Monday, 14 January 2013

New York New York

Sorry this is so delayed - its the 14th already and this was about New Years - whoops!.

So we went to the Big Apple - the city that never sleeps on New Years Eve, flying in from Buffalo NY, where we drove from Toronto, leaving at about 1 am. I was knackered as  and as you all know am not a functioning human being in the morning.

We got into JFK and decided instead of taking a cab, to tackle the subway. Funniest thing , honestly we could potentially have spent the whole 5 days or whathaveyou lost in the nether regions of the city. It wasn't too bad overall I've been in busier/worse systems - mind you I think alot of people may have been avoiding the subway.

I love New York. I truly believe that you know whether you will love a city or a place within a wee while of arriving there. Example - I love Paris, but I'm neither here nor there about London - I don't know why. So I love New York. There is an amazing vibe here in this city - and I realise it is New Years but I think the vibe and the energy would be here the whole time.

We headed onto one of our bus tours at lunchtime - this one was of Uptown (as in the Upper East Side). I did not have a scarf or a hat and it was cold, winter and an open air bus - but I had a great time having a look around places. The architecture in NY is amazing and there is so much history.

Our tour guide Daryll - was so funny - he was from Harlem I think and he was so funny he really made the tour. He was definitely different to the guide we had the next day who was Russian - so I shall call him Sergei for the purposes of this blog. Sergei wasn't funny - in fact he was racist and very rough - considering it was a tourist enterprise and there were people from all over the world there - anyway so everyone started laughing at things - he thought that we were laughing at his jokes but we weren't it was almost a laughter of awkwardness shared by all that just grew.


Smiths Bar - where John Lennon used to hang out and love the burgers at

Copa Cobana! Some of the most famous Latino singers have performed here - I always thought it was in  Miami to be honest.

THE stock photo of a New York apartment that you see so often in TV and movies

You can see the Dutch influence strongly in the Upper West Side

I also can't believe how many people they manage to fit into such a small place - it is a very structured city - I like it though - it makes sense.
Amongst top cities sights that I got to see on the tour was the Dakota apartment building where John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived and in front of which Mark Chapman came up and shot John Lennon. Yoko Ono still lives there.

The Dakota - where John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived

The spot where Mark Chapman shot John Lennon - it has been said that if they had waited and not tried to move him to the car to get him to the hospital (waiting for first responders) then the bullet wouldn't have moved and it wouldn't have been fatal - and - heroin addiction withstanding we may still have John Lennon with us today.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono's apartment - she still lives there

We also got to go around Harlem which was interesting - now I just have to go to the Netherlands to see it's namesake Haarlem which would be cool.

Apparently Chuck E Cheese was founded in Harlem - and a nation of obese children thank you.

The Apollo is famous for kickstarting African American  entertainment careers - Michael Jackson did his first performance here

When Fidel Castro visited New York the Hotel Theresa was the only hotel he felt comfortable in - he liked being in Harlem. Cuba apparently has a high black population so it may have felt more like home to him - as well as being away from the political hoi polloi . Apparently he liked keeping live chickens in the hotel with him that caused a few problems.

Brownstones - I didn't make it to Brooklyn where the Huxtables from the Cosby Show were based, but they lived in a house like the above. If you have a chance to read more about The Cosby Show it is pretty amazing they did alot for African American portrayal on TV - in a still very white dominated environment
We were so cold that we hopped off at the Guggenheim which I wanted to go and see anyway. There was a Picasso exhibition on and a Kadinsky display . The Guggenheim goes around in a circular way up to the top - I think there is about 6 levels- it is a fascinating building and I really loved being able to meander around and take in the art work. I haven't been to an art gallery in a while so it was a treat.
The Guggenheim

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This is the inside of the Guggenheim - it is an amazing building and fully circular. You can only take photos in the lobby and they have guards to stop you if you take them anywhere else which is great because flash photography etc can actually ruin the art work and is incredibly annoying - the tourists do it all the time in Italy, or they did when I was there and on works by the Masters - ignorance I tell you.

Random things pulled from the river  - that have been turned into art
Steps of the Met - where Blair Waldorf ran her queendom in  Gossip Girl - I didn't make it in this time - something to do on my next visit.
We went down to Times Square and wandered around the crowds that were gathering for the midnight ball drop. We grabbed some Greek at a local diner - DO NOT just get random glasses of wine in these places as I learnt they cost about the price of a meal and are not worth it haha.

The buzz in the city was amazing it was like everyone's adrenalin was pumping around their bodies, out of it, and into the very structure of the city itself.

Meandering back to the hotel from Times Square we stopped off at a bodega and bought some food supplies as hotel food is not worth it. Somehow the girl who was serving me - and who clearly wished she was ANYWHERE else managed to put someone else's chicken broth in my shopping. Random.

Oh! I also managed to get a photo with a couple of NYPDs finest! Lovely lads - actually the cops here are very friendly and welcoming and patient in what must have been a particularly crowd stressful evening - at each section of heading into Times Square you had to show the contents of your bag and go through one of those handheld body scanners.

I will never complain about parking rates in Auckland every again that is NOT including tax

Beautiful displays in the windows of Bergof Goodman

My two New Yorks Finest - the cops in New York are very tourist friendly - there is pretty much one on every corner - not menacing just there to help and keep people calm. I have the greatest amount of respect for them - there are many good looking cops in NY also ladies.

Random street artwork of a bull
I used the hotel dressing gown, slippers and all free toiletries of course!!! Love the free stuff!
Fireworks over Central Park at midnight  - unfortunately my little camera  wasn't quite able to capture the shot I should have taken a video - but it lasted for over 10 minutes. I have yet to calculate or google how much that would have cost.

The following day we took a bus tour of Downtown (Battery Park, Soho, Tribeca) and again I have to marvel at this city - with its amazing architecture and buildings and vibrancy. It is so different from one end to the other. We saw the areas of the city affected by Sandy and had a bus glimpse of Ground Zero - to be viewed the next day. I find it amazing how many hits this city has been given and yet it keeps on getting up and keeping on - pretty awesome really. There were still along of disaster relief trucks along the streets helping buildings clear up and rebuild.

My first NY slice

Empire State

Freedom Tower
I have always been a little devil's advocate when it came to the 911 attacks - I didn't like how the entire country suddenly went on the attack and discredited so many innocent people for religion. I didn't agree with Gitmo. There were so many things I just loathed about America because of how they reacted - and continue to react.

What I learnt from NY is that NY is not really an American city per se. It is New York and they deal with things very differently to the rest of America - which is often led by Middle America and the Bible Belt. They get knocks, but they just get up, dust themselves off and keep on going. I think it comes from being such a heavily immigrant city. Unlike Toronto though New York has immigrants who seem to want to integrate. I've yet to really see that in Toronto. Sure there are Little Italy's, Chinatown, etc but on the whole the migration to the city seems more cohesive than in Toronto - they assume identities as New Yorkers first then their ethnicities second. In Toronto it is their ethnicities first and then they get around to being Torontons or Canadians which I think where the issue lies.

Anyway it was great to see the rebuilding being down - they may have taken down the towers but they didn't take down the people.

Day 3 saw us take a harbour tour of the going around the Eiffel Tower and Ellis Island – which were both closed due to Hurricane Sandy – boy this city has certainly taken its beatings but it keeps on getting up and getting on.

It was amazing to see the city from the water - and I nabbed myself a sweet little spot out the back - that is until a whole bunch of noisy Indians came and tried to take over my space and push me out. Hells to the no I stood my ground - I'm pretty sure they were pissed off with me but hey, they weren't speaking in English and they could work around me for their photos as I was there first - hold your ground I have learnt in these recent travels of mine!

Staten Island Ferry

Had to take a shot of the port!
Ellis Island

Ellis Island processing

All the sections of the new towers going up I think there are four in total - I must do a bit more research on it

I love the blend of the old and new buildings in New York - the architecture reflects the influences over the last 200 odd years
I forget what the name of this statue is

Brooklyn bridge

We walked past Wall Street where the ghost of Gordon Ghecko resides whispering "greed is good" to anyone who will listen hahaha. It's actually a tiny street - it is called Wall Street

There are varying accounts about how the Dutch-named "de Waal Straat"[12] got its name. A generally accepted version is that the name of the street was derived from an earthen wall on the northern boundary of the New Amsterdam settlement, perhaps to protect against English colonial encroachment or incursions by native Americans. A conflicting explanation is that Wall Street was named after Walloons—possibly a Dutch abbreviation for Walloon being Waal.[13] Among the first settlers that embarked on the ship "Nieu Nederlandt" in 1624 were 30 Walloon families.
There are some great little churches and cemeteries around NY - they are very well maintained and are a lovely reminder of the people who are a part of the history of NY.

Now - being the Law and Order geek I am I had to get a photo outside the courthouse which is the back drop in the series!

In the afternoon Aunty and I headed to the Museum of Natural History. It was set up by Theodore Roosevelt and after visiting it, and reading a bit about him I am quite keen to read up more about him - he sounded like an amazing man, a great president , and a true thinker. I also visited because I really liked the movie Night at the Museum :-) Nothing came alive sadly, but I saw some lovely diamonds and precious stones which I wouldn't say no to - yes sir don't mind if I do!

Teddy Roosevelt
Below are four writings of Roosevelt's which adorn the walls of the lobby of the museum.

Ok see the big dinosaur body in the previous picture - this is the head at the end. Tiniest thing ever!

The below are mosaics in the subway station for the Museum of Natural History - I thought they were so pretty I had to take some photos.

In the evening Jarred and went wandering around and I picked up a few New Yorky things and just had a feel for the nightlife.

Forever 21 has a camera that shoots into the street capturing onlookers - then they write little comments next to people Jarred and I are in the bottom left of that big photo billboard  can you spot us? I am in a red coat 
A bit closer in .....
In Toys R Us there is a carousel! 
This photo is specifically taken so I can tell my niece Ivy that I met Elmo and he sends his special love to her!

Day 4 was our final day in New York (well full day anyhow). I really wanted to do three things on my last day - walk through Central Park, go to the Museum of the City of New York and go up the Empire State Building and view the city from there at nighttime.

Jarred and I headed out to walk from our hotel near Times Square across to the Museum which is on the Upper East Side - this was no mean feat may I say.
Next time I will try attend one of these shows
NY Street Food Truck
Pointing - makes everyone wonder what is up there
These underpasses feature regularly in movies and TV shows - like Vanilla Sky

Hot dog in Central Park
Bethseda Fountain
I have so many layers on I look like a total tub in this I've just realised. Ah well

Now they were playing a piece of music I absolutely love and for the life of me I can't remember the title. It sounded amazing in the hall though - great acoustics.

Central Park is man - made and is absolutely massive. I think that it really does stop New York from becoming a concrete jungle - every New Yorker has access to it and there are some wonderful little sections in there - just like what you see in the movies.

Mad Hatters Tea Party
The Museum of the City of New York - was not really what I expected. There was a section on Staten Island, and a bit on the history of activism in New York as well as some other sectors. It was interesting although because I was with Jarred who is not a museum goer I didn't really get as much of a chance to just really see what I wanted to which was a shame but I'll google some more info on it and that will be good. Thank goodness for the internet.

Unfortunately I didn't get the chance to go up the Empire State building - but at least I have something on the top of my list for next time. For myself and New York - there will be a next time - I can't imagine not coming back here.

What a city, what an experience!