Sunday, September 18, 2011

(9) PA: NYC - so much to see!

On my city tour of New York City in August this year our tour guide was so resourceful. At times it felt like a bit of an information overload and I wish I had my note pad out and scribbling while driving around in the bus and taking pictures all at the same time - but sadly I couldn't do it all together and I did not remember every interesting detail he mentioned. I wish I could.

Thankfully I do remember quite a lot and some bits of the rest - it is the blanks that I have been filling in with some additional reading online, hence it taking me a while to write my next post on New York City. (Those of you who are only joining me now can read the first installment of my adventure here. For the rest of us we can just pick up where we left off, right? (*smile*) Let's go!

I love cycling but when I saw this I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. You'd better be fit if you're going to be doing this for a living. I suppose a good or a bad day will depend on whether you have a more weighty or lighter load. I love the plastic cabin cover but I still don't think it is a good idea in the rain - not my idea of fun anyway. And if I cycle I prefer to do it alone. Shame, I wouldn't have the heart to expect of someone to peddle me around in the rain either. Then again, he might want to strap some paddles on. Never know when it might come in handy - haha

Our tour guide... I have to be honest - and no offence to you, Mr Tour guide, but initially I had my doubts. Then I have to add that I was pleasantly surprised! He kicked the tour off enquiring where everyone was from and introducing himself. I thoroughly enjoyed his sense of humour and he was quite knowledgeable about his city.

He taught us a lot of street smarts - things you would otherwise have had to learn the hard way, e.g. how to outsmart a cabbie. Turns out they don't prefer heading out to airports so you don't want to hale a cab with your luggage on the curb or they might not "see" you and stop. A ride to the airport has a flat rate with no passenger on the way back, i.e. no revenue. But heck, if you have to go the airport you've got to go, right? He told us about tipping at a restaurant and how to check your bill because some restaurants include it by default and some let you leave it after your bill has been settled. You don't ideally want to pay a tip on top of a tip - well, not usually anyway. And then Macy's have discounts on discounts... on discounts and their computer systems are known for - let's say "getting confused". He advised us to check the prices and do a bit of your own math so you don't get tricked at the till, shall we say... (*wink*) Happened to him just two odd weeks before. Don't you just love being smart?! haha

New York rain drops - very special rain drops, these. I just had to photograph it! haha

Lots of electronic media.

More electronic media.

The Minskoff Theatre. There are several theatres on Broadway. It is advised that you buy your tickets directly from the box office to save on surcharges and handling fees which can add up to $10 to the ticket price.

Oh, Mary Poppins! How about that?

I'm sure everyone has heard of Ripley's - Believe it or not! This is claimed to be New York's most amazing museum attraction. "As weird as it is real....Believe It or Not!"

Just a busy street on a rainy day in New York City.

The Christopher Columbus statue in the Columbus circle. I didn't realize it at the time of taking this picture but that is the Time Warner Centre in the background - the two tall buildings behind the statue.

A few things make this statue significant: (1) The marble statue of Columbus was part of New York's 1892 commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus' landing in America. Columbus stands atop a 70-foot (21m) granite rostral column decorated with bronze reliefs, each one representing one of his ships. On the pedestal is an angel holding a globe, and (2) It is the point from where all official distances from New York City is measured.

The Time Warner Centre is the world headquarters for Time Warner corporation and is on the west side of the circle. The buildings also hosts a few other attractions including NYC studio headquarters of CNN, Shops at Columbus Circle and the Mandarin Oriental, NY hotel. On the north side is the Trump International Hotel and Tower with the noted steel globe. Unfortunately I didn't see that side of the building. I would have liked a picture of that, but it's visible in the Time Warner Centre link above.

The Hearst Tower - home of the Hearst Corporation - owners of some well known communication companies and publications such as Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, Esquire, Harper's Bazaar, and Seventeen.

One of the things I battled with a little was how high the buildings are in NYC. Often when we drove or walked right by it the buildings were often so tall that you could not fit all of it into the frame. On the one hand it is a wow factor and on the other it takes away a little from the picture. Thankfully there are some very photographic images available on the internet if you want art.

This is two pictures put side by side - one taken on each end of the same block on Broadway Street. (The block is - I guess - probably not much more than 200m maybe - roughly 200 yards). There is a Starbucks on each corner. I searched on Yahoo for listings for Starbucks in New York City and it came up with 380 results with addresses and phone numbers. From what I understand New York, New York is to say in the city itself. Yet, New York City is made up of five boroughs (or municipal corporations) - Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens and the Bronx. When I do a search for each of these separately I get results of between 380 and 395 each.Pardon my ignorance but that might mean that there are over a thousand Starbucks in New York or it could mean that the same 380 average are selected for each one of the searches. Either way - Coffee is pretty big in this city, especially considering that it doesn't yet include all the other coffee enterprises. That sure is a LOT of caffeine! That I am sure of.

Did you know that Broadway is considered the longest street in the world? A thoroughfare of New York, it starts at the southern tip of Manhattan and runs for 150 miles (241km) right up to Albany in the north near the Canadian border. (Source:

The Dakota on Central Park West street, NYC - the building in which John Lennon lived with his wife, Yoko Ono. It is also the place where John was shot dead upon his return from the studio with his wife. For those who don't know, John Lennon was one of the founding members of the Beatles and well known for his music (Beatles and solo), his political activism and pacifism (opposed to war/violence).

An apartment in this co-op can cost you up to a cool $35 million. You would imagine that for that kind of money you'd have central air but no... note the little external air conditioning units in the windows...

(With a co-op you don't buy a house/apartment, you basically buy shares in the corporation that owns the building with exclusive rental right. You may not rent it to anyone else - that would be violating the contract. A co-op is controlled by a board with the deciding power of approving or denying a sale without the negative of being accused of discrimination - one of the big reasons for these corporations. You would imagine that these arrangements work well for famous people but if you are too famous the board may well deny your application for not wanting constant paparazzi in front of their building. Interesting, huh?)

The entrance to The Dakota - it is just inside this gate that John was shot. Double Fantacy was the final album in which John was involved - a combined work by husband and wife. It was released just three weeks before his murder. John signed a copy of it for his murderer just hours before. Little did he know... That copy was put on sale in 2003 for $525,000 (the equivalent of over $600,000 today.)

As a political activist Lennon was viewed as a radical who was dangerous and needed to be stopped - a man of great influence and not just a harmful rock 'n roller. He was put under constant surveillance by the FBI/CIA since 1969 - it ceased only four hours before his murder in December 1980.

It's hard to believe that it was 31 years ago. Yoko Ono still owns the apartment here.

I read that two of his fans committed suicide when they heard the news of his death. How tragic is that? Wouldn't you want to live and honor his memory instead? When you're all dead what's the point?

Our little tour group. On the right (in the green shirt) is our tour guide. Do you see the stick he's holding? He used that to keep the group together. Whenever we were out of the bus and amongst large crowds he held it up high so we could keep track of him and not get lost. I was rather grateful that day that I could see over the crowd. I almost lost him a few times if it wasn't for that stick - a little like the staff of a shepherd with which to herd sheep (*giggle*)

The building on the right is The Dakota (John Lennon) with more apartment buildings across the road as well.

These are all on Central Park West overlooking Central Park. Now these are apartments that I wouldn't mind living in if I had a couple of million dollars lying around. I would imagine the higher floors are better (and probably more expensive) for the view.

This is just one of the entrances to Central Park. Unfortunately we didn't get to see the whole park - that is a real pity - this is (I'm sure) not even the tip of the ice berg. Now here is a place where I would have loved to cycle!!

The Strawberry Fields memorial is a triangular piece of land of which the top two corners fall away shaping it in the form of a tear. The entrance is on Central Park West and West 72 Street - across from The Dakota Apartments where John Lennon lived and was murdered. The memorial was dedicated by the mayor and Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono on - what would have been - his 45th birthday on 9 October 1985. Still today people gather here for Lennon's birthday and to pay tribute on the anniversary date of his death. People also gather to commemorate the birthdays of the other Beatles, and also after the 20/11 tragedy. All of the Strawberry Fields are designated a "quiet zone".

This circular pathway mosaic of inlaid stones is the focal point of the Strawberry Field memorial with the single word being the title of Lennon's famous song "Imagine". It was a gift from the city of Naples. Still today the memorial mosaic is frequently covered with flowers, candles in glasses and other personal items that fans have left behind. And no, it has absolutely nothing to do with strawberries. Instead, I think it has something to do with this song: Strawberry Fields Forever.

I saw this one a little bit too late but at least I saw it. Do you think they do something special on the hooves of this horse? Certainly it cannot be the best for him to walk on these roads? If you're a hopeless romantic I think this idea has great potential to impress for sure! (The worst part is just when your are stormed by a bunch of curious tourists wanting a picture of the out-of-the-ordinary phenomenon haha. What else can you do but smile and wave, huh? I suppose it could also be a good excuse to kiss a girl - as a distraction, you know (*wink*)) And with that I kiss this post good bye (*giggle*)


  1. September 18, 2011 at 11:54 am
    Gosh! What a great tour you had! Great photos and the information…wow! So much information to take in! And a thousand Starbucks, man that's a lot of coffee! I went to London once and didn't like it, the people were rude and there was just too much going on, did you ever feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people, traffic and buildings?

  2. September 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm
    Thanks, Dave. Glad you're enjoying it with me Yes, a lot of information for just one day for sure, but I didn't feel overwhelmed at all. I actually felt surprisingly at home. It was almost surreal; the last place I ever thought I'd be and there I was, standing in Time Square! I heard a few country folks' opinions of NY and the people but decided that I would go there and make up my own mind. The people that know me here don't really know where I'm from or what I'm used to. Everyone's experience is unique, I suppose. I didn't encounter what I heard. I'm privileged to report that I met interesting and nice people and I simply loved the city!! I loved the energy and rhythm but without feeling rushed/pressured. I can definitely see myself there. This tour was a good overview of the city. I would love to go back and spend more time there and do more things. I Googled Johannesburg, SA for you and selected images. This is where I'm from Not AS big as NYC but a great city!

  3. September 19, 2011 at 9:29 pm
    Too bad it was raining, but sometimes a little rain can add to the fun. Great pictures. I've been to NYC twice, and both times were totally different. There is so much to see and do, you can't possibly pack it all in over one visit.

    1. September 19, 2011 at 10:19 pm
      You are absolutely right, Tracy. I thought it was a wonderful introduction. That is how I would describe it. You get a good general feel for direction, where what is located in proportion to what else – some food, some entertainment, some shopping, some relaxation. I would love to go again – one day was too short. I can only imagine the night lights – and the snow – and Christmas time. I think it must be wonderful!

  4. September 21, 2011 at 9:42 am
    Gosh, what a lot to take in!

    1. September 22, 2011 at 5:28 pm
      It was JAM PACKED, Cindy! (On a different note though: do you feel that I'm cramming too much into a post, making it cumbersome to read? Should I reduce the number of pictures? I just didn't want to write 20 posts about my trip, but NYC is the part that everyone has been most curious about. Let me know what you think

  5. September 24, 2011 at 6:50 am
    What a vivid, fantastic, huge picture. It was just really great. I can't believe someone does that pedalling for a living either. How EXHAUSTING. What if you weren't feeling up to it one day? What, you just don't earn? It's a hard job!

    1. September 24, 2011 at 3:57 pm
      Thank you, wordsfallfrommyeyes, and thank you for peeking in Exhausting? For sure, especially when you have customers I think the one thing that must surely count in their favour a little is the fact that NYC itself is not a very hilly terrain – not from all the places in the city that we were on that day. Being a cyclist myself, that certainly helps! No, I don't imagine it has paid sick leave, yet, when you're sick I wouldn't recommend that kind of demand on your body – let alone in the rain. And what about during the snowy, cold season? I haven't even thought this far; a very hard job indeed (even more so if you have a family to support with it)!