Lazy day

Brunswick Heads, NSW

Brunswick Heads, NSW

After a big day yesterday, and pondering moving up this way permanently (even organised to view a house that’s for sale), today was about laying low. Our evening ritual of watching the Kookaburras having their dinner was followed with a light dinner. To celebrate Elvis’ birthday, we began to watch Fun in Acapulco but too tired to see it through so had a very early night (for me anyway).

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!).

016 | 365 A big day out in NYC

View of NYC from Empire State Building

The city of New York, and in particular Manhattan, has surprises every turn you take. Today was a big day full of them.

It started with a visit to the Library. Well, this library is one mighty beautiful place. Inside you can forget the roar of the city just outside. It is so big, it feels more like a museum or grand hall.

The next stop was to meet a tour guide from Manhattan Walking Tours for a walking food tour of Greenwich Village. This was not a tour where you would have a bunch of people rabbling along with you; this was an intimate one with only two other tourists. What a treat. We continued the tour with a historic walk around Downtown NYC, or what everyone calls the Financial District. Not only did we find out that the island was extended using landfill from rubble dug up when other buildings and also from flattening out the island (Manhattan translates to hills and is mainly rock. The rock was blasted to flatten it so they could set up the grid), but also some surprising little old streets hidden behind the large skyscrapers.

Our tour guide was great too. Being such a small group, you got to know each other quite well when parting it felt like an old friend had showed us around the city.

Next stop, the Empire State Building. This marvellous building seems to be watching me from every angle I travel around this city so it’s time for me to see the view that this building has of the city. Luckily I have tickets so can pass the queue and make an express way up to the top. Still, the observation deck is packed with everyone fighting for prime positions as they move around the building. I stay until after the sunsets, the almost full moon shining above and wander down the beautiful art deco building into the night.

For the evening entertainment was a show at The Duplex after a quick Mexican meal next door (called Ofrenda which was divine). The show scheduled at the Duplex for this night was put together via Twitter with a composer, two pianists, a poet and a tenor with a few weeks planning. The concept was quite interesting and something that I would like to touch on more at a later date and the show was very unique and entertaining. After the performances, we took our drinks to finish at the bar downstairs.

What fun this bar is!! The Duplex is a very tiny, almost triangle shaped space with a small bar with a few tables and a piano squeezed in the corner. Randomly, people come up and sing a song. This includes the bar staff, customers and invited guests. Anyone can get up and sing and they can sing whatever they like. It wasn’t like Karaoke. These were very, very talented people. My friend Naomi said it felt to her like being with the cast of Glee. We stayed for a little while and could have stayed well into the night had it not been for our early morning plans.

Such a full and fun day, every part of this day was so awesome. A marvellous day that will be remembered for a while!

015 | 365 It only takes one person

The High Line

Every person has the power to start a revolution.

If there is something, no matter what, that you can see making a difference, do something about it. No idea is too small to be considered.

In San Francisco there were many examples (see A City with a lot of heart and soul), of how people have made significant changes in the community by standing up for what they believe in and fighting for what they feel is a better solution. This is the same in New York City.

For example, today I spent a lovely few hours walking along the High Line. This walkway used to be railway tracks that took meat from the abattoirs to the meat-packing district. The railway had not been used since 1980 and was set for demolition. In 1999, two residents thought that this part of New York history should be preserved in some way so they set up the Friends of the High Line to advocate for the preservation of the railway. In 2002 the City of New York committed to transforming the High Line into a unique park. This park was opened in 2009 and is still being extended on.

Buildings, art installations and businesses are being built or transformed through the influence of this unique park. It is enjoyed by locals and by visitors. With the roar of the city in the background, there is some tranquillity on the park while at the same time you can view the contrasts of the old and the new of the city. This park is creating new vibrancy in areas that were run-down and adding extra life into the already creative areas like Chelsea.

It’s great having an idea but if that idea isn’t put into action it is just that, an idea. To generate change, action is required. It doesn’t have to be a huge task or be undertaken on your own. If you think something is worth doing, get people on board who agree with you, who are influential and see how you can be part of something new.

Imagining what could be and resolving to do something to make a difference only takes one small step. The rewards for all come in abundance.

To all those people that act upon their ideas, I thank you.