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The Big O.E An epic adventure across the world, backpacker style :)

London to New York

USA | Tuesday, 30 September 2008 | Views [692]

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Our last time in London for a while, so we crammed in as much as we could! We spent some time with the Bennetts in Putney and our friends in Wapping. Their baby John has grown up so much since we met him as a six month old, and now he's walking and talking - it makes us realise how long we've been away!

We went to the show Stomp with my cousin Dean. Pretty impressive rhythms and dancing. And we went to a West End production of the Lion King. The costumes and set were just stunning! I loved seeing how they portrayed the wildebeest stampede on stage. But I wasn't that impressed with the dancing - they had obviously cast singers. But we both really enjoyed the show.

We said goodbye to familiar England and headed over to the United States. And it was so different to what I'd expected! New York is such a buzzing city and we had a marvellous time there! It may have had something to do with the fact that we were on our way home, so our budget was much more flexible. And it might have been because our luggage allowance doubled on the flights, which meant we could buy two bags full of stuff, after two years of no proper shopping...

We came away from New York absolutely loaded up with a new tent, new shoes, clothes and make up (we spent a fair amount of time at Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch). I had a ball!

We were so lucky to be staying with Tim, who we met while we were working on the Isle of Wight. His parents are friends with the Sheldons, and he came with them to dinner one night. He must have liked our cooking or something as he invited us to stay at his apartment on the Lower East Side in New York (very cool). When we arrived, a bit jet laggy, he took us out for the night in his newly adopted city. The views from his apartment were spectacular - from the Brooklyn Bridge to the skyscrapers in the city.

He hailed a yellow cab like a pro and we went to eat the best burgers and fries in the city (at least, he assured us they were). We never would have found it tucked away at the back of the lobby of a very swanky hotel. We went out for cocktails on the top of a skyscraper. It was a bit chilly outside, so they had red dressing gowns for people to wrap up in. It was all very Sex and The City. Cocktails on the roof looking out over the city lights. And did I mention that the Empire State Building was all lit up right next door? It felt like we were inside a movie!

The next day, Tim flew out to Paris. As you do when you're an international consultant. So we had his apartment to ourselves! I couldn't resist checking his wardrobe - at least 50 expensive shirts all drycleaned and hanging in plastic. When his laundry basket is full, he just dumps it in the lobby, and when he comes home, it's all cleaned, pressed, wrapped and hanging in the wardrobe.

We went shopping at the whole foods 'supermarket'. They sell everything from goji berries to agave nectar, to ostrich eggs. And lots of pre-prepared food for travellers like us, and americans who no longer cook for themselves.

James was walking home on Broadway, and heard a New Zealand accent. Who should be there but Kate Lindsay from Southland Boys' High School in Invercargill?! So Kate and Matt came for a drink at 'our' apartment, and we went out for dinner with them the next evening. It was so cool and unexpected to see Kiwis we knew.

Something different we ate was called a Knisch. It's a Jewish thing, kind of like a stuffed potato with cheese and mince.

We did a lot of sightseeing - the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 Site, Wall St (there is a statue of a bull on the corner :)

James' favourite was the Chrysler building. It is a pretty spectacular building. It's art deco, and we're going to live in the art deco capital of little old NZ. I wonder if any of Napier's buildings will be comparable? We ate soup and crackers in the food hall, which isn't as bad as it sounds. We visited Trump Tower, which was actually playing "New York, New York" and it was just as excessive as we'd expected. Chilling in Central Park was relaxing.

My favourite shop was Tiffany's, with all it's diamonds, sparkles and doormen. I was surprised the staff actually spoke to us in our daggy travelling clothes. But we played the game too, and pretended like we might possibly be interested in buying something. They had the massive diamond that Audrey Hepburn wore in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" on display.

Another memorable shop was the Abercrombie & Fitch flagship store. They had half naked models on the door posing for polaroid photographs with customers. It was like walking into a nightclub that had lots of clothes on display. It was almost dark, and had blaring bassy music, and there were people employed to stand on the floor and dance and greet customers!! We window shopped our way down 5th avenue. We couldn't believe the M&M building (3 floors of M&Ms and related merchandise - what the?) We saw the most expensive advertising space ever with all the billboards at Time Square, and we were even interviewed by Fox news (some quiz about American politics. The presenter made jokes about Flight of the Conchords). There were more Starbucks stores than MacDonald's restaurants, with one Starbucks about every 50 metres.

The subway and restaurants had massive seats, but there were not as many obese people as I was expecting after watching "Supersize Me". But Tim said that New York is not the typical US city. A bit like Cannes in France methinks...


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