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Tegan & Ingrid's world adventure

“The concrete jungle that dreams are made of…”

USA | Friday, 10 February 2012 | Views [898]

The Hamptons

The Hamptons

Home.  The word can mean so many things, and can draw a completely different emotive response in one person to the next. For some the word can immediately conjure an image of their childhood house; growing up over the years. For others it could hold a much larger scale meaning such as a town, city or even a country. The thing is, for long term travellers, the meaning of the word ‘home’ can tend to dissolve over time. For me it was becoming hard to remember what the true feeling of being at ‘home’ was. Some might say 6 months is not so long to lose that feeling, but I guess I’ve never really stayed in one place all that long through my entire life, so I have developed a knack for accepting and adapting to changing surroundings. Having said all this, I have to say I was quite surprised and happy to be feeling at ‘home’ in New York City.

The day after Christmas came and it was time to say goodbye to the penthouse suite at 75th and 2nd. We were now moving into a two bedroom apartment on 79th, but more excitingly we were moving in with Michael and Hanna. The stuff sitcoms are made of; four friends, two couples living together on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The place had some character, some ‘rustic charm’ so to speak, but it was now our home for the next 20 days or so.

Over the next few days, the four of us continued to explore Manhattan and visit the wide range of attractions it has to offer. We spent a day ambling through MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) admiring works from Picasso, Warhol and Dali among others.  Another we spent taking a self-guided tour wondering past many Seinfeld landmarks throughout NYC such as the Soup-Nazi kitchen, the diner and the building they used for all the exterior shots of Jerry’s apartment block. Afterwards we found ourselves checking out what Harlem had to offer, which included some great soul food (Corn Bread is pretty much amazing and Hanna’s new favourite food ever).
For something a little different, we rented a car for a day and drove across Long Island and out to the Hamptons where we spent the day window shopping for mansions and beach front real estate.  This trip also saw us partake of one of the more strange meals we’ve ever had in a western country; Taco Pizza – with corn chips! (Check the pics)
Later, we also found some of the best views of the Manhattan skyline and the statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry, which just happens to be FREE!

And then at long last came the 31st of December, a date that we had been looking forward to for quite some time. However, instead of joining in the typical NYC NYE pastime of standing around Times Square for 7 hours with 700,000 other people and no toilets waiting for a crystal bubble to lower itself up above countless corporate billboard advertisements in freezing cold weather, we opted for something a little more, how do you say, AWESOME! The four of us managed to score tickets to a NYE party inside an old Broadway theatre which had been converted into a new giant nightclub. The place was incredible! To make the night even better, when we were shown to our table we discovered that we had only one seat to share between four. So instead of just finding us extra seats the manager decided that it would simply be easier to upgrade us to one of the best tables in the house. The table came stocked with endless finger food, a full bottle of Grey Goose Vodka with bottomless mixers AND our own bottle of Verve Champagne. We celebrated our New York City New Year’s Eve in absolute style and partied the night away.

Needless to say the following day didn’t involve much more than trying to somehow rejuvenate our bodies after a pretty crazy night, but on the 2nd of Jan we continued our exploration of NYC. We took a walk down into Brooklyn, crossing over the Brooklyn Bridge and exploring some of the streets that have moulded some fine artists and musicians of the last century. Afterwards, we headed back into Manhattan and paid our respects at the newly finished 9-11 Memorial at ground Zero – quite an amazing and moving place.

As hard as it is to leave NYC, we thought we’d check out the nation’s capital for a couple of days so we boarded a bus for Washington DC. Our short two day trip down south just happened to coincide with the coldest weather of the month. The temperature hovered around -3 degrees and quite windy, however, we were missing the even colder -8 degrees weather that was hitting NYC at the time, so not bad timing really. Washington was pretty much everything the movies had conjured in our minds prior to our visit. We saw heaps of famous landmarks such as the White House, Capitol Hill, the Lincoln, Jefferson and Roosevelt Memorials and the Washington Monument, basically a lot of big marble buildings that we have seen destroyed more than once in alien invasion and end-of-the-world films.

DC is also known for its museums. The Smithsonian Institute has several museums throughout DC; we spent a few hours wondering through the Air and Space museum and got to check out the actual Apollo 11 Capsule that housed Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins over 40 years ago. We also made a visit into the American History museum where we gazed upon anything from the original flag that was the inspiration for the American anthem to Judy Garlands Ruby Slippers from the Wizard of Oz to the very first Muppets created by Jim Henson (my personal favourite). As it turns out, Kermit was originally a Lizard! Who’da thunk it!

A little later, once back in NYC, it was time for Michael and Hanna to head back home. It had been absolutely amazing spending so much of our adventure with two great friends; it made it even more special being able to share it with them. As a last hurrah, the four of us spent an evening Ice Skating in Central Park as the sun went down. So much fun!

We now had the apartment to ourselves – so we thought. We found a couple of Mice that had decided to set up shop in our kitchen towards the end of our stay. It was annoying at first, but quickly became quite amusing trying to snare them in one of my home engineered, animal friendly, Mouse Traps (a lot more difficult than the board game would have you believe)!

A few days after Michael and Hanna had left we kind of felt like we were missing a bit of evening festivities, so we decided to wander the streets of the Upper East and drop into a few random drinking holes and see what crazy local New Yorkers we could meet. Our first was to a venue by the name of Southern Hospitality; a quite inviting name, and while we did not meet any crazy New Yorkers, we did enjoy some hearty southern style fried food. The second venue was a bar called The Stumble Inn (more like the Stumble Out as we were to discover). As soon as we stepped into the jam packed bar our attention was immediately grabbed by the section of the bar usually reserved for Pool tables back in Australia. However in the NYC the game of choice in pubs in not Pool or Snooker, but Beer Pong! After befriending some locals the two of us managed to score a game against the carry over winners – needless to say we destroyed them in true Aussie spirit. Ingrid had had enough of the winning feeling after the first game, and so I was left to find a worthy replacement Pong partner. One of our new friends (who happened to look a heck of a lot like one of our mates back home, Wez) stood up to the plate. What was to follow was neither probable nor logical, but the two of us remained undefeated for the remainder of the night! No one could match our pong precision, more like pure ass luck but we talked it up. Now, while winning Beer Pong is awesome, it also means that you continue to play more and more games, and continue to drink more and more beer. This resulted in a very drunk Tegan and another sleepy day-in the following day.

Two must do’s for us while in NYC was to see both a Broadway show and a sporting event. As it turned out, I got to choose the Broadway show and Ingrid got to choose the sporting event. Possibly most people that don’t know us well would find that strange but I’m sure our friends understand that makes perfect sense. We managed to score tickets to go see the New York Knicks play the Philadelphia 76ers in what was a very tight NBA match. But the Knicks prevailed in the end and all was good in Madison Square Garden. The Broadway show however proved to be a little more difficult to manage than expected. Box Office tickets are pretty expensive on Broadway and so we opted for the cheaper option which is a ticket lottery. I just happened to choose one of the most popular shows in town and so it took us 3 days of putting our name in the ballot, crossing our fingers, and hoping either of our names were called out of the hundreds of people vying for the 15 or so tickets available before Ingrid’s name was read out on the third attempt and finally we got to see ‘Wicked’ from THE FRONT ROW! It was spectacular!

Musicals aren’t all that Broadway has on offer. There are many plays as well. We had read about a play with Australia’s own Rachael Griffiths that was showing, ‘Other Desert Cities’ and thought we go check it out, and we are glad we did. It was amazingly moving, and all the actors were stunning in their performances.

A few days before our time in the USA was up, we caught up with a few more friends from home, Matt and Pau Lin who just happened to be in town as well. Again it was really great to see some familiar faces and catch up on what was happening back home.

Finally, there were only a few important items that remained on our ‘To Do in NYC’ list. Firstly, we paid a visit to the United Nations Headquarters and took a tour through the conference chambers where many world changing decisions have been made, and secondly, we stopped by a little shop known as ‘the Two Red Hens’ to sample some of NYC’s finest New York Cheesecake. Last but by no means least, for our last day in New York we wandered along the newly finished High Line Park in the Chelsea area of Manhattan. High Line Park is an old disused elevated Train track Bridge which stretches for around 5 miles that has been converted into a public walkway and park. It’s a really fantastic way to catch views of both the NYC skyline as well as the Hudson River all the while looking down on the never ending traffic from 3 storeys up.

By the end of our month in NYC, I was most definitely feeling at home, and in a way was quite sad to be leaving. NYC had been so good to us and we had enjoyed our time there so much, however the final exciting and, in a way, most daunting chapter in our adventure was beckoning, and who were we to keep it waiting. Next Stop, South America.

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