Relics and rocks

As the husband desperately tries to drag me away from the old town, I once again get hopelessly distracted. This time by an enchanting, tucked away shop full of religious icons.

 

Painted on driftwood and old salvaged wood, this shop is an Aladdin’s cave of the sacred and holy.

 

Ever corner is crammed full of sumptuously coloured paintings, with glided details glimmering in the shadowy recesses.

37716466_10155485589052353_499161653191901184_n

The, by now bored rigid, husband finally managed to pry me out of the shops and we head towards the rocky beach.

 

Here we can get a better view of Little Venice, the tiny, chic section of the old town where cafes and restaurants hang precariously above the sea.

37671624_10155485591362353_3944265155944120320_n

Captured in a thousand different paintings, this jumble of buildings have a wonderful waterside position but must get battered in storms!

37674315_10155485593382353_9194101370876067840_n

It might look relatively peaceful but Little Venice gets jam packed from midday onwards as it’s a perfect people watching spot and it’s also a prime sunset spot.

37690473_10155485591062353_4995461957873041408_n

The water gently laps the pebble beach (which is far more painful to walk on than it looks)

37692552_10155485590672353_8404646795157700608_n

A local man sets up his fishing rod and quickly becomes a tourist magnet as people flock to get a snap with him and his tackle 🙂

37694400_10155485591527353_5059182848590741504_n

If you look closely you can make out the crowds of people that have formed in the waterside cafes.

37701986_10155485590412353_4829956737446445056_n

The single file walk along the water’s edge is slippery and is made pretty difficult to traverse given the number of buggies and prams attempting to pass across.

37708286_10155485590837353_6895842255999860736_n

 

Advertisements

Little Venice

More mooching around Mykonos old town reveals my all time favourite shop tucked down an alleyway and smothered in postcards and paintings.

37725450_10155485586177353_218344575276679168_n

Every square inch of this little souvenir shop is covered in paintings and postcards of this picturesque island. All azure seas and blue domes.

I’m a bit obsessed and have to be bodily dragged away by the husband . . . .

37699767_10155485587977353_2819636409097256960_n

Heading down another tiny alleyway we’re suddenly confronted with a rocky drop and the sea!

Behind us you can see the line of famous windmills, one of the iconic sights of the island.

37700855_10155485593682353_7029475709533814784_n

 

We also get an alternative view of the bustling little quarter known as Little Venice where restaurants hover just feet away from the lapping sea water.

You can just about make out one of the hulking great big cruise ships that flood this tiny town with 1000s of visitors each day.

Back to wandering the seemingly endless, maze like streets, throw up yet more lovely details.

More traditional gifts such as olive oil soaps and woven bags all tempt the tourists.

For such a small place, the Hora sure has a lot to investigate. So watch this space!

 

Old Town

Mykonos Town—called Hora by the locals— is the Saint-Tropez of the Greek islands. Beloved by the rich folk and beautiful people.

Put on the map by Jackie O in the 1960s the old town is a maze of white washed houses, colourful doors and glamorous shops.

Its cube like houses and the churches, with their red or blue doors, domes and wooden balconies are perfect examples of classic Cycladic architecture.

The Greek Archaeological Service acted to protect the town so the Old Town has been impressively preserved.  It’s almost like a film set!

We arrived super early in the morning to avoid the inevitable hideous crowds so we got to enjoy the picture postcard streets completely alone.

The only downside is that the shops don’t actually open until around 10am so we didn’t get to enjoy the colourful displays until the cruise ships starting disgorging literally 1000s of people !

A fairly unique feature of the Hora are the grey painted stones that mark out the meandering streets. Some of them are real stones and others have been painted to look like them.

Although blinding white is the overriding colour of the town, there are lovely splashes of vivid colours that break up the street scene.

Another thing that you’ll see everywhere are the painted staircases that most shops have.

These are a pretty architectural features that also double as displays for tourists to browse the shop’s wares. They also make very nice floral displays!

Painted doors double as shop adverts, shocking pink bouganvilla drapes itself lavishly around weathered old buildings and open squares provide an oasis of shade later in the day.

The hubby finds a furry feline friend, just one of the many moggies to be found all over the island.

The island has a population of nearly 12,500 and most of them live in the Chora, so it’s the only place on Mykonos that you’ll ever feel crowded.

Flatiron & 5th Avenue

New York is littered with world renowned architecture and instantly recognisable buildings.

One such landmark is the The Flatiron Building, originally the Fuller Building, a triangular 22-story steel-framed highrise on Fifth Avenue.

On completion in 1902, it was one of the tallest buildings in the city at 20 floors high and was one of only two skyscrapers north of 14th Street – the other being the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, one block east.

Close to the Flatiron you can see one of the city’s last remaining cast iron street clocks.

This 19-foot timepiece has an ornamental base and a wreath of oak leaves around the clock face.

It’s gilded in gold and has stood, providing the time for busy New Yorkers since 1909. It was completely restored back to its former glory in 2011.

35475236_10155407743982353_4921101647184134144_n

Every angle of this quirky building is gorgeous and its address instantly transports you to a world of decade, luxury and old school American elegance and expense.

35545480_10155407744152353_6558416499806044160_n

If you turn your back on the Flat Iron building you can spot another highly iconic sight – the towering Empire State building – complete with all the perfect NYC elements, yellow traffic lights and a yellow cab!!

The National Historic Landmark program (NRHP) focuses on places of significance in American history, architecture, engineering, or culture.

It recognises structures, buildings, sites, and districts associated with important events, people, or architectural movements.

There’s an impressive list of National Historic Landmarks located along Fifth Avenue.

35518077_10155407744442353_8495956232207597568_n

National Historic Landmarks in the vicinity of Fifth Avenue include:

  • The Empire State Building – 350 Fifth Avenue
  • Flatiron Building – 175 Fifth Avenue – National Historic Landmark
  • New York Public Library – Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street
  • Rockefeller Center − 45 Rockefeller Plaza
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral – 460 Madison Avenue

35546609_10155407744927353_2517397447353827328_n

This part of the city feels like walking through a film set.

It actually can’t get any more American than this snap of the Stars and Stripes fluttering in front of the world’s most iconic skyscaper.

35628986_10155407745462353_6349993144364302336_n

Vinegar Hill


Next on our tour of Brooklyn we’re heading to a curious little neighbourhood that is not exactly on the tourist trail – Vinegar Hill.

It’s a tiny neighbourhood in Brooklyn on the East River Waterfront between Dumbo and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.


The neighbourhood gets its name from the Battle of Vinegar Hill, an engagement near Enniscorthy during the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

Vinegar Hill was commonly known as Irishtown in the 19th century, one of several places in the New York area with that name because of its sizeable population of Irish immigrants.

Most of Vinegar Hill consists of 19th-century Federal Style and Greek Revival style homes mixed with industrial buildings.

Hudson Avenue and Plymouth, Water and Front Streets are not tarmacked roads, rather they are made of Belgian Blocks which are similar to cobbles but a bit flatter and more rectangular.

The tiny little district is like a miniature open air architecture museum.

35646905_10155407739332353_581789166040252416_n
It feels like a place stranded in time – a odd, out of place that has sealed the past in amber and shows how Brooklyn would have looked in the early 19th century.

The area was declared a Historical District in the late 1990s but it does not feel as if any investment is forthcoming, rather it feels like the developers are circling like vultures, just waiting to be able to level these characterful properties and throw up more homogeneous, glass sky scrapers.

Sadly it has a air of slow and inevitable decay, as is evidenced by the lone three story walk-up houses that are still standing defiantly even though their neighbours have long been demolished.

35463282_10155407739852353_224458422567829504_n

It is one of a vanishing breed of areas that shows how New York was, back when it was a mecca for anyone with a dream.

A place of opportunity no matter how rich or poor you were. There is little space for penniless dreamers in the Big Apple these days.

With its endless concrete canyons and ever higher towers, New York feels like a place so concerned with rushing to its future that it has no time to appreciate where it has come from.

Long may places like Vinegar Hill stay standing to allow for a nostalgic remembrance of the ordinary people that contributed to NYCs success.

Brooklyn Heights

Heading under the river we head to Brooklyn Heights an affluent residential neighborhood within the New York City borough of Brooklyn.

Originally referred to as Brooklyn Village, it has been a prominent area of Brooklyn since 1834.

The neighborhood is noted for its low-rise architecture and its many brownstone rowhouses, most of them built prior to the Civil War

Brooklyn Heights was the first neighborhood to be protected by the 1965 Landmarks Preservation Law of New York City.

The areas is full of lovely architecture, the mainly typical brownstones that feature in nearly every New York film or TV show.

A typical brownstone rowhouse is three or four stories tall, with the main floor above the street level and is reached by stairs, referred to as a “stoop”, a word derived from Dutch.

35487938_10155407733872353_6982363427284975616_n

Top of the Rock

Our first day in New York is a real tick list of iconic sights. We stop off to check out the famous Radio City onroute to Top of the Rock.

35473222_10155407714947353_5334319703407984640_n

Then we’re up the first of our high rise hotspots – the Top of the Rock and our first glimpse of Manhattan spread out like a concrete blanket beneath us.

The green oblong of Central Park provides a focal point amongst the myriad of grey and glass.

One of the best things about the view from here is that you get to actually see the icon that is the Empire State building within the skyline. When you’re actually up it you can’t see it!

So lots of pictures of the grande dame of the Big Apple – from all angles!

There are three levels to check out at the rock – the first deck includes the Radiance Wall. The second, featuring the Breezeway, is entirely outdoors.

The third observation deck, located on the 70th floor open-air roof deck, is completely outdoors and free of a glass enclosure so gives you uninterrupted views of Manhattan.

Top of the Rock sits on top of the Art Deco 30 Rockefeller Plaza and its upper decks are 850 feet above street level.

The stunning views include some of the city’s most prominent landmarks from the Chrysler Building to the Brooklyn Bridge; from Central Park to the Hudson and East Rivers

The observatory was originally designed to look like the upper decks of a 1930s grand ocean liner and it still retains that feel today.

 

Hitting the High Line

First morning in New York, jet lag is well and truly kicking in so wide awake at 6am and we’re off to the High Line.

The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long elevated park, and was created on a former New York Central railroad spur on the west side of Manhattan.

35544858_10155407706532353_1833333474929410048_n

It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues. At 8am in the morning it is still relatively empty and peaceful.

The High Line is sited on a former elevated train line that was designed to go through the centre of blocks, rather than over the avenue, carrying goods to and from Manhattan’s largest industrial district. But the last train used the line in 1980 before falling into disrepair.

35464485_10155407707007353_6072676168442576896_n

In 1999 the Friends of the High Line is founded by Joshua David and Robert Hammond, residents of the High Line neighborhood, to advocate for the High Line’s preservation and reuse as public open space.

35464492_10155407707217353_1380621854389043200_n

It is now a peaceful, green space that floats above Manhattan’s frantic bustling crowds.

35427424_10155407707752353_4885699425764114432_n

The High Line’s planting is inspired by the self-seeded flowers and trees that grew on the out-of-use elevated rail tracks during the 25 years after trains stopped running.

Sparkling, futuristic glass buildings tower above the serene park – with developers taking advantage of the boom in popularity of the area.

Ironically, what was once a run-down area is now becoming an expensive, sort after area due to the High Line.

The stark difference between the old and new ways are shown explicitly in the architecture above.

The High Line culminates in a stretch along the Hudson River where huge new developments are sprouting to the skies.

Next up we’re heading for our first taste of the neon wilderness that is Times Square!!

Fernsehturm Berlin

As we have a obsessive desire to venture up every tall building that we encounter it is a no brainer that we have to head up the Fernsehturm Berlin TV tower.

Close to Alexanderplatz in Berlin-Mitte, the imposing tower was constructed between 1965-69 by the government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

It was intended to be both a symbol of Communist power and of Berlin.

With its height of 368 metres (including antenna) it is the tallest structure in Germany, and the second-tallest structure in the European Union.

When the sun shines on the Fernsehturm’s tiled stainless steel dome, the reflection usually appears in the form of a cross. Berliners nicknamed the shining cross Rache des Papstes, or the “Pope’s Revenge”.

23167538_10154859216797353_7680881417422433858_n

The very distinctive city landmark has undergone a symbolic transformation.

After German reunification, it changed from a politically charged, national symbol of the GDR into a citywide symbol of a reunited Berlin.

The view from the top of the tower is somewhat hazy but still incredible. The whole of Berlin is laid out beneath you.

After enjoying the bird’s eye views we head to the Berliner Republik.

It’s a type of beer stock market where prices go up and down dependant on demand. Prices are updated on screen in the pub.

Concerts and chow

On-route back to our hotel for food we swing by the impressive Concert hall.

The Konzerthaus Berlin is a concert hall situated on the Gendarmenmarkt square in the central Mitte district of Berlin housing the German orchestra Konzerthausorchester Berlin.

Built as a theatre from 1818 to 1821 under the name of the Schauspielhaus Berlin, later also known as the Theater am Gendarmenmarkt and Komödie, its usage changed to a concert hall after the Second World War.

The Gendarmenmarkt was first built in 1688 as a marketplace and other notable buildings include Französischer Dom (French church) and the Deutscher Dom (German church).

The German church was completely destroyed by fire but was rebuilt and re-opened in 1996 as a museum of German history.

After working up an appetite we held to another tasty restaurant just around the corner from our hotel. La Cantina is a cozy Italian with a homely vibe.