Around the world in August and September 2011

Whilst on my latest travel adventure I will endeavour to keep a visual and written record of what I'm up to by posting daily - including three photos taken (roughly) at morning, noon and night!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Canada in three - part one, Vancouver

I arrived into Vancouver late on a Friday night and was met at the airport by then locals Allison and Nick as well as Kirsten who was fresh off the plane from Calgary. 

Nick and Alli were our hosts and we made the most of the stunning weather visiting Granville Island, walking along the beach, the aquarium and cycling around Stanley Park. Vancouver really is a very beautiful city. The park is amazing as is the water and the backdrop of mountains. Kirsten, Megan and I completed the Grouse Grind (more details with the photo) up in said mountains one morning....let us just say it was challenging.

I returned to Vancouver for one night on my way home after Alli and Nick had already left to go home to Australia. It was grey and rainy and I saw a different, more urban side to the city. I ate AMAZING tacos and one of the famous 'Japadog's' which are hotdogs with Japanese toppings. The seaweed flakes went surprisingly well!

Rollerblading - Still cool in Canada!
A beluga whale at the aquarium. Sadly the baby beluga Tiqa died 5 days after we were there. Pneumonia apparently.
Vancouver aquarium jellyfish

Stanley park bike trip

The Grouse (or gross in Kirsten's words) Grind is a steep trail that climbs 853 m (2,800 ft) over a distance of 2.9 km (1.8 mi), with an average grade of 17 degrees (or 31%) and short sections of up to 30 degrees. The trail, nicknamed "Mother Nature's Stairmaster", is notoriously grueling due to its steepness and mountainous terrain.

No Japadog, No Life! The slogan is a little extreme BUT I did find my beef terimayo hotdog delicious and I don't even like hotdogs!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

New York Round Up

My last few hours in New York were spent taking photos in the Meat Packing District, before having a lobster sandwich at the Chelsea Market. I shared a table with an elderly man from Florida we talked about seafood and his family.

Here are a few of the photos.

Fashion Week bikes painted by different designers and available for the public to borrow

Eccentric much?

The Standard Hotel. The sculpture was a temporary installation.

Friday, 7 October 2011

I want to be a part of it


Hang on a minute surely these aren't pictures of cosmopolitan, hip, happening, modern New York city but medieval provincial France? Actually it is both. The Cloisters is a branch of the Metropolitan Mueseum specialising in art, altars and architecture from Medieval times (another credit goes to Craig for this one). Located in a park at the very northern tip of Manhattan it is a peaceful world away from Broadway and Fifth Avenue and felt like I had travelled to a new country (once I had emerged from the filthy subway). The building itself is actually made up of parts of chapels, cloisters etc recovered from Europe. I particularly liked the old style vegie garden complete with apple and quince trees.


The new building that is in construction on the site of the world trade centre has apparently, after a long time getting going, been going up quite quickly. This photo is of where it is at now, a couple of days before the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

In a move respected by tight dads everywhere I chose to take a closer look at the Statue of Liberty from the FREE ferry to Staten Island. Time didn't permit a look around the island and I had to hop straight back on the ferry returning to Manhattan. I decided the most curious person on this ferry was a man dressed in a tuxedo drinking a can of Fosters. It wasn't so much the 'why a tuxedo' but 'why on earth a Fosters?'.


Free chips make for lean model figures!

Obviously eyes only for me!

The eve of the official start of New York fashion week is Fashion's Night Out, an event that sees retailers at various locations open late and basically just put on parties. As I was staying very near the Meat Packing District, Julian met me there and we wandered around people watching and soaking up the carnival vibe. Hearing music from a live band playing outside a shop, Julian realised it was none other than Melbourne band Miami Horror who he had tickets to see that weekend.

It's true what they say about New York, something is always happening and there is a surprise around every corner. I think I'm a little bit in love. Now to work out how New York and I can spend more time together....

Bar/restaurant the Spotted Pig was the perfect end to a great day, although busy the wait was justified with great food and atmosphere (the company was pretty good too, thanks Jules for the New York eat fest).

Thursday, 6 October 2011

I can't believe it's not butter (or chicken, or spare ribs...)

The continuing rain not only made my morning run on the high line eerily peaceful but also served to take the 'must see as much as I can in the time I have, rush, rush etc' pressure off my time in New York and relax into a more holiday-esque attitude.

Did I say relax? Oops probably shouldn't have stopped by at the last day of the Barney's warehouse sale to fight with other shoppers trawling racks of sad and sale weary designer clothing. The security guard on my way out couldn't believe I didn't find anything I wanted to buy.

I took this photo of diverse varieties of tomatoes at the Union Square farmers market which had a great array of fresh produce (if only I had somewhere to cook it!)



Hey look I took a totally original picture of the Brooklyn Bridge! Ha! Well at least it is the first picture like this taken by me as I walked over it in the rain. The light misty rain meant I didn't get much of a view back to Manhattan but upped it's gothic charm.

Once over in Brooklyn I met Julian for another eating session. This time panelles (to be said in an American/Italian accent) at a third generation Southern Italian restaurant. Afterward we shopped (more successfully for me than the mornings efforts) at the renowned vintage store Beacon's Closet.

Shingle house in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY

Williamsburg is an area of Brooklyn that has enough cafes, bars, hipsters and fixies that surely it is the Fitzroy (Melbourne's) of New York. On the recommendation of a friend I met Craig for dinner at Japanese tapas restaurant Bozu for sushi 'bombs' and this nearly too pretty to eat ceviche, washed down with sake.

Although not at all hungry, Craig wanted me to try the food across the street at Foodswings a vegan place that specialises in making dishes that taste like animals but aren't. Part of the appeal (amazement, fear, curiosity...) is trying to work out what the food could possibly be made of to make a 'chicken' drumstick so realisitic that bits get stuck in your teeth. The wooden stick 'bone' however wasn't fooling anyone. Cheers Craig for your New York recommendations and of course your company!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

I'll have what she's having....

It rained pretty much all day, often very heavily. Being a tourist and taking 
photos are not easy tasks in such downpours, luckily I was ready to take the 
rubber-necking down a notch and stay inside and eat.

I'm not sure if it was the movie-famous location (Meg Ryan's famous scene in When 
Harry Met Sally) or that Craig said the food was as close to his Grandmother's home 
cooking (although the sandwiches aren't as big as they used to be!) that led Julian 
and I to meet for lunch at Katz's Deli, but I swear it wasn't the giant gherkins as 
I didn't find out about these until we got there.
After getting a grasp on the ticket/queue/ordering system we decided on half sandwiche 
(me corned beef, he pastrami) and matzo ball soup with sides of pickles and chips. 
We didn't get to sit at Meg's famous table but happily whiled away a couple hours 
catching up and working through layers and layers of meat (high meat to bread ratio) 
before deciding we needed to complete the feast with ice cream sundaes (in truth we 
probably didn't, have I mentioned how fat I'm getting?)
Still raining and wearing black to conceal how wet I was, I met a friend who I studied 
with at university who now lives in New York. A pre-dinner cocktail and a meal at a 
neighborhood restaurant (she lives close to the hotel where I was staying), made for a 
chilled night and a taste of what it might be like to live in this city.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Times Square - not for epileptics


Morning image 1
Morning image 2
Morning image 3

Ever want to experience extreme visual overload? Crowd rage? A feeling that perhaps flashing lit up signs will not advance humanity? Come to Times Square for all this and much, much, more!

My morning began much more sedately than the extreme screaming advertising of Times Square, I went for a run in Central Park followed by the best bagel I have ever eaten from Murray's Bagels, both simple yet pleasing activities.

Noon image 1

Whether I was still a little overstimulated after Times Square I'm not sure but I felt the need to take in the MoMA at a leisurely pace which i ensured by a glass of wine with lunch from the fifth floor restaurant. As you can see from the photographs, I was also drawn to a big, calm, white, billowy curtain. Sometimes less is definitely more.


Three days walking around this city have taken their toll and the night was spent nursing my blisters and taking it easy. The photo was taken on my way back to the hotel - a subway entrance, steam and my favourite building in the background (Chrysler Building).

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Tourist overdrive


Morning image here

I was seriously considering a breakfast margherita when perusing the brunch menu at The Rocking Horse Cafe in Chelsea. I see it as complete prejudice that the waiter offered me orange juice instead just because I was on my own. I forgave him though as I chomped my way through his recommendation of pancakes with peaches, plums, apple smoked bacon and spicy maple syrup. Afterward I checked out the exterior of the Chelsea Hotel, it is currently closed thwarting any plans I had to stay there and live a life of art, music and excess.


Noon image 1

On Craig's recommendation I went to check out Grand Central Station and encountered a movie set across the road, not sure what the film was but I'm guessing the genre is action judging by the pile up of wrecked cars, bricks and smoke.

Noon image 2
Noon image 3

Another recommendation was that if I felt the need to view NY from atop a really tall building, to make it the Rockafeller Centre rather than the Empire State Building. As well as the view, on my 'top of the Rock' tour I encountered perhaps the least genuine customer service I have ever experienced, I think maybe one gets tired of saying "welcome to the 67th  floor" and "thank you for visiting top of the rock" by 15 minutes into their shift. The man ushering tourists into the elevator sounded aggressive when asking people if they'd enjoyed their experience, or maybe it was just an example of the famous brashness of New Yorkers?

After viewing Central Park from above I got amongst it and can only agree that it is an amazing asset for the city. Resting on a park bench, I witnessed a group of about a dozen polish guys randomly breaking into dance as they walked along with a boom box playing polish hip hop, they may have been making an amateur music video but I like to think of it as an expression of the anything goes attitude of this city.


Night image 1

I will take this opportunity to express how revolting the New York subway is. In London the only time I look forward to riding the underground is when it is cold outside. In New York with its oppressive heat and humidity above ground the subway is even more muggy and dank (Julian describes it as going on a tropical holiday), although at least the trains themselves are air-conditioned. I watched a rat go through garbage on the tracks. After some time he chose a drinking straw as his prize although his choice of object was numerous.

Night image 2

On this evening I took the subway to the East Village to meet my Australian friend Juilan and watch Craig and Tom,(I had also met Tom years earlier in Cork) play at bar 2A. A taco from a street van and a ride home in a yellow taxi completed the day's NY experiences. I was a little disappointed that the taxi was a small SUV rather than a traditional preposterously long sedan but at least it wasn't a Prius (not fuel guzzling enough) of which there are some around.