023 | 365 The love of friends

Today is wet and cold but not lonely. I spend the day catching up with a few of my friends.

One thing about travelling, you can’t take all your friends with you. It’d be so much fun if you could though.

Because when the sun shines, we’ll shine together
Told you I’ll be here forever
Said I’ll always be your friend
Took an oath, I’m a stick it out to the end
Now that it’s raining more than ever
Know that we’ll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella
You can stand under my umbrella
(Ella ella, ay ay ay) Under my umbrella


021 | 365 There’s no place like home

Two hours until arrival in SydneyThe final two hours flying to Oz are the longest. I even get a little bit of travel sickness. The flight steward gives me some warm ginger ale to settle my stomach and then I’m ready to eat breakfast.

I need to do something to stop looking at the clock but it is great to see the beautiful colours in the sky.

After a long wait in Sydney I’m on my flight home to Adelaide. Travelling domestic in Australia is so different to the US. I feel like I am intruding on a business outing.

I have phone access for the first time in three weeks. Surprising how easy it is to do without a phone and messaging.

In Adelaide, I am greeted by my mum and brother. It’s good to see them and it looks like they are glad to see me too. I warn mum that I will most probably smell as it has been some time since I showered and was very hot and sweaty when I left New York. She lets me know that she didn’t shower before coming to get me so I wouldn’t feel so bad. Small gestures are sometimes the sweetest.

On arrival home my cat Lucy greets me at the door. She looks surprised but very pleased to see me. For the rest of the day she doesn’t stop meowing, which is unusual for her. I also get lots of her hugs, head buts, sniffs (I think these are her kisses) and licks too.

I am surprised I feel quite alert. That is until I sit down to relax in front of the television at 7pm. I think I might have seen five minutes of whatever was on and wake at 9pm freezing for the first time in three weeks.

I take myself to bed and sleep very soundly. There’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed after being away.

020 | 365 Reminiscing across time zones

Leaving San Francisco

The flight from New York is early! Just when I want it to be late. So I don’t get to stay in the United States for a little longer.

I have one hour until my next flight leaves and I have a bit of a walk to the departure gate. I could wait for a ride to the gate but considering the time that I will be on my arse over the next number or hours, the walk is very much in need. I don’t have time for duty free shopping but that doesn’t really bother me too much.

The flight from San Francisco to Sydney is expected to take about 14 hours. We leave on Sunday night 2 September at 9pm (1am Monday in New York). Arrival time in Sydney is Tuesday morning 4 September at 6am – a time difference of 33 hours. The flight feels like it is 33 hours long, not 14.

The flight is however made more enjoyable/bearable by the company of two lovely and friendly women who are seated next to me and the head flight attendant who has taken a shine to us. We are given special attention by this flight attendant who opens a bottle of bubbles for us after dinner and continues to replenish our glasses until we say no more please. He also shows us photos of his home town in Lebanon and provides a little bit of history of his home. Another time he shares an email that he has received. He’s been sent an article by John Cleese called “World Alerts to Threats“. It’s something my dad would have liked and considering it is/was father’s day at home, he is in my thoughts.

I also look over the list I started on the last night in New York.

BIG in San Francisco

  • Hills
  • Hearts
  • Humanity
  • Wholesome
  • Bridge
  • Fog

BIG in New York

  • Exercising
  • Shops
  • Outside spaces
  • Food serves
  • Friendliness
  • Buildings
  • Entertainment
  • Dogs
  • Markets
  • Hospitality
  • Service

I wonder what kind of list Adelaide would have?

And here are the lists of what I need to go back to do.

San Francisco

  • More time in Sausalito
  • Muir Woods
  • Napa Valley
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Visit Alcatraz (book a couple of months beforehand)
  • More time in Golden Gate Park
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
  • Palace of Fine Arts and Exploratorium
  • Spend more time exploring the city
  • Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39
  • Walking the Barbary trail

New York

  • Lunch/dinner/cocktails at the Waldorf Astoria
  • a broadway show
  • Go back to The Duplex piano bar (fun place)
  • Walk more of the city
  • Hire a car and go to Ithaca and eat at Moosewood Restaurant (on a Sunday), visit wineries around the finger lakes
  • Walk part of the Appalachian trail

Other places to visit (by car in my own time – no bus tours)

  • Boston (to visit properly)
  • Portland, Maine
  • Quebec, Canada

As my ankles gradually disappear and my shoes get tighter, the hours pass. Unlike on the journey to the US, I manage to get some sleep, I think the bubbles helped. 🙂

019 | 365 Farewell New York

New York City

As the airport shuttle bus heads towards the Newark International Airport in New Jersey, I look over and see my last view of New York City. My eyes well up with tears. I will miss this city. I will also miss being on holidays. It has been a great tonic and I have enjoyed every moment.

One of the many things that I had on my list of “to do’s” while in New York was to dine at the Waldorf Astoria. I had been hoping to go for lunch and have a Waldorf Salad but the schedule has not allowed for this. So, Naomi and I head off to see if we can get a late breakfast and get a tour of the hotel. This beautiful hotel is covered with netting and scaffolding as it is undergoing a makeover – due to be complete in a couple of years. The main entrance is not accessible of viewable from the outside.

We enter at the side and are told to go to another entrance for food. It is at the back of the hotel (we think this must be the cheap seats). We enjoy tea and pastries and after speaking to our waitress, she suggests we go back to the front concierge to enquire about the tour even though it is only held twice a week (and not on a Sunday). The concierge lets us enter the lifts so we can view the main foyer and gives us directions to go upstairs to look at the ballroom. Waldorf Astoria

To see anything else we need to go on the tour which is on Thursdays and Saturdays. I regret not having researched this more thoroughly but add this to my long list of what to do on my next trip here. We are lucky to have seen this though and what we see of the hotel is beautiful. It’s the teaser, we wanted to see more. Next time.

While Naomi heads off to the Museum of Modern Art, I head back to Washington Square and the market holders where I spend some money at 100% Cool Efi Designs and Phylosopy of Software purchasing some unique items that I will love and treasure.

But it’s time I should head back as it is getting close to the time I must head off to the airport. I need something to eat and drink as the first leg of my flight to San Francisco is six and a half hours and doesn’t include meals. I have my last meal at Birch Coffee, a green summer salad with chicken and a soy latte. I’ve become a regular here and they know my name and that I’m about to head off. One of the staff is on his lunch break and sitting next to me. We chat about travelling. He hasn’t gone outside America but would like to do more travelling. He thinks I should be going home via London and not the other way. Another person has asked me if it would be better to break the trip with a stop over in Asia to break up my flight. I like the quickest most direct route but it’s something to think about anyway.

My shuttle bus is due to pick me up at 2.25pm. At 2pm, I am resorting the contents of my bag and what to take, changing to more comfy shoes for my swollen feet and adding a book to read to my hand luggage while I add my new purchases to my check-in bag and someone is calling me. It’s the shuttle bus driver – early. I panic as I know there will be others on the bus and I might be delaying them. I quickly try to close my bags and the last of my American dollars changed to smaller denominations so I can tip when necessary. I look around to see who is at the front desk as one of the afternoon shift staff says he will come in early to wish me farewell. He thinks I’m leaving later so is not there. I feel like I am running out without saying goodbye and thank you to the lovely friendly staff at the Gershwin Hotel but I have no choice. The bus awaits.

The journey to the airport, as mentioned above, is a sad one. I get my boarding passes, go through customs and then I wait to board the flight. I have three hours to wait to board – three and a half until the flight is expected to depart. I hope it’s late so I miss my connecting flight and have to stay in San Francisco for a few days. As I wait, it rains. I image that New York is crying at my departure too. 🙂

018 | 365 Loving all things ginger

Maple syrup with Ginger

It’s my second to last day in New York and I’m feeling sad already. Today is spent walking through Union Square Markets, Washington Square markets, shopping through Soho and then back again with Naomi.

As we start out the streets seem quite. There aren’t very many people around and we consider why, is this because it is the end of summer holidays, or that it’s labour day weekend, or that school begins again on Tuesday? There isn’t the activity about from musicians or stand-up acts around the parks so maybe it’s all back to work New Yorkers as well as for us as we spend our last hours enjoying this city.

Our first stop is the Union Square Markets, that line the perimeter of Union Square Park, and they are full of wonderful local produce. If only I could purchase and take home. It all looks so wonderful. There seems to be every single variety of potato and carrot on the planet along with whatever else is in season.

I am drawn to a stall for maple syrup, Deep Mountain Maple, this is one of the produce stalls that have travelled from Vermont. I look at the labels and there are different flavours infused in each of them. I see the ginger infused maple syrup and the stallholder must notice my mouth watering as he offers me a taste. It is divine. It’s better than chilli chocolate. He explains how they grate fresh ginger into the maple syrup, this give it a better tang than using powdered or candied ginger. I want some! They do not ship overseas. The thought of placing a glass bottle of maple syrup in my luggage doesn’t appeal. If he is still there on our way back I will get a bottle but by then he is packing up, all the ginger maple syrup has been sold. It’s not meant to be. If anyone is going, or knows of someone who is going, I have a request for ginger maple syrup.

On our way down Broadway to Washington Square, we stop in The Strand bookstore. I love the bookstores in New York and this one is huge. You name it, it has it here, from old to new to rare books. As soon as we enter we are both absorbed into looking at books so before we lose each other completely, we set a time and place to meet up – half an hour we give each other. Well about an hour or so later, we leave purchases in hand to continue our walk.

This weekend in Washington Square is a different market to last weekend, it’s an artists market. There are many different type of art, from painting to jewellery to crafts and textiles. I fall for the work of one artist who has created t-shirts, scarves and hats using different textures. She doesn’t have my size t-shirt but will have more the next day. I might be able to get back there before I catch my flight home. If not, it’s not meant to be either… Naomi and I continue on to Soho.

We go into many shops. Some have music playing so loudly it is too hard to think, especially the shoe shops. One even have DJs playing with their mixing table set up along the wall of the shop. It’s crazy. Lots of people, lots of noise and lots to buy but not by us. We exit to the noise to the crowds of the streets instead. This is more peaceful.

We arrive back to the hotel after a long day walking and the first thing we need is a coffee and a delicious ginger biscuit at Birch Coffee before freshening up for our evening’s activities. It’s been a very hot day and as Naomi wants to go to a Broadway show, I let her shower and get ready first. I am in two minds about going to a show and in the end decide to have a relaxing evening preparing for my long flight home the following afternoon.

Naomi went to see Nice Work if You Can Get It with Matthew Broderick starring. It’s a show with Gershwin tunes, which would have been such fun to go to and probably would have if we had gone on another night. I am not too upset at missing the show however.

I decide to go to make a final purchase at the Gap as there is a t-shirt that I have been looking for – I love NYC in the shape of an apple – and have been told that the shop on 34th Street might still have one left. They don’t unfortunately and they do a thorough search for me too (service I’ve experienced in America is outstanding). I purchase a pair of trousers that I had tried on earlier and now on special, plus I find some jeans that are on a specials rack as well along with a San Francisco t-shirt. The jeans I get for $7! All up my three purchases cost $50, which is an amazing bargain.

To end my night, as it is a warm and beautiful night, I decide to go back to where I spent my first night, in Madison Square Park. Even though it is after 9pm, the queue for Shake Shack is long. I don’t mind, the park and the people here are lovely. I take the time to reflect on my time in New York and I chat with a New Yorker who is before me in the queue. I order my burger, a single Shack burger with extra salad, a glass of merlot and a bottle of water, and find a seat in the park. While waiting for my order to come I start two lists titled BIG, one for New York and one for San Francisco as everything about these cities isn’t on small scales, especially compared to my hometown of Adelaide in South Australia. Then eat my dinner reminiscing on my holiday before I go back to the hotel to download my day’s photos in the foyer, then up to my room to unpack and repack my bags ready for my last day before I head home. I dream about the ginger maple syrup (yum!).

014 | 365 Reflections

9/11 Memorial Pool

In Manhattan, New York City, there are many reflections. This includes buildings reflecting other buildings and traffic sounds reflecting off these buildings. It also reflects stories of its history, through its art and architecture. There are reflections of hard times and of good times in abundance, as this city is all about being big. It is the Big Apple after all.

Today, I visited the 9/11 Memorial with its two reflective pools on the sites where the two World Trade Centres stood. It is a beautiful place with the water sparkling and moving in it’s own rhythm as it falls. The noise of the water almost drowns out the noise from the street and building works around it.  And it is not only the two pools that offer reflections. There are reflections all around, in the buildings, in the water, in the erection of new World Trade Centres, the Museum around the site and the people who are visiting.

It was a moving place, but not a sad place. One thing that became apparent when going into the visitor centre on the way out of the memorial, viewing the photos and videos of survivors or loved ones of those who did not survive was a story of determination, respect, courage and love. It was a very positive place, on looking forwards and upwards.

This city is built on rock and its inhabitants are rock solid.

New Yorkers are lovely, friendly and warm. They will stop what they are doing to ask if you need help or to chat. As I haven’t been here before I wonder if this is how they were before September 11, 2001. In such a busy city where there is so much happening and so many people, locals go out of their way to help you and make you feel welcome.

New York City should be referred to as the Big Heart instead of the Big Apple.