Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?
*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?
“New York, New York … It is still our favourite song! We listen to it when the Yankees play!”, Charles laughs in the hotel lobby of New York’s prestigious Roosevelt Hotel. Start spreading the news … I am leaving today … I wanna be a part of it, New York, New York. Dear old Frankie, you are by far my favourite haunting melody these days! I wanna wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep … Now sleep really is what’s sparse for me these days. New York is simply much too exciting. “I have a kind of love-hate relationship with the city myself”, fellow New-York-based travel writer Chanel, of CulturalXplorer.com, tells me. “It can be overwhelming at times, but also very inspiring.”
Much rather, my focus is on the people’s stories and their individual highlights. The differences they make. The inspiration they create. It so happens, therefore, that I keep following the very mission of my #CreativElenaRTW creative round the world trip – even, or especially, in a world city such as New York. Food-Touring New York City has been one strong aspect in the design of my visit to New York, exploring Manhattan, Brooklyn and even Bronx’ Little Italy districts! Today, I shall tell you more about what else is there for you to enjoy in the Big Apple, encompassing both personal highlights as well as factual, relevant travel information in order to plan your stay in the city.
Going back to Charles. And Elio. Devon, as it is … You think a hotel with 1.015 rooms is impersonal? Think again. I have not found this to be case one single time around The Roosevelt Hotel here in New York City. Everywhere I went, on any occasion, with only the slightest question and concern, I have felt welcome and taken care of. Charles and the team at the restaurant made for great conversations and happy sharing of travel ideas: “Elena! So which food tour have you been on today? You are a #winelover! That’s excellent! Tell me more!” Elio & Devon have taken me around the building, the historic Roosevelt Hotel really a place to go visiting: “Many film sets have taken place here. Jennifer Lopez would have rushed out that door from the ball room in ‘Maid in Manhattan’. We also have lots of weddings & conferences here, as well as a great rooftop terrace bar. You wanna see it?” Let me tell you what I saw – most beautiful vistas of Central Manhattan, that is!
“I am happy to put you in touch with dear chef Francisco, of Burger Bound in Newark, for you to explore the Portuguese food scene while in New York”, Sonia Nolasco tells me upon my last visit to Porto earlier this year. My love affair with Portugal, the people, the food, the country, the language, still on a high, I immediately agree to my friend’s proposition. There are about 75.000 (!) Portuguese in this part of New Jersey, only about 20 minutes by train from downtown Manhattan. I end up feeling entirely welcome and “home” here thanks to the warmth & heartful soul of the beautiful Portuguese people, speaking Portuguese all night, sharing travel stories from Portugal and of course hanging out with Francisco Rosa, who at his “Burger Bound” restaurant has reinvented American burger cuisine with a (Portuguese) twist, serving me fries complete with parmesan & truffle oil, as well as delightful bolos de bacalhão … oh I could go on. (If you want me to, read more about Portugal here!).
Would you believe this? “Well, we are a winery … but we actually do not have a vineyard. We are right inside New York City, as you can see, so …!”, Brian smiles, amused at our puzzled faces. I must admit that I have never heard about urban winemaking, let alone ever been to an urban winery such as this one here at Brooklyn Winery. “All our grapes come from three different locations in Upstate New York, California as well as Long Island in New York”, local owner Brian explains, with the annual volume of production reaching up to 80.000 litres. “We are neither very big nor very small, a good-enough size I believe given the market we serve. All our grapes come here in perfect conditions, even from across the States, to be processed, stored and bottled here. To ‘harvest’ the urban environment we are in, we have also developed an event location, bar & restaurant popular with company events, weddings, and many more.” Interesting, to say the least. I can tell my new friend & fellow travel writer Chanel, the “CulturalXplorer”, is as much intrigued as I am. Together, we have come to this part of Brooklyn, New York, to take a closer at what makes wine in urban spaces – true #winelover that we both are!
Last but not least, I would like to share two amazing #foodlover tips with you! One of them is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, at a place called Magnolia Bakery where they let you try your own hands at a “short icing demo”, creating your unique souvenir cupcake in the wake of this creative travel activity. It gets even tastier once we spread out to a whole meal & cooking class, such as the one I took with Jennifer’s Home Cooking New York. Now this is quite an unbelievable story, and I do say that the angels are probably smiling right now … I so happen to be “On The 6” (like Jennifer Lopez!) on my very first day of being in New York City, turning around to ask a charming lady for directions. This charming lady, of course, happens to be the very Jennifer we are talking about. She asks me, “Well, where are you going?” – “Oh, I am scheduled to go on a Food Tour in Brooklyn with Urban Oyster Tours … I need to change here at this subway station, I am told – is that correct?” – “Yes, that’s perfectly fine. So hang on a minute, that is interesting: I run a cooking school here in New York City and we have a Thanksgiving Cooking Class scheduled to take place on … Monday, next Monday! Would you like to come?!”
YES OF COURSE! I cannot believe how lucky I am. A Thanksgiving cooking class! The very thing, THE cultural highlight & holiday meal on every American’s annual family calendar. And I am here to learn. And share. And pass on the inspiration through my travel blog, book writing & Social Media channels … so there you go. You have all made me, very happy here in New York City! Creative Travel at its best. 😀
Check out even more #foodlover travel pics from New York City on my Flickr Photo Gallery:
Disclaimer: Thank you to all our partners & travel destinations who have partly or fully supported us on this creative-culinary research trip in New York City. All opinions are my own.