Sunday, 23 December 2012

New York City. Best

New York City was on my Bucket List, just like I'm sure it is for so many people. My Aunty Ann told me before I left, that it was one of her favourite cities in the word. She's been travelling the world my whole life, so to say this made it a big deal. It took about 4 hours from getting off the plane, for me to fall in love. Finally I could understand the t-shirts and handbags. I honestly do love New York.

We stayed in the Financial District at Holiday Inn Wall St for 5 nights. We got a sweet deal on Hotwire with a secret room, I would definitely recommend that. My little brother was staying with us, so it was cosy but awesome value.

We caught the subway and walked a lot. Every night around 5pm we were exhausted and found ourselves in a random drinking establishment, resting our feet until a beer or two boosted our second wind. It was early December which turned out to be a perfect time to visit. The weather was mild, the crowds were virtually non-existent and the holiday season was well and truly there. O'Hara's Mum sent us a New York Pass for 3 days, which meant we could pretty much do everything pre-paid! Thanks Mumma and Pappa O'Hara!

Highlights of our trip included (this will be long.... it was basically everything we did);
  • Black and White Picasso exhibition at the Guggenheim - I LOVE Picasso. O'Hara learns to love it after spending a while walking around. Ask him today though and he'll probably say he doesn't.
  • Little Italy - Obsessed. The food, the decorations, the feel. We came here on our first night for dinner, ate at the original Vince's Restaurant. Had the best tomato pasta sauce ever (sorry Dad). We took Jonathan there on our last night for dessert. Win.
  • Macy's flagship store at Herald Square - Christmas Magic
  • Paella, sangria and churros con chocolate - We'd been on the hunt for churros con chocolate for months. Socarrat Paella Bar delivered.
  • Jazz, wine and martinis - We went to the Village Vanguard for Monday night Jazz. We realised we were on a good thing when we met someone out the front who had been coming to the bar since he was 17. He is now 68. I love how Jazz has the ability to completely transport you to a different time. We felt like we were in the 50's drinking red wine and martinis and listening to Jazz in a club underground. It was wonderful.
  • Central Park, Christmas markets and ice skating - Is Central Park the coolest place ever? Possibly. We seemed to end up walking through there at least once a day. The Christmas markets were on while we were there. Hot chocolate, truffles, hot apple cider, bratwurst, macarons and pretty things. Perfect.
  • American Museum of Natural History - We saw the whale that Barney knocked down. This museum was huge!
  • Times Square - at night, during the day, it doesn't even matter. 
  • Catching up with Matt and Mim - Drinks with friends. Impossible to go wrong. It was fantastic to see these guys after so long. O'Hara and Jonathan hit the 10% beers, which ended about as well as you'd expect.
  • 5th Avenue - Jonathan and O'Hara were hugely hungover, guess from when? They managed a quick wander through Tiffany and Co and found the lovely granite drinking fountain. Classy.
  • Water Taxi - it was slightly chilly, but not too much that we couldn't sit up and watch the Statue of Liberty. She's beautiful. Unfortunately you couldn't go up inside her head because of Sandy, her island needed some repair. We also caught the ferry across to Brooklyn and had delicious pizza. It may have been a tourist trap, but it didn't matter because the pizza was worth it.
  • Wall Street - We wanted to go inside the NYSE but didn't work that out. O'Hara and Jonathan got up close and personal with the bull. It was packed with people wanting to rub it's balls. A bit like the big marino I think. Strange!
  • Brooklyn Bridge - crossed this bad boy a couple of times. Got in other peoples way doing jump photos. Took a thousand of our own. I think it's impossible to take a bad photo in New York. It's all just too pretty
  • Ground Zero and Freedom Tower - Ground Zero was emotional, Freedom Tower is impressive. It's so sad looking at the Manhattan skyline, never having seen the Twin Towers. The Freedom Tower is an impressive skyscraper. It'll be amazing when completed.
  • Empire State Building - We only splashed around the lobby, and instead went up the Rock. It meant we could see the Empire State Building from the sky. Awesome!
  • All the pubs - We went to some cute little drinking establishments. It made me miss living in a bigger city.
Our only major fail was catching the train back to New York after Boston, rather than just flying straight to Toronto. I think we got confused when deciding where we were going and how to get to Fredericton. However it happened, it cost us an extra day and a half and around $300.... oops. At least we got a nice scenic train ride. Can I please move to the New England coast. So beautiful!

We really had the best time there. A holiday where major highlights are eating and drinking is always going to be brilliant, New York seemed to bring everything we needed in a city. Take me back!
O'Hara and Jonathan enjoying brews at some favourite pubs
Sweet treats! The macarons are the same brand (Vendome) they use for the Clinique ads
Maybe causing our own trouble at the museum. The blue whale stayed attached
Old wooden escalator at Macy's and Times Square
Beautiful buildings and bridges everywhere
Pizza in Brooklyn and the Statue of Liberty. All in a few hours
Manhattan at night and Jonathan being a ham
Hungover boys do not like been dragged around the town

Monday, 17 December 2012

Boston, Massachusetts

This is an out of order post but writing about New York will take me way too long. O'Hara and I are currently using up our annual leave on a two week trip to the East Coast of the US and Canada. If anyone is wondering it's a fantastic time to visit. There are minimum crowds as we're just before the winter school/uni break, the weather is still quite mild (though potentially unseasonably so), and everything is decorated for Christmas.

We were so excited to catch up with some friends in Boston. Connor (who I used to work with in Sydney) lives with his wonderful fiancée Karen there. While we were on the East Coast we couldn't pass up an opportunity to visit them. They are getting married next year in Wisconsin. So. Excited.

Boston is a pretty nifty little city. I had no idea how much of the American Revolution stemmed from there. It was also lovely to be in a city built with red bricks after being on the Wood West Coast for the last 9 months. We only had one full day there, so decided to walk the Freedom Trail. We downloaded a free app, which had info on the major points along the way. You can do guided tour, with dressed up guides as well, that looked quite fun.

Some footage from the oldest park in the USA
Boston has the oldest Park in the USA, and the first public school in the US that Benjamin Franklin and 3 other signers of the Declaration of Independence went to. We followed the little red line for around 2 hours, ending up at the USS Constitution.
O'Hara and the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship still afloat. Undefeated. Legend
Connor and Karen took us for a delicious seafood dinner at Legal Sea Foods near the water, oysters from the East Coast were amazing. O'Hara ordered Lobster Roll and Clam Chowder, not bad for a boy who didn't like seafood when I met him. I had fried clams which are also a New England thing. So much deliciousness.

Tragically while we were in Boston, the Sandy Hook massacre occurred. We didn't realise until the afternoon when catching a cab home and heard it on the radio. Unsurprisingly everyone is devastated. It breaks our hearts hearing about it, and we have tried to avoid watching the news. 2012 has been a year of ups and downs for us. Our wedding and moving to Canada we're great, but we've lost two wonderful people from our lives, had close friends deal with tragic loss and this was another event in 2012 that has changed how we view each day. I honestly believe the Mayans may have been onto something as this has been a tough year for me personally.

I'm looking forward to 2013!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

B is for Bacon

What do you think of when you hear Canada? For me it's maple syrup, snow and bacon. I don't really know why I have this image. I think it's because there's something called Canadian Bacon.

I've never actually seen Canadian Bacon at the store, in fact the best bacon I've found is something at the butcher called 'Aryshire Bacon'. Who know's what that means, but it's good. Canadian Bacon is supposed to be similar to thick cut bacon, it sounds delicious and I wish I could remember to look/find it.

We tried buying bacon from the supermarket, but similar to Australia it's rubbish. I've been told that bacon from the butcher is different because it contains more meat, rather than just buying strips of pig fat (which I LOVE, but the meat at least gives the illusion you're eating protein).
Yum yum bacon cocktail

Since I've been in Canada I've had bacon in some fancy ways;
  • Pancakes, bacon and maple syrup - I didn't like it. However, I'm willing to give it another go at a better restaurant.
  • A Bacon Caesar (Clamato Bloody Mary) - This was delicious, more cocktails should have bacon
  • Caramel Bacon Popcorn - I didn't think I'd like it, but was impressed!
  • Bacon wrapped scallops - This isn't too random, and is obviously amazing
  • Bacon wrapped chestnuts - For some reason chestnuts aren't really that common in Australia. Lets just say they taste good wrapped in bacon.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

5 things I needed to know and I now own

5 Things I should have know
There are so many things that may seem like common sense to someone who grew up in Canada, but these are not obvious to me.

- You have to leave the heating on in your house so the pipes don't freeze up
  • Me: I don't really understand how my heaters work, like whats the point of 10 degrees?
  • Friends: You can leave it on the lowest 24/7 in winter
  • Me: That seems like a waste
  • Friends: Well if you don't your pipes will freeze 
  • Me: ??
- You need to carry an emergency car kit
  • Me: I'm just hoping it doesn't snow while we're driving, I'm kinda scared I'm going to die
  • Friends: As long as you have an emergency car kit, it'll be ok
  • Me: Emergency whaattt?????
  • Friends: You know, blankets, water, snacks, torch, hazard markers, shovel, first aid, tool kit, tow strap
  • Me: ??
- Skis and snowboards need to be waxed
  • Friend: I can't go snowboarding yet, my board needs to be waxed
  • Me: ??
- Elk and Moose will stomp you and your car if threatened
  • Aus Friend: The ranger said we were "waaayyy to close"
  • Me: Why?
  • Can Friends: Elk are crazy angry, they'll stomp the crap out of your car
  • Me: ??
- Narwhals are a real thing
  • Friend: There's heaps of wildlife up north, whales, seals and narwhals and stuff
  • Me: Wait, those things with the horns?
  • Friend: Yea
  • Me: I thought they were just a random thing on Futurama
Number 6 addition: You can't leave dogs in the car when it's cold too!! This I guess is obvious, but I'd never even thought about it. Apparently the car has some sort of fridge effect, poor puppies.

5 things I now have
I also now own a bunch of things that I would never had needed in Australia
  • Winter boots - these bad boys are good down to -30 degrees C
  • A snow shovel - unless I move to Mount Wellington
  • A balaclava - O'Hara has this so he can ride to work in the cold
  • Winter tyres - Luckily these came free with Wheels!
  • Halloween decorations - Yay