How YOU Can Take Prince William and Kate's Royal Tour of NYC
For first-time visitors to New York City, Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton sure packed in a huge amount of Big Apple highlights in record time. A whirlwind Sunday-through-Tuesday trip had the royals zooming from Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, to the Financial District to the Upper East Side, then back to London via JFK Airport in Queens—all while remaining stately and dignified.
As we all know, though, New York welcomes everyone—the tired, the poor, the huddled masses... You catch our drift. Here's how we commoners can follow the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's aristocratic itinerary without spending a pence more than absolutely necessary.
1. The Carlyle Hotel
Where it is: NYC's tony Upper East Side, rosewoodhotels.com
Highlight you have to see: Take the stairs up to the hotel's bar to peek at the giant wall murals featuring the children's book character Madeline. Her creator, Ludwig Bemelmans, gifted the iconic scenes to the Carlyle in exchange for a year and a half's stay for him and his family. It's worth noting that the hotel was one of Princess Diana's favorites.
How you can go for cheap: Reserving a room at the Carlyle this time of year starts at a hefty $585 per night (rumor has it Kate and Wills' luxury suite cost as much as $10,000 a night). But in the early evenings, for the price of a drink (from $9), you can sit at Bemelmans Bar, munch on complimentary nuts and snack mix, and listen to the musical stylings of talented pianists such as Earl Rose and Chris Gillespie. Pro tip: They sometimes take requests.
2. The Barclays Center
Where it is: Across the Brooklyn Bridge in Prospect Heights, barclayscenter.com
Highlight you have to see: Make like William and Kate and take in a New Jersey Nets game—or grab tickets to shows by acts from Justin Timberlake to The National to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. If you're like us, you'll want to peruse the pre-concert food options: Brooklyn favorites Nathan's hot dogs, Williamsburg Pizza, Fatty 'Cue BBQ, and other innovative standbys all have indoor posts along the stadium's circumference.
How you can go for cheap: You'll have to beat Ticketmaster on this one. Military and first responders can score discounted tickets. Otherwise, sign up for Barclays email and newsletter offers and scour sites like Craigslist, CheapTickets, and StubHub for deals.
3. The 9/11 Memorial Museum
Where it is: Downtown, in Manhattan's Financial District, 911memorial.org
Highlight you have to see: The museum's steel "tridents," two 70-foot columns of the Twin Towers' facade that remain, and the Survivor Tree, a callery pear tree that weathered the attacks and was rehabilitated by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
How you can go for cheap: Admission is free every Tuesday from 5 p.m. to close. Book in advance at 911memorial.org/freetuesdays, or head to the ticket window at 4:30 p.m. on the Tuesday you'd like to visit. If you'd prefer to visit the outdoor reflecting pools rather than venture inside the museum, quiet observation is always free.
4. The Door
Where it is: The edge of SoHo, thedoor.org
Highlight you have to see: The Door is a non-profit organization that aims to assist NYC's "disconnected youth." Programs offered include tutoring, foster care, English language classes, and free meals.
How you can go for cheap: There's no admission fee to help the city's young people. The org holds regular volunteer information sessions every Tuesday from 5:45 to 6:15 p.m. Find out more at thedoor.org.
5. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Where it is: The Museum Mile section of the Upper East Side, next to Central Park, metmuseum.org
Highlights you have to see: The royals were at the Met to get their black-tie gala on at a fund-raiser for their alma mater, St. Andrews University in Scotland, but for those of us who prefer to view our art in slacks and flats, popular works that see high foot traffic include Jackson Pollock's Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), Claude Monet's Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies, and Emanuel Leutze's Washington Crossing the Delaware. What you'll personally enjoy is subjective, of course. One of our favorite aesthetic pleasures is the Greek sculpture Marble statue of a kouros (better known as the "New York Kouros")—and the view from the Roof Garden Café and Martini Bar on the museum's rooftop.
How you can go for cheap: Technically, the $25 admission is a suggested donation, so you don't have to pay the full cost. If cheaping out feels chintzy, you could become a member for a tax-deductible $80 per year, which includes unlimited free admission plus discounted merch. Only in town for a bit? Consider purchasing an NYC CityPASS for $109, which ushers you into a slew of attractions including the Met, the Empire State Building Observatory, the Statue of Liberty, and others—and you get to skip the ticket lines.
6. The Empire State Building
Where it is: Smack dab in the middle of Manhattan, as it should be, esbnyc.com
Highlight you have to see: The view. It really is worth the 102-floor vertical trip. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio accompanied Prince William to the top, joining the list of famous Empire State twosomes including Cary Grant and Debra Kerr, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, and Mindy Lahiri and Danny Castellano.
How you can go for cheap: Riding up only to the 86th floor is the cheapest option at $29, but $46 will take you 16 floors higher, to the tallest vantage point. Just be patient: The "Express" lines move faster, but the prices are nearly double. Also, see the CityPASS option above — it'll get you onto the 86th floor, which could be worth it if you're short on time and plan to pack as many sights as you can into your visit. Just like the royals do.
You MUST Try These Amazing Holiday Ice Cream Flavors from Portland
Even as temperatures across the country start to drop, ice cream will always be in season, especially if we're talking about locally made, artisanal, and downright "mmm"-worthy small-batch pints. This month, Salt & Straw Ice Cream, based in Portland, Oregon, took inspiration from the state's winter harvest to concoct five zany new limited-time holiday flavors available now until December 30. Is there a fruitcake flavor, you ask? Oh, yes. There's a fruitcake flavor. Here's the scoop on Salt & Straw's new licks: Peppermint Cocoa Not content with merely stirring crushed peppermint candies alone into his ice cream, head ice cream maker Tyler Malek upped the ante and added local peppermint oil from Columbia County's Seely Mint Farms and chocolate from Portland's Holy Kakow to perfect this icy spin on the hot drink. Bourbon Pecan Pie Picture it: bourbon ice cream made with strong, four-year barrel-aged bourbon from Portland's Eastside Distilling and swirled with ribbons of pecan pie custard. No, you're not dreaming. Topping a slice of the real thing with a creamy scoop of this stuff just might be dessert heaven. Spiked Eggnog The boozy muse for this recipe is the legendary tequila-, sherry-, and nutmeg-infused eggnog whipped up by bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler at Clyde Common in Portland. Customers look forward to the seasonal cocktail every year, and now you can taste it in frozen form. We'll look the other way if you top your bowl off with a splash of tequila. Mincemeat Pie Whaaaa? You read that right. This British-inspired flavor has everything: chopped shortbread cookies, brandy-soaked candied orange peels, currants, and ginger. Just call it sugar 'n' spice and everything nice. Congressman Blumenauer's Fruit Cake Enough to make a whole town misty-eyed, this special flavor takes Portland community advocate Rep. Earl Blumenauer's famous fruitcake recipe and folds it into ice cream—Blumenauer himself sampled the attempts right in the Salt & Straw kitchen until it was just right! All proceeds go to Community Cycling Center Holiday Bike Drive, which provides bikes to children for the holidays. But don't be jealous of Beaver State residents. You can have a pack of five pints delivered anywhere in the U.S. for a cool $65 at shop.saltandstraw.com. Happy (tasty) holidays.
Peruvian Paradise An Hour From Machu Picchu
One of Peru's best kept secrets just keeps getting better and better. If you're looking for a trip that won't cost a fortune and takes you a bit off the beaten path, look no further than EcoQuechua Lodge, situated in Santa Teresa, Peru, not far from Machu Picchu. Located in the high jungle, it offers a lovely and tranquil getaway. Like a jungle lodge in the Amazon, some windows are open to nature so that you feel like you're part of it all (beds have mosquito netting). There's just something about this place that makes my stress melt away as soon as I arrive. Let me stretch out in a hammock with a good book and one of their awesome pisco sours and I can spends days at a time here, forgetting the outside world even exists. The entire lodge uses natural materials, including wood, rock, and bamboo, and its newest rooms feature private bathrooms. Ever dreamed of living in a grown-up's treehouse? This is that dream come true. The owners and staff couldn't be friendlier and are genuinely interested in ensuring that you have everything you need and are having the best time possible. Make your reservation includes dinner as these are bound to be some of the tastiest that you will have in Peru—lunch can also be added and breakfast is always included. Massages can be booked with advance notice and an outdoor Jacuzzi is currently in the works. The nearby Colcamayo hot springs are actually much nicer as well as hotter than those in Aguas Calientes, the town right below Machu Picchu, despite it being named after the springs. You are much better off getting your fill of the soothing waters here. Other outings that can be arranged through the lodge are zip-lining, a tour of a coffee plantation, and a hike to Llactapata, an Inca site from which you may catch a glimpse of Machu Picchu. If you're a coffee lover, the coffee plantation tour is highly recommended, mostly so that you can buy one of the world's best coffees, organic and grown here in the high jungle. To get here does require a bit of planning but don't let that keep you away. If it was any easier, there would be hordes and then you wouldn't want to go! Basically, you can either take the train or a bus. To take the train, you will need to get a ticket first to Aguas Calientes and from there to Hidroelectrica. At this point, you cannot buy tickets for the second leg until you get to Aguas Calientes so, if you are coming direct from Cusco or the Sacred Valley (recommended) be prepared to get off and have a cup of coffee until your next train leaves. From Ollantaytambo, the trip to Aguas Calientes takes about 1.5 hours and from Aguas to Hidroelectrica, about 30 minutes. The downside to taking the train is that it can be expensive and there are only a few trains per day between Aguas Calientes and Hidroelectrica. For this reason, you can't just go from the lodge to Machu Picchu and back in one day. On the other hand, if you're up for a hike, it's about a two-hour walk from Hidroelectrica to Aguas Calientes and it's a flat, easy trip. Taking the bus from Cusco is infinitely cheaper but will require a bit more investment in time. You will take the bus to Quillabamba but get off at Santa Maria. From there, you can get a shared car to Hidroelectrica and get off at the EcoQuechua Lodge. The entire trip will take between six and seven hours. Spend a couple of nights at the lodge, walk to Aguas Calientes, spend a night there, and then visit Machu Picchu first thing the next morning. You can then do the trip in reverse or take the train back. A couple of notes of warning are in order. The bus trip is not recommended during rainy season when the road can be more dangerous. If you are afraid of heights, you should be aware that the road travels along the edge of mountains so can be a bit awe-inspiring or nerve racking, depending on how you feel about such things. Also, while mosquitoes as we know them aren't a huge problem (ie. no jungle diseases), there are small biting flies that can be problematic at some times during the year. Always carry repellent with you and you should be fine. Despite all of this, the lodge is a truly unique and special place. It's a great way to get away from it all and feel like you're on a secluded retreat without breaking the bank or having to make a huge detour from your trip to Machu Picchu. Pull up a hammock, and I'll see you there. Originally from the U.S., Maureen Santucci now calls the ancient Peruvian capital of Cusco home, where she has lived for almost six years, working as a travel consultant and writing for Fodors Travel Guide. This article was written on behalf of Tucan Travel, experts in adventure tours to Machu Picchu and all over Peru.
The Rich Flavors of Cambodian Cuisine
The waitress brought exactly what I ordered, but it still came as a surprise. Instead of a plate, my Fish Amok was served in a coconut shell. The classic Cambodian dish was presented made with freshly caught fish from the Gulf of Thailand. Cambodia's culinary traditions are made with the bounty of the land and water, with influences brought by successive invaders and visitors that have given variety to the Khmer approach to preparing food. The annual monsoon floods enrich the soil around the Mekong and Tonei Sap. The river system is one of the most diverse habitats on earth, and fishing has always been central to the Khmer economy. A paste made of fermented fish, Prahok, is a key flavoring agent, both as a sauce and mixed into meat, rice and other dishes. Cambodia's climate and topography make ideal conditions for growing spices. Kampot Pepper, the King of Peppers, is prized for its aromatic floral qualities. The Cardamom Mountains are the indigenous home of the eponymous spice. The Khmer also use cardamom and Kampot Pepper for their medicinal properties to soothe a variety of complaints. Other homegrown spices include tamarind, ginger, lemongrass and Kaffir lime leaves. International flavors also characterize Cambodian cuisine. The influences of India are as evident in the temples and monuments of Angkor Wat as they are on the Cambodian table; Indian style curry (Kan) is on most menus. The years of French colonial rule also left a taste for baguettes (Nom Pang), and as a result, Cambodia is the only Asian country where bread outweighs rice. The French also left recipes for paté, chocolate desserts, and beer, as well as French roast coffee. Cambodia is also influenced by its neighbors as Thai, Laotian and Vietnamese food are widely available. These nations all use sauces that rely on coconut cream, sugar, and chili. Chinese immigrants have also brought their traditions, and rice noodles have been embraced by the Khmer people. Early explorers from Spain, Holland, and Portugal brought potatoes, corn, peanuts, and chili peppers from the Americas. The most popular, and most distinctly Khmer dishes, are Amok and Lok Lak. Amok is a curry in banana leaves. The sauce is made of coconut cream. It's usually made with fish, but can be prepared with chicken, beef, or pork. It can also be made for vegetarians, with eggs, bamboo shoots, or tofu served appealingly over banana leaves. Lok Lak is a stir fried beef dish with onions, tomatoes and a black pepper sauce. On the coast, Kampot Pepper Crab (Kdam Cha Mrich Kcchei) brings together the King of Pepper with fresh local seafood. Spices, fish paste, and pepper on the vine are served with crab in the shell. Only freshly picked green peppers are used. Other popular Khmer meals include Babor, a rice porridge and pork bullion, a Khmer variation of a Chinese dish. Another adaption is Bai Cha, which is fried rice with sausage. Kuy Teav is a breakfast of rice noodles, a piece of pork, and egg and pickled vegetables. Num Bamh Chok is bean sprouts, mint, and vegetables infused with curry and poured over noodles. An interesting dessert called Kralan, is a sweet rice pastry with coconut, beans and sesame, cooked inside a bamboo pole. People come to Cambodia from all over the world to sightsee and learn about the country's vast history, but you can actually taste it as well. Born in The Hague, Andrew Kolasinski arrived in Canada as a small child riding in the luggage rack of a DC-7. Since then he has felt at home anywhere. As the publisher and editor of Island Angler, Andrew spends half the year fishing for salmon and trout, and in the off-season he travels the world looking for a story. This article was written on behalf of Tucan Travel, providers of tour packages to Cambodia and all over Asia.
The "Starry Night" Bike Path Is Like Nothing You've Ever Seen
What's your favorite painting? Hold that image in your mind for a sec, then imagine the brushstrokes, shapes, and colors brought to life—so you could actually walk right in. Whoa. Right? Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde has brought my favorite painting to life in a unique way that melds contemporary technology with a masterpiece of 19th-century art: Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night." The Starry Night Bike Path, a winding half-mile in the city of Eindhoven that is illuminated by thousands of LED lights and special paint, interprets the swirling shapes and colors of Van Gogh's painting. I don't know about you, but for me the work of Van Gogh is highly personal—as if the artist, with his dramatic strokes and thick layers of paint, is reaching out to me across the years, teaching me a new way to see and feel. I'm psyched that a contemporary artist is attempting to transport an audience in a similar way. Roosegaarde has spoken enthusiastically about how the path, which opened to the public on November 13, makes a statement about technology and cultural history—and is also a popular spot for first dates. What's not to love? Van Gogh's original "Starry Night,"which he painted in 1889 while in an asylum in Saint-Rémy, France, is on display in New York City, not far from the Budget Travel offices, at the Museum of Modern Art. It is the museum's most popular work and, for me, it's up there with the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building for must-see NYC attractions. The city of Eindhoven, where the Starry Night Bike Path is located, was Van Gogh's home for a few years and appears as a backdrop in some of his paintings. These days the city of more than 200,000 is a major technology hub (the Philips electronics company was founded there) and boasts major museums, theaters, and miles of bike paths. Eindhoven is about 90 minutes from both Amsterdam and the Hague. If you don't happen to be in the Netherlands at the moment, pretend you're cycling or strolling on the Starry Night Bike Path with this video!