As I am sure I have mentioned before, I enjoy travelling to see new cities. In my late 40s I had challenged myself that every birthday I would celebrate by going somewhere that is on ‘the list’. It started out as a rather informal list, but then firmed up a bit as I put my mind to it.
So a few months ago I decided to have a trip to Europe with my mate David, and a family holiday to somewhere my daughter Charlotte has long wanted to go to – New York.
The three nights in Europe were discussed, and David had a good idea (he occasionally has these!). He had been to the Alsace region of France before, in fact a few times, and was immensely impressed.
So we got on the internet, and before long sergeant major David had come up with the whole itinerary. As he lives in Ashford on the Euro train route, we decided to get the train to Paris, and then on the TGV to Strasbourg. We could have simply based ourselves there for the 3 nights, but on David’s recommendation we travelled on just 50 miles south to Colmar.
A very good choice!
The town is truly lovely, and like Strasbourg, had never suffered bombing, as this part of France is next door to Germany so their army simply walked in. Both Colmar and Strasbourg have significant medieval quarters and were simply stunning to walk around.
And then there was the weather!
It was absolutely amazing. It averaged 19c and we hardly saw a cloud. This was perfect for sightseeing, and the trains were comfortable and inexpensive.
In Colmar our modest hotel was fine and just a few minutes’ walk from the centre, which had plenty of good bars and restaurants.
We also decided to visit Germany (I had never been) by train, as Baden Baden is only 50 minutes away from Colmar.
Another beautiful place!
Altogether it was an excellent experience, and when back in the UK I met up with come long standing clients – perfect!.
Soon enough, Easter arrived and the trip to New York.
Charlotte was really looking forward to visiting the USA as she had seen a lot of it on TV but had never been. We had only been to Florida before, and had been told by those who knew NY that it was an incredible place.
Well that’s certainly true!
We arrived mid-afternoon on the Wednesday, and had our first experience of a NY taxi (one of those big yellow cabs) to Manhattan from JFK airport.
Apart from the erratic driving, iffy suspension and strong smell of petrol, all was well!
Essentially we had three and a half days to explore, and just like every other city, we went for the bus tour straight away. There are three tours; Downtown, which has Wall Street and the ferries; Uptown, which has Central Park & Harlem; and Brooklyn. We chose Downtown to start, and off we went.
And guess what? The weather was 19c and very sunny!
We were extremely lucky.
The tour was great and the open top bus enabled you to see the sights clearly, although the overhanging traffic lights threatened to take your head off if you stood up!
Over the next few days we saw most of the major sights that are recommended, including the revolving restaurant/bar on the roof of the Marriot in Times Square. It revolves six degrees a minute, and gave superb nightime views of NY, although the $100 bill for 4 drinks was interesting!
The girls visited Macy’s (which I believe is a shop), whilst I visited Grand Central Station and NY Library.
The Statten Island Ferry was also very good, as well as the tour boat trips which give you a commentary on the history of the area.
The highlight though was undoubtedly going to the Music Box Theatre on Broadway on the Easter Friday night to see the show ‘One Man Two Governor’s’.
The background here was that I had been to see this show in London just a few weeks before. Starring James Cordon, it was an absolute hoot, and I came out with jaw and sides aching.
So you can imagine my surprise and delight when just two weeks before we flew to NY, I learned that this show was transferring to Broadway, and that the opening preview night was the Friday we were there!
I managed to get tickets, and thank goodness I did as we would not have got in if we had left it until we got there.
The show got a standing ovation, led by my wife, and it is now the hottest ticket in town with the critics loving it.
Wow, what a trip!
As I finish this edition of Financial Tips, Ray and I have just returned from another Educational Seminar in London, hosted by Dimensional.
We had been out in Bayswater the previous evening in a pub showing the Barcelona v Chelsea game.
The pub was packed with fans from both sides (very cosmopolitan area) as well as a few neutrals including us and a mad Greek! We found ourselves crammed in beside this guy who shall we say was a bit of a character!
As we started to watch the game we noticed that he was already on the brandy chasers, and then he managed to spill a pint over someone’s jacket. Great start!
However, on getting to know him a bit more, he was great fun and we had one of those evenings which life throws up now and then. An example being that I found myself being very sure at half time that Torres would come on and score in the last few minutes. I promptly announced my prediction to several doubting faces.
The second half started and Barca went at 10 man Chelsea at will. However, the London club battled on and, sure enough, late on Drogba went off and Torres came on.
A cleared punt from a Chelsea defender found Torres with no marker and he sprinted from just within his own half to round the keeper and score!
That put the game beyond doubt – well done Chelsea.
On leaving the Seminar the following day, the rain and wind meant walking to find a taxi wasn’t an attractive option. But my predictive powers held as I looked up the street, and hailed a cab with his light on!
Ray looked at me, and I found myself saying…
Torres & A Taxi!