Craig Box's journeys, stories and notes...

Archive for June, 2008

New York - Day 7

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Day 7 began with a stroll around Battery Park and Castle Clinton, trying to buy Statue of Liberty tickets.  Turns out we (well, I) had underestimated the popularity just a little - by 11:30am, they had stopped selling tickets with monument access, meaning we would only be able to wander around the island.  We shelved that for tomorrow, and headed back out.

Sam and our sketchWhere there's tourists, there's a buck to be made, and a very friendly old Chinese chap named Sam convinced us (well, Fern) to sit for a sketch. The price starts low but rapidly rises when he starts adding second people and a frame (which is required for a charcoal sketch), so some haggling is required.

We went back home to drop the sketch off and have a break, and contemplate our next move.  Fern took some photos out the window, of the back of the building we were staying in - when they get around to tearing it down, it will be worth some serious money. It's not much to look at at the moment though! As you can see though, it's very close to the Empire State Building, but we won't get there today. Instead, we took a trip uptown to Columbus Circle, at the bottom-right corner of Central Park.

Columbus Circle is the home of Time Warner/CNN, and also the Trump International Hotel and Tower, made famous by The Apprentice (back when it was good).  From the corner of the park, hawkers try and sell you pedicab (bicycle rickshaw) rides, or just hire you a bike.  We tried to find a New Yorker to take us around the park, but we (well, I) got suckered in by a pushy Nigerian gent, who did us a demon deal on a trip around the park.

Craig and Fern on Bethesda Terrace


Central Park is iconic, and we were treated to famous sights from dozens of movies I hadn't seen.  Our guy treated us to the story of how the producers of Friends rebuilt this fountain in LA, to film the splashing around in the intro: turns out it's complete crap, and the Friends fountain looks nothing like it. He also told us how Manhattan got its name, and its reputation: Manhattan schist is a shiny rock, which is well suited to laying the foundations for skyscrapers in.  After the Friends story, it's probably crap.

John Lennon was shot not far from here, and ceremonial flames still burn outside the building he lived in.  Yoko Ono raised a large sum of money and dedicated a corner of the park to Lennon's memory, which houses the famous "Imagine" mosaic, to which flowers and memorials are laid every day by well wishers.  (And today, a ukelele).

We walked back around the Bethesda Fountain area, where small musical groups had to battle for attention with larger musical groups. There's no contest really, when the audience includes a guy who clearly put on his robe and wizard hat...

Earlier in the week, we (well, Fern) had been suckered into buying tickets to a comedy show at Stand Up NY (standard Times Square street-hawker routine: it's where the comedy segments in Seinfeld were filmed, Chris Rock plays there all the time, etc etc). The cover isn't extravagant, but they impose a $15/person drink minimum, which thankfully they didn't enforce in the 1/3rd full club.  I can't say it was particularly memorable - there were a number of comedians on the bill, and there was about one who was funny.  They didn't watch each other's acts, in the most part, so the poor Australian guy near the stage got asked who he was and what he did by each guy in turn.  I've seen much better comedy even here in Kitchener.  But, when in Rome, they say.  I was more impressed by the pizza store next door, with photos of the owner and many famous people beforehand.  And less impressed still with the broccolli pizza.

Take a virtual tour of Central Park in the Day 7 gallery.

New York - Day 6

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

The footprints of the Rockefeller family are all over New York City.  They purchased 17 acres of land in downtown Manhattan in the late 1940s, and donated to the City, who then donated it to the world in the form of the United Nations.


Security CouncilGeneral Assembly

A tour of the UN leads you into the actual rooms where war is declared (or isn't), shows you gifts from its member countries, usually in the form of interpretative works of art, and contains portraits of bodacious people. It even shows you the obligatory Nobel Peace Prize. (What, you don't have one?)

Even though it has its own security force, the NYPD look after the border, which is guarded by Jon and Ponch.

We found a nice place in Café Metro to have lunch, and Det. Stabler from SVU wandered past the window. This wasn't entirely unexpected, as the neighbourhood was plastered with signs suggesting that the show was shooting, and trailers blocking off streets. Unfortunately, we couldn't find him again, which means we're not very good stalkers.

Instead, we took a little more time to look around the famous Grand Central Station, which we last visited on Day 2.

Chrysler BuildingGrand Central Station, front

Fern at Grand Central

Next stop: Wall Street, via Trinity Church.  You could see a lot more here on September 10, but these days you can only wander around the outside of the stock exchange, under armed watch. You can still go into the Federal Hall National Memorial, which is run by the Department of Conversation (or National Park Service as they're called here). It is the place where George Washington was inaugurated, and the Bill of Rights was signed.

Aargh!Craig in front of the NYSE

Knock knock?  Who's there?  Statue.Here lies Presidential history

There wasn't much to see at the World Trade Center site - not much of a memorial or anything.  Saw a Jewish guy on a skateboard, though.  Of more interest to people in the area is Century 21, a discount department store.

With a big day under the belt, we wandered down towards the South Street Seaport, to have a look around. From here you get a good look on the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.


There are a great number more photos on the day's gallery.

New York - Day 5

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

The American Museum of Natural History is full of mystery and wonder. Or at least, big-ass turtles and dinosaurs!

Fern tickling the turtle Craig and triceratops

Cool things we found in the museum:

There were more shiny rocks than you could shake a stick at.

Spectacular.Missing link, with short person for height comparison

Azurite and malachiteMars Rover

A must-do while in New York is a Yankees game. This is the final year for the famous Yankee Stadium, workplace of George Costanza, with its famous bat-shaped-chimney. They're building a new stadium in a park across the street, and then demolishing the old one to replace the park!

Yankee StadiumYankee glove

Yankee StadiumBroken bat!

I like baseball, because it's a little like Twenty20 cricket. Except it's a lot colder. Dinner at baseball is hot dog and fries (it's the rules), which requires up to 20 minutes of hard core queuing. The Yankees won 6-1 and we headed back home by the subway.

In today's gallery, we bring you lots of pictures of shiny things and action baseball shots.