Everyone remembers the tragic details of 9/11 and the fall of the World Trade Center buildings. There were other buildings associated with that disaster which were severely damaged at the time. They just didn’t have the spectacular televised downfall of the North and South Towers. Brookfield Place in Manhattan has emerged from the ashes of one such complex of buildings, the World Financial Center.
After visiting the One World Observatory (aka Freedom Tower), we went across the street to check out Brookfield Place. It’s very slick looking – definitely slicker than the rather dated 80’s-looking World Financial Center. The original complex was built on landfill from the construction of the World Trade Center buildings.
After the 9/11 attacks, the World Financial Center was severely damaged. The winter garden atrium in the middle has been restored. The whole expanse itself has been enlarged to be both office and retail space. It’s part of a whole renovation of lower Manhattan to drive tourism to that part of the city.
A steel and glass Lazarus
Ice-Skating at Brookfield Place
Both the Wollman Ice Rink and the Rockefeller Ice Rink are well known fixtures in the Manhattan winter scene. Both of these ice rinks, though, can get really busy. Brookfield Place has an ice rink also which is a lot less busy.
Skating at Brookfield Place
Ice skates are available for rental and sessions run for 2 hours at a time. The rink overlooks New York harbour. We had a grand time skating in the sunshine. Unlike busier ice rinks, we didn’t have to worry about beginner skaters crashing into us. Instead, we got to be the ones that the other skaters avoided!
Foodies at Brookfield Place
Brookfield Place is also quite the foodie destination. The downstairs has a food hall, Le District, based on the idea of a French shopping area. The food hall is very similar to what you’d find at Harrods in London or Galleries Lafayettes in Paris. I would love to have this food hall be my local grocery!
The very French Le District
Groceries beautifully presented
Upstairs in the atrium, you get a floor of small restaurants including a taqueria and a sushi bar. There’s also Hudson Eats, a luxury version of a food court separate places that sell stuff like cupcakes, sandwiches and pizza. The floor-to-ceiling windows have great views over the New York harbour.
Chocolate cake on its way to being served!
Having to decide what to eat was quite tough. In the end, we opted for crepes which fit the bill for something both sweet but filling.
Shopping at Brookfield Place
You also have a series of upscale stores, both European and American (e.g., Tory Burch, Bottega Veneta, Michael Kors and Burberry). Not all the stores had opened when we visited in December. We did do some serious damage at J.Crew though.
Overall, I was really impressed with Brookfield Place. The design is light and airy – very open and grand but still intimate in feel. The food choices are wonderful. Especially when you are travelling with children, having a choice of eateries can make the difference between a pleasant lunch and one where somebody is sulking (not very) quietly.
Great design details
Events at Brookfield Place
Brookfield Place also does assorted events for the community. For example, I know there was a Santa where you could bring your kids. Hudson Eats also hosts saturday morning shows for children and their parents. Over the holidays, the Winter Garden was also the setting for the art installation, Luminaries by the Rockwell Group.
The Luminaries installation in the Winter Garden
Interestingly, I ran into an old friend, his wife and two kids that I had not seen in nearly 20 years. He lives nearby in one of the many apartments in Lower Manhattan. They had come to Le District to pick up coffee for the adults and snacks for the kids.
In the old days, I did not know anyone with children who lived in the financial district that was downtown Manhattan. People worked or socialised in lower Manhattan, but the family homes were definitely further uptown. I give two thumbs up to Brookfield Place and the renovation that’s happening in Battery Park. I think making a place family-friendly makes a place more vibrant (and not just because I have kids myself!).
Visiting Brookfield Place
Brookfield Place in Manhattan is located at 230 Vesey Street in Battery Park City. The entrance is pretty much opposite the entrance to One World Observatory. It has dedicated parking but also easy access via the local subway lines.
We received our ice-skating tickets complimentary from Brookfield Place. My words and opinion, however, remain my own and were in no way influenced by this fact.
This post is linked with Weekend Wanderlust.
Walking into the Piano Bar at the Shangri La Muscat, I was a little bemused when a man walked over to the lady at the piano and started snapping his fingers at her. She was playing a rocking rendition of Purple Rain, and it took her a minute to turn her face to him. She was met with a halo of flash from the man’s camera.
“You could just have caught my attention by simply saying hello!” she said. Or, waiting for the song to finish and for her to look up, I thought.
The steel magnolia in her voice was immediately recognisable. A fellow American! Looking over my shoulder, she immediately broke into a smile at my friend. It turns out she knows my friend through mutual singer friends. I can never get over what a small world it is.
The Piano Bar @shangrilamuscat perfect way to end the evening with a nightcap.
Pamela, the resident singer at the Shangri La Al Bandr Hotel for the next few months, came over to chat with us when she had her next break. We were admiring her beautiful Arabic Jelabiya dress, when she invited us to go shopping with her during our stay. Shopping? Sure. I never met a mall I did not like.
Arabic Jalabiya Dresses
Pamela introduced me to the colourful world of Arabic Jalabiya dresses for women. The Jalabiya for women is similar to a caftan with a high neck and long sleeves. The male version is a simple white and called a dishdasha in Oman.
What is a Jalabiya?
This blog post has a good rundown on the different types of outfits women wear in the Arab countries. Mostly, we as foreigners see the Abaya, the long black outer covering that Arab women wear outside the home. Women can wear the elaborate Arabic Jalabiya dresses for women-only parties or for attending weddings. I learned that women and men traditionally are gender segregated at Arab weddings so it would be an women-only event.
For foreigners living or visiting Arab countries, such as Pamela working in Oman or Kim Kardashian visiting Dubai, it is completely acceptable to wear the Jalabiya outside in public generally. Pamela has a collection of gorgeous Jalabiyas for work because the outfit is both glamorous and modest. Of course, Kardashians manage to make even the Jalabiya look a bit trashy wearing the top low-cut and hiking the hem up. No surprise there.
Photo Gallery of Arabic Jalabiya Dresses
So here are some photos of the beautiful beadwork and detailing of the Arabic Jalabiya dresses.
This design reminds me of a patchwork pattern.
Such gorgeous beading
Traditional embroidery instead of glitter and beading.
These dresses are not meant to blend into the background!
Even the simpler patterns are quite elaborate.
Avenues Mall in Muscat
The Avenues Mall in Muscat is considered the high-end mall in Muscat. The largest mall in Oman, it contains many European, American and local stores. For example, I saw Starbucks, Victoria’s Secret, The Early Learning Centre and MAC cosmetics. Note though that the largest mall in Oman is still nowhere near the size of malls in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
We were shopping for Jalabiyas at the Sara Plaza store at the Avenues Mall. Sara Plaza seem to have stores throughout the Middle East though.
The runway show for Sara Plaza
Unlike Western stores, the outfits are mostly folded and behind a counter. When you ask to see something, the sales person opens it carefully and holds it for your inspection. You can flip through catalogs which show the outfits fully before you make your choice as well. Although an old-fashioned type of service, the customer gets a lot of attention this way.
The one downside of this process though? Having to tell the salesman your size. On the other hand, these caftans are voluminous because they should be worn loose. Even then, you would need a much smaller size than you would in a Western sized outfit. Many dresses have ties that can cinch in the waist, sleeves etc so they are not completely shapeless.
We also went to Lulu Hypermarket, a megastore in the Middle East which is similar to an American Target or Walmart. I was able to buy cheap gifts for the kids and their cousins at Lulu. I had never heard of Lulu before Pamela took me to one, They are a massive operation with many stores in the Middle East and Asia. No doubt they will make their way to Europe eventually.
Plastic gold bracelets – all the bling you could want!
Visiting Avenues Mall in Muscat
A chance meeting of mutual friends in an exotic location provided an interesting shopping experience which was completely different from our visit to the Muttrah Souk.
We took the Shangri La hotel shuttle to the Avenues Mall. The Mall is located in Muscat proper on Avenue Qaboos Street. After visiting the Avenues Mall, we took a taxi to the Chedi Hotel Muscat and the charge was the standard 5 Omani Rial for fares within the city.
This post is linked with Travel Photo Thursday and Weekend Travel Inspiration.