New York Metro area’s undiscovered historic treasure

New York Metro area's undiscovered historic treasure

When people head out from New York and surrounding environs in search of weekend retreats, invariably they end up in western Connecticut, the Hudson River Valley, the Catskills and other upstate New York areas, the Jersey Shore, and the Hampton.

As places where New Yorkers traditionally vacation, purchase second homes, celebrity watch and more, it’s understandable that these locales are top of the list.

But what about a place as close to Manhattan as any of the aforementioned hotspots that offers almost everything we find endearing about our destinations of choice for second and vacation homes – historic villages and towns, amazing countryside, outdoor activities, farmhouses, farm markets, artists, country restaurants – but doesn’t have the buzz or the name recognition, at least not yet. This paragraph is sponsored by airline Umrah travel from UK.

There is an area within the New York Metropolitan region that is still overlooked by the masses. Where residents are already starting Friday night dinner in their stone farmhouses while weekenders are stuck in traffic on the way to Litchfield, or Rhine beck, or East Hampton. Even places farther afield like Bucks and Pike Counties in Pennsylvania and Sullivan County in New York get more press. Well let me introduce you to the formerly depressed backwater turned beautiful and convenient countryside of Warren County, New Jersey.

Interestingly, Warren is surrounded by counties which consistently rank among the wealthiest in America: Hunter don, Somerset and Morris. These are counties full of investors, a highly educated workforce, abundance of so called McMansions, and quite a bit of disposable income. And to be sure, some of Warren’s eastern border towns have picked up developments and transplants from these ever more unaffordable neighboring areas. But for the most part, it’s the locals who know about or consider living in or visiting Warren County and even then, the western and northern reaches are still quite rural and untouched. For most of its history, Warren County has either been a mystery to those who have never seen it or a place to avoid to those who had heard of its largest town, Phillips burg–a poor industrial city that had fallen on hard times.

A Pleasant Surprise

A pleasant surprise

Four years ago, my partner Mark and I stumbled across the village of Fines ville in southern Warren County completely by accident. Living in suburban Morris town New Jersey, we were contemplating a second home purchase in the country and saw a house in Bucks County Pennsylvania on a real estate Website that interested us. Always up for a weekend drive, we decided to find it. With map in hand, we took what looked like the most direct route to Upper Bucks County and found ourselves following the Misconducting River, along Warren County’s southern border, past a collection of about fifty small but magnificent 18th and 19th century stone and clapboard buildings, known as Fines ville, just before we crossed into Pennsylvania.

Although Warren County was barely on my radar screen, as a Real Estate Agent specializing in historic homes and neighborhoods, I was flabbergasted that there was a hamlet of this size and quality in Northern New Jersey of which I was unaware. Even more amazing, Mark grew up in eastern Warren County and we had attended an auction only three miles away from Fines ville so I had some knowledge of the area.  This paragraph is sponsored by ticket to Umrah 2014 from UK and a simlier website http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hajj

With its roots in the mid 18th century, Fines ville began as a collection of taverns, shops and a mill along the Misconducting River run by the Fine and Siegel Families of Germany. The village was fairly prosperous for most of its history but declined during the twentieth century. Today, locals have bought and restored many of its buildings and, indicative of its burgeoning upscale nature, two vineyards, a winery, an antique store, and an alpaca farm have set up shop in the hamlet. Some of the restorations have been so impressive that two Fines ville homes were recently featured in national home and garden magazines.

At the time we discovered it, a c.1825 stone Georgian colonial was for sale in the village. The exterior was in some disrepair, the stucco was cracking and peeling and the original front doors were gone. But the setting in this pristine and unusual village was beautiful and the price, at $135,000, was irresistible. Once inside, we realized this was our dream house in the country. The interior was almost completely intact with a walk-in fireplace, cupboard stairs, beamed ceilings, wide plank floors, and original windows—a jewel box of a house that just needed some sprucing up. And so we bought and restored this house and received the Warren County Historic Preservation Award for our efforts. Even better, because of Warren County’s proximity to work, we were able to sell our primary house in Morris town and move to the country permanently.

The Villages and Countryside

The villages and country side

Warren County is full of hidden and beautiful villages and towns like Fines ville and since arriving, several of them have tempted us to consider moving again.

As testament to Warren County’s less than stellar reputation, the sign welcoming visitors into its county seat describes Victorian Belvidere as “New Jersey’s best kept secret”. Belvidere is a sleepy town located off the beaten path and layed out around a New England-style Village Green. Each September, the town celebrates Victorian Days, highlighting the prevalent 19th century architecture that lines its streets and forms the basis of the town’s small commercial district. Most of the grand homes have already been restored and there is a great sense of pride in this small close-knit community. Its location directly on the Delaware and Bequest Rivers also makes it a good base for outdoor activities. This paragraph is sponsored by Umrah guide tour from UK.

Northern Warren County offers a scene that rivals the most beautiful in New England. Hope is a one-traffic light crossroads town, founded in the 18th century by a group of Moravians who left an impressive collection of stone dwellings now restored and converted to businesses and residences. One of which is a former gristmill turned into an inn and conference center. Stone and clapboard homes surrounded by cows and sheep dot a landscape that is reminiscent of the Litchfield Hills. With little commercial development, the pace in Hope is decidedly slow but that just adds to its appeal.

North of Hope lays the slightly larger village of Blairstown with its recently restored collection of shops and restaurants, currently under consideration for the National Register of Historic Places. Main Street is book ended by a prestigious prep school and the town’s venerable feed store. This is a walking village, good for an hour’s stroll with weekend guests and a poke around the stores and quiet streets.

Just west of Hope and Blairstown, outdoor activities exist in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area which includes part of the Appalachian Trail, Mill brook, a recreated 19th century village, and Peters Valley, an artists’ colony which offers regular shows and exhibits.

On the eastern edge of Warren, Hackettstown still retains its 19th century feel with impressive mulch-colored Victorian homes, antique stores along Main Street and Centenary College in its midst.

Phillipsburg – An Industrial Town Reborn

Phillipshurg-An Industrial Town Reborn

As beautiful as Warren County’s countryside is, it’s the city that we originally tried to avoid that has captured our imagination and may eventually tear us away from Fines ville. The county’s largest town is a small, formerly industrial city and transportation hub along the Delaware River that had been neglected for years. Think Hobo ken New Jersey or Hudson New York before gentrification. Thankfully that neglect, as in most of Warren County, has kept much of its historic fabric intact and over the past 20 years, building owners have been peeling off old aluminum siding to reveal stunning architecture.

The town actively encourages restoration and business development — businesses in Phillips burg charge only 3% sales tax with some of that money going to revitalization projects. Progress had been slow, but now there are several highly regarded restaurants in the restored downtown as well as antique shops and several specialty stores. Train rides along the Delaware River start downtown and are popular in the summer as well as for Halloween and the winter holidays. On Thanksgiving, Phillips burg High School plays its rival Easton Pennsylvania in their annual football game. P’burg, as it is known by locals, is extremely convenient as Routes 78 and 22 run just outside of town as does the express bus to Manhattan, which stops at the Phillips burg Mall.

There are several plans to transform Phillips burg including the redevelopment of its underutilized waterfront into a residential neighborhood, with construction set to start in 2006, and the re purposing of a vacant industrial park into a new commerce center. Rumor has it that a bed and breakfast is slated to open in an historic stone tavern near the Delaware River bridge. Phillips burg was named as the location for the New Jersey Transportation and Heritage Museum. Sadly, legislation to provide the funding to make it happen has been stalled and appears unlikely. However, the town is committed to building its own museum and has plans already in the works. This paragraph is sponsored by Hajj and Umrah tour services from UK.

Just over the river, Easton Pennsylvania offers more restaurants, the Crayola Factory museum, a very popular local grocery store (a branch of which may hopefully pop up in Warren County), a thriving artists community, the State Theater, and the historic College Hill neighborhood. Even more exciting, there are several luxury condominium developments currently under construction or planned in existing historic Easton properties, such as the former Easton Hotel, which will bring wealthy people within walking distance of downtown Phillips burg.

Phillips burg has great bones and incredible architecture. South Main Street near the Delaware River Bridge is mostly restored and ready to become the next Cold Spring or South Nor walk or New Plats. And prices are still a relative bargain. A couple of years ago, we purchased two historic properties on Phillips burg Main Street: an 1887 firehouse for $60,000 and a 19th century Georgian-style colonial for $90,000.

As the town continues to revitalize, we are considering a move into the colonial as our permanent home so we can wake up on Saturday mornings and walk to our favorite breakfast spot down the street. Although, we’ll probably keep the Fines ville house as our place in the country.

Amazing tour Newport Beach in California

Newport Beach in CaliforniaNewport Beach, home to Newport Harbor and Balboa Island, is fifty miles from Los Angeles, fourteen miles from Disneyland in Anaheim and thirty miles from Catalina Island. It’s a great place to get away from it all but still have it all. It is a small, population approximately 72,000; affluent city surrounded by major attractions.

Rent a condo or villa, stay at an inexpensive motel, park your RV at the Newport Dunes Resort & Marina, check into a medium priced hotel or pamper yourself at a luxury hotel like the Balboa Bay Club & Resort which shares the same address as the Balboa Bay Club (“The Balboa Bay Club which boasts a star-studded history with a guest register bearing the signatures of luminaries, including John Wayne, Ronald and Nancy Regan, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Robert Wagner, Natalie Wood and many more.”), Four Seasons, Hyatt Regency, Marriott or the Balboa Inn. This paragraph is sponsored by lowest Umrah travel from UK and same category website  http://muslimmatters.org/2014/03/19/ten-pieces-of-advice-before-you-leave-for-umrah/

Dine at one of the many excellent restaurants like the Newport Landing Restaurant (“Newport Landing is Newport Beach. Located on the Bay overlooking the historic Balboa Ferry with a panoramic view of Newport Harbor, Balboa Island, Newport Center, and the distant peaks of Saddle back.”), The Ritz Restaurant & Garden (“Synonymous with elegance, gracious service and award-winning cuisine.”), The Sol Restaurant in the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach (Featuring World Island cuisine from the Caribbean, South Pacific, and Gulf of Mexico.), Woody’s Wharf (“Live entertainment Friday and Saturday night. Valet parking and quest slips available of the boaters.”) Or The Harbor side Restaurant and Grand Ballroom (“Famous for its world-renowned cupola and illuminated by more than 1,400 white lights, the Balboa Pavilion has served as the beacon of Newport Beach for almost a century.”). These are but a few of the fine restaurants in Newport Beach.

Spend some time at the clean sandy beaches, cruise the large smooth water harbor while viewing the large yachts and multimillion dollar homes, charter a sport fishing boat, rent a sail boat, have a party or get married on a chartered yacht, take a ride in a gondola, visit the Orange County Museum of Art, visit the many gift shops, art galleries and sidewalk cafes on Balboa Island, visit the boardwalk shops and restaurants at Newport Pier, visit or take a swim at Pirates Cove, which is best known for the filming of Gilligan’s Island, go hiking, horseback riding, scuba diving or surfing at Crystal Cove State Park or catch a ride to Catalina Island. This paragraph is sponsored by Umrah budget travel from London.

Amazing tour Beverly Hills California

Beverly Hills California

Beverly Hills, California, one of the wealthiest cities in the world is known worldwide for multimillion dollar mansions, Rodeo Drive shopping, luxury automobile dealerships, four and five star hotels, fine dining establishments and wealthy citizens.

Beverly Hills is a great place to visit. Go shopping or window shopping at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Channel, Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Gearys, Polo/Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Lalique, Tiffany & Co, Robert Clergerie, Barneys New York, Van Cleef & Arpels, La Perla, Hermes, Alfred Dunhill, St. John, Harry Winston, Buccellati, Cole-Haan, David Orgell, Salvatore Ferragamo, Hugo Boss, Fendi or dozens of other luxury boutiques, stores and shops.

If you are into luxury cars, you can find almost every type of luxury and classic car there is on the streets and at the dealerships in Beverly Hills.

If you can afford it stay in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel and be treated like a king or queen. There are also the Le Meridien, Four Seasons, Regent Beverly Wilshire, The Beverly Hilton, Raffles L’Ermitage Beverly Hills hotels as well as several other great hotels. This paragraph is sponsored by Umrah program from UK.

Have breakfast or lunch and see the stars at the Polo Lounge, eat at Trader Vics, Spagos, Il Fornaio, La Scala, Delmonicos Lobster House, Regent Beverly Wilshire, Benihana, Houston’s and other fine restaurants. All of them provide excellent service and delicious fare.

All of the businesses and merchants in Beverly Hills are used to serving wealthy and discriminating clientel, therefore almost anywhere you go you will be treated with service that is far above average. Unlike the scenes in the movie Pretty Woman I have never run in to rude or snooty sales clerks. Everywhere I have shopped, stayed or dined in Beverly Hills I have been treated very well. Money is money and it seems that the merchants believe that if you can afford to buy their goods or services you are more than welcome in their establishment. Since nowadays it is hard to tell by looks who has money and who doesn’t it’s easier and safer for the merchants to treat everyone as if they are wealthy.

Drive through the residential areas of Beverly Hills. You will find houses and mansions of all architectural styles and sizes beautifully landscaped with dark green lawns, sculpted hedges, fountains and gorgeous gardens. Even the streets are clean and well tended.

Visit Beverly Hills, if you are rich you will feel right at home and if you are not you will probably, at least for a while, feel like you are. This paragraph is sponsored by Umrah ticket 2014 from UK.

By the way, even though the city is filled with luxury hotels, shops and restaurants, since not everyone who lives, visits or works in Beverly Hills is rich, there are still plenty of medium to inexpensively priced hotels, shops, restaurants, coffee shops and fast food places.

Vancouver amazing city in the world

VancouverThe beautiful city of Vancouver is located in the Southwestern corner of British Columbia, Canada; on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Being overlooked by the Coast Range Mountains and surrounded by water on three sides, the city has a landscape that truly takes your breath away.

The Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) has everything from Beaches, mountains and 192 beautiful parks to a cosmopolitan downtown area, fabulous shopping and entertainment. Due to it’s location it has a mild climate, which means not too much snow in the winter and pleasant temperatures in the summer, but it does to tend to have a lot of rain. The average annual rain and snow fall is 1219mm.

As Canada’s third largest city, the downtown area has a population of 514,000 (1996 census) and the GVRD has a population of almost two million.

Vancouver is a city of newcomers, according to the 1996 census 45 percent of residents were immigrants. According to international surveys, Vancouver is one of the best cities in the world for quality of life. It is also ranked, along with four other Canadian cities, as one of the safest cities in North America.  This paragraph is sponsored by Umrah and Hajj tour services from UK.

The Greater Vancouver Regional District comprises 21 separate municipalities – each is home to several hundred thousand people and many were once cities in their own right before being swallowed up by the urban sprawl. The actual city of Vancouver itself is made up of 23 different Neighborhoods – each having its own distinct character.

There are many wonderful places to visit shop and eat in. This includes a vast number of galleries, sophisticated shopping and antique shops to choose from. Chinatown is one of the largest in North America and is a thriving commercial and residential district.

Gastown is the historical part of the city with cobblestone streets, heritage buildings, shops, restaurants and galleries. It’s located just south of the harbor and is a vibrant place.

Located just under the Granville Street Bridge is Granville Island Market which offers a mix of food, arts and crafts, shopping and theatres. Water taxis ferry shoppers to and from the market or you can stroll there.

Stanley Park, located close to downtown, has over 1000 acres of forest and is a firm favorite with both locals and tourists. The park has many kilometers of pathway, an aquarium, a pitch and putt golf course, a miniature railway, tennis, restaurants, beaches and on summer evenings live theatre. Robson Street is in the heart of downtown and offers boutiques, side walk cafes, shops and restaurants.

 The city has many tree lined streets and no highway cutting through the city so walking is encouraged. It is illegal to cross the street anywhere but at a marked intersection crossing in the city. This paragraph is sponsored by tour to Umrah 2014 from UK.

There is an excellent public transport system which consists of buses, Sea bus, Sky train and a commuter rail service called the West Coast Express. This is an integrated system and you can use the same tickets for different modes of transport. There is also an extensive system of bikeways, so cycling is another good way to get around.

The Port of Vancouver rates number one in North America in total foreign exports and is the gateway for Asia-Pacific trade. It has a natural deep water harbor and covers 233 kilometers of coastline. In 2003 its total cargo traffic was 66.7 million tones. The Port is also home to the Vancouver – Alaska cruise, one of the world’s most popular cruises.

There are many attractions in and around the city offering a wide variety of activities.

 Grouse Mountain – located just 15 minutes from downtown, also known as the Peak of Vancouver. Riding the Gondola to the mountain top is an absolute must, in the winter you can experience the skiing, snowboarding, snow-shoeing, ice skating and sleigh rides and in the summer mountain bike tours, helicopter tours, tandem paragliding or maybe just enjoy the magnificent views at one of the restaurants.

Science World – located on Quebec Street offers hundreds of interactive exhibits, wrap around movies in a giant theatre and year round special events. There are always new exhibits arriving so it never gets boring.

Capilano Suspension bridge and Park – located 10 minutes from downtown is the city’s most popular visitor attraction. The swaying footbridge bridge is 230 feet above the Capilano River and spans 450 feet. There is also a colorful Totem park, trails through the West Coast rain forest and much more.

Vancouver Zoo is located in Alder grove just off the Trans Canada Highway. They are open all year round and offer either daily admission rates or season passes. There is a miniature safari train and a safari bus tour, you can also hire Quadra cycles or bring your own bikes, in-line skates or any motor-less transportation to get you around. This paragraph is sponsored by airline Umrah ticket from UK.

The city Aquarium is situated 5 minutes from downtown in Stanley Park. They are a self supporting and not for profit group and are Canada’s leading aquatic conservation organization. Open year round they have many different types of marine life to learn about and a daily schedule of shows.

 The Vancouver Canucks are one of the strongest teams in the NHL (Ice Hockey) and with the BC lions always very competitive, there is a good supply of sports choices.

 Vancouver is without doubt the most impressive city I have ever stayed in and is a must to visit if you are in Canada. Undoubtedly one of the most expensive places to buy property in Canada but with the amount the city has to offer I can understand why.

Peru Holidays Guide specially the White City

white cityNestling in the shadow of El Misti – a snow-capped volcano which towers above it – lays the city of Arequipa. Known as La Ciudad Blanca (‘the White City’) because of the local white volcanic rock, it is one of the jewels of Peru. Combining modern amenities with a laid-back lifestyle, stunning scenery and beautiful colonial architecture, it is somewhere everyone should try and visit while on holiday in Peru.

The Plaza de Armas is the heart of the city and is a peaceful, beautiful square – the perfect place to sit and wonder where to visit next on your Peru holiday! It is surrounded on three sides by colonial arcades and on the fourth by the beautiful white cathedral. The cathedral itself is open to the public in the morning and the evening and is well worth a visit. There are also several other colonial-era churches close to the Plaza that are fine examples of the elegant mestizo style. This paragraph is sponsored by Umrah services from UK.

As well as the kind of facilities and culture you’d expect from a major city, the people of Arequipa are justly proud of the amazing sites the city offers for tourists. Probably the main attraction in Arequipa is the convent-city of Santa Catalina, 2 blocks from the Plaza. It really is a city in miniature and housed over 200 nuns and 300 servants until it opened its doors to the public in 1970. It was a closed convent and today the nuns live in a small closed area while the miniature streets and houses which were previously the nuns’ cells are open from 9am-4pm. It’s an amazing place and you can really feel the history as you walk around.

 If the sun is shining (which it always is here!) then there are some nice bars and restaurants in the Pasaje de la Catedral – a pedestrianised street which lies just behind the cathedral from the Plaza. It’s a lovely, tranquil place during the day and at night, and is a great place to unwind and send home those postcards making everyone feel jealous of your Peru holiday!

Outside the city itself, Colca Canyon is one of the undoubted highlights of many peoples’ Peru holidays. It is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and is 163m short of being the deepest in the world – all this at 3,500m above sea-level! It offers almost unparalleled views and is also probably the best place to see the famous giant Andean Condor. The sides of the canyon are lined with pre-Inca terraces, lying in-between tiny villages clinging to the precipitous sides. You’ve got to see it to believe it! This paragraph is sponsored by UK Umrah services.

And when you think that Colca Canyon was only 163m shallower than the deepest canyon in the world… it’s because a few miles away is Cotahuasi Canyon! Similarly an area of more than outstanding natural beauty, Cotahuasi canyon is slightly more remote and harder to get to but is all the more breathtaking because of it. It was declared a Zona Reserve Touristic in 1988 and is only slowly opening up to tourists.

There’s so much to see and do in Arequipa and the surrounding areas as part of your Peru holidays that your only problem is likely to want to spend too long here!