Internet connection.

There’s a paid version ($49/year) with extra features, but the free option offers enough for most people.


Triposo

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Taking crowd-sourced information from Wikitravel, Wikipedia, and several other sites, Triposo turns it all into a useful offline guide. As there’s a lot of information for some larger destinations, just remember to download the app and guides before leaving home.

You’ll get recommendations for activities, hotels, restaurants, and more, along with maps and directions.


Google Maps

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Google Maps is easily the best mobile navigation app, and one you’ll likely use every day on the road.

While you’ll need an Internet connection to find new locations, you can save unlimited numbers of maps for later offline use. The GPS in your phone or tablet will still work without a cell signal, and you can even get driving and public transit directions without being connected.


Snapseed

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It takes a bit of getting used to, but after you’ve mastered it, Snapseed is the best mobile photo editing software out there. If your sunset is a bit washed out, the horizon isn’t straight or everything just needs to be made a little more vibrant before you make your friends jealous on Facebook, Snapseed is just the app to do it with.

Sure, it has a bunch of pre-set filters as well—but once you know how to use the app, you probably won’t even need to use them.


Sit or Squat

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It’s not something that’s often talked about, but sometimes when you’re traveling, knowing where to find the nearest public toilet is vitally important. The aptly-named Sit or Squat app does exactly that, scanning a database of over 100,000 restrooms that have been rated “sit” (good) or “squat” (bad) by users to show those close to you.

It’s not something you’ll use every day, but when you need it, you really need it…


TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor

 

There’s no doubt TripAdvisor is the biggest game in town when it comes to user reviews of accommodations and attractions. Its forums, too, provide a wealth of information about destinations all over the world.

The app provides almost all of the information available on the site, including access to the forums, and syncing of bookmarked pages between the web and app versions.

Unfortunately it’s not able to be used offline, although the company does make dozens of free city guides available to download.


Pocket

Pocket

 

There are many different offline reading apps available, and Pocket is one of the best. Save a bunch of articles to read on long journeys, along with any information you need for your destination—attractions, booking details, restaurant recommendations—and access it all without an Internet connection.

Web pages can be saved and accessed from any computer, tablet, or phone that you’re signed in to, and sync automatically on mobile devices.


Lounge Buddy

LoungeBuddy

 

When it comes to miserable parts of the travel experience, it’s hard to go past long layovers and extended delays. Airport lounges are a calm oasis amidst the mayhem—or at least, they’re meant to be.

Realizing not all lounges are created equal, LoungeBuddy stepped in to provide reviews and detailed information about hundreds of lounges around the world. Whether you’ve got access via an airline membership, business class ticket, or independent program, the app is invaluable in deciding where to spend your time.

If you don’t have access by other means, LoungeBuddy also lets you buy day passes for many lounges direct from the app–definitely a better option than sitting on the floor for several hours at LAX!


American Red Cross First Aid

Red Cross first aid app

 

 

Accidents happen, even on vacation, and a little preparedness goes a long way. Install the official Red Cross first aid before you leave, and you’ll be in a much better situation should the worst happen.

With step-by-step instructions for dealing with everything from bites to burns, heart attacks to head injuries, plus instructional videos that help you prepare for problems ahead of time, it’s an easy, free way of being able to deal with health issues and emergencies on the road.


Kindle

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Maybe it’s a little obvious, but no matter how devoted you are to print, there’s no denying that carrying a Kindle is a lot easier than lugging 10 hardbacks around with you. With the Kindle app you don’t even need the Kindle – just your smartphone. While there’ll be no swapping at hotels and hostels, the ease makes up for everything


SAS Survival Guide

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Know your Morse code? How about how to start a fire? With this app you will. If you’re venturing anywhere remotely off the beaten path, it’s a must have. Written by a former SAS soldier and instructor, the app contains hundreds of survival skills that will help you both at home and away. Sure, you might be staying at a 5-star hotel in NYC’s Greenwich Village, but hey – better safe than sorry, right


FlightAware

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Skip downloading individual airport or airline apps for individual flights – FlightAware lets you track any flight in real-time, receive alerts and see airport delays


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Duolingo

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Full of bite-sized lessons and games that teach you how to read, write, listen and speak a language, Duolingo covers 27 languages – including Klingon. Start with basic verbs, phrases and sentences and learn new words every day


AroundMe

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AroundMe identifies where you are, and lists the nearest bank, bar, gas station, hospital, hotel, movie theater, restaurant, supermarket, theatre and taxi. Useful if you want to catch a movie – crucial if you’re taken ill abroad


Wifispc

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While it’s not necessarily a must-have, free WiFi on holiday is definitely a nice-to-have. Wifispc keeps you online, world over, thanks to an ever-growing list of WiFi networks and passwords continuously updated by users


Yuggler

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A blessing to parents travelling with their children, Yuggler lets you discover all the kid-friendly things to do near you. Find tips, see photos and search via filters so that you’re sure to find things just right for your children’s ages and likes (iOS only! But Android is on the way …)


Prey Anti Theft

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One of the worries that comes with carrying your expensive smartphone with you on your travels is that someone might nab it – or that you’ll just lose it. Prey helps you find your cellphone, lock down your device, trigger an alarm and more. It’s a completely free and extremely useful app


WeatherPRO

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Everyone has their favourite weather app, but we love WeatherPRO. It’s extremely detailed, including ski weather, beach weather (with UV Index and water temperatures), and – most importantly – it’s accurate

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48 Hours in Pittsburgh

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In the midst of an extreme makeover, Pittsburgh has evolved from steel town to boom town. A city of 90 neighborhoods, three rivers and year-round fun, at its core is a robust arts and culture scene, headlined by major talents like Andy Warhol. Pittsburgh’s cool factor is climbing by the day, thanks to an influx of new hotels, restaurants and attractions that make it ripe for discovery. Pittsburgh is close to home…Only 2hours from where I live, I often make a weekend trip out of Pittsburgh.


Morning

To start off the day, act like a local and grab some coffee and massive pancakes at the Oakland neighborhood breakfast joint Pamela’s. Trust me: it’ll be worth the wait. If you’re with someone else, I suggest splitting the meal as you’ll be doing a lot of eating today.

Since you’re already in the area, head over to the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning and take a tour of the 30 historical national rooms. Each of the rooms has been donated to the university by the national and ethnic groups that helped build the former steel town. Each room holds a different character and highlights the diversity that brought Pittsburgh to life.

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If you’re not feeling too cultural, you can always take a stroll over to Phipp’s Conservatory and meander through some of the city’s best nature. Nearby to the conservatory is Schenley Park where you can catch a quick concert by a local busker, encounter some sort of civic protest or have a roll-down-the-hill race. Seriously, the hills are lush and prime for rolling.

Noonish

If you’re in the mood for a quick snack, pop over to Conflict Kitchen, one of the town’s most unique eateries. It only serves up fare from a country with which the United States is currently in conflict. The food comes served with informational blurbs so you can better understand the situation. If you’re not hungry, that’s okay too. I told you to split the pancakes!

After your snack, hop in a cab (5 minutes), bus (27 minutes) or walk (1 hour) over to The Andy Warhol Museum. Most people don’t know that the art legend originally hails from the ‘burgh – an anecdote of which natives are proud. Wander through the multi-level art haven and get a glimpse of why his art became – and still is – an international success.

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Afternoon

One of the must-see views on any trip to Pittsburgh is the cityscape atop the famed Mt. Washington. You can hitch a ride up to the top to take in the sights by riding a mountainside funicular known as the Duquesne Incline for under $5. There are several lookout points to choose from but remember it’s going up on the ‘gram so choose wisely.

After peeking through some of the city’s relics, grab a cup of coffee at Smallman Galley’s Coffee Shop located in the Strip District’s unique chef incubator. It’s home to a number of start-up restaurants and hosts some of the city’s most innovative up-and-coming chefs, which is pretty badass.

If you’re feeling up for midday drinks, head over to Church Brew Works to sip on a locally brewed pint in a unique setting. When was the last time you could say you enjoyed a fresh, locally brewed pint within the confines of a restored Roman Catholic church? Formally known as St. John the Baptist Church in Pittsburgh’s trendy Lawrenceville neighborhood, Church Brew Works has been serving a hearty menu to pair with its award-winning beers. Cheers, y’all.

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Evening

No trip to the Steel Town is worth it without paying homage to the city’s booming restaurant scene. Sure it’s known as a sports town with an affinity for fried fodder and cheap beer, but Pittsburgh is so much more. One of the most notable farm-to-table joints in town is Cure, a rustic space which serves up some of the best – yep, you called it – cured meats. Herbivores, don’t you fret. The chefs at APTEKA aim to bring Pittsburgh’s historical influence of Central and Eastern Europe to life through their fresh, vegan fare. Be sure to grab a pierogi or seven while you’re in there.

Finish the busy day with a nightcap at Arsenal Cider House and Wine Cellar, a Civil War-themed watering hole that celebrates the Union Army’s Allegheny Arsenal. This little spot is a great place to listen to live tunes and relax in a backyard in Pittsburgh’s up-and-coming Lawrenceville neighborhood.

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10 tips for 24 hours in Pittsburgh

  1. Be prepared to drink lots of beer
  2. Get ready for lots of hills
  3. Give back to the local mom and pop shops (they’re everywhere)
  4. Visit in the summer or autumn
  5. Rent a bike
  6. Peep the local happy hour specials
  7. Definitely take the incline to Mt. Washington
  8. See live music at Mr. Smalls Theater (it’s a renovated church)
  9. Carry change with you for bus fares if needed
  10. Have Google Maps handy

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Featured

48 Hours in New Orleans

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New Orleans (or NOLA) is located in southeastern Louisiana, and occupies both sides of the Mississippi River. The heart of the city and its French Quarter is on the river’s north side. The city is known for its distinct French and Spanish Creole architecture, as well as its cross-cultural and multilingual heritage. New Orleans is famous for its cuisine, music (particularly as the birthplace of jazz) and its annual celebrations and festivals, most notably Mardi Gras. The city is often referred to as the “most unique” in the United States.


Getting There

  • Airport – Louis Armstrong New Orleans International (MSY)
  • Currency – U.S. Dollar ($)
  • Language – English
  • Population – 380,000

From New York, New Orleans is a quick 2 and a half hour flight, and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is only 30 minutes from downtown. I took the Airtrain to JFK airport ($8 instead of $50) and used TSA Precheck to skip the security line.

Tip – I often board planes ASAP to avoiding checking my carry-on. Ever since airlines implemented checked bag fees there has been a spike in carry-ons, limiting overhead space.

 


Day One:

First things first, grab some breakfast and head to the WWII Museum. This is a great first activity, as it may take several hours, and is certainly not something you want to do hungover tomorrow morning. Explore for 2-4 hours.

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Upon leaving the WWII Museum, you will see a streetcar near the front entrance. Hop on the streetcar and head to the French Quarter to grab a Po Boy for lunch!

After munching down your Po Boy (and beer) we recommend heading to Saint Louis Cemetery for a creepy tour of the oldest graveyard in NOLA.

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After scaring yourself in the graveyard, head back to your hotel or hostel and get ready for a wild night out!

Looking fresh? Good! Head to Muriel’s Bistro for dinner and enjoy some delicious local Creole food.

Now it’s time to party. Head to Bourbon Street, grab a Big Ass Beer and start your evening!

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Day Two:

Hungover? That will happen. It is NOLA after all.

Breakfast at Cafe du Monde

Wake up and get wired with a classic chicory coffee at Cafe du Monde, one of the country’s most popular coffee spots. Soak up last night’s booze with a helping of sugary beignets. Live music can be heard from musicians surrounding the quarter, a picture-perfect way to start the day. 

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Hop on the streetcar and head to Jacksons Square. Sit in the sun for a while, enjoy the live Jazz, beautiful paintings and street performers. Once you’re bored, head to the river near the French Market – it’s a 5 minute walk!

Grab a beer at the French Market and start exploring. We recommend grabbing a plate of raw oysters from inside!

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Head to Magazine street and get in your last minute shopping.

While walking around Magazine street, stop inside any of the numerous Creole Seafood restaurants for dinner!

Ready, Set, Drink! Enjoy your last night on Bourbon Street! Make sure to stop into some of the famous bars, strip clubs, and jazz bars to ensure you see a little bit of everything!

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End your last night with a midnight Voodoo tour if your so inclined! But I’ll pass on the Voodoo

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So What’s It Going To Cost?

Here is how much we spent, and what we spent it on, in 48 hours. 

Food: Breakfast: We spent an average of $5 USD each morning at local cheap breakfast restaurants. 
Lunch: We spent an average of $10 USD each day at local restaurants.  
Dinner: We spent an average of $15 USD each evening, usually trying all the “best” Creole restaurants. 
Total for Food = $30 USD each/per day.

Beer/Alcohol: It’s NOLA. You’ll drink a lot. Enough said.
Total for Beer/Alcohol = $40 USD each/per day.

Transportation (Including getting to and from the airport): We took a taxi to and from the airport which cost $36.00, each way. In order to get around the city, we mainly used the $1.25 streetcars and would also walk as the city is fun to explore by foot. 
Total for Transportation = $40 USD each (total).

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Featured

Australian Slang

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When you learn English you’re taught how to speak and write ‘proper’ English. Then you visit an English speaking country and start hearing some very strange slang terms.

Like I’ve said in my last post,  have a friend here from Aussie and I thought it would be fun to list some Australian slang that I have never heard before, some of it I have heard, but most of it is certainly ‘interesting’!

Although Australia is an English speaking country, arriving into the country with little knowledge of the most popular Aussie slang words may just get you into a few awkward situations. It’s worth noting that Aussies have a tendency to shorten most words in the English vocabulary as well. You will soon become accustomed to this! Here are a list of some common slang words (some found in other English speaking countries) that should help you get by…


A Cold One – Beer

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Accadacca – How Aussies refer to Australian band ACDC

Ankle Biter – Child

Arvo – Afternoon (S’Arvo – this afternoon!)

Aussie Salute – Wave to scare the flies

Avo – Avocado

Bail – To cancel plans. ‘Bruce bailed’ = Bruce isn’t going to turn up.

Barbie – Barbecue

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Bathers – Swimsuit

Beauty! – Great! Most often exclaimed as “You Beauty”

Billabong – A pond in a dry riverbed

Billy – Teapot (In the Outback on the fire)

Bloody – Very. Used to extenuate a point

Bloody oath – yes or its true. “You right mate?”… “Bloody Oath”

Bludger – Someone who’s lazy, generally also who relies on others (when it’s someone who relies on the state they’re often called a ‘dole bludger’)

Bogan – This word is used for people who are, well let’s say, rednecks. Or, if you like, just call your friends a bogan when they are acting weird.

Booze Bus – Police vehicle used to catch drunk drivers

Bottle-O – Bottle Shop, basically a place to buy alcohol

Brekky – Breakfast

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Brolly – Umbrella

Bruce – An Aussie Bloke

Budgie Smugglers – Speedos

Bush – “Out in the bush” – “he’s gone bush” In the countryside away from civilisation

Cab Sav – Cabernet Sauvignon

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Cactus – Dead, Broken

Choc A Bloc – Full

Choccy Biccy – Chocolate Biscuit

Chook – Chicken

Chrissie – Christmas

Ciggy – a Cigarette

Clucky – feeling maternal

Cobber – Very good friend. ‘Alright me ‘ol cobber’.

Coldie – Beer. ‘Come over for a few coldie’s mate.’

Coppers – Policemen

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Crack the shits – Getting angry at someone or something

Crikey – an expression of surprise

Crook – Being ill or angry; ‘Don’t go crook on me for getting crook’

C*nt, the “C” word – Used when exchanging pleasantries between close friends or family member. If someone calls you the “C” word in Australia (and you haven’t done anything to make them angry), then breathe a sigh of relief… it means you have entered the mate zone.

Dag – Someone who’s a bit of a nerd or geek.

Daks – Trousers. ‘Tracky daks’ = sweatpants (tracksuit pants)

Dardy – meaning “cool”, is used amongst South West Australian Aboriginal peoples and has also been adopted by non-indigenous teens. – source

Deadset – True

Defo – Definitely

Devo – Devastated

Drongo – a Fool, ‘Don’t be a drongo mate’

Dunny – Toilet

Durry – Cigarette

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Esky – An insulated container that keeps things cold (usually beers)

Facey – Facebook

Fair Dinkum – ‘Fair Dinkum?’ … ‘Fair Dinkum!’ = Honestly? … Yeah honestly!

Flannie / Flanno – flannelette shirt

Flat out – Really busy – “Flat out like a lizard drinking” – As busy as a bee

Footy – Football (AFL / Aussie Rules)

Frothy – Beer

F*ck Me Dead – that’s unfortunate, that surprises me

Furphy – rumours or stories that are improbable or absurd

G’day – Hello

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Galah – an Australian cockatoo with a reputation for not being bright, hence a galah is also a stupid person.

Gnarly – awesome – often used by surfers

Going off – busy, lots of people / angry person “he’s going off”

Good On Ya – Good work

Goon – the best invention ever produced by mankind. Goon is a cheap, boxed wine that will inevitably become an integral part of your Australian backpacking experience.

Hard yakka – Hard work

Heaps – loads, lots, many

Hoon – Hooligan (normally driving badly!)

Iffy – bit risky or unreasonable

Knickers – female underwear

Lappy – Laptop

Larrikin – Someone who’s always up for a laugh, bit of a harmless prankster

Legless – Someone who is really drunk

Lollies – Sweets

Maccas – McDonalds

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Manchester – Sheets / Linen etc. If you’re from England, finding a department within a shop called Manchester could seriously confuse you.

Mongrel – Someone who’s a bit of a dick

Mozzie – Mosquito

No Drama – No problem / it’s ok

No Worries – No problem / it’s ok

No Wucka’s – A truly Aussie way to say ‘no worries’

Nuddy – Naked

Outback – The interior of Australia, “The Outback” is more remote than those areas named “the bush”

Pash – to kiss

Piece of Piss – easy

Piss Off – go away, get lost

Piss Up – a party, a get together and in Australia – most social occasions

Piss – (To Piss) to urinate

Pissed – Intoxicated, Drunk

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Pissed Off – Annoyed

Rack Off – The less offensive way to tell someone to ‘F Off’!

Rapt – Very happy

Reckon – for sure. ‘You Reckon?’… ‘I reckon!’

Rellie / Rello – Relatives

 

There are so many more, but I didn’t want this post to be too long. Reviewing all the good Aussie words and phrases, I noticed how easily each of them sticks in my mind right from the first time. Perhaps, it can be explained by the uniqueness of the Australian expressionsbecause each saying contains the people’s fondness and respect for own language.

 

Featured

48 Hours in Sydney

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In honor of my friend coming to visit from Australia, I’ve decided to do a post about Sydney. Sydney may not be the capital of Australia, but it’s the largest city and one of the most popular to visit. It’s surrounded by water and home to the breathtaking and iconic Sydney Harbour. With so much to see and do in this glorious city, it can be difficult to know where to begin or how you can fit everything into two days. Fortunately for you, this guide will show you how to spend 48 hours in Sydney without getting overwhelmed.

This guide is perfect for those who only have 48 Hours in Sydney – A 2 Day Itinerary. We will show you what to do in Sydney, where to stay, what to eat and how to get around, whether its a weekend in Sydney or just a quick trip.


THE BEST TIME TO VISIT SYDNEY

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Remember that Australia is in the southern hemisphere, so seasons are flipped around and may be different to what you’re used to. If it’s freezing and snowing in your hometown, there’s a good chance it’s actually hot and sunny in Sydney.

Since Sydney enjoys such a moderate climate year-round, there really isn’t a bad time of year to visit. The only time you may want to avoid is the peak of summer if you’re not used to the heat. While the January and February average is 26 degrees Celsius, it’s not uncommon for temperatures to reach up to 40 degrees Celsius. If you thrive in warm weather, an Aussie summer experience in Sydney may be perfect for you. Summer is also when many of the best outdoor festivals are happening, so remember your SPF 50+!

If you’re used to the cold European and North American winters, coming here during wintertime in Sydney (June to August) won’t bother you in the slightest. In fact, you’ll be surprised to find there’s still plenty of sunshine. The temperature on an average July day is 17 degrees Celsius.October and November are beautiful and tranquil times to visit. The weather is mild and pleasant.


WHERE TO STAY IN SYDNEY

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Here are a couple of suggestions for where to stay in Sydney that will meet everyone’s requirements. We have also written an extensive guide on Where to stay in Sydney.

There’s no denying that Sydney is a very expensive city, and if you flew in from the other side of the world, you likely already paid a lot to get here. If you want to cut back on accommodation costs, you can stay at a quality hostel run by YHA. You’ll find backpackers hostels all over, but Sydney Harbour YHA is the only one with a rooftop overlooking the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

A bed in a dorm begins at AU$33 per night, while private rooms and even four-bed family rooms can be booked at fluctuating prices.For more luxurious accommodation, look into the Meriton Suites. There are 13 locations spread across Sydney, with Meriton Suites Pitt Street being a top pick. There are studios, three-bedroom apartment suites and even stunning penthouses. All options have a private balcony, built-in wardrobe, kitchen facilities, laundry, espresso machine and living area.


Day 1

Take your jet-lagged morning easy with some brunch at Basket Brothers, followed by a whole lot of culture. 

10 am – Start off at Circular Quay, near The Rocks, the oldest part of Sydney. For about $7 you can take a Sydney Harbour ferry to the seaside town of Manly, with the 30-minute journey providing breathtaking views of the iconic Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Kirribilli House — the prime minister’s residence — as well as the spectacular north and south heads, the maritime entrance to the harbor.

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10.30 am – Manly is one of Sydney’s most popular seaside destinations, considered the jewel of north shore beaches. It offers gentle activities from strolling along the pine-tree lined Manly Beach, to fishing and scuba diving as well as more extreme sports such as diving with sharks at the Oceanworld aquarium, kayaking and parasailing.

12.30 pm – Enjoy an early lunch at The Bower Restaurant on Marine Parade. This restaurant is situated on the south side of the beach overlooking the ocean and is a perfect spot to enjoy fresh seafood while watching surfers ride the waves at the Fairy Bower surf break, just over the balcony from your table.

2 pm – Take the rest of the day to stroll along the northern beaches, stopping for an occasional drink and to soak up the views from Freshwater, Curl Curl, Dee Why, Long Reef, Collaroy, Narrabeen, Warriewood, Mona Vale, Newport, Bungan, Avalon, Whale Beach and finishing up at Palm Beach. To do this trip justice you need five or six hours, but if you get tired, you can always hop on the L90 bus which runs on the main road close to all of these beaches and will drop you off at Palm Beach, the northern most suburb of Sydney.

Fans of the Australian soap opera “Home and Away” will recognize Palm Beach, as it is where the show is shot — the area is called “Summer Bay” in the series, however. Visitors can often see the cast and crew filming there.

7 pm – Enjoy dinner at Barrenjoey House Restaurant at Palm Beach. This area is nestled on a peninsula with lush evergreen bushland and sandy beaches, surrounded by the blue ocean. The menu offers various choices including Tasmanian Pacific oysters with pickled ginger and wasabi mayonnaise and lightly spiced ocean trout fillet with mussels in garam masala broth.

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10 pm – Head out of Palm Beach and back to the city. You can either hire a seaplane to fly you back to Rosebay, Sydney’s first international airport, or take a taxi (expect to pay about $100) or simply catch the local bus. All three options will provide you with the opportunity to travel back down the coast – the highlight of this trip is the descent toward Sydney Harbour Bridge at night, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the lights of North Sydney, Sydney Harbour and the city skyline.

11 pm – Have a night cap at the Opera Bar on the footsteps of the Opera House and soak up the views.


Day 2

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9 am– Start off again at Circular Quay, where scores of cafes offer great breakfast options.

10 am – Hop on a number 380 bus (about A$4 single journey) form Circular Quay to Bondi Beach, perhaps Sydney’s most famous and the key to the city’s eastern beaches.

11 am – Have a mid-morning coffee or juice at the Crabbe Hole cafe by the poolside at Bondi Icebergs Club, which is located at the southern end of Bondi Beach. Here you can enjoy the beach’s expanse of white sand and panoramic ocean views, while watching the local swimmers do laps in the rock pool beside the cafe.

The Icebergs Club was founded in 1929 and has become famous for its winter swimming season. On the first Sunday in June — the official start of winter swimming — large ice blocks are dumped into the pool, followed by hardened swimmers.

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12 pmWalk south along the coastal path, stopping at Mackenzies Point to take in views of both north and south Bondi. On the headland you will see a chimney in the middle of a golf course. On the other side of the chimney there is a rocky platform with a whale carved into it — one of the many Aboriginal rock carving sites identified around Sydney.

In recent years this pathway has become famous for the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition around October/November. It is Australia’s largest annual outdoor public display of sculpture, attracting interest from all over the world.

Keep walking to Bronte beach, hemmed in by a bowl-shaped park and sandstone headlands, through Tamarama beach (known to the locals as Glamarama) and over the hill to Waverley Cemetery, where local legends and Australian poet and writer Dorothea Mackellar, author of “My Country,” and poet Henry Lawson, whose portrait is on the Australian 10 dollar note, are buried.

Rounding the bend you pass through Clovelly Beach, Gordons Bay and then reach Coogee Beach.

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3 pm Take a late lunch at any of the beachside cafes along Arden Street and Coogee Bay road with choices of Indian, Thai, Italian or just pick up a packet of simple fish and chips and enjoy it while sitting on the sand.

It’s easy to while away the afternoon at Coogee, just watching the people go by or with a dip in the water.

6 pm – Take a number 377 bus back to Circular Quay and then head to the Blu Horizon bar on level 36 of the Shangri-la hotel for cocktails and to catch a last glimpse of the waterways around Sydney Harbour.

8.30 pm – Stroll down to The Rocks and enjoy dinner at the world renowned Rockpool restaurant. For nearly 20 years, chef and co-owner Neil Perry has been one of the brightest stars on the Sydney dining scape. Food on the menu includes twice cooked Murray cod with olive tapenade and black olive oil as well as suckling pig with sweet potato and ginger puree.

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10 pm – Head back to Circular Quay for a last nightcap before preparing for your departure.

There you have it!  

If you’ve only got 48 Hours in Sydney, you can sure pack a lot of adventure in!

 

Featured

48 Hours in San Diego

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When you think about Southern California, it’s fair to say that the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco or perhaps even the natural beauty throughout Yosemite National Park will be at the forefront of your mind. I absolutely love San Diego – it’s such a fun, young city, with a real sense of buzz. I get excited every time I visit the city; the beaches are beautiful, the food is fantastic and the people are super friendly. 


Where to Stay in San Diego?

The beauty of visiting San Diego is that if you are flying into the international airport, you are just a short drive from the downtown area where all the main attractions are located. Hop in an Uber and for only $10 you will be transported to your chosen hotel in the downtown vicinity.

Hotel Del Coronado 

For those that want the ultimate luxury experience, why not stay at the exquisite Hotel Del Coronado, now part of the Hilton Curio collection. This hotel is possibly the most iconic in San Diego, and maybe even California, given the role it played in Marilyn Monroe’s “Some Like It Hot” movie. It’s fair to say this is a pretty spectacular hotel and you will be living the dream if you choose to stay here.

Hilton San Diego Bayfront 

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If you are looking for a slightly more affordable option, the Hilton San Diego Bayfront is a feasible alternative that offers great access to many of the city’s iconic attractions. Take a stroll along the promenade or hop on one of the many rental bicycles to head out and explore the city center and beyond.


Day 1

8AM – Take a trolley to Seaport Village, where you’ll find unique breakfast opportunities while enjoying the fresh, ocean air. You’ll also find small shops and boutiques, beautiful parks, carousels, and exciting family activities. Even a short stroll around Seaport Village will give you a good taste of San Diego’s personality.

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11AM – Next stop by Balboa Park and spend several hours enjoying the botanical gardens and one or two of San Diego’s famous museums, such as the Science Center, Museum of Art, Natural History Museum, or the Air and Space Museum. Obviously, you won’t be able to see all of these attractions, but you can pick one that appeals to your personal interests.

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4PM – Head over to the Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Island for dinner. This luxury hotel is world famous (several U.S. Presidents have stayed there) and is located right on the beach. Your dinner will be unparalleled and after dinner you can enjoy a little ballroom dancing!

7PM – San Diego’s famous Gas Lamp Quarter provides exciting nightlife opportunities with its nightclubs, coffee shops, and live music venues. Finish out your first night in this fun, historic area.


DAY 2

8AM – Drive up to La Jolla Village, just North of San Diego for another delicious breakfast and a full morning of unique shops, family activities, spas, golf courses, or fun on the beach.

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11AM – San Diego houses one of the most famous zoos in the world. Spend your late morning and early afternoon either at the San Diego Zoo or the Wild Animal Park (an offshoot of the zoo where you can see animals living in a natural habitat).

4PM – After the zoo, stop by Old Town, where you’ll find an endless stream of live entertainment ranging from mariachi bands to professional dancers to theaters and themed events. You’ll also find art galleries, unique shops, wine tasting, and more in Old Town!

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7PM – Finish up your night with an extravagant, 3-hour dinner cruise on San Diego Bay. You’ll feel like a king as you enjoy an excellent, 5-star meal while touring the bay’s picturesque sights, such as the Bay Bridge and the Naval Base (which harbors enormous, breathtaking aircraft carriers).

 

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Featured

48 HOURS IN LOS ANGELES

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Los Angeles is one of those destinations that fills your eyes with stars and your heart with dreams. And with a sprawling landscape of endless traffic, pressed juiceries and want-to-be actors, you’ll find plenty to do (and stare at). If you want to see the best of LA in a short period of time, check out my 48 Hours in Los Angeles guide.


Day 1

You’ll likely be flying into LAX. Assuming you’ve packed light (it’s just 48 hours, after all), take the Flyaway Bus to Union Station. This iconic train station, built in the 1930s, is notable for its gorgeous Art Deco style, public art, and its role in films, including Blade Runner and To Live and Die in L.A.

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LA is a city that is overwhelmingly large in size. Notorious for both its hard-to-navigate public transport system and terrible traffic jams, crossing the city is no mean feat. Hiring a car is almost essential; though if this isn’t an option we recommend making use of phone apps Lyft or Uber – both of which are readily available and rides can be shared with others in order to lessen the fare.

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A trip to Los Angeles wouldn’t be complete without a trip to a trendy, vegetarian brunch spot. Known for their juices and egg-based dishes, The Butcher’s Daughter is a hot spot right in the heart of Abbot Kinney. Enjoy the surfer’s breakfast burrito, the local artisan gift shop and people watch eco-friendly hipsters who prefer an aesthetically pleasing breakfast nook with their green juice rather than their own kitchen.

After breakfast, make your way down Abbot Kinney Street to the famous Venice Canals. You might recognize a couple of scenes from Californication or Starsky and Hutch in this man-made, Euro-Cali wonderland. After the canals, check out the buskers, muscle men and art scene on the Ocean Front Walk on Venice Beach. I highly recommend visiting the Santa Monica Pier via rented bicycle or a thirty minute walk.

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You may not be able to afford some of these lavish designers, but you have to see what the Beverly Hills buzz was about in the 80’s, 90’s and even today! Check out Rodeo Drive, the famous Beverly Hills sign, the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM and even take a tour to see some of the most extravagant and ostentatious houses in LA.

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The Skybar is something of a trendy anomaly of WeHo. While most clubs come and go throughout LA, this club scene has withstood the test of time. Maybe it’s the Mondrian’s incredible reputation. Perhaps is the rooftop location that’s always an Angeleno favorite. Or maybe it’s the trendy events and guest list that’s always a “must-be-seen” attraction. Whatever the reason, this place is a must visit!

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Day 2

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If there’s any slut you can get behind, it’s an eggy one. Eggslut is downtown’s latest breakfast craze and it’s really no surprise why. Eggslut is located in the famous Grand Central Market and provides greasy, delicious breakfast concoctions that will cure any hangover and fill every belly. After all, if you’re not doing vegan, do it big, right?

When was the last time you were able to jump off a skyscraper onto a glass slide over the streets of the city? Never, you say! Now’s the time to change that. Along with sliding down the US Bank Tower, Skyspace also has an incredible observation deck of the city and an interactive art exhibit before taking the elevator up. It’s a tad pricey, but if you make the most of your time here, it’s worth it!

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Drive up to the nearest In-N-Out burger joint for lunch. This fast food joint is an iconic LA establishment and most Angelenos will give it two thumbs up. Make sure you order your burger “Animal Style” (more pickles, extra spread, grilled onions and mustard fried onto each meat patty) for the ultimate experience.

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This might possibly be the most touristy thing you do in LA, but it’s worth seeing. Yes, Hollywood Blvd. is super fucking dirty. And yes, the busker’s in off brand costumes are kinda sad. But it really is amazing to see where the Emmy’s are held every year, see famous clubs like the Avalon, and even visit the famous Roosevelt Hotel located right across the street of the TCL Chinese Theatre.

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See one of LA’s greatest monuments. The Griffith Observatory highlights the beauty of space with the Samuel Oschin Planetarium and Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater just inside. But it’s the view outside that brings thousands of tourists here daily. Come to the Griffith Observatory about an hour before sunset and enjoy the spectacular view of the skyline. Hike the area, explore the inside of the observatory or enjoy a casual picnic. Colors radiate the sky as DTLA and the Mid City skyscrapers flicker with lights as the sun goes down.

You’ve probably heard of LA’s gnarly traffic problem. Don’t let the hype fool you. It’s worse than those rumors.

And unlike other major cities around the world, Los Angeles doesn’t have a great public transportation system. Undergrounds and buses exist, but they are not the best way to get around town. If you can, I highly recommend taking shared rides (like Lyft or Uber) or renting a car while you are in town.

 

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Featured

48 Hours In NYC

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Welcome to the city that never sleeps! Spoiler alert: neither will you.

…only joking, you’ll get some rest. For those looking to experience NYC to the fullest, you’ve come to the right place. I love New York City. I have been going to NYC twice a year since I was 2 and plau I have family that lives there. In the city of blinding lights, you’ll find everything you’re looking for. It’s the city dreams are made of, where there’s nothing you can’t do. That’s probably why they named it twice. And yes, I totally just ripped off two famous songs to draw you in here. Whether you’re looking for falafel trucks at 4AM or the pretzel stand at 4PM, we’ve got you covered with this easy guide to maximizing your time in the city, getting around and enjoying some of the very best spots…

Note: Buy your tickets to a Broadway show and Top of the Rock before your visit along with making any lunch and dinner reservations. If you wait until you arrive you may end up spending more time in lines than actually seeing the city.


Where to Stay

Well I have always stayed with family and never in a hotel. 

There’s no hotel in New York quite like the Viceroy Central Park. If you’re looking for a stylish boutique stay, only moments from Central Park, then this is the place for you. The hotel is located on West 57th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues – it’s a great spot for exploring nearby Central Park and vibrant Midtown. Expect style and sexy decor at this hotel. Set on 29 floors, with an Art Deco feel, the hotel boasts a fitness centre, luxury restaurant and one of the city’s best rooftop bars: The Roof.

Another great find, if you’re looking for a vibrant, youngish kind of stay in New York, The Frederick is a fantastic boutique hotel in Tribeca. The hotel is home to a 24-hour fitness centre, restaurant and cocktail bar. We loved the style of the hotel; it mixes vintage and Art Nouveau styles, with flashes of colour and touches of minimalist design, for something rather unique to the area.


Getting There

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NYC is one of the easiest cities to reach, whatever the means of transportation. With direct trains from most East Coast cities to Pennsylvania Station and no fewer than three easy major airports including LaGuardia for domestic flights as well as Kennedy and Newark for international arrivals, you’ve got options. Newark offers perhaps the quickest route into lower Manhattan, while John F. Kennedy Airport offers excellent connectivity to midtown and Brooklyn.


Day 1

Breakfast The Bagel Store

New York is KNOWN for its bagel scene. Lox bagels, everything bagels, and even cragels! What’s a cragel you may ask? A cragel is a croissant and bagel combo and is found in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn at The Bagel Store. This place is famous for its rainbow bagels and eccentric flavors like cotton candy, bacon schmear and, of course, the cragel.

This family-run business has the friendliest staff you’ll find in New York and the bagels, whether you like ‘em plain or you like ‘em weird, are AMAZING! The store delivers across the country so once you’ve tried them you can have them long after you travel back home.

Shop at the Chelsea Market

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Looking for some of the best grub in a casual setting? The Chelsea Markets are a collection of local shops, eateries and bars enclosed in a building located in the Chelsea neighborhood. Food ranges from sit-down meals to take-away.

CENTRAL PARK

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Perhaps one of the best ways to begin your day is a trip to Central Park for a walk, run or sightseeing. The southeast entrance of the park is located a short 8-minute walk down 5th Avenue from the Omni Berkshire Place. If you’re a runner, stop by the concierge desk for a running map before heading out. Other options inside the park include the Central Park Zoo, beautiful gardens and sculptures, cycling and carriage rides, and ice skating rinks in the winter. I love this place. I remember as a kid getting a big pretzel from the “Pretzel man” as I used to call him and going to the zoo. I watching my aunt and uncle get married in the park.

VEZZO PIZZA

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Hungry from a day of activities, Vezzo Pizza is the perfect pitstop for a late lunch. Ridiculously thin crust pizza that almost struggles under the weight of the toppings. Mushroom lovers, you absolutely need to order Shroomtown

Grand Central Terminal

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After you’ve fueled up, let’s hit the ground running and head over to Grand Central Terminal. This building is famous for its pale blue ceiling that is studded with a series of eye catching constellations that mimic the night sky

Chrysler Building/Empire State Building

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Next, you’ll walk along 42nd street, towards 5th avenue. On the way, you’ll be able to see the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. While the view from the top of the Empire State building is amazing, the line is incredibly long and the tickets are incredibly expensive so I wouldn’t recommend it.

New York Public Library

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One of New York’s famous, but less-visited attractions is the New York Public Library. Keep in mind there are over 20 branches of New York public libraries, but the famous one to visit is the Main Branch on 476 5th Avenue. I’m a bookworm myself so it’s incredibly inspiring to walk amongst the old books that contain so much history (both within the pages and the walls of the building).

And if you’re also into movies, you might notice that this was the set for several movies including The Day After Tomorow, Spider-Man, Ghostbusters, and of course, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Times Square

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Next we’ll keep walking down 42nd street and head into Times Square. Honestly, I am not a huge fan because it is VERY touristy, so I wouldn’t buy or eat anything here since it’s overpriced and just not worth it. Therefore, I would snap a few pictures and get out of there.

***The only reason to stay in Times Square is if you want to see a Broadway Show. Just hop on the TKTS line in Times Square and get half price tickets for Broadway shows that evening.

I’ve only been to Times Square twice in my life, and I would say skip it

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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You can’t spend 48-hours in New York and not visit one of their great museums. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world’s largest and finest art museums, and something you must see in New York. Its collection includes more than two million works of art spanning five thousand years of world culture, from prehistory to the present and from every part of the globe. Other great art galleries in the city include the MoMa, which is the home of contemporary art in New York, and the Guggenheim. It’s worth purchasing a CityPass to see these and much more. I love the MET. I think I have been here more times then I remember. 


Day 2

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Breakfast at Boris & Horton

If you spent the previous evening dancing the night away in the city that never sleeps, it’s time for the ultimate hangover cure: puppies! One of New York’s newest cafes, Boris & Horton, is the first dog cafe where you can eat, drink and chill, but with a dog on your lap!

Flatiron Building

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If it’s construction and architecture you’re after, look no further than the Flatiron Building, a “ground-breaking,” triangular skyscraper located at 175 Fifth Avenue in the borough of Manhattan, New York City. It’s famed shape makes it an awesome place to take pictures, but it’s really its foundation you’ll be marveling at.

The High Line

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I had never heard of High Line until my most recent trip to New York. The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park, greenway and rail trail located high above the street. It was originally created on a former New York Central Railroad spur, but had been abandoned (though still decorated with plenty of unused tracks). Now, tourists come to marvel at the view as it’s sandwiched between the edge of the island of Manhattan and the city skyline.

One World Trade Center

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Do you remember where you were on September 11th, 2001? I remember it so clearly, it was a day of such horror and tragedy that even as a middle-schooler, I knew that what was happening was pure evil. I could get into my personal story but I’ll save that for another post.

Start your morning paying tribute to the Americans who lost their lives at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Afterwards, check out the newly rebuilt One World Trade Center where you can view the city from its observatory at 102 floors up. For those architect lovers, head over to the Oculus and marvel at its design.

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Eataly

From here, depending on how hungry you are, you can stop at Eataly for some of my favorite pizza and pasta in the city. This restaurant and grocery store combo was created by none other than Mario Batali so you know the ingredients are fresh and that the food is delicious.

Wall Street

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After you’ve had your fill, walk on over to Wall Street, see the Stock Exchange, and the Charging Bull statue.

STATEN ISLAND FERRY

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Take the free Staten Island Ferry from Whitehall Terminal and enjoy the boat ride views of Manhattan. Once back on dry land head up to the Brooklyn bridge and either stroll or bike ride over. If you get far enough go to DUMBO and get that classic shot of the Brooklyn Bridge between the buildings.

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