Ode to Kate

On the eve before a certain Kate marries her prince, it was in fact another Kate that was spoken about in excited tones between friends over last weekend’s Easter lunch. In between caramelised poached apples and cheese souffle; conversation had digressed to the treasure trove of online shopping and all of its rewards and bargains to be had. Different websites were tossed about as we spoke about the availability of international brands and shipping costs to us down under and I informed the others about my weekly activities of hopping onto the likes of shopbop, asos or net-a-porter for a fashionista fix that is unlike anything I can tap into locally. Never one for falling in line with high street fashion, I love trawling through these websites to view the alternative.

Recently for a close girlfriend’s birthday; I volunteered to source the perfect present. After much trawling; both online and in-store, I came back to the Kate which was discussed at Easter. This Kate is fashion-forward without being too on-trend. She can be described in many ways but to me; she is bold and colourful, yet always remains classic and elegant and consistently sits on top of my wishlist as an ongoing love. This Kate is Kate Spade. Still not readily available in Australia and with only a small selection popping up in Pink Zebra, David Jones and Papier D’Amour; Kate Spade is quintessentially New York.

The present I eventually found on Nordstrom’s website suited my girlfriend’s tastes down to a tee. It is a clutch that has a “Read all about it” feel to it as it largely resembles Saturday’s rolled up newspaper; yet has full functionality to store all of one’s needs for a night out painting the town red. I fell in love with it the moment I came across it and almost didn’t wrap it up and hand it over! So as one Kate will soon have all eyes on her as she says “I do”, I dedicate this post to the other Kate; Kate Spade ~ who just happens to be yet another love of mine that I simply wanted to share with you.

Published in: on April 28, 2011 at 4:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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Live like a local in Manhattan

42 West 69 Street, Apt.4B.

An old Brownstone of four levels complete with the quirky ground-floor neighbour who left his front door slightly ajar with a sign attached to the doorknob completely visible to all tenants “I’m watching you and you’re not welcome”. Great first impression when I moved in.

But that was my address. And for six lovely, jam-packed days I lived like a local in Manhattan; upper west side, one block from the park. I even had a rare rooftop garden where I ate fresh bagels with philly and jam most mornings. It’s almost been three years since my passport was stamped at JFK yet memories of a city like New York are hard to shake off and forget.

Accommodation on any holiday be it backpacker, 5-star Westin or staying on the couch with your long-lost great aunt is a necessary spend. For some, it’s difficult to justify spending copious amounts on accommodation as more often than not, you’re not even in the room for long periods and it becomes a place just to sleep. Others want the options of room service, in-house dry cleaning, an on-call concierge and the bed turned down and are prepared to pay for it. For me, it was somewhere in between. But finding accommodation that’s nice accommodation which doesn’t resemble a 1m x 1m shoebox is hard to find in Manhattan. Back then, it was hard to pay less than US$350 a night and that wasn’t even four stars.

Perusing in a book store holed up in the travel section, I was flicking through one of those Fodors-Lonely Planet books and came across the following lines of if you’re game, up for a new experience and not a Holiday Inn type where continental breakfast is an essential visit www.affordablenewyorkcity.com.

Enter my experience quite similar to the movie The Holiday where Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet’s characters go for a holiday in someone else’s home. While I wasn’t exchanging my home with someone else, that in essence was the experience this site was offering. I entered my dates and choice for a 1 bedroom place, please. I looked at Downtown, Upper West side, Times Square, Greenwich, SoHo and Meatpacker’s District. Places looked homely, quirky, minimalistic and hoarder-central but very livable. Prices were affordable ranging from $150 – 280 per night for my specific preferences. My search narrowed down to two potential places and I started emailing back and forth with a Kelsey who I imagined was somewhere in Manhattan answering my constant questions. The process was seamless and easy. I made my choice quickly, going with an Upper West side place with close proximity to the park over a SoHo pad and the price of $180 per night was quite unbelievable. Kelsey emailed me a detailed information pack on 42 West 69 Street, Apt.4B. The owner was an ex-editor of a major home decorating interiors magazine who had furnished her home with a combination of modern and antiques and the photos showed a clean, comfortable and central home. The deposit was sent, the balance paid on arrival and in my hot little hands were the keys to my first Manhattan address.

Now don’t get me wrong as I am the first to admit I am the type of person to use the little hotel shampoos and put the white terry towelling robe and matching slippers on after I arrive at a hotel so I was not expecting there to be any of the niceties when I arrived at the apartment. So it was to my surprise when I found one basket of tea and coffee, sugar, biscuits, chips and other snacks and another basket full of local maps, walking trails, current Time Out and New Yorker magazines and the essential Zagat guide. There was fresh milk in the fridge, neatly folded towels and soap on the bed and a gorgeous note from the owner explaining everything else.

The six days went by quickly and I covered all of the usual suspects one goes to in New York and in the end it was the discovery of a completely random and unexpected one as I loved the simple feeling of being a temporary local and having a home to go home to in a city like Manhattan.

Published in: on March 25, 2010 at 8:32 am  Comments (1)  
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