Saturday, July 11, 2009


I have just read a couple of my blogs and have learnt that I should not be so harsh in editing. Admittedly in posting the last week or so of blogs I did go hell for leather to just get them on the page and as a result I see/read that they could have been better. I didn't think it would make that much difference but surprisingly it has. Nothing of importance has been omitted, just the fillers that provide the adjectival entertainment. Ooooh, do you like that? Adjectival!!! I impress myself!

Also, to update, Chris' wallet was dumped in a postbox and the US Mail returned it to Australia. How cool is that? It was waiting for him when he got home! Minus the cash.

Anyway, if you don't have access to Facebook and would like to see the photos please let me know.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Saturday 4th July

Make sure you read this in date order. It won't make any difference really but I want you to follow correctly. It's actually fortuitous that the original post didn't work as I missed out a chunk of events.

8.30am, wow what a sleep in! I don't have any set plans today, mostly wandering around. I have aborted my plan for a swim because my scalp is sunburnt and my t shirt tan is really remarkable and doesn't need any help. I update some blogs after breakfast and then walk to the Fashion District. It is not what I expect i.e. regular chain stores etc. What I get is a gigantic Victoria Market full of cheap and tacky clothing and souvenirs. I spy a dress shop that has some quite pretty dresses so go in. I am looking for something to wear to Cathy's wedding but the salesman and I can barely understand each other so I leave.

I buy some purple sneakers for $12 and could probably get them cheaper but can't be bothered with a continued search. Everything I touch turns to purple which is fabulous because it is one of my favourite colours. It is the season's "it" colour and it is not the pink tinged wannabe purple, this is the real thing - electric purple!!!!!

Heading home I walk down Broadway to take photos of the old art deco style theatres. Just like my fire escape obsession, I check out all the theatres. Back at the hotel I sit down to read for a bit but I notice how grubby and worn out my runners are. Oh, well what luck, there is a Foot Locker around the corner with a big sale on. I pop in and pick up a pair of Nike's for $50. I did hesitate though as I don't really like the air bubble in the heel. After discussing this with my salesman, we decide I do need to get over that issue as they are really comfortable and great value.

There is an Anime Expo in town for a few days so there are hundreds of mostly young people getting about in weird costumes, wigs and hats. Each to their own.

With 2 days left I have given up on having a good coffee so I sit down in Bottega Louie for a strong cup of tea in a ceramic cup and not a paper one. Oh heaven! My cupcake is light and yummy too. I can watch the chefs preparing food, the staff are sophisticated and immaculately dressed and the food in the deli section is mouth watering. Why didn't I discover this place on our 1st day here?

I have another walk around and I really don't like LA. It is dirty and smelly. There are homeless and alcoholics everywhere begging. Some of the men are quite sleazy and make suggestive comments as they pass me. It makes me feel gross. At least in New York, they made me smile when they were trying to sell me a hip hop or rap CD. One guy says to me "show me some love, I know you get down Mama!" Well, yes I do, but I get down to a different beat, child!

When I get home I intend to change before dinner but really can't be bothered so just turn around and go out again. I head to the California Pizza Kitchen. I order some mushroom ravioli with a tomato sauce and check the garlic levels with the waitress. I am assured it will be fine but I am soon having my doubts. Sure enough when she sets the meal in front of me I nearly have a heart attack. The amount of chopped garlic I see sends my stomach into spasms as I call the waitress over. She changes my meal without problem.

A couple across from are very non-descript but their conversation is what catches my attention. He is using words like, promote, work, I'll do this, that and the other for you. He is rattling off his competitors names and saying they really don't know what they are doing. I guess he is an agent. I am listening hard and watching their mouths for assistance but I can hardly hear them. She soon looks bored out of her brain while he does all the talking and shaking his legs. She offers him what looks like a throat lozenge before letting out a dainty pathetic cough. I hear the word "Hustler" and I "bingo", PORN. This makes more sense to me although she is not what you would call a Page 3 pin up. I keep missing the important bits of the conversation so all I get is things like "I'm so anti.....", "Are you good at....", "Why is it okay to....." He talks about how there is no flirting, he fell in love......she knows I am having dinner with you.....playing with breasts. I really did hear these things!!! I get bored trying so hard to eavesdrop so give up.

On my way home I would like to stop by a bar for a drink but of course everything is closed. This place is heading for ghost town status day and night, holiday or not. I find a supermarket and buy some wine and crisps. Chris and I watch a cooking show and I fall asleep watching it after polishing off the wine. Bad move!

Where is Saturday?

I have had major internet trouble this morning and I have just discovered Sat 4th July is missing. Stand by.

Tuesday 7th July and a bit of Wed 8th

A 2 hour wait in Auckland and we are so bored we just want to get home. The flight is just under 4 hours and I watch Tsotsi. Unfortunately the in flight entertainment system is not working properly for some people and after re-booting the whole system no one's is working. I miss the last 6 minutes of the film!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We have breakfast again and I try to sleep. I am restless now.

Back in Fitzroy around 11.30am and I add some photos to Facebook, write some blogs and do my washing. Around 4.30pm I start feeling a bit spinny so I have to go to bed and wake up sometime after dusk to be freaked out. I don't recognise the silhouettes in my room and don't know where I am. I know it is not New York but it doesn't look like LA so where am I. I really do freak a bit but try to tell myself this is what I always do, which it is. I go back to sleep and get up when the phone rings. It is 8.30pm.

I add some more photos, check my mail and start to get tired again. At 10.30 I go back to bed and get up in the morning around 7.30am. I feel pretty good. I spend the morning finishing the blogs and my photos and then looking at them continuously. I think they are fantastic shots.

Well, it's time for some serious exercise so I am going to get Billy Blanks Boot Camp up on the screen.

Thanks for reading everyone. I had a fabulous time and it was a dream come true to finally go to the USA, especially New York.

Monday 6th July

There is no Monday 6th July. We lost it over the Pacific Ocean somewhere never to be recovered.

Sunday 5th July

Checkout isn't until 12pm so there is no rush but I am still up at 8am. I attempt to have a shower but the drain is blocked so move to another one. There is no hot water so I wash my hair in a tepid temperature and curse the hotel. It's like a Fawlty Towers here with blocked toilets, drains, 1 elevator for 15 floors and rude reception staff but it has free internet so I have been able to do my blogs for you. Thankfully it is summer so I will warm up soon after my shower. When I get back to the room I put my watch on and it says 8am. I hit a time warp and wonder what the hell is going on. It's then I remember the room clock is set forward an hour and we didn't change it so I really got up at 7m and didn't have the sleep in I thought I had. It doesn't make much difference as I am a bit hungover. Thought I would slip that one in there! The 2 mornings I have been hungover have been flying days, silly girl!

I go back to Bottega Louie for breakfast and savour my cup of tea and individual banana and marscapone bread. Yum! A man at the next table asks me if I know who the large group of men are nearby. Of course I don't know but looking at this man, I know he knows and is about to tell me. They are a bunch of retired policemen and this is their regular Sunday morning motorcycle ride breakfast. This piece of information gives the man licence to continue talking to me which I don't want. It is early, I am eating breakfast, I am reading - 3 sure signs I do not want to be disturbed. It only takes 1 or 2 words from me before he notices my accent so the obvious questions follow. He goes on to show me the cartoon he drew for todays' paper and I don't understand the gist of his ensuing conversation with it's political tones. I tell him this but it doesn't stop him from continuing. He introduces me to his friend who speaks at a level 2 below that of a whisper so I keep saying "sorry?" which they in turn don't understand as "pardon?" In the end I just nod and say "mm" a lot and I don't care if I seem a bit dumb because it works.

Back at the hotel I continue with my blogs, I am really cracking along with them now and hope you are all reading. Once my photos are up for your viewing pleasure the 2 go hand in hand, mostly. With still another hour before checkout I just put my feet up on the bed and we watch Big Daddy's House. Big Daddy is cooking some meditteranean food and ooh, they look yummy. He is incredibly excited about the dishes too.

As I mentioned earlier there is only 1 elevator working so it's a good 10 minute wait for us to get in with our luggage as we watch 2 men in wheelchairs go up and down!!! There are a lot of wheelchair bound people in this city, quite a number with no legs, it's very noticeable. We take the stairs and store our luggage. We still have 10 hours before take off.

First stop is the Bradbury Building famous for it's cage elevators and stunning architecture. Next is the Walt Disney Centre where we take an audio tour. It's a gorgeous building inside and out, although the designers etc keep referring to it as a warm and inviting place. I don't really feel the warmth but the garden is most definitely inviting. The tour lasts for about an hour and at the end I leave my Disney biography on the bar. This is a book that I found a few months ago. It is registered on and hopefully it will travel across the world.

Across the road a bit is City Hall, a building so grand and beautiful it is famous for appearing in many films/tv shows.

Starving, I have my hunger pangs set on a famous French Dip Sandwich from Coles around the corner from the hotel. It is basically a meat baguette with au jus. You dip your sandwich into the warm meat juices and it melts in your mouth. Delicious!!!

Last stop is Godiva chocolate store but it is closed. Oh well, I have a small stash already but do buy a few more bars from a shop nearby. I cave in and get a coffee from Louie which I think is going to be pretty good but I am wrong. Should have known better. When I get home I am going to try this no coffee business as the calories in milk are very high and are the major contributor to my battle of the bulge. It is NOT the cakes, alcohol or lack of ab crunches - oh, I know that!!

We don't want to walk around anymore so collect our bags and go to the airport. I buy myself some of my 2nd favourite perfume, J'adore (I know you want to know and why not my 1st favourite? Well I have almost a full bottle of Paris at home). I spy the Godiva chocolates but refrain as they are tres expensive.

We settle in for a 13 hour flight to Auckland and I don't feel like concentrating on much so I watch "I Love You, Man". Dinner is roast beef and vegies and I limit myself to 1 glass of wine, how good am I? Then I watch the classic "In The Heat Of The Night" and sleep afterwards. My sleep is fitful with a sore coccyx and about 5am I give up and watch 2 episodes of CSI, the one where Grissom leaves, for all the fans. Breakfast arrives and I have time for 1 episode of The Simpsons before we land.

Friday 3rd July

As we are nearing the end of our trip I am slowing down. There isn't a whole lot in LA I want to see which is interesting. Before we left I had every day packed and San Fran was pretty chilled. It's turned out the opposite.

I take the train back to Hollywood and arrive in perfect time for the Kodak Theatre tour. Home of the Oscars, I am pretty excited. I feel pretty special to be here and have a smile on my face the whole time. The theatre is wonderful and if you happen to be NVI(not very important) and get a seat in the top tier at the back, you might as well not be there. But really, who is going to say no to an invitation?

Each year in September a ballot is held to give away 500 bleacher seats on the red carpet. They start the ballot this early as each person is subject to an intense security check. After the stars have entered the building on the night, you are whisked across the street to a venue for a meal and to watch the show. It's all for free!!!!

We are given a special postcard that isn't available to buy anywhere because we couldn't take our own photos. I forget to take a photo of the outside.

Nearby or I find, not so nearby, is the 75 year old Farmer's Market which is like a giant food court. It is so busy but I am displaying incredible patience getting through the crowds and find myself a seat for lunch. Next door is The Grove, an upmarket, beautifully manicured and designed shopping mall. I have a look around but it's not that interesting so I jump on a bus and head back downtown.

Oh what a surpise, I go to Macy's! My discount card is still valid so I really should buy something. The weather makes me think about going to Santa Monica beach for a swim tomorrow so I buy swimmers at 60% off. The trying on phase is not too traumatic, probably because I am trying a suitable style. I throw into my purchase a couple more Godiva chocolate bars. Awesome chocolate and very expensive normally.

My shin is giving me so much pain that I really think I should be on crutches. I wonder how I will manage back at tap class. Time for something to eat and I find that many cafes and restaurants are closed for the holiday weekend so wonder what I am going to do about dinner. I end up at an Irish/American pub where I am asked for ID by a large black man. I say to him "do I need it?" He responds hesitatingly "ahhh, I think not." Good man!

I order pasta with prawns and it is awful. I eat most of it but only because I am hungry. I just want to go home now with some alco-pops and put my feet up. There is nowhere open to buy them. I discover that you need a hard liquor licence to sell spirits whereas you can sell wine and beer at places like 7/11 and the chemist. I settle on some Rolling Rocks. I watch a bit of TV and find a crazy woman hosting an entertainment show with a special on Michael Jackson. I get bored, read for a bit, then sleep.

Thursday 2 July - part 2

Oh, before the tour starts I get my home made name plate out and place it on a star to have my photo taken. I am hilarious and people are watching me. Chris, in turn finds a star (in fact 2) that have the initials CB so we take his photo and our humour astounds us.

It's time to walk down Hollywood Blvd and visit some important places. I get my photo of Marilyn Monroe's star which is unfortunately outside McDonalds, I don't think she would approve of that. I cross the road to Grauman's Chinese Theatre and take a tour. It isn't very good so I don't really recommend bothering. The hand and footprints in the forecourt are what everyone comes to see so it is very busy. I have to wait a bit before I can get Marilyn's without other people in it. The footprints of the women look abnormally small because the actors take off their regular shoes and put on tiny ones so their feet look dainty. It is too late for my tour of the Kodak Theatre so will have to come back. I wander for a bit and then catch the train back downtown. I go home for a shower and short relax before dinner.

Tonight it's Pete's Cafe just down the street a bit. It looks expensive but I have looked at the menu and prices online and it is fine. I sit outside to avoid the large and noisy party inside at the bar but the smokers bother me so I move inside. Much better and very sophisticated. My meal is just delicious! Fish with a white bean ragout and sauteed spinach. It really was so good and each day I am desperate for vegies so this is perfect.

I ask my waiter for advice on the studio tours, actually I my first question is "are you an actor, as I want an actor's point of view?" The tours all say they are the only one to go inside a working studio - it doesn't matter much as I know what I will see and anyway most of the shows are on hiatus for the summer. I am not fussed on the rides at Universal which is the original choice. I feel bad for Chris as he really wants to go and I have already said no to Disneyland. He is fine though and happy enough to go on his own. Anyway, my waiter confirms my suspicions and the reviews I have read online. Decision made.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thursday 2nd July - part 1

Today I make my pilgrimage to Hollywood. I check out the train options and voila we are there in about 20 minutes. Straight across the road is the visitor's centre and what luck! If we sign up now as early birds we can get 2 tours for the price of 1. But wait, there's more! "Are you on a budget" Well, as a matter of fact "YES". Anyone who says no to this question is a bit silly. I will pay $30 for a 1 hour tour through the Hollywood Hills and then a 2 hour tour through Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Dr, Cedars Sinai Hospital - sick beds for the stars and all the places you see on TV. Chris goes off to do his own thing.

The hills are certainly alive in Hollywoodland, the original name, with extraordinary structures and buildings that are homes to those who have money. We are in an open top truck of sorts and our guide Bruce, points out lots of interesting homes telling us about their owners/history. As a matter of fact some of the homes are under $1 million so they are not out of reach......for some. We see the home Bugsy Siegel built. Madonna owned it for a while and this is the house where someone climbed her fence. When you see this house you will understand the incredible feat this intruder undertook. Mind you we only saw the back fence, or rather the massive wall, so there must be an easier point of wrongful entry.

One home we see is having extensions and what an eye-popper! It is almost 2 houses worth with an above ground walkway between. Phew! Back at the visitor centre we have a quick break and change to a double decker bus. I'm pretty excited but I find the tour underwhelming. Natasha our guide is a born and bred local with a 13 year old daughter so this qualifies her for knowing everything. It becomes evident that she doesn't when she fills gaps by repeating 3 times what she just said, telling us what street we are crossing and the piece de resistance - pointing out a frozen yoghurt store. She was really giving me the shits by the 2nd hour and after mentioning twice that we would be going past the orphanage where Marilyn Monroe grew up, she lost me completely. The tour ends and I certainly am glad I did it as I could never have done it all on my own, on foot. LA is so spread out and huge, the maps do not give you any indication how big it really is.

At this point I will digress a moment. I normally write in the past tense but this time am using the present. If I switch between the two ignore it, I can't be bothered all the time to fix it. Will finish here but there is more to this day.

Wednesday 1 July

I'm up early at 7am because I am too restless. We are heading to Santa Monica today so we jump on the bus and get there 1 and 1/4 hours later, not realising we could have caught the train and probably been there in 40 mins or so. Anyway once there, we head to 3rd St Promenade for some shopping. We pass through a street market with the best looking produce I have seen in ages. It is mouthwatering but it would be a pain to carry stuff around if I buy anything. We split for an hour to look at different things and I make a couple of purchases. We go over to the famour Santa Monica pier and walk to the end for photos. The beach is lovely and so wide. You will see from one of my photos.

We start the pleasurable but a bit too long for blistered feet walk to Venice Beach. My blisters have actually almost gone but my shin is in agony and gives way a couple of times. The compensation my other muscles made to help my blisters is causing me a lot of grief. Strolling through the stalls is monotonous as one would expect I suppose and I am glad that I do not make my living this way. I was going to say the competition is mad but that would be forgetting the madness of my own industry. Muscle Beach is a non event for me as I am not into the bulging muscles of show offs. The highlight is seeing an old man in his street clothes doing his sit ups outside the gym enclosure.

It's already mid afternoon and our intention of going to Hollywood is put off until tomorrow. We jump on a Big Blue Bus (that's what they are called), get the directions we need and go home. We bus along Wilshire Blvd and it must be one of the longest streets ever. It is a very bumpy and busy road and we are moving at a cracking pace. We certainly do not want an accident now. A young-ish woman gets on while talking on her cell phone. She is is having an argument with some type of business and she goes on and on for at least 20 minutes - until she gets off.

The bus route finishes right near our hotel so we go in to freshen up and go for dinner. I look through the brochures and do some internet research for a place and choose Rocket Pizza Lounge around the corner. Warner Brothers are filming just nearby but the guard won't tell me what they are shooting. My meal is fantastic. I have a salad of spinach, tomato, apple, almonds, caramelised walnuts and raspberry viniagarette. I will definitely be making this one at home. My pizza is awesome too and I eat everything. I go home very satisfied.

Tuesday 30 June

Hangover alert!!! My head hurts a lot and the combination of too much wine and the heat made sleep very tossy-turny.

We leave stinky Chinatown at 6am on the wrong train. We don't actually know this until we reach Jamaica, Queens and not Jamaica Centre, Airport. After getting some directions and a warning that the cab drivers here will rob us we agree it is just easier to get a cab and spend the $25 it will cost. We stand at the kerbside waiting for one to come along but we aren't in the city anymore Toto, and there are no cabs driving by. Someone asks us if we need help as clearly we do and he tells us the cabs are right here! They are unmarked cars so we would never have known ourselves. Off we go and it was good to see a bit of Queens and the different houses.

We get to check in with 10 minutes to spare and they don't weigh our luggage, luckily, as we were definitely over the domestic limit. I am desperately hungry so grab some breakfast and soon enough we are on board. I am so tired I fall asleep straight away. We are due to take off at 8.40am and when I wake up at 8.55, then again at 9.10 I wonder why we haven't left yet. With people moving through the cabin I realise that we are in the sky and I have slept through take off. I can't believe I didn't wake up with the noise or the feeling. Unheard of!!!! I don't remember anything else about the flight and there isn't anything in my journal to remind me.

It doesn't take long before we are checking in to the Stay Hotel, a hybrid hostel. We share bathroom facilities but we have a telephone, television and get our beds made if we wish. Next door is the Cecil Hotel which they are affiliated with and we share the lobby, cafe and reception issues if need be. I discover my luggage has been searched as the lock is missing. It's a weird feeling but nothing is out of place and they leave a notice to say they have done the search.

We organise beds and have showers, deciding to go for a wander around the streets. We go to the information centre and leave there loaded with brochures, bus routes and maps. Our first attraction is the Grammy Museum and wow, what a place this is. Fantastic value at $11.95 with a student card, ahhem, we are there for nearly 2 hours and could easily stay another 2. Packed with tons of interactive touch screens and headsets giving trivia, showing memorabilia, backstage footage from 1800's to the present day. Anyone with a slight interest in music would enjoy this, in fact if you don't, then you don't really like music. Every genre is covered. Nerida you would be in heaven here, as far as museums go!!!

We pick up some alco-pops and go back to the hotel to chill out. I pick up some chinese food for $4.69 and it could have done me 2 meals. Apart from the sirens going off all night, or rather on and on and on, we have a quiet night. It is pretty stuffy though.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday 29 June

Last day in New York! I allow myself a major sleep in til 9am then I am off to Chelsea, mostly just to see the infamous Chelsea Hotel to get a photo.

I venture north to Hell's Kitchen to check out the Actor's Studio and I go straight past it because I had the wrong street number in my head. It is a very non descript building with a small sign so it's no surprise I missed it anyway. What an anti climax! I don't really know what I was expecting but all the significant acting houses and theatres I made special trips to were that way.

Off to Central Park for round 2 on foot. Strawberry Fields - big deal! Belvedere Castle - closed on Mondays. Keep wandering towards the exit but get side tracked by the Loeb Boathouse and what a good thing it is. I stop for a wine by the lake. It's so beautiful here and I am completely relaxed, well my feet are 90% relaxed. I order a prawn cocktail and a mango mojito to treat myself. Delicious! I don't want to leave but I must. I want to finish the park which I do over an hour later.

Back to Times Square and I line up for a ticket to see Next To Normal - Best Musical/Actress. It has been recommended to me and 39 Steps isn't on so I am looking forward to it. After 40 minutes I get to the counter and the only seats available are restricted viewing for $85. No way, if I am paying those dollars I want to see everything! Walking to the subway I am a bit sad to be leaving. Apart from my mangled feet I am really comfortable here.

I go home, shower and go to the supermarket to get dinner. It's going to be a very quiet and relaxing evening. It's damn hot in the flat and I am restless. Chris tells me he doessn't want to do anything in LA, just sit on the beach and go to Universal Studios. Fine! CENSORED.

It is fucking hot and there is no breeze. We have to be up at 5.30am and sleep is going to be restless.

Sunday 28 June

I snooze for 1/2 an hour, it's too hard to be so regimental every day. I rearrange my morning and set off for The Bronx. I am trying hard to stay awake on the subway and it hurts. The trip is about 30 minutes and as we approach the end of the line the difference in aesthetic is obvious. The last few stops are above ground so I can check things out. Here we are 242nd St, The Bronx.

There are large groups of apartments and tenements all over New York but here they just seem to go on and on. The streets are littered and dirty, the shops are old. I am here to check out Wave Hill, a massive garden and performance space, another of those secret places in New York. I walk for a bit and can see the Van Cortlandt House Museum which is to be my 2nd stop. I soon discover that I am about to get myself lost and am nowhere near my destination. I think I have mixed up directions between the two places. That's okay I will just go back to the house and wait for it to open which won't be long.

Van Cortlandt House is the oldest in The Bronx and it stands out because it is so out of place. I am the first visitor and get chatting with the sale lady. I wonder how she gets through the day out here with few visitors. There are no other attractions around.

I decide to skip Wave Hill due to the awkwardness of getting there and my time frame which does not allow for me getting lost. I simply cannot get lost today as I have my theatre ticket. I walk several blocks sticking to the train line as this is a "hood" and I don't have an extensive map for this area. I get some shots of the overpass and the road which is an image you will be familiar with from car chases in movies.

Next stop Harlem. Yep, I am up in the hoods today. The hoods are uptown so saying "down in the hood" is technically wrong. I walk along 125th St which is the main street and there are heaps of street vendors selling Michael Jackson t shirts and memorabilia. The Apollo Theatre has a memorial wall where people can write a message. I get some photos but don't feel the need to stop for long.

I pop in to the Studio Museum of Harlem which is actually an art gallery and I'm not too fussed. I'm happy enough to leave town and head back to Times Square for my play. I'm very glad I got to look around the area a bit, not as much as I had intended, but I have blisters to take care of and the clock is ticking. Once on the bus I am able to relax my eyes as we move into familiar territory and I don't need to pay attention for ages.

As we get closer to Times Square the traffic is backing up. Oh the Gay Pride march is on. I get off and walk grabbing a hot dog on the way. I am starving but don't have time for anything else.

Time for God of Carnage. It is a great play but the theatre is far too big for the show. It really needs intimacy. So much was lost between the stage and the back row that this is where I think ticket prices are a crime. It's a different show when you are in the back row of the balcony compared to that which you see in the stalls. Remind me when I am a producer to adjust ticket prices more fairly. I hang around the stage door which is right next to the main entrance because I can. I get pictures of the cast and don't bother with autographs.

I'm feeling pretty damn chuffed so I think it's Macy's time!! I know, how many times can I go back there? It wouldn't be fair to miss things. As it turns out I get my Calvin Kleins and more. I even find a department that I wasn't expecting to. So you see this is where my style of shopping becomes successful. Now I really have to gome home, I am dead on my feet. My feet are dead. I don't know how but I get through the supermarket and home before dropping. I (think) have a shower, I can't remember 24 hours later, have dinner and write a bit. I accidently on purpose fall asleep and wake up when Chris comes home. I read for a bit then go to sleep again.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Saturday 27 June

A big day ahead so I am up at 6.45am. I am so impressed with my consistent early mornings. Today I am walking in the East Village according to Lonely Planet but skipping a few parts. It's obviously one of the poorer areas but that's not to say it's a down and out zone. Following the map, I go through Tompkins Square Park which is clearly a druggie station. It's about 8am and I see a guy at a table who looks like he is preparing his trade. I am a bit unnerved and am glad to see the exit.

I hear someone shouting out to me as I cross the road and look at my map. "Hey, where are you going?" I let him know I am fine and on track. Let me introduce to you, Joey from Florida. Today he is 46 and he is on a bus tour staying at the Marriott, Times Square. This part I find difficult to believe. He is feeling lonely and asks me how tall I think he is and then how tall I am. The same questions keep popping up over the next half hour as he follows me around, he really wants some company. He keeps kissing me on the cheek and a couple of times I only just manage to turn my face away. Euw!!! Soon I tell him I have to go and get on with my day. I seriously don't want to talk to him anymore. I am concentrating more on him not doing anything weird than the surrounds I actually came to see.

I subway it to Times Square and check out some souvenirs before going to the box office for God of Carnage. These tickets are not available at TKTS, it is the hottest show in town after winning the Tonys for Best Play and Best Actress. I get the last single ticket for Sunday's matinee. It's in the upper circle, back row - $81.50. Oh well, I have to see this show. The cast - Marcia Gay Harden, James Gandolfini, Hope Davis and Jeff Daniels.

Next stop is Central Park and I rent a bike for 2 hours. I didn't check the bike properly before I left so I feel like I am riding a child's bike with my legs folded up. The seat won't rise because there is a rack on the back in the way. I wasn't given the lock so I couldn't stop to do some of the things I wanted to. BUT I am so glad to be off my feet.

Discovering I cannot ride through all the pathways, just around the perimeter defeats the purpose of me having the bike so I am bit cranky. I stop at the Conservatory Pond to eat my lunch that I picked up from the deli outside the park. Back on the road and I see nothing but trees. Beautiful yes, but you know, trees are not exclusive to New York City. Soon I discover they have a pool and I stop to imagine myself having a swim, cooling off. This is the ice rink in winter. I am really enjoying the ride now regardless of the setbacks. Uh, oh here come the hills. My legs do not need the extra effort but there is no way around.

After just over an hour I have had enough so I take the bike back. I try to tell the 2 people (twice each) that I did not get the lock and the seat did not go up. I was conveniently ignored. No recommendation here.

I catch the bus back uptown to the NYC Museum which is interesting but not quite what I had in mind. I buy a book and get another bus down to the MET. I still want the jigsaw but it is gone!!! I ask about it and someone goes downstairs and comes back with half a dozen. Yay!

Time to head back downtown for a photo of the Flatiron Building. It really is a sight to see when you first see it from the correct angle. I asked a local to take a picture for me but he kept missing me and I gave up, moved away and asked someone else. It is very difficult having others take photos for you, they never get what you really want.

In agony I hobble to the subway and head for home via the supermarket and wine store. I discover that you can buy beer anywhere including the milk bar and chemist but you can't get wine. It is troubling. I get some buttermilk fried chicken and salad from the self serve. I am staying in tonight to rest up. It's already 8.30pm when I get home anyway and it won't be long before I am asleep.

However, as soon as I open the door and before I take a step inside I hear "guess what happened to me?" Before I can answer I learn that Chris has had his wallet stolen - from the back pocket of his low slung, loose fitting jeans. Easy target!) I will need to lend him money for the remainder of the trip which is 1 week. It's lucky I have the money. Of course I am sorry for him but if you are thinking my tone is harsh, it is.

Friday 26 June

My alarm goes off at 7am but I snooze for 20 minutes. I am going to do 2 of my self guided walking tours from Lonely Planet today in Soho and the West Village.

I leave at 8.20am and it's really lovely at this time. Chinatown is only just starting to wake up and I get a coffee a little along the track for breakfast. In both villages it's mostly just to look around and take some photos of particular places. Once again I get lost in the West Village, it is an awkward design of streets. It is raining but I don't mind, it's cooling me down. The weather each day is increasingly muggy so before long I am sticky and feel yucky. Anyway I get the photos I want which don't have much meaning but I have argued with myself whether I should bother or not. If I didn't get them I would be disappointed and it's done now.

I stop and buy a t shirt, what a surprise! then make my way home. I am having coffee with Reece, a friend from Melbourne who now lives here. I have just enough time to plonk down for 10 mins. When Reece arrives he is sick and has come over just to tell me he can't stay out. He lost my number. I walk back towards the East Village where he lives as I want to do a walking tour over there. I stop at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and book into a tour leaving right now.

Our guide, once again, is an expert and has grown up in this area. He is in his 80's and knows what he is talking about. The building is in the same condition now as it was in 1935 when it closed. You can see various layers of wallpaper deteriorated and peeling paint. It's very interesting listening to the stories of a certain family and how 4 of their 8 children died. We learn about the hygiene laws that were brought and how the city went from having the highest child mortality rate to the lowest. I wasn't expecting a tour at this venue so am extremely happy.

I wander off and head to the Brooklyn Bridge. I walk across in about 20 minutes at a good pace. I am sure I have missed a turn when I end up in the city itself. I'm supposed to be down by the water. I know where I went wrong but I didn't bother to check the map when I questioned the fork in the road. It doesn't matter as I need to go to the city anyway. It is very humid and I feel a beer coming on. I find a bar/grill and enter an empty room. I ask if they are open and "yes" comes the reply as one waiter scurries out the back and the other comes to the bar.

I am waiting for him to come and serve me and eventually I have to ask him if he is the one serving. He says he is waiting for me and I say I am waiting for you. I can't be bothered with this service so I leave. I go to the next place which is almost as quiet but am so thirsty I am not moving to another place. I ask for a Brooklyn Lager and it is too strong a flavour. The barmaid offers me a pilsener which is yummy and she swaps my drink for free.

The owner starts chatting to me and a couple of locals drop by. We bond over neighbourhood noises. Lots of talk about Australia and Brooklyn happens and I learn about the old roads that went through the city and that some buildings are odd shapes because of the updates.

I am looking forward to the Brooklyn Historical Society and am gutted/cranky to find they are closed for some reason or other. I decide to go to Century 21, an outlet store that apparently is the best kept secret in New York. Uh, I don't think so! I miss my stop and have to double back. It is later that day that I find out it is a station that would have been used by World Trade Centre folk and is under reconstruction.

This store is an absolute shambles. I hate it! I go straight to lingerie as I am in search of my Calvin Kleins. I am in great luck and pick up about 6 bras, 3 undies and 2 t shirts. In the dress department I say "excuse me" to a woman I need to get past. No response so I repeat. She looks at me with disdain and turns away. My 3rd excuse me carries an appropriate tone and I just push past her. Now, I have found manners in this country to be of the utmost importance to most people but when it comes to shopping I think all the rules go out the window. It's not nice, let me tell you. Women are mean!!

I reluctantly join the very long fitting room queue only to be told that I cannot try on the bras. Really? Well, forget it, I will just leave them here and you have lost a potentially large sale. I find this in a number of stores when things are cheap there is to be no trying on. Bugger that!

As I walk out of the building I find a seat to sit down for a bit. I realise I am at Ground Zero. I am momentarily silenced (in my silence) and try to envisage to 2 city block emptiness in front of me filled with concrete, windows, computers, carpet, coffee and people. There is no longer a viewing deck so I just walk around and find a space to look through the fence.

I saunter down to Battery Park Esplanade and sit for 10 minutes to rest. My blisters are really hurting and hindering me. It's about 5pm and I want to make a decision on my evening's activities. There are 3 broadway shows that I want to see but I really just want to go home and have a shower. Which is what I do!

Little Italy down the street is the destination for dinner. I walk up and down perusing the potential spots while the waiters gathered out the front try to tempt everyone in. Eventually I choose one with decent prices but unfortunately my choice is not a good one. The service is slow and my meal is salt flavoured with prawns. I can't wait to finish my wine and go home to put my feet up and chill out. I detour to get a couple of alco-pops and am home before 9.30pm. Oh look, there's a blister coming up on my other foot! An earthquake in Erinsborough doesn't get much better than this!

Thursday 25 June

I get up about 8am and see that Chris isn't home. He went out with a local who he had been in touch with. I'm not concerned however by 9ish I text to see if he is okay and alive. I think he has either lost his phone or completely lost. I also think he probably picked up. I get a response after a bit and my imagination settles.

This morning I go to the MET and find the labrynthine rooms annoying. I am not as interested in art as I would like to be (since I am here) and move swiftly through each room looking for something to take my attention. I'm out in 2 and 1/2 hours including my 15 minute coffee break. I almost buy a jigsaw of Klimt's The Kiss but don't. Kind of wish I did now but I can always go back. This is not a good thing to rely on though as you never know what the day will bring.

Tiffany! I had no intention of going in to the store but it would be silly not to now that I am here. After seeing plenty of other "not so snappy" dressers go in, I follow. Not really my cup of tea most of it. I wouldn't say no of course but most of the stuff is too big. All I want is to have my breakfast at Tiffany's photo taken. This is a shot of me holding a handwritten note saying Breakfast and me standing in front of the Tiffany sign. I am so funny! Mission accomplished, I head across to Bloomingdales. I really can't be bothered too much with this one as I'm not going to buy anything at these prices. They still have the rickety old wooden escalators and I am transported to another era.

I walk a few blocks and reach MOMA. Lauren Hutton walks up to the counter at the same time as me. She looks exactly as you expect. The staff don't recognise her as they are a younger generation. My interest levels rise a bit with this environment but not by a great deal. I have a coffee first and it costs $4.74. Ouch! Walking around I find I am insulted by some artist's ideas of art. Honestly, a black painted square of canvas is not art, an old woman's collecton of household rubbish and junk is still rubbish and junk no matter how nicely you arrange it. I am not joking when I say rubbish - there are plastic drink bottles, take away containers, paper bags, bird cages, shoes, boxes and bottle tops. I take a photo to prove it. Again I whizz through the exhibitions and get out. No more museums for me on this trip. Historical ones will be fine.

Time is ticking on and I go to Times Square intending to get theatre tix but change my mind. I have dinner at Planet Hollywood only because I have a $10 off voucher. My cannelloni style meal is loaded with garlic, salt and cheese. I may just die right here at the table. I get cranky with the bill because I am forced to pay the minimum tip and expected to add more. Now, I am at peace with the tipping system but this is just incredibly rude. My meal was less than satisfactory and the service wasn't that good either. There will be no extra tip.

As I head off to the shops again I notice everyone looking up. It's different to the normal looking up at the signs etc and I wonder what they are looking at. I look up and see the news headlines - Michael Jackson, King of Pop, dead at 50. Everyone is still and staring in shock. As I move on all the stores are playing his music. A short time later I see someone's newspaper with a picture of Farrah and a word "was", so I think she must have died too. Which she did. Her death will be way overshadowed by Michael's.

Back to Macy's, I can't help myself. Luckily they are open til 9.30pm as I need the time to look around. I don't want to try on the 6 bras I have collected but they are good value and I buy one, missing out on 3 others as they didn't have my size. Damn, I want those Calvin Klein ones.

I must get home to write and plan tomorrow. I put the radio on but after about an hour or more of Michael Jackson I have to turn it off. Bed time.

Wednesday 24 June

I have to sleep in this morning, just for an hour but my the time we leave we are 2 hours behind schedule. Not in the plan.

We go to Madison Square Garden but miss the first tour so book in to the 1.30pm and go across to the Empire State Building. first we go on the Skyride which is a simulated helicopter ride. It's lots of fun but does make me feel a bit sick by the end. Chris definitely doesn't like it but is a trooper for coming on.

We get the elevator to the 80th florr and have to wait for another lift. It's about a 25 minute wait but we are allowed to walk up the stairs the last 6 floors. This is good because we don't have much time. It's very crowded on the deck and you have to be a bit pushy to get to the fence for a photo and just to look. Yes, it is amazing but I'm over views from observation decks.

Time to go back to MSG and the tour is very good, the guide Craig (said like Crag) is excellent and knows his stuff. The stadium isn't as big as I expected but it is pretty cool. It's time to go our separate ways and as we do my bag strap breaks. Oh great, that's just what I need - the frustrating search for a new bag while carrying the old one. It will be several hours before I find a suitable one in Macy's for less than half price.

Off to TKTS and I get my ticket for Our Town which is a play that I have wanted to see for years since I performed a beautiful monologue from it. I decide to go shopping but am not having any luck. Victoria's Secret is so packed but I try on some stuff because...I can! It is so overrated and nothing fits me. What a surprise! A lot of stores are so big that the staff communicate via personal radio headsets. It's very efficient and I am impressed. The wait for fitting rooms everywhere is ages and my feet are screaming at me - Sit Down, BITCH!!

Next stop Macy's, the largest store in the world! I buy a dress at 60% off with the sale and my discount card. I am rapt to discover the discount lasts for 30 dayss so I am happy to shop. Now is when I get my bag. I have a skip in my step now. As I leave the store I say to myself, I will be back for jewels and lingerie.

It's time for me to head to the West Village for my play. I get lost immediately when I come out of the subway. If I had gone right instead of left I would have been there within 2 minutes. The neighbourhood is gorgeous and I finally find the theatre. I have time for a couple of drinks so go around the corner being careful not to take unnecessary turns so I can find my way back. I have 2 cocktails, they are so cheap.

My seat is in the back corner seat but it's no bother as I can see perfectly. The show is wonderful and I think I did a better job on my monologue, of course. What I like about the shows here is the curtain calls don't go on forever like they do at MTC. Really it is so indulgent and not needed.

On my way home the fruit and veg lady is still working at 10.30pm and I see limes. I ask her for 1 and she says $1. I think that can't be right - and it wasn't. She bags up 15 limes for $1. What the hell I am going to do with them all is anyone's guess. It's late and I write my journal before lights out.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tuesday 23 June

I'm up at 7am just as the construction workers are beginning but take my time getting ready. I think TKTS opens at 10am and I want to get in line. This place offers up to half price theatre tix. I have 4 options: August: Osage County, God of Carnage, 39 Steps and Our Town. Of course when I get there it doesn't open til 2pm. No matter, I have a 10.30 tour at the Lincoln Centre I want to take so make my way there. Trying to find the entry with the address in my pass book sends me around the block, literally. When I do finally make it, the tour time is 11.30 - I have an old pass book. Fine, so I go off for a coffee. I have been drinking mochas and I don't have much to say about them. I don't like the regular coffee and the tea is pretty ordinary. Starbucks is everywhere, on every corner and in between. The way we have 7/11's, they have Starbucks, in fact we hardly see 7/11 anywhere.

Lonely Planet tells me I should go to the Time Warner building and head to the 7th floor atrium for the amazing views of Central Park. After failing to find the atrium I ask 2 staff members, neither of whom knew what the book was talking about. Okay, I will just go back to the Lincoln and hang out for my tour to start, resting my blisters.

The tour is very good and we are lucky to listen to the New York Philharmonic rehearsing with a choir and some famous principals (sorry Cathy, can't remember the names). We saw the theatres for the ballet and plays/musicals (which is holding South Pacific right now)

I needed to get back to Times Square to check theatre tix and after joining what I thought was the right queue, for plays only, I find I am in the main one and probably could have been out of here almost half an hour ago. Oh well! I get my ticket for August for half price at $64 and am extremely happy. This play is/was playing in Melbourne at the time of my departure and because I had quit MTC I wasn't able to get free tix.

I'm hungry so go to Bubba Gump for lunch. Inspired by Forrest Gump, it's a seafood restaurant along the lines of the Hard Rock et al. It's yummy but soooo salty.

Next stop is the Guggenheim and I get lost on the way due to crossing town and then not finding the uptown connection. See what I mean!!! Eventually I get there and it is a waste of time for me. Not the sort of art I am remotely interested in. I read a review that felt the same. I stroll back along Fifth Ave for a bit, then catch a bus back to 42nd st. I don't really have time to do anything much so I just hang around.

I'm up for a 3 and 1/2 hour show and it starts 20mins late. I am in the 2nd row on the side so it's not a great seat. It's too close to allow myself to be transported to Osage County with these characters. However it is still fabulous and most of the acting is superb. So it should be for winning the 2008 Tony awards for Best Play and Actress, etc. It starred Phylicia Rashad from The Cosby Show and in a cameo John Cullem, who most people will remember as Holling in Northern Exposure. I have seen my first Broadway show!!

Another exhausting day behind me as I reach my front door and collapse.

Monday 22 June

There is no sleeping in even if I wanted to. Construction is going on all around us and is in full swing and the sound is magnified by the empty block next door. We are in a very good area as far as getting to places is concerned. The transport system is quite full on but reasonably easy. You are either going uptown, downtown or across. The trick is getting to the right subway entrance first!!! Uptown and downtown entrys are not necessarily in the same place.

First up is a 3 hour cruise around Manhattan which is very informative and gives us lots of photo opportunities that we otherwise wouldn't have. It's too long really and I am bored after the 2nd hour, especially as we had to turn back at the Harlem River due to the river levels being up and we wouldn't fit under the bridge.

Afterwards we go to the Rockefeller Centre which incorporates NBC Studios and Radio City Music Hall. Radio City is gorgeous and the tour is great up until we meet one of the current Rockettes. She clearly does not wish to talk to us and is quite surly when it comes to answering questions and having her photo taken which she is required to offer. In the gift shop I buy myself a Rockettes t shirt.

We visit Top of the Rock Observation Deck which is terrific with many different levels to get amazing views from. After that we go to NBC for a tour which is lots of fun and I volunteered, naturally, to take the helm as the news anchor and read from the teleprompter. I viewed the video afterwards and I was almost sick. I know why they don't show the hands of newsreaders now. Fiddle, fiddle.

I head off to Grand Central Station which is amazing in size and beautiful in design. I pass by the Algonquin Hotel where Dorothy Parker held many a witty discussion with artists and such like. It's getting late in the evening and I desperately need to rest my blistered feet so I go home. I search for and find a bottle shop and then get some fish in Chinatown for dinner. Chris is out so I have a lovely quiet evening to myself reading and researching my next day out.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sunday 21st June


We have easy directions and make it to Chinatown where our apartment is and meet Hana, the owner. It's a great little place and we are very happy. A shower, nap and trip to the supermarket see us almost refreshed and ready to go again.

We hit Times Square and I am in an advertiser's heaven. We just wander and soak it all up. We pick up our New York Pass (NYP) which gives us access to tons of attractions. We go home and cook some dinner and relax. It seems there are no bottle shops in Chinatown - don't they drink?? So we end up walking to Little Italy. As tired as we are, it doesn't seem right to go to bed so we just get a little drunk and listen to music.

I must say the supermarket has the most wonderful selection of food available. The options at the self serve salad and meals bar were fabulous, then the over the counter options seemed endless and everything looked sooooo good. Unfortunately US food is loaded with salt and sugar so it's no wonder there is an obesity problem. Even your healthiest salads and vegetables are dripping with some type of sauce or glaze.

I'm so excited to be here. Upcoming blogs are chock full of amazing days! Oh and my blisters are settling but my shin is in pain from the way I have been walking. I will refer to this many times so you understand my distress.

Saturday 20 June

We have to check out by 11am and I am ready to get out of bed at 7.30am - much to my disgust. The only thing I have left to do is ride the cable car up and down these hills. I am very happy with everything I have done. Our flight to New York is not until 11.30pm so we have a long day ahead. Packed and ready to go we store our luggage at the hostel and go into town to one end of the cable car line. A half hour queue awaits us already.

It is a bit hairy on the hills but fun and I have a smile on my face pretty much the whole time. Once we get to the other end I need a coffee and Chris wants a sundae so we pop into Ghiradelli. I have a brownie which literally melts in my mouth and I can't eat it all. I know!!! Me, not being able to eat a whole brownie! I save the rest for later.

We start walking again and go the the cinema to see Drag Me To Hell - a truly awful horror film.

Starving, we stop at Mel's Diner for a burger and then make our way back to pick up our bags. Our last stop is another cinema near the train station so we can go to the airport after our next movie - Easy Virtue. This is a much better film.

The last few days of weather have been superb and I would love to stay a little longer and relax but away I must go, New York is waiting for me. We have several hours to wait at the airport so I lie down on the floor and have a snooze. After grabbing some dinner it's almost time to go. We aren't sitting together on the plane but no matter, we'll be sleeping anyway.

My blisters are a real problem but what can I do? I must grimace and bear it.

Friday 19 June

There is no way Chris will be out of bed before noon and I have given myself an extra hour's sleep, until 9am. I have a few ideas for today of things I want to do so sit tight this is a huge day!!!!

First up I walk into town and I come across a window displaying beautiful old stagecoach. It is an original Wells Fargo postal coach. I go in to take a photo and discover it is actually a museum and free. What a job that was back in the day with the long hours and travel time!

My next stop is the Railway Museum which is small but interesting to read about the different streetcars they have. I saw one in action that was painted in green and yellow with Melbourne on it. They do this with all the cities that have streetcars (trams).

I move towards the centre of town and go to a mall looking for a spiral escalator I have read about. I find it and ride it but it is a non event. It is too big to really notice you are moving in a spiral but I think it's a novel idea. I am suckered in by one of the shops in the middle of the walkways, you know the ones where they come at you with a sample of something so great you won't know what you did before it came along!! This is one I have bought before, the Dead Sea lotions and potions. I don't mind being stopped, the girl is lovely and we have a great time, she laughs at my jokes while exfoliating and moisturising my hands. We chat about Australia and the harsh sun and I know she is working up to the sale but I have already decided I will buy something. She will start at the value of all 3 products being $250 and work her way down to me buying 1 for $50 and then 'ssh, don't tell anyone' giving me a free gift of the second. The piece de resistance is the staff price on the third item so I can have the set but I really have to 'ssssh, she isn't supposed to do this but she is a trainer so she can'. I spend around $90. It is actually good value as these products do last the 15 months or so they say they do. Jen even gives me her personal email to let her know how things are going and if I have any questions. I am so lucky!!!

I need to get going, I didn't factor in this time waster. On my way to the Cable Car Museum I am distracted by 4 fire trucks that come speeding towards me, well to the homeless man lying semi conscious on the ground. This distraction costs me a very steep walk up Nob Hill and I am the knob because I just have to walk down the other side!! The museum is terrific with the actual cables and sheaves that the cars run on. It doesn't seem real.

My next stop is the area of Fort Mason (suburb by the water) so I head in the right direction intending to take the bus but it's too close so I walk. The scenery is just gorgeous and so summery. The bay, sunshine, tourists, attractions, me and a general relaxed attitude.

I need sustenance and a toilet break so I go into Safeway. I buy a red banana (which is purple) from Mexico but I pick one that isn't ripe and it tastes like any other banana.

Moving on I aim for Fort Point which is underneath the Golden Gate. This is where Hitchcock filmed the scene where Kim Novak dies in Vertigo. I planned to take the bus but the walk is so lovely and the houses amazing I can't stop. This is the Marina area and this lovely walk is to become my enemy as I am getting tired now and my legs are aching. I get side tracked again by an extraordinary building housing the Exploratorium. I don't go inside as it is just like Scienceworks and I don't need to re-acquaint myself with experiments and facts that I can remember anywhere. It's the structure outside the museum that I am drawn to as is everyone else. There is a wedding going on and I hear the bagpipes which are not being played particularly well.

I feel like I should be wearing a toga and am transported back to Roman times. I wonder how this structure survived the 1906 earthquake and what are the Romans doing here anyway? I find the info I need and it tells me it was built for the Panama Pacific Exposition in 1915. So it's not as old as I want it to be.

I take the bus the remainder of the way and arrive at the bridge at 4.45pm, the Fort closes at 5pm. I still have to find my way down the hill and the signage is terrible. I am sent in different directions by various people and I am not happy now. When I get there I just get a few photos and imagine what it is like inside. When we walked the bridge we caught a glimpse inside.

Desperate for a chardonnay I am seeking a cafe to sit in for a while but it's all park and beach, no shops. I am tempted to walk the The Presidio area but decide it's really not a good idea given the pain I am starting to feel. The Presidio is the area once occupied by the Marines as you would expect with a name like that. It is now one of the wealthiest areas to live in.

I have got to get to the bus stop before I collapse and after a mix up of bus numbers and finally accidentally coming across the shops, I am on the home stretch. This bus will take me within minutes of my front door.

I pop in to Enrico's at 6.50pm. I have time for a happy hour mojito. I have been out since 10am and figure I have been walking for 8 of the 9 hours.

Time for a well earned shower and then it's out to dinner and to relax. I go around the corner to an Italian restaurant. My meal is delicious - roast chicken with zucchini mashed potatoes and broccolini. My cab sav is yummy! I really like being on my own, listening and observing. Americans are very loud, we have established that and it is well known. I am loud and often feel self conscious when I catch myself. Here, there is no catching of one's self, it is the way you are.

Couple A in front of me are competing for my aural attention and all I want is to eat my vegetables. Couple B next to me are not trying to be subtle. She is disturbing me because she is shaking her legs with nerves or maybe she has a chill. My peripheral vision is awesome at the worst of time so this is just killing me and I can't turn away far enough in my seat to avoid seeing her without looking strange. Besides there is a mirrored wall on my other side and I do not want to look at myself.

I have sometimes thought I would fit in with America society given the volume I can speak at and I can be brash but geez I hope I do not come across like this. It hurts my ears it is so loud. The shaky legs are still going and I want to smack her as she takes a photo of her calzone.

Couple A man is getting louder and louder. The waiters are not attentive to my wine levels and I wonder if this is a safe drinking tactic or they are just slack. I decide they are slack! Some restaurants love to wait on a single female diner - others don't! I can't wait to leave so I can go elsewhere for dessert. Maybe I should let everyone leave before me and then I can avoid them. Plan!!

Couple C - oh no, another leg shaker! I think they are on a date. Threesome D has a foot swinger, female B is still going - is she dizzy? I'll make her dizzy. Oh, couple A has left the building. I hear someone many tables away say "ssh". I'm like, yeah shut the hell up everyone. Couple E have been eating so slowly, drinking the same wine, corporate clothing - let's meet after work Friday type of meeting. I can't hear the words coming out of their mouths, just sounds. The body language tells me everything. I know these things and there is no one here to tell me I am wrong.

Finally I leave and I am hanging out for some tiramisu. Staying in Little Italy the options are plentiful. Unfortunately I choose the wrong place. I struggle through my coffee and dessert with a constant grimace on my face.

Time to go home to bed. It's the last night here and I am wrecked.

N.B. I know there are some typos but I can't be bothered to fix them. I must really be relaxed!!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thursday 18 June

San Francisco Part 1 didn't actually exist so I should apologise for any confusion by my headlines. I thought about that afterwards but didn't bother changing it.

So onto Thursday. First thing to do is to book Beach Blanket Babylon so off we go to the box office just down the road. We sidetrack to the post office to send our postcards. Okay, tickets booked and we head off to the Haight, hippie headquarters. We detour to Alamo Square and the Painted Ladies for a photo. To say I am underwhelmed is an understatement. If I didn't come I would have wondered and been disappointed. I later manage to find some painted ladies that show the meaning and actual aesthetic of these houses.

Down to the Haight itself now - after I direct us in the opposite direction - and we are starving so set our sights on finding sustenance. It's not easy as we would prefer not to have pizza, but pizza it is. Chris finds himself a Dr Who t shirt in an op shop and simply must have it.

Changing course we mmove on to the Castro District - Gay Central. We soon decide to go separate ways and I take a walking tour through the Mission District. This is the main Hispanic area and has many murals painted on houses and walls. At first I am intimidated as I am the only white person in the vicinity or rather the most obvious! Oh well, I try to forget about that and soak up the atmosphere. Some of the murals are stunning and I think the photos won't really do them justice, especially the Women's Building. My walk lasts over an hour and I am weary but the day is not over. I make my way back to town taking various photos along the way.

Back at the seaside I walk almost the length of Fisherman's Wharf and the promenade. I stop at Fisherman's Alley to pick up a crab sandwich for dinner and I am hanging out for a beer to go with it. I have 1 left in the fridge back at the hostel. I am wrecked.

My beer has gone - not down my throat - I mean stolen!!!! I have to trudge down the stairs again and go to my local for another. It goes down exceptionally well with the crab. I have to hurry as I need a shower and we are meeting Daniel at 7.15pm for Beach Blanket Babylon. It is now 6.30pm. Of course the clothes I want to wear don't fit me so I throw them back into my case and choose again. Ready in a flash! I grab the Tim Tams and Vegemite for Daniel and we make our way down to the theatre which luckily is only a 10min walk.

BBB has been recommended to me and it sounds like a great night. It is the longest running revue in the world at 35 years telling the story of Snow White searching the world for love. She is taken on a whirlwind tour around the world meeting notable characters and celebrities such at The Godfather, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Parisians, South Americans etc. I must say I am very disappointed and do not think it is as good as it should be. The hats are a famous part of the show and indeed they are incredible but it is not enough ot satisf my entertainment desires. It hasn't helped that a couple have arrived just as the show is starting and we all have to get up to let them in. Of course they need drinks but the waiter has gone and they talk and talk and talk. After a while she gets up herself and on her way back she walks over our seats in defiance, then continues to talk and talk. I am ready to punch her lights out.

After the show we head back towards the hostel and settle down with $5 mojitos at Enrico's next door. Yum! Daniel and I convince Chris that he should go out with Daniel in the Castro as it's now or never on this trip. I am happily drunk and ready for bed.

I don't know what time Chris gets home but he is really drunk and I am confident he has had a good time.