Category: Travel Pointer


QANTAS jet all decked out for a great trip down under!

QANTAS jet all decked out for a great trip down under!

So, first off I’d like to dedicate this post to two gals.  One being the owner of the only blog that I actually read religiously, Mimioso (do read her blog!!!), and two being the aussie gal who I also met over the WWW, let’s call her K.M.

Tonight I was chewin’ the Fat with my buggerlugs (ha!) K.M. when we started talking about travelling down under.  I took a quick glance over to www.qantas.com just because I was bored and also very curious, how much would a flight from USA to Aussie-land cost these days?  Turns out I hit a goldmine.

Visit Australia
Fares from Los Angeles or San Francisco from $265* Each Way Based on Round Trip

Sydney Opera HouseWith the US dollar its strongest in years against the Australian dollar, a down under getaway remains a much better value than a European vacation. We’ll help you save money on your airfare now, and when you’re traveling, you’ll save heaps due to the favorable exchange rate!

This fare sale is valid for outbound travel between now and 24 October 2009, book by Wednesday, 15 April 2009.

Seats are limited. Look for better availability from the end of July or after.

Book your flights today!

Prices listed below include the fare plus fuel and insurance charges. Following these links, the next prices displayed will be the Total Price (each way) which also includes the government-imposed taxes and fees (which can reach up to $150-$200, depending on routing selected).


US Gateway DeparturesValid for Outbound Travel between now and 24 October 2009

US Gateway Destination City
Each Way*
based on round trip travel
Round trip*
Los Angeles
(LAX)
Sydney
$265
$530
Brisbane
$265
$530
Melbourne
$265
$530
San Francisco
(SFO)
Sydney
$265
$530
Brisbane
$265
$530
Melbourne
$265
$530
New York
(JFK)
QF108/QF107 only
Sydney
$365
$730
Brisbane
$365
$730
Melbourne
$365
$730

http://www.qantas.com.au/regions/dyn/am/specials/us/visit-australia?int_cam=us:qf:15

For $654 INCLUDING taxes (I made an imaginary trip:  depart LAX arrive SYD|18.08.09, return flight on 29.08.09).  Now, for all of you unacquanited with the airline industry, flights to Australia are long, arduous and expensive.  This is a true strike in an oil field.  Wow, just look at all that oil spurting up through the ground! I wonder how long it will keep gushing out of the earth below!

That’s the trick!  Luckily I found it in good time, as the flight has to be booked by 15.04, (Tax day!) and flown by 24.10.09.  Not bad!!! Flights are normally going for an upwards of $1,500 I want to say!  I mean, no, I’m not flying to Australia, not this season… but I hopefully helped out my mate K.M. to get an unexpected vacation home down under.  Unfortunately for all you Aussies reading this, I’m not sure if the cheapo fares are also availabe in the other direction.  If you want, give me a holler and I’ll check it out for ya.

QANTAS jet tail

QANTAS jet tail

To ease you all in your travels down under, I’m going to clue you in on some Aussie-slang that I also learned tonight! (also thanks to Aussieslang)

Arvo=afternoon

to cark it=to die

chockie=chocolate

bite ya bum=to be quiet, shut ya mouth

chunder guts=after a long night of partying, ya know, puking and all…

to chuck a U-ey=make a U-turn

to dong=smack

drongo=basically a dimwit

dead horse=ketchup/tomato sauce

donk=car or boat engine

empties=empty beer bottles

fag=cigarette (NOT a homosexual!!)

fanny=vagina! NOT your buttocks!

franger=condom!

garbo=the garbage man

g’day!=good day!

bloke=guy

kafuffle=commotion

kip=nap

lippie=lipstick

lino=linoleum

local rag=newspaper

Lolly water=soft drink, usually carbonated

loo=toilet

…that’s gunna have to be good for now, I’m knackered! It’s already 2:30 am!

so if you do decide to take advantage of this offer and take a spontaneous trip to Australia, do leave me a comment and lemme know how it goes!!

The Stage: my favorite restaurant, which I was introduced to in the East Village. And it's ukrainian.

The Stage: my favorite restaurant, which I was introduced to in the East Village. And it's ukrainian.

Are you ready for another exciting follow-up on yet another extremely exciting visit to Gotham?  ahh, I truly love NYC.

Ok, here’s how it all went down.  Woke up, ran into my old high school to talk with my german teacher about some stuff regarding my trip, then filled up my car with gas and hit the road.

Traffic was a pain, torrential downpour and bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way out 78.

Traffic was a pain, torrential downpour and bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way out 78.

Drove out I-78 into NJ, to Jersey City, and did the ‘ole routine with the PATH train into NYC. Got into Journal Square NJ at 9:20, parked my car (which will ultimately come to $13 because I just missed the 12-hour price’s cutoff!) and got into NYC at 33rd street around quarter to ten.

Now, the main purpose of my trip this time was to get to the German Embassy near the United Nations to apply for my Aufenthaltsgenehmigung (residence/work permit).  I was really afraid, because the lady on the phone told me to try to get there early, because Friday’s are typically busy.  And I made an extra trip to NYC for this specific reason… and on top of that, you can only apply for this permit between the hours of 9 and 11.  (significance? haha joking.) So I ran and ran.  I even had to take a stop at a Bank of America ATM to withdraw money for the fee, which also is only accepted in cash payment.  What also was pretty ratty, the UN plaza is actually nowhere near a subway line, so I ended up taking the subway to 51st and Lexington, and had to walk the rest of the way… in torrential downpour.

German Embassy

German Embassy

So the main entrance there in the picture (I stole the pic from Google, because mine got ruined by the weather) is more for the office part of the embassy, the visa entrance was in the side alley, so I went down this alley and in this barely-marked door, said I was here to apply for my Aufenthaltsgenehmigung, they asked me some questions, gave me a number, searched me, and sent me up this elevator going directly to the Visa-floor.  Here I waited about 5 minutes until being called to the window.  The room was brightly lit, with a nice painting on the wall, and there were 4 windows with seats, set up almost like a maximum-security prison visitors section, glass window and a telephone.  That’s how we communicated, through a telephone.  I got asked a lot of questions, filled out a lot of paperwork, paid my $81 cash fee, and was on my way after a little over an hour.

Walk-about.

Then, since I haven’t been to the UN Plaza before, I went over that way and walked around a little, and afterwards grabbed a bite to eat.  Naturally (A. because it’s my all-time favorite food, and B. because it’s NYC) I went straight for a pizzeria.  I found Abitino’s Pizzeria on 2nd Avenue between 39th & 40th and went in and had some awesome Sicilian pizza and some rather delicious garlic knots (for which I had to pay $.75 for sauce!).  Then I just meandered around a little longer, and to be honest I can’t remember specifically what I did after that… After seeing this video, (click the link) it made me try out something new, something I really haven’t toyed around all that much with–videography.  So I bummed my dad’s video camera (one of those mini ones which also takes snapshots) and tried taking my own video clips and this week I will sit down on Final Cut Pro and try to stitch it together.  So I did a lot of filming, 110 video clips to be exact!

So I ended up in Times Square, and when I came out of the subway I heard this music, so I walked towards the music and that’s when I saw a plastic tent erected on “Military Island”.  What was it?  The kick-off event for the Ford Fiesta Movement. Yeah, I know, you’ve never heard of it, neither have I, but it was awesome.  In the middle of Times Square, under this tent, in the pouring rain, open karoke was happening!  And they all danced and anyone could sing, and they tossed out awesome T-shirts into the crowd.  Somehow, I managed to get in the front right near the gates that held the people back!  And as it turns out, Ace Young (I guess he was an American Idol Finalist?) was the host and also sang, of which I have videos!

Ace Young at the Ford Fiesta Movement in Times Square

Ace Young at the Ford Fiesta Movement in Times Square

Then I went downtown to the Lomography Store, and for those of you who don’t know, Lomography is a style of photography using cameras with plastic lenses and sometimes the cameras have fisheye lenses, or pinhole lenses, and I believe it was modeled after the Russian spy cameras… Here’s a link of an example picture. It’s something I’d like to learn a lot more about.  The store is down around the NYU Campus.

A look at the Arch in Washington Square Park, in Lomo style

A look at the Arch in Washington Square Park, in Lomo style

Then I went down further to have another looksy in Chinatown, see if I couldn’t capture some more footage of the illegal markets down there selling Coach etc xD (See my previous post if you haven’t read it yet, there’s some scoops on Chinatown in it…) But everyone I asked about the purses for my “girlfriend” all took me to the same shoppe, so I don’t know yet what’s up with that…

THE place to get fake purses (Broadway & Canal)

THE place to get fake purses (Broadway & Canal)

I then worked my way back uptown, stopping in Grand Central to take some more video for my project.  After that I found myself up in Central Park, where I took a little walk until it began raining again.  By this time, it was almost 5:30, and I had arranged to meet up with Jessi, a good highschool friend who now studies Fashion Design at Parson’s New School, at 6pm.  So I decided to start making my way back downtown–to Union Square Park.

Jessi & The Stage

Jessi's Macaroni & Egg Cream

Jessi's Macaroni & Egg Cream

This is where the real fun kicked in… we met, after not seeing eachother in a year, exchanged hugs etc, then we walked back to her dorm, where I got to meet her friends and roommates etc.  Then she asked if I was hungry, which I was, and she said she knew of a great place, in fact probably her favorite joint in town (in a BIG BIG town) and I said, heck, why not?!  So we walked a few blocks to “The Stage” (see first picture above).  This place was heaven in an Eastern European Diner.  No more spending big bucks on dinner for two in Manhattan, if you’re one of those kind of people, you need to stop and come here (2nd Ave between 7th & 8th).  You go into a very tiny narrow building, sit down at a long counter, and everything is prepared for you in front of you, served true Ukraine-style.  My biggest recommendation would have to be their chocolate Egg Cream.  I have no clue what it is actually, but Jessi suggested it and I immediately fell in love.  Its somehow chocolate milk mixed with egg cream (?) and seltzer maybe?  Absolutely worth it.

After this marvelous score, we walked around a little bit more, chit-chatted and simply caught up with eachother, then we went to an open house art exhibit at Parson’s, where I got to meet more of her friends, and look at freakin’ ridiculously amazing art.  There was this one piece, with lights up top, and pedastals upon which light-reacting paper sat, and upon which the light shined once a button was pushed.  When the light was off, the paper-sculpture was in one position.  Once the light turned on and shined on the paper-sculpture, the paper reacted and curled and curved in many different ways.  I wish my video camera wasn’t dead at this point, it was simply awesome!!

Jessi & Eric eating FroYo

Jessi & Eric eating FroYo

Then we caught up with some more friends and we all went to get some FroYo (Frozen yogurt). Apparently I haven’t lived like a true New Yorker until I’ve had some, so I obviously couldn’t let that be!! Don’t ask me what the difference between FroYo and ice cream is, as I have no clue.  But according to Jessi, it doesn’t leave a milky aftertaste in your mouth like ice cream! haha ok??? But this place we went to, 16 Handles, is at 153 2 Avenue (16handles.com) and it’s named that because it has just that.  16 handles featuring 16 different flavors.  You pick your cup, you walk down the hallway past the machines, pick any flavors you want, then go to the toppings bar and pick whatever you want (I can’t even begin to name the vast wide variety of toppings you could choose from, there were so many exotic things that I never even heard of and will probably never hear of again! Unless that is if I go back, which I definitely will!) Then you proceed to the checkout and pay by weight.  I loaded mine, and got away with only oweing $5.  I really enjoyed it, thanks Jessi!

We went back to her place, chatted a little more, met some more friends, watched her do some homework, then I walked back to the PATH station at 14th Street and 6th Avenue.  Despite the random outbursts of torrential liquid sunshine, it was always warm, around the 60° mark, and when the sun was out, it was beautiful.  My walk to the PATH station was definitely a good one.

...saw him on my way out of the city, changing posters.

...saw him on my way out of the city, changing posters.

Some beautiful NYC Skyline

Some beautiful NYC Skyline

So all-in-all I had yet another fantastic time in New York City.  I wanted to take the free water taxi over to the Brooklyn Ikea from the South Street Sea Port, but I didn’t wanna walk that far in the rain, haha.  Next time!  I also wanted to get my hair cut, which also didn’t happen! There’s just too many distractions in that big ‘ole city!!  Keep your eyes out for my video project utilizing the footage I shot here yesterday!

Comments are always welcome, and thanks for clicking!  And thanks for listening to me ramble about my visits to the Skyscraper National Park!

-Zac.

PATH Train Station: WTC

Let me introduce you to a dear friend of mine… the PATH Train… ok, I’ll stop now with the whole “let’s turn inanimate, non-living objects into “friends”” deal! for your sake and mine…

But really, that is just how I consider my terms with the PATH.  As several people find it inconvenient and just a hassle, I find it just as much convenient.  Just what is it, you may ask?  PATH stands for Port Authority Trans-Hudson, a rapid-transit link between the edges of New Jersey and Manhattan, NYC.

The Low-Down:

PATH is operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  The system runs 24/7, 365 days a year, operating between several locations in New Jersey and several locations in Manhattan.  There are PATH stations found throughout NYC and New Jersey.

How do I take full advantage of all the PATH has to offer? Well, living where I do live in the Lehigh Valley, it’s just a quick hop onto I-78 towards NJ, a quick exit onto US 1/9, a quick dash over the Pulaski Skyway and then you’re in Jersey City in under 2 hours.  Park the car, hop on the cheap inexpensive PATH, and in maximum 22 minutes later, you are sitting in Gotham.  A great alternative to taking the Bieber Bus to Manhattan (costing now something like $40 round trip, and you have to sit on a bus the whole time)  Then once you are in the city, I always end up buying a $7.50 unlimite-ride-in-a-24-hour-period fun-pass for the Subway.

Pros:

Some advantages to the system would definitely be the rush-hour convenience… As I do not commute regularly between NJ and NYC, I really can’t speak personally, but I am able to put myself in someone’s shoes, who does actually regularly commute.  (hopefully their shoes are big enough, as I have pretty big feet!!)  But I do know, during the rush-hour times, trains run in a plethora to Manhattan and back.

Stations:  Plenty of stations are found along the PATH system.  All the NJ stations are:

  • Newark  (connections:  Penn Station, Amtrak, NJ Transit, Newark Light Rail, Airport and Buses)
  • Harrison
  • Journal Square (Transportation Center)
  • Grove Street
  • Exchange Place (connections: Ferries to NY & Hudson-Bergen Light Rail)
  • Pavonia Newport (connections: Hudson-Bergen Light Rail)
  • Hoboken (connections:  Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, NJ Transit, Ferry to NY, Buses)

and in NYC:

  • World Trade Center (Subway EAC23)
  • Christopher Street (Subway 1)
  • 9th St/6th Ave (Subway ABCDEFV)
  • 14th St/6th Ave (Subway FLV12)
  • 23rd St/6th Ave (Subway FV)
  • 33rd St/6th Ave (Subway BDFNQRVW, Penn Station, Amtrak, NJ Transit, Long Island Rail Road, Buses)

Fares:  a one-way fare for the service costs only $1.75, and for occasional (but ever more often!) NYC-goers like I coming from Pennsylvania, it is a much more economical way to get into the city, as compared to taking the bus or driving all the way.  Commuter books can be purchased, in 10-, 20-, or 40-trips, or 1-, 7-, or 30-day unlimited passes, pushing the price down to somewhere around the $1.30 mark I believe?

No panhandlers!  Since the trips between Hoboken and 33rd take only 15 minutes, its not long enough for panhandlers to profit… thus, well, no panhandlers, no hassles!

Punctual:  it stays true to the schedules.

Cons:

Unfortunately PATH is not operated in conjunction with the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority), nor the NJ Transit, nor the Newark Light Rail and nor the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, meaning no free transfers there-between. 

Seemingly REALLLY REALLY annoying dealing with the MetroCard Madness.  It would just be so much easier if the MTA and the PATH and NJ Transit etc would all combine and unite… with one ticket!!  The PATH takes an odd $1.75 off your MetroCard (in the only cases when you CAN use your MetroCard:  When you have money loaded on (not with a 24-hour day pass)) leaving you with $.25 remaining, when a single subway ride costs $2.00

Parking:  Well, I’ve personally only ever dealt with the Journal Square Transportation Center, but in terms of parking, one time I was over in Germany, flew home through LGA, but on the way out to Germany I drove to JSQ and parked my car, but when I was in NYC waiting for the PATH back to JSQ, it donned on me that the car park closed at 6 pm.  Never before was I so annoyed. Who closes a parking lot at 6pm???  So, long story short, I got stuck in NYC and had to find a hotel for the night.  And that was a Monday.    But on a recent trip through JSQ, we found parking in the parking garage directly associated with the JSQ Transportation Center, and the prices were good.  I believe it was around the $10 mark for 12 hours?  I mean, the side non-affiliated parking lots offer great deals, especially with a combined Early-Bird special, but just be careful, not all accept  cash and are open 24/7.

Weekend service:  On the weekend the service is still 24/7, just the trains run only not SOO often, and on the JSQ-33rd Line, it takes a quick pitstop in Hoboken, but this only extends the duration to 22 minutes.

Cars: are kinda out-dated, but rumour has it new cars are coming in 2009.

Routes:

So the routes I’ve ever taken were always starting out from JSQ.  From there I have taken the JSQ-33rd line, and I’ve also taken the JSQ-WTC line.  The JSQ-WTC line is much shorter, and only has 2 stops between NJ and NYC, but it does drop you off in Lower Manhattan, well, right at the World Trade Center (see picture above!)  But as always with the NYC Subway, you can get anywhere very easily.

Conclusion:

Well, all-in-all, and despite the outdated-ness of the system, it still runs without a squeaky wheel, so to say.  And I will continue to take advantage of it!  See you on the PATH!

Gotham.So I’m sure you all know NYC.  It stands for New York City.  Duh, but I had to say it because im sure there is SOMEBODY out there in this vast world who will read my blog and not know what NYC stands for.  I’m sure of it… and shame you, you who is reading this.  But anyway, today I would like to share with you my latest adventure to NYC, but I guess its actually pretty generic, and this time it’s actually rather tourist-y.  That’s what I hate about it sometimes, sometimes you just wanna go to NYC and live like a local.

I knew I was gunna have a long day ahead of me, so I went to bed at 9:30, after setting my alarm for 3:45 and pushing my clock time back an hour from Daylights Saving Time.  9:30, wow, can you believe that?  Lately I never get to bed until atleast after midnight, and usually around 2am.  Impressive!  But probably for that very reason, I woke up shortly after, at 11pm, and couldn’t fall asleep again until 1am.  Therefore, I overslept my alarm and didn’t wake up until 4:45, which was when I was supposed to leave my  house to drive into Macungie to pick up my partner in crime Alysia.  I even wanted to have filled up my car with gas before getting her.  And on top of that, I was sure to tell her not to be late, and to remember to set her clock forward and that I would be prompt.  Go figure, right?  Well, I woke up, gave her a ring and told her Id be a few minutes late, took the freakin’ quickest shower in my life (under five minutes!!!! impossible but real!), got dressed and ran out the door.  Got Alysia, got gas, and then we were off to spend the day in the greatest city in the world.

Drove I-78 into New Jersey, then hopped on US 1/9 over the Pulaski Skyway (an incredible and impressive sky-bridge made of cantilever truss-bridges built in 1932!) and down into Jersey City, New Jersey; parked at Journal Square and took the PATH Train from JSQ to the World Trade Center.  We got into the city at around 7-ish I guess, on a Sunday, and boy were we scared we were in the wrong city–there were absolutely no people in the city!  That I have never seen.  Our first human contact of the day was after walking past a Starbucks, we heard some feet chasing down the sidewalk to catch up with us.  We turned around and were “pleasantly” greeted by a guy whispering: COACH, COACH! PRADA! GUCCI! Now, I realize this is nothing out of the ordinary, but at 7am on a Sunday when noone was awake on the sidewalks…and we were not even close yet to Canal Street…

As it turned out, the City that never sleeps, was in fact, sleeping.

We then came to the conclusion that nothing would be open at this time, besides Duane Reades and Starbucks, so we decided to just enjoy the nice weather and walk around, in the general direction towards Times Square.  Since we really didn’t have a plan of what we wanted to do, we decided to try our luck and wait in the line at the TKTS booth up there in Times Square and try to score a deal on a last-minute, day-of Broadway show; but this doesnt open until 11 on Sundays so we were in no rush.  We walked all the way up from WTC to Union Square-just at 14th and Broadway–(the whole way windowshopping) when we decided we were just gunna hop on the subway the rest of the way… $7.50 for a 24-hour subway pass! Not too shabby.

We got to Times Square pretty quick as you can imagine, so we still had lots of time to kill… so we walked to the TKTS booth to scope out where we would have to go, then walked around more until we found somewhere to eat, and we ended up eating at the Europas Cafe up there just beyond Times Square, $5-something for a customized omelet, toast and potatoes.   Then we just killed time and got to the TKTS booth a little early.  The line was already gettin’ pretty long and we didn’t wanna risk it so we hopped on the line, and we got there at about 40 minutes-to-11.  But we got to the windows already at around 11:10, so the wait wasn’t too bad.  We went there with our hopes of seeing Avenue Q but when we got up to the windows, there was, to our dismay, only one seat left.  I should have been the ass-type and just taken it and left Alysia to fend for herself, because I really wanted to see it… but we decided on 50% tickets to the Little Mermaid, but only because im a true gentleman and a nice friend.  Plus, a broadway is a broadway, and anything will beat Mamma Mia!… Which the Little Mermaid surely did.

CHINATOWN ANTICS

So we got our tickets, and then we headed to Canal Street, so Alysia could get some shopping out of her blood.  And I also needed new sunglasses.  For those of you who DON’T know, Canal Street is the central hub of NYC’s Chinatown, home to the world’s best supply of counterfeit purses and bags etc.  We had heard of people being taken into back rooms, where the REAL fakes are (uh, i thnk thats a contradicting oxymoron!! haha) but last time we were together in the city, we attempted being guided to a back room but everyone (meaning the inhabitants of Chinatown, to be politically correct), was on their toes and keeping everything much more on the down low.

Today, we were going to finally get taken back.  Within seconds of getting above ground from the subway station, we were approached by a short lady carrying one Coach clutch.  She mentioned it to us, and told us to follow.  The whole time, she refused to engage in small-talk, and her eyes were constantly darting around looking for whatever may get in her way of leading us to the treasure chest of counterfeits.  Then she disappeared and we were handed off to another lady, and after something shouted in Chinese she handed us off to a guy who reached in a can on a shelf and pulled out a key, unlocking a basement door.  He ushered us in the door and down the creaky blue wooden steps, and at this point I secretly took out my camera, and pressed the film button, secretly recording all of this!! I even remembered to cover up the green light my camera makes when recording video! Clever, I know :D.  We went down a brightly-lit corrirdor and he grabbed another key to open another door, leading to another hallway.

Here, he took out a key and opened up one of the wooden panels on the wall, leading to a small closet, and on the wall hung a vast amount of purses and bags!  Gucci, Vuitton, Armani, Prada, Coach, you name it.  Now, to the untrained eye, they look like the real-deal.  Well, I have an untrained eye, therefore I’m nto sure if they were counterfeit, or just stolen.  My guess would be counterfeit?  After Alysia expressed the lack of interest, we just said thanks and found our way out at a quick pace, I mean, who really knows what he could’ve done to us down there in that dark dingy room!  But it was an adventure nonetheless, and one we were looking for.  On the way out of the basement, I recorded more video, and as we were leaving the store to go back out to the street, one of the lookouts caught me with my camera, yelled something in chinese to the man from the basement, pointed at me, and that’s when I snapped to Alysia that we gotta get movin’.  We darted out of the store and quick jumped inside the doors of a small little boutique next door.  Whew!

We did some shopping, got taken to some more back rooms, these ones were just hidden behind a wall of purses on the upstairs level, nothing drastic.  Alysia bought lots of jewelry, and I never did find a pair of sunglasses which I liked.  All I bought was some knock-off Acqua di Gio Armani cologne, which may have left a stain on my shirt!  Have to investigate into that one…


(Sorry my camera points a lot at your rear, Alysia, but I was trying to do it in secrecy!!)

Cowboys in NYC?

After some more shopping, well, lots of shopping, we hopped on the subway , direction:  5th avenue.  We hopped on the yellow NQRW train, but hopped on the wrong train, which stopped at 57th and 7th Ave. I mean, no biggie, it was just two blocks over to 5th Avenue, so we could’ve techincally waited till a N, R, or W train rolled in behind us, but we took advantage of the 65° weather and walked the rest of the way.  We had just enough time to do a little shopping and then we hurried down to 46th and west to B’way, to our show.  Now, as we were crossing B’way in that section of Times Square, we caught glimpse of a crowd with cameras.  Tourists, cameras, and shouting all mean one thing:  something other than a stationary landmark.  So we walked by on our way down 46th to the theatre, and low and behold we were wrong, it WAS a landmark.  This one, just happened to be a moving landmark–the Naked Cowboy.  Out of all the times I’ve ever been to Manhattan, I’ve never stumbled across him, but this time we did!  As we were in a hurry, because our show started at 3 and it was already 2:45, we only had enough time to snap some shots and hurry on our way.  But nevertheless, it was cool to see him.

THE SHOW

Now, The Little Mermaid.  As I said, it was much better than Mamma Mia!, Mamma Mia only had one main set, just a big thing which rotated, but the Little Mermaids set was actually really well designed and just modern.  I don’t really wanna ruin the surprise for any of you who might happen to see this show, but what was really cool was the use of those Heely shoes that kids can buy.  They’re like normal sneakers, only with a wheel built into the the heel of the shoes, so when you step back on your heels and raise your toes, you can roll.  Most of the performers wore these, I mean, it wasn’t obvious they were those, because they were designed to match the costume, some of them were even built into high-heels, but it was something I haven’t seen out of the three Broadway shows I have seen.  Though I really had my hopes set on Avenue Q, I would still recommend the Little Mermaid, despite all the screaming kids in the audience.  And waiting inline at the TKTS booth is definitely worth it, because most of the shows were selling tickets for 50% off.  And our seats were actually the best seats I’ve ever had in a Broadway, row V on the right side of the left section of seats, on the floor.  Great seats, in fact.

It was also nice, that the show we got tickets for was a 2pm Sunday matinee, so we were out by a little after 5pm.  We decided to take the PATH train again, from WTC instead of any of the other stops, because from the WTC out, its a straight shot for Journal Square, whereas if you take the other route you have A) more stops, and B) you have to , on a Sunday, take a pitstop in Hoboken NJ, thus making the ride a few minutes longer.  So, we wanted to finish enjoying the nice weather and we just walked down B’way a little further, found another H&M and Alysia wanted to go back in and get this one shirt, so we stopped there, stopped in a shoe store, she got some kicks, then we walked to Penn Station and took the Subway down to WTC, hopped on the PATH paying $1.75 for the trip and went back to NJ.  Got our car, drove home.  Met my parents at Perkins, ate a late dinner at around 8:30, dropped Alysia off at home, and that was that.  And what ‘that’ was, was another great day in the City of Right Angles. The Big Apple.  Empire City.  Gotham.  Neuva York.  Call it what you will.

PICTURES

Now to the tourist-y documentation:

Here I would like to make a promise, that NYC will be on my list of places to live.  I know everyone says this, but not that many people make it a reality (despite the HUGGGE population in NYC :P) But its such a great place, and setting aside all the charm that most people know, you know, Times Square, Wall Street, WTC, the Empire State Building, Broadway shows, etc etc, NYC is actually really rich in history.  I’ll make a post sometime about things that a lot of people do not know about New York City.  I think, after living in Germany for a few years, I would like to take a year or so off and work and live in Manhattan.  I mean, i will have had a 3 year internship in the hotel industry behind me already, and I think that would look good on a resume, so I’m sure I could possibly look into working at a hotel in the chain that I interned at, right?  But more of that to come later.

Before I close, I must add, that thanks to Scouting NY, I’ve learned to take a closer look at NYC, and everytime I go into the city, I now also look for those hidden treasures in NYC.  I will also make some later posts about personal tips I can offer those NYC-goers that I’ve learned over the trips.

and I also appologize for making such a long post 😀

Till next time,

Zac

Berlin

Welcome to Berlin!  One of the most happening cities in Germany, and YES, it is the capital of Germany, for those of you who didn’t know… (more on that story in a later post)

Once again, with Tine, we took the train to Berlin for Biggi’s birthday.  In Germany, there is a train ticket offered by the Deutsche Bahn called the Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket (literally: Nice Weekend Ticket) , and with this ticket, for 37€, up to 5 people can ride ANYWHERE in Germany for a whole weekend (excluding the long-distance bullet trains which require reservations).  This is very impressive!

At the time, I believe the ticket was only 25€, so there were 5 of us, and that means, if you do the math, each of us paid 5 Euros to go COMPLETLY across the country round trip, in one weekend… Amazing, considering the ticket from Lage to Berlin normally costs , at a normal price, upwards of 79€ one-way.  So if you are ever in the area, meaning in Germany, do take advantage of this offer!!

So, anyway, it was Biggi’s birthday, and in Germany, its usually custom to be a host on your birthday, baking cakes and custards and pies and sweets and what not, and inviting a couple people over for cake & coffee, but Biggi did not want to do this, so we decided to leave Saturday morning, around 3 AM I believe it was, and take the train.  The only thing with this ticket, we normally would’ve taken the ICE train (bullet train) to Berlin, but since you cannot with this ticket, we had to transfer trains a few times.  But don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t really matter 😀  So after a few transfers, we got into Berlin at around 9 AM approximately.

Though I have never seen Berlin before this, I think it was pretty packed ^^ There was a marathon going an, and there were Tents and Foodstands and the whole shabang set up infront of the Brandenburger Tor.

At this point, I’d like to introduce the smelly part of Berlin.  And to put it bluntly, it reeked.  Most of the time while walking around in Berlin, you catch a drift of this interesting, lightly put, ahm, fragrance if you will… Not sure what it was, some say sewage, probably from when Berlin was West and East Berlin… but I will leave that for you to decide.

But don’t let this be a turn off, it was a beautiful, dynamic city.  We saw the Reichstag (we wanted to go in, but the line was horrendous), Brandenburger Tor, the Fernsehturm, we went up to the Potsdamer Platz Panorama Outlook (thats just what I call it, not too sure of the name to be honest…), which was home to Europe’s fastest elevator-at a rate of 8.5 Meters per Second-and this is where the picture above of the Marathon in the sky was taken.  We rode around on the subway a little, saw some Embassies, went to KaDeWe, Kaufhaus des Westens, which is Europe’s largest department store… This place is a shoppers heaven.  We got attacked by dogs, saw the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche, a church which was heavily bombed in the war, got offered candy by a stranger on a train, went to the Hard Rock Cafe, and finally found ourselves back at the train station Sunday morning around 2 AM waiting for our train back.

All in all, Berlin is a great city, and you should go visit.  Unfortunately, more can I not say, as I was only in the city for less than a day, and the city was absolutely mobbed with tourists and runners, so it was hard to move around.  Therefore, I would like to and will go back again, to get to know the city a little better.

Now, to the pictures below.

1-Panorama view of Berlin from the Potsdamer Platz Panorama Outlook, there you can see the famous Fernsehturm (TV Tower)

2-Hauptbahnhof (Main Train station), very impressive in itself

3-Runners infront of the Brandenburger Tor

4-the Riedels amidst the Holocaust Memorial

5-We saw the marathon kick off from above, as the streets filled with runners

6-KaDeWe

7-Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche, here you see the damage that was done, and the new church they erected (tower)

8-Hard Rock Cafe, a place of interest in itself

9-Fernsehturm from below, all lit up

10-Reichstag by night (government building)

11-German flag by night

12-from left to right, Saskia, Tine and myself slumbering in the train station waiting for our train, after a fully loaded fun filled day walking around the streets of stinky Berlin.


On that note, in the words of JFK:  ICH BIN EIN BERLINER.

Berlin, Berlin, wir fahren nach Berlin!