Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Big Apple - One Bite Is Not Enough!

No matter how many times I've visited
this incredible
 city that doesn't sleep,
I'm still as excited as the
very first visit.
As the plane makes it's approach,
skyline comes into view,
you sit almost breathless,
staring in awe at the
 concrete & steel towers
reaching up to the clouds.
My recent visit was no different.

This city of
five boroughs,
with a population close to
9 million,
attracts almost
49 million tourists
 each year.
My first sojourn was 19 years ago.
That was a different period,
where safety was a serious issue.
Over the years,
the city has changed.
Perhaps due to
 proper governance
stronger ownership by it's inhabitants,
New York City
is now as safe as any other city in the world.
As the figures show,
the world comes to play,
so who needs to sleep?

Founded as a trading post in
by the Dutch,
there's always something happening
in this very
"happening" city.
I find the people
everyone has an opinion!
If you like to explore...
well, this urban metropolis
with a total of
786 sq kilometers,
should be enough to
keep you very, very busy.
While I was there,
it was
"Restaurant Week".
A couple of hundred
restaurants participated
with special prices
for a three course
lunch or dinner.
It was a great way to sample
some of the best
the city has to offer.
Remember, competition is tough.
And like Liza sang,
"...if you can make it here,
you can make it anywhere!"

Oh by the way...
did you know that
Times Square
is the most visited place on this planet?
39 million
people go through this
neon-lit wonderment
 each year.
Hate it or love it,
you cannot deny that it's
simply fascinating to see
all that electricity
put into
intelligent application!

food to shopping to museums to parks to theatre...
it's all here.
Laid out
The great thing is, they've made it wonderfully
Take the subway for instance,
in my opinion,
it's one of the best in the world.
1.6 billion rides in 2011,
serves 468 stations,
almost all operates 24 hours.
You've seen it in the movies
it's just as raw.
One thing that grabs my attention is
that with all these out-of-this planet figures.
this city is very clean.
A place such as this.
with so much on offer,
you need time.
There's constantly
urban renewal projects everywhere.
Thinking and re-thinking,
must keep Mayor Bloomberg busy.
This city is made for walking.
West to East
North to South,
you'll find surprises in store at almost every corner.
And don't be shy to take the bus.
A great way to see it
up close & personal.
Life is all around.
It's the people that makes a place go
beyond special.
This city embraces you.
No !
Make that engulfs you.
The moment you step out from your hotel,
everything seems limitless.
Packed in.
Rises up.
Full blown.
From a design perspective,
it does not get better than here.
And competition does just that.
Pushing us to awesome greatness.
The city appears to reject mediocrity.
Standards are high.
Service is good.
Exceptional is often.

"They say life's what happens when you're
busy making other plans.
But sometimes in New York,
life is what happens when you're
waiting for a table!"

Carrie Bradshaw

I wasn't waiting for a table when I came across
this fashion shoot.
I politely asked the photographer if I could take a few shots
the reply was a very enthusiastic "Yes".
Dare I say,
"I Love New York?"

Many say this place is like a Village.
Come to think of true.
From Chelsea to Soho to West Village to the Upper East Side,
from East Village to NoLita to Brooklyn,
each distinct from the other.
With it's own
look & feel.
And it's green too.
Whether it's
Central Park or Jefferson Market Garden,
patches of grass & foliage abound.
Have I mentioned that the shopping
is beyond fabulous?
Which restaurant?
It's at Chez Alina & Tuck & Leah.
Longtime friends & one of our rituals
when I'm in town is to cook up a storm at
their charming home on the
Upper West Side.
A trip to Whole Foods
a couple of glasses of wine later...
On the left is expertly executed by Tuck
on the right is my humble contribution.

New York City is serviced by
three major airports.
No matter which you arrive into,
you'll get there in time for something!
The buzz here is non-stop.

This is after all the capital of
everything & anything.
If you can't find it here,
it probably does not exist!

"There's no question there is an unseen world.
The problem is, how far is it from midtown
how late is it open?"

Woody Allen

"Catch a show or a brunch,
either way you'll feel at home.
But never, ever dress as a tourist!"

Peter Hoe
 must-see, must-do
must-eat are all a must.
And you'll still find plenty left on your
to-do list.
Joydeep, Nicolas, Kay & Blaine.
One Sunday,
we did a must-eat in Chinatown
(lobster noodles etc...yumm!)
then a must-wander around Soho,
followed by a must-stop for coffee & cupcakes
a must-browse at J Crew
a must-enquire at the Apple store
a must-shop for a bottle of wine
and ended up here for
must-tapas & red wine.
What a day indeed!
And I still have a must-attend
dinner party at
Luis & Michael's!!!

All the things you've ever
read, heard or seen about this city is true.
Life does imitate art.
Or is it the other way around?
That's why everything seems to be so
"The city was different back then-
poor and crumbling- kept alive only by the gritty
determination and steely cynicism of it's
But underneath the dirt was the apple-cheeked
optimism of possibility,and while she
worked, the whole city seem to
throb along with her."

Candace Bushnell
Lipstick Jungle
If you like taking photos,
as I do,
you'll exhaust yourself.
One thing you'll notice over and again
are the echoes of car horns
sirens though the canyons of
All this amidst the multitude of photo-ops
you'll encounter.

See what I mean?

Walking around,
I get a sense of
community spirit,
that comes from a time when neighbours
 kind and caring.

It's easy to see why this city is
it is made up by the
sum of it's
the ever changing dynamic energy
that's hypnotic.

Jaded savvy traveller
first-time rookie,
you'll feel the excitement sure enough.

By March 2013,
Citi Bike
 will be launched.
All 7000 of them at 420 stations.
Providing easy access to getting around the city.
It's a self-funded enterprise,
sponsored initially by the
bank of the same first name!?!
7 day pass at USD25 anyone?
These photos were taken at the
New York Public Library.
Ms Johnson was manning the security entrance
& has such a charming personality,
that I had to feature her!!!
Another Big Apple wonder.

The hum of
creative energy & arty expressions
is loud and clear,
all around.
As reputations go,
New York has been through most.
Somehow, she's kept her
"cool factor".
And New Yorkers are
hard to impress.
This city is constantly renewing itself
day or night.
It's now as fashionable to be downtown as uptown,
 has got it's groove back.
The co-founders of The High Line,
Joshua David & Robert Hammond,
was bestowed an award for
"creating new ways of seeing & understanding
New York City."
This remarkable story of one of the most
innovative urban reclamation projects in recent history,
is truly motivating.
It demonstrates the
power of
vision, persuasion
& determination.
And also that of never giving up if you believe in yourself! there another unused rail track somewhere, that I could use?

You don't require
super human powers
nor leap
 tall buildings in a single bound.
Just bring lots of
cash & a credit card.

Sometimes you wonder,when
they'll run out of neighbourhoods
to "discover"?
After all, the city is not infinite.
Do you know that the first European settlers who brought seeds to
New York,
introduced apples in the 1600s?

This city has an
insatiable appetite for the new,
yet the old is somehow finding it's way back.

Central Park 
takes up 
843 acres
of prime real estate.
4 km long & 0.8 km wide.
This stretch of green acreage,
is widely used by the inhabitants of
Another Keith Haring in the making?
Be prepared.
Do your homework.
Pack well
you'll have a
swell time!

As with all holidays,
you know you have to leave.
This visit was no different from my last.
I had a blast!
As the black town car drove me to JFK 
I glanced back at this amazing city,
with the equally amazing
thinking how 9 million people can
live & work on top
of each other & still come up smiling?
One word came to mind...
My flight was delayed for 3 hours,
giving me,
in some way,
more time in the city.
I've visited many places
in many parts of the world.
But there's no other spot on earth
I would return in a
blink of an eye!
Embrace New York
she'll show you a great time.
An open heart & an open mind
will bring forth many surprises.
Don't "start spreading the news...",
that's a waste of precious time,
just come !!!

"...The city's bustle cannot destroy
the dreams of a girl and boy,
I'll turn Manhattan into an
isle of joy!"

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Pia - The Constant Gardener

"Swedish Riviera"
is located
in the south eastern part of
It's made up of many charming villages,
with equally charming cottages all
huddled together like
in a 
fairy tale,
of a land faraway.

And in one of these cottages,
lives our friend

Having resided in many parts of the world,
decided to relocate here seven years ago,
Her property is set on large piece of land
is made up of
3 separate buildings.
As we drove up,
the garden first came to view.
Enchanting & breathtaking.
It was a beautiful
when the sun was
warm & bright.
Casting bright rays through the mature
chestnut tree
surrounding her home.
Simply magical.

And there she was,
waiting to greet us with
a warm embrace.

This is
Pia Alice Wallin.
Design Entrepreneur.
Avid Gardener.
This visit is long overdue.
But we kept our promise
promptly arrived
on schedule.
We last saw
Christmas day
last year.
As we sat,
sipping bubbles,
long shadows from the evening light
surround us.

Her garden is truly breathtaking.
And her styling is
astoundingly unique.
Her home is simply
What are you thinking of right now?

Favorite movie?
Forrest Gump

A common mistake made by many people...?
Failure to say sorry.

Best buy ever?
This house.

Favorite cuisine?

Orange or pink?
...actually orange as it has a lot of energy.

Greatest accomplishment?
My garden.

Camping holiday or white water rafting?
White water rafting.
What do you consider overrated?
Electricity & water bills in Sweden.

Muffins or cup cakes?
Cup cakes.

What drives you?
Positive curiosity...
I always want to see what's around the corner.

What is the world missing?

What are you reading now?
Himmel Over London.
( Sky Over London )

Favorite shop?
Peter Hoe.

Most memorable experience?
Giving birth.

What do you cook best?

Favorite city?
Barcelona...even though I've never been there.

How important is technology to you?
Not so important.

Define a journey?
A journey comes upon me, when I don't plan.

Do lines have to be straight?
Oh no!

What's next?

Our two days here in the
south coast,
was oh...too short.
Waking up to the
call of nature
the fragrant
smell from the garden,
is totally
"Far From The Madding Crowd".

We cooked.
We laughed.
We toured the countryside.
And of course we exchanged ideas.
the direction
decorating is heading is towards a
personal view point.
As opposed
to being told how it should be.
Her philosophy is to
"Live Today"
she has very few rules in her life.
A great way to go
for a woman
on the go!

In Summer,
shows off her
creative flair
by selling her line of
jewellery in the
village market.
Her positive outlook on everything
is clearly evident in the layout of her garden.
It appears that there are
no challenges
large enough to deter this
born in the
town of

Travel is in her blood.
Curiosity flows through her,
bubbles forth.
And all this is accomplished on her own speed.
Her own vision.
Our friendship was a chance meeting,
many,many years ago.
I'm glad to see this
blossom & bloom
just like her garden.

has a natural ease about her.
Her personality is all over her home.
The use of
bright splashes of color
unusual props,
shows us that
the norm does not apply.
And rightly so!
As we drove away,
we were under this
 beautiful spell
from this corner of
Where quaint cottages sit neatly
Gardens overflow
fruit trees
Fields ablazed with a
golden hue,
blessed from
Summer sunshine.
And in all this
magical beauty,
lives a woman

Thanks again
a splendid visit!