Tag Archives: Statue of Liberty

Tokyo, 2016: Miraikan

On our last day in Tokyo, it was our daughter’s choice of what to do. She decided on the robot museum, also known as Miraikan- the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. Although definitely not my husband’s or my first choice of what to do in Tokyo, it actually ended up being one of the best days we had in the city.

It’s true that half the fun of Miraikan was getting there. After surviving the rush hour train and getting pushed on by a man in white gloves (why is everyone so polite and friendly, except when you are getting pushed onto the rush hour train?), we took the futuristic elevated driverless train to Odaiba- Tokyo Bay.

We passed tall office buildings, went over Rainbow Bridge, past a strange clock with feet and a replica Statue of Liberty, to a world of artificial islands where nobody seemed to live. Some buildings were square arches, some were round balls, but they were all glassily glinting in the sunlight.

The Miraikan museum itself was very interesting. My favourite thing was the enormous globe that hung from the ceiling. Visible from all levels, it changed colour as images were projected onto it.

As promised, they had many different kinds of robots, from small pet robots, to Asimo the walking talking robot who also used sign language and an android who I actually thought was a real person the first three times we walked by it.

At the end of the Asimo demonstration, they asked the kids what kind of robot do they want to live with? and encouraged them to find museum staff and tell them. What a great way to harness the imagination of children and get them involved.

There was also a large hands-on kids activity area where they could create, play and learn. Even here, the kids were all so quiet and well behaved. How are the kids so quiet in Japan?

They had interesting displays depicting what happens to infrastructure when a volcano erupts, a great demonstration showing how the Internet works using coloured balls and a short 3D planetarium movie about the universe.

There was a dance lighting area and my daughter’s favourite of course- a stamping activity- also incorporating a digital game this time. We ended up staying the whole day and were thoroughly entertained the whole time.

That night, we tested the theory of the best food being near the train stations and went near the local metro for karajuku gyoza and ramen. The ramen water was boiled in chip fryers and a thin crust attached the gyoza’s.

They were definitely the best of either item that we had ever eaten. An older lady, perhaps a regular, seemed to agree as she came in, ordered quickly and happily slurped her noodles in appreciation.

Related posts: Tokyo, 2016: Shinjuku, Tsukiji Market and Yanaka, Tokyo, 2016: Imperial Palace and Shibuya, Tokyo, 2016: Ueno and Harajuku, Japan, 2016

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

France, 1997, Part 1: Paris

After arriving in Paris, Sarah and I headed straight to the Eiffel Tower for our very own iconic photo of us at the monument.

Paris is like a museum in itself, so we walked to the Place de la Concorde roundabout and along the Champs Elysees taking in the many beautiful buildings and monuments along the way.

We found the Liberty Flame atop the motorway where Diana Princes of Wales died near the Pont Alma. Many flowers were still being laid after the recent tragedy.

A boat tour of the River Seine took us to see the sights of the gold- encrusted Pont Alexandre 3 and the impressive looking Musee d Orsay.

I was awed by the famous Pont Neuf and the pretty Place de la Bastille. It looked like the little houses on the Ile St Louis would be a nice place to live and the replica Statue of Liberty on the Ile aux Cygnes (Island of Swans) seemed bizarre and in the wrong place.

We alighting the boat at the Palais de Chaliot in the statue-filled Trocadero gardens.

On our second day, we headed back to the Eiffel Tower. It was such a strange feeling standing under the tower and seeing the structure up close. It was surreal to actually be in such a famous place.

We climbed the first two flights of the Eiffel Tower to save some money and then caught a lift to the top for unmatched views of Paris. We could see everything from the Arc de Triomphe to Sacre Cour. The whole city- built up and spread out on a grid system with the river cutting it in half.

Next was a visit to the gargoyles at the top of Notre Dame Cathedral- made famous to me by the Disney movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It was plain to see where the movie had gained its inspiration.

After finally finding out how to get to the Arc de Triomphe without getting run over (there is a foot tunnel that goes under the road), we had another climb. From the top it was easy to see how all 12 roads of the Etoile fan out in a star shape- one all the way from Arc la Defense to the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel .

That made over 1,000 steps up for the day, as well as many walks in between, so it was time out for us!

A day museum pass was purchased and we headed inside one of the pyramids to the Lourve. I was struck by the sculpture of jaguar and rabbit by Antoine-Louis Barye, and liked the tiger paintings by Delacroix; but my favourite was the Winged Victory of Samothe statue. We by passed the crowd in front of the Mona Lisa covered in a thick pane of glass and only saw it from afar.

Next we went to the Conciergerie where Marie Antoinette was kept prisoner as she awaited the guillotine. The building outside was beautiful, but I didn’t understand much of what we looked at inside as all the signs were in French.

A local Parisian friend took us to the Jewish quarter for a falafel and the first square in Paris- Place des Voges. Absolutely beautiful.

We went to the modern looking Georges Pompidou Centre at the much newer and much odder Place Igor- Stravinsky and found the cute little La Defenseur du Temps clock with dragon.

Even after this first visit, I could tell that Paris was to become one of my favourite cities in the world.

Related posts: Belgium, 1997, Holland, 1997, England, 1997, I first started travelling, By special request, Home is where you make it, I first started writing