Category: travel

An Action Packed Saturday

September 18th, 2012 — 9:08pm

My eventful Saturday got off to a bumpy start when I headed over to fifth ave to meet up with Pete, one of my favorite bachelors from my European Dating Blitz.

It turned out there was German American von Steuben Day Parade. I feared that amidst all of lederhosen and Swiss Miss clad people, I wouldn’t find Pete. Especially when I realized I had mixed up the time we were meeting. Eek.

Thankfully, once he had wifi, Pete and I connected in time for us to meet for a late lunch at Hooter’s (his choice). I enjoyed both the food and, ahem, perky staff more than I expected to, and it was great catching up with Pete.

He told me about his whirlwind week of travel (Toronto, Memphis, Boston) and I filled him in on my fabulous new job. I was happy to hear he’s in the midst of a new romance. Pete is one of those genuinely good guys who reminded during my Dublin visit a few years back that they do exist. Such a sweetheart.

T-Bar Steak & Lounge: Great place for a girls night out (photo courtesy:

Speaking of favorite people, the evening brought a chance to catch up with my good friend Crystal. Crystal radiates warmth and joy, and being around her means guaranteed smiles — and on this particular occasion delicious food too.

We headed over to T-Bar Steak and Lounge on the UES, where we shared a selection of appetizers (crispy oysters, fried calamari, foie gras) and a mouthwateringly perfect ice cream sundae with chocolate molten cake. Along the way, we talked about relationship learning curves, cutting ourselves some slack and future girls nights out. At least one 80’s concert is in our immediate future for sure.

In life and dessert, good friends really do make everything sweeter.

Comment » | catching up with old friends, Girls Night Out, The European Dating Blitz, travel

London Finale: Flirting, Fun & Friendship

August 26th, 2012 — 11:47am

Last Thursday, my adventures in London continued with an eventful girls night out.

Caffe Concerto has several locations in London

After dinner at cozy Italian eatery Caffe Concerto, Rachel and I walked over to Dion’s, a bar tucked away behind St. Paul’s Cathedral. I had very fond memories of live music and a very favorable guy-girl ratio at Dion’s during my last visit. So I was a little disappointed when we walked in to find the bar mostly empty, especially since I’d been talking it up to my single London friends as a great spot for mingling.

We were only a few sips into our cocktails when a cute local bloke named Joe, 35, suddenly appeared.

“My friends are boring, can I join your conversation?”

A direct, wry and ever so British approach. Needless to say, Rach and I happily said yes. We were soon joined by a few of Joe’s colleagues as well.
As Rachel hit it off with one of them, I learned that Joe has a passion for motorcycles and DIY projects – and possesses the charm and candor that has made me very susceptible to British bachelors. When I commended Joe for taking the initative in a friendly way to say hello, he responded—

“We’re all lonely at the end of the day, so why not?”

Sigh. If only New York men could take a page out of this no nonsense playbook!

Eventually, the verbal flirting between Joe and me found him pulling me into a quick hug. I could happily have extended it, but Rachel reminded me the tube was about to shut down for the night. Before I raced to catch it, Joe leaned down for a kiss. Apart from him referring to himself as my “toy boy,”  a perfect night.

Speaking of perfection, that’s also how I would describe my final day in London.

All smiles in Trafalgar Square…with sunglasses!

The weather was glorious – so glorious that I took a picture in Trafalgar Square with sunglasses on for the first time in 22 years of coming to London. After drinking in the view of the square and Big Ben beyond it, I made my way over to iconic tea house Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly, where I enjoyed my final round of afternoon tea and scones with clotted cream.

Then, it was off to Sloane Square for drinks with fellow writer and Ireland-born Conor, whom I had the pleasure of meeting during my European Dating Blitz. This visit to London was a wonderful mix of new and old friends, a week-long reminder of why I love England’s capital so much.

What better way to end my trip than with my dear friend of 19 years, Steve?

BFF: Steve and me at Zaika

Over a delicious meal at upscale Indian restaurant Zaika on Kensington High Street, Steve and I fell into easy conversation like we always do. Three hours later, we’d covered a lot of ground on the topics of life, love, family and the battle to fight wrinkles.

As we said goodbye, I felt a surge of melancholy about leaving London. And then I smiled because I know it will always be a part of my life. Until next time, fair city.

Comment » | afternoon tea, catching up with old friends, Girls Night Out, London, St. Paul's Cathedral, The European Dating Blitz, Trafalgar Square, travel

Week In London: Part Two

August 23rd, 2012 — 9:01pm

My vacation in London continued last Wednesday with a road trip to the charming little village of Great Missenden, home to legendary writer Roald Dahl and a museum celebrating his life and work.

In front of the Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre

My good friend Rachel and I made the 45-minute drive, instantly smiling as we sat down at the museum’s Café Twit, featuring brightly colored décor and whimsically named items inspired by Dahl’s literary creations.

Sizable scones, clotted cream, foamy hot chocolate...Yummm!

After savoring scones with clotted cream and jam and foamy hot chocolate with marshmallows, we walked through the museum. In addition to photos, letters and other memorabilia from Dahl’s life, the museum features Dahl’s cozy writing hut — transported intact from where it once resided at his home.

Roald Dahl's writing hut

Back at Rach’s flat in West Hampstead, she whipped up a delicious pasta with roasted eggplant and spices as we settled in to watch the classic Meg Ryan/Hugh Jackman chick flick, “Kate and Leopold.” Add to that a few glasses of red wine and we had the perfect girls night in!

Thursday, I moved to the Copthorne Tara Hotel just behind Kensington High Street. I had just enough time to unpack and freshen up before heading over to Notting Hall, where I caught up with Dublin-born Ellie, one of the fabulous single gals I met during my European Dating Blitz two years ago.

Catching Up: Ellie and me

Over a delightful lunch at fashion retailer/bistro 202 London on posh Westbourne Grove, Ellie and I talked about career transitions, unexpected romance and the divide between singles and marrieds.

The latter was on my mind having overheard a wife and mom criticize a friend for wanting to change careers and follow her bliss, implying that it was somehow irresponsible and at odds with the desire to meet someone. To that I simply say…huh??

Up next…a girls night out takes a surprising turn and capping off my trip with a fun London first.

Comment » | girls night in, London, The European Dating Blitz, travel

My Week In London: Part One

August 20th, 2012 — 8:16pm

My glorious week in London began in beautiful West Hampstead, home of my dear friend Leila. Determined to try and outsmart jetlag for once, I skipped my usual post-arrival nap, opting instead for a shower and afternoon out.

Leila and I stopped for a quick bite in patisserie Maison Blanc – complimented by a few cups of tea, of course – before doing some shopping. Among the stores we visited was Reiss, a favorite of Duchess Kate known for its sleek silhouettes and vivid colors. Not being blessed with a pencil thin figure myself, I fared better at Whistle’s, where Leila spotted a plum-hued top that was both the perfect fit and perfect price (18 pounds).

We enjoyed a quiet evening in. Much to my delight and relief, the combination of wine, an after dinner liqueur and decaffeinated tea helped reset my body clock so that sleep came easy that night. It’s only taken me 22 years of visiting London to figure out how to manage jetlag!

Piccadilly Circus featured many flags as part of London's Olympics celebration

Sunday, Leila and I made our way into Central London on one of the city’s iconic double decker red buses – which offered a great view of the many flags unfurled in celebration of the Olympics. Even on the final day of the games, London was bustling with excitement.

Leila and me in Leicester Square with the Olympics countdown clock behind us

As I took in the Olympics-related signage and multitude of friendly volunteer ambassadors, it was easy to see why England’s capital has hosted more than any other city. The level of organization was incredible and Londoners went out of their way to make visitors feel welcome.

Some of London’s many colorfully attired Olympic ambassadors

After strolling through Trafalgar and Leicester Squares, Leila and I headed over to The Dorchester in Mayfair for afternoon tea.

All smiles at The Dorchester

The iconic luxury hotel provides an elegant backdrop for its version of the popular English ritual – not to mention a selection of mouthwatering finger sandwiches and scones. We especially loved the Olympic-themed petit fours.

Sweet Treats: Olympic-themed petit fours from The Dorchester’s ‘spor-tea’

Monday, I paid my first-ever visit to the Barbican, to take in “Designing 007: 50 years of Bond Style.” The fascinating exhibit features costumes, gadgets, setpieces and other memorabilia – including an eye-popping  recreation of the titular murdered villainess in Goldfinger. Lots of interesting trivia about James Bond author Ian Fleming too.

Then, it was off to Southbank for a reunion with my dear friend of nearly 20 years Steve. The artsy neighborhood has undergone quite a revival and there was no shortage of colorful sights – from a gigantic Lego map of the world to an installation of milk cartons designed to look like an ice sculpture.

Creative recycling: The milk bottle installation at Southbank

Our favorite diversion, though, was of the more traditional variety: a pop up fair inspired by none other than Coney Island.

Aaaaah! Steve and me on London’s mini-version of The Cyclone coaster

I took one look at the Cyclone-themed mini roller coaster and knew we had to check it out. As I expected, it didn’t disappoint. Steve and I laughed (and screamed) our heads off. Summer fun simply doesn’t get any better than this!

Up next…a visit to the home of one of Britain’s most beloved authors and an unexpected encounter with an adorable London bachelor!

2 comments » | afternoon tea, catching up with old friends, Leicester Square, London, Trafalgar Square, travel

A Dispatch From London

August 15th, 2012 — 4:08pm

For more than 20 years now, London has been a big part of my life. It is the city that — apart from my beloved hometown of New York – I’ve had the longest, richest history with. And my current visit has reminded me of the many reasons why.

All smiles with London's iconic Houses of Parliament and Big Ben behind me

Since arriving on Saturday, I’ve revisited favorite places in England’s capital, discovered new ones and, of course, reconnected with the dear and longtime friends who make it feel like my home away from home. From soaking up some of the Olympic excitement to afternoon tea at The Dorchester hotel and exploring the artistic resurgence of Southbank, this week in London has added wonderful memories to the many I’ve made here since my first visit back at the age of 16.

Coming up…the full scoop on my glorious week in this magical city!

Comment » | London, travel

Going The Distance For Love

July 31st, 2011 — 4:04pm

The other day, my dear friend Caroline sent me an article about a romance-minded wild cougar killed in Connecticut. Said animal made news for traveling across the country in search of a mate, as part of a pattern called dispersal.

While most lions rarely travel more than 100 miles, this cub journeyed from South Dakota to CT – 1,500 miles.

“He was on a dating blitz of his own!” Caroline quipped, alluding to my own love-seeking travels last year.

I couldn’t help smiling as I read about this kindred spirit, and thinking about how it proves something I’ve always known — geography is no match for the tenacity of love.

Over the years, I’ve experienced this simple truth time and time again. As I mentioned awhile back, with the help of my 90+ diaries and a little math, I discovered that I’ve traveled 49,156 miles cumulatively for the sake of romance. And I have been fortunate enough to be the inspiration for more than a few good men to hit the road (to the cumulative total of 33,394 miles) when distance stood between us.

Back in 1991, Toronto-based high school crush Jason braved a 12-hour bus ride so we could ring in the new year together.

A few years later, after spending only a weekend with me in New York, California native Mark (aka Sparky) flew from LA to London, capturing my heart along the way.

“I would travel to the ends of the earth…just to kiss you,” he later said.

Illinois-born sweetheart Steve didn’t let miles stand in the way either. Not only did he join me in hopping a flight or two so we could be together, he was my hero of the highways. When I moved from Illinois to Delaware, he drove me and all my stuff in a Ryder truck, making an 886-mile  journey something special and fun.

In this day and age where laziness has become commonplace in dating, where potential mates often can’t be bothered to pick up a phone let alone travel for love, it’s easy to forget it only takes one who will go the distance. I’m thankful to a courageous young lion for reminding me of that.

2 comments » | long-distance relationships, travel

SGITC Reader Perk: Consort Wine Tours

June 26th, 2011 — 8:56pm

Last month, I had the pleasure of crossing a major item off my bucket list – visiting California’s glorious Napa Valley. I’m excited to report that Consort Wine Tours, which hosted me and my friends for a memorable afternoon, is offering Single Gal In The City readers a 20% discount!

Mention SGITC when you reach out to Consort Wine Tours and you’ll receive a six-hour tour of Napa or Sonoma Valley for $375 — the price of a five-hour tour. Company owner David Locke delivers a truly first-class experience that includes a complimentary Schramsberg, cheese and fruit platter, and a picnic lunch from upscale Bouchon Bakery.

What’s more, David can also plan your entire vacation (extra cost), mapping out hotels, restaurants, spas and – of course – great places to meet singles.  For one stop shopping, you can’t do any better than this lifetime resident of Napa Valley who knows California’s wine country inside and out.

For more information about booking, visit Consort Wine Tours’ website.

Comment » | SGITC, Single Gal In The City, travel, wine tastings

San Francisco: Girls Night Out

May 15th, 2011 — 4:33pm

Monday night, I headed over to Palomino’s – a lively happy hour spot near Embarcadero – to catch up with my friend and former PR colleague Kim.

Girls Night Out: Kim and me

It had been a couple of years since Kim and I had seen each other so we had plenty to catch up on. Over a few glasses of wine and a shared bruschetta sampler, we talked about her stint as a London resident, my dating hiatus and the varied charms of San Francisco.

One of the things that struck me many times during my visit is how friendly the locals are. Case in point – Fred, a bachelor Kim had met at a recent singles event who ended up sitting beside us at the bar.

Fred graciously engaged us in conversation about single life in San Fran, expressing genuine curiosity about my Great Dating Blitz last year. As the three of us talked, I couldn’t help wishing SF had beat Miami as the popular choice for my final destination. It’s clearly a place where people know how to make you feel welcome and how to manage a healthy work-life balance. And when Kim asked me if I would ever consider moving out West, I found myself thinking….maybe.

Our hunky bartender Joe told us the place to be on Mondays in town is Trigger, a gay nightclub in the Castro district. Along with cheap cocktails ($2 vodka cranberry, anyone?) and a lively crowd, Monday is 80’s night. Kim and I danced up a storm.

At one point, I climbed up on stage to join a Janet Jackson impersonator shaking his thing to “Escapade.” He immediately stared at me with daggers and began stomping in my direction, so I knew there was only room for one diva and quickly returned to the floor.

It was well after 1am when we called in a night. I couldn’t help thinking how restorative a change of scenery never fails to be – and that, sometime in the not too distant future, it might be time to make that change a permanent one.

2 comments » | 80's music, Girls Night Out, The Great Dating Blitz, travel

San Francisco: Part Two

May 13th, 2011 — 7:50pm

My third day in San Francisco kicked off with a cable car ride to Fisherman’s Wharf. 

The iconic Fisherman’s Wharf sign

After taking in the views of the bay, colorful shops and street performers, I made my way to Ghirardelli Square — the former chocolate factory turned ice cream shop and restaurant. I treated myself to a hot fudge sundae for lunch (as you do when you’re on vacation!) then leisurely made my way back to Union Square for mini-croque sandwiches and vino at a cozy wine bar.

The gastronomic indulgence continued over a birthday dinner for my friend Chris at The Slanted Door, an upscale Asian bistro overlooking the water and Bay Bridge.

Monday, Caroline, Chris and I took the ferry to Vallejo for an afternoon in Napa Valley. We were greeted by Dave of Consort Wine Tours, a first-class host who offers his guests the best of wine country. He presented us with Champagne before we took off in his Cadillac Escalade for our five-stop tour.

All Smiles In Napa: Caroline, Chris and me at Salvestrin vineyard

“Napa is about food, delicious wine and going to bed early,” Dave quipped as he acquainted us with this beautiful region. A fifty-year resident of the area, Dave knows plenty about local wine production — and proudly specializes in the boutique wineries and vineyards which make up the heart of Napa.

Our first destination — Elkhorn Peak Cellars, where co-owner Ken Nerlove gave us a fascinating overview of what it takes to run a vineyard and produce their signature pinot noir. His exhaustive knowledge and Elkhorn Peak’s hillside location make it an ideal spot to begin any tour of Napa.

Mid-afternoon, we enjoyed a picnic lunch at one of the Salvestrin Winery — sandwiches and chocolate macaroons from Bouchon Bakery in the foodie town of Yountville. Other stops on our tour included Silenus, Turnbull and Beau Vigne.

By the time we made our way back to the ferry, we were blissfully relaxed from sampling more than a dozen varieties of Napa’s best vino. Thanks, Dave!

1 comment » | travel, wine tastings

San Francisco: Part One

May 11th, 2011 — 3:03pm

My action-packed weekend in San Francisco began with settling in at the comfortable Wyndham Canterbury near Union Square. Joining me were friends Caroline and Chris.

Cheers: Our first wine tasting in San Fran

After toasting our arrival with some local wine, we headed over to nearby Italian bistro Scala’s. Known for its celebrity chefs, Scala’s has a well-deserved reputation for using the fresh ingredients to create culinary magic. I savored homemade pappardelle with braised beef and a Bostini cream pie rated as one of San Fran’s best desserts.

Saturday, following brunch at cozy and bohemian Sugar Café, we picked up our Zipcar and headed out of the city for a two-stop road trip. The three of us cheered as we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, which is every bit as majestic as you would imagine it to be — especially on a bright sunny day. Braving fierce winds for a few minutes, we stopped at Vista Point to take in sweeping skyline and bridge views.

What A View: Caroline, Chris and me at Vista Point

From there, it was off to the charming seaside town of Sausalito for some leisurely shopping and a delicious late-day lunch at legendary burger joint Hamburgers. One of my favorite moments — watching a local artist deftly balance cliffside rocks with hand-crafted stones. Southern California is teeming with creative, spirited people.

Our next stop, Muir Woods National Monument, home to 560 acres of redwood forest. Caroline, Chris and I enjoyed a lot of laughs — and a deer sighting — as we wandered through this lush grove. Travel is so much sweeter when shared with good friends.

Coming up…more San Fran exploring and a big night out with my favorite local bachelorette.

Comment » | travel

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