Tag Archives | New York City

Couples Extended Vacations, No Passports Needed

Oftentimes traveling couples think that extended-stay getaways mean going abroad to Europe, Mexico or the Caribbean, where all-inclusive vacation packages are king. But have you ever thought that some of the best long-stay vacation ideas are located right in here in the United States, no passport required? Whether you are looking to reconnect, grow closer or just enjoy some time away from reality for more than a long weekend, these destinations provide an endless array of romantic activities that you will never forget.  Here are a few of our ideas for best trips for couples:

New York City Like a Local

The city that never sleeps is an excellent destination for traveling couples looking to embark upon a big-city adventure. But just because the city is fast-paced doesn’t mean your vacation has to be. New York City is home to five boroughs, each with unique attributes that require more than a few days to explore. Reminisce on your early days of dating by holding hands in Central Park like a local couple. Speaking of Central Park, rather than breezing through to take a few pictures before making dinner reservations at a sub-par, over-priced Midtown restaurant, stop at a local grocery store and grab a few items and a bottle of wine for a romantic picnic. The park spans more than 50 city blocks, so whether you choose a more open area like the Great Lawn or a spot off the beaten path, this iconic location provides relaxation away from all the hustle and bustle.

New york nightime

New York-The City That Never Sleeps!

Meanwhile, Brooklyn is brimming with unique romantic restaurants and attractions. Visit the Brooklyn Brewery on a Friday or Saturday evening and explore the rest of the Williamsburg neighborhood for the night. One of the highlights for couples is the Barcade, featuring more than 40 classic arcade games where you can both showcase your competitive spirit and relive your childhood.

Travel Tip: These are just two examples of how you can spend your time really taking in NYC like a local. Plan ahead, but don’t be afraid to be spontaneous. To save money, utilize apps such as Yelp, Urbanspoon and Foursquare to discover nightly and daily specials in the most coveted neighborhoods.

Did you know that you can ask the Fighting Couple anything?  Need couple travel ideas or relationship advice?  Just ask the Fighting Couple.

A Week on the West Coast

For people in the Midwest or the East Coast, it’s often difficult to see every major city out west. Rather than trying to make separate trips to each destination, consider flying out to either Seattle up north or Sand Diego down south and hop on a bus trip or grab a rental car and spend a few days in each city along the way.

Taketours.com offers a 14-day Pacific Coast Explorer Tour that begins in San Diego and ends in Seattle. The tour also travels to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Wine Country, Brandon-by-the-Sea and Portland. The price for the tours varies but is usually around $2200 a person, not including airfare.

Beach

The Beautiful California Coastline Near Big Sur

If traveling with a group isn’t your style, or if you would rather take in the Pacific Coast on your own terms, check the price for rental cars and see if you can get any discounts with your airfare.

Travel Tip: Utilize an app like Kayak to monitor rates for flights, hotels and rental cars. You can set up price alerts for your intended dates to ensure you get the best rates possible within your budget. Also, consider alternate lodging options near some areas. The West Coast is home to some of the best camping areas in the country, which can often be more cost-effective, romantic and serene than hotels.

A Tennessee Retreat

Tennessee is arguably one of the most beautiful couple travel destinations in the South, especially in the spring and fall. Both Memphis and Nashville offer unique festivals that you won’t find anywhere else in the country, and the musical history within each city is unique from any other place in the U.S. Start with one of these cities and end with another while taking in the Tennessee countryside and smaller cities, like Kingsport, Chattanooga and Gatlinburg, in between. Much like on the West Coast, there are tons of campsites where you can relax and sleep under the stars rather than in the confines of four walls.

Elvis's Poolroom at Graceland

Elvis’s Poolroom at Graceland

If you live in the South or Midwest, consider driving to save on airfare. If you would rather fly, compare prices between the Memphis and Nashville airports. Flights can be drastically different depending on where you will be departing from. If you do fly, rent a car and take your time navigating through the rolling scenery. Also, since you’ve already decided you’re going to enjoy a laid-back retreat, consider taking the back roads instead of highways to fully take in the state’s natural beauty.

Travel Tip: Get rid of Google maps and stick with the paper kind. Tennessee is a place where you can keep your eyes open and enjoy a more simple way of life.

Couple Travel Advice

No matter where you decide to take some time away, it’s important to keep a few things in mind so you can enjoy each other’s company rather than getting sick of each other.

  • Discuss what you both want to see and do ahead of time, but don’t feel bound to an itinerary. The biggest benefit of taking an extended vacation is that you can go off the beaten path and do things at your leisure without feeling rushed.
  • Set a budget beforehand for attractions, dining, drinking and even shopping so you can keep the financial fights at home. Bon Voyage is a great app that allows you to create a trip, plan your budget based on the destination, and track every expense you make so you can monitor your spending in real time.
  • Use Kayak to set up price alerts for flights, lodging and rental cars to get the lowest rates possible.
  • Relax and enjoy the journey. No matter what your reason for wanting to get away, remember that these experiences are always better when shared.

This blog post was provided by Marriott International, which operates more than 3,700 hotels and resorts representing 18 brands in 70 countries.  Pick one for the perfect couple travel experience!

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The Ultimate Hand-made Travel Gift

The weather is starting to turn.  Couple travelers its time to start the dreaded quest for what to get your sweetheart for the holidays.  How do you avoid the dreaded “you don’t love me” fight?  The Fighting Couple is here to save the day.    We have a great idea for you!    Well its really not our idea…this summer we came across a great blogger Brooklyn Limestone.  “Mrs. Limestone” as she calls herself is nothing short of super-human.  She runs a amazing multifaceted blog that includes design tips, home improvement, handiworks, and of course travel.  (We are so glad she has not taken up fighting, or we would be out of a job!)

So lets begin.  We are going to give you an outline of what we gleaned from her blog.  For step by step instructions and more pics, check out her guide for the project.

Supplies needed:

9 pine wood blocks of  6″ x 6″ x1″

1 can of spray adhesive

1 Passport filled with stamps from somewhere warm like your Bahamas holiday!

1 quart of gold enamel paint

Small grain sand paper

Lots of power tools and cords (these are not needed for the project, but makes you look like your are working on something amazing.)

 

Step one:

Take your 6×6 wood blocks, lightly sand the face and four sides.  If you find blocks that are presanded, go eat a sandwich and skip this step.

 Step two:

Take your gold paint, we said gold paint because thats what she used.  Color is really up to you i guess.  But Mrs. Limestone is domestic goddess, and you should probably do what she did.  Paint the face and all four sides.  You dont need to paint the back, unless you are an overachiever.

Step Three:

Take your passport and find the most interesting page of stamps and make a copy of each with high quality paper or photo paper would work even better.  You may need to scan them in and enlarge them to fit your fancy.  You need to end up with 6×6 squares.

Step Quattro (this is a travel blog):

Take your can of spray adhesive and attach the  squares to the blocks.

 


Step Five:

You are nearing the finish line!  Arrange your squares  in a fancy frame like she did.  Isn’t that cool?  You could also line them up in a curio cabinet?

 

 

The wonderful thing about this project and gift is that it is so personalized and it is handmade.  What woman wouldn’t swoon receiving this gift?  So follow our advice and don’t end up in the dreaded “dog house”.

Thanks again to Mrs. Limestone of Brooklyn Limestone for saving relationships everywhere!

Send us a picture of your competed project!  We will post it!

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The Ghost Towns of New York City

So what makes for a good ghost town? Tumbleweeds and shanty buildings? Dusty and deserted roads?

A ghost town is the remnants of a place that is a shadow of its former vibrant self. A place that once gleamed with the sparkle of humanity only to find itself deserted and isolated. If we follow this definition, there are three really captivating ghost towns smack dab in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world, New York City! Join us as we explore these modern day ghost towns.

Immigrants Landing at Ellis Island

Ellis Island

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
 I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”-Emma Lazarus  

Perhaps one of the most recognized statues in the world, Lady Liberty stands with her lamp extended, welcoming the world. At her foot rests our first stop in our quest to find the ghost towns of New York.

Ellis Island was a sight to behold in its hay-day. The Island housed the largest and most prolific immigration station in the world from 1892 till 1954. The Island has had a number of nicknames in its storied history: “Heartbreak Island” and “the Island of Tears.” Heart break references the fact that a small number of immigrants were not allowed entry into the US after their treacherous ocean voyage.

A number of interesting characters graced the halls of Ellis Island including: Composer Irving Berlin, Make up guru Max Factor, Comedian Bob Hope, Coach Knute Rockne, and Actress Claudette Colbert to name a few.

Visiting the island is truly an experience not to be missed. Take in the Statue of Liberty of course, but more importantly wander the Ellis Island Museum. Contemplate what it would have been like to enter these halls, the air filled with dozens of different languages. Take in the dreams and hopes of immigrants seeking a better life. Then wander outside to the “Kissing Post” where families long separated were once again united. Powerful! Don’t miss the holding cells. A somber remembrance of what must have been a terrifying experience for the small number of people that were detained here for a number of different reasons.

 

Hart Island

One of the most interesting and disturbing places in all of New York City is Hart Island. Modern history of the island begins in 1869 when the city of New York purchased the island for $75K. The Island has served as a Civil War Prison camp, a boy’s workcamp, a Nike Missile bunker, and currently serves as a potter’s field for the entire city. If you are looking for a spooky place, look no further.

At the midpoint of the Civil War, the Island was built up as a union prison for captured confederate soldiers. Over 3,400 Rebel soldiers where confined here. In the 1870s the Island was used as a place to quarantine people with Yellow Fever. The Island subsequently was used as a women’s insane asylum.

Today the Island is a cemetery. According to Hart Island Project, a group that is working to document the internments: The City Cemetery occupies 101 acres in the Long Island Sound on the eastern edge of New York City. It is the largest tax funded cemetery in the world. Prison labor is used to perform the daily mass burials that number over 850,000. Citizens must contact the prison system to visit Hart Island. There is no map of the burials and no one is permitted to visit a specific grave. The Department of Correction restricts visitation to those who can document the burial of a family member buried on Hart Island. Records at this location consist of intact mass graves since 1980.

New York city“Prison labor from Rikers Island is used for burial details, paid at 50 cents an hour. Inmates stack the pine coffins in two rows, three high and 25 across, and each plot is marked with a single concrete marker. The first pediatric AIDS victim to die in New York City is buried in the only single grave on Hart Island with a concrete marker that reads SP (special child) B1 (Baby 1) 1985.” Wikipedia.

The New York City Department of Transportation runs a single ferry to the island from the Fordham Street Pier on City Island. The only people allowed to visit the Island are those who have family members buried there, or get a permit for educational or research purposes.

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum

The Tenement Museum

One of the most moving and interesting museums in NYC is the Tenement Museum. It is located at 108 Orchard on the Lower East Side. The museum is a window of what life was like for NYC immigrants from 1850’s through the Depression Era. NYC, during the hay day of the tenements, could truly be called a melting pot. Immigrants from all across the globe, were living in close quarters.,

An estimated 7,000 people lived in 97 Orchard Street between 1863 and 1935. Working with genealogists and volunteers, the Museum has identified 1,300 people who owned, lived, or worked in 97 Orchard Street. As you walk solemnly between rooms in the building you read of the desperate plight of its one time residents. Stories of single mothers that raised a dozen children. You learn of entire families that lived and worked in one tiny room. During our recent visit, we walkedthrough the narrow hallways and rooms walking through the experience of a German family whose husband left his wife to fend for herself and an Italian immigrant family.

One cannot help but be moved by the humble circumstances that those who occupied the tenements faced. The building lacked indoor plumbing and electricity. Electric light was not installed in 97 Orchard until 1924. Crime and poverty ran rampant. A host of different illnesses ravaged the tenements on several occasions. If you want to get a good idea of what immigrants faced in NYC, see the movie, “The Gangs of New York.”

Visiting the museum will take you at least two  hours. You must take a guided tour. Sign up ahead of time. You can pick between three tours and then walk back in time into the living rooms and kitchens of the past.  Once your complete the tour, cross the street and take in the visitor’s center. There are some great books and memorabilia.

New York City has so much to offer the couples that travel together. It’s one of 1000 Fights favorite places!   Book your flight and see ghost towns in NYC.  Have you been to anyone of these sites?

Please leave a comment below and let us know what you thought.  We love a good fight.

 

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New York +Rockettes+Christmas=FUN!

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Image via Wikipedia

For everyone who thought that Christmas only comes once a year, think again!

The world-famous Radio City Rockette’s officially kicked off Christmas in August, unveiling the NEW 2011 Radio City Christmas Spectacular, the Rockette’s Magical Journey!

This year’s Christmas Spectacular includes 3 D!  (The rockets in 3 D….we have Mike’s attention!)  Not only that, the performance will include amaing special effects and more!  Get you plane tickets now!  The annual event will be showing November 11- Jan 2nd at the amazing Radio City Music Hall in NYC.

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Put it in Context

We must put a clear disclaimer on this post, there is one thing that we both hate more than a layover in anywhere that begins with Den and ends with a Ver: it is tour guides.  WE DESPISE THEM!  In so many places we have seen the gaggle of tourists led by someone that is supplying very simplistic remarks.  To identify them simply look for the person holding the metal stick with a yellow flag on top- sporting the clipboard.  You might hear them say, “There is a fine example of Greek statue….ok moving right a long.”  This in front of the Venus de Milo!  Or the most egregious example was a tour guide who said in front of the Celcius Library, “This is the library; imagine it,” and walked off. End of disclaimer.  Ok one more disclaimer…(We are never, ever paid/compensated for anything that we review or comment on.)  This is really the end of disclaimers.

We found a truly unique and frankly awesome service, Context Travel.  This is not your run of the mill tour guide.  You are paired in small groups never more than 6 people, with a true expert in the field.   When we say expert, we mean….someone that has devoted a lifetime to study in a given field.  Imagine having an architecture tour of Rome with someone with a Doctorate in Roman Architecture!  Or a tour of Topkapi Palace in Istanbul with someone that wrote a book about the palace!  Or even an incredible tour of Wall Street with a former bond trader!  With Context Travel you get just that. Ok…must be expensive right?  It really is affordable.  Tours are much more specific in their breadth, but much, much more profound in their depth.Our guide Claire in Istanbul. She speaks seven languages and literally wrote the book on Topaki Palace. We spent four hours with her and it was a highlight of our trip!

Most of our tours with Context have been just Mike and I.  They are not in every city. They don’t cover every topic.  They don’t even offer tours to some of your typically touristy spots.  But what they lack in quantity, they certainly make up in quality.

We have taken the following tours with context:

Imperial Rome: Architecture and History of the Archaeological Center

HISTORY AND CONTINUITY IN ISTANBUL

Tasting the Immigrant Experience

HISTORY OF FINANCE

Many of the tour descriptions sound more like a college syllabus than a promo for a tour. Don’t be scared away.  The beauty of Context is the questions you are able to ask.  Forget the trite quicky response (quicky’s are good just not on a tour).  You are always going to be surprised and enlightened.  (In-depth info really makes you sound cool at cocktail parties.)

We have only had one bad experience with Context.  Our foodie tour of NY.  But he really ruined it for himself.  He speaks fluent Chinese, so in Chinatown he kinda didn’t pay attention to guide.

We have recommended Context to many friends and now our blog-followers! A friend recently went to Rome with her two teenage daughters. They used Context to see the Vatican and the Vatican Museum. My friend said her daughters even thought the guide was cool! Context really puts things in, well, “context.”

We HIGHLY recommend:

Context Travel

Scholar-led Walks of the World’s Greatest Cities

Context is an in-depth alternative to traditional tours. We are a network of architects, historians, art historians, and specialists who organize over 300 different walks in 12 cities around the world.


What distinguishes us:

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Luci vs. Mike Round 1 The Waldorf (Mike)

clock

Our first morning at the Waldorf, I woke up looked at the vaulted ceiling and said to myself, “I am at the Waldorf!”  (My second thought was “Maybe now my mother in law will not think I am a such a loser.”  A man can dream?)

OK, I am a Hilton junkie.  I actually get a little misty eyed watching the Hilton family documentary on the Hilton welcome Channel on the guest room TV.  I am also a history addict so the Waldorf Astoria has it all for me.  During our recent trip to NYC we were very lucky to stay at both the Plaza and the Waldorf.  (Thank you Hilton reward points).   The Astoria is truly a timeless beauty.  She is seasoned, smart, and beautiful.  The Plaza on the other hand is gorgeous, and she wants everyone to know that she is the Prom Queen.  From the guilded gold hand dryers in the lavs, to the multi-chevroned bell captains.  Ok enough already, I get it,  she is the super diva.

The Waldorf  is encapsulated refinement.  Deep rich silk carpets adorn the hallways.  The woodwork is so ornate and intricate at times you feel like you are in a museum.  Every step you take brings into view living history.  Cole Porter’s Piano, the historic clock in the center of the inner lobby, and the spacious ballrooms.  Even the hollows of the cavernous basement played host to the purchase of the Dead Sea Scrolls!

Waldorf is truly the enduring host to the powerful.  Every US president since Hoover has been a guest.  Kings, Presidents, and potentates have sought lodging and respite before facing the daily demands of Gotham.   Songs, movies and poetry have been and continue to be produced singing praise to the Grande Dame of opulence.

The Waldorf is the place to celebrate life’s milestones.  One telling observation, during our stay there was a number of 80th birthday parties and 50th wedding anniversaries being held in one of the private dining areas.  Every night there were several going on at the same time.  Even a couple of weddings!  When the Blue Bloods of NYC, want to celebrate half a century with their spouse, they overwhelmingly chose the Waldorf.

The Waldorf Astoria defines sophistication, service and romance.

See those little stars below this entry…please click on the five stars if you agree that the Waldorf is the Tops!!

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The Oak Room

Oak Room (at the Plaza Hotel) on Urbanspoon

The food highlight of our NYC weekend!!  Brace yourself for the price.  It is a true four star establishment in every sense of the word.  Dinner is served in American dim sum manner: they have a cart that comes around, you pick out the dishes you would like.  For the main course, I went with the New York steak.  Luci had the lobster pot pie.   Waiter makes your salad at your table: Choice of greens, veggies and other interesting toppings.  For dessert I had one of the strangest banana splits.  Pics will be forthcoming.  It looked like a great big wafer…very good!  Beautiful decor.  Waitstaff were knowledgeable and competent.

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