Day Two

Day Two – Times Square Here We Come

Surprisingly after such a long flight we all were up at 8:30. The excitement of being in a new city must override the need for catch-up sleep. We have mapped out an agenda for today starting with our first subway ride on the F line. Kate has downloaded an app that gives excellent information on the various lines available so as to plan ahead. The subway entrance is only a 5 minute walk from our apartment.  The weather is cold, cold and cold. Kate has on layers of cloths and is still freezing. As we walk through the area (China Town) you can see many elderly Chinese out doing their morning Thai Chi exercises. We are only five stops from Times Square. Our crap Myki ticket system that is the most tourist unfriendly abomination could learn a lesson over here. You just talk to a real person who hands over a rechargeable card and you can add the three of us one the one travel card.

Today is Saturday and even so the subway is pretty packed. Seems to me by listening to the various languages being spoken that there are a lot of European tourists. We alighted at 47th street and headed to, wait for it, Maccas for breakfast. Kate has set the dining options early. A guy came in as we were eating asking for loose change. An older New Yorker came back with “Get a job and you’ll have all the change you want”.
First stop of the day was a make-up shop the name of which escapes me. I only went in because of the heating. I huddled in a corner with another five guys just like me as their women shopped for that perfect blush or shade of lipstick.

Back on the street and a few doors down I spotted Morgan Freeman. Well I could have sworn it was the real Morgan but it turns out we were out front of Madam Tussaud. Kate is busting to go in and so is Wendy, me not so much. I got talked into it and had a ball. Although the first chamber showed up my lack knowledge of current stars as I didn’t know any of them. Kate did and she made a lot of appreciative noises about how real they looked.
I came into my own we we got to the 60’s showcase, Hendrix, Lou Reed, Stevie Wonder, Jerry Garcia and of course the Beatles. The skin and eyes look so realistic and at one stage I thought Elton John was eyeing me off. Must admit it was a lot of fun.
We were back on the street and guess what there is a light snow flurry happening. Told you it was cold have I?
We strolled through Broadway and checked out what shows were playing.

We then hit an area readily familiar to anyone who has seen the New Years eve countdown from New York. Even in daylight the area is lit up like an M.C.G night game. Huge advertising displays that put my T.V. to shame back home. The clarity of the screens is something to behold.
Now comes the part of the day I have been dreading. Mother and daughter wanting to shop! The first shop was okay, wall to wall chocolate at the M&M’s store. I sampled an original drinking chocolate formula.  The lady explained that before chocolate bars came into being the drinking of chocolate was the only way it was consumed. It was so strong that even the girls could only handle a sip.

Back on the street and a street hustler notices my hoodie which was given to me by Winston Galea Oz drummer of brilliance. It reads “I may be in Australia but on game day my heart and soul is in New Orleans”. Well he asks me where in Australia I am from and before I can answer he rattles off at least fifty Australian place names including the likes of Albury/Wodonga, Wagga Wagga and Yepoon. I know he must be able to do this for most of the worlds countries but it is still impressive and he kept us entertained. I am happy to hand over a couple of bucks for a guy scrounging a living.

Times Square is a hive of activity.  I hung out the front of the clothing store ‘Forever 21′. It may still be cold outside by the inside of every store I have been in is as hot as hell. There are 5 big African Americans working the tourists trying to sell a C.D. of their own music. One of the guys came up to me and asked if I wanted a copy. He said “You from Australia”? “Yeah man, and are you a New Yorker”? No I from Jamaica just trying to get my music out there. We talked for the next 10 minutes about cricket. He just about named the whole current Australian team and even talked about how great it is that we bring on or captain’s when they ready to take the helm. He talked about Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh. He wasn’t that impressed with his own side and their lack of success in the World Cup. I said that we should be playing New Zealand just about now and that they will be hard to beat with McCullum in form. He said “No way man, they can’t beat ya, your bowlers are to good”. Turns out he was right.

It’s 3 P.M. on a Saturday afternoon and I gotta sit down somewhere. The Hard Rock Cafe beckons. Seen one Hard Rock seen ’em all but this Times Square franchise is pretty good. A few beer later and we leave. A young girl and guy were sitting near us and she has a Victoria’s Secret bag on the counter. Another shop Kate wants to terrorize. Wendy asked for directions. Their Queenslanders and the colds gotta be hurting them more than us. Oops I had to scramble back before security comes after me. I forgot to pay the bar tab.

Times Square is awash with people in all sorts of costume suites. There must be 50 plus. Every conceivable super hero, cartoon character seems to be represented including three Statue of Liberties You can get you photo taken at a cost of course. At least they are warm.
Now 5 P.M. and we are still walking and shopping. Urban Fitters where I purchased a purple fedora (what was  thinking) then on to Macy’s. The escalators are pretty cool as they are still made of wood.  As spring is in the air the whole ground floor has beautiful floral displays. The locals seem excited to see some blooms at last as just two weeks ago there was still snow on the ground.

The girls are now in Victoria’s Secret and I am leaning on a phone booth gazing up at the Empire State Building. Seems a little surreal. The girls are taking forever and I went and got a New York hot dog and mustard from a street vendor. Cost me $1, god knows what is in them. A couple of tourists ask me for directions. Must look like a New York bohemian in my new purple fedora!
There is a continual blast of car horns, they just seem to follow each other as one driver gets angsty then the next and ……… Add to that sound the
frequent police and fire trucks being in a hurry to get somewhere.

Shopping is finished and it is 7:30. We have been on the go for hours. Not a good time to get lost but that is what we did. Where is that subway entrance. We finished up at Grand Central Station (we did not want to but). We can’t figure out our line. Kate now understands where we went astray. A local New Yorker hears us discussing our situation. He came over and said “Can I help you guys with directions”. Real nice of him to do so. In fact most of the New Yorkers we have spoken to have been very obliging. Kate found our subway entrance and we are heading back. We got out of the subway on the wrong side and now we are lost again. Bit more disturbing now as it is dark and we are somewhere in China town. Poor old Kate is tired and complains that if she could feel her fingers then she could use her map app to get us home. Well we made it back in one piece and pretty much fell into bed without much in the way of tea.


Rob Rowe

Melbourne to New York – Day One

Day One – 27th March 2015

We are up at 4:45 A.M. to get over to the airport. Kate is looking a little confused as she is normally just going to bed at this ungodly hour. We booked our flight tickets on-line with Expedia and opted for an American airline flight. When I say opted that is we went for the cheapest flight we could get. Qantas was also an option for the time and date we wanted to leave but it was dearer. Wendy had wanted to go with Qantas as she has joined their frequent flyer club. The good news is American airlines and Qantas have a network agreement so the points will be collected.

We for some reason have an express check-in and we fly through the check in process. Well we nearly flew through the check-in process. Ignoring all the signs posted throughout the terminal and not hearing security staff reminding people to take all water bottles out of their land luggage before scanning Kate decided to see if she could fool the scanner. We had to wait for her to go through the scanning process all again. I sort of figured she would have known the drill as she is always watching Border Security on T.V.
We had a short stop-over in Sydney before boarding our 10:30 flight to L.A. I assured Wendy we will be flying American airlines only to discover we were on another Qantas flight as affiliates of American airlines.

Real smooth flight and the food is pretty good and there is lots of it. I must be getting used to the long haul as it seemed to go quicker than I remembered. Wendy and Kate are playing the women’s lib card because our Captain for the flight is female. When we touched down in L.A. 6:15 A.M. I was reminded by them that she did a good job of the landing. I casually remarked that she will most likely need to get a guy to park the plane. Imagine my smug surprise when she announced that they will be getting help to park at the terminal as it is a very tight space. Yep a guy pulled us into our spot!

Bit of a line (as usual) to get through border control and customs but really not to bad. Kate thought we were over the worst of the lines but I had to remind her that we now needed to go through domestic check-in and if me memory was correct then this can take a longer time than the International arrival checks. L.A. has (and is) still going through major re-development and the domestic check-in is not as harrowing as I remembered. We waited for one of two staff to check our passports. Kate and I went through at the same time. I had a very surly Latino type and Kate a very cheery lady. The Latino I think was surly as he would have preferred that he was checking in Kate.She does have on a tight tshirt after all. I could have been the reincarnation of Bin Laden for all he knew as he did not take his eyes off Kate. One more scan and we are through. Another security guy told Kate she looks like the Princess from the movie Frozen. I told him I was her Dad and he said that then made me the king!

I am sure as tired as hell now. We have another 5 hour flight ahead of us to reach New York. Surely we are flying domestically with American. Surprised again as we boarded another Qantas plane.

We finally landed in New York at 5:15 P.M. There is a shuttle bus but after such a long journey I told the girls that we are getting a cab. I have budgeted about $80 for the trip to lower Manhatten. We lined up for the cab and I noticed after we got moving that the meter was not ticking over. It was set at $52.80 as a locked in travel price. Pretty slow going on the freeway. It is peak hour so that was expected. I had mentioned to Kate the New York taxi
drivers have a fierce reputation of scaring the bejesus out of their passengers. Once we got up to maximum speed it soon became apparent that New Yorker’s drive like they are in a Nascar car race. Any spot that becomes available should be ducked into with no need to indicate. Once we reached Manhatten we had to take a number of detours with many of the major roads being blocked off. I read in the paper the next day that there had been a major gas explosion in the area known as the lower east garden (not all that far from our apartment). Three buildings had been destroyed which included a few celebrities apartments. The taxi driver is doing his best to get some sort of a route to our apartment by completing some marvellous last minute decisions. I feel like I am in a Seinfeld episode. Our taxi driver was friendly but was talking on his phone most of the way. One hand driving! At one stage we mad an incredible wheel spinning move to a new lane. I looked across the seat to see Wendy and Kate grab hands instinctively in a hail Mary moment. We finally made the apartment an hour and a half after leaving the airport!

Erica the owner of the apartment (we booked through air ‘n’ b) had sent Wendy an email to say she would still be at work when we arrived. She had left keys with security at the front desk. We have a single room in the apartment and are free to use the lounge and kitchen area. Our balcony looks out over the river to the skyline of Brooklyn at it is spectacular.
Once showered we were just to tired to go out for food and ordered in some Chinese. Now Jimmy McFarlane you always tell me that my blogs are more like a food eating safari. So I am not going to tell you what I ate!
Sleep came pretty easy.
Oh I had Egg Foh Young for dinner!


View from our balcony – Clinton & South St. Lower Manhatten

Rob Rowe