Tag Archives: New York

Tokyo Disneysea, 2016

On our last day in Japan we went to Tokyo Disneysea. It was slightly smaller than Disneyland, so we had plenty of time in the day to go on all the rides that our daughter wanted to, and some that my husband and I wanted to go on too.

We walked through the entry gates where there was a big globe fountain and Mickey and Minnie Mouse were putting on a welcome show. There was also a golden ship to commemorate the 15th anniversary of Disneysea.

In front of us was the Mediterranean Harbour and it really did look like Europe. There was the Ponte Vecchio, a fortification tower, Venetian palace buildings and cobblestoned alleyways. Our first ride was in a submarine into the middle of the volcano- 20,000 leagues under the sea.

My favourite Disney princess was Ariel so we headed straight for Mermaid Lagoon after that. A tunnel led from the outside to an indoor cave that was dark and glowing with lights and several themed rides for smaller children- we went on them all- and found a few Ariel’s posing in Ariel’s playground.

The highlight was sitting in the front row of King Triton’s Concert starring Ariel the mermaid on acrobatic strings, Flounder and Sebastian as puppets, Triton as a huge moving statue and Ariel’s sisters as holograms videos. It was very entertaining.

Next we went to the Arabian Coast where Princess Jasmine lives and it really looked like an Arabian town, with a walled city, marketplace, archways and a replica of the Lion fountain usually found in the Spanish Alhambra. Some Jasmine’s could be found taking photos here.

Our daughter went on the double storey Carousel and we all went on the flying carpets and into the Genie’s 3D show, which was very good. We also stopped in the Casbah food court for a curry lunch- very tasty.

From here we walked passed the Mexican temples and caught the steamboat through old American looking towns to the American Waterfront and it really looked like America. There was a big ship, a San Francisco tram, a town square and a New York City street.

Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale were putting on a show at the ship and we saw the special Halloween show in the harbour on boats with evil characters such as Ursula, Captain Hook and Jaffar. It was very clever, but very loud.

In Port Discovery we met Goofy and Mrs Incredible and went on the Aquatopia water ride, which was a lot of fun. We ended the day inside the castle where the adults shared an adult drink and an oversized turkey leg.

We left just as it was getting dark to catch our plane back to Sydney. Japan had been a great holiday. Good food, nice people, easy with kids and plenty to see and do from cultural to technological activities. We would definitely be back again.

Related posts: Tokyo Disneyland, 2016The Great Buddha, Nara, 2016Nara, 2016Castle and shopping in Osaka, 2016Osaka, 2016Onsen in Nantan, 2016Markets and Manga in Kyoto, 2016Gion, Kyoto, 2016Food and Fervour in Kyoto, 2016Kyoto, 2016Takeyama, 2016Samurai and Shidax in Kanazawa, 2016Seeking Geisha and Gardens in Kanazawa, 2016Kanazawa, 2016Tokyo, 2016: MiraikanTokyo, 2016: Shinjuku, Tsukiji Market and YanakaTokyo, 2016: Imperial Palace and ShibuyaTokyo, 2016: Ueno and HarajukuJapan, 2016

Small town vs Big city

Small towns are cute, quirky and green. They are safe, comforting and friendly.

Everyone seems to know of one another and celebrate the same things in the same environment.

But this means that small towns can also be gossipy, stifling and routine.

Big cities are different, fun and challenging. They are tall, concrete and filled with endless possibilities.

They take you out of your comfort zone into a sometimes overwhelming place where you can make new friends and have new experiences every day.

But this means that big cities can also be fickle, lonely and expensive.

I grew up in a small town, and whilst I appreciate it was a nice little place to grow up, I think I was always a big city girl at heart.

Being an avid traveller doesn’t always mean you are necessarily a big city person, although it probably helps. Sometimes it’s the small towns that really show you what a place is like and who the people really are.

But I am a big city person and just the thought of going to a global city like London or New York gets me excited. Big cities are also big enough that they contain many smaller places to explore.

Being in a big city that you are familiar with gives you a sense of achievement and conquest, especially when you can navigate to your favourite places without a map.

But big cities are so big, that even in my home city of Sydney I often need to whip out Google maps to find out where that new restaurant is.

Small towns have their place and perhaps I wouldn’t be who I am today, or get that big city buzz as much, if I hadn’t grown up in a small town.

I still enjoy visiting my hometown of Berry, all the memories I have there and I am looking forward to taking my daughter to my birth town of Weymouth hoping that she can see what I see.

But I also can’t wait to take her to Central Park or a show at the West End; to see what she makes of the big hills of San Francisco or the mountains of Vancouver.

I wonder if she will be a big city girl with small town values like me, or just be a sophisticated city chick with no time for small town matters. I guess only time will tell…

Related posts: Sydney vs Melbourne, It’s an English Thing, Cocktail hour in Sydneytown, Home is where you make it, Travel Rememberings

It’s an American Thing

My favorite city in America is San Francisco with its Golden Gate Bridge. I can image myself living in one of the city’s terraces on a steep hill. A New York loft in Soho comes in a close second, just a short subway ride from Central Park.

And then there is Las Vegas, where you can see the whole world in one place, San Diego where you can see all the animals in the whole world in one place and Los Angeles where you can see all the stars in the whole world in one place.

One of my favorite trips in America was a Californian road trip along Route 66 and Big Sur- seeing the natural beauty of Joshua Tree National Park and the Grand Canyon plus the man made mansion Hearst Castle along the way. California just has so much to offer. There are ghost towns in the desert, seals on the coast and redwoods in Yosemite.

My bestie is from the tiny town of Stuart, Nebraska- a four-hour drive through cornfields from Omaha. I was lucky enough to be included in their annual 4th July celebrations and it was really something special to be welcomed as one of the family.

Of course, my love affair with American culture started early on with Snow White and a trip to Disneyland. I always wondered what it would be like to go to a real American high school like in Buffy, or a real American college like in Beverly Hills 90210 or go to a football game with real American cheerleaders like in Hellcats.

Anne Rice and Twilight peaked my interest in visiting the Deep South and Washington State. The Vampire Diaries and The Originals have made me want to visit Georgia and New Orleans. Gilmore Girls makes me want to go to New England and let’s not forget Sex and the City for New York inspiration, cosmopolitan style.

Which brings me to shopping of course. You can get anything you want at ridiculously low prices compared to Australia, which probably explains why most of us shop online these days.

There is the tasty simplicity of the classic American diner, the best Mexican food and margarita’s outside of Mexico and buffalo ribs smoked the right way. If you have room for desert, there is jello pie, smores and Twizzlers.

The country is so varied, that I can see why you may never want to leave. If you want mountains, you can go to Colorado, if you want water parks, you go to Florida, if you want a history lesson, you go to Washington DC.

I would love to visit a plantation in Louisiana, party for a night in Miami and drift up the coast of Oregon. It would be great to stay in a Boston brownstone, a Chicago skyscraper or a Hampton’s mansion.

The people are friendly, welcoming and enthusiastic about their country. Yes, America has a bit of something for everyone, and I guess that’s what makes the country so great in the first place.

Related posts: It’s a Canadian Thing, San Francisco, 2007- Part 1: Falling in love again, Las Vegas, 2007, USA Road tip, 2007Disneyland, 2007, Los Angeles, 2007New York, 2005, Part 2: Sex and the City Style, TV replays and movie marathons, USA, 1990

Las Vegas, 2007

We had pre booked a room in Las Vegas at The Stratosphere for $30 a night on a mid-week deal. It seemed like a ridiculously low price to me, but my husband-to-be (HTB) explained that the idea is to get you in and gambling- which is where the hotels make their real money.

The Stratosphere, located at one end of the strip, is one of the older casino’s that was recently revamped with the inclusion of 3 big scary rides- Big shot which shoots you up the tip of the tall tower, XScream which dangles you over the edge and Insanity which twirls you around while hanging over the edge.

I personally wasn’t insane enough to try any of them, but I did enjoy the view of wedding chapel road from the top and the planes whizzing by at eye level past our room. They also have a good cheap all you can eat buffet and an fantastic American diner called Roxy’s.

My HTB and I took a stroll along The Strip, which was deceptively far from one end to the other as the casinos appear larger than life.

We passed the demolition site that used to be the Frontier and the new Wynn complete with waterfall. The Sahara rollercoaster screamed past us as we walked by the tent of Circus, Circus.

Treasure Island had a big pirate ship out the front and we went inside Flamingo’s to see the real life flamingos. We continued past Bally’s and stopped to take pictures with the tiger and dolphin statues at the Mirage.

The Rialto Bridge at the Venetian looked fairly authentic, as did the Victory of Samothe statue and Trevi Fountain at Cesar’s Palace. The replica Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe at Paris looked just like the real thing, only smaller; and it was bizarre to see the Empire State Building right next to the Statue of Liberty at New York, New York.

It was definitely awesome to be able to revisit so many of my favourite monuments from other parts of the world in one place.

The fountain show at the Bellagio was everything it promised to be and more and I couldn’t believe that they had live lions inside the MGM Grand casino which was flanked by a huge golden lion out the front.

We passed the Planet Hollywood, Monte Carlo and the horse and cart outside Excalibur, concluding our tour at the Luxor sphinx.

Walking back, we were intrigued by Margaritaville and the life size dressed up M & M’s. I also stopped at the shops at Cesar’s Palace for my Zara fix.

Suitably exhausted, I headed back up to our hotel room, while my HTB stopped at the Black Jack tables downstairs. The next morning he informed me that he had broken even.

Related posts: USA Road trip, 2007, Disneyland, 2007, Los Angeles, 2007, USA, 1990

New York, 2005, Part 2: Sex and the City style!

It was my 27th birthday, I was in New York and I was determined to do all the New York things I wanted to do.

I started with the International Centre of Photography as I have always had an interest in photography and very much wanted to visit this particular museum while I was here. Part of the exhibit was from the movie Kids which was a bit confronting, but interesting all the same.

The number one thing I wanted to do in New York was go on the Sex and the City tour as it is one of my favourite shows. So I did. We started at the Plaza Hotel near Central Park, went to the Takashimaya shop on 5th avenue which was where the girls had looked at perfumes and visited a Manolo Blanik store of course.

Next up was the Pleasure Chest sex shop, followed by a Magnolia Bakery cupcake (from their sister bakery) in the Abington Square Park playground. The best bit was going to Carrie’s street and apartment and Aiden’s bar Scout (actually called O’Neils in real life) for a cosmopolitan at the end of the tour.

The next best thing I wanted to do was go to the top of the Empire State Building. So I met my friend Phil at the bottom in the big line up for the lifts. The line was so long that we missed the sunset, but got an awesome view of the Chrysler Building and New York City by night instead.

For dinner I wanted my favourite cuisine of Thai. It was much harder to find a Thai restaurant in New York than Sydney, but maybe you just need to know the right people who know where to go.

The next day we took a walk down the Avenue of the Americas and ended up at the Municipal Building where I had a pretzel- very yummy and very New York I am led to believe.

We explored the famous New York Subway system and I found that I had caught a cold from the boat ride under Iguazu Falls and was exhausted after four and a half days of sight-seeing in New York. So I left Phil on his journey to Brooklyn Bridge, got off at 14th Street – Eighth Avenue and wandered through the Chelsea art gallery area to watch a movie in a cinema near Times Square.

It was Memorial Day weekend so Times Square was overflowing with people and there were street dancers performing for the crowd.

When in New York, you must catch a Broadway show. So, that evening Phil and I went to Avenue Q on Broadway with Trekkie monster who swears a lot- very funny.

5 days was definitely not enough in New York and I couldn’t wait to come back to now one of my favourite cities in the world.

Related posts: New York, 2005, Part 1: Taking a bite, Argentina, 2005, Buenos Aires, 2005

New York, 2005, Part 1: Taking a bite

Ah, New York- where every street feels familiar as it is out of a TV show or movie that I have watched.

I arrived in New York at midnight and immediately did the wrong thing by being talked into a black market cab, forgetting that I should have headed for the legitimate taxi rank. But it was late and all I wanted to do was get to the Big Apple hostel in Times Square where I knew my friend Phil had booked me a bed.

The next morning we woke up, grabbed a bite at the corner deli, passed the queue in Battery Park waiting to get to the Statue of Liberty and caught the free Staten Island ferry past the statue on Ellis Island. Gotta love a ferry ride- especially one with such a good view.

Back in Manhattan, the World Trade Centre was gone and had been replaced by a building site for the Freedom Tower Memorial. The surrounding buildings were still damaged.

Central Park was too big to walk the whole way from one end to the other- so we just hit the pond , took in the view of Belvedere Castle and visited the amusement park above the famous Bethesda Fountain.

I recognised the trees of the Liberty Walk, a tunnel and the handsome cabs that always seemed to be featured images of the park. I loved Central Park and wished I had more time to explore it further. We went to the MET and I absolutely adored the Temple of Dendur.

That night, we couldn’t find a bar easily near where we were staying so we went to the bar at the top of the W hotel which was quite swanky and expensive making us penniless backpackers feel a little out of place.

The following day we visited the New York stock exchange that had a huge American flag with and even bigger charging bull outside. This was the Wall St I had heard so much about.

We went to the United Nations buildings with all the flags and I relished walking down 5th Avenue passing the famous Chrysler Building, the Rockefeller Centre, Cartier and SAKS– so New York.

All I could afford in Tiffany was a key ring and the FAO Schwarz toy shop where I found the very cute American Kennel Club collection- wish we had that in Australia when I was a kid.

For something different, we went to Harlem, which didn’t seem scary at all with families having picnics in the park. I liked the Columbia University library and tried to imagine what it would have been like to be a student at such a well-known school.

From one school to another, we went to Greenwich Village and were in New York University/Felicity territory. Purple NYU banners surrounded Washington Square Park with the arch and the hanging elm.

We visited the West Village, the Meat Packing District and Soho where I found my dream loft apartment. It was Fleet Week and here the bars were overflowing and easy to find this time around.

Related posts: Argentina, 2005, Buenos Aires, 2005

By special request…

When I was a teenager, all my friends wanted to go to the Big Day Out and I just wanted to see a Janet Jackson concert.

When I started to go out, I got right into dance music and I had all the Ministry of Sound albums. I danced for hours at the Krafty Kuts show and went to music festivals like Good Vibrations and Harbourlife.

My entire CD collection was stolen while I was at university, which probably doesn’t sound so bad in these days of iTunes technology, but at the time it was devastating. Even after replacing many albums, my collection has never been the same.

Working in grass roots events early on in my career, I found myself driving all day with a packed car to places like Parkes and Gunnedah. My CD’s were my friends on these drives- they would pass the time, keep me awake and exercise my vocal chords.

In melancholy moods I listen to The Cranberries, Portishead or Dido. In more upbeat times I favour Texas, Fat Boy Slim or Black Eyed Peas. I have always liked Sheryl Crow and her wonderful lyrics.

But my all-time favourite band is Garbage. My friend Sarah introduced me to their debut album in 1997 and I have been a fan ever since. After not releasing an album for seven years, “Not Your Kind of People” hit the shelves in 2012 and I was lucky enough to catch their accompanying live show in Sydney.

My mum first took me to a musical when I was younger and I have been addicted to show tickets ever since.

I will go to pretty much anything by Shakespeare and have dragged my husband to The Complete Works of William Shakespeare and Romeo and Juliet.

I love watching the ballet at the Sydney Opera House and have been lucky enough to see The Nutcracker at Christmas time and most recently, Cinderella.

Of course, my obsession with vampires has led me to see more than one show at Dracula’s.

I like to catch a show while travelling and have seen Lady Salsa on the Gold Coast, Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas, the Lion King in London and Avenue Q in New York.

Recent musicals that I have enjoyed are Strictly Ballroom for the Spanish dancing, Legally Blonde for American cheese and Priscilla Queen of the Desert for the fabulous costumes.

But my favourite musical so far is Chicago which I saw after a bottle of wine with my bestie on a Melbourne girl’s trip. The question is- was it the wine, the company or the show? Perhaps a combination of all three.

Thanks to all my theatre buddies past and present- you know who you are! I hope you have enjoyed the show as much as I have.

Related posts: I first started writing, Home is where you make it, All Creatures Great and Small