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2004-05-04 - 6:33 p.m.

(Written 08/04/04)

Last time I wrote I was in tourist town half an hour out of Orlando. I'm now

in a coffee shop in the East Village of New York City in a short-sleeved

t-shirt for the first time since I got here (to New York that is).

On our last full day in Orlando Cristan and I went to Universal Studios'

"Islands of Adventure" theme park which is definitely the park I would

recommend for cool rides, beats anything Disney has to offer.

Sunday was another travel day. I spent a couple of hours in Orlando airport

because my flight was later than Meaghan and Cristan's, then over half an

hour on the tarmac because we weren't allowed to take off due to too much

air traffic around La Guardia airport in New York. When we finally got to

New York and out of the airport it was FREEZING. And by that I mean zero

degrees celcius. For the first two days in New York I was walking around in

a short and long sleeve t-shirt, turtle neck jumper, jacket and beanie and

I've still never been colder in my life. And two days later I'm hot- go

figure.

Our hotel in NYC was opposite Madison Square Garden, a block from Macy's and

five minutes from the Empire State Building (which are respectively the

World's Most Famous Arena, the World's Biggest Store and the World's Most

Famous Building if you believe the proud and patriotic but slightly

misinformed signs). We had dinner and a couple of bottles of wine at a real

Chinese restaurant (you know the ones that serve Pig's Intestines :) on the

first night, then I proceeded to get drunk at the Hotel Bar and harrass the

Irish guitar-player for some Crowded House.

Our first full day in NYC required an emergency stop at Macy's in a vain

search for thermal underwear (apparently even freezing weather doesn't stop

the stores putting away their winter stock well before April), and a quick

change of plans when we saw the size of the queue to get up the Empire State

Building.

After buying our subway tickets and a brief battle with the transit police

(I'll leave that story for Meaghan) we headed to lower Manhattan and caught

the Staten Island Ferry to Staten Island and back, snapping plenty of photos

of the skyline and Lady Liberty along the way. Next we headed up to the

Stock Exchange, The World Trade Centre site, the Brookyln Bridge, Chinatown

and then back to our hotel to warm up.

I wandered up to Times Square at night, had dinner by myself at a Japanese

place (the hot sake and Miso Soup was just what I needed) and that was more

or less the end of a very busy day.

Yesterday we checked out the amazing view from the top of the Empire State

Building, then split up and I managed to get an express train to Harlem

rather than to the station closest to Strawberry Fields in Central Park. It

was good to see all the different sides of New York though, and it gave me

the chance to see all of Central Park, top-to-bottom, rather than starting

at the more popular end and giving up before I got all the way. I also

checked out the Guggenheim museum and later pathetically followed the

example of a couple of tourists in front of me and took a photo of the spot

where John Lennon was shot. I have sent 12 rolls of film home with Meaghan

and I still have 3 weeks left before I get home!

Last night I headed down to Irving Plaza, a venue which is about the size

of the Metro, and managed to get a ticket to Ben Kweller from a scalper (who I

didn't trust at all, despite the fact that he seemed nice enough I half

expected to not get in and never see my $50 again, but I was pleasantly

surprised) and saw a great gig, which made me feel like I was at the Metro

or the Newtown RSL and not across the globe in one of (not *the*) the

World's Biggest Cities. I'll save the review for the select few of you (you

know who you are) who will appreciate it.

This morning we did a quick walk around a few more places near enough (well,

kind of) to the hotel- the Massive Public Library, the Rockefeller Centre,

St Patrick's Cathedral, the Waldorf-Astoria and the United Nations Building,

and by 2.30pm I had waved goodbye to Meaghan and Cristan and was on my own.

I am staying at a Youth Hostel in the East Village, which is so my kinda

place. Record Shops full of Indie music (even the coffee shop is playing

good music), heaps of twenty-somethings walking around who radiate left-wing

hippie vibes, and organic vegetarian restaurants and laundromats on every

corner. Okay so organic vegetarian isn't usually my thing but I quite

enjoyed my Ceasar Salad with strips of dried seaweed and my Carrot, Apple

and Ginger juice. Beats most of the greasy crap we've encountered in the

last three weeks.

I'm tempted to go to the Ben Kweller instore which I think is just down the

road, but I think last night was good enough. I'm more keen to go back to

the Hostel and meet some fellow travellers in the common area. There was

nobody around when I got there- they try to clear everyone out betwen 11am

and 4pm, but it's 5pm now and I think just hanging around for a few hours

could be just the right thing for me after all the sightseeing I've done in

the last few days.

Anyway, if you're still reading now, there's a slim chance that you might

get through at least half of my photos before your eyes glaze over, so come

and see me in early May.

I'll write again from the UK. Don't work too hard over there!

 

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