22 May 2004 am
New York, New York. I can see the Chrysler Building from our hotel window. It's all lit up and it is one of the most fabulous and beautiful things I've ever seen.
How did I get here? I still don't know. I won a competition. I just entered, and I won. I mean, wtf? I never win things. I'm the original cooler. I guess after entering these things all my life, probability finally payed out. Sometimes the house loses.
Still, whee, I won, I won.
The flight over was smooth, but long and exhausting. The seats were cramped but at least I had my little tv set in the seat in front of me. I watched Paycheck, The Cooler, Cold Mountain and ROTK more times than was decent or sane.
Paycheck was like John Woo trying to do Hitchcock. In fact one scene was a straight steal from North by Northwest and they even had the cheek to underline this by stealing the music as well.
The Cooler I just loved. William Macy is one of my favourite actors and he was just a delight.
LAX was a nightmare of chaos, confusion and confrontation. They've never heard of transit lounges and they couldn't organise a chook raffle if they tried. We had to get off the plane, queue to get our bags, queue to get through customs, queue to recheck our bags, queue to get upstairs, queue to get through security.
And yes, I was indeed targeted and searched thoroughly as a common criminal, guilty until proven innocent, subject to search and seizure, all much to #6's amusement. They went right through my bag in ways that just aren't legal back home. I asked what was amiss, a reasonable question I thought as I'd carefully packed to Australian regs, but the bitch just snarled at me.
She didn't like my bag full of cameras and maps and film (how unfortunate that terrorists and tourists share the same paraphernalia) but it was my Patrick O'Brians that offended her most. She glared at it, picked it up, flicked through it, thumped it a few times, flicked through it again and glared at it furiously some more. I wasn't aware that carrying a Patrick O'Brian book through US customs was a federal offence. Somebody needs to warn Peter Weir the next time he travels. Apparently Aussies in possession of one or more POB novels are highly suspect.
Still, I got off lightly, I realise, as I watched them rip teddy bears from the arms of tint toddlers. No asking of parents to gently disengage the teddy from the grasp of tiny arms, they just ripped them off the little kids. Now I've got the maternal instincts of a house brick, and I could have cheerfully throttled these babes during the flight, but even I was appalled. What nasty, mean, horrible people these Americans are, not to mention insane, paranoid, armed and dangerous. Is it too late to go back home, I wonder?
Somehow we managed to get through the queues, chaos and confusion to just make our flight as the door was closing. Honestly, I frequently stop through so called third world airports and they are just so civilised compared to LAX. I mean, there's just no comparison.
Slept from LA to NY, no doubt exhausted by my ordeal. I thought I'd only dozed off for ten minutes or so as that was how much I'd missed of ROTK but apparently it must have looped around once or twice. Weird.
Oh, there's a thick fog outside now obscuring the Chrysler building. I've taken so many photos of it already you could call it 'Chrysler', a Warhol homage.
So we landed in NY, were met by a tall gent who carried our dunnage to the car (yay!) which we piled into and we were away.
We wound through Americana, must have been, what, Queens? and then we topped a hill and there it was in all it's glory: that skyline, that glorious skyline, and there was the Empire State Building, proud and mighty, as it should be. Just perfect. I'm in love.
We drove up 3rd Ave and suddenly we were in NY proper, you know, tall buildings, yellow taxis, honking horns. Movie New York, and it just didn't seem real.
Our hotel is OK (no bar fridge!!!!) but the view and location are superb! We went out for walkies, because even after a twenty hour flight and a trying stopover of many hours in LAX, we were too excited to sit still or sleep.
We wandered over to 2nd Ave (NY blocks are so tiny) and found a thriving eat street with lots and lots of French Resturants (there are none in Sydney any more and I wanted to try but #6 would have none of it).
We settled on a little Japanese eatery, which was less fun than the ones I'd been frogmarched past but still very OK and the teriaki chicken hit the spot. Plain and simple was a sensible theme for the night as I was suffering a little Qantas belly that not even a hastily bought packet of imodium could entirely quell). It was quiet nice, even if the customers were a tad rude - I resisted the urge to give them a good and well deserved clip around the ears. The food was surprisingly nice, but I must have miscalculated the tip if the sour expression from the waitress was any indication. Sorry, honey, I only had limited notes in my pocket at that stage and I was never eating there again, anyway.
On the way back we popped into a small local supermarket for supplies and giggles. As always, the breakfast cereal section was as amusing as it was horrifying. JLA Bats and Supes were jointly flogging Oreo-Os. I thought of picking up a packet for cycnus39 as a giggle, before I thought better of it.
Now I'm just going to sit here while I wait for #6 to wakey wakey and watch the sea fog roll past the Chrysler Building. Our hotel windows open, but as we're 28 floors up I don't think I have to worry about anyone but Spider-Man forcing themselves into my hotel room this time. I was thinking of sticking a note in the window that said 'Spider-Man welcome'.
22 May 2004 pm
Saturday. Decided to go out and get bagels for breakfast. Found bagels for breakfast. Pretty ordinary bagels for breakfast, alas, but my fave bagel store, if it is still extant, is about 40 or more blocks south (I should have done it, in retrospect).
Wandered about for a bit, got insulted the one time I was being genuinely impressed by America, and found a newsagent of three, none of which I was allowed to thoroughly peruse. Whimper.
Then we went to the Met. Glorious Met. I'm sure #6 was thinking Sydney scale, not a gallery the size of a Westfield. Stayed there for hours and hours and hours and walked til my feet turned purple. I still didn't see all of it, and I repeated stuff rather than seeing new stuff, which wasn't entirely my intent, but no matter, I did manage to see a bloody lot of it (though I think I saw more last time, I go way faster than #6). Man, I love that place. Most excellent. All the helmets were still there, and the French rooms, the armour and the Egyptian temples.
Sat in Central Park for a bit while my overheated feet cooled a little. My possum spying skills allowed me to see a decent number of squirrels frolicking in the tree tops. It was really nice in the park, and it was fun to people watch. Made sure to sit on a seat I hadn't seen in SVU :)
Then it was time for the main attraction: Hugh. The girls from Oz went to see the Boy from Oz and he was bloody marvellous. Absolutely frelling amazing. Loved every minute of it. And, golly, can that boy shake and shimmy. Oh my, yes. I'm so glad I bought the tickets before we left. The seats were high but still had a good view of the stage, I had a wonderful time and it was the highlight of the trip. So much better than the original plan to go see Van Helsing that weeekend, before I won the trip.
So went went to the gallery and the theatre. Not bad for out of towners.
23 May 2004.
It's Sunday morning, it's foggy, but the New Yorkers aren't up yet because I can't hear any beeping or yelling. They're insane, you know. We try to walk on the American side of the footpath, against a lifetime of training, just to be courtous, and we still get slammed into and yelled at.
We're flipping through the local dining guide and it's highly amusing. Apparently the Pig and Whistle is billed as NY's most authentic pub, which is good because I'd hate to be staying next to NY's least authentic Irish pub. It just doesn't bear thinking about. Alas, #6 never lets me loose inside the ol' Pig and Whistle. It's like holidaying with my mother, I swear.
The pasta last night was quite good, chosen merely because we'd stopped there, rather than from anything the guide might have had to say. We were walking along when I got grabbed, literally (Americans don't have the concept of personal space, apparently), and an impromptu review of the Boy from Oz was demanded, as I was still clutching my programme in my hand. So there we stopped and it was really good and I'm glad I followed my instincts or fate once more. Besides, this whole trip is serendipity.