30th September - 11th October
30.09.2011 - 11.10.2011
The Empire state, The Big apple, the mindblower, the capital of the world, Ladies and Gentleman, get a cup of tea and maybe a biscuit or two (preferably with cream in the middle) as this blog is a New York special!!
I stayed there for 11 nights, my goodness me I didn’t realise it been that long, time certainly does fly when you’re having fun, from Friday the 30th to Tuesday the 11th. New York living is certainly expensive but I managed to make a friend in Atlanta who put me up for those 11 nights whether or not he regretted that decision is yet to be seen although for me it was a great stay and he deserves a medal for putting up with my sleep talking snoring antics so this Blog is dedicated to him, Rodrigo… (Im still unsure of your last name its some spanishy fantastically long name!)
11 nights means that there was so much that I have done, seen and been a part of and for that reason a normal blog would take a while, so with that in mind ive decided to do an alphabetical blog (im sure it’s been done before but I actually created the idea myself without prior research, im proud!!) one thing to consider is my use of poetic license some of the letters, as you will see, some are trickier than others!
musement Park (6 Flags)
The second Saturday of my New york stay was dedicated to a theme park called 6 flags which has several amazing rollercoasters and so cool attractions, it was a great day off from new york sightseeing. Since no one in New York drives (unless you’re crazy) the bus company had created a deal where you bought a bus ticket and park ticket as a combo, it works out really cheap. The bus took an hour and a half and arrived at park opening, we got in and went to the smaller side which hosted three rollercoasters and found it to be relatively empty; we managed to get on a Batman rollercoaster and twice round on what turned out to be my favourite rollercoaster called Nitro
We managed to get on the superman rollercoaster, which is like Air at Alton towers (same position) really enjoyed it although air takes it on enjoyment value, then one of the weirdest roller-coaster ever, the green lantern (which took 2 hours 15 to queue for) where you were standing up on the rollercoaster! Strange! Final rollercoaster called Bizzaro; we sneaked (unknowingly) up the fast pass steps straight onto the ride! James Bond eat our heart out!
Because Halloween was coming as well, the park opened later and put on scary shows and creatures wandering around to scare you we got into a Hypnotising show which was packed, I of course volunteered myself to try and be shaken but im afraid it didn’t work on me, although two brothers were extremely susceptible and ended up dancing, running around, putting trousers on back to front without recollection later on! What a great Saturday
rooklyn and Brooklyn Bridge
As part of my Gray line tour (see G) I got on to a red bus that took you round Brooklyn which is one of the 5 boroughs that makes up New York city, it wasn’t as huge as Manhattan but had some great buildings and views of the Manhattan skyline from across the Hudson, the highlights where a place called prospect park where a huge archway was the entrance and the greenery spread for a long distance and then the library which sat next to the park was absolutely beautiful! The tour was part of my touring package so I felt like I should do it but It wasn’t something that would be regretted having not done it!
The Brooklyn bridge however was top of the list for many people whom id spoken to and I agree it is something not to be missed, it stretches over the Hudson river and is about a mile long, it has great picture opportunities all the way along it, views of the empire state building, the statue of liberty, the new world trade buildings going up and many more sights to wow your eyes! We walked halfway before turning back; one thing to watch out for is the bike lane! I was hit twice by cyclists! (My lack of common sense) although many people fell into the same category, the hilarious part of it all was the different sounds people made as they went by to try and move you out of the way!
Where do I begin! It is central and it’s a park! Because of its location I spent time in it on a couple of days, my main park day though was Tuesday morning stretching into the afternoon, I started at the southwest corner, (59th and Central Park) wandered aimlessly for at least 2 hours, passing the lots of different rock formations which, although they were exploded into a better shape, are the only natural things within the park, everything else has been man created (man did a good job) I walked through the Zoo (the free part) and saw a sea lion having a lie down on a rock which was great! I managed to find a fortress in the upper south which had a tower that saw over the trees and to the city area, great views all around the park.
I took a break and headed to the Met (see ‘M’) then headed towards the reservoir which was huge and gorgeous, even that was man made! The amount of runners that were around this bit of water was so funny, if someone put a table out and handed free water, they’d make a lot of friends! I headed back south and found a really quiet area where I managed to sit and relax, then went to a famous fountain which was beautiful and a bride was having her picture taken by the water. After another hour or so I found myself in one of the grassy areas and had fun watching people and trying to take some funny self-timed pictures with some successful shots.
Central park is of course a must see, the best thing is to leave the map to one side and just get lost in it, I managed to find all the famous sights without looking for them, the Alice in wonderland and Hans Christian Anderson statues were both amazing and the tribute to John Lennon with his strawberry fields felt relaxed and quite moving at the same time.
ancing and Drinks
There were three occasions where the ability to dance or drink or both was possible! The first occasion was at a sing/open mic Broadway evening on my first Monday in town! I didn’t realise exactly what it was until we got there but in the end, it was a mixture of karaoke (singing to a backing track that you had chosen from a book earlier and an open mic (the backing track was provided by a very talented pianist and the songs were all Broadway songs) it was a great evening with several glasses of Sangria before I eventually got up to sing (come on you were surely suspecting that) I sang a rendition of footloose which I failed miserably at mostly because it was a musical version not the actual song! (That’s my excuse) nevertheless people cheered and I even got a high 5
The second occasion was on a trip to a place called ‘Culture Club’ an 80’s dance club on the second Friday, entrance was $15 (this was after a discount) but it was a onetime thing so my instinct said ‘PAY’ the drinks im afraid to say were just as bad, maybe worse with a Vodka Red bull at $14 needless to say I only had one of those during the night, although it was strong! The lace was good with loads of neon painting on the walls featuring 80’s characters and picture of films in the 80’s. It was a really fun evening even without drinking; the music was amazing although the DJ seemed to play the klaxon sound a little too much!
The final night of Drink and Dancing was at a place called splash on my final night in NYC. The night involved musical show tunes for the whole evening and then bringing out a Broadway star to sing a couple of songs, you have probably made an assumption about what crowd this drew in, if you guessed the gay community you’ve guessed right! (Point to you) that being said I enjoyed it a lot, got to sing and drink and here some top notch vocals from a girl who’s big on Broadway at the moment.
Highlights of the night, other than some good songs to sing, was seeing Graham Norton, yes the man himself, without anyone really recognizing him, unfortunately I was a huge scaredy cat and failed miserably, not even getting an autograph or shaking hands, I did ask how much a bud light was but that was before I knew who he was so I don’t get any points for that, (still shaking my head at the thought of it now)
mpire State Building
I am afraid to say that I didn’t go up the Empire state building at all, I had the choice of that or Rockefeller and chose the top of the rock, and I did however manage to sneak a peek inside the main entrance to see what it looked like! Definitely something I need to do when I return!
This is a toy shop on the corner of 59th and 5th which is full of endless amounts of toys from all different areas, like cuddly to action figures etc. it was really spread out and it felt like hours walking round the floors looking at all the things children are playing with these days! (Although I myself still wanted to buy a magic set!)
The big highlight and I forgot about it until I saw it was a huge floor piano/keyboard toy where you can play it with your feet, it was featured in the movie BIG with tom hanks, who with his friends plays for hours on the same Keyboard, the girls who were supervising it closed it off quite soon after we arrived and put on a keyboard show for us, they were so skilled at it, playing so many different songs, some from the film and then modern day classics, what a job to have! Such a fun place to be.
ray Line Bus tour
I decided that to cover a lot of the city and get some fun facts along the way I should do a bus tour. There are so many different ones to choose from including a thing called the show where one side of a bus is a window and the seats face that window, its literally looks like a New York show and you get to see it from a different view, I didn’t choose this option I couldn’t get my head around riding a bus sideways!
My choice was the red bus service which is strangely named the Gray line, in that I got a great tour of the uptown areas with a really animated tour guide, best spot on that was St Stephen’s church which has one of the world’s tallest spires. I happened upon the same tour guide on the downtown route where I got to many of the famous sights you associate with New York, the Court House area as you head into wall street is particularly fancy! Along with those two I got a ticket to Liberty Island (‘L’) a trip up to Rockefeller (‘R’) and a tour of Brooklyn (‘B’) it cost $84 online and works out very good comparing it to buying everything separately! The buses were always frequent and guides were good!
arlem Gospel Choir
I found a flyer for a gospel choir show on my first day in New York and the bee was in my bonnet from then that I wanted to see some gospel, so the second Sunday we bought tickets for a Gospel brunch where you got a buffet of food from 12 till 3, got to sit with a huge amount of people and then see the world famous Harlem gospel choir, it was a powerful show and even without too much religion In my life I easily got into it, singing and dancing with the choir and many of the other people, the food was great and the show was even better. Well worth the money.
My first evening in New York was occupied by a night of Improvisation, it was part of the NYMFestival (see ‘N’) you had the chance to watch others improvise scenes and do it yourself if you wanted, I did want to! So I managed to get on stage. The highlights included the host singing the national anthem to declare her pride after id said how lovely America was, and then talking about fish and chips and burning cars for several minutes! It was a great start to my trip in New York. I had a lot of fun!
umping across states
Sounds fun and it felt cool, it is I suppose the equivalent of stepping on the border line between France and Italy without the mountainous obstructions! Outside Rod’s house there is the Washington Bridge which leads from New York City all the way over to New Jersey (check the maps its true) On the first Monday morning, whilst waiting for my laundry I walked the full length of the bridge, in the middle there is a sign which one way reads welcome to ‘New Jersey’ and the other ‘Welcome to New York’ it felt powerful! If this is my excitement at border hopping, imagine what stepping into a different time-zone will feel like! Easily pleased!
nock my English Socks off
I managed to film one episode of my documentary series in New York, the idea had to be in Manhattan specifically, it was suggested to me by a good friend of mine, Chris Harrison he has been to NYC recently and told me about the whispering arches in Grand Central Station, to begin with the whole place was stunning to be in, very beautiful architecture. The whispering arches are formed in such a way that sound is echoed from one arch to the other even if it’s just a whisper, very cool, whether or not I captured the magic in my filming im still yet to see!
iberty Island (Including the Statue!)
As part of my touring package (see Grayline bus tour) I got to choose to go over and up the statue of Liberty on Liberty Island. I took that opportunity in the afternoon of Wednesday; the ferry was huge and took at least 20 minutes to load the hundreds of people queuing for the old girl. Throughout the trip the view of the New York skyline, on the ferry and the island was amazing, some great picture opportunities. I managed to get tickets to go to the Pedestal area which is just below the statue, the crown is the next stage up and the tickets for that were all sold out, the stage above the crown is her torch, it was closed due to the hurricane that hit earlier in September and looked too high to enjoy the view (scaredy cat I know!) In any case I walked the 256 steps to the pedestal and walked around to capture the sights of NYC from afar aswell as seeing the coast of Staten Island, it was a beautiful day and the view was very clear, really awe inspiring to be next to and on a monument that is known worldwide a symbol of freedom!
etropolitan museum of art
Number 1 on the list of things to do in AMERICA on several websites, this is out of a list of 10’s of thousands for the=at very reason I needed to go to see what the hype was the first impressive thing apart from the fantastic entrance hall, was the ‘recommended fee’ to get in, recommended meant that the cashier asked me if the price was ok and when I said I wanted to pay 10 dollars rather than 25 she said, ok that’s fine! What a winner
The Museum was 3 floors and gigantic on each ranging from art all the way back from ancient Egyptians all the way to modern art (the kind of knife fork and plate set on a table art) I knew I couldn’t do it in the day I’d set (which was a half day on Tuesday), but I set about with my $10 ticket, I looked at a lot of the print art that spanned from photography to newspaper art and comic strips which was really interesting. I then took a Highlights tour which took me around the museum and showed me interesting things from different exhibits, things like the Egyptians, a really cool mirror affect piece and several different tribal statues and instruments. I grabbed a small lunch and headed for some more modern and ancient American art until I was exhausted of art and left, 6 hours later! It without doubt deserves the medal for best attraction, although I haven’t done every single thing on the list, it was so well set out and looked interesting and beautiful in every direction.
This stands for ‘New York Musicals Festivals’ where new shows come to small stages around Manhattan to see how people take them. Rod the guy I stayed with was a full member meaning he was seeing as many as he could during the festival, having me stay was not going to stop him and he invited me to a full week of shows! They ranged from a Brain/head that wouldn’t die to a show about a kid wanting to be a pope and a high school show about never being kissed. My favourite was called Crazy just like me, the acting was amazing, it was focused on two best friends, one with a girlfriend, one who had been single for a while and finally realised (during the musical) that he was gay, it was a comedy but moving at the same time, I really loved it! The overload of musicals made me really want to perform again and sing, ive realised I love going to see musicals!
range and White Pipes
This was originally was sparked by my dad after I asked him about his and mums trip to New York and what I should see, he told me about smoke coming from these orange and white pipes all over the city, it was strange and created a fun fair effect throughout the city, it was an unexplained phenomenon and I never got the chance to ask somebody who knew so I need to refer back to dad on that one!
arks (excluding Central park see ‘C’)
New York has of course more than one park even though they may be overshadowed! Ive realised over this summer and this trip that I love parks and for that reason I made sure I visited as many as I good along with Central Park
Washington Square Park on sunny day was amazing, fountain and a beautiful archway, it was full of people as it was a bank holiday Monday (they don’t call it that but it was the same thing, a day off!)There was a small concert going on, I loved it! Union park was also amazing; it was full of people playing chess even though it was early evening, lots of people just relaxing! Not so many fountains but a really pretty park as well!! Brooklyn also had a park which I didn’t get to see but the tour guide really thought that it beat Central Park hands down, it was designed by the same person, Central park must’ve been a practice run!
Apart from the festival shows (see ‘N’) Rod and I decided to do a big Broadway show, with the Rock and Roll moments I had in Memphis we decided that the Million Dollar Quartet show would be a lot of fun, the MDQ features four stars who started in a place called sun studios it was all about the stories of their first step and final fame! With some crazy good songs in between!
This is a huge building complex in midtown Manhattan; it houses the NBC tours and also is where they have the outdoor skating rink and Christmas tree when December arrives, if you’ve ever seen a film with a New York Christmas tree it’s there!
The reason this place is so important to my trip is because it’s where I got my bird’s eye view of New York, on Wednesday in the early evening. It was part of my Gray line tour package as well, I chose this rather than the empire state because one it had a fantastic view of Central Park and two because it cost more so it felt like I was getting more for my money in the package deal.
The whole thing is a great experience even from when you first buy a ticket from the hall with a huge chandelier hanging in the middle, then you have to wait for your time to arrive which gives you about 30 minutes to walk around the numerous fancy shops and cafes that are hosted inside the center, then your called and you go up to one level, where you get small walk round and a little chat! Then it’s up to level 67 in a cool and very fast lift. One more walk around before an escalator up to the first viewing deck! One of the best sights of my life, the timing was perfect as I got to see Central Park just before the sunset, then got to see the sun disappear with beautiful oranges and reds, then all the lights come on in the city. It was stunning really really stunning.
The subway is the only way to get around in NYC, I bought a week pass which only cost $30 and I know for a fact in that week it took at least 60 journeys, on single tickets that would’ve cost over $100 so it was cost effective!! They are a lot more pleasant than undergrounds in London and run for longer periods of time im sure at all hours of the day and night you can ride the subway, but they are less frequent and more complicated, there are so many lines, some express where they stop at some stations and not at others and local and routes beyond imagination, you have to keep your wits about you! My weekly pass ran out on Friday meaning Saturday Sunday and Monday I had to play it tactically I did do some sneaky sneaky in some stations for money saving, but only occasionally!
Named after the New York Times when they set up residency in one of the huge towers I wanted to be in times square every single day at some point, whatever the time it was impressive although the during the night it lit up the sky and you could stop looking! Spent too much time mesmerised, took way too many pictures, but never got bored of it. A couple of years ago they built a set of red steps that were always full in the day time, we went there on the first Monday night and met some great South London girls, who then decided that we should plank on the steps, we then managed to gather a crowd who also wanted to! So in the end we had about ten people planking the steps! (Yes everyone I have planked in time square!) (For those who don’t know planking it’s a new craze where you lie on your front, arms by your side like a plank, silly but that’s what the kids are doing these days!) Check my pictures for credibility and instructions!
When I say underground artists, I don’t mean up and coming stars I mean literal underground artists, people who ive seen performing in the subways, I want to say something about them because once Rod and I had finished a show and waiting for a train, they were always there doing something to entertain people, the four I gave money to were….. A saxophone and guitarist who played extremely well together with classics as, ‘favourite things’ and ‘Aint no sunshine!’ second was a guitarist who was talented and singing, third was a black soul group, one with a cello, sax, keyboard, guitar and singing they were so cheerful and passed the time very quickly and finally I didn’t give money to but loved, with a huge boom box were some dancing people, trying to outdo each other, coming out with some very cool moves! I need to learn to breakdance!
` Rod was great and morning was crowded with eggs and sausages, toast and pancakes, then in the evening he and I with his friends had several different cusines, including some Philippine food, Japanese, some true American Pizzas, some great cakes and cheesesteaks along with a lot of fast food!
orld Trade Centre
An obviously moving place, I managed to get down there on the Wednesday morning just to walk by the place, the plan I believe is to build four tours in the place the two that previously stood. I was lucky enough to see Mayor Bloomberg ride a memorial chopper bike to the site which was really special, you needed a reservation to get into the memorial whilst construction was going on just in case they needed to evacuate so I wasn’t able to get in to that but saw parts of it from the outside the pictures online look amazing, definitely want to come back for that!
Whilst in New York, Rod (my host) had received a free week membership for a guest at his gym but this wasn’t for one gym it was for the full chain throughout New York. He gave this guest pass to me and nearly every day through the week we managed to find time, usually in the evening before a show to get some swimming, gymming (not a real word but we all know what I mean), sauna and steaming done. This meant that I got a lot of much needed exercise as well as relaxation and a second shower each day to freshen up.
It’s true what they say in New York, yellow cabs are like little ants roaming through every street at all hours in packs, they weave in and out of pedestrians other cars and the odd horse and carriage. In films ive seen them hailed in a big dramatic whistle fashion, in real life people tend to stand in the middle of roads with their hands in the air, although I have heard a couple of whistle and shouts of ‘TAXI’ during my NYC time I rode in just one cab and the experience was fantastic, they have a touch screen in the back to mark the distance, see the rout you’ve taken, look at sports scores, the news plus so so much more, as if a taxi journey isn’t fun enough they introduce that dream screen!!
On the subject of Yellow Cabs, whilst walking to our subway home, we saw a suspicious looking cab with a camera crew hanging round, and a big crowd, we found out very quickly that it was the filming of ‘Cash Cab’!! They must’ve won big because all of them came out screaming and holding a wad of cash, I managed to get a film so I’ll put that online, it looked genuinely like a cab, it was a great media experience!
Not so much to do with my New York experience, she is my most beautiful and favourite actress in the world today! The reason I bring her up is because she has a new series on American TV which I have been keeping up with, because of this there was huge billboards spread around the city advertising the show and her, it had her picture blown up to huge which is a great bonus sight, along with the tourist attractions, to see Zooey in huge pictures all over the city just makes my day better.
The amount of people ive seen selling this over the week ive been there is unbelievable, the reason being, is it has been so hot over the week that I have been there, from Sunday to Monday a full 8 days, there was no rain and barely any wind so the ‘Ice cold water’ team was out in force, beautiful weather to be doing everything and although swissues became a problem once in a while but that didn’t bother me with the New York sun high in the sky, plus this gave some beautiful sunsets here and there highlighting the Manhattan Skyline.
So there you have it, 26 points all with some alphabetical coordination, of course there are other things that went on but the most important I think are listed! I absolutely loved New York and like Washington DC absolutely want to be back again and again! It was huge and beautiful and hot and amazing, no city will live up to the awe that New York City is. Already ive seen films with monuments I recognize, like ‘Big Daddy’ (that is a great movie!)As I write this im really missing the city, it certainly is the city that never sleeps and I loved it. Big thanks to Rod my excellent host, without him I wouldn’t have been able to have been to stay for 11 nights and have as much fun or see as many sights as I did. Plus he relighted my love for a great musical. What a Guy!