Archive for September, 2019

Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, USA.

Friday, September 20th, 2019

April 2, 2019. Zurich, Switzerland to New York City, New York, USA. 

Another day devoted to travelling. This time to New York City, via Reykjavik in Iceland. 

We had done a similar trip once before, that time from Berlin. 

The flight was with Icelandair and you pay for everything. They even have the audacity to try and up-sell you. 

Buy two beers and save. Buy a meal and a drink and you will save again. 

After our failed attempt to use public transport in Berlin, we decided to try the airport bus again and caught one to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

There we were met by Ev and Steph, we then walked the few blocks to their new apartment in Hell’s Kitchen. 

This will be our home in NYC for the next seven days. 

By the end of the night we’re were rather buggered, having spent about 22 hours on the go. 

This was mainly due to the 6 hour time difference. 

 

April 3, Intrepid Museum (aircraft carrier)

April 3, 2019. New York City, New York, USA. 

Ev and Steph moved from West Harlem to Hell’s Kitchen about nine months ago. This was our opportunity to explore a new area of New York. 

As you might expect, this part of the city that’s below Central Park has a very different ethnic mix. 

Finding a good coffee in the US is always an issue but Ev had unearthed a few places close by. 

After breakfast, a coffee and some work I needed to do, we headed out. 

First job was to get clothes washed.  Fortunately there was a laundromat just around the corner. 

As we were going to be in the US for six weeks we needed to get a SIM card for the travel phone. 

That was the next chore. 

We then just walked around the ‘hood’.

The only snaps for the day were of the USS Intrepid, a former aircraft carrier that has now been retired. Its second life, as the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, was opened in 1988. 

It contains, among other things, the USS Growler submarine, the Space Shuttle Enterprise and a British Airways Concorde.

I wonder if it was the one I flew on in the 80s’.

 

Macy’s Journey to Paradisios (Spring flower display)

April 4, 2019. New York City, New York, USA. 

It was another relatively quiet day in NYC.

We walked a few blocks into the city and happened upon the Macy’s spring flower show.

Journey to Paradisios was a flower display set in a space theme, very weird but interesting. The show, featuring spaceships and floral displays, was staged in Macy’s marquee stores in Chicago, San Francisco and of course New York.

The hidden reason for the space theme was to celebrate the USA winning the Space Race 50 years ago. When on July 20, 1969, man first walked on the Moon.

In the afternoon we revisited B&H Photo Video – Electronics and Camera Store. This is a New York institution and regarded by some as the largest camera store in the world.

In the evening we had our first Off-Broadway experience.

Avenue Q is a musical featuring puppets and live actors. It cleverly combines singing, dancing, racism and sex.

It’s where Sesame Street meets Stormy Daniels.  

 

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April 5, 2019. New York City, New York, USA. 

The company Ev works for in NYC very kindly give their staff a day off for their birthday.

This was the day and we decided to visit The Cloisters.

Situated in Fort Tryon Park, the museum contains a vast collection of art and architecture from Medieval Europe.

A strange sight in modern Manhattan. 

The building was designed by Charles Collins and built in 1938. It’s governed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Many of the museum artefacts have been built into the architecture of four French cloisters that were purchased by the sculpture and art dealer George Grey Barnard.

These were dismantled and shipped to New York between 1934 and 1939. This more than likely saved them from the devastation of the Second World War.

Windows were used to hold stained glass, either entire windows or fragments. 

As well as the architectural and sculptural pieces there were traditional museum styled galleries that housed smaller items. 

There are about 5,000 works of art and architecture in The Cloisters.

On the way back to Hell’s Kitchen we popped into an outdoor store near Union Square.

We were there to purchase camping gear. Not to go camping but to use, instead of disposables, on our road trip west

The idea of our ‘Save the World Kit’ was dreamt up on our last trip in the US. We were so disgusted by the waste that we vowed to do something about it. 

It will be interesting to see what reactions we get as we produce this bag full of goodies at breakfast.

 

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April 6, 2019. New York City, New York, USA. 

It was the weekend and start of Spring so we all went to Central Park in search of tulips. We spent a very pleasant few hours in the park but never did find any.

Late in the afternoon we went in search of craft beer and visited the Fifth Hammer Brewing Company in Queens.

There we did find some excellent brews.

 

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April 7, 2019. New York City, New York, USA. 

The main attraction of the day was to visit the One World Observatory, which sits at the top of the World Trade centre.

The One World Trade Centre was built after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack, that resulted in destruction of the Twin Towers.

The Freedom Tower as it is known was built over the site of the Northern tower and is the tallest building in the US and the sixth tallest in the world.

Not surprisingly it was designed by the architectural firm of Skidmore Owing and Merrill. The same firm that built the Burj Khalifia in Dubai, once the tallest building in the world.

Nothing lasts forever.

The One World Observatory was opened in 2015 and at over 382 metres, offered a wonderful 360º view over Manhattan.

Just below the One World Trade Centre is Oculus, a transportation hub that cost over $4 billion and looks like something out of the Jetsons. It was designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and has been criticised for it’s inefficiency and expense.

But it looks great.

On the way home we came across the Irish Hunger Memorial. Built in 2002, it’s dedicated to  the Great Irish Famine (1845 – 1852)

The famine drove many to leave Ireland and make the journey to the New World and a new life in the US.

Much of the memorial is landscaped with stone, soil and natural vegetation that was shipped from the west coast of Ireland.

There were two burned out cars on Laight Street in Tribeca and we wondered why.

As reported on April 6, by Carl Glassman from the Tribeca Tribune:

“Two parked cars went up in flames in Tribeca around 6 p.m. Saturday evening, the result of what was said to be a carelessly tossed cigarette. 

The cars were parked in front of 79 Laight Street when a person walking by threw a cigarette onto a pile of recycling on the sidewalk, igniting the garbage that, in turn, set the cars on fire, a resident of the building said. The blaze also scorched windows on the building’s first floor. No injuries were reported.”

April 8, 2019. New York City, New York, USA. 

It was Evan’s 34th Birthday but he had to fly to Chicago for the day. We therefore arranged to catch up with him for dinner that night at one of their favourite Thai restaurants.

We were off on our next adventure the next day, a drive across the southern US, and needed to get our clothes clean.

Therefore another trip to the laundromat was needed.

That afternoon we visited Steph’s office ‘Green Space’ in Brooklyn.

Rather than work at home alone she has rented an office. She now has people to talk to and a place to work.

With so many people working remotely, it’s become common practice now, with office spaces popping up all over the place.

Switzerland. A bit of history, nature and lakes.

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

March 28, 2019. Stuttgart, Germany to Arnex-sur-Orbe, Switzerland. 

We were on the train again, this time to visit Denis and Martine in Arnex-sur-Orbe in Switzerland. 

The first stop was Zurich, with only seven minutes to make our connection to Yverdon les Baines. 

We failed by 30 seconds. 

The Swiss rail system prides itself on their punctuality and rules. Which is why we got told off by the conductor of the next train, for missing the last one. 

We had a discount fare which only applies to the train you book. 

We got away with it. 

Martine and Denis put on a home cooked meal, which was very welcome. 

Not that we had missed out having had several in Berlin and one in Stuttgart. 

 

The ages of Charlie

March 29, 2019. Arnex-sur-Orbe, Switzerland. 

The weather was beautiful. 

Spring had come to Switzerland and the skies were blue, the blossom blooming and the bees buzzing. 

Martine’s mother, who was approaching 100, had had a fall, so Martine went to visit her. Denis had to attend a retirement lunch in Vevey, so we went to visit Chaplin’s World. This is a museum dedicated to the life of Charlie Chaplin (1889 -1977) who spent 24 years living just outside of the city. 

As a result of ‘McCathyism’ in the States, Charlie was exiled to Europe. 

Charlie Chaplin is one of the most important figures in 20th century filmmaking.

He wrote, directed, edited, acted, produced and composed the music for a large range of both silent and talkie movies.

Chaplin was born in London and his childhood was one of poverty and hardship. When he was 14 his mother was committed to a mental asylum and his father was absent. He then began performing in music halls and developed his skills as an actor and comedian.

At 19 he move to America and joined the famous Keystone Studios. There he developed his Tramp character and by 1918 he was one of the most famous actors in the world.

In 1919 he founded the film distribution company United Artist. This bold move gave him complete control over the production of his movies, something many actors of the time, and even now, never get.

The Chaplin Museum is set in his mansion, Manoir de Ban and surrounded by beautiful gardens. 

The exhibition is divided into two parts. The first traces his life, relationships and politics and is situated in the mansion. 

The second section concentrates on his movies and this is housed in a section known as the studio. 

In the evening we went to the Toucan for a meal. 

This is as institution in Arnex and the social heart of this small village. The place was full and bookings are essential. 

It’s not surprising as the food was excellent.

 

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March 30, 2019. Arnex-sur-Orbe, Switzerland. 

This was a day in the country. 

Firstly to see the wild Jonquils in the forest, not far from Arnex-sur-Orbe. Then onto the small village of Caux to catch the  train and travel high into the alps. 

This was probably the most expensive train ride ever. CHF58.80 ($83) for a 25 minute return ride from Caux to Rochers de Naye. However at 2,042 metres the scenery was spectacular.

It was a fun walk, through the snow, up the mountain. Martine bounded to the top, followed by Denis, while Thea and I struggled in the very unfamiliar conditions.

We then drove into Montreux and had a walk around the edge of Lake Geneva.

Montreux has a close association to Freddie Mercury from Queen. In 1977 Freddie came to the Montreux Jazz Festival to record the album ‘Jazz’ with Queen.

He fell in love with the city and the lake and established his Mountain Studio there. This was the place where he recorded his final Queen album ‘Made in Heaven’. Lake Geneva is even featured on the cover.

There is a very prominent sculpture of Freddie on the Lake Geneva. Created by Czechoslavakian sculptor Irena Sedlecká, it was unveiled in 1996.

That night we had an evening of song. Denis and Marine took us to the local hall to see the Arnex Mixed Choir perform. There was food, booze and lots of laughter, with most of Marine’s extended family also there.

One of the highlights was the ‘Four Lads’ an all male group from another village. They were very funny, even though I did’t understand a word they sang.

 

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March 31, 2019. Arnex-sur-Orbe, Switzerland. 

It was another day of ‘nature’ as we were off to walk the Circuit de Fontaines. 

This was a river walk that culminated at the 20 metre high Cascade du Dard. 

We walked about 10 kilometres, through the forest and then along the ridge on the return journey. 

The Circuit de Fontaines was first developed in the 19th century. Public fountains were very important as they supplied drinking water to the locals. They were also a social meeting place where women and children met to do their household chores.

 

04_April 1, Chinese Garden (1993)

April 1, 2019. Arnex-sur-Orbe to Zürich, Switzerland. 

Denis left us in the morning, as he was flying to Australia. In the afternoon Martine drove us the the railway station in Yverdon-les-Bains and we caught the train to Zürich.

I needed a new watch band for my Tag Heuer and Zürich seemed to be a good place to look.

Via the internet we discovered Bucherer on Bahnhofstrasse. 

This was the most efficient store I have ever visited. 

We were greeted at the door and, as a security precaution, had to remove our sunglasses.

After they found out what were there for, we were directed to the second floor, where we were then directed to the repairs department.

After viewing my watch a technician was called to help. He then went off and brought back a range of replacement watch bands. 

All the time we were being chatted to by a delightful young Swiss girl who immediately picked our Australian accents. 

She had a friend who lives just outside of Sydney. 

Once I chose a band the technician went off to fit it. This all took about 10 to 15 minutes and then we were off to explore Zurich. 

We went for a long walk along the Zürichsee, or Lake Zürich, to the Chinese Garden.

Established in 1993 it was a gift from Zürich’s twin city of Kunming and dedicated to the Three Friends of Winter. 

As an inscription described it:

“The Chinese Garden is a holistic work of art combining nature, art, philosophy and poetry.“

There was so much detail in the pagodas, bridges and pavilions. 

Dinner was at Zimmerleuten, a traditional Swiss German restaurant on the river. 

I had Weiß Wursts with Rosti potatoes. It was a good choice for our last night in Switzerland and our last night in Europe. 

Afterwards we discovered a very funky bar, Kleine Freiheit, in a container, just 30 metres from our hotel. 

There I found a wonderful IPA, Bier Paul 10. It was the best draught IPA I’ve had on this trip – so far.