Travel ~ 37. Blissful Bermuda

This past weekend, Jet Blue flew me to paradise.

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The British overseas territory named Bermuda became home for a few days. Divided into nine parishes, I couldn’t wait to explore.

My best friend, Lauren and I arrived at L.F. Wade International Airport to celebrate her birthday. Our friendly taxi driver welcomed us to the island. Driving along the narrow winding roads, the subtropical climate and vibrant houses were gorgeous. The crystal clear blue water, fruit trees and numerous yachts added to the scenic view. I can still feel the sunshine and warm air on my arm from that day or perhaps it’s the tan.

We stayed at the Fairmont Southampton, a lovely luxury resort in Warwick Camp. Our room, the Signature Suite was heavenly. The hotel staff expressed warm hospitality during every interaction. The hotel provided 9 restaurants, taxis on call, a wide range of activities such as water sports, horseback riding, fishing, diving, cycling, 6 tennis courts, an 18 hole golf course, 12 treatment rooms, a sauna, pool lounge areas and excursions for Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, Bermuda Forts, the Bermuda Aquarium, Royal Navy Dockyard and Crystal and Fantasy Caves all for additional charges. They are all well fun!

Soon enough, it was time for lunch. Taking a taxi, we headed to Mickey’s Beach Bistro. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the most the amazing man on the island and in my opinion he is the culture Ambassador for Bermuda, Cole Simmons. Also, he’s one of my best friends. Then we all enjoyed the colourful cocktails, savoury seafood and fun conversation with the servers including Gianni, Steven and Samy. Following that, it was inevitable to not walk along Elbow Beach. Let’s just say, the water was calling.

Then the heat and humidity must have taken a toll because we decided to rest for a while. A few hours later, Cole, Lauren and I made our way to Front Street to see what Hamilton had to offer. We saw loads of shops, stores, restaurants, bars and pubs as well as a water promenade. Eventually, it was time for drinks and dinner. Harry’s Restaurant & Bar was the answer for a taste of Bermuda. The marvelous manager, Manny made our dining experience a pleasure. The restaurant decor was beautiful too. First, I tried the fish chowder. Second, the mussels were yummy with a glass of Sancerre. Then our waitress surprised us with a treat. I recommend Harry’s as the dining destination in Bermuda.

After that, Cole, Lauren and I visited the Hamilton Princess Hotel to view the art on display. For evening entertainment, we drank at Hog Penny Pub and then we danced to Caribbean tunes at a Bajan bar called Spring Garden to end our Bermudian night.

The next morning, Lauren and I chilled by the pool while drinking rum swizzles. Surrounded by coconut palm trees, it was just what the doctor ordered for a holiday. In good time, we spent the afternoon at Horseshoe Bay Beach.

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Later for dinner, we checked out the Jasmine Lounge where a live band played local music. Our entrées were very delicious.

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The atmosphere was lively. Guests were jovial. Our waiter, Jaswyn was great. It was the perfect way to end our Bermuda adventure. I highly recommend to visit Bermuda to experience an #ahhbermuda moment 🙂

All photos taken by Niya Sinckler, Lauren Slinger and Cole Simmons.

Travel ~ Merci Montréal.

A weekend away to practice my French. Not really, it was my birthday celebration. Arriving on Friday evening, it was freezing around -10C. Either way, I decided to take on the worrying weather.

First, I took the 747E autobus from Pierre Trudeau International Airport (YUL) to the Courtyard by Marriott Montreal Downtown. It costs 10 Canadian dollars. My home for three days was in a good central location.

After settling in, I decided where to go for dinner. Close by, Bonaparte Restaurant was welcoming. Their savory seafood menu is amazing. I highly recommend the shrimp and scallops entree. The gourmet dinner menu was a bit of a splurge but birthdays only come once a year. Then for drinks, Notkins was a lively bistro bar with old school tunes to get anyone moving. Soon enough, it was time to call it a night.

Saturday morning, the Canadian Centre for Architecture was calling. The exhibition on display: It’s All Happening So Fast. Learning about Canada’s water consumption and views on desertification was well interesting. Then the wonderful walk along La Rue René-Lévesque was lovely seeing statues and the beautiful cathedral. Next I visited MAC, Musee d’art de contemporain de Montréal. The admission is 15 Canadian dollars. The exhibitions on display were: For time is the longest distance between two places and Le Biennale de Montréal. I spent over an hour there mesmerized by about thirty rooms highlighting modern art. You can tell I’m an art admirer. My favourite piece was an oil on canvas 2015 painting, ‘Long Distance’ by Nicole Eisenman. Staring at the work made me think about so many things at once. The coffee cup, calendar, element of writing with stationary and the screen are all there. It represented all the things that couldn’t be said for many in long distance relationships. Let’s call it a moment of realization in life.

Eventually it was time for a 1pm lunch. Strolling over to La Rue Square Victoria, I discovered Ê.A.T (Être-Avec-Toi). Translated into English, it means to be with you. It was a cool contemporary concept restaurant moderately priced and positioned in the W Hotel. There were detailed drawings and illustrations as wall décor. Also the cool vibes with ambient electronica music setting the atmosphere. The manager and waiters had excellent customer service too. I was fully taking in Montréal’s hospitality.

Exploring must be in my DNA because about an hour later, I was getting lost in Vieux Montréal (Old Montréal) and enjoying it. So many cafés and shops to embrace Canadian culture. Later on at 4pm, I met up with two friends who were staying in the gay village of the city at a hostel. Was it fun? Oh yes! Especially when they’re both named Alex and it’s happy hour forever. Drinking beer, throwing darts and playing pool in a massive basement while having crazy conversations about international current affairs was my evening. The excitement continued until my stomach grumbled. Must be dinner about 9pm. Of course coming here, I had to eat poutine at least once. There it is below and it was so filling.

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To end the night at 11pm, I attended a gig for Ferry Corsten and Kungs at the vibrant entertainment venue, New City Gas. There wasn’t a long queue to enter. I saw that Canadians do dress up to go out. They party hard as well. Lots of dance and debauchery took place for around three hours. And I loved every minute of the music.

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Now it was Sunday Funday! Being lazy, I ate at the hotel’s restaurant, Le Darlington. Yes it was very darling lol. Then the time came for the inevitable as the concierge brought my carry-on. A 40 minute bus ride to the airport. Taking in all of the art, architecture and beauty left to see, I smiled at the Montréal cityscape. In all, it was a great weekend. Merci Montréal. A bientôt, bisous!

All photos taken by Niya Sinckler.

Travel ~ Represent Cuba!

Since diplomatic relations relaxed between the U.S. and Cuba, leisure and business travelers (remember the Rihanna cover story in Vanity Fair) have been traveling to the Caribbean.

Known for white sandy beaches, cohibas and rum, Cuba has a variety of historical culture to offer surrounding the beautifully preserved Spanish colonial architecture.

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Crocodile shaped since Christopher Columbus landed in 1942, this warm and welcoming country has changed over time. From Fulgencio Batista‘s dictatorship to Marxist revolutionary, Che Guevara overthrowing the government, fearless Fidel Castro led the nation to a prominent place. Now President, Raúl Castro is maintaining the Communist rule of the sovereign state with style. Hopefully, the country will keep its creative charm while the infrastructure is transitioning its marketplace from foreign investment interests. You notice the little things here.

Leaving Jose Martí International Airport, where will you stay? Well “hello Havana” or should we say, “Hola”. For accommodation, Hotel Florida is a cosy colonial casa featuring a cute courtyard with authentic Cuban cuisine in Old Havana. Hotel Saratoga which I know from my first visit is a great location for exploring on foot and by eye at their rooftop bar that has numerous cocktails and excellent service.

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El Malecon. My favourite memory of Cuba. Photo: Niya Sinckler.

Then Hotel Nacional de Cuba, where I previously stayed on my second visit is a lovely luxury gem over 90 years old in the middle of Vedado. Amazing art deco, beautiful blue skies, exclusive eats, seaside views, a gorgeous garden, a cool cabaret room and celebrities strutting through the lobby are what got me. This is the place to be! Taking a walk along the magical Malecón, you’ll find the Museo de la Revolución, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana and Museo Nacional de Historia de Cuba where one can learn about the art, culture and history of Cuba.

When looking for a casual lunch, support the locals by going to a paladar (family-run restaurant). La Galería (moderate) has amazing fresh fish or Atelier (splurge) offers Cuban continental cuisine, both in Vedado. For the art lovers, you will admire every inch of this island. From the classic vintage cars to locals painting portraits on the cobblestone streets, there is something for everyone. Business is also flourishing more now and I’m rooting for Cuban entrepreneurs. Fashionistas are even in town for Chanel‘s Cruise 2017 collection runway. Follow on Instagram for updates. Who knows you may even brush shoulders with the master of fashion, Karl Lagerfeld or Brasilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen, rumoured to be walking the show by the Paseo del Prado promenade claims Harper’s Bazaar.

Two blocks away, El Capitolio designed by Eugenio Rayneri Piedra stands grandiose with neoclassical architecture. Often a friendly guy, Miguel is hanging out on the steps who will take your photo with an old fashioned camera which I loved since photography is one of my passions. Say queso and smile as you’re taken back to the 1950s. Local music can be found in numerous neighbourhoods. Soon enough, the Latina in you will come out as you hear different beats and sounds around the city. Prepare your Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC, local currency) for drinks at El Floridita to delve into the era of Ernest Hemingway and sip the best daiquiri in the world.

Dinner at the popular eatery, El Aljibe is the best. It’s the pollo (chicken)! Also the open concept and again this is a family run restaurant. I love it. And of course, you get a special treat at the end of your meal. Can you say Cuba Libre y cigarro? I think yes! Dance the night away at Café Cantante Mi Habana with a range of artists representing real rumba, heavy hip-hop, rock and sassy salsa in a mixed crowd of locals and tourists aged early 20s to late 40s. For that midnight bite, stop by Cafe de los Artistas. Lastly, I would be recommend venturing to Varadero in the northeast Matanzas Province, Trinidad in the midwest Sancti Spíritus Province and the second largest city in the southeast, Santiago de Cuba to enjoy the ocean coastline.

Today marked an emotional moment as well. According to Reuters, it was the first time in decades that a U.S. cruise ship entered the Havana Bay area. Get ready to travel. Check flights and peruse hotels. Dare to discover colourful Cuba.

 

 

Culture ~ Suffolk Arms

Mixology is taking over on the Lower East Side scene in NY. Founded by Giuseppe Gonzalez and Ruben Rodriguez, creative cocktails are crafted in a classic decor.
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Destination found, Suffolk Arm in New York. Photo: Niya Sinckler.
Situated at the bar around 6pm, Suffolk Arms begins to fill up as indie rock tunes play to complement the background noise. I heard Metric! Just before 7pm, the owner arrives and the place comes alive. The bar allures visitors with a seated mahogany bar, pub style booths and portraits of influential New Yorkers.
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Calm before the evening. Suffolk Arms, NYC. Photo: Niya Sinckler.
The evening scene is cool and lively. The friendly bartender, Ricky and I discussed cocktails across the pond and I enjoyed hearing their fun bartender banter.
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I found London in NY! Perfection at Suffolk Arms, NYC. Photo: Niya Sinckler.
There is a serious approach to making the drinks as they are divided into three sections: signatures, modern classics and vodka cocktails. I was happy to find my favourite cocktail, Pornstar Martini. I highly recommend! Suffolk Arms brings a new level to cocktail culture. Cheers! Address: 269 E Houston St and hours: 5pm-4am.

Travel ~ Un Jour

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Guess which airport. Credit: Niya Sinckler.

Those last moments when the countdown begins. You can no longer wait to depart/arrive. Rolling suitcases. Long queues. Families huddled in circles. Lots of seats. Variety of restaurants. Granny in a wheelchair. Newspapers laid on display. No mobile reception. Toblerone in my line of sight. Children running aimlessly. Gum marks on the floor. The smell of Marlboro. Toilets always located at the ends of the corridor. Air conditioning on full blast. Announcements in three different languages. Tapping feet. Planes take off and land. Headphones in. Ipod on shuffle to block out the sounds.

Travel ~ Flash Fiction

Waiting in the line at JFK. Passport and ticket handed over. 4 hours later. Taxi to my destination. Sunshine. 70 degrees outside. Raybans are on. Arrive safely. Love this hotel. Unpacking items. Taking a peak. Balcony view. Vibrant atmosphere. International crowd. SLR at the ready. Warm breeze. Girls in bikinis. Waves are tranquil. Beach is beautiful. My adventure awaits. Walking around. Found a spot to chill. Cocktail in my right hand. Cute guys on my left. Can’t wait to  explore more. Electro house tunes blasting. Intense energy. Amazing at M-Bar. Guess my spring break destination.

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This social city is calling my name.