Wednesday, June 25, 2014

NYC & New London

We arrived in NYC on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning and went out to brunch with Leonie, Joel & Joel's Girlfriend Banu (an NYC local). After an almost hour-long wait we enjoyed an absolutely delicious meal at Jack's Wife Freda. It was great to catch up with Leonie & Joel and meet Banu. I think our hour long wait could have easily been longer if we didn't have Banu on the case of the maitre d who seemed to be letting in a lot of alty looking friends before us.

Later that day we explored the Bushwick Open Studio's with Harley & Monica - an event running that weekend where heaps of artists in the area had their studios open for the weekend. After being in the same area in April, the vibe was so different in the sun! The streets were packed with people and some of the art was just amazing.

Excellent display of dancing from this girl who grooved along to the guitar for a good ten minutes while her mum waited patiently with her scooter

We began our tourist activities with the High Line walk and Times Square. The High Line was a great way to see NYC from a different perspective, I so often felt disorientated there and you just seem to be looking up the entire time so it was cool to look down onto the busy streets for once.

On the High Line
Pretty flowers on the High Line
Times Square

Wee man had a wee spill at M & M's world. We were quite shocked by the amount of punters carrying around full baskets of M & M's products while we were in store, anything from PJ's to Aprons to soccer balls - you can get it ALL with M & M's on them!

Coffee connoisseur with his free Nespresso. This activation was so amazing, set up in Grand Central terminal for the week you could get a free coffee that tasted so good I am now seriously considering purchasing a Nespresso machine when we get settled in London. We went back again during the week for another round.
Alex with his Bison Burger  at Bare Burger
My conjunctivitis was still going strong so we made an appointment to see a doctor who within 5 minutes had prescribed me with a 'modern' alternative to the eye drops I had received in Cuba. The consultation was $125 (!) but thankfully Southern Cross only charges one excess per medical event, the event being conjunctivitis - so I will be able to claim some back. The contrast between Cuba and the US is at it's best when you look at the medical system. There are pharmacies on almost every block in downtown Manhattan, not just fulfilling prescriptions and selling health related items - but gigantic pharmacies where you can buy your weekly groceries. We dropped in the script and were advised there would be a 40 minute wait so popped next door to Bare Burger for lunch (thanks for the recommendation Leonie & Joel!), returning to the pharmacy about an hour later. The eyedrops were still not ready, and the line of people picking up their prescriptions took forever as each person asked various questions about the drugs and whether or not they would be covered by their insurance policy (not to mention picking up the groceries for the week at the same time and clogging up the queue!). It must be so frustrating to live in a country where accessing the most basic medical care and prescriptions requires so much effort! We were all a little disgruntled when our subsidised prescriptions went from $3 to $5 - honestly, we don't know how lucky we have it!
Up the Empire State building

Grabbing Life by the Balls in the Financial District

Hired bikes and cycled round Central Park, beautiful! Met Char on a grassy knoll  for a catch up while we were in the park.
Alex and his buddy from school, Reg

Our trip to NYC coincided with the Harvard vs Yale race which is held near New London, CT each year. Mum & Dad shouted us an AirBnB room for the night in New London so we caught the train out on Friday afternoon. Alex was at first a bit disgruntled to be missing the only full weekend we'd have in NYC but these concerns were thankfully abated when we arrived in the picturesque town in the early evening. Our room at the B & B was fantastic, and we headed off to the biannual Greek Food Festival that evening for dinner on the recommendation of our hosts. I wasn't overly impressed with the options available but Alex convinced me that half a chicken with sides was excellent value at only $9 so we ordered, and to his absolute delight we were told at the counter that it was now only $4.50 as it was the end of the night. The great deal of the half chicken dinner was reiterated to me multiple times over that weekend, but I enjoyed my $4.50 ice cream in a waffle cone a lot more than that average Greek chicken.

Fee & Quentin Reeves (Mum & Dad of Ed, another NZ boy who goes to Yale with Adam) picked us up the next day and we headed off to "The Rock" - supposedly a great viewing point for the race. Expecting great things for this great old race we were a little disheartened to find that "The Rock" really was just a painted rock which definitely didn't look as luxurious as the Harvard tent set up on the other side of the river. But we weren't there for the plush surroundings, and it's not everyday your sibling races in an event that started in the 1850's! 

The race is 6.4km so it is kind of impossible to get a good view of the entire thing unless of course you were on a boat. We heard that way-back-when a spectator train with a grandstand on the back followed the boats down the course - how amazing would that be! And as the race used to be a gambling affair, the entire course used to be lined with spectator boats eager to see how their bet was fairing. At some point they decided it was a bit immoral to be betting on a University Sport with 'Children' involved.

The Rock is traditionally painted in the colours of the current champions, and unfortunately it will remain red for this year... But let's hope the blue paint comes out next year for the 

We drove to the Yale camp at Gales Ferry after the race which the boys live in throughout the summer and train on the river alongside it. Yale rowing crews have been training there for over 100 years, and a lot of the old traditions are still going strong - including a Bard Book where the boys dictate filthy limericks to a Freshman scribe throughout the summer. Adam's room here reminded me of his room at home, with the floor barely poking through the clothes all over the ground. I was very shocked when speaking to Mum this week that he has apparently been cleaning and cooking for himself in his new flat in New Haven, even telling mum he was worried about the other "messy" flatmate moving in and messing things up. Honestly - who is this boy! 

Our B & B - The Big House - aptly named due to it's size. Fee & Quentin told us it looked like the house from The Shining when they came to pick us up. I was glad that the horror movie parallels were only pointed out to us after we'd slept there as I wouldn't have been able to sleep if I'd thought about that the night before!

One of about 5 or 6 churches in the pretty small town, no idea how they fill them all up every Sunday!

New London harbour

Yale spectators
Alex, Me, Adam & Ed at Gales Ferry after the race

Some light reading at the Boat House
The neighbours house at Gale's Ferry
We headed back to NYC that evening and watched the movie: The Grand Budapest Hotel en route, highly recommended for anyone after a good film to watch. We spent the next 5 nights at Harley and Monica's in Williamsburg and continued to explore NYC.

We took the ferry out to the Statue of Liberty and stopped off at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum which was really well done - a free audio tour was included, and the exhibits were laid out superbly with really interesting stories on each of the ethnic groups that had come to the USA. After watching The Book of Mormon the week before, we found the display on the real Joseph Smith quite hilarious (if you do get the chance to go to the show - do it! It is well worth it). The Mormon's made their way with carriages to Salt Lake City, Utah were they were free to live their polygamous ways in their new occupied territory. The land was inhabited by Native Americans when they arrived, and at first everyone managed to get along - but eventually war broke out over the available resources on the land, and the US government granted the land to the Mormon's. They kicked the Native Americans out and into neighbouring 'reserves' for them to live in - absolutely outrageous!

Outlook from the ferry over to a hazey NYC
And lovely weather to welcome us back to Manhattan
A pre-historic tortoise, me bored mainly due to the pushy selfy taking tourists - here I am likely googling the nearest Sephora store. Looking back I am slightly embarrassed.

We didn't really take a huge amount of photographs considering the time we spent in NYC, but here's a wee list of some of the other things we did whilst in the Big Apple:

  • Dinner at Roberta's in Bushwick, delicious woodfired pizza and where the season finale of GIRLS (season 2) was filmed.
  • Brunch at a Belgain Beer House in Williamsburg with Harley & Monica
  • MOMA - Museum of Modern Art, again for me - but still fantastic nonetheless
  • Museum of Natural History - I found this museum a bit crap, it was a rainy day so it was absolutely packed with people though. The crowds in here were literally blocking the way to take selfies of themselves with dinosaur bones, and I could not deal with this. I left Alex there for an extra hour while I popped down to Sephora to purchase a mascara.
  • The Met - another huge museum, so much cool stuff in here and you could easily spend a day inside.
  • Dinner, Drinks and Ice Hockey at a Sports Bar in Brooklyn for our last night - 10 x chicken wings for $1 (wouldn't buy or eat again though).
  • Repeat of the delicious frozen mojitos at Surf Bar
  • Went to see The Book of Mormon on Broadway - already mentioned but this was a real highlight!
  • Dinner with Rosie at our old favourite Los Hermanos where a meal is $4 and you can BYO whatever you like for no extra cost.
  • Drinks at The Wythe Hotel overlooking Manhattan.
  • Dinner at The Meatball Shop in Williamsburg, spectacularly delicious meatballs and sides which we have since tried to recreate ourselves.
  • Caught up with Reg - Alex's friend from The British School of Paris who lives in NYC
  • Visited the salad bar at Wholefoods multiple times, god it is so good - I could barely stop myself each time we visited it.
  • Hung out with all of our super cool friends from NZ that now live in NYC! (Char, Sophie, Rosie, Harley & Jesse)
Delicious Frozen Mojitos at Surf Bar in Brooklyn
This is the only famous person I saw the entire time I was in NYC, but I am sure Mum & Sarah will be excited for me as they've been watching a lot of ER re-runs on Vibe ;-)

We bought all of our camping equipment for Glastonbury in the states due to the unbeatable prices of and our 2 x bag allowance on Iceland Air. Although this decision was great economically, the process involved of getting 4 x bags of stuff on the train and into the airport had it's challenges. Hopefully we will be pleased when we set up our deluxe, super-waterproof tent at Glastonbury tomorrow.

God I am behind on this blog!

Next up - ICELAND


No comments:

Post a Comment