Sunday, 28 August 2011

My big 3-0 holidays - New York City

24th July 2010

I love NYC!!  The city definitely lives up to its name, the city that never stops really doesn't stop!! 24-hr metro systems, restaurants and shops even in residential areas.  New York City has pretty much everything you can think of: big city lights, Broadway musicals, shops, shops and more shops, Central Park - an oasis in the middle of Manhattan, it's just amazing!!  

Stayed in a residential area in the Upper West Side just to get a feel of living here and I must admit, I am sold!  That was until a guy I met in the metro told me that it's snows here in winter - okay sorry NYC, you're off the list of my next city of abode...if you know me, you'll know how much I hate the cold and prefer 32deg over thick coats any day!  :)

Saw 3 Broadways musicals -

Memphis: Tony Awards for Best Musical 2010 & was recommended by a couple I met in San Fran.  It was very very good & emotional too.

Addams Family: Hilarious comedy, loved the Addams Family when I was younger & so nice to see it brought to life on stage

Lion King: Superb props!  Loved Timon & Pumba's motto of Hakuna Matta when I was a teen & realised during the show that I am now living in a country where "No Worries" is the most common phrase used!

Went on the SATC & Gossip Girl tours - so cheesy but fun to see all the familiar locations around town.  Shopping is amazing...when I entered the Tiffany & Co building - speechless!!

Went to famous Carnegie Deli and was gobsmacked at the size of the pastrami sandwich - just ridiculous!  But no I didn't order it, had the matzoh balls instead which were good.  A new friend took me to the Peanut Butter & Co sandwich shop which is so cute & a must go for peanut butter fans.  Also had Gray's Papaya hot dogs almost every day haha!, H&H Bagels, Junior's cheesecake - so much to try, not enough meals in the day to try them all!!  I admit that I didn't see too much of the nightlife being a first time solo traveler, I didn't dare venture out to the fancy restaurants & bars on my own.  But I did shop at the Forever 21 store on Times Square till 2am after a show hahaha!!

Too many things to say about this city and by far its the best city of my trip...I'll be back, I promise!! xx 

Hotel:  Imperial Court Hotel, Upper West Side

Upgraded from a single room to a double with ensuite because I just couldn't stand the mouldy walls and shared bathroom of the single room
Hole in the wall air cond so expect noise
Coin laundry
Close to restaurants and shops
Apparently quite good standards for the price I paid so can't complain I guess

Times Square Ball
I can spend a whole day at Central Park
Ms Liberty as seen from the free Staten Island ferry
So cute  :)


Made from jelly beans
Lego shop

Lego shop
You'd recognise this if you're a Gossip Girl fan  ;)
I can see Chief Wiggum from the Simpsons driving this lil car hehe..

Tiles made by kids in memory of 9/11

Local game

My big 3-0 holidays - Houston

21st July 2010

"Houston, we have a problem......"

Houston Space Centre was so cool!!! 

Yes, I am super nerdy and spent the whole afternoon at the Space Centre, learning about the space programs, how astronauts eat, pee & sleep in space.  The spacecraft on display is huge - see pic of me next to it.

EVERYONE drives in Houston, okay maybe not everyone but you get the gist... they also drive massively big cars on massively wide roads.  I walked from the hotel to catch a bus to the Space Centre and was pretty much the only person on the street who is not a bum - very strange indeed!  Also no one else was on the bus all the way to the Space Centre - it stopped at a few train stations that had adjacent car parks for a few people to get off.   

By the way, the main reason I'm in Houston is to meet up with my cousin who now lives in Houston with her hubby and 3 cheeky dogs  :)

Overall a very relaxing few days in Houston & I am now hooked on the Food and Cooking channels on cable tv!  

Hotel:  Club Quarters

Business hotel so had all the professional touches - free internet, printing
Free water fountain with empty bottles for you to DIY, kinda cute
Hotel bar had pretty good food & friendly bar lady

Need to find out what those rings are

A cheeky invoice for towing the Apollo 13 - can be funny too!  ;)


My big 3-0 holidays - Los Angeles

17th July 2010

LA is exactly as you'd see on TV!  I'm serious... LA/Hollywood/BeverlyHills are exactly as you'd see on TV, it's quite surreal to be in the midst of it... the landmarks, the rich & their extravagant lifestyle, the pretentiousness, the tall & beautiful shop assistants - some who can't be bothered to greet you as you don't look like you can afford their stuff and some who are extremely nice as they get a huge commission on your sales - go figure!

Few notable things encountered in LA:
  • burst hydrant that spewed water high up in the air (see pic)
  • massive traffic jam due to 9-car pile up on the freeway
  • Rihanna's concert being advertised in only a small 2x4 ad in the papers! stars are expected to perform in LA so no biggie if someone famous is having a concert. 
  • Rodeo Drive looks pristine white for some reason
  • lady shopping up big in Rodeo Drive while her husband waits patiently to pay (last we saw, the cash register was clocking up >US$3,000 and it was still going when we left!)
  • the hydrants in Beverly Hills are painted silver to differentiate the posh area from anywhere else; and there are separate garbage truck lanes in between the houses so the garbos won't look out of place on the clean, wide streets of Beverly Hills!
  • the Grammy Museum is a must go for music fans
  • musicians/actors really do need a day job while waiting for their big break.  kinda proves to me that not many people get to earn big bucks working for their passion; you either work for the money or for the love of it.

I had a great time catching up with my primary school friend whom I haven't seen in over 15 years and was really kind of her to take me around LA as you can't go very far without a car here....note to self for my next trip!

Hotel:  Hollywood Hotel

Larger than expected rooms
Coin laundry
Includes buffet brekkie
Close to a metro station

Poor guys trying to fix the mess
Griffith Observatory

The famous sign
The Grove at Farmers Market

The official end of Route 66 - a myth?  Some say the sign was erected for convenience (read: monetary) sake

Cute menu at Bubba Gump restaurant
Sadly, we went past this bakery after a massive meal and can't fit anything else in, even the dessert stomach was full by then!

OMG Beiber is in town!  Note the queue was at 2pm & his concert starts at 7pm....okaayyyy....
I really enjoyed visiting the Grammy Museum - love the history of music and the Michael Jackson exhibit
I never knew Staples is an office supplies chain like Officeworks till I came to the States - duh!!

....and yes he did come back, as the Governator  ;)

My man, Bruce

Friday, 26 August 2011

My big 3-0 holidays - Las Vegas

15th July 2010

What happens in Vegas....stays in Vegas! - 'nuff said!!  ;)

I have to admit.. I love Vegas, its so out there, tacky and glam at the same time but everyone is there to have a good time so it caters to all from the working class Americans to foreign tourists, right up to the rich and famous.  Families with young kids, hens & bucks nights, newly weds, newly divorced (!)...solo travelers are a bit rare though lol! 

Love people watching and just having the freedom & flexibility to wander around on my own, doing whatever I feel like without having to wait around for people - I can definitely get used to this way of traveling!  :)

Watched 3 shows while I was there.. a Vegas cabaret, a water themed Cirque Du Soleil show - that was soooooooo cool! and last but not least, one of my favourites from the 80s - David Copperfield!!  His magic tricks are still good after all these years and he's funnier in real life, compared to the cool persona on TV.

Took a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon which landed on the canyon itself and we got off to take pics and have some champers.  The other people in the same flight with me went on to another tour, so I got a ride back with the pilot just like a personal tour!  He said that a 4br house in Vegas cost only about $250k, what a bargain!!!  And cost of living is surprisingly cheap...Hmmmm... I'm sure all those casinos would need accountants hey?!  ;)

Hotel: Harrah's Las Vegas
70's deco, large rooms, older crowd
Piano Bar downstairs is a lot of fun, 2 pianos and nightly play offs

Just a normal day on The Strip
MGM Lion
Inside a shopping mall

One of Hugh's exes
Grand Canyon
Hoover Dam

My big 3-0 holidays - San Francisco

10th July 2010 - Summer in San Francisco = Winter in Sydney!

Hello...Yes I am alive and kicking and I finally have access to a computer!! 

Can't believe its nearly 2 weeks since I left Sydney on this great big holiday around the world - seems like only 2 days!  Time sure flies when you're having fun  :)

San Francisco is a really pretty city, with the trams and hills - its a killer walking up those but its a great workout I reckon!  The Fisherman's Wharf is very similar to the one in Fremantle (WA) and the world famous clam chowder is over-rated unfortunately.

Visited Muir Woods where there are redwood trees which are massive and Yosemite's sharp cliffs, huge waterfalls and sequoias are just awesome, I felt so insignificant next to these giants which have been around for over 1000 years!

However, the weather in SF is slightly strange to me... it is summer there but its like winter weather - freezing cold and no different from when I left Sydney.  Apparently Mark Twain once said "The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco." - how true!!

Oh and a trip to San Francisco is not complete without a stop (and perhaps shop) at the Levi's jeans store  ;)

Hotel: The Mosser 

Helpful & friendly concierge
Coin laundry
Bathrobe provided for the awkward walk to the shared bathroom down the hall  ;)

Obligatory shot of the Golden Gate Bridge

The famous clam chowder

Crabs meet their fates in the big pot of boiling water

Towering Redwoods

Beautiful Yosemite

Love the murals

Inside the Levi's shop
The most expensive meal on my trip - freshly shucked oysters and seared scallops @ Hog Island Oyster Company (Ferry Building SF)

Jalapeno rings at DelTaco - spicy!!