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Ventana - An Enchanting Resort in BIg Sur

Summary: I love Ventana. I highly recommend visiting  and exploring the landscape at Lime Kiln and Andrew Molera State Park which I've blogged about here. Please note this is #notsponsored . Yes, that means we paid our own bill! Lots of details in the following review. including a Post Ranch vs Ventana comparison.  Can you tell there's something exciting beyond this beautiful gate? There's something special about Big Sur, a magic in the light, the presence of the Pacific, the cliffs, beaches, redwood forests and the murmur of the surf. It's one of my favorite places in California. I couldn't think of anywhere else I wanted to be to celebrate turning fifty, because it's a place where there's a sense of nature, space and light and a wide horizon. We've been to Big Sur many times and for a celebration there are two fantastic hotels vying for your attention. The exclusive, modern and very private, cliff top Post Ranch Inn and on the other side of the road the …

New York State of Mind - Planning Our Trip


I've been home a couple of months and I'm  reaching the place I always get to,  I'm still talking about the last destination  (London) and in the face of an upcoming trip, I'm losing my enthusiasm  for blogging about it So, instead of finishing up my London posts, and  moving on chronologically  to tell you all about Helsinki and Berlin  - which we visited in July, I'm going to make a brief detour to the present and talk about what's exciting me right now. Wow, what a radical idea, blogging in real time!

We're off to New York where once again Sabbatical Homes has come through with an apartment rental. This time we're renting from a Professor of Art who has a great place in Chelsea. It took a while to sort out all the paperwork but she has been very pleasant to deal with and we're excited to stay in her lovely flat. As I've discussed before, we rent our  own home via Sabbatical Homes when we travel too and this time we're renting to a  Brazilian couple - who are coming with their baby and dog! I really hope they enjoy our house, essentially you want all of these "share economy" rentals to be a win/win. 

We'll be in Chelsea for six weeks between mid-November and the end of December and I'm really excited about it. After New York we're heading to Colombia which I've discussed here. This will be the longest time we've spent in New York and it feels like a great luxury to have a little more time to get to know the city.

As I did in Paris and London, I'm prepping with The Great Courses. This time I'm watching a course on the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is part of their Museum Masterpieces series which I also used to get to know the Louvre. I love the Met which is perhaps the most comprehensive world museum and I've been a member for years, but I'm looking forward to deepening my knowledge of the collection and hopefully sharing it with you on the blog. Normally we're in New York visiting family so though I go to the museums, I don't tend to think of it as a "trip" and it seldom makes its way here.  
Here's  familiar view of the model boat lake in Central Park from our last trip to new York in August.

So here's my wish list for New York, which is similar to one I put together for London.I love writing down my goals which give me a framework for the trip and it's fun to reread when you get home to see what you managed to do.

Here's what I'm excited about:

1) Deepening my Knowledge of Museums. As I mentioned above I know and love the Met, as well as the MOMA and the Frick,  but I want to explore the areas of the museums don't know well. I've been to the Met many times, but there is so much more I'd like to see there. I'm also hoping to take advantage of some member benefits, like the early member hours at MOMA (hopefully I'll get to see the Picasso Sculpture show without huge crowds) and to take some of the free tours of the collections as I did at the British Museum.
2) Exploring Smaller Museums and Historic Sites. Even though I've been to New York many times there are so many gems I haven't visited. Many thanks to the kind folks over at Fodors who have been giving me suggestions on this forum thread. Here are some of the places on the list;  the Rubin Museum, the Jewish Museum, the Tenement Museum, the new Whitney, the Noguchi Museum,  St John the Divine, the Brooklyn Museum, MOMA PS1, Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space, Ellis Island, Museum of the Moving Image, The Public Library,  Louis Armstrong House, the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, the Neue Gallery, the Merchant House Museum, Morris-Jumel Mansion, Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, Museum of Chinese in America, Museum of Art and Design and the Woolworth building .
3) Walking the City. When we were in London I spent  three months walking everywhere and once again I've bought too many walking guides. I haven't downloaded any apps yet but it's on my list!  I'm hoping to take a  couple of walks with the Municipal Art Society who run a really interesting series of walks all over the city. Here's one that sounds interesting, "Shuls of Grandeur on the Lower East Side".
4Reconnecting with Friends and Family. What fun, we're even hosting Thanksgiving! I'm also hoping to meet up with some people I've met online.
5) Getting to Know Chelsea and the surrounding neighborhoods.  My father-in-law lived in New York and   I know his old neighborhood in the Upper West Side quite well, but I don't know downtown. A few years ago we stayed at The Nolitan and it was great to get to know a new neighborhood. I've been to Chelsea often enough but I don't know it well. I'm looking forward to having the time to explore the galleries as well as the restaurants and public spaces.
6) Food. I've always been a fan of an affordable lunch at a fabulous restaurant and hopefully we'll have time to explore some of these. Jean Georges does a reasonable lunch which I want to check out. I'm particularly looking forward to exploring  some of the ethnic food in New York including heading out to Queens for Chinese food.
7) Theatre. If you follow the blog you may know we're crazy about theatre, so we're very excited to spend time in NY. The only issue is that in contrast to London (and particularly places like their National Theatre) Broadway is much more expensive.So here's the plan, we'll focus on Off and Off Off Broadway productions. I've joined the Theatre Development Fund as a National member, details of whether you might qualify here. This allows you to buy tickets online for a reduced fee, as low as $9 for Off Off Broadway productions. I'm also going to explore the TKTS booth in South Street Seaport, there's no way I want to deal with the crowds in Time Square, and we're going to look into the the Today Tix app and the seat lotteries run by many of the popular shows. As always we'll be checking Broadwayabox.com for discounts before buying.
We're not musical theater fans so we're looking for traditional , contemporary or experimental theatre fare, anything engaging really. I've bought stage seats for  Arthur Miller's View from the Bridge, it's a well reviewed London production from the Young Vic which is transferring to New York. These $50 preview tickets go up to $130 a day later, crazy! Don't get me started on "premium seating"! 
8) Conquering the Subway. When I take the subway, the truth is I just trail after D. I have no difficulty using the Tube in London, or the Metro in Paris, but I find the NY subway much harder to negotiate.There are locals and expresses and different lines have numbers. People who understand it, think you're a fool if you don't get it, but I don't find it intuitive at all. However, on this trip I'm hoping to crack the code and conquer the subway. I want to try the buses too! As usual I'll be relying on my favorite public transport app City Mapper. 
9) Keeping Up. I probably won't be blogging in real time (I still need to finish up my posts on Berlin and Helsinki) but I will be posting on Instagram where you can follow along. I'll probably write an ongoing trip report  on Fodors.

A view of Lincoln Center at night, again from our last trip to the city.


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