I was fortunate enough to travel to New York City just a few days before Christmas; it was the ultimate definition of a Winter Wonderland. I’ll never forget the moment we stepped into Central Park on 23rd December. It was around 11am, we had just had breakfast at an all-American diner, where the waiters and waitresses dress up and sing you through your breakfast. Since we had arrived the day before, we were yet to see it snow. After stocking up for winter with the biggest pile of pancakes, quite arguably, ever, we decided to head to Central Park to go Ice Skating. It was then this magical feeling whirled itself upon me, just as we stepped into the park, the entrance by Trump Tower the snow fell; white, glistening, magical snow. It really was an unforgettable moment. For the rest of the day I felt so blown away.
Another highlight of my time in the City was a restaurant that to this day I find myself daydreaming about, Gallagher’s. New York City’s renowned Gallagher’s Steakhouse was the tastiest, most succulent steak I’d genuinely ever tasted – and the biggest! A real treat, Gallagher’s décor represents is unusual, with an open view to the Meat Locker, sawdust on the floor and red and white checked table clothes. Do not be put off – the steaks are out of this world, a definite recommendation for fellow steak lovers. Another unforgettable experience during my time in Manhattan was the Marriott Hotel in Times Square. With a revolving roof top restaurant overlooking the highlights of the city; the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Times Square and many more. A real treat, the bar/restaurant is ideal for late afternoon drinks or dinner to watch the sun go down, slowly the glistening city lights will become brighter and brighter. Just writing this sends a shiver down my spine, I cannot wait to return to the ‘city that never sleeps’!
A special, special place; Sydney is an incredible city hosting sun sea and sand, laidback and relaxed Sydney advocates the cool Aussie way. The beach and city concept baffled me at first, it wasn’t until I spent one day there I realised how unique it is having both at your convenience. I’m a city girl, I love knowing daily amenities are just a stone’s throw away, yet in Sydney this AND the beach are literally on your door step! With a tram system running through the city, it’s easy to get about.
A highlight of my time in Sydney (which was just a 3 day visit – which simply means I must return very soon) was firstly, Darling Harbour. Full of bustling bars and eateries, Darling Harbour is the hub of action in downtown Sydney. No matter when you visit, night or day, there is always something that has a crowd laughing and cheering, from groups of professionals celebrating Friday afternoon to holiday makers inhaling the fabulous sights.
Darling Harbour is a short ferry ride from the CBD (hub of the city)…
Travelling under the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, giving the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the views…
Sydney is a spectacular place for exclusive wining and dining in style, one particular night we indulged at the Bluefish Seafood Restaurant in Darling Harbour. Not only was the food exquisite, the service efficient the atmosphere and the buzz of the surrounding bars and chirpy people enhanced the ambiance - a definite recommendation.
We stayed at the Sir Stamford Circular Quay hotel, a convenient location just a short walk from the Opera House. The service was impeccable and all staff were attentive, the Sir Stamford has been recognised as ‘Classic Luxury’, a lovely experience in itself the hotel just added to the all-round perfection of our Sydney experience.
Next on my Sydney agenda is a walk across the Harbour Bridge, higher than you think I chickened out! But I will definitely build up the courage to do it next time; the views are meant to be out of this world. Sydney is a cosmopolitan city with constant new attractions, my tip: enjoy a tasty cocktail in a cool bar in Darling Harbour watching the sunset…a definite unforgettable experience.
A little different to my two previous blogs, simply because I am keen to share with you the amazing places and the sights I have have been fortunate enough to experience. Starting with the ultra-luxurious Lebua Hotel, Bangkok, which was the beginning of our four week tour around Thailand; The Lands of Smiles.
A spectacular building situated in the heart of Bangkok, the Lebua’s roof top ‘Sky Bar’ featured in the latest ‘Hangover’ movie, The ‘Hangover 2’. Also open to non-residents for dinner and drinks, whilst my friends and I were visiting Bangkok we had been told it was really worth a visit, not thinking much of it we headed over to the 5 star hotels well known cocktail bar for drinks. It was so unexpected, with a view out of this world and a divine cocktail menu, boy, were they right. I was mesmerised and in my element.
The magnificent view stretches across the entire city of Bangkok with the Chao Phraya River gleaming below; it’s no surprise this scenic view featured in The Hangover 2. Sitting up in the clouds on the 63rd floor we experienced Bangkok at its best. The cocktail menu was out of this world, even though I visited last year, I can still taste the delicious Passion fruit Martini. I like to think of it as passion on top of passion. With a cool breeze and twinkling lights of the city below, we were in heaven.
The Sky Bar extends across the end of the hotel, perching over the city (not quite the ideal place for vertigo sufferers!) Thai locals are beyond lovely, attentive and kind. Providing recognised world class service in the hospitality industry, the Lebua was beyond imaginable. It really is an incredible hotel to visit; the view is breath-taking and the ambiance addictive. Visit the Lebua and experience the famous ‘Hangovertini’, I assure you, no matter how high your expectations you will still be dramatically blown away.
After closing the final page of the gripping book ‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell, I was left in a deep envision of thought. Gladwell aimed to establish why some people achieve so much more than others, a truly gripping array of short stories, he analyses key themes of particular success figures. He got me thinking… …Is success a personality trait or is it developed through life experiences? Can one develop and excel as a person surrounded or brought up in a confined world that, simply doesn’t encourage such behaviour? Is success innate?
Consider this, a British family including a two and four year old immigrate to a small village in Cyprus; an island that many years ago operated under British Administration. The village is dominated by Greek Cypriots, forcing the children at young age to develop the Greek language due to attending Greek Cypriot schools from the beginning of their education. This made me think; what opportunities will the two children have in the coming years? A true example, the four year old is now ten and when I visited a few weeks ago I found his personality to be rather enticing.
Having lived in the small village for six years I found his personality somewhat different to a ten year old brought up in a typical English town. Inquisitive and earnest, he had devised a way of making money from tourists that visit and stay on the complex where he lives. Not only had he devised a business idea, he had established key marketing concepts and put them to practical use – I was mesmerised. We’re talking about a ten year old boy who spends his life going back and forth from school, the local shops and he has a younger sister and like other siblings fight and disagree. His parents are satisfied living in the small village, getting by with basic needs and essentials. Yet, this ten year old boy had put to use, in his own form, business ideas.
He said to me, ‘Steph, If you rent three DVD’s from me I’ll give you them for the price of two’ – an offer I couldn’t refuse! He told me he wanted to conduct tours and walks around the complex they live, offering tourists a way of seeing the sights. He said ‘I could charge for the tour and upsell my DVD rental service whilst walking around on the tour’. This ten year old boy seemed to have the basic grasps of business, regardless of the secluded world he has been brought up in.
This story of the ten year old boy proves that the way of thinking that leads to success is often innate. Yet our characters allow and encourage development along the way, even though the ten year old is confined to such poor developmental surroundings he has still managed to develop a sort of ‘business like mind’ showing that whilst other children may be encouraged and forced to think this way, this little boy has managed to suss it out for himself – An outlier in his surroundings.
At 17:01 on June 25th, I was free. No more studying, no more essays and no more Harvard Referencing – a liberating feeling, I walked out of the exam hall feeling as though 5 tonne of bricks had been pulled off my shoulders. By 17:06…we were in the pub.
After calming down from the sheer relief that 4 years later it was all over, it hit me. What’s next? Stepping into Uni straight after 6th form I knew the next 4 years were all mapped out…and we just had to follow the right steps making the right decisions and staying focussed. Post June 25th there was no plan. No preempted map to follow to lead us to the right place. A daunting yet (secretly) ridiculously exciting feeling, I realised the options are endless…providing we seize every opportunity.
A few months back a friend recommended a book to me ’It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be’ by Paul Arden. A thrilling, griping and entertaining read this medley of short stories/quotes has, it’s safe to say, become my bible. Every time I flick through my favourite sections I get a wave of encouragement. Motivational, incredibly inspirational and key to making the best of yourself, Arden’s books are a wave of invaluable knowledge to anyone with a sheer determination to succeed. It’s no surprise that he was once described as ‘a true maverick’.
If you know what you want, if you want it badly enough and if you’re willing to put the work in to get it, it’s yours.
Being a graduate is possibly one of the most exciting feelings, after 4 years of hard work, at the age of 22 there are endless possibilities just waiting to be seized, enabling us to succeed and reach our dreams.