Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Week in New York City 7

The first thing we did on our 5th day in New York (Sunday) was to go back to B&H Photo Video and Pro Audio to try and buy my lens. We arrived to find that the shop didn't open until 10 am, and we were a little early so we sat in a deli across the road and had a cup of unpleasantly sweet coffee. Just before 10 am a bus load, literally, of traditionally dressed orthodox Jewish men arrived and poured into the shop----we thought we had walked into a Woody Allen film! The Saturday closing phenomenon was, thus, explained. B&H is said to be the biggest shop of its kind (in the world, I think). It doesn't exactly have an overfriendly atmosphere, but it's run very efficiently: and it had my lens for the price in dollars I'd have had to pay in pounds at home.

The weather on the Sunday was glorious and we spent most of the rest of the day in Central Park. We passed the Dakota Building with an impressive flunky standing outside on the way to Strawberry Fields. The cherry trees were in bloom, and the park looked spectacular. The variety of activities of people there was quite impressive: running, cycling, skating, rollerskate dancing, hockey, lacrosse etc. etc. It really made Wosog and I feel quite guilty that we were just walking and taking pictures (well not really!).

In the evening, after another excellent meal, we went back up the Empire State Building to take some night pictures including the one I've shown here.

Friday, April 28, 2006

A Week In New York City 6

Our 4th day in NYC was a bit of a disaster. The weather was cold and wet. I had decided to go to a shop called B&H Photo Video and Pro Audio on 33rd Street try and buy a 50mm f1.8 lens, as I had heard that I could get it cheaper in the US than here. My rationale for going on a Saturday was that it would definitely be open on that day whereas it might be shut on the Sunday. Wosog was feeling a bit tired at that stage in the holiday. We walked from the hotel to the shop in the miserable rain to find that the shop was closed all day on a Saturday. "Funny!" we thought----well that wasn't exactly what we thought. We didn't find out the explanation till the following day.

We went from there to the International Center of Photography, which was quite interesting, but much smaller than we had expected. We then went back to the hotel and spent the afternoon "power napping".

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Week In New York City 5

Day 3 in the Big Brother House...I mean our third day in NYC involved a cruise down the Hudson past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, capturing them for posterity as we went. We then continued under the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges part of the way up the East River. Eventually we looped round and came back to where we started. It was not the nicest of days, but apart from the obvious sites it gave us the chance to see where Nicole Kidman has a $4 million apartment.

In the afternoon we visited the Guggenheim Museum. Wosog and I have a bit of an aversion to a lot of "modern art", but we got a ticket to this museum as part of our CityPass, and we did want to see the iconic building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. In fact, the icon is shrouded in boards just now so that the building can be renovated---which was a bit of a bummer! In contrast to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim only allows you to take pictures in the "entrance hall". We have decided that this is to avoid anyone with half a brain and elementary welding skills copying the brilliant works of art. We found the staff of the Guggenheim unfriendly, and our fellow visitors seemed to take the exhibits, and their pretentious descriptions, so seriously that we had to leave before we had a fit of the giggles. We decided not to use our "free" ticket to the Museum of Modern Art.

We walked back from the Guggenheim down Fifth Avenue so that Wosog could taunt me about visiting various designer shops.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Week In New York City 4

Our second full day in NYC started with the obligatory visit to the Empire State Building. Fortunately, we went early enough not to have to queue for too long. Views from the 86th floor were breath-taking, and I got a good picture of the Chrysler Building as well as a much hazier view of the Statue of Liberty---but as you can see it is quite a distance away!

In the afternoon we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for one of our periodic doses of culture. The museum has a really informal atmosphere and they actually allow you to take pictures, as long as you don't use flash. We left having "stolen" a nice little collection of paintings by Rembrandt, Picasso, Degas and Modigliani. Unfortunately, I don't think my versions will quite achieve the value of the originals!

In the late afternoon we got half price tickets for the Mel Brookes musical "The Producers" in the ticket centre in Times Square. Although I'm not normally a great fan of musicals, I really enjoyed the performance, which was performed extremely professionally.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Week In New York City 3

Most of our first full day in NYC was spent in the American Museum of Natural History. When we booked the holiday we had bought a CityPass that included a ticket for this museum, but I'd definitely have wanted to go there anyway. I've been fascinated by dinosaurs since childhood and AMNH has a fine collection, two of which meet you in the entrance hall.

Another impressive exhibit is the life-size model of a blue whale that practically occupies a very large room on its own! The display shown here is the Biodiversity Wall that illustrates the variety of lifeforms on the planet.

Part of the AMNH is The Rose Center for Earth and Space. It's devoted to geology and astronomy, and includes an amazing planetarium. There they are currently showing "Cosmic Collisions" which depicts various simulated events including the meteorite collision that is thought to have polished off the dinosaurs.

On the way back to our hotel we had a look at Central Park for the first time: but more of that later.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A Week in New York City 2

Shortly after we settled into our miniscule room we set out to explore Times Square, which was essentially on our doorstep. The New Yorkers are a bit sniffy about Times Square, but I liked it. I get the impression that the square was previously a bit seedy, but it has now been renovated, or some would say sanitised. To me it epitomises what New York is all about: it's brash and "in your face", like it or lump it! From Bubba Gump, which is a bit like TFI Friday, we looked out onto the display of signs that now rivals Las Vegas.

Shops in Times Square include a Toys R Us with a 60 foot Ferris Wheel, a life-size moving T rex, and a life-size Barbie House, although life-size Barbie didn't seem to be home. There are also large Lego models of The Empire State Building, The Chrysler Building and The Statue of Liberty. Strangely enough, they didn't seem to sell kits for any of these! You can buy theatre tickets in the centre in Times Square on the day of the performance for as much as 50% off.

There's always something going on in the square and it's especially busy when the after-theatre audiences pour onto the streets. Day time surprises include the Naked Cowboy, if you are into that sort of thing.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Week in New York City 1

Well here I am back in the dull, uneventful UK having spent 7 days in "The City That Never Sleeps". Unfortunately, due to jiggling of my biorhythms I temporarily became The Scotsman That Never Sleeps, so getting back to blogging has not been a priority.

We thought that we had a direct flight from Dublin to NYC, but it soon became apparent that there was a stop-over in Shannon. The flight to Shannon was virtually empty: it felt like flying in a private jet, and fair set us up for the multiple stretched limos of Manhattan (none of which we traveled in). The only benefit of this arrangement was that we had the unfettered joy of interrogation by US Immigration in Shannon rather than NYC.

We arrived in New York mid-afternoon, and took the airport shuttle to our hotel near Times Square. The Hotel 41 in, you guessed it, 41st Street is the most expensive hotel we have ever stayed in. Our room also had the dubious distinction of being the smallest hotel room we have ever stayed in. You could not swing a mouse, far less a cat, in this room! The bottom of the safe had carpet on it----I'm sure so that they could include that area in the floor space calculation. We later heard that having 8 inches on one side of your double bed and about 18 inches, much of which was occupied by the air conditioning unit, on the other was fairly standard for Manhattan, even in hotels more expensive than the 41.

The hotel was, however, ideally situated for the exploration of The Big Apple----more of which later.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Bye For Now

Off to NYC today. Back in a week's time, hopefully not too many pounds heavier than I am just now. I hope both my readers behave themselves when I'm away.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Final Preparations

Wosog and I are starting to make our final preparations for our expedition to the New World aka New York City on Tuesday. This is the concluding part of the saga know as Sog's Fiftieth Birthday Celebrations (soon to be released as a major film starring George Clooney as Sog and Nicole Kidman as Wosog).

We're usually quite organised at this stage when we go on "city breaks": we've not only bought a couple of guide books, we've got an approximate list in our heads of the things we'd like to do and/ or see when we get there. The problem this time is that there are so many things to do and see in NYC that the list is a fairly nebulous affair! Fortunately, we're staying a full week, so hopefully we'll be able to "do" The Big Apple, if a little less efficiently than we've "done" other cities.

Never having been to The States before, I'm not sure what the experience will be like. One thing is certain, unless the weather is dreadful for the week we will bring back hundreds (literally) of photos.

Another certainty is that posts on this blog will be non-existent for about a week, but bearing in mind my recent rate of publishing, dear reader, you probably won't notice much difference!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Just In Case You Were Wondering?

Had a great week or so following my birthday. Enjoyed a nice family meal at home on the day itself in which Gdog and Gsog actually spent some of their valuable time with their long-suffering parents. On the Friday went out for a nice meal at a restaurant in Glasgow with other family members. The sole aim of this, of course, was to shame them all into buying me a present----and it worked beautifully.

"Swag" included lots of nice tokens for shops that sell books, CDs and DVDs. I also got a bottle of wine and this excellent little Headliners XL statue of The Great Man. Several of my kind relatives clubbed together to buy me a ride in a hot air balloon that I can take anytime between now and October----I should have produced enough hot air by then!

Wosog had already given me DVDs of all the well known Marx Brothers movies and my children gave me a DVD of The Constant Gardener and Corinne Bailey Rae's CD, which I really like. Wosog gave me a garden gnome called Gordon. I have been asked to point out that she bought me "that big fancy camera" for my birthday, but gave it to me before Christmas. My brother-in-law Bilosog sent me a very nice case of vino. If I've forgotten anything here I do apologise, but thanks to everyone anyway!

I only told the staff in the geriatric ward where I work part-time about my birthday after the event. On Monday I went into my small office to find it festooned with balloons and banners. There was a bottle of wine on the desk and an individual birthday cake. I was later presented with another garden ornament in the form of Doc the Dwarf from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

All in all, a pretty good week!