How to Travel to 10 Different Countries Without Ever Leaving New York City’s 5 Boroughs

April 30, 2019

Max Poglia/Courtesy of Buvette


The Sofitel New York is not only part of a worldwide French hospitality brand but the center of a very famous French scandal surrounding the former chairman of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The hotel’s also got a french restaurant inside (Gaby), but venture to Buvette for buttery pâtisseries in the morning and classics like coq au vin or steak tartare at night. (The Parisians also have their own Buvette, so you know you’re getting an authentic meal.) Spend the afternoon at Albertine on Fifth Avenue. The beguiling bookshop is equally frequented by French expats and Francophile Americans — plus they host discussions and lectures surrounding french art and culture. And even if you don’t speak the language, the bookshop stocks plenty of famous French authors in translation.

Courtesy of The Roxy Hotel


The Roxy Hotel has a very popular reputation with New York City’s expat community. A visit to the hotel or any of its parties will introduce you to many who used to call Europe — particularly Spain — home. The hotel’s bar was once regarded as one of the city’s best showrooms for contemporary Spanish design. Book a stay to discover why. Further uptown, the restaurant simply called Spain is not the fanciest place for tapas — but it’s one of the most authentic. When you order a drink at the bar, tapas are free, just like in Andalucia. The staff have all been working at the restaurant for ages and speak Spanish with the perfect lilt of mid-20th century Madrid. Afterwards, stop at the Instituto Cervantes which hosts a calendar of Spanish cultural events like flamenco recitals, movie screenings and live music.

Courtesy of Aita Trattoria


The Michelangelo Hotel in Times Square may feel worlds away from Italy on first glance. But walk through the doors and guests are immediately greeted by Italian opera music. Renaissance-inspired furniture and a European art collection round out the vibe. When it comes time for food, there’s no shortage of commendable Italian cuisine in New York City. But for pasta that’s equal parts light and flavorful (just like in Italy), stop at Aita Trattoria. Many of the staff are Italian themselves, giving the restaurant added authenticity. Also: They have Aperol Spritzes on tap. It’s impossible to fully experience Italy without a stop at a church. Likewise, while in New York, drop in on the Church of the Most Precious Blood. Located in the belly of Little Italy, this church comes alive during the Feast of San Gennaro when a statue of San Gennaro is taken from its shrine and paraded through the streets. For a bonus: Visit Arthur Avenue Retail Market in the Bronx for an authentic Italian covered market on the opposite side of the Atlantic.

Courtesy of PUBLIC Hotel


Hidden inside the PUBLIC Hotel is an ode to Mexican culture. A reproduction of a Diego Rivera mural is the centerpiece of the “Diego” restaurant and lounge space. The stylish, colorful furniture feels equally at home in New York City as it would in cosmopolitan Mexico City. When in Mexico, cosmopolitan Mexicans will ask if New Yorkers if they’ve been to Cosme yet. The menu, by Chef Enrique Olvera, features elevated Mexican dishes like abalone tostada, honeynut squash tamal and duck carnitas — made with fresh ingredients sourced from the Hudson Valley. For souvenirs that came directly from south of the border, visit La Sirena Mexican Folk Art. The East Village boutique sells luchador memorabilia, Virgen de Guadalupe crosses and an endless assortment of calaveras.

Courtesy of Hotel Hayden


The lobby of Hotel Hayden is washed in white and covered in greenery. Further back, an elaborate installation of fishing rope makes the hotel feel equal parts Mykonos and Manhattan. For chic but authentic Greek cooking, get a table at Pylos. Like any self-respecting Greek restaurant, the East Village spot features moussaka, avgolemono and hearty portions any nonna would be proud of. And cap off a Grecian staycation with a dance party at . The Queens dance hall is one of the few remaining vestiges of Greek New York City immigration, where people drink ouzo and dance to music made across the ocean.

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The Hotel 50 Bowery has an international influence running throughout the hotel, evident in subtle Chinese design in the rooms and hallways. There’s even a gallery curated by the Museum of Chinese in America on the hotel’s second floor. Across town, chef Danny Bowien’s Mission Chinese Food has earned accolades for bringing Sichuan peppercorns to New York classics. Be sure to try the kung pao pastrami and green tea noodles. And no Chinese weekend is complete without a visit to deep Chinatown. Head to Columbus Park for an experience that will make you feel like you’re halfway across the planet. Residents gather to play mahjong, practice tai chi and create traditional music on erhus, flutes and drums brought from home.

Courtesy of Setsugekka


The Kitano boasts that it has the only authentic Tatami suite in the entire city. Book a night in the suite that’s constructed entirely from Japanese materials, with a wood floor, tatami mats and shoji paper screens. Then venture to Brooklyn and grab a seat at Ichiran, the Japanese ramen chain. Customers who are dining alone can choose to eat in a secluded one-person booth where they’re served through a window. Wrap up the staycation with a traditional Japanese tea ceremony at Setsugekka, a tea house in the East Village.

© The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


If you can’t book a flight to Marrakech, book a night at the themed Marrakech Hotel. Plush pillows, hanging lamps and tiled walls take their inspiration straight from a Moroccan riad. And for the prettiest bowl of couscous in town, get dinner at Chouchou. The dimly-lit Bedouin eatery evokes a romantic, far-off world. Everybody knows that the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a veritable treasure trove — but not everybody knows that hidden inside is a portal that leads directly to Morocco. The Moroccan Court is one of the most enchanting parts of the museum, designed by architects in Fez to reflect a medieval Islamic courtyard. Stepping inside is an instant, immersive escape.

Courtesy of the 11 Howard


Celebrate the best of Scandinavian design with a staycation dedicated to the sleekest, most clever and most practical furnishings out there. Book a stay at 11 Howard that boasts of Danish minimalism design. Feel Finnish when you check into the HigherDOSE infrared sauna on the hotel’s third floor. Venture uptown to Grand Central’s Great Northern Food Hall with Nordic vendors offering Danish hot dogs, aged vinegar and more smoked salmon than you can shake a spear at. Afterwards, head to The Shop at Scandinavia House which stocks some of the great Scandinavian design houses like Marimekko, Orrefors, and Royal Copenhagen porcelain.

John Lamparski/Getty Images


For all things prim and proper, look no further than The Whitby Hotel. It’s equal parts posh, elegant and eccentric — like the stereotypical Brit. And, of course, no British hotel would be complete without an elaborate afternoon tea (and even a masterclass on floral arrangements). Grab a bite to eat at Jones Wood Foundry. The menu is chock full of British classics like bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie and (of course) fish and chips. Try to nab a table in the back courtyard for a picture-perfect meal. Pay homage with a stop at Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, featuring some of the costumes, decor and history featured in the show.

In New York City, you can find anything you want — and at any hour, too.

But the “city that has it all” extends far beyond the 24/7 chains of Times Square or the boisterous, never-ending nightlife of downtown. New York City is home to undiscovered pockets of international culture, with authentic restaurants that rival cuisine made in far-off countries.

New Yorkers can travel the world without leaving the five boroughs. The city not only has pasta that transports you to Tuscany, but architecture from Morocco, and tea ceremonies steeped in Japanese culture.

The Big Apple’s international side is worth a vacation all its own. Whether you can’t afford a far-flung vacation or you’ve only got one day to escape, here’s how you can plan an authentic international staycation in New York City.

Grieving father to Trump: ‘We as a country failed our children’

April 29, 2019

Watch CNN’s town hall “Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action” live on Wednesday, February 21, at 9 p.m. ET on CNN TV and CNNGo.

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump heard a series of heartfelt stories and pleas for change during a meeting Wednesday with people affected by some of the nation’s highest-profile deadly school shootings, including the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Andrew Pollack, a father of one of the 17 victims who died in last week’s Florida shooting, said he was speaking Wednesday because his daughter couldn’t.

“We as a country failed our children,” he said. “This shouldn’t happen.”

This is Trump’s big chance on changing gun laws — if he wants to take it

He asked how it was that America could protect its airports, its concerts, its embassies and even the elevators at the Department of Education, but not its schools.

“How many schools, how many children have to get shot? It stops here with this administration and me. I’m not going to sleep until it is fixed. And Mr. President, we’ll fix it. Because I’m going to fix it. I’m not going to rest,” he said.

“My beautiful daughter, I’m never going to see her again. It’s simple. Let’s fix it,” he said.

Justin Gruber, 15, who was affected by the Parkland shooting, said he was born after Columbine, which marked a new era in history.

“I was born into a world where I never got to experience safety and peace. There needs to be a significant change in this country. This has to never happen again,” he said. “People should be able to feel like when they go to school it can be safe. There needs to be a change. People need to feel safe. Parents shouldn’t have to go through the idea of losing their child.”

Trump responded to the series of emotional stories from the survivors and parents of victims from the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by pledging to get to work on school shootings “two minutes” after the listening session.

“We don’t want others to go through the kind of pain you have gone through,” Trump said. “It wouldn’t be right.”

At the beginning of the event, the President pledged to “do something” about school shootings in the brief opening of his listening session.

“We are going to do something about this horrible situation that is going on,” Trump said. “I want to listen and then after I listen, we are going to get things done.”

Trump, flanked by the students, went around the room and shook hands before opening the event.

The event, hosted in the White House’s State Dining Room, brought Trump face-to-face with students and parents who have demanded action on gun violence. The President — who was elected with the support of the National Rifle Association — has so far expressed support for regulating bump-fire stocks, which make it easier to fire rounds more quickly, and strengthening background checks for gun purchases.

During the listening session, Trump called for more mental institutions and hospitals and floated the idea of concealed carry for teachers and school staff.

“This would be obviously only for people who were very adept at handling a gun, and it would be, it’s called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They’d go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone,” Trump said.

“Gun-free zone to a maniac — because they’re all cowards — a gun-free zone is ‘let’s go in and let’s attack because bullets aren’t coming back at us,’ ” he said.

Latest massacre

Florida student: This is about us, not Trump

Florida student: This is about us, not Trump

The event comes a week after 17 people were killed at the shooting in Parkland, Florida, a massacre that has led students, parents and teachers from the school to call on Trump to take action. Students led protests in front of the White House over the weekend and another group of students walked out of schools on Wednesday gathered in front of the White House to demand action.

To date, the Trump administration has stuck to discussing taking action on guns, not actually lobbying Congress on moving any new legislation. But White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in a statement on Monday that Trump spoke with Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, on Friday about a bill he introduced with Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, that aims to strengthen how state and federal governments report offenses that could prohibit people from buying a gun.

“While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the President is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system,” Shah said. Students, teachers and lawmakers have urged Trump and other Republican lawmakers to take action on guns in the wake of the Parkland shooting.

Congress wonders if this time will be different for gun control

Any action on guns would be a balancing act for Trump. His political base of Republican voters overwhelmingly disapprove of most gun control actions and the President has enjoyed the support of the NRA.

Trump has not always been deeply tied to the NRA, though.

“I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun,” he wrote in his 2000 book, “The America We Deserve.” “With today’s Internet technology, we should be able to tell within 72 hours if a potential gun owner has a record.”

Trump disavowed those statements during the 2016 campaign.

Polls have found, however, that most Americans blame Trump and Congress for not doing more on guns. A new Washington Post/ABC News poll released Tuesday found that 62% of respondents said Trump is not doing enough to prevent mass shootings and 77% say Congress is doing an inadequate job on the issue.

“We will be working very, very hard on that horrible, horrible issue that took place last week in Florida,” Trump said at an event on Tuesday. “We’re working very hard. We’re going to come up with solutions. It’s been many, many years, and there have been no solutions. We’re going to come up with solutions.”

CNN’s Meg Wagner, Betsy Klein and Noah Gray contributed to this report.

City Introduces Programs To Make Life Better For Street Dogs

April 28, 2019

The city of Soledad de Graciano Sanchez, Mexico is taking steps to ensure the health and wellbeing of it’s animals in 2019. And not just the pets kept in homes, but the strays that wander its streets, too!

According to local officials, there are an estimated 300,000 stray dogs roaming the city that are in need of basic care. Instead of looking the other way, the city government is working hand-in-hand with it’s dog-loving citizens to provide for these homeless dogs.

One of the first initiatives taken by the city this year is a program called “ComeDog.” Together with the local citizens’ response group Respuesta Ciudadana, City Hall placed 15 food dispensers in public areas where dogs with empty bellies can find a free meal and clean water. The dispensers are made of simple PVC pipe and filled with dry food donated mostly by the people of the city. Respuesta Ciudadana will be in charge of making sure the dispensers are filled regularly and offering a friendly hand to the dogs they meet there.

Mayor Gilberto Hernandez Villafuente stressed the importance of the cooperation of the people in providing a safe, caring environment for strays,

“Today I realize how many people appreciate this program, we have been congratulated by different means and, well, I am going to ask you to participate and help us to have a very successful refuge.”

The city has also introduced an ambulance that will offer care to both street dogs and local pets. Unveiled just last week, Ambudog is Mexico’s first ambulance dedicated to the care of animals. Veterinarians with Ambudog are offering free healthcare to the city’s cats and dogs, whether they live in a home or wander the streets. This includes vaccinations and spay/neuter services that will hopefully put an end to pet homelessness in the future. Hoping to end the spread of deadly diseases among street dogs, Dolores Elisa García Román, Director of Municipal Services Soledad de Graciano Sánchez says,

“There is an infectious picture when the puppy is born and if a month and a half is not vaccinated mainly by distemper or parvovirus, there is a contagion, both in people and animals, then this ambulance will be taken to all the suburbs to attend to all the puppies.”

These two programs are only the beginning of a trend that officials in Soledad de Graciano Sanchez hope will eventually lead to a brighter future for Mexico’s dogs. Ideally all these dogs will be provided with shelter, food, and love in the near future – each in a home of their own!

Other cities in Mexico are already considering following Soledad’s example by introducing similar programs to work for the benefit of their homeless animals.

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Trump admin’s ‘tent cities’ cost more than keeping migrant kids with parents

April 25, 2019

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WASHINGTON — The cost of holding migrant children who have been separated from their parents in newly created “tent cities” is $775 per person per night, according to an official at the Department of Health and Human Services — far higher than the cost of keeping children with their parents in detention centers or holding them in more permanent buildings.

The reason for the high cost, the official and several former officials told NBC News, is that the sudden urgency to bring in security, air conditioning, medical workers and other government contractors far surpasses the cost for structures that are routinely staffed.

It costs $256 per person per night to hold children in permanent HHS facilities like Casa Padre in Brownsville, Texas. And keeping children with their parents in detention centers like the one run by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement in Dilley, Texas cost $298 per resident per night, according to an agency estimate when it awarded the contract for the facility in 2014.

At those prices, the additional cost to operate a 400-bed temporary structure for one month at capacity would be more than $5 million. The average stay for separated kids is nearly two months.

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The HHS official said the agency is “aggressively looking for potential sites” for more tent cities to accommodate the surge of migrant children who have been separated from their parents by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal border crossing.

The Trump administration announced its zero tolerance policy in April. Adults crossing between border checkpoints are criminally charged, and children traveling with them are separated and placed in temporary shelters. Prior to zero tolerance, children and parents were kept together in ICE detention facilities for a maximum of 20 days before they were released with ankle monitors to await their court hearing.

The agency is currently exploring places to build temporary facilities at an Air Force Base in Little Rock, Arkansas and land formerly run by the USDA in Arizona.

As of Wednesday, according to the Department of Homeland Security, 2300 children have been separated from their parents since the Trump administration began separating migrant children from their parents in May. That number is expected to grow more rapidly as the administration streams more resources to the border for apprehending, transporting and detaining immigrants.

HHS has said it is holding nearly 12,000 immigrant children, most of whom crossed without a parent or legal guardian. The agency says the children stay in HHS facilities for 57 days on average before they are sent to live with a relative or placed in foster care.

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