Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 18 - Toronto & Vancouver

Arrived in Toronto at 5:30 and was greeted by family friend Cathy at the terminal. Really lovely chatty older lady. We caught the bus to a suburb near her house when she had parked the car and drove home from there. I think she is scared of driving to be honest. Her house is super cute and she had been tidying all day for my arrival
K way to kind/unnecessary. My room was perfection, she had brought me a pair of slippers. She had brought all food for me. She is vegetarian and super healthy organic eater which I appreciate as my weight has come back on after Ohio! We had broccoli soup for dinner, roast vegetables and weird organic things I don’t know the name of.. tasted good though winning. she had brought me biscuits for dessert. We then watched some murder mystery series… I hate these programs. I cant sleep. So long behold, didn’t.

Cathy had brought a platitude of breakfast items as she wasn’t sure what I liked: two sets of cereal, eggs (she doesn’t even eat them vego), jam, yoghurts, fruit etc. breakfast is my favourite meal so I made sure to stock up and have a poached egg and both cereals every morning J OH AND TOAST! Don’t forget plum jam tast :D omonomom. Cathy dropped me in the city at 9:30 and I got on the bus for the Niagara Tour.

Was a bus full of international students… 99% Brazilian. Literally. The Brazilians are super social. Pretty much immediately I had some come over and start chatting to me real touchy (both boys and girls) like your old friends. So that was kind of nice. First stop: a winery. Not sure how this makes sense to take a bunch of students to a winery before you take them to a waterfall :/ but sure Canada, whatever works for ya. I’’ve always wanted to step on the grapes and make wine juice J didn’t get too, but still do. tried a few wines, don’t really like wine but ill drink free alcohol. One was a peach wine… omonomom. Everyone was holding the glasses up in the light, smelling, spinning, smelling. I didn’t even know how to hold the glass correctly. And I had shocking chipped nail polish. Awkies. After that we stopped by an area called Niagara By the Lake, next to Lake Ontario. Really cool little area with cute houses next to Lake Ontario. Another bloody big lake that really should be named an ocean to avoid confusion. Lots of little stores and boutiques here, could have easily spent the day dammmn wish I had allocated more time to Canada. At this point I was eating something Cathy had packed for me (cutie), I think it is Indian called Paprokas. And it tastes/looks like fried chicken but its actually vegetables like chickpeas and such all stuffed together. Was rather delicious. And she gave me chocolate covered cranberries! Was a happy chappy. And the sun was shining! Oh good times. I got to take one of my four layers off :D Bordered back on and arrived at Niagara Falls at 3pm. We had an hour and my friends wanted to get food so we calked up Clifton Hill first which is the main street and oh my gosh it it like a mini Vegas with its lights/Disneyland with its attractions. Absolutely crazy. Top knozzle fun if you’re a child. I saw a cinema advertising Spongebob in 4D! 4D… what on earth. Went to Wendy’s (Wendy’s is like maccas) and got some poutine. Traiditonal Canadian meal –fries topped with cheese and gravy… heart attack in a ball. But tasted so so good. Must try make this or something. With fish and chip chips from Marmion. Oh my gosh excitement for home time. By this point it was 4:10 and we were meeting back at 4:10 and I was wondering why nobody was stressing so I bailed and went to see the waterfall. This time from the Canadian side J
brazilian kids
There was like two main parts to it.. one was typical, and I think what most Americans see. And then the other which you have to walk further down too was like filled with mist water and you could barely see but it looked real cool… like a big cloud in front of it. started walking up to get to this beast quite fast asking people to take my photo along the way infront of the fall. Was such a challenge because the sun kept coming and going as it liked so all the photos were turning out really dark. As I walked up the border I must have asked about twelve people to take me photo and only got one with adequate light. Got to the misty ball, got sprayed, and headed back to bus. Very cool, there was even some rain bowing over the fall going on. As I half walk half ran back I got real close to the bus and then saw it leave K plan was meet at 4:10 to go to the outlet mall for 3 hours. It was 4:07. I called the tour guide and was like um I can see you am right behind you could you please wait two minutes? And she said sorry no catch a taxi. I felt my blood actually boil. So I walked back up and down that 100m st for three hours. Ready to kill. Haven’t had internet on my cell in Canada which made things a bit more difficult but I managed to discover one side of the road connected me to my American network and the other to the Canadian. So I could get my internet on the left side so did some face booking for a bit J then my battery died. Fark. Was actually so ticked off aha when the bus came back at 7pm., (was late 10 minutes) she apologized and I gave her the ‘its fine’. Hope she knows it definitely was not. With no phone I was preparing for a long 2 hour ride back but then the bus played Hunger Games which made me awfully happy. Good movie. Got back into the city at 9pm. Made my way to the subway and then Sandra picked me up from there. Toronto TTC is so easy to navigate. We should get a subway.

Got up at 8:30 and had my usual breakfast routine. Cathy had left me a total of seven maps by this point, so I began figuring out the plan of attack for the day. Brought a subway day pass $10 and started on Danforth Avenue which is mainly a Greek area. Actually where My Big Fat Greek Wedding is based, and partially filmed. So actually a huge Greek area. Lots of small groceries, Greek food, Greek clothing. Greek. Was a nice stroll. Then popped back onto the subway and headed into the city. Went into a shoe store and saw some shoes I liked. Bad Emily. But resisted the urge. They were so pretty though. Damn suitcase. I was trying on some scarves in there and they had this sales assistant who kept staring at me. But from a close distance. Like she was waiting to see if I’d steal, or needed help. Really not sure. But it was so uncomfortable. So I started staring back. And she’d smile. But then she’d walk around the other side, still really close and stare. And then I was staring back/giving weird facial expressions to her. I am so off put by shopping and sales assistants right now aha no shopping for a while. Once I get back. That and the fact, everything in Australia now just seems a gazillion dollars. Walked down Yonge St to which is rather cultural all the way down to the Eaton Center, the main city three level huge shopping mall. The wind was chilling… I don’t know how everybody does it. I swear I look like retard with everything I wear a blue beanie, red scarf, huge coat, pink hand muffins. And im walking around covering my face with my scarf cos its so damn cold. And this is warm weather for them. Like Ohio, they have begun experiencing warmer winters over the past few months. North America finally seems to be acknowledging global warming. I was taking refuge in shops along the way to escape the cold. After the center I continued with my map (my first city maps without google maps was doing alright) down to the markets… shame they were closed. Down to the waterfront… and it started to snow. My teeth were chattering. Most people welcome snow. I start swearing at it. Gloomy day, but typical day I am told similar to Seattle. Would be nice another season of year. They also have the CN tower, similar to Seattle’s space needle. What is this! Toronto’s city architecture is really defined. Lots of tall buildings. But tall shiny glass buildings. Almost alien like. All the new tall buildings make the citizens angry I am told. Caught the subway into Chinatown where I have heard good things slash everything is so cheap I like looking. Got a shot glass for my collection (just you wait). Oh I forget to mention how devastated I was wandering around the shops as Canada is so much mores expensive than America. Should have done my research. More like Sydney pricing. 

Then caught the subway back home and met Cathy for dinner on Greek Street (yay it rhymes) at Mocha, a health food restaurant, shocking! I may have had a Grilled Turkey Club Sandwich… not sure how that is ultra healthy. After setting Cathy up with Facebook and iTunes I began my packing… again. This is getting old!  Took me a long time to pack… because I am having to come up with new ways to make my suitcase not 50 pounds. So I stuffed as much as physically possible into the guitar case. Poor bugger. And my backpack. Sure that I would have to begin my losses at the terminal tomorrow.

Not bad.
Awoke at 4am for my 4:30 shuttle to Toronto Airport. Nasty. Gulped down the usual breakfast, fairwell’d Cathy and began my trip with a loverly taxi man from Bangladesh. I love chatty taxi drivers, asking them where they are from what they are doing. Poor bugger is an engineer but couldn’t get work over here something about applying for tests directly when September 11 happened and then being screwed. I told him to come to Perth, he’d be most welcome on the mines. Got through airport easily passing through baggage with a swift 49 pounds J good packing Emily. Good to be back in a country that doesn’t charge you for your checked baggage! I always forget to empty my bloody water bottle and have to buy a new one. Got to give it to flight attendants, rarely do you see a moody flight attendant, they really are always chipper. And the main male flight attendant on the plane to Vancouver was such a hoot! He spoke really fast thrughough the directions part giving each of the three female flight attendants (whom he referred to as the “three lovely ladies” with a fake Spanish accent) a name and introducing them. As he was reading the manual things he was referring to them as “if you haven’t been around for the past 50 years here we go”, immediately liked him. He continued saying if you needed assistance “like his ex wife”, and if you were caught smoking you would have to step outside the aircraft and be “gone with the wind”. Made my day. The captain of the plane doing the voice overs was also in on it telling passengers to check they have their personal belongings and “if they forget something they will be able to collect it within the hour… on ebay”. And “thankyou for travelling with us, we know you have a choice when choosing airlines and – well, lets be honest, we are the best”.

Caught the Canadian Line train to City Center station took about 30 minutes and then lugged my luggage 5 minutes up the street to hostel. I look like such a twit with the luggage because I can only carry it a few meters at a time before stopping to rest... so I pretend im putting it down for some other reason like answering my phone, looking on a map etc. Hostel located right in shopping district… bloody hell. Checked in at 2:30pm and then went out into the city center and did some exploring. I walked over to Granville Island which took about half and hour crossing over the huge bridge. Vancouver is such a beautiful city! Sky scrapers on one side, mountains on the others and lake underneath. Really is a sight. Prefer it to Toronto. Walked around the boutique stores and then found the markets. I do enjoy market. And Chinatowns, apparently. Inside the market I found, and got so excited over – a sausage roll! Haven’t seen one of those in a longgg time. It was deli and gone within a minute. The downtown area is pretty easy to walk around, grid mapped and not too big.

Got up for my first day and went to Stanley Park. Bit of a foggy day but suited the forest like atmosphere I was entering. Similar to Baimbridge Island in Seattle with the forest and wildlife.  You can walk around the entire park on the waterfront and also go through it… its magical. Was walking for about three hours. Then headed to Gastown which is meant to be trendy and artistic. Was slightly disappointed but that’s okay… its next to Chinatown so headed that way. Bit of a dodge china town. Later went into a Starbucks with laptop and did they American coffee study thing. That was fun. Cept I don’t drink coffee I won’t lie it was a gingerbread latte J Decided to go and see Les Miserables that night as it is a bit of the rage right now. Was insanely amazing. Like, think I have a new favourite movie amazing. Enjoyed it so ridiculously much. I wanted to stay in the cinema and watch it again for 2.5 hours. So good.

Monday morning I woke and demolished the free breakfast taking extra muffins and apples for my day. Caught the seabus (ferry) over to Northern Vancouver which took about 10 minutes max and then a bus to the base of Grouse Mountain. Had heard there was an exceptional view, gondola ride and events up the top. The lady charged me $50 for a 8 minute gondola ride cramped in with 30 skiiers… I got upto the top and the only thing I could do was the sleigh ride… which took 5 minutes. I was a tad pissed off. Amazing view, but not worth $50. There was nothing to do. grrrr.

back to the show ho
Came back down and wandered around town, was a sunny day which was nice. Went to false creek which is like the boat harbor and then came home and started packing! I have gotten oh so sneaky and creative with my packing and have many back up plans for when they tell me I am overweight. Including pulling out a bag out of my bag, storing more in the guitar – I don’t want to throw things away please don’t make me! I then caught the bus to Granville Island and went and watched the Vancouver Theatresports 6:30 – 8:30. Theatresports is a live version of Thank God You’re here… comedy improve. Rather hilarious. So much funding for the arts here they have there own space and sell shows and what not... was really enjoyable. Then went back downtown to buy last minute crap and everything was closed. Devs. Last sleep in a random bed woohoo. Although this hostel bed is extremely comfy. Maybe moreso than my own.

Woke up at 7:20 to make the most of my last free breakfast. And steal some. Left hostel at 8 and made the treacherous walk down to the subway line… not going to miss that. Got to airport at 8:45 and found China Southern Airlines easy. Yes, CSA. Don’t get me started on my worry/dislike/hate. They are impossible to contact literally. The phone number doesn’t work and they only email in Chinese K spent the last of my Canada money in the airport. Was told I can’t buy duty free alcohol as I have a lay over (in the middle of China. Guangzhou, to be exact). And now here I am… ready for home J America… lived up to the stereotypes. Best thing I ever did. Went too fast, but I knew it would. Always said I was born in the wrong country… and maybe I was. But am so thankful to be an Aussie and am so excited to be going home J Thank you U S of A. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

January 12 - Nashville and Ohio

Woke at 7am for my shuttle to JFK. Felt pretty miserable so called mumma who was all “Get yo ass to an doctor now”. Brought a blueberry muffin for breakfast and began my plan of attack to get my guitar carry on. I now only had one piece of carry on, my backpack as I had thrown out my handbag – tragic. My backpack has the sleeping bag and water bottle clipper on I look muchly like the traveller. So I checked my bag in, headed through security passing straight through the part they check the size of your carry ons easily (clearly over) and slept right through the plane trip to DC where I had a 2 hour stop over. Slept right through the plane to Nashville also which is a bit embarrassing because I am not a pretty sleeper.. head tilted back jaw wide open… snoring. I also couldn’t control my coughing which was partly why I was trying to sleep. Ive never been in more of a coughing fit. Every breath made me want to cough. Arrived at airport and found the medical center in airport but was told once I left to go to baggage claim I wouldn’t be allowed back in and I had to go collect my bags KEven though there was a bus that would take me downtown, I felt I was about to pass out so I made my way to the shuttle bus and hopped on. The driver was a cute old man who was interested in Australia so kept trying to talk to me but I couldn’t muster conversation and had my face in the chair next to me so I felt kind of bad. He started being a tour guide also which was fun but I couldn’t look outside… drove past oprah winfreys highschool. Even worse he took all the luggage all the way inside for me and then insisted I didn’t pay him… legend.

First thing the guy at the desk said to me “you look under the weather”
 to which I replied, “find me a doctor”. Dumped my stuff and headed up the street two blocks which was super convenient. Nicest cutest little doctors office, would have paid just to it in there. Couldn’t have a conversation with the doctor without have a coughing eruption… awkward. Least he knew I wasn’t faking it. Did my x rays and they diagnosed me with pneumonia. Devo. Now mummas like “get yo ass back home”, cept she’s not black. They then gave me two butt shots (I thought they were joking at first until she said pull down your pants), antibiotics and an inhaler.  Was pretty hungry at this point so headed to a food market across the road… again freezing to be outside. I am so looking forward to perth heat. Got myself some fruit, granola and yoghurt. Tempted by the amazing cupcakes they had but probs not the healthiest aha. Came home and felt inferior as I watched some other Australians (shocking) cook some amazing soup as I made my yoghurt granola (mixed my yoghurt in my granola*) this is where my inability to cook has caught up with me. Then hit the sack for 14 hours BOOM.

Let us see Thursday wasn’t remotely interesting. I stayed inside all day to please the doctor and immediately started to feel better having taken a double dosage of antibiotics. Was painful though as I could hear the sounds of the Nash calling me! Decided to grow a pairand walk two blocks to get Subway for dinner… almost froze to death aha straight back inside. Made friends with the guys who work in the hostel. Hostel people are fun because they are all youngsters who live in the hostel for free and get paid to work for there room and earn wages. They have a sweet deal. So most nights I mingle with them and other travellers and play foosball. Now, I don’t mean to brag, but I somehow am ridicously good at foosball. I always seem to dominate. The guys here are in shock because they play everyday all-day and I have somehow managed to come in and beat them J winning.

The first day I went downtown exploring the main streets and broadway. Downtown Nashville is easy to figure out because of the grid like structure. I like grids in cities. Its pretty touristy and repetitive but fun. Shame I am not 21 because I can’t straight go in and watch people playing music. SO much live music. You even walk the streets and at traffic light poles, there is music boxes attached playing country music.. Even when nobody is there! Funsies! So I walked into the souvenir shops which are all the same aha literally one after the other and then continued on down to music row which is where ALL the record companies are. Was such a quiet two streets… really businessy and so much music! It is awesome to see a city where the arts are truly funded! Nashville tourism is also hugely rising.

Attatched to the light pole; it plays country music on the street!
Saturday morning. Someone ate my granola. Grrrr. I caught a bus from downtown to the opry mills shopping center. Unfortunately didn’t plan it well because I only got to the shops at 12 and had to leave by 2. Not enough time. The bus ride also… scary. Why do I keep putting myself in these situations aha. Was speaking to a bloke from Melbourne about Greyhound last night and he was saying those stations are the scariest place his ever been in his life. DO NOT CATCH BUSES! It truly is the place to go people watching though. People watching, as you hold your bags tight. Good shopping center but rushed… going to go back! When I got back i met up with a guy called Matt who is best friends with a guy called Colin who I met through my friend Ryan earlier in the year randomly and then Colin was all “you have to meet my friend Matt when you go to Nashville!” so we kept in contact over facebook and I did J Glad to say I am alive! Nice guy, big Christian belter slash party animal. Those ones always confuse me. He drove me around town pointing out all the ‘cool places to hang out’ and then took me to his house in a lovely little Nashvillian neighborhood. His roommate and girlfriend cooked us a steak dinner. So good to have a real home cooked meal – at this point I was living off cakes which ill get back too. Asparagus, roast potatoes and marinated meat – never appreciated food like that before. They then dropped me home and I got ready quickly to go see the Opry at the Ryman Theatre, the home of country music!

Had been looking forward to this! Beautiful auditorium with stained glass windows where legends play some real country. The show went for two hours and it was a lot of fun with them changing every half an hour to a new host and set of acts so you end up seeing a lot of performers. I saw ricky skaggs, love and theft and other people I had never heard of haha.

Sunday, Francis from college and his sister + boyfriend came and picked me up and drove me around some sights! They took me to centennial park first which has one of those old Greek looking buildings the parthagros or something. We then went up to this view spot that overlooks the whole of Nashville. We then drove to the farmers market where we met the Francis parents and had lunch. This was right next to the state capitol so I got some more Tennessee history aha. I also learnt at lunch – which got me really excited – is that Francis uncle lives in the house which is used as Deacon (from the TV show Nashville’s) house. ABC rents it from him for a day for like a $1000 to do shooting! So we went over there OMG it was so cool I swang in the chair Hayden Panettiere does so in and inside they have like all of the furniture and props in that the uncle hasn’t moved. All the furniture, they rebuilt stuff inside. Its really cool, I stepped inside the setting of his living room literally! And on the table was a script for an upcoming episode with Charles Esten (the actors) notes all over it eeeek! So that totally made my day aha J I don’t think the show has aired in Australia yet.. and then we went to the opry mills where you go Inside the hotel and they have these HUGE gardens set up, absolutely beautiful like Disneyland and you walk around… its like a zoo! And then they took me out to dinner J what a wonderful family!

Monday I got up and went back to the opry hills shopping mall. Such a non pleasant experience getting there aha but I must say im totally dominating these dodgy situations. I know how to act so to speak. So bussed it there, forever 21’d which was bad because my suitcase cannot take anymore weight or space. Came back and brought some more cake from the cake store, this time oreo slab.  Oh I never explained the cakes! There is this grocery strore called Urban Market near me and they sell these huge slabs of cake, like big, for $3 each and they have incredible flavors so I was trying one a day like peanut butter, Turkish delight, red velvet omonomom. And I had been telling the Corby family about the cakes so I got them some also and flowers and chocolate. Then Francis picked me up and took my to the Bluebird Café which I was so so excited about. This is the number one live music venue I wanted to go too. I’ve heard of it a few times notably it is where Taylor swift was discovered and it is now a main setting on the TV show Nashville. It is this tiny little venue also which is world famous yet just chilling in the middle of a few shops with no huge fancy line. It was an open mic night on Wednesday night (damn pneumonia) and so they had people there two hours earlier lining up to get a chance to play at 6 when it started. I got there at 5:30pm and did not think I was going to get a seat, as the line was super duper long. They really do well to cram people in there though and being a singular being (Francis had to pack for Colorado) I got to sit right up the front! I watched 41 people perform from 6 to 9pm! Amazing! Some grand some horrible. After Francis and his cousin came and picked me up and took my back to there household which was so cute! Really unique and antique wooden floors, stone walls. Stoked to be living in a Tennessee household. The whole family was there watching the college football game final – which is just as big as nation league. Boring. I tried explaining Australian football to them, failed. They fed me pizza and cakes it was grand J they gave me my own room, oh my goodness I could just go on and on about them, nicest family. And I played the banjo! 


Next morning I woke up and Francis had gone back to Colorado and Chris (father) to work. Mary had made my scrambled eggs with cheese on top. Tasted good. They never poach there eggs here. She also insisted I have a peanut butter jelly sandwich. And orange. Winning. At mid day she drove me to the green hills mall to shop… I still haven’t found mum anything and spent six hours at the shop trying too K the shopping mall is where they filmed the shoe scene with Tyra banks from the Hannah Montana movie! Winning! Winning is becoming big In my vocabulary. As is ‘grand’, bloody Irish. The accens here are really defined also.. super southern sounding. Every single store I went into at the mall (which was, every single store there) they say “hi how you y’all doin” and I replied “good thanks and you” to which I got a “oh my god I love your accent” and replied “right back at ya” that’s the general conversation, I guess they don’t have a lot of Aussies pass through. But there accents are awesome here! And whats weird is that, my thoughts, like my thinking, has been in a southern accent. Ive been thinking with southernisms. Tripping. Funnest accent. Afterwards Mary picked me up and took me to dinner with Chris at California Pizza Kitchen across from the Bluebird Café so I could see it again aha. GOOD BLOODY PIZZA. Go go go! That was fun. They kind of took me in, all three of there kids have gone off to college again J for dessert she was trying to fatten me up I swear she had especially brought for me ice cream that had piece of Reese’s peanut butter cups in it… bloody hell! And then she gave me additional chocolate fudge. Amazing. I definitely filled up over my two day stay.

adopt me into your nashville family please k thanks

Wednesday morning I got up and had the same breakfast (eggs, sandwich, and oreo cake leftovers) and Mary dropped me at the airport. The night before we had packed up all my stuff using space bags which was helpful except my bag is SO heavy. I brought two more pairs of shoes which was silly. I knew they wouldn’t all fit and I told the sales assistant when I was standing there I needed to leave a pair and then they started talking me into it about how it can be swished down. K Shouldn’t have done it. But they’re so pretty J so I threw some stuff out last night and knew this morning it would be over weight but would wait until they told me how much so I could do some spontaneous toiletries throwing out. Im a tad sad cos I have been carrying fake tan around with me for my arrival back to Australia but I think its going to have to go! No room. Ill just rock the paleness.


The plane ride took an hour! Too easy J and nobody sitting next to me, winning! Picked up my bags at baggage claim and Jo (mum’s best childhood friend who met an American 15 years ago, married him, now lives in Cleveland, adopted a baby from Africa and raised her as her own) picked me up J have really been loving the family lifestyle not catching shuttles getting lifts and home cooked meals! We drove and dropped my stuff off in their Lakewood home. It had been snowing heavily three days earlier so all the snow was still covering the ground which was really pretty. Had been worried I would be re entering snow territory as Cleveland has been snowing for weeks but im avoiding it! No more pneumonia for meeehee J the houses are quite cute, all double story but small and narrow with wooden porches. We then drove into Cleveland city to pick up Sandra from school, driving past the Lake Eerie from The Great Lakes. They really are huge.. it looked like the ocean. I asked if they got sharks. Stupid question apparently. Last time I saw Sandra she was four, and the most energetic confident run around child I had ever met. Now she was seven and excited to see me. I suck with kids, but when they do the talking it’s easy. Fortunately, she was just as I remembered. And she somehow had a memory of steel, remembering me and my entire family. We drove to Costco’s – the huge bulk chain seller. Fun grocery store trip – although they have literally everything. a grocery store is never just a grocery store. A pharmacy is never simply a pharmacy. My favourite thing about Costco is they do free taste testers. Omonomom. And so having a child there eager to try everything also gave me the PERFECT excuse to ‘follow her around’. And try the food. Omonomom. When we got home Sandra made me play wii… a dance game, bloody exhausting. And we watched Pokemon… I thoroughly enjoyed that part. Dinner was home cooked chicken, beans, sweet potatoe. Excellent. And Jo had also bought chocolate ice cream with peanut butter cups just for me. WHY IS EVERYONE TRYING TO MAKE ME OBSESE. So good. I also got some of Sandra’s left over Halloween candy (shitload) winning. had to contain my excitement. Being the adult and all. 

Definition of good health.
Next day went to Akron University with John who is a professor of Finance there to meet my LEAPer buddy who is from Akron J the drive over was beautiful we drove through this huge road that curves around a national valley saw a plenty of dear and the forest was just covered in snow. Took about an hour to get to the small town. Was grand to see Alex! He showed me his campus.. he is one of seven children who was born and raised here, hasn’t left America so was cool to see his home town. The campus was kind of small but nice facilities. He then took me to lunch at a restaurant that specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches! Yay J he had some weird ham, pineapple thing (Americans!) and I stuck to mushrooms and chicken. Sweet potato fries, which I had to lie about enjoying aha, he was so excited for me to ‘try’ them. But really not a fan, they are sugary chips!! Cray cray. Spent the second half of the day watching the final episodes of revenge that I had missed! Soooo good! That night we were set to go to MELT, another grilled cheese sandwich shop which Helen has continuously raved about since her travels and been badgering me about viewing every day. We got there and they said it was an hour wait… popular. So went up the road to another fast food outlet because when asked what I liked I said ‘good fries’, and this was a place of good fries. They were good fries, but the burger, which tasted good looked so American nasty aha. That night Jo showed me photo albums of her and Kez in there 20s… rebels. Too short of skirts and crop tops in my opinion. That night I let a 7 year old paint my nails. Don’t do this again.

Friday morning john dropped me off on a main town street in Lakewood near there house. Most of the food places are here, there isn’t many stores. I mainly walked from CVS to Walgreens to Marcs to drugmart looking at the food and makeup (which is simply fun because its all so cheap slash so much variety) and comparing prices. And there was a dollar store! But no shopping my suitcase is over! Went to MELT and got the chicken parmigiana sandwich which oh my gosh let me tell you about. Helen’s experience was a lasagna sandwich which was literally lasagna in a grilled cheese sandwich. This was literally a chicken parmigiana meal stuck into a grilled cheese. HUGE. The takeaway box was ginormous. Excellent. Real good fries. Would like to try everything on the menu there… such variety. That arvo John took me to the West Side Markets which are the oldest markets in American history built in 1912 (not sure how). So much meat! And feral things.. and entire lamb L pig legs! Something’s long grey tongue! Wolf fish! We had a traditional Hungarian Danish… poppy seed pastry… was interesting my taste buds didn’t know quite how to feel about it. I get so excited by bakerish. There food is all like $2. Afterwards we went and stopped at the Lake.. I swear it’s a secret ocean undercover. We then picked up Sandra from school and met Jo for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Like my Asian food but come on America, so oily! Huge portions left many leftovers also win. By the way I am so full at this point from my melt sandwich I could only eat half of and Danish. After dinner Jo and I went and saw a play by the Cleveland Theatre Company in the beautiful Allen theatre, a branch of off the Playhouse Theatre. It was called Bell, Book and Candle, set in the 50s and about witchcraft. Light comedy, really amusing, great show.

The next morning I got up at 6:30am for my bus day to Toronto (830 am to 5:30pm). Jo had made huge blueberry pancakes, which made me over the moon happy. Baked goods. Omonmomom. Im going to go on a baking fetish when I get back. Jo dropped me back to my favourite place – greyhound station – and I chatted to a sweet old non scary lady for an hour. Ily old people. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

January 2nd - New York New York

Frick there is so much to do in this city! Arrived at Times Square Station (talk about arrival destinations) at 6pm and didn’t go outside to 42nd st with all the baggage as we thought it may be a tad overwhelming. Fortunately amandas Swedish friends met us there which was super duper handy as they helped us with all our luggage! So we caught the subway 1 redline and I got off about 20minutes uptown at 103 st. Unfortunately my google maps died on me as soon as I came onto the street.  So I stood there for about 3 minutes in the dark looking lost like a goose until some lady came up to me and said I looked lost and gave me directions. I had arrived about 2 hours before the girls would so I put my stuff away and then headed downstairs to the Welcome Drinks which the hostel runs every few nights so I had good timing. Went in there and the guy at the bar called me up and asked me what I wanted to drink… I automatically told him I wasn’t 21 and he said he didn’t care and gave me a wine… nice fella Rory. I then saw a group of people wearing Australian name tags so joined the group. To my unshockment, if possible, even more people here were Australian than in DC! Having not eaten all day I was pretty merry after my one glass, and Rory who runs the pub crawl was peer pressuring me into coming out… convinced he could get my minor self in K ended up waiting for the girls instead so we could make full use of Christmas Eve.

Next morning we got on the subway and started heading the wrong one. Lesson learnt. Uptown and downtown. Brought a 7 day pass for $29... bargain. Weren’t sure what stop to get off so I was like 42nd St, as it’s the only one I know ;) was amazing coming up from the subway right into the heart of times square and seeing all the lights and signs… exactly as imagined. And busy! Everyone is just shuffling past one another and knocking into each other. We walked into the Toys R Us store... they have a huge Ferris wheel inside and Barbie’s Castle. Then into M & M world.. so many flavours of M&Ms was ridonkulous, I got raspberry, coconut, Christmas edition and peanut butter - $12.99/pound. We then walked over to radio city music hall and just walking down 6th avenue was awesome. There really is something to see every block and corner.  Headed to what we thought in the sky was the Empire State but it was actually the Chrysler Building. Awkies. Eventually found our way to ES and waited in line for half an hour… you get up to the 80th floor pretty fast on that elevator… And what a view! Absolutely magical. Could see everythanggg and all the Burroughs! After we headed to the Rockefeller center which had the tree, angels and ice skating rink. Not going to lie, semi disappointed in the tree. Was looking a bit shabby! They used a real Christmas tree. Went into the NBC store there, which had Friends and Seinfeld merchandise, which made me happy. That night we just stayed in again as about 30 hostellers went out on a pub crawl all wearing Santa hats J

We got up on Christmas and didn’t open presents L but it was okay cos we were in NY!! We had signed up for a tour the hostel offers led by an 80 year old man called Jerry for $10: Brooklyn, the bridge, ground zero, Staten island ferry, Soho, Little Italy. As we started we realised we were in for a long day.. at 11am and the tour went for 13 hours
K not to mention Jerry decided to stop every 5 minutes and chat, although he had a really cool accent so I was sneakily recording him. The accents in NY are super distinct. The view from Brooklyn of downtown New York was pretty cool… the Brooklyn bridge looked pretty unstable but was a nice walk! Upon getting off we arrived at the new world trade center, which really was awesome.

When you turn the corner you see this huge mother trucker building. It is such a symbol of power. Jerry said that they are building 5 buildings to replace the world trade center.. of which should be completed in 10 years time. He said the diamond like shape of the building was chosen as this is the most maximan way to avoid wind damage so that if it gets attacked by a plane – which he said, they are expecting – it will have the greatest chance of survival.  The elevator in the center that runs the entire way up is built with a thick ceramic plate all the way around it so the elevator will remain standing should the rest of the building collapse. The bottom 50 floors are bomb proof so literally the only way to attack the building is from the sky, which he said they expect to happen again but this building has been built so that It should be able to survive a plane.

After the WTC it was 3pm so we decided to bail on the tour and went to Central Park to go ice skating. Costed $24 all up and not really thinking about what I was getting into.. I failed massively. I literally stood there afraid to move. I managed to do one lap holding onto the rink before jess came and took my hand and pulled me around the rink a few times J so that was fun. Least I got to wear my earmuffs! We then headed back to the hostel where everyone was getting merry with free Christmas drinks. A bunch of the Aussies were heading out and Rory convinced me id be fine to go. He said I needed an ID and I was like the only thing I have is my drivers license which clearly states for you I am NOT 21. So off we headed anyway as he was convinced he could chat up the bouncers.. the first place we went to they didn’t have a bouncer on the door… Emily 1 NY 0. So went in, my mate bought me a drink and about 45minutes in the bar manager stopped the music and declared it had come to her attention that minors were in the room and they needed to leave immediately or she would call the cops. So I just kept pretending and about 20 minutes later she still wasn’t checking IDs. 30minutes later though she did come around. I went to the bathroom to hide except they were locked. So I pulled out my phone, hid in the corner and pretended to be in a deep and meaningful with someone.. still didn’t work because she tapped on my shoulder and asked for my ID. I apologized to my ‘phone’ friend, told the manager it was in my coat and started heading towards my coat which was on a chair stacked up with about 5 other peoples coats. This was possibly the fastest thinking I had ever done. I began looking through all the coats until I ‘realised mine wasn’t there’ (certainly was) and went into panic attack mode running around the club and asking everyone if they had seen a red coat, which nobody had as I hadn’t brought it. This allowed me to stay in the club an additional half hour… not bad. A group of us Aussies then went back to the hostel and started drinking there until about 5am. Made me really happy to be spending the night with 20 Australians getting merry.

boxing day sales
The next morning we awoke for a day of shopping. We headed straight to Macys and oh, my, god. Never again. I cannot shop when there are too many people it is too overwhelming and Times Square was a whole new experience of its own. Unmovable. I spent 2 hours in there trying to walk around the nine level building and spent most of my times in maccas eating out my emotional trauma. We continued shopping but it was pretty hideous, I didn’t buy anything. That night we went to Ellen’s Stardust Diner, which was the coolest thing ever! You walk in and it is such a happy place. All the waitresses/waiters are aspiring Broadway stars so you come in and they are singing the entire time, standing on tables as you eat your dinner and they are bloody damn good with most of them getting scouted and moving onto the big stage next. Such a worthwhile visit. I had red velvet cake…J the girls then went off to watch Mary Poppins and I walked around Times Square in bucketing rain for half an hour with Padraig, our Irish friend from DC hostel. Idiotic move Emily.

Woke up the next morning exhausted. We headed to the Staten island ferry and caught the free boat going past the statue of liberty. Pretty miserable day. She looked tiny. We then subwayed it up to the upper east side and headed down the shops past the Met. We went back to the city center midtown and looked at the Christmas Village Bryant Park which was rather lovely but wasn’t feeling too flash so headed back home. Went to Ellens Stardust again for dinner which was fun, this time the service was really shocking but there entertainment makes up for it in a flashbolt. Said goodbye to the girls and dove to bed. The next day I stayed inside the hostel the entire day.. didn’t leave, was not feeling flash. Developed a pretty nasty cough. Kathryn had given me some cold and flu tablets which were helpful. Wasn’t feeling grand the next day either when I had to move on yuck. Lugged my stuff down the subway and caught the redline to Dyckman St which wasn’t too bad, about 20 minutes further uptown… although mind you, I think its in the ghetto. Not a tourist destination. The apartment was a bit crowded with all the Swedes… 7 of us in a one personer haha but that’s okay. Was absolutely filthy. That was my adventure for the day. Slept again all day.

Felt a bit better the next day so challenged myself to go outside. Rookie mistake. Went to times square and realised this was one of only two days I would be able to see a show (the other being the first) and so went over to the theatre the Book of Mormon plays at and stood in line at 3:00pm with other hopefuls. I knew at 5pm they did the lottery where they pick 20 people at random to give front row seats too. This was a pretty idiotic move of me considering how freezing it was + how shit I felt but needed to be done. 5pm came and went and by this point there was easily over 100 people… no lottery draw dammit. Remained in line though as they give the top 20 discounted standing tickets, and I was about number 10. Really wanted to bail but I had come so far! So about 6:15 I got a ticket for $27 to see Book of Mormon K winning! it is currently the top show and the only prices available for months are $470. Even though I had to continue standing the entire show was well worth it – was such a fun show. Bloody hilarious/outrageous. The Spanish people downstairs like to party hard until about 3am with their salsa music K
The next day felt horrible having gone outside the day before… good one Emily. Still worth it though! Left the apartment at 3pm to head into the city for NYE celebrations. Arrived at times square station and had difficulty meeting up with more swedes and Padraig as everything was being closed off by the second. So much police! Had to walk back to 40th st before we could get in anywhere and eventually did, they kept allowing us to move forward which was rather nice of them.  Nothing really started until 6pm and I was massively disappointed. We weren’t actually that far back from everything yet you could not see or hear a thing – there were no speakers or screens dammit. Hung around a while but eventually ended up bailing it was rather disappointing. So close yet so far from Tswizzle. Was not handling the cold well. Came home and we watched in on the laptop live. Much cozier.
The rest of the crew didn’t return until 6am which gave me a nice sleep in. Amanda and I headed into the city around 3pm and I brought myself a backpack from k mart $30 and some fries from burger king which were shite! Nothing compares to MacDonald’s I am realizing in life. Came back and packed and tried sleeping in the rats nest.