CUWAM- A photo essay of the Cornish Coast

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P.S Today was the hottest 29th September in England since…..drum roll….1895!!! Loving it!!…a grand 29 degrees temperature….I have a sunburn…

CUWAM- Cornish country side….and a life long dream realised

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For as long as I can remember ( which appears to be precisely 10 year and 8 months!!) I have wanted to explore the Cornish Coast…for reason none other than it appeared to be beautiful , quaint and lusciously green, with rolling hills and paddocks filled with diary cows and working horses…it people, men and women who are charmed by seaside living, each village home to enough characters to warrant novel writing…a volume of work dedicated to the Cornish people ….

For it is both the landscape and the people who add immeasurable value to an experience best  described as ‘ rambling’, rambling through ancient castles, well trodden paths, country kitchen, windy road and lashing of clotted Cornish cream.

The written word cannot do justice to the sites that greet a visitor to Cornwall….it has to be experienced for yourself and I would urge any visitor to the UK, who has the luxury of time, to explore this part of England…You will not be disappointed, it would impossible, rather, you will find that no amount of time here is enough, and that one day you will return, to pick up where you last left your Cornish adventure…..your walk through a field, your admiration of the harbour, your perusal of a blackberry bush, your date with a good book and Cornish pasty

So I will insert pictures into this blog were you may expert to find words.

For anyone interested in knowing more about the Cornish Coast, places to stay, sites to see, places to eat, sound tracks to listen to whilst driving….on my return to OZ I will write up my Cornish fact sheet that I would happily send out to any interested persons.

So to Andrew and Steve, thank you for taking me on a road trip to Cornwall….you have made this Sydney girl very happy, thank you, thank you thank you

To Mousehole, the town we stayed in, as a cat lover the town could not have been more perfect!! The town was beautiful beyond belief, as our guide said ‘ Quaintness clings to Mouse hole ( pronounced Mouz’L) like a cat’….Picture perfect, with cat references in every gift shop…It was as if Mousehole found me….and for that I am thankful

And to the Cornish Coast, your beauty is an inspiration….whether covered in a seaside mist, overcast or drenched in September sun….you never fail to charm your admirers…And I am a convert ( but I also knew I would be)   Thank you

CUWAM – Brizzle aka Bristol, United Kingdom

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The United Kingdom…Like a homing pigeon returning home after a mid morning flight….I touched down into London at 6am. On this holiday, the marvellous, wonderful holiday, I have touched down in London twice, and not left the airport…but this time I was free to go….free to board my National Express Bus to Bristol…yes, to Bristol Baby….I was Bristol bound and proud…

Off to visit my friend Andrew, who I have known since those hellish days at Holy S#*t College, Bellambi….a person I could not help but gravitate towards, because in a sea of maroon and grey ( yes grey…how very depressing) uniforms, Mr G was like a lifeline, bubbling over with laughter, life and all round good times.

When Andrew announced he was moving to the UK at the end of 2010, I knew that if I was to travel in 2011…he would be a person that I would visit. Luckily he was happy to have me stay, in the home he shares with his boyfriend, Steve….A lovelier couple would be hard to find…and they welcomed me with open arms, cups of tea, episodes of Downton Abbey and a meal of fish and chips….

My one and only day in Bristol was a well planned affair. Andrew made sure that all the top sites were visited….with immaculate care to detail and a timely exist from the house, the day began to unfold. The sun graced us with an appearance whilst eating lunch in Clifton…We then strolled Clifton’s boutique lined streets, munching on bags of sweets…Lah De Dah….

To raise spirits even higher, we climbed Cabot Tower, located in Brandon Hill Nature Reserve…a viewing tower, that enabled me to see Bristol in all is glory….And what a sight to behold…The colourful terraces, the boat lined harbour, the cathedrals and , as Andrew pointed out, Wales ( yes you could see all the way to another country!!)

We then joined the city streets, and sat harbour side…for a drink at the Arts Hub, Arnolfini…a monitor for me, lager for the boys…Pure indulgence…..

No trip would be complete, Andrew assured me, to Bristol anyway…without venturing to Asda Supermarket….Asda supermarket, a shopping centre attached to a McDonalds restaurant, its car park complete with an Asda Petrol Station…..It was like entering another world, one in which you could purchase an entire new life…This market sold jeans, fridges, corn flakes, pre packaged sandwiches and plasma television…I was not coping….Steve and Andrew were very restrained in their shopping, this place called for restraint…we left the markets with the ingredient for dinner, nothing more nothing more.

A meal of puff pastry pizza, a new taste sensation, whilst tuning into some prime time viewing, the UK ‘X’ Factor….surprisingly addictive…followed by the movie Calender Girls…good food, good company, good tv viewing.

With a superb day of sight seeing behind me, all three of us were now gearing up with much anticipation for our road trip to the Cornish Coast…clotted cream, clotted cream ice cream, clotted cream fudge, clotted cream pasties…here we come!!

CUWAM: An open letter to NYC city and the blind date birthday

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This entry will not do justice to the birthday party NYC put on for me….24 hours spent in the city, which lavished me with gifts from a fantastic meals, museum visits,  coffees, cocktails, gin and tonics, subway rides, one in a life time meetings with friend I never knew I had, the kindness of strangers, the smiles, the laughs, the sunshine and an rain drops and the overwhelming messages of love that greeted me when I logged onto my face book account.

The decision was made back in May, when I knew I would travel during the year, that NYC was the only place I wanted to be when another digit would be added to my biological age….A place where anything would be possible, and I knew that whatever presented itself to me that day would be treasured, both on that day, and for the many that would hopefully follow….So to NYC and the people who celebrated with me….thank you….

The one event I would like to recall from that day was my birthday dinner…a truly wonderful occasion, random in the very sense of the word….special beyond words….firstly because my idea of a dinner party with actual real people at the table turned from dream to reality…in a city that I knew not a single sole.

When I knew I was to be in Gotham City for my birthday, one thing was clear, I did not want to celebrate alone….it was the year of Catch Up with a Mate after all…So I put it out there, to friends, to family, the cats and dogs in my social circle…I was going to be in NYC for my birthday…help me put together a groups of people to celebrate with me….

It read like a classified in the singles section of the NY Times: Single Australian girl seeks company, male and or female / cats tolerated, to celebrate 33rd birthday in NYC….Preference for a nice meal, followed by drinks….but open to suggestions’

My cousin’s wife was the first to respond….Sending through a long email, a passionate description of her Irish friend living in up in NYC…’ You must catch up with Paul… he is a wonderful man…you will LOVE him’…How could I not contact this man and set aside a place for him at the birthday dinner table

The face book status update from my friend Magda, living the dream in Hawaii, surfing daily….and leaving the ocean behind for NY…arrival date early September….An online message to Magda advising her of her place at the dinner table for my birthday….and promising to update with more info as it unfolded…

The last person to be added to the mix was Rose, a  friend of my work mate Elena…an Australian girl embarking on further academic study in the city….

The party of four was complete….my birthday meal was set, restaurant decided upon with the help of Paul….Rosa Mexicano, Union Square, Midtown, NY…the decision based on Paul’s admiration of the frozen pomegranate margaritas that graced the restaurants drinks menu….

So let me introduce the party

Paul

Magda

Rose

Identification of the guest was a part of the evenings proceedings I had overlooked….I knew Magda, I had meet her before!!, but I had never met Rose or Paul….never seen a photo…For reasons unknown to myself, I advised Rose that I would have a red rose in my hair….but gave nothing away to Paul…and that was to prove a problem.

Successfully locating Magda and Rose, we got down to the business of actually getting to know one another, and unable to locate Paul ( strange that!!) we took our table reservation.

15 minutes passed and no Paul….so I left the girls to chat and went and stood out the front of the restaurant….This is where it turned rather desperate…I began to ask any male who approached the entrance if there name was Paul….and the New Yorkers did not take to kindly to this….Assuming I had been stood up on a blind date, I got looks of sympathy and looks of pity…My birthday spirit was being dampened…so I went back to the dinner table and with the intention of ordering a margaritas very quickly.

And then there was Paul….who, like me, had been struggling to come up with the image of a woman who would want to dine with random guests for their birthday meal…Paul had been at the bar, sending an SOS meeting to Caz via his I-phone to OZ, asking for a description of such a person…

Well, again thank you Caz, for responding to Paul’s message, and for allowing for this unusual evening to proceed any further hick ups!

Over a Mexican feast , numerous drinks and mood lighting, the four of us chatted, laughed and celebrated…It was a refreshing approach to birthday celebrations and I could not have asked for finer people to herald in another year of this thing called life….drinks at a nearby truly American watering hole followed, a bar over 150 years old, something akin to a pub in the Rocks in Sydney….and then goodbyes followed….the evening ended and we all went our separate ways….but for me, I can’t speak for the others, I came away a little richer in spirit, as 2 strangers and one new friend, had just made my day…a beautiful meal, in a beautiful setting, a beautiful city, with fine conversation, laughter and smiles….

To Paul, thanks for the restaurant recommendation, the effort you went to locate me in the flesh and for your willingness to partake in this experimental birthday dinner

Rose, thank you for coming along, for embracing the randomness of the evening and adding a much appreciated Australian twist to the evening. Enjoy your new home….I am so envious.

Magda,…thank you for your contagious smile and unique outlook on life, the birthday candles, the present and the written words…which I treasured so much that I actually lost on my flight to the UK yesterday…’Be open to love and remember that were ever you go there will always be someone waiting for you’

To Caz and Elena in Australia…thank you for loaning me your friends…they are beautiful people and I feel lucky to have been able to celebrate with them

And finally to New York, for providing the perfect setting for a once in a lifetime birthday celebration. Words cannot express my gratitude.

And on that note I will end my ode to New York….New York the city of abundance for those that can afford it, the one place on planet earth that is capable and amazing me, astounding me, disappointing me and angering me in any one given day….But I place I could never turn my back on….As with any true relationship, you whether the storm together, the grit, the grim and the graceful…all components combining to make a city like no other….a city that I would call a true friend.

xx

CUWAM: Seeing the sunny side of life on a day of NYC drizzle

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At the conclusion of yet another fun filled day, thinking about the characters I met, the sites I saw, the food I ate, brings with it a feeling of happiness, of time well spent…

The day got off to an amusing start, I caught the train to 42st street, for I was meeting a friend for a free yoga class in Bryant park ( more on that shortly) With time to kill, and the urge to something that typifies the NY experience, I went in search of a Starbucks Coffee Store….This coffee giant gives the impression of being on every NY street…but I was forced to walk 5 blocks….can you imagine…a whole 5 blocks for my coffee…an outrage in American standards!!Upon locating a store, I joined the queue and was greeted by a hostess, who took my order, and conveyed it back to the barista via a microphone headpiece….

It was a site to behold…Although the barista was a mere 2 metres from the Starbucks ‘ hostess’, with all the seriousness of someone performing open heart surgery, my order was placed : ‘ Coffee order for Kate, a small Cappuccino to go, I repeat, Coffee order for Kate, that was a small Cappuccino to go’….Wow wee, today was going to be a great day, and I left the store with coffee in hand to the sound of the next order being placed ‘ Coffee order for Joe, Grande Americano tornado double twist mocha with regular chill beans and maple syrup’ or something to that effect!!

Back in Bryant Park I was honoured to be catching up with a friend I meet whilst working at the 2010 Ubud Writers Festival in Bali…Magda, home country Czech Republic, now self proclaimed global citizen of no fixed address…who happens to be staying in NY for the next couple of months.

A true creative spirit, it was so lovely to see Magda again, and with Yoga cancelled due a slight drizzle, we decided to have breakfast together.

Applebee’s in Time Square…what can I say…A true American chain, a once in a lifetime dining experience ( I hope!!) , providing us with a breakfast spread consisting of pancakes, bacon, eggs, potato grits and syrup, French toast with blue berries and more syrup and unlimited coffee / juice.

Over the Applebee’s feast, Magda and I chatted and chatted, and caught up on a years worth of gossip…It was quality time with a great girl, in a less than quality establishment, but when the company is good it does not matter where you are…

Parting with Magda ( who I will see at my b’day celebrations tomorrow night…stay tuned for that update!!), I proceeded in the direction of the Modern of Modern Art…which…was closed on Tuesday!! Oh well, I picked myself up from this slight hiccup and went and spent some time in one of the only internet cafes in the Theatre District.

Some hours later I emerged, and strange but true, I was once again hungry….Junk food is not sustaining!! I headed back to a store I had visited the previous day, Amy’s Breads, and had a small snack of soup and bread…

And it is here that I will reflect that yesterday’s epic journey on foot began to pay off, I knew my way around the city just that little bit better, I could recall where places on interest were…I revisited apet shop I had seen on 48th street, this time stopping to photograph the cat that sat in the shop window…this cat had ‘tude…NY style ‘tude…respect.

I then took the subway to Soho, and perused the back streets, stopping for a peanut butter cookie at Vesuvio Bakery, a cooking so rich I was left feeling parched!!

I took solace in a lovely Soho bookshop, the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe.Selling second hand books, this café is staffed entirely by volunteers, with the profits from all book sales providing monetary support for the homeless and people living with HIV. Books were purchased whilst sipping on an ice tea…la de dah!!

Getting in the bookstore vibe, I spent more time in a bookstore in Little Italy…reading up on books I did not intend to buy, but that were very interesting….finally purchasing a book from the American Fiction section….The History of Love…fingers crossed that it is good.

By this stage it was nearing 7pm….As I was ever so close the Bowery House, I decided to drop off my yoga gear and books before venturing out for dinner.

And I had clear ideas of were I was going….to Porchetta, a small take out joint in the East Village,specialising in central Italy’s classic boneless roasted pork. To say that this meal was heavenly is an understatement…words cannot do justice to the salty, crispy, succulent pork goodness that was housed between a cibatta roll….

 As a young girl I had formed a club with my brother Michael, and family friend, sisters Miriam and Claire Delaney. The club was called Pigsnorters…and as a collective, we did what kids do best…pig out on food….I am putting it out there, right here, right now….a Pigsnorter reunion at Porchetta, East Village…the four us, together again, partners welcome, pigging out on the best pig dish perhaps on planet earth…Who is in??

It took great strength no to devour a second helping of pig roll, but having earlier discovered that the charms of Princes Street, just off Bowery, I strolled along the footpath, staring into quaint bars, retro eating housing and came across another Bills Bakery…Though I could have eaten yet another Key Lime pie, I was strong and parted with $3 for a Red Velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting….

On my return to Australia, I do believe I could be some kilo’s heavier…and that gym membership that I have on hold whilst I travel with need to be put to use when I land in Oz…But if I am fatter, I am happier for it…..The NY food scene has been thoroughly impressive

Tomorrow….is a day of blogging rest…it is my b’day and I will be out and about enjoying myself…..The tales that will follow are sure to amuse and inspire for I am meeting up with Magda, and two others…friends of friends , two people I have never meet but come highly recommended!!…for a birthday meal in Union Square, Midtown NY….a Mexican restaurant which specialises in frozen pomegranate margaritas….watch this space!!

 

CUWAM : The Big Apple…Biting off more than I can chew

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I have returned from an epic day, 11 hours of hitting the NYC pavement, walking from 1st Street to 57th Street  and then some, getting lost numerous times, pacing the same streets twice, some three times, guide book in hand…an momentous day, and one I will look back on with fond memories…right now I am just tired, my back is sore and I am slightly sunburnt.

 My thoughts my first return to last nights meal of Dumplings….outstanding….No need for gimmicks at this Dumpling house, there was no Chinese Andre Rieu like at my fav dumpling house from Sydney, just good food, plain and simple…I went for the mixed vegetarian dumpling plate….And a colourful assortment of steamed goodies were presented, ranging from pink, green, orange and pale white dumplings. Reminiscent of a Cadbury Box of Roses…they were a delight.

The waiter at Dim Sum Go Go  provided lessons on how to eat them…They were NOT to be doused in soy sauce, Sydney style, rather dipped in a sweet / sour sauce that tasted Vietnamese in origin, then you were to dress each dumpling with a mix of pickled ginger and pop it in your mouth…Pure Dumpling heaven…I would recommend anyone who is a fan of dumpling goodness to go go to Dim Sum Go Go….

And now to day three in the Big Apple, and a conscious decision was made to stay on Manhattan Island today, there would be no side tripping to Brooklyn ( though the desire was strong) First stop breakfast, and after my guide book, the Time Out Shortlist guide to NYC proved so successful last night, I followed its advice again for breakfast in the Lower East Side.

Clinton Street Baking Company…I went there for the buttermilk pancakes….it was what my guide suggested ….but I was still rather full from last nights feast and knew that it would be a stretch to get through a pancake stack….But I could not be reasoned with…One serve of banana and walnut buttermilk pancakes with maple butter syrup please…..

With a strong black coffee in tow, the mission to complete my plate of food was aborted at the half way mark…Despite this, I was rather pleased with my efforts….Not only was the meal good, but so was the café company, I got talking to fellow breakfast buddy Gary, about the abundance of good eating options available in NYC, the pace of life in the city and the overwhelming site seeing opportunities available to visitors….

With enough fuel in by body to see me through till Christmas ( and calories and fat no doubt) I took to the streets, determined to find my first site seeing attractions for the day: the High Line.

The High Line is essentially a high rise park, an abandoned freight train track providing the framework for a modern day oasis for the NY citizens and tourist alike. With the sun shining, it was the perfect day to get amongst its splendour. Doing what I do best, listening into conversations, I heard one local remark with such passion, it almost bordered on aggression ‘ This is simple ingenious’

And the High line is…taking was essentially a large portion of a disused raised railway track, that no longer had a purpose, and turning it into living, breathing green recreational area for a city and its people that live their lives in what can best be described as a concrete jungle.

I walked through the tree line railway tracks, which are now walking paths…floating above the NY street pavement, giving me a new perspective on the city skyline and making me feel like I was part of it …creating ample photo opportunities and allowing for playful camera work….To put it simply…I loved it and would recommend it.

So thank you to my godfather Greg for suggesting this attraction to me, and to the New Yorker on the subway, who when I asked her for directions on day one, suggested if I only do one this in New York, the High Line should be it.

On leaving this floating paradise, I rejoined the throngs of people who had come out for the day….And perhaps I should have stayed sky high, because my decent to earth was underwhelming or rather was overdone….

I headed on foot to midtown, Time Square, Madison Square Gardens, shopped on Fifth Avenue, visited the Theatre District, Hells Kitchen….And not only was I there…but 1000’s of other people as well….It was too much for this girl who had spent the last two days wondering in aimlessly through the streets of Brooklyn, with probably another 500 people ( a manageable number!!)

But don’t get me wrong, there were highlights, but my trek simply confirmed, that for me, Time Square and the like are not the NY I now love, rather the NY I would be happier to admire from afar.

Highlights- eating a key lime pie in the 1950’s inspired bakery,Bills in Chelsea….Devine….Window shopping two other bakeries with similar themes American home made treats, Amy’s Bread in Hells Kitchen and Crumb found between 8th Ave and Broadway.

Shopping in Tiffany’s on Fifth Ave…for my friend, JK, who asked me to replace her lost 30th b’day gift, a sterling silver infinity chain…Why not!! A chance to get enter this iconic jewellery store and actually by something was an offer I could not refuse….It was there that I used the bathroom, see photo I could no resist ( bathroom 3 times as big as Bowery Accommodation!!)

More shopping at my favourite store, Urban Outfitters and eating a packet of corn chips from the ever present drug store, Duane Reed…a pharmacy that sells so much junk food it should be illegal!!

Dinner was enjoyed, rather devoured and the Time Out recommended, Baoguette, a small restaurant at St Marks Place, 2nd Ave. Specialising in baguettes, it was hard to choose….eventually I decided on one of there signature sandwiches, Sloppy Bao, spicy red curry beef, green mango, basil, lemongrass with spicy chilli and coriander sauce…And there is no denying, I could have had seconds!!

Instead I walked home via Whole Food Markets, for that little something extra…I ate a small portion of warm broccoli salad, complete with 6 whole clovers of garlic ( I counted), finishing the evenings feast in my room, demolishing the remaining half of my Key Lime pie from Bills….

A day of highs and lows….

A day of food glorious food

A day for an 11 hour walking marathon that left this entrant, on crossing the Bowery House finishing line, both exhausted, overwhelmed, content, curious and eager to compete again, in tomorrows event

And there will be a NYC blogging break for a couple of days now…I am to immerse myself in birthday behaviour…a day or two off…see you soon!!

CUWAM: Words outs, Williamsburg, Brooklyn is In!

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Waking up early in NYC is not the done thing on a Sunday morning, or so it seems….But I could not sleep, inspired by the previous days discoveries, I easy eager to cross the bridge again, and leave Manhattan Island for the day, heading this time in the direction of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The idea of a day trip to the Brooklyn suburb of Williamsburg was a suggestion that had been passed done to me from my cousin, via his brother-in-law, who lives in this NYC suburb….A quick two stop subway ride from the Bowery and I was there…Williamsburg come and find me!!

But it was merely 10am, the wind blew and it was as though tumble weeds blew down the disserted streets….This was not the hip and trendy playground I was expecting….but I was not deterred…I did what I do best under such circumstances…I walked…I walked for some time….and stumbled across  panoramic views of the NYC skyline and a flea market in the process…

But things at this flea markets seemed slightly too familiar….Yes, they were the same store holders from yesterdays rummage festival….I did a quick walk around, to see if I had missed anything from the day before…No, same old stuff and I hop stepped it out of there.

I took refuge from the wind in a warehouse which housed yet another flea market, this one being called the Brooklyn Antiques and Fleas, the market I had originally set out the fine…Well, it found me, and with armed with a strong black coffee, I perused the stalls, finding a stunning summer dress for $12 and a scarf for $5.

My faith in market stalls was restored, for I had felt somewhat disappointed after failing to find anything if interest the day before,  and I began to warm to Williamsburg …..I could tell today was going to be fabulous, I was starting to feel it…The sun  was now shining and the people had started to immerge from their Sunday sleep in…Bedford Ave, Williamsburg main drag was finally alive and kicking…

With my camera at the ready, transfixed by the people streaming down Bedford Ave, I embarked on a shopping spree…I had a necklace made at Brooklyn Charm, were you could walk around, choose beads and then have them turned into a design of your choice, I brought a pair of second hand shoes, and another dress at Williamsburg’s excellent new and recycled fashion store, Buffalo Exchange and I brought a gift for one of the many new born babies I will meet in November of this year.

With all this shopping, it was necessary to refuel, and I did this at Bliss Café, dining on the Bliss Salad ( complete with green apple, avocado, strawberries and lemon dressing…Yum)

Following lunch, I knew that my shopping spree needed to be curbed!! I wanted to walk some more, the streets were now packed with an afternoon crowd of families, couples, dogs and travellers alike…It was a people watching paradise and I paced up and down the Bedford Ave…A strange site to behold, a 32 Aussie girl walking up and down the same street? Hardly when you compared me to the locals!!

All this walking led me into a collective of shops in warehouse, which housed Verb Café and I had an afternoon coffee.

Verb Café, the rudeness of the café staff brought a smile…It took me back to my glory days as a  barista, and yes, it was hard to be nice from 8am-6pm whilst making coffee, but the Verb staff took rude to a new level….Verb, a doing word, to describe the staff….Ignoring, Patronising…Are they verbs? Primary school rules about verbs aside, I guess you can be a rude as you want when you work in the Williamsburg, Brooklyn baby!!

To the streets once more, and by this stage it was nearing 4pm, and it seemed that Bedford Ave was just starting to enjoy itself….But I had been in the area for 6 hours now…It was time to leave…I could pace up and down no more…To the subway!

Like a homing pigeon I ended up back at Whole Food Markets, for a piece of celebratory carrot cake, to pay tribute to the day that was such a winner…

And I am now back at the Bowery House, typing away, wearing my new necklace and shoes, as well as a full outfit of clothes….Thinking about dinner….and determined to locate the Dumpling house China town that goes by the name of Dim Sum Go Go…it is sure to be a meal to rival those at the Chinese Noodle House, Haymarket Sydney….But will they have a Chinese Andre Rieu to entertain the cliental whilst they await a table? I will report back tomorrow.

CUWAM: New York , A place like no other

Day One: reflections being post from Williamsburg, Brooklyn on what is day two

And a sound track to read to accompany the words below….

PM Dawn…with their mid 1990’s classic : Moving on Up

Alicia Keys…New York

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New York, you are making me feel guilty….I no longer pine for Paris or parts of Denmark…I just love you…..Today I feel back in love with the city I last visited 6 years ago with my good friend Rhonda…and it is the kind of love that has me wishing I lived here, that I could relocate my life, relocate Flora and set up residence in Brooklyn…is that too much to ask?

I arrived in NYC late Friday night ( 16th September) and I reflected on the shuttle bus ride to my hotel on how much ground I had travelled in 1 day. I had breakfast in Copenhagen, lunch in London and peanut butter M & M’s for supper in NYC….An epic day which saw me pass out at my hotel / hostel The Bowery House, Bowery, NY as soon as I arrived.

The Bowery House is interesting to say the least. It is located in a fantastic part of Manhattan Island, near China Town and Little Italy….the building was originally use was as a hospice for war veterans to recover after the Second World War.

I have my own room, and it would be no more that 2m by 2m…It is super tiny, and I remember when I booked this place, questioning whether or not I would fit into the bed on offer ( the bed measurements were online as I’d say it has been an issue in the past)…I fit, just….my feet hang of the edge….but you do not come to NYC to sleep and I could not be happier with my cell!!  Yes, the Bowery House reminds me of the flat I love and live in Clovelly…only 10 times smaller!!

So on day one I took to the streets…..Wondering aimlessly at first in the hope of finding an internet café…..Feeling the need to embrace all things American, my first stop was Starbucks…I really just wanted to walk around with the coffee in my hand…It would help me fit in…It is what EVERY New Yorker seems to carry….I stood in line, and reached into my bag for my wallet…only to find it missing….Was is stolen? Had I packed it into my handbag that morning?

I walked back to my hotel, concerned that if it was stolen, the next 5 days would be spent without money, making insurance claims and talking to the NYPD…..Thankfully it was safe and sound in my room….And feeling relieved I then took to the streets with a purpose….I would go to Brooklyn, the NYC place of coolness…

But before Brooklyn…an aside : Anyone who knows me, knows that I love food, and I have always had a fascination for supermarkets….and today I found a market place that ticks every box: Whole Food Market, NYC….AMAZING….I was in heaven, and an everything bagel, grapes, apple and banana later I left the store heading for East Village…in the full knowledge that I would be back again ( probably too many times to mention in this blog!!)

Brooklyn Flea Markets are held every Saturday in a school yard. It was a market great for sourcing vintage clothes and collectables for the home…For me, I was more interested in people watching….For the people of Brooklyn seemed to be seriously cool…Very edgy, aloof even…and I felt slightly out of place, but not enough so that I would leave…there was lunch to be had.

Not that I was hungry but I felt it would be a disservice not to eat with the locals, so from the stall with the longest queue, I acquired a South American dish called Pupusa’s….with picked cabbage, jalapeno, and chill sauce….interesting and very filling.After leaving the markets I decided to resort to a favourite pass time…walking…in no particular direction….but the desire to find an internet café was high…After passing a seriously cool farmers market, internet access was made possible at the Brooklyn post office on the net….very entertaining as I also got to listen in on customer conversations as I typed away…The trials and tribulations of a Brooklyn local….You do know that the postal service has gone to the dogs, don’t you?! ( the very words of one unhappy customer)

To the streets, discovering a great café, Pedlar Cafe, and having a very NYC moment, the kind I had in Paris on my first day, feeling happy and sad at the same time, was it jet lag?…who can say…but then and there I decided that NYC, in particular Brooklyn, the East Village, would hold a special place in my heart.

And more strolling, this time along Smith Street were every shop window caught my attention…Window shopping and the type that you part with your cash was never more appealing!!

With the sun beginning to fade, the Subway took me back to Bowery, and I emerged from the underground….perfectly placed in front of my new favourite supermarket: Whole Food Market.

And to market, to market I went, purchasing numerous salads from their self-serve salad bar along with a garlic bagel for good measure….and this was consumed upstairs at the market….in a communal dining hall…heaven.

I now sit in my tiny, tiny room, typing away, conscious of the fact that I have written so many words about my current destination…more so that any other part of  the trip thus far….but for that I will not make excuses….Like a baseball player, aiming to hit a full run and get back to home base, New York has the same pull for me…It is a place, after a few more visits, I could see myself calling my home away from home….

So good night, sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite…I am overly full on bagels and salad and am eager for the sun to rise tomorrow so that my daytime affair with NY can continue….

Quote of day 1: When I asked the waitress at McDonalds if the suburb I was in was Brooklyn she replied, not with a simple yes, but’ You in Downtown Brooklyn baby…woo wee’ Gotta love that enthusiasm!!

CUWAM-Demark : A Modern day fairytale both home and abroad

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Time flies when you are having fun ….or if you have a family!!

I caught up with my long lost friend Liz Mackay Pedersen…A women who left Victoria in January 2001, married a Dane the same year and has never looked back.  Meeting up with Liz again, was and is certain to be, one of the highlights of this adventure. It was great to see her and her husband Johnny again, and finally meet their children Patrick ( aged 4 ½) and Amanda ( 8 months)

I was overfed, my coffee cup was always full, I was allowed to watch Bold and the Beautiful in English and granted the honour of sleeping in Patrick’s room. A tour of town, complete with a buffet lunch at the Ugly Ducking restaurant ( pickled herring, a Danish delicacy, frequented most diners plates….but not mine!!) followed by an afternoon at the Hans Christian Andersen Museum.

Good old Hans, a true Odense icon, a man born and bred on herring….A man who grew to be 185cm tall, never married, travelled the world and brought his first bed in his early 70’s…..A man who wrote over 100 fairytales that have been translated in language as varied as Hawaiian, Portuguese and Russian…

H.C Andersen…a true legend and not someone Odense is going to let you forget…Streets are named after him, statues adorn the town square and shopping malls….Good old H.C also appears as a feature on traffic lights, ushering the towns folk to walk to a green Hans and come to a stand still when a red H.C appears…..

And it appears I cannot escape even here is Copenhagen were I write my Odense reflections, for I have just walked down H.C Anderson Boulevard on my walk back from dinner….

Yes, Mr Andersen is the Danes equivalent to Walt Disney and I am a fan of any man who dedicates his life to tall tales and the art of paper cut art…..

Though my time with Liz and Johnny was brief it was eventful and I take my hat off to both of them…Parenting is hard work, Patrick does not have an off button and he just goes and goes and goes. Both Liz and Johnny go with him…..with Amanda no far behind!!

Liz and Johnny, thank you for making me feel so welcome in your home and in Odense…You two are writing your own H.C Andersen fairytale and I was happy to feature in a small portion of the 2011 chapter.

Johnny, thank you for the tour of the market garden, the home made jam, and for letting me eat what appeared to be the last of the summer raspberries

Patrick, thank you for the tour of your pre-school, it was super cool to have you as a personal guide, I dig your art work!!

Amanda thank you for being you…too cute for words

Liz, it was like old times….I think you are wonderful and a real inspiration…

And now I am in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. I arrived late afternoon and had an early dinner at a Chinese restaurant ( how very Danish of me!!) A brief evening walk has led me to believe that the Danes are quite partial to a buffet…I have seen all you can eat restaurants on nearly every street corner…That excites me…Tomorrow I will have to get amongst it….But for now I am tired, the family vacation of the past two days has exhausted me…..I will have an early night, and hope to awake refreshed and ready to take on the highlights of the city tomorrow….the little mermaid and fingers crossed, a lunch date with Mary, Fred and the kids…..

So day two in Copenhagen city, a quick rummage through the Aldi equiviliant Lidl and a breakfast of choc coated rice cakes, a banana, mixed fruits and nuts and a bottle of water was purchased for a few Danish kroner….From there I went back to central station, Copenhagen….

Like a homing pigeon I felt the need to start the day from there, it is were I arrived yesterday and is a wonderful train station …I used the internet, the toilets, shopped at the post office for post cards…One could say that I could have spent the entire day there…but there were sites to be seen.

First things first, I caught a local bus to the Bella Centre, a complex on the outskirts of the city holding the annual EAIE International Education Conference. It was there that I caught up with friends from the International Exchange world, Mr Kirk Doyle from Sydney and Ms Ina Englen from the Netherland….Kirk paid for lunch, did not eat but left Ina and I to chat over enormous Danish sandwiches…It was a lovely a lovely lunch date…

Armed with a free travel pass to the city ( thank you Ina!) I then hoped on a bus back to Copenhagen central…Ever the tourist, I got on the bus heading in the wrong direction, never mind, I was soon in the city and getting lost on foot this time!!

I walked and walked and walked, finally making it to picture perfect Nystron, a Danish canal I guess you would call it, with restaurants and bars lining the streets, all painted bright colours….The perfect spot to stop, take some time to write postcards home whilst sipping a class of organic red wine.

And there was other news to digest…through the medium of face book earlier that morning, my brother’s girlfriend had confirmed what I had started to suspect the day earlier….they had become engaged!! There will be a wedding in the family in the coming year…..

It is times like these when you would like to be at home celebrating with the happy couple, so due to the fact that I was in Denmark and they were in Australia, I did what I could….I drank a wine to toast their good fortune and decorated Mary and Fred post cards with love heart stickers, a modern day fairytale of the Prince and the Commoner….Michael and Tennelle, this love note is on its way to you!! I am so happy for you both….Wollongong’s version of Mary and Fred, except cooler!!….I finally get a sister, and like you said Tennelle, Flora gets a cousin ( lucky Indy!!)….Love is in the air!!

A permanent smile has been on my face all day, it is hard not to be overcome with happiness when back at home, such events have unfolded…..Dinner at an all you can eat Pizza restaurant insured the smile remained throughout dinner time….And I smile as I get myself ready for bed, as tomorrow I set off for NYC…..

Copenhagen, you are a picture perfect city….and whilst I have not seen all that there is to see ( alas I did no make it to the Little Mermaid) what I did see I like and it would be nice to think that one day I will be back, with more time to meander through the streets and take in the beauty of your city….Next time…

I write mid air, on my way to New York City, a concrete jungle were dreams are made of…there is nothing you can’t do…

As with Paris, I feel the need to close this chapter on my Danish adventure, so I turn to words

1. Be sure to create your own Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale whilst in Denmark. Mine was magical,  complete with catch ups with dear friends and colleagues, with an additional chapter that contained news from Australia, a real life love story was unfolding in Wollongong with my brothers engagement to his princess, Princess Tennelle.

2. As with Paris, walking the city was the best way to get amongst Danish culture…This time as I peered through windows, a dog sat with his owner whilst she got her hair cut!

3. Listening in to conversations when you are holidays is OK

Man to friend in internet café’ You have to find yourself a girl’

Friend ‘ My parents have said that they will find someone for me…I just have to go home’

Man ’ Do you really want your parents to find you a girl…You are 28, you should find you own girl’

Friend ‘ I can find myself a girl’

Man 1: ‘ What if you parents find you a fat girl’

Friend : silence   Or rather, I tuned out then…the conversation was taking a turn for the worst

4. And finally, if like me you only have 24 hours in Copenhagen and can’t fit in all the sites, there is a Little Mermaid statue at the airport that I am led to believe is rather similar to the original ( see photos!!)

CUWAM- Looking back in order to look forward

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Paris, you are a distant memory now….I have left the city behind and am now on a train to Odense in Denmark, a 1 ½ hours train ride from Copenhagen city.

In order to not have any hang ups about leaving the French capital I feel it is necessary to complete my ode to the city today, here and now, so that I can move on….

But first, a love song to the city:

Cole Porter’s ‘ Lets do it’ …an ode to Paris

Paris on day 5 was wet, it rained and rained…I wondered the streets, ate a breakfast of plum tarte and coconut and burnt caramel macrons…simply the best way to start any day. I then proceeded to walk…Sites that took my fancy were a couple dining in an alacarte restaurant, their dog joining them a at the table for lunch and the stained glass windows of the Notre Dame Cathedral.

And then for the first time in 5 days, I was catching up with a mate, or the mate of a mate…..Jane Parry. Thank you Jane for meeting a stranger with a red flower in her hair, waiting on Rue De Rivoli for the chance to converse it English and have a few drinks.

Thank you Jane, for putting up with my auto pilot English and tendency to speak so quickly that sometimes it was hard to determine if it was indeed English I was speaking. By day 5 the only conversation I had had in English was with Meme the cat at Café Industrie…and that was a one sided affair…so yes, sincere apologies….

And here I am, on a fast train, heading in the direction of a long lost friend….Liz Mackay Pederson. This journey has alerted me to the fact I do go to great lengths to catch up with people….Whether Liz likes it or not, I am on my way…who would have thought that 10 years after meeting as newly arrived Aussies on ‘right of passage’ UK working holiday visa….we would one day meet up…in Odense, Denmark….but then again, stranger this have happened……

On reflection of my time in Paris, it really was a catch up time for me…To do the things I wanted, when I wanted…If I wanted to eat biscuits for dinner…then I did it…If I wanted to spend 7 euros on a plum tarte then the money was handed over….Paris and the good old catch up with me….priceless

Paris Recommendations

1. Watch Woody Allen’s new movie ‘ Midnight in Paris’ when it comes to a cinema near you

2. Walk and walk and walk when are in Paris…only then will you discover the beauty of the city

3.Eat as many pastries as you can stomach when in the city of love….As they say ‘ French women never get fat’…I believe this also applies to passing tourist!!

4.See the attractions if you must…the Eiffel tower, the art at the Louvre…but for me the real Paris is found in its parks, it back streets, it markets, its cafes….

5. Be kind to yourself, remember you are holidays, and NOT competing in the Amazing Race tv program…A sense for this wondrous city does not come from ticking off the tourist attractions and rushing around from place to place….Paris will reveal its true self to you only when you have stepped of treadmill and embrace the cities tailor made time zone.

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