New York

Manhattan 

Now THIS was a serious bucket list visit! Sat in my plane seat, eating incredibly average (but free) plane food, I still couldn't quite believe I was finally going to New York City. To a point it felt a little like meeting someone famous that you've admired for years. On the airtrain travelling out of JFK airport the reality of being here hits you with the World Trade Centre standing above the rest of the city in the distance.

We were staying in Manhattan, a 20 minute walk from Central Park which we spent our first few hours walking around; a pretty perfect introduction to the city. A short walk away we headed to Patsy's Pizzeria for a 17" pepperoni pizza and finished the first day off by visiting the Dakota Apartments to see where one of the greatest songwriters had his life taken away.

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The Blizzard

We fell pretty lucky while we were here having sun everyday, apart from one unexpected snow storm! Now don't get me wrong ideal city weather is surely springtime sun, but the unexpected blizzard was something else. It was pretty hard work walking around with the snow never easing up, but it was amazing to see the city in the snow, particularly Times Square.

After people watching in Times Square, suitably soaked, we made our way towards the World Trade Centre for the 9/11 Memorial Museum to dry off. The museum is a lot to take onboard, It moved me, shocked me and inspired me. To visit a museum located on the actual site where such heroism amongst tragedy took place hits you in a huge way, I'll never forget my visit to Ground Zero.

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The next day the blizzard had cleared, though the ice cold breeze seemed to be sticking around. But now we could really get to grips with the city and tick off some destinations without a mouth full of snow, starting with the Stanton Island ferry which is by far one of the best ways to see the city skyline from a far, about a 50 minute round trip, and all for free!

Next up was Greenwich Village; a great area of New York to get lost in. The tightly packed houses, streets lined with trees, cool little music venues and bars and the Friends apartment building, when can I move in? Things start to feel a little more relaxed and less city-like in Greenwich. To finish off a day of immense walking we treked along the High Line, a former railroad line turned elevated park which winds you through the urban architecture of Manhattan.

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For me, the highlight of our trip had to be a view of the city from up high, well, it was for me (Daisy, not so much).  It was incredible to see the city skyline at the Top of the Rock just as the glow of sunset started to creep in. The perfect moment to stand back, finally put my camera away and reflect on our first and hopefully not last trip to NYC.

Happy 30th Birthday Daisy!

       

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Lindos

arrival in Rhodes

Landing just in time to see the sunset was a welcome start to our week in Greece, but that feeling was short lived as I soon realised I would be driving on the other side of the road for the first time; for an hours journey in an unfamiliar place, in the dark and in a Panda. But after some questionable driving from the locals we found our apartment in Lindos and immediately went in search of some late night souvlaki!

Waking up on our first morning was a nice change from our normal city-break routine of up as early as possible to walk miles around a city all day. As exciting as a city break is, after 4 and a half years together Daisy and I have never been on a beach holiday together. So this weeks main focus was to relax by the pool and beach in 30 degree sunshine and sample much local gyros. Yes, I think we can handle that.

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st Paul's bay

St Paul's was by far my favourite beach that we visited and being a short walk away from our apartment and it all being downhill made getting up early not too painful so we could catch a front row sunbed. Be warned though, the trek back uphill from the beach in the blazing sun will require some effort! The bay is located in a beautiful cove with the clearest water right next to Lindos town and has two beaches directly opposite each other. The best way to get from one beach to another you ask? In my opinion a 10 minute swim from one side of the cove to the other will do it! The water is calm, warm, refreshing and when you've worked up an appetite, some food at Tambakio will do the trick!

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lindos town & rooftop dining

As you descend from the hills the sight of Lindos imbedded into the hillside and the Acropolis is pretty special. Arriving in the centre of the town along the cobbled paths, the streets begin to narrow as you sink into this amazing town surrounded by a maze of white walls, I'd never experienced a place like this before and at some points started to feel a little like a movie set. We ate at a restaurant called Dionysos a couple of times during the week which was just incredible, but anywhere you decide to eat in the evening will pretty much end up with you dining on the rooftops, which with the warm air drifting over the town and the sunset glow over Lindos beach is far from an awful experience!

"The Greeks can't do enough for you", "the food is incredible", "the landscape and beaches are stunning"...... These are the sorts of comments I received from people who knew we were heading out to Greece and I really struggle to disagree with anyone of them.  So, if you're already planning your 2018 holiday, I highly recommend a visit to Lindos.

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Goodwood Festival of Speed

CHILDHOOD OBSESSION

For me, as a child it was never about football, cricket or rugby, although I did try very hard to pretend I did enjoy football, so hard in fact I even joined a Sunday team! For whatever reason anything with wheels puts a massive grin on my face. I think my first motorsport memory is of my Dad taking me to see the RAC rally in Sherwood Forest in the 90's, closely followed by several British Touring Car races at Donington Park and the obsession and passion for all things racing grew from there.

Since then I've had the pleasure of going to many motorsport events across the country including the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Thankfully and finally this was the year I got to tick another biggy off the list - hello glorious Goodwood!

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 Valtteri Bottas - 2014 Mercedes F1 W05 Hybrid

Valtteri Bottas - 2014 Mercedes F1 W05 Hybrid

THE HILL CLIMB

So what is Goodwood? Basically, the majority of all motorsport disciplines from around the world and car manufacturers showcase cars from past, present and future in one place. All of this fuel driven fun has happened in the grounds of Lord March's estate since he founded the event in 1993 to bring motor racing back to Goodwood.

The Goodwood House driveway plays host to the famous hill climb and throughout the day you'll see cars and bikes from the racing world roar up through the grounds sliding sideways and donuting their way to the top to really put a smile on the fans faces. As someone who has watched some of these classic racers on TV as a child it was pretty insane to see them in real life. Nigel Mansell's iconic championship winning Williams FW14B from 1992 which hadn't run since the final race of that season in Austraila was my absolute highlight!

Then late Sunday afternoon the hillclimb becomes a timed event where the drivers taking park really get their foot down to be crowned hill climb champ of the year!

 1993 Benetton Ford B193

1993 Benetton Ford B193

 1962 Ferrari 156 F1

1962 Ferrari 156 F1

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 Chris MacAllister - Lotus 49

Chris MacAllister - Lotus 49

 Karun Chandhok - 1992 Williams Renault FW14B

Karun Chandhok - 1992 Williams Renault FW14B

HOUSE & PADDOCK

Over at the front of Goodwood House you'll find a huge display honouring a different car manufacture each year. This year was the first time the display not only honoured a manufacture, but the career of ex F1 CEO, Bernie Ecclestone. The sculpture represents the 5 stages of his career that Goodwood describes as racer, manager, team owner, impresario and legend. A pretty impressive sight don't you think?

Behind the house is the paddock where you can get super close to all the cars and bikes being prepared ready to take part in the hill climb. The access to cars and drivers really is incredible and something Goodwood wins hands down over most motorsport events. We only managed to see racing legend Jackie Stewart while we were there but if you time it right you can see many famous faces from the racing world!

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 1973 Tyrrell Ford 006

1973 Tyrrell Ford 006

 1929 Morgan Super Aero

1929 Morgan Super Aero

 1969 MV Agusta 500

1969 MV Agusta 500

 1954 Lancia Ferrari D50

1954 Lancia Ferrari D50

All major car manufacturers have huge stands at Goodwood to tempt you in to have a sit in a beautiful Porsche or Jaguar and even have mini tracks to take you for a quick joy ride so you instantly fall in love and slap your credit card on the table to order one! But then I remember I'm not rich, put my credit card away and take a brochure...... you know, just incase.

A quick visit to the ferris wheel to see the festival from up high and the day was done. The only disappointment is that it's taken me so long to experience Goodwood. If you have any interest in loud cars, bikes or any type motorsport you will be right at home at this very impressive event!

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Barcelona

STAG IN THE CITY

Floating around at the top of my places to visit list for a while now has been Barcelona. A very good friend of mine, John is getting married this year, so of course a stag due destination had to be chosen, somewhere with everything under one roof. Barcelona had been thrown into the ring and seemed pretty popular with everyone, after we realised the original location of Bratislava would be a little cold to say the least. Of course, the normal stag due objective is to take on as much beer as possible, but why not take in some culture as well?

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After an early morning flight and a questionable airport taxi ride which came close to us being parked in the boot of a Honda Civic we made it in one piece to our apartment. The apartment was perfect for the weekend and located in the Sants area of Barcelona, complete with 6 bedrooms, 1 long dining table (which would prove to be very useful for Friday night beer pong) and 3 balconies over looking the beautiful city streets with stunning architecture to accompany. We were quite a walk away from the city centre, but with a metro station a few minutes walk away nothing in the city was too far away.

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UP AND AT 'EM

With sore heads all round from our first night exploring the local bars, it was time to get out into the Spanish sun and walk further into the city to see what it had to offer. We made our way towards the Placa d'Espanya square, about a 10-minute walk from our apartment, which was a pretty impressive sight, especially from the top of the Arenas de Barcelona, an old bullfighting arena closed in 1977 which has been turned into a shopping centre complete with a viewing platform for incredible views of the city - well worth the 1 euro and sweaty lift ride.

Our next stop was the infamous La Sagarada Familia, starting its construction in 1882 and still ongoing to the present day. The scale of the cathedral's enormous structure hits you immediately as you exit the metro station directly outside, along with the surrounding Spanish streets and beautiful parks, an absolutely stunning area of Barcelona.

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Our final day started pretty early as commentary over loud speakers and spectator cheers from a cycling race on our apartment doorstep acted as our alarm clock. But as home time was just around the corner we made our way to Castell de Montjuic via cable car. Once a military fortress, now a museum, it's located high on top of Montjuic Hill in Barcelona. If the museum isn't quite your thing, I guarantee the view will be. An incredible view of the beautiful city and docks are impressive to say the least.

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I guess it's a little stereotypical to think of major cities as dirty, crowed, and full of people that need to turn that frown upside down. But Barcelona had thankfully shown me this was certainly not that case. The streets are spotless, the people can't do enough for you and it was a superb place to spend a long weekend.

 

John's brother had a huge task in booking this trip, including the accommodation and flights for 14 lads so the potential for it all to go completely wrong was massive but Dave did an insane job and got everything right. A massive thank you to him, John and all the lads that made this incredible trip what it was. I now cannot wait for the day I see two good friends tie the knot and finally become Mr & Mrs Timson, here's to the happy couple!

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