Hi everyone, it's Corry. Sorry for being slack with the blog again, we have been pretty crazy busy though. Since the last update we've been through New York, Iceland and London. For this I'll keep it focused on New York though as there's too much to write about, and in a couple of days I'll write about Iceland and London. We stayed for a total of ten days in a hostel in Queens, so most days we had to make the commute into Manhattan which took about 40 minutes on good run. For the first couple of days I was plagued with sickness again unfortunately but after a day in bed I was able to function in a semi-conscious manner. We took the first couple of days just to walk around the city and explore Manhattan, walked through central park, saw 30 Rock and the Empire State Building etc. Times Square is pretty great, it makes for an interesting view however it's really just an area with a lot of really in your face advertisements and tourist shops. Still, it was really busy and made for some great photos and was one of my favourite places in New York.
We bought an "Explore New York" card which gave us entry into 5 attractions of our choice and saved us a bit of money. The first thing we did were a couple of things back at 30 Rockerfeller Centre, we went up to the observation deck which of course gave amazing views of the city around us. We didn't go up the Empire State but we think this would be better because we had unobstructed views of Central Park on one side and on the other we could see downtown and get the Empire State in our photos! We stayed up there for about an hour and timed it around sunset so we could see the view in daylight and at night. After that we headed back inside for the NBC tour which takes you through some of the TV sets and behind the scenes stuff that goes on at NBC. It was good but I think we had our standards raised after doing the Universal and Warner Bros. tours in LA, this tour didn't quite live up to them. We were taken to Dr Oz's stage where he performs his daytime health program. Don't really know much about him but it was interesting seeing the stage, it's a lot smaller than we'd expected and rigged with all kind of mic's all around the room to pick up the audience. The highlight for me would have to be seeing the Saturday Night Live set, it was so much smaller than it looks on TV but the guide explained that's because the camera lens makes it looks wider when we see it on TV. She gave us a few stories about some of the past performers and how the show got started.
I've kind of lost track of the order that we did things but I'm pretty sure the following day we explored downtown New York and saw Wall Street and the stock exchange building. Wall Street was of course full of suits walking around on their mobile phones and was pretty much exactly how it looks in the movies, we didn't see Gordon Gekko walking around though. While we were there we walked halfway over the Brooklyn Bridge and got some cool views of downtown but for memory it wasn't the nicest day to be out there, hopefully days like that are largely behind us now that we're half way through Spring! The next day we took a cruise through the Hudson river which took us along the length of Manhattan where we hopped off in downtown and went to the 9/11 memorial site. It was pretty grim as expected but they'd made a nice tribute to the towers and victims with two reflecting pools where the towers stood surrounded by bronze plates with the victims names engraved. Right next to it stands the almost completed new World Trade Centre which is absolutely massive and really well designed. From there we got back on the ship and got to go up to the Statue of Liberty. The island itself was closed due to hurricane Sandy damage but the ferry stopped and we got to go outside and get some photos with it from the deck.
The day after we rented some bikes and took a riding tour through Central Park, it's a place I've wanted to go to for so long and it was amazing riding through it and seeing as much of it as we possibly could. They don't lie about the size though, it's crazy that there's this enormous park in the middle of an island of endless city. It took over twenty years to build the park because at the time due to all the rock in the area they wouldn't have been able to build on it, I'm sure if it was today they would have found a way. I didn't know that it was once used for really practical purposes though, they had two huge reservoir's (of which one remains) and a lot of it was used for storing livestock. We rode around most of outside of the park and the guide pointed out some of the museums around the area and took us to some of the more notable locations like the reservoir and the lake and such. We rode around to the apartment building where John Lennon was shot and Yoko still lives (he claims to have seen her walking around one day). Just across from that back in the park is Strawberry Fields, not the original that the song is about but a tribute space to John Lennon which was built pretty much just to give people an area to go and stop hanging out front of the building and annoying Yoko and the other patrons. Many countries made contributions to the area but the main one is a mosaic donated by Italy with lots of little tributes on it like yellow submarines, a walrus and strawberries. That night we went into Chinatown for dinner which was a pretty interesting place and if it wasn't for a few reminders around the place you'd swear you were actually in China.
Somewhere in there we went to the Natural History Museum as well but didn't stay too long, for memory we were pretty exhausted and after being to the Smithsonian it kinda, well, sucked. Maybe that was just because of our tiredness though. On one of the nights we went and saw a Broadway play. Matt wasn't particularly picky about what we saw so I said I wanted to see this show called "Orphans", mostly just because Alec Baldwin was in it. It was in it's previews still (apparently a show opens about a month after it's already been playing, not sure how that works) and we scored half price tickets by buying them on a day from a place in Times Square which fills in the seats that haven't sold. I'd never seen a play before outside of school productions so I didn't really know what to expect but I really enjoyed it. Seeing Baldwin act in real life was pretty special, as well as another actor who I've liked for a long time called Ben Foster who does mostly supporting roles in films, I like him mostly for his work in the remake of "3:10 to Yuma". The third actor was Tom Sturridge who is the kid from "The Boat That Rocked" and he did really well also. The play was about these two brothers who are, as the title suggests, orphans since young children in Philadelphia (they never say but it's meant to be the 50's or 60's) and have been living a life of crime since to support themselves and avoid going to the services. When the older kidnaps the wealthy looking Alec Baldwin for ransom it turns out Baldwin isn't what he seems and has a past from Chicago following him.
New York had some really good bars as well including an Australian pub we were able to watch the footy and have a parmigana at which was nice. We both really loved New York and easily could have spent longer than 10 days there, it really is the city that never sleeps with the subway system running all night and people walking around at all hours of the night, Times Square was just as packed at 3am as it was at 3pm. Unfortunately I lost one of my SD cards and therefore lost a handful of photos but Matt should have a few on his iphone, we're separated at the moment for a couple of days but when we meet up again I'll get them off him and add them to this. And in a couple of days I'll write an entry for Iceland and London too.