New York

Times Square

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T is for Times Square

MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE

A blog challenge about New York City would not be complete without an entry about Times Square.IMG_4675

We ventured into Times Square several times whilst in New York as our hotel was just two minutes away from the famous landmark.

It’s certainly the place to be in the evening, once the sun has retired for the evening and the bright lights come out in all of their glory. Times Square comes along at night and it really can be an extremely place to visit.

There are dozens of famous cartoon characters dotted all around the place, superheroes, Sesame Street and also a naked guitar playing cowboy. A word of warning though, if you want your photograph taken with any of them you have to tip them afterwards.

We fell foul of this, just not thinking that this was what you were supposed to do. So after inviting the Cookie Monster and Minnie Mouse into our photograph, thanking them we were then chased down the road by a very angry Cookie Monster and Minnie Mouse who demanded a tip. Whoops! We totally messed that one up.IMG_4860

Although hilariously, when I was on the Mad Men tour I was telling my guide about this experience and he told me that the previous year that Big Bird and Elmo got into a scrape over tips resulting in arrests. Hilarious!

There was also a really freaky thing occurred as dozens of girls started screaming and taking photographs. Being the nosey git that I am I was dying to see who they were screaming at, so made my way up some seats to have a nosey and asked someone who it was. It was a young, good looking lad surrounded by big, burly security staff. I overheard someone who said it was just a publicity stunt to see if girls would scream over anyone who they think is famous.

I don’t need to say anymore about Times Square, I will let my youtube video do the rest of the talking, and be warned, there is some dodgy singing 53 or so seconds in.

Times Square singalong

 

Skyline

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S is for Skyline

MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE

These photographs say it all.

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Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall

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Today it is the letter R.

MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE

The first evening in New York City, my family and I dined out at TGI Fridays in Times Square as it was the first place to eat that we came upon leaving the hotel.

After the meal we decided to check out the local area. Our first stop was the Rockefeller Centre.

As a fan of 30 Rock I was in my element. I had season 1 of 30 Rock on my Ipad so showed my son the opening credits on the flight over so that he could see some of the iconic buildings and landmarks that New York has to offer.

We spent about forty minutes in the Lego shop which is next to the plaza. My son was in Lego heaven for the entire time.

I was astounded by the sheer amount of flags on display around the plaza. I discovered they were all of the flags of the United Nations member countries.

That’s another I noticed that Americans love – is their flags!

We spent a bit of time inside the concourse at the Rockefeller Center. There are a variety of shops and places to eat inside there.

We also walked past the Radio City Music Hall but by that time we were really exhausted. Although it was only 9pm in New York City, in our time it was 2am and we had been up for 18 straight hours.

When I go back to New York City, that’s right – not an if but a when. Three things I want to make sure I do next time:

1)      The viewing station in the Rockefeller Center. My husband wanted us to go up on that night, in the dark and stupidly because I was so tired and couldn’t face waiting, I said no. We never went back again in the evening.

2)      Visit Radio City Music Hall. I have since found out that they do a really good tour around the radio studios there, who knew? Not me back in August 2013.

3)      Get a ferry that stops at Liberty Island.

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Q is for Queens

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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.

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P is for pancakes

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I love breakfasts in New York City.

My favourite breakfast of all time is pancakes, bacon and maple syrup.

I have this breakfast at home quite a lot as my husband is the best at making pancakes the proper way, just like in the States.

So, my first morning in New York City we found a diner near to our hotel. I was amazed that diners are open at 6am when we ventured out, but they were and we weren’t the only people up at that time in the morning.

I couldn’t resist ordering pancakes for breakfast. I was adamant that I would experiment with food while we were aware and come out of my comfort zone. But I just couldn’t resist pancakes and coffee.

However, I was not prepared for the size of the pancakes that I was served. Huge, and I mean huge in that they completely filled the plate and there were three of them.

Three giant pancakes, lashings of bacon done just the way I like it and smothered with maple syrup. As I am typing this I can vision it myself, and my mouth is watering.

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O is for Other Things

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MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE

There are a couple of things to bear in mind when visiting the Big Apple.

The food is very cheap, and I have already marvelled at the “all you can drink” coffee that gets refilled for as long as you sit in a diner/restaurant, but what I didn’t mention is tipping.

The waiters/waitresses are paid minimum wages which is really low and they rely on tips to pay their bills (or so I have been told).IMG_5376

We always put a tip of between 10% and 20% onto the food bill no matter how good/bad the food was. The reason being as above, but also because the staff in New York were always so friendly, polite and helpful. If you need tips to pay the rent then of course you will be polite, but nevertheless it was a fraction of the normal food bills we have on the rare occasion we dine out in Manchester.

Prior to going to America I was told a few stories (surprisingly by people who hadn’t actually travelled over the Atlantic so no doubt were confusing  their facts with television). One story was that New Yorkers hate us British.

That may be so, but in no part of my five days in the City did I experience anybody being rude to us. In fact I found the opposite. Whenever we stood on a street with our map in front of us trying to find our next destination, every single time a New Yorker would stop and ask if they could help us.

Let me tell you if you were standing with a map open in Manchester you would be ignored and would end up having to ask for directions. As for London? – well the folk in London would never notice you as they never look up from the ground to make eye contact with anyone. And yes, I have experienced this in London where the code on the underground is to stare at the floor.

Secondly, I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to make sure you have decent, comfortable shoes for walking around in. I didn’t fully appreciate how large New York City is and how much walking we would do, and I got blisters, sore heels and swollen feet. Thank goodness for the Nike shop who kitted me out with trainers that felt like I was walking on cushions.

Finally, plan your days. We didn’t end up doing half of the things we wanted to as we misjudged how much we could fit into a day.

But for anybody reading this who hasn’t been to New York yet – I am really jealous. It is fantastic, the most exciting city I have visited so far on my journey and I will certainly be back there to see her again.IMG_4777 - Copy

Nine Eleven Memorial

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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

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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).

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