All entries for March 2006

March 29, 2006

New York Diary – 29th December

Got up bright and (very) early but it was raining : ( Every other day had been bitterly cold but the sun was always shining – I think we started taking it for granted so weren't expecting to wake up to rain.

We got a taxi to Bloomingdales and arrived there at 8:30am – however, we weren't to know that it didn’t open until 10am! Of course, being the bossy, organised one – I got blamed! So, we went to a nearby café and had lots of tea and a little bit of cake. There was a dog parlour a couple of doors away from the cafe and the cutest dog ever – it was sooo tiny, could have just put it in my pocket! Anyway, at 9:50 we went back to Bloomingdales and were waiting for the store to open in the porch area with a few posh/snobby american people. It was very funny when Emily was leaning against the wall in the porch and knocked a massive picture down. Luckily it didn't break but all of the posh people were frowning and looking less than impressed! Emily was laughing – I was cringing!! When the store opened, I was going to tell the attendant but this snooty woman beat us to it which made us look even more naughty!

Bloomingdales

We had a little look around and Mary and I bought some Escada perfume – mine was for Mom – and collected our free gifts from the visitors centre. It's quite good – you can get tickets from the concierge at the hotel, and it entitles you to discounts and free gifts in the larger department stores.

We then got a subway to Greenwich Village to have a look around the area. The guy in the hotel gift shop had told us to go there and have a look around the quirky shops and cafes and stuff but when we got there it was still raining so we couldn’t really see very much of the shops and walking around the streets was not very enjoyable. We decided to get a taxi to Macys instead and planned to visit the Empire State Building which was nearby. When we go there visibility was awful because of the weather and we couldn’t even see the top of the Empire State Building so we decided to put that off until another day!

We went into Macys and had lunch in Au Bon Pain – yummy. We then decided to split up and have a proper look around Macy's so Lau and I went off and Mary, Anna, Em and Rose went around together. After about half an hour in Macy's, Laura and I decided that we didn't really like it that much so we left Macy’s and went to explore outside. People had told us that the shopping in New York was great and it was so cheap etc but we didn't really agree with that. Macy's was nice but the clothes were still fairly expensive and then there was a really cheap area where the clothes were just really poor quality and common. Anyway, outside Macy's there was a store called Journey’s which had some nice clothes and trainers etc. We went to Foot Locker, H&M, Gap etc and then we discovered the Manhattan Mall which was nearby and contained lots of smaller shops. We got some shoes – $30 for two pairs – and bought some I Love NY t-shirts and keyrings etc and Lau got a jumper and scarf for Gav. We met back up with the others who had spent about three hours trapsing around Macy's. They did buy a few things but agreed with us that Macy's wasn't as great as they had expected. Apparenty they didn't think to leave Macy's and explore outside so instead they had carried on wandering around inside – and even visited the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream stand in there.

We got a taxi back to the hotel to get ready to go to the theatre. We had booked well in advance to go and see Beauty and the Beast at the Lunt Fontane on Broadway. We were going to go the Ben Bensons Steak House for tea but when we got there it was really expensive and the queue for food was pretty big and we didn't really have time to wait so we went for a wander around and found a TGI Fridays nearby. We then went to the theatre and Beauty and the Beast was AMAZING. I think it was one of my best things in New York. I actually cried it was so great – should I be admitting that?! Because the shows in New York run for months/years on end – the set etc on stage is so stunning and the actors have got their performances spot on. It was brilliant – I definitely reccommend it.

After the show it was pretty difficult to get a taxi as everyone leaves Broadway around the same time. Anna, Mary and Rosie managed to get a taxi but Em, Lau and I had to walk around for a bit before we managed to find one – we were almost tempted to get on one of those bikes with the funny cart thing on the back but they could only hold two people and we decided we would have looked slightly stupid! It was also slightly weird when some man stuck his face in my cousins face and sucked his teeth at her(!) – don't know what we did to provoke that but glad we managed to find a taxi and escape the weird teeth-sucker!

So, after our third full day we were really feeling at home in New York and were starting to feel sad that our hoiday was already half way through!


New York Diary – 28th December

Third day in New York and it was my cousin Laura's 25th birthday. After our trip to Toys'R'Us in Times Square on the Tuesday, Anna had bought some party goodie bags for us all, so we ate lots of sweets for our breakfast and gave Laura her birthday cards. None of us had the afore thought to actually bring presents with us – oops!

We had a busy day planned in Central Park – we left the hotel and walked along Fifth Avenue towards the Park. On the way down Fifth Avenue we had to pop in at Saks Department Store for a look around. The window displays were really lovely and people were just queueing to look in the window! Moving models and festive snow scenes etc.

Fifth Avenue

We carried on down Fifth Avenue and had to visit Tiffany's! I love the movie so really wanted to go to the store. It was very nice inside – obviously lots of lovely, expensive jewellery. Typical tourist – I got told off for trying to camcord inside the store – oops! And then the doorman tried to chat up my cousin.

Tiffanys

So, our day planned in Central Park was becoming cut short by our trip down Fifth Avenue – and then we came across Saint Patrick's Cathedral. Now being a family of Irish Catholics, my aunty Mary really wanted to visit the Cathedral and it was very beautiful inside, although we did find out that there was a funeral apparently going on at the front of the church – which didn't seem to stop the tourists. I lit a candle in the church for my Mom and Dad and we had a quick look around but I was keen to carry on to Central Park and hit the ice skating rink. We were all ready to leave the Cathedral when we realised we couldn't find my cousin Anna so I had to go looking for her. She was at the very front of the church – kneeling down praying(!). Much to the disgust of some American woman I just went up to her and tapped her on the shoulder, getting quite annoyed at this stage – and told her to hurry up – to which she replied "I'm saying my prayers" – I had to respond with "say them quicker" as we were all hanging around waiting for her and she was taking ages – she must have been saying the whole rosary or somethng!! This American woman overheard our little to-do and was just like: "She's fine – let her say her prayers!" which just made me furious because we all wanted to go – and lets face it – i'm just bossy!

Anyway, we eventually arrived at Central Park and took a horse and cart ride around the park. Laura and Em got into one cart and as we were trying to decide who else should go in the first cart, the bloody horse just walked off! So Mary, Anna, Rosie and I took a second cart. It was quite expensive but it gave us a good overview of the park and the guy driving it was very friendly.

We then walked to Central Park Zoo where we went into the ‘rainforest’ saw polar bears, penguins, seals etc. It's quite a small Zoo but is cheap to get in and nice to spend an hour. We had lunch in the Leaping Frog Café at the zoo and then walked to the Woollman Ice Rink. At the Woollman Ice Rink, we had to queue for about 30mins but it was worth it just to say that we had been iceskating in Central Park! It was quite expensive – we had to pay for admittance, skate hire and locker hire. We spent about 40mins on the ice – Rosie and Anna managed one lap of the rink, Lau and I did about 10 laps.

Central Park Zoo

Next stop was The Natural History Museum. Laura, Mary, Anna and Em decided to get a taxi across Central Park(!) but Rosie and I walked and went through Strawberry fields. Saw John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ stone and went to see the hotel where he got shot – The Dakota. Unfortunately we went to the wrong hotel and didn't have time to walk further down the street to the right one – Oh well! When we got to the Museum, admittance was quite expensive and there was no coffee shop – which was where we seemed to spend most of our time in New York thanks to Mary and Anna! Our other favourite place was the toliet – which we also seemed to visit on the hour every hour!! So we got the subway back to the hotel as we were running out of time to get ready for Laura’s birthday meal. Me and Lau got ready first and then went for a beer in the bar of the hotel. So expensive! About $10 for a beer or something ridiculous – can't remember now!

When we went out, we walked around the block to the Marriott to hail a cab to Little Italy - there was a driver there who asked us if we wanted a limo instead for just $10 each - so we all jumped in. We were told that Angelo’s was the best Italian in the city and when we arrived there was a bit of a queue outside. Luckily, the girls in front of us seemed to know the management there and on their way in they told the guy on the door to sort us out next so we didn't have to wait. They also told us to try a dish called Spedini which would apparently change our lives it was that good. They told us it was fried mozzarella in a special sauce. Turns out the special sauce was anchovy so no-one ordered it except me – and it didn't change my life. Now i'm not the biggest pasta fan and it seems that at an authentic Italian they don't put many ingredients in the pasta – it was all just pasta and sauce – so I ordered one of the specials which had mushroom and sausage in it. Let's just say – Italian is still not my favourite – but we all had a good night and Laura enjoyed a memorable birthday in New York!


March 23, 2006

New York Diary – 27th December

We woke up really early – about 6am (which would have been about 10am at home). My cousins Anna and Rosie went down to the deli which was right outside our hotel and got coffees, bagels, pecan danish etc – yum yum! We ate our brekkie in bed and then decided to go out as we had a packed itinerary for the day!

First stop was Grand Central Station.

Grand Central Station

We tested out the subway and got a shuttle to Wall Street. As we stepped out of the subway, Wall Street was straight ahead of us. We walked down to have a look at the New York Stock Exchange but we couldn’t get in as the observation level had been closed to the public since 9/11. We went into Trinity Church and then walked to Ground Zero. It was freezing cold and windy and it was pretty bleak there. People had warned me that there might be people trying to sell memorabilia and stuff to the tourists there but luckily we didn't see any of that. There were quite a few people taking photos and videoing the information boards that were on display and all the names of those who died. It was a bit eery but at the same time it just looked like a big building site.

From there we headed towards Battery Park to get the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. Anna, Emily and Mary bought some ridiculous hats from a market stall on the side of the street and the rest of us bought some sensible ear muffs. The man on the stall asked Anna to marry him – I think she was tempted but reluctantly declined – he was minging!

Staute of Liberty

We then went into a deli/café called Café World. It was 11am in America (4pm GMT) and the deli served hot and cold food from counters in the middle of the café – perfect for our tea(!) There was loads to choose from – chicken wings, Chinese ribs, rice, noodles, meatballs, lasagna etc. It was self service and you just had to fill your plastic container until it was brimming – although we didn’t realise that you had to pay by the pound! Mine came to about $13 (about £7?). Anna bought coffees and pastries for us and managed to spill hot chocolate all down her jeans and her brand new boots – very amusing – especially when we realized that her flies were also undone (Sorry Anna – I had to write it down in case we all forgot how funny it was!).

We then walked to Battery Park and had our photo taken with one of the human statues. We went to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and went to the lower deck – it was very cold and windy cold on the deck so we retreated inside the ferry. Once we arrived at Staten Island, we disembarked the ferry only to get back on board and return to Manhattan. Once back at the Ferry terminal, we decided to get the subway to Times Square.

Wow – Times Square – What a sight! As we stepped out of the subway it was just as you imagine New York to be – the lights, billboards, traffic, taxis…etc We popped into Virgils Restaurant as we had already booked for our New Years Eve dinner and wanted to check it out. It is like a big southern bbq restaurant where they serve Hickory Chicken and BBQ ribs etc. There was a really good atmosphere in there – and we found out on New Years Eve that the food was very tasty! After Virgils, we popped into Plant Hollywood to make a reservation for tea but they told us that we couldn’t book in advance.

We spent some time looking around Toys ’R’ Us and took the opportunity to buy birthday cards for Laura. Anna and Mary also bought party bags and treats so that it would feel a bit more like her birthday (which is the 28th December). Laura bought her finace Gavin a Wrestling Champion belt! We went in to the Westin New York hotel to see where we were almost staying. We originally had reservations for the Westin but the company that we booked with messed up our booking and we were swapped to the Intercontinental. We realised that it actually worked out for the better – although Times Square was fantastic it might have been a bit full-on to actually be stopping there and to walk out into Times Square every morning.

We were all pretty tired out after a very busy day – we had a coffee / tea in the Café Europa. Emily, Rosie, Laura and I decided to explore Times Square a bit more before tea at Planet Hollywood. The dinner was lovely – we had BBQ Pizzas, Ribs, Burgers – typical American food and it was all yummy!

It was a great first day in New York!


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My name is Ellie Lovell and I am the Web Editor in the Communications Office at the University of Warwick.

I started this blog in August 2005 when I started working at the University and have learnt a lot from it. I don’t update it so much anymore (I have been unfaithful to WarwickBlogs) but I hope you enjoy what is here…

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