Monday, April 28, 2008

Li'l help?

Little bread-and-butterflies kiss the tulips, in City Hall Park

Hi. No, hi there! Hello!! HELLO??!?!

Oh good, you turned around. Yes, well, just a brief message before we start. I really enjoy New York.  Things are very fun, and there is always something to do.  And usually when I am doing these things, always always always, there is a part of me that is thinking 'You remembered your camera? CHECK!... OK, now take some photos to blog about so you can show everyone back home, and anyone else who might be interested'.  I mean, that is, after all, why I started doing this thing in the first place. 

And you know, I work full-time and all, and I study part-time, AND I'm trying to take part in blog-worthy activities, aaaand blog about them at the same time.  This, friends, is what takes up my whole life.  Now, it has occurred to me recently that I have been blogging away, letting everyone know about stuff in NY, and that I'm not dead, and maybe even give people ideas on stuff they would like to do if ever they were to come and visit... and I KNOW that people read this blog, because they tell me, and that's great!

But you know what would be greater? 

Well, it's a little thing called a comment.  Doesn't take up too much time, a little click of the comment button on the bottom of a post and a few words.  It provides a much-needed affirmation that you enjoy what I'm doing here.  Something like 'Great photos Lj!' or 'That looked like fun!' or 'I've been there'.  Comments can even be negative like 'NOONECARES!' or 'You're noooo funny... stop trying to be'. Comments CAN EVEN be completely unrelated to the post subject matter - 'LJ did you steal my socks and take them to New York!?!??!' (and no, I didn't.  Well, possibly Rachel's but, she lent them to me such a long time ago, that they are pretty much just mine now... right??).

THE POINT IS. Comments rule. Comments are the best. Comments tell me that you exist, and that you care enough to create a dialogue about my adoptive city, and that you may even care what I'm up to.  Most of all, comments are the reward for all the hard work I've put into documenting my time here. And lately, they have been non-existent. Which makes you guys bad people... I mean, Dad, come on, even you stopped... what happened?! Did I offend you? Did you wake up one day and think, well, she went to New York without me, I hereby disown her as a daughter??? 

So people, I make sure I make the time to blog, so, if you have time to read the blog, you have time to comment. Simple as. 

And I love you all.


So. I say New York, you guys think... Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Home Alone 2, Statue of Liberty... etc etc.  Well you would be very right.  But what you guys are thinking of is Manhattan.  New York is so much more.  

One of the next best places in New York, apart from Manhattan, is Brooklyn.

This weekend, I went for a walk, across Brooklyn Bridge, to Brooklyn Heights.  Here, there is a promenade that runs alongside the East River on the Lower West edge of Brooklyn.  

From here, there are the most amazing views of the city skyline..

Brooklyn Bridge/Empire State Building

The blossom was out, the people were strolling (and blading in some cases), there were even a few kids jumping rope.


And then there was me, with my iPod...

*must.. resist.. urge... to... sing... out... loud...*

...enjoying the view.

If you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Brunchfast Club: Pastis

Springtime on 14th Street

So, new thing: The Brunchfast Club.  

As the weather gets warmer, and the coats get dry-cleaned and packed away until next winter (ah yes, must remember to do that), you find more and more excuses to leave the house.  In New York, one of these excuses is to go and have brunch. And so, as this is something done almost every weekend, I decided to start reporting on these places as part of my blog.

So first up, is Pastis.

Last weekend, I went to Pastis for brunch.  

A little slice of Paris in New York

Pastis is in the Meatpacking District of NY, and prides itself on its authentic French bistro atmosphere.  It is famed for being featured in Sex and the City, and for being a celeb-magnet. 

Well, while I was there I saw no hide nor hair of a celeb, or maybe I wasn't awake enough to recognize any even if they had been there.  Come to think of it, I don't think I remember anything until I had my first cup of coffee.. so I could very well have been surrounded by Mary-Kate, Lindsay and Brangelina for all I know.  

But, the imaginary fellow celebrity diners in my head is not what I liked about Pastis.  I liked the fact that even though it was packed to the rafters with people (very very beautiful people at that), and the waiters were rushing to fulfil everyones orders in a timely way, and get the queue of people seated before too much of a wait.. even though it had all the ingredients to culminate in the most stressful place on earth... somehow, it wasn't.  It maintained a chilled out Parisian vibe.  

Ooh La La

Maybe it was the relaxing, continental, and so very, very French, tones of the piano-accordian on the sound system.  Maybe it was the way that, everything down to the last detail; the tables, the cutlery, the food, the prompt service, the bottles behind the bar, the fixtures and fittings could have been right out of a cafe overlooking le Tour Eiffel, yet without any French arrogance.  Although there was a lot going on around me, it is the perfect place to sit back, sip your re-fillable coffee, graze on un omlette aux fines herbes, and watch as the world whirls around you.

le sigh

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Orchids in Bloom

Last weekend, for the purposes of finding something blog-worthy to write about, I travelled afar.  By afar I mean, OUT OF Manhattan.  This almost never happens.  On this occasion, it was particularly scary, because we went here:

Map of The Bronx. Picture was necessary to avoid getting out 'GUIDE TO NEW YORK' tourist book size of Empire State Building and thus advertise ourselves as prospective mugging targets

Yes, that's right my friends... I was on my way to The Bronx.  Yes, as in home of Jennifer Lopez, and the Yankee Stadium.

Why, why the Bronx? I hear you cry.  WELL. Because it just so happens to also be the home of the New York Botanical Gardens.  And as it was the first day of the year thus far when a coat appeared to be surplus to requirements, I wanted to go and see the pretty flowers!

One I got there, I headed to the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.  And it was such a beautiful day:

Hey there Mr Blue, we're so pleased to be with you

The conservatory was a lovely building, but the best thing was it housed, possibly the most delightful experience of my life... an Orchid Show! Behold as I present to you a selection of my favourite blooms:

LOVE the purple against the red!

Orchids are so exquisitely intracate..

...and delicate.  I should have put my finger in this photo to show scale.  My fingernail is the same size as these little pretties.

Gosh, the drama!

These orchids were hanging from boughs of greenery above.  Coupled with the dappled sunlight and the tranquil fountain.. so lovely

But it wasn't all about the orchids, other flowers were available. Like this waterlily.

And this wee little thing. All alone in the one spot of sunlight one of the cooler sections of the conservatory.

I love the verdant greenery of this bank of plants.

This flower reminded me of "Painting the Roses Red". Plus, it smelt like heaven.

This plant could be found in the desert section.  So many crazy crazy anthropomorphized cacti.  And amongst them all, this gem.

And this too.

The NYBG is huge, but when I was there, there was not a lot else in bloom outside of the conservatory as I think I visited too early in the season.  However the orchid show was blooming marvellous.

Monday, April 07, 2008

DC and the Cherry Blossom

So you may have noticed here, here, and here... I've been playing catch-up. So now you know the full story of When Holly Came To Stay.

Moving on to things I've been up to more recently.  I'm going to start from last weekend.  Last weekend I took a trip on the bus to Washington D.C, with my good friends Isabel, Hannah and Chris.

This was because it was the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. There's not a lot I can say about the beautiful blossom that we saw on the Saturday that does it justice, so all I will say is LOOKIT LOOKIT!!!:

As well as 'OOHHHH' and 'AHHHH'-ing over the blossom (which by the way, is only this amazing for one weekend a year) we also visited all the memorials and monuments.

First there was the Lincoln Memorial.  Look at me, I have actual love for that Lincoln in his big old marble chair whereas Hannah has actual disdain for me:

Directly opposite the Lincoln Memorial is the Washington Monument:

And by the side of that there pond (oh ok, "tidal basin") is the Roosevelt Memorial.  The Roosevelt Memorial is more like a walk/garden, each section commemorating a different part of his time in office.  My favorite part was the bit with a brass statue of his dog.  I think I have severe withdrawal symptoms from my dogs... I don't know, you decide:



Ummm... aaaanyway.. moving on from my insanity, (all I can say is Hannah, I'm so very very sorry).  The next on the list was the Jefferson Memorial, which we reached as the sun was setting:


And so, the next day, all that was left for us to do, was to go and visit some house.  I mean, apparently some guy lives there who runs the country, I don't know, I was still half asleep.

I was alarmed that there was a sniper on the roof tho! I shiz you not. It was quite funny.  Well it must have been, because in the next photo I appear to be in hysterics:

The last amazing thing we saw was the Capitol building, which was equally white and equally inspiring.  

For those who don't know, the Capitol is where all the American legislation gets thunked up. 

It was so nice to get out of the city, DC is so different to New York.  There seems to be a lot more space, and you get a real sense of history and power and integrity.  It's majestic in it's way.  Being a big fan of flowers in general, going during "peak bloom" weekend was super amazing.  One things for sure, I think spring has sprung:

Sex on the Brooklyn Bridge (aka When Holly Came To Stay - Part IV)

So, in the spirit of the Sex and the City Movie coming out this year, Holly and I booked our little behinds on a Sex and the City Location Bus Tour. 

Here we are, waiting for the bus to get going:

The tour was a lot of fun, we got to see a lot of the locations that were used in the TV show.  The Holy Grail of which was Carrie's stoop:

There were a lot of funny rules according to our tour guide, once we turned into Perry St (which is where said stoop is). No talking, single file, no touching of the stoop. It was all a bit lame actually, because we could go past any other time of day and do what the hizzle we wanted, but I guess they don't want to damage the reputation of the tour guide firm, and the relationship with the owners of the house.  Although, I think the owners of the house need to get a reality check. 

They either bought the house after the show became popular, or owned the house when the show was being filmed, in which case they gave permission for their house to be used. In short, that house now has a place in pop culture and they either knew this when they bought the house, or they accepted the pay cheque for it to be used. And most likely subsequent cheques from tour guide firms wanting to show the house to tourists.  When I compare the huuuge list of diva-like demands these owners had for us to adhere to in order to get a photo in front of the house to the experience I had with another film location bus tour, which stopped outside the Huxtable house from the Crosby's, the difference is vast.  The owner of the Huxtable house was more than happy for groups of people to come by everyday and have their photo taken sat on the stoop, in front of the stoop, upside down on the stoop.  Noone had to stop talking, or take their shoes off, or say any Hail Mary's to get a picture.  The tour guide even said the Huxtable house owner was more than happy for people to come because he was just so damn proud of the house.  

I heart the Huxtable House owner.  I imagine him to be a little old man who has lived there his whole damn life, and who goes by the name of Albert.. or Albie to his friends.  Carrie's stoop owners suck, and I imagine them to be some yuppy power-mad couple in their early 30s, named Gretchen and Martin. Gretchen and Martin will one day invest the majority of their savings in stock that will plummet, Gretchen will also discover she cannot have children (Martin will be secretly relieved).  Albie will win the lottery.  Gretchen and Martin will no longer be able to afford to live at Carrie's stoop on Perry St, and have to sell up and move to the Bronx, Martin will go mad at Gretchen and leave her.  Albie will then purchase Carries stoop and start a lucrative business selling cupcakes out of his window. The end.

Um, yeah, so... moving on from Perry Street's parallel universe, Holly and I carried on with our bus tour to Magnolia's, the infamous Greenwich cupcake bakery.  We sampled said cupcakes with our very own mouths:

Happy we were and fun we had (Yoda, I am not):

And so the bus tour pressed on, and we paid one more stop to Steve and Aidan's bar on Mulberry St.  Where we had Cosmopolitans.  This had a dramatic impact on Holly's mood.  I didn't like to mention it, but she had been a little down.  Maybe she was missing home, maybe she'd had enough of me, but that Cosmo put her back on track.  Behold... the evidence:

Holly - before Cosmo:

Holly - during Cosmo:

Holly - after Cosmo:

And there you have it.  The photos don't lie. The photos do not lie.

Well, then the bus tour was over, and it was still only 2.30.  After a spot of luncheon, we decided to make our way to Brooklyn Bridge.

Holly thought she'd lost me for a minute:

But never fear, I was there all along. Seeing as we were on the bridge, we just decided to keep walking (in the spirit of Forrest Gump).  By doing so, we ended up in Brooklyn.  And Brooklyn is lovely. What follows is possibly one of my favorite photos I have ever taken. 

This is the Brooklyn side of the bridge and I love the contrast of the wooden old building with the strong powerful bridge to the big city. I love the way the bridge, so famous, so well known, doesn't look like its really there, but it really truely is.  I love the way the wooden building looks so much bigger than the bridge, when in reality it is dwarfed by it.  I also like this photo because (aside from the cars) it is hard to tell what year it was taken since the bridge was built.

Holly pondered these things also, but then, as fun as Brooklyn was, we got hungry.  So we made our way to Little Italy for tea, and cake.

Mmm cake *drools*

And so, Holly's time in Manhattan came to an end.  It had been sooo much fun, and I wished she could stay for longer, but she had to get back home and move house and all THAT jazz.  Plus I had a job to get back to. Thank you Holly for coming out here and celebrating my birthday with me!! It wouldn't have been the same without you. 

Ellis Island & Broadway (aka When Holly Came To Stay - Part III)

There she is. Always nice to pay a visit to Ms Liberty. Introduce her lovely self to my friends and family. 

On this occasion, I took Holly to see her beautiful face.  It would be rude not to!

There they are.. two of my favorite girlies:

We went on from Liberty Island to Ellis Island where Holly learnt all about immigration.  I did not learn all about it, as I learnt all about it already

But a fun time was still had by all:

Later on, the night fell, and Holly and I had to get a wriggle on, as we had tickets to see Avenue Q on Broadway.  This was possible the funniest three hours of my life.  I got to see such classic songs as 'If You Were Gay' and 'Everyone's A Little Bit Racist' (aka Lj's Life Anthem) LIVE in the ACTUAL FLESH!! I was really trying not to sing along, because, well Holly forbade it. But I think some notes may have escaped my lips involuntarily. I just can't help it y'all..

In short, if you have any kind of sense of humor please see that show.

After, Holly wanted to do an impromptu photoshoot of Times Square. Because nighttime is it's best hour.

And so we did:

Oh and there's Holly, she wanted in too: