Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Back to NYC: Part 3, Our last days

The last few days of our trip are actually a blur at this point. We were both so tired but determined, there was so much that we hadn't yet seen and we weren't going to leave without trying to see it all!

So on our last full day in NYC we went to Staten Island so we could take the ferry past the Statue of Liberty, then we went to Coney Island because it's creepy as hell, and then we crossed the Brooklyn bridge and walked wall street. Phew.

I was... kinda disappointed by the statue of liberty. Yeah, it was cool and big and stuff but from the Ferry it kinda just looked like a dong protruding from the coast (please don't shoot me for saying that). I think that it is probably a hell of a lot more impressive up close, but neither Brandt nor I were willing to risk the crowds to see it like that. 

Staten Island was pretty cool. Due to time constraints, we didn't spend a lot of time there but we walked a bit and it was nice to be on the coast. 

A lady offered to take a photo of us and, to be honest, I was so on edge letting her do so! Being a South African, I expect everyone to run off with my stuff. So in this photo, I was kinda ready to run after and tackle this women in order to save my photos!  

This was the only ballpark we visited in the US and so we had to take a horse photo (okay maybe just me) with it.

There was also a war memorial on Staten Island which, obviously, was not as impressive as the one in Washington DC, but it was pretty cool anyway. (The photo below is not mine)

Next, we went to Coney Island which was a very creepy place to be! The sign below was quite strange to me, as from what I see it is Russian (correct me if I'm wrong). Coney Island was very strange in the way that it was almost washed out. The beach front was okay, but I do prefer our beaches in South Africa (minus the litter).

I must say, I was more terrified than delighted on the island. I kept expecting to be eaten by a clown. Buuuut I'm still here so... You lose, Mr. Clown.

I found the walk from Coney Island beach to the train station to be very odd. The area was dingy, almost like being in the middle of Durban.

Next, Brooklyn Bridge! It took us a long time to get ourselves to this point, as we honestly could not figure out what bridge was the f*&^ing Brooklyn one. It was an ongoing joke between us...

We wondered around Brooklyn for a bit trying to find it and got a pretty cool view of the culture of the area. There were ballerinas and dodgy looking guys and, overall, it was quite a cool thing to see. When we finally got to the bridge, there were sooo many tourists. But then again, we were tourists too so we couldn't really complain. I'd probably lose my mind if I had to commute by foot or bicycle over the Brooklyn Bridge every day and couldn't because TOURISTS!

I wish we'd had a lock with us so we could have added it to the line that was already there. I want a lock for Brandt and I on every continent! Ah well, next time...

This is probably my favourite photo from the trip because this girl just totally photo bombed me! She rode past on her bicycle saying "sorry sorry sorry sorry!" 

And then there's what the photo was supposed to be, which turned out to be pretty awesome. By this point I was so grey from tiredness, and so bent over that I almost looked like a bridge myself. 

The bridge police are hilarious. I was glad that this guy didn't climb out of his... shopping cart and tell me to delete my photos like the police in South Africa do. But I suppose the police in the US don't have anything to be ashamed of!

Well this photo is out of place.

So, we actually stumbled across Wall Street. When we got to the other side of Brooklyn Bridge, we were seriously hungry. There was a very affordable sushi place that I'd seen promoted all over Trip Advisor, and so we thought we'd try and find it. So what did we do? We found a Starbucks for the free wifi. And once we found Bento Sushi, we found wall street! 

It was really hard to try and get home though because we swiped our metro cards at one station and found that we were at the wrong station, so we had to cross the road and try to swipe them on the other side. And the machine wouldn't let us through. What. a. mission. We stood around in a big sporting shop for a while, and had a look at a massive shoe shop too, but after it still didn't work we decided to walk to the next stop and give that a try. When we finally got home, we were so tired that I honestly don't remember that last night at all.

This was the last day in NYC. We went to Central Park and saw chipmunks! I got seriously pissed off when it started raining because we became absolutely soaked and our luggage was locked away because we had checked out of our rooms already, and so we couldn't shower. And there was a two day trip home ahead of us, completely dirty from the rain...

I had also slipped on a street and into a huge puddle which didn't make things any better. It was my last day in NYC and the last thing I wanted to do was sit in the place we were staying and do nothing!

So, our trip home was a 14 hour flight to Dubai, a 9 hour layover (yes, you heard me) and another 8 or so hours from Dubai and back to South Africa. By the end of this all, I was so exhausted that I literally just lay around for the majority of this. I couldn't handle not being horizontal anymore, even though I couldn't really sleep. 

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Back to NYC: Part 2, My Birthday

So, this past birthday is going to be a hard one to beat. I'm half desperate to spend every birthday I have until the day I die in a different part of the world. In the morning, we took the subway and found ourselves in China Town. We'd gone to China Town in Washington too, but there's nothing like NYC. It was such a shock because this side of town was completely different from anything else in the city, and there was just so much to see in so little time!
I couldn't get over how strange it was to find jade penises for sale in the shops. I thought of buying one but then I thought, "and then what am I going to do with it?!" and decided against it. I just thought they were so arb. It'd be hilarious to have one in my living room just to see whether people notice it or not. I'd place it somewhere behind where I'd sit in the room so I could monitor my guests' awkward, unsettled glances. 
On our way home, we ran into two little girls selling lemonade and it was delicious. I was so happy to have a typical lemonade stand experience!
I wish that I could have looked a little bit less exhausted!
Here's a sexy couple in the lounge at International House. I wasn't a huge fan of International House at all, I thought it was dirty and a little bit odd, but everyone else seemed to enjoy it. 
Coming back to South Africa, I miss the ability to go everywhere so quickly and safely. The subway was so well managed and a hell of a lot cleaner than what a friend of Brandt's said it was. 
We headed to Times Square to Hard Rock Cafe for my birthday dinner. The best fiance ever award goes to Brandt for this one! I had an extremely yummy veggie burger and beer. 

After we went to Hard Rock Cafe, we headed to Brooklyn which was an AMAZING experience. I was so surprised by how different the culture was to that in NYC itself, there was just a completely different vibe. We went to a place called Barcade, which was really awesome because it was literally a bar with old arcade games in it.

Back to NYC: Part 1

By the time we were back in New York, we'd already been travelling for two whole weeks, and had been getting very little sleep. At this point, photos of us gradually became uglier and uglier because we were just so tired! The one below is a good example. 

This photo sparks a memory of one of the coolest things I've ever seen in my life: The ice cream vending machine at International House, NYC. 

This ice cream machine used a vacuum to pick up the products! I know this probably isn't particularly exciting for anyone else in this world but me, but I was completely taken aback. I found a youtube video of a similar one. 
On our first day back, we decided to go to 30 Rockefeller, or rather Rockefeller Center. Brandt and I are both extreme 30 Rock fans, and Tina Fey is one of my role models and heroes. We wanted to go on a 30 Rock studio tour (like the ones in the show, led by Kenneth Parcell) but apparently the studio tours have been "under construction" for so f-ing long and we weren't able to go for one. 

We went to the Lego store at 30 Rock because if anyone isn't yet aware of this, Brandt turns into a child around Lego. We were a bit disappointed with the store because it wasn't anything extraordinary. It was kinda cool to wander through but there weren't any rare or strange pieces, and there were far too many children (which we should have expected).
This face demonstrates just how exhausted we were by this point. The statue behind Brandt appears in the opening sequence of 30 Rock.
We splurged a little on lunch on this day, both being disappointed at not being able to go on the studio tour. Brandt had a Bento box which he still talks about to this day, and I had maki and a calamari salad.

This photo was actually taken at the beginning of the day, before the disappointment! I squeaked with excitement when I saw the NBC sign.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Travel Diaries Part 4: Washington DC

I feel like Washington DC is somewhere that I could actually live in the USA. The people are friendly but productive, and relaxed but active. They are my kind of people! I wish I'd been a little bit less tired by the time we got to Washington because there was just so much to see. I was also starting to run a little bit low on money by this point, so a few things were quite restricted.
Brandt and I came across this weird... festival... thing... in a big park near the Capital. My guess is that it's some form of Earth parade, but I'm probably completely wrong about that! Either way, it was completely obscure and we were a little bit baffled.
 I was seriously disappointed with the White House. In the movies, they make it seem so accessible and grand, but in real life it's kinda... too far away for me to really give a shit about!
Brandt and I were glad to finally see it though because I'd been running around DC saying, "That's the White House, that's the White House!" for everything that wasn't the White House (specifically the Capitol), so at this point my enthusiasm for naming everything the White House was finally put to rest.
 The Smithsonian museums were pretty freaking epic. Unfortunately, we were at the point of serious sensory overload by this point so I really didn't appreciate the museums as much as I'd like to have done so. I feel like I could have used an extra week in Washington because there was just so much to see.
 This quote spoke to me, and every time I read it I get excited, it inspires me deeply.
"They may have cut down our sacred tree. But they forgot to destroy the roots. And now the roots are blossoming"
 The National Monument.
The Lincoln Statue was pretty awesome, if only because of it's size. I remember this day as being possibly the hottest we'd experienced so far, and Washington was beautiful. By this point I had a very epic tights tan half way down my calf, and Brandt was working on his boer tan daily. Speaking of boers, later on in the presidents park we heard Afrikaans and stopped to have a conversation with other South African tourists whose kids were at Stellenbosch studying Engineering. Small world.
Life would be better if I were a moose. This dude has his shit together.  
 This WW2 memorial gave me Goosebumps, and I'm a cold hearted bitch.
I feel like this memorial was cooler than the National Monument and the Lincoln statue put together. Sorry dude, you're just not that interesting.
I just like this photo because there were so many Special Police Officers around, and one told us that we could go through the fence, so we didn't have to walk the whole way around the President's Park to get to the road. Thanks, dude.
 I really enjoyed our tour of the Capitol. This was on the first day of our travels, and we arrived just in time for the final tour of the day. Tours were free and informative, an awesome end to our tourist attractions for the day.
One day when trying to get home, Brandt and I got caught in a downpour. That. was. awesome. So we hung out under a bridge for a while, and the rain never really passed so we just kept on going.
This was another photo at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
 The most disappointing Walmart in the universe. Brandt and I pretty much survived on Pringles for lunch throughout our journey, as they were affordable and there were so many flavours to choose from. We stocked up here.
 Hello, President's Park.
Brandt treated me to a carousel ride which was awesome! And then the dork stood on one of the horses and got shouted at.
Street food in DC was incredible, I wish I'd taken a photo of the road full of food trucks. On this day, I had chickpeas and pilau rice with salad, while Brandt had whatever that is he's holding! They were both delicious, and the trucks were spotless.
 Three specimens.
 On one of the nights, Brandt and I headed to China Town and had a meal. It was a very average meal of veggie fried rice for me, but it was substantial and Brandt finished it for breakfast the next day. The lady sitting behind Brandt in this photo unfortunately would not stop talking to us. It was frustrating because this was the first time we were eating dinner out on our travels, and I was hoping for it to be a sort of romanticish (lol really Jen, what did you expect?!) affair, and then this woman just wouldn't shut up! I felt awful because she was obviously very lonely, but we really just wanted to keep our conversation to ourselves and eat a meal in peace. It had been quite a stressful day from what I remember, and all we wanted was some peace and quiet.
 On this day, Brandt and I were trying to find a street. In Washington, you get hundreds of streets from the middle to the left and to the right, and we walked in the completely wrong direction for about 1000 streets. And then found out that we were on the wrong side entirely and had to wonder all the way back. Brandt felt awful about putting me through "bad navigation", but actually I really enjoyed the walk. We got to see a side of Washington that you wouldn't see otherwise, and it was one of the most awesome experiences I've had in my life. So, it was a real blessing in disguise.
 Bed Bath & Beyond is more interesting than Walmart. There, I said it.
 This is a view from the Lincoln memorial.
 The Capitol again, I really like this photo because it's moody.
 This little red squirrel was awesome. He was so friendly and stood so close to us.
 One of the most awesome parts of the trip was heading back to NYC. We took a bus and got seats at the front of the bus so we could see out the front. By this point I'd gotten quite fed up with sharing EVERYTHING with other people, and I really enjoyed the peace and quiet I got putting my headphones in with my music playing loudly, watching the landscape as we drove towards NYC.
 Brandt pretty much as soon as we got back to NYC. We stayed in a place called International House which I honestly thought was pretty awful. I much preferred the Broadway Hotel that we stayed in during our first visit to NYC as it was so much cleaner and just nicer in general! The problem with this place is that we all shared a bathroom, and the bathroom was in the bedroom that Brandt and I stayed in, so at this point I didn't get much sleep at all.