USA

Q is for Queens

Posted on Updated on

Whilst we were visiting New York City last summer we only ventured into Queens twice.

The first time was landing at JFK Airport which is situated in Queens, and we did see a little part of Queens as we got on the bus to the City.

We were able to see some affluent areas, but also a number of areas which appeared deprived. However, these could be just the perception of our own version of what a deprived area looks like where we live.

The second time was via the subway as we went to a New York Mets game on our final night in the Big Apple. The Mets play at Citi Field in the Flushing Meadows Park.

It was only a short walk from the subway stop to Flushing Meadows.

I’ve mentioned this in a previous posting. None of us knew anything about baseball but we’d decided we wanted to try and experience as much of the American culture as we could.

This included American sports. Ideally we would have loved to catch some NHL hockey whilst on our adventure, but we were there in the off season. So, baseball was the only sport we could experience during the month of August.

IMG_5194

Nine Eleven Memorial

Posted on Updated on

IMG_4849

Everybody remembers where they were the day those two hijacked aeroplanes flew into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre. September 11, 2001.

I’d not long been in a new job after having my second son when my boss ran out of her office and told us all that New York was being bombed.

We gathered around her computer (only senior staff had the internet on their PCs back then) and watched /listened (depending on how close to the desk you were) to the atrocities that were happening across the pond.IMG_4828

As I listened in horror all I could think of was thank goodness it was thousands of miles away.

My boss then looked into all of our eyes and told us all to go home, spend time with our children and that the office was closed for the rest of the day. She was a remarkable leader.

I collected my young sons and did what most people did that afternoon.

I sat and watched the news, trying to explain to my five year eldest son what had happened in New York.  Together we spoke about all of the children who had lost their parents, and parents who had lost their children in those few minutes.

So, nearly twelve years later it felt surreal standing next to the foundations of where those towers used to soar. I wasn’t thousands of miles away now. I was right there, standing in the middle of a massacre site.

As I looked up into the sky I tried to imagine what it must have been like on 9/11 and what it must have been like for those thousands of people who were caught in the towers and had no way out.IMG_4848

It’s difficult not to visit the memorial and not think about those images that are forever photographed into my mind of the towers on fire, the people hanging out of the windows and those who felt that there was nothing else left other than to throw themselves out from the windows.

It could have been easy for the memorial fund to just make the site some sort of tourist circus ground with selling merchandise etc.

The ground is anything but that. It is a respectful place of rest for those souls that perished on that fateful day.

It was refreshing to visit it and for it not to be exploited as a tourist attraction.

Firstly, it is free to enter and the only money you are asked for is a voluntary donation which gives you a wrist band in return. That is all. All money raised through donations is given back to the Memorial Fund.

The site of the two towers is very peaceful even though there are crowds of visitors. Everybody is probably thinking the same thing that I was. What was it like being there on that fateful day?

I felt a long way from home when I was standing beside the South Tower reading all of the names on the stone surfaces which surround the imprint of the Towers foundations.

Listening to the water falling into the foundations also adds to the serenity of the moment.

SURREAL.

MOVING.

NEVER FORGET.

 

Mad Men meets the Mets

Posted on Updated on

MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE

Two very different subjects to be discussed in todays blog for the letter M in the April A-Z challenge.

MAD MEN

Think late 1950s/early 1960s New York and a certain television show set not only in that era but on the legendary Madison Avenue. The characters Don Draper, Pete Campbell and Peggy Olsen will spring to mind if you are a big Mad Men fan like myself.Mad Men

The Mad Men are tailored to perfection and adored by their women both in the office and at home. They work hard, play hard and drink even harder. It’s hard not to love each character as although some of them are plain male chauvinists, you can’t help but feel compassion towards them as they show the audience their flaws. That’s what makes a great television show I suppose.

Being a fan of the show meant that of course I booked a place on the Mad Men Tour in New York City. Whilst  husband and son adventured around Central Park Zoo I took part in this tour which I’d booked when I first found out that we were going to New York.

The tour guide whose name I can’t even remember met me outside one of the swanky Central Park hotels. He informed me that there should have been a party of ten people also taking the tour but they’d had to cancel. So, it was just the tour guide and me.

Anyone who knows me will know that I spent the first twenty minutes checking out the route that we were going, and making sure that this “tour-guide” wasn’t some crazy psycho who was going to lead me into the Waldorf-Astoria and drag me into one of the suites where I would be bound and tortured.

It was in fact a tour of some of the hotels which featured in Mad Men, and ended at the Blue Oyster bar in Grand Central Station where the guide bought me a beer and we chatted about acting and screenwriting. Not sure it was worth the $45 that I paid but I was certainly glad I went on it.

When I think of Mad Men I think of the glitz and glamour of working in Sterling Cooper Pryce Draper advertising agency.

METS

Then I think of the Mets. Tight pants, fat arses, overweight men swinging a club about trying to hit a ball on a large field which let’s face it, it’s really just fancy rounders isn’t it?

We’d never been to a baseball game before so before we left the UK we’d already bought tickets to see the New York Mets.

The Mets are the professional baseball club based in Queens, New York.

One thing that amused us is that the stadium is on the flightpath from La Guardia airport (well we presume it is that one). Planes were taking off every couple of minutes which amused us as we sat there cacking ourselves watching these massive silverbirds flying over the top of us.

We didn’t really understand what was going on, but we joined in anyway. We were amazed by the different goodies that were for sale and were brought around by various vendors. You didn’t need to get up off your seat for anything (apart from using the toilets). There was a beer guy, a hot dog guy, crisps guy, candy floss guy and a popcorn guy. I bet there were other goodies guys in the stadium too (it was a big stadium).

mets1

 

IMG_5190

L is for Liberty

Posted on Updated on

MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE

When you think of New York then images from the big screen automatically spring to mind.

The Manhattan skyline, the flurry of yellow cabs, Rockefeller Plaza and of course Lady Liberty overlooking the spectacular city, or the Statue of Liberty as she is most commonly known as.

The statue’s full name is Liberty Enlightening The World and she was given to the Americans as a gift from their French neighbours in 1886.IMG_5149

She’s had more film credits than Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep combined, and she still attracts millions of visitors every year.

She was certainly right up there on my wish list of places to visit whilst in New York.

For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to see the Statue of Liberty as she defines New York City to me.

When you’ve grown up watching a lot of movies and television shows as I had, I used to dream of the day that I would get to strut around NYC and say hello to her. Who can forget how she came to life in Ghostbusters 2, she opened up the credits on New Jack City and was featured in Sex and the City several times over the series.

Oh Lady Liberty how I adore thee!

My dream of strutting around NYC faded when I had children quite young. My friends were going on holidays abroad and travelling when I was stuck at home raising a baby. For many years we could barely pay the rent and bills. Luxury for us was being able to dine out once a month. Holidays were certainly not on the agenda for many years.

The whole flying thing became a real issue too so I didn’t ever believe that I would see the Statue of Liberty, unless someone could drug me like BA Barracus in the A Team and get me on a plane that way.

So last year when the dream became a reality and those flights to New York were booked I felt like a child on Christmas Eve.

You can imagine how emotional I became walking from the subway at Battery Park station for the first time and seeing Liberty in the distance.

It felt like I was in slow motion. Husband and son walked ahead and I just stood in the middle of the crowds exiting the subway exits, staring into the distance with my eyes transfixed on this robed lady holding up her torch.

“She’s there, right in front of your eyes Sarah” I heard my inner voice tell me. I do believe there was a tear, and a quivering lip as I stared at her. Beautiful!

My dream like state was quickly interrupted by son dragging my hand and telling me he wanted a hot dog. Thats’ kids for you, they sure can spoil a moment.

I’ve had a lot of moments like that in the past ten years. You’ll read about the flying thing a lot because it really has been the biggest fear in my life that I’ve had to overcome. And, because of that being a factor for so long, well there are a lot of places that I want to visit before I am old and senile.

If you’d read my entry for E, the Empire State Building blog you would read how we were kind of duped into buying tickets for the Empire State Building which also included a boat trip to Liberty Island. I asked the vendor really clearly, “Can we get off the boat to walk around the statue?” He was adamant that yes we could.

Of course he’ll say that, he was on commission for the family tickets we were about to purchase. It was the day after when we took the boat ride, and that boat was stopping for nobody. The journey was “quick get the camera, quick get the iPad, quick the camcorder, quick the iPhone”.

That was probably my only regret from the trip. I wish we would have paid separately and got one of the boats that did stop as it felt a little rushed sailing past it.

But never mind, the lady will still be there when I visit again someday.

Next time I’ll stop by and say hello properly to her.IMG_5150

I is for Imagine

Posted on Updated on

MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE

Most people remember what they were doing when key historical events take place.

I was six years old when John Lennon was shot dead outside his apartment in New York City on December 8, 1980. I can recall that day as clearly as if it happened yesterday.

My elder sister and I had been picked up from school on December 8, which was unusual as we normally walked the short distance back to our house in Garstang.

My sister and I loved The Beatles. Our parents were both The Beatles fans so we grew up in a house which played The Beatles a lot. We were even allowed to borrow my dad’s vinyl’s, which was a big deal back then.

Big sister and I used to argue over which one of us would marry John Lennon. Typical middle child that I am, I was always willing to compromise and take Paul McCartney if I must. But we both idolised John Lennon.

That day, after school my mum took us to a shop in Garstang called Carrs which was a confectioners situated on the high street. Mum bought both of us an ice cream and as we sat in the back of her car she told us that John Lennon was dead.

My sister started crying. I was shocked, carried on eating the cone and couldn’t really understand what I was being told. I remember asking my mum whether this meant that The Beatles would never make any new songs?

Fast forward thirty-three years and I find myself standing by the John Lennon memorial inside Central Park, New York City.

The memorial is at the edge of the park next to the entrance which Lennon’s apartment, the Dakota Building overlooks. To get to the memorial the public have to walk through a green area called Strawberry Fields and then the memorial is ahead.

On the day that I visited this there was a man singing lots of old Beatles songs which just added to the atmosphere of the park. I told the tale to my son of how I found out about John Lennon dying and then we walked over to the Dakota Building.

It was a surreal moment, who’d have thought that six-year old Sarah sitting in her mum’s Vauxhall Viva eating mint choc-chip ice-cream would end up standing outside the legend’s home in the Big Apple.

Imagine!IMG_5250IMG_5245IMG_5246

H is for High Line Park

Posted on Updated on

MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE

The High Line is one of those places that I probably wouldn’t have visited if it wasn’t for my other half. In all of the places we visited in NYC, I think this is the only thing that he put down on the list as wanting to do, oh and attending a baseball game.

I had never heard of the High Line and my husband’s description of what it was didn’t fill me with any sort of excitement either, “a walk on a train track” wasn’t the greatest description after all.IMG_5078

However, experiencing it was something completely different and we chose to walk it just as the sun was setting so we were able to view some magnificent views on our way around.

The High Line is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It is owned by the City of New York, and maintained and operated by Friends of the High Line. Founded in 1999 by community residents, Friends of the High Line fought for the High Line’s preservation and transformation at a time when the historic structure was under the threat of demolition. It is now the non-profit conservancy working with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to make sure the High Line is maintained as an extraordinary public space for all visitors to enjoy.

The High Line is located on Manhattan’s West Side. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues.

I didn’t manage to take many good photographs as we walked the High Line due to the darkness, and also by this time I was absolutely physically exhausted from all of the walking.

It isn’t widely publicised but it is a definite one to tick off the list if you are fortunate to visit the Big Apple in the future.

www.thehighline.org

high line

 

G is for Greenwich Village in the A-Z Blogging Challenge

Posted on Updated on

MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE

One way to sit back and relax during a visit to NYC is to visit Greenwich Village. The Village  is a largely residential neighborhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan  and  a large majority of the district is home to upper middle class families.

This was on my list of places to visit for two reasons, well two very popular television shows which I’m a fan of – Friends and Sex and the City.

Naively we asked some of the locals where Central Perk was located to have our dreams crushed when we were informed that the show was actually filmed in Los Angeles and only the outdoor images were shot in New York. Gutted.

We were reliably informed that the building in the exterior shot of Rachael, Monica, Chandler and Joey’s apartment building is at the corner of Grove and Bedford Streets in the West Village. To be honest the buidings in this area all looked alike.

We then went on the hunt for Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment in Sex and the City.

One of my friends who lived in NYC gave me the actual address of where I could find the front of her apartment, so the maps came out and off we went looking.IMG_4897

It was during this hunt that we realised at times how childish we were as we couldn’t wait to show our son the street sign for Gay Street – I know I know pathetic and childish. But we were also equally amused by a sign which stated “No unnecessary noise” which really tickled us. I mean really, do people need to be told that? I guess so.IMG_4895

Whilst in Greenwich Village we had lunch at an Italian restaurant. A bit on the pricey side but  I experienced a delicious tomato gnocchi and Italian bread.

At this point in our adventure we were on day four in NYC and my son’s legs were being worn to the bone. We had walked A LOT every day, and at this point was the only time in the three weeks that we were away that he moaned a little. We managed to reward him with cupcakes and painkillers (always a winning bribe).

From being a massive fan of Sex and the City from season one onwards, I was delighted to reach the steps of 66 Perry Street which was the home to the delightful Carrie Bradshaw for all of those years.

Actually I was always a Miranda fan, couldn’t stand Carrie but I still took great delight in being photographed on the steps to her apartment. Visions of Mr Big pulling up in his limo, autumn leaves and the excitement of this beautiful city took me away briefly from my British life three and a half thousand miles away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outside Carrie's apartmentIMG_4899

F is for FAO Schwarz & Flatiron

Posted on Updated on

MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE

FAO Schwarz is probably the best toy store that I have ever set foot in. In fact so much so that I do believe that we ended up going in there three times whilst we visited the Big Apple last summer.IMG_4752

My son who was twelve at the time thought he had died and gone to toy heaven when we walked through those doors. We made sure that he scaled every nook and cranny and saw every toy that was on offer in there.

For me, I just wanted to dance on the Big piano. For any of you who are not familiar with the movie Big starring Tom Hanks, well that film is set around FAO Schwarz and there is a scene where Tom Hanks plays the piano by jumping from key to key.

Even though my son hadn’t seen Big, I told him that he had to join in with me in jumping onto the keys and when we got back home to Manchester I would ensure that he saw the movie. Which he did, and think he was pretty pleased that he’d done that.

No trip to NYC with kids could go without a few hours spent in this fantastic toy shop. We had a blast trying on the various masks, and taking silly photographs with giants lego pieces.

The other F for this blog post is for the Flatiron Building. It’s the most extraordinary building to view as it is very tall, but also really thin. It looks quite odd in fact.

The first time we viewed it was from the Empire State Building, so we decided to visit it properly at a later date where we could take a couple of photographs. Mainly the geeks in us knew it from the Spider man films, but anyway it was worth a snap.

 

 

IMG_4761 20130804_110106 IMG_5165