Posts Categorized: Life in New York

Jan 24 2013
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Barclays Stadium & The Terps

Back in November we were able to check out the new Barclays Center – which is only a few blocks from our place! The event was ‘Brooklyn Hoops’ – this is where local and other college teams get the chance to play in this great stadium.

Brooklyn Hoops -  University of Maryland Vs University of Kentucky at Barclays Center

Back in 2008, I attended the University of Maryland for two weeks on a study tour during my Masters. It was such an amazing experience. Back then, we saw them play Holy Cross and Maryland has been my college team ever since! Here I am with some of my RMIT pals back at the amazing College Park stadium –

Terp Girls!

We got the train to Barclays after work and saw immediate changes as the subway doors opened. A train nerd, I was excited by the new signs at Atlantic Avenue station. It used to be called Atlantic Avenue-Pacific Street… but no longer!

Brooklyn Hoops -  University of Maryland Vs University of Kentucky at Barclays Center

Brooklyn Hoops -  University of Maryland Vs University of Kentucky at Barclays Center

Everything was so NEW!

Brooklyn Hoops -  University of Maryland Vs University of Kentucky at Barclays Center

Brooklyn Hoops -  University of Maryland Vs University of Kentucky at Barclays Center

As soon as you exit the station you are at the doors of the stadium. Everything looks so new and bright and the place really stands out!

Brooklyn Hoops -  University of Maryland Vs University of Kentucky at Barclays Center

Brooklyn Hoops -  University of Maryland Vs University of Kentucky at Barclays Center

Inside, we did a whole lap of the bottom level and then a whole lap of the top level and then got some dinner. This is where it became disappointing – the prices. Oh my gosh. It was expensive! We didn’t mind because it was a night out for us but if we were going to Nets games every week, there is no way I’d be eating there.

Brooklyn Hoops -  University of Maryland Vs University of Kentucky at Barclays Center

Brooklyn Hoops -  University of Maryland Vs University of Kentucky at Barclays Center

We got our food from Fatty ‘Cue and it was good but was not worth the price. My advice? If you are going to Barclay’s check out one of the many awesome restaurants our area has to offer and give the stadium food a miss. The only other downer was the way the seats are you feel like you may tumble over the edge while you are getting to and from your seat.

My mac cheese with some brisket from Fatty ‘Cue –

Brooklyn Hoops -  University of Maryland Vs University of Kentucky at Barclays Center

We were there very early –

Brooklyn Hoops -  University of Maryland Vs University of Kentucky at Barclays Center

The first game was the local Long Island University vs Morehead State. It ended up being a close game with LIU just losing. A great thing about Barclays is they have AWESOME wifi – so I was able to FaceTime mum and dad from our seats and share the new stadium with them! Crazy!

The best thing? We ended up being in the Maryland ‘area’ for supporters.

This game bought back so many memories. The crowd did the same thing back in 2008 as they were doing here when Kentucky were being introduced –

Brooklyn Hoops -  University of Maryland Vs University of Kentucky at Barclays Center

Brooklyn Hoops -  University of Maryland Vs University of Kentucky at Barclays Center

Brooklyn Hoops -  University of Maryland Vs University of Kentucky at Barclays Center

To make it even cooler? Jay-Z was there watching too! Huzzah!

We enjoyed seeing the game there and we loved being able to take a a quick walk home, down our leafy street after having a fun night out! We left early as we were tired and Maryland were down by a lot. By the time we walked in the front door, they had come back but not enough to beat Kentucky. Sigh!

Our end thoughts? So while we would definitely go to events there (it really is a great stadium) we would patronize some of our local eateries before we went rather than purchase the stadium food.

Jan 23 2013
1

Eataly & Painting

Another awesome night out that we had last year was when we visited Eataly and then went up to PaintAlong NYC for a painting class.

Owned by Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali, Eataly has been open for a while and we still had not got the chance to visit. It is basically a huge Italian specialty food store with multiple restaurants right across from the Flatiron building.

It was almost like being back in Rome! We were able to stock up on some beautiful specialties as they had a sale on when we were there.

Here is a little tour –

Eataly

Eataly

Eataly

Eataly

Eataly

Eataly

We got some pizza at the restaurant La Pizza & La Pasta – it was REALLY good. Simple and delicious food. It was a little pricey but it was fine for a special night out. I couldn’t see it as our local Italian place if we still lived in Chelsea.

After dinner we wandered outside and sat on the border of Madison Square Park just passing the time until our painting class.

We don’t do this often enough. It was so relaxing… could you ever get sick of this view?

Flatiron

We wandered up Lexington and picked up some Tasti D-Lite. It was so perfect as it really was an ice cream kind of night! I wish we had one near us… but then again maybe that it is a good idea that we don’t.

Tasti-D-Lite

PaintAlong was one of the most enjoyable activities I’ve done in a a long time. I have never painted before but walking into the studio, everything was set up for us. You basically walk in, paint with an instructor and go home. No setting up, no cleaning up – you are just there to focus on your painting.

One thing that surprised me, even though I was concentrating on trying to do it right, it was really relaxing. There were about 15 people in our class and we all just did our thing. It was very interesting to see how they broke up the painting into parts so we could get the final result. I didn’t do very well on the sun part of my painting, but I did better with the reflection in the water and silhouette of the trees.

Paint-A-Long

If you are in New York and looking to do something a little different, PaintAlong is really good fun. I didn’t think I did too bad considering I’ve never picked up a brush and it was done in two hours!

The only problem was when we jumped into the cab on the way home, I was already trying to work out what to do with two of the same painting. As a result, one is now hanging near my desk in the library and Bill has his on display in his cubicle. It doesn’t really match our ‘look’ at home!

Jan 22 2013
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2012 San Gennaro Festival

Back in September, Bill and I headed into Little Italy for the San Gennaro Festival. It was so much fun!

San Gennaro Festival 2012

We started the night with Mass at the Most Precious Blood Church. It was a great Mass as it was San Gennaro’s Feast Day and it was a packed church. When Mass finished, there was a procession of the Statue of San Gennaro that was slowly walked around the block and up Mott St. Those that carry the statue have to kind of ‘sway’ the balance as they walk. It is amazing to see!

San Gennaro Festival 2012

San Gennaro Festival 2012

San Gennaro Festival 2012

San Gennaro Festival 2012

View from the church steps as the procession started –

San Gennaro Festival 2012

San Gennaro Festival 2012

Seeing these photos may look familiar if you have have seen the Godfather…!

San Gennaro Festival 2012

While walking up Mott street, following the statue we ate… and ate… and ate. The food was fantastic.

San Gennaro Festival 2012

San Gennaro Festival 2012

San Gennaro Festival 2012

San Gennaro Festival 2012

San Gennaro Festival 2012

San Gennaro Festival 2012

San Gennaro Festival 2012

San Gennaro Festival 2012

San Gennaro Festival 2012

San Gennaro Festival 2012

San Gennaro Festival 2012

Here is some video to try and capture it all –

Yes, it is insanely crowded and you don’t want to be carrying a lot of things but wow – it was a great night out. The walk was slow, there was so much people watching and everyone was just having a great time. We cannot wait until the 2013 Festival now – it really really was SO much fun. I hope these photos gave you an idea of just how good it was… MOLTO BENE!

Jan 21 2013
1

ET on the big screen

A couple of months ago, it was the 30th Anniversary of ET. The first movie I ever saw. Mum’s cousin took me to see it at the Forum in Melbourne when it was still a movie theater. I was so young but have never forgotten it. I had an ET doll that it seems we donated to charity that is now worth a lot more money than we ever paid for it and I had the “Read along with me in your book” version of ET that was read by Drew Barrymore.

For Christmas last year, Bill got me the gorgeous ET box set with a book, dvd and other goodies. Then when I saw there was going to be a special 30th anniversary screening at Union Square, I HAD to go. It was so amazing to walk into the cinema and see this at the box office –

ET at Union Square

I nearly fainted when the lights dimmed and I saw this on the screen.

ET at Union Square

By the way, these weren’t taken when the movie was on. We had a special segment that screened before the movie that had quiz questions and interviews with the cast and crew.

ET at Union Square

ET at Union Square

It was as magical as I remembered. The movie just has to be screened on a big screen. The music is so full of emotion… it was just perfect.

Elllliiiioooottttt.

If you haven’t seen ET recently, you really should watch it again.

Listening to theme… awwww. Goosebumps! My favorite scene…

I can’t watch this and NOT cry. “I’ll be right here…”

Jan 01 2013
2

Happy New Year!

So, it seems life got busy and my blog got quiet.

I am back for 2013. I have posts ready to go – finishing up our European vacation posts, telling you about some of the fun things we have been doing and some photo posts. Funnily enough, in this downtime, I have still been blogging but just not publishing. So content is ready to roll. Let’s see how this goes!

We can start off with today though.. we were asleep by 11.30 last night.

Our neighbors were having their usual insane NYE party. This is not just a few friends… it sounded like hundreds of people thumping around and seriously, the setup they have for music sounds like it is directly from a Vegas nightclub. We awoke to the front door of our building being smashed, cigarette ash in our hallway and lots of talk about just how late the party went and how loud the music was. I was wide awake from the yelling/screaming and craziness outside from about 2am – 3.30am. Bill slept without any disturbance. Considering we live in Brooklyn, we are lucky. They have their massive party every year and that is it, so we all just put up with it for the one night.

We couldn’t sleep in either as we had to get up early and go to Mass. Being a Tuesday, it was a real Holy Day of Obligation and it was great to see so many people there and share lots of New Year cheer. Here we are all ready to head out into the cold –

New Years Day

One of our fellow neighbors and Queen of All Saints parishioners also invited us to brunch. For those from Haiti, New Years Day is a BIG deal because it is their Independence Day, so there is double the cause for celebration. She made the traditional soup that everyone makes on New Years Day. It is called Joumou and it is absolutely delicious! Basically it was loads of squash and other chunky vegetables. She also baked a lovely ham and we sat around her dining table with some other guests all afternoon – it was so relaxing and a lovely way to experience customs from another country and just have some downtime for the craziness of the past few weeks.

So that was today. Let’s hope the blog stays alive a little longer this year. I’ve been doing this non-stop pretty much since 1996… so a little break wasn’t a bad thing I guess!

Happy New Year to you! Let’s make 2013 the year of excess love and hugs for others. 🙂

Aug 06 2012
1

At 7.05am without fail..

I am walking down the street on my way to work and no parking starts at 7am to allow traffic to have a clear run.

At this time in the morning, there is always a tow truck waiting to pounce. The NYPD waste no time whatsoever and I always try and pick the cars that will be towed first.

Towed!

I even saw them tow one a few weeks ago that had ‘FUNERAL’ on it. Obviously someone left their car there after a funeral at the nearby funeral parlor. I noticed the guy calling a few times to see if belonged to the funeral parlor and after that, a supervisor arrived and made the decision to tow.

In a nutshell, don’t mess with New York when it comes to parking. Traffic flow is serious business!

Aug 04 2012
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4th of July Parade in Brooklyn

A month late but let’s go!

This year, our 4th of July started early. On the Saturday before the 4th, we headed to 13th Avenue in Dyker Heights in Brooklyn for the 107th 4th of July parade that is organized by the Knights of Columbus. Because of MTA trackwork this involved 3 trains and two buses to get to the area where the parade was being held. It was also oppressively hot. The kind of heat where you cannot bear to be in direct sunlight and you cross the street to walk in the shade. Because of the detours, we got there right on time and we were near the start of the parade. There was NO-ONE watching from our area. We got a spot under what I think was the only tree on the street and waved our little flags. Before long we met our State Senator, Marty Golden and a few other politicians and those running in local elections. What was hilarious was because we were the only ones standing on this block, they were all running up to us like we were guests of honor because there was no-one else to shake hands with!

The main street was cleared and ready for the parade. It was blazing hot and uncomfortable –

2012 4th of July Parade - Dyker Heights

Some of the businesses decorated where they could –

2012 4th of July Parade - Dyker Heights

The roar of these bikes got things going –

2012 4th of July Parade - Dyker Heights

At every local parade you can count on police on horses being there –

2012 4th of July Parade - Dyker Heights

Here are some of the representatives of the Knights of Columbus. I don’t know how could handle the heat in their uniform.

2012 4th of July Parade - Dyker Heights

Old NYPD police car –

2012 4th of July Parade - Dyker Heights

A local politician in a vintage firetruck –

2012 4th of July Parade - Dyker Heights

Another parade certainty – bagpipers!

2012 4th of July Parade - Dyker Heights

… and marching bands!

2012 4th of July Parade - Dyker Heights

It was great seeing a vintage NYC cab!

2012 4th of July Parade - Dyker Heights

The Girl Guides were so cute –

2012 4th of July Parade - Dyker Heights

Then, a corvette club made their presence known!

2012 4th of July Parade - Dyker Heights

Then, for some reason, the SIKK (Staten Island Kar Club – yes really!) made an appearance. Even though we were in Brooklyn?!

2012 4th of July Parade - Dyker Heights

That was basically it..! If I was voting on parades, the Castleton Memorial Day Parade wins hands down. It would be good to see this 4th of July parade in cooler weather though and to also attend the ceremony in the park afterwards and see what that is like. Maybe next year!

When the parade was over we decided to see what the food was like in Dyker Heights. Right near where we were standing AND our bus stop, there was a pizza place called Frank’s Pizza. Their pizza was AWESOME for grandma slices. I can thoroughly recommend them!

We split an arancini and got a slice each. Both were spectacular!

2012 4th of July Parade - Dyker Heights

Photo from Flickr –

Frank's Pizza on 13th Avenue

So it was hot, uncomfortable and we had a hard time getting there but, we discovered a neighborhood that we had not previously visited and found a great slice at the same time!

I should note, the actual 4th of July day was spent in front of the AC and having a lovely lobster and salad lunch as an ‘indoor picnic’. We did our usual routine of watching the 4th of July concert from Washington DC and Boston while flicking back to the New York ones. Nothing beats DC in my opinion and I hope that one day we can go there and see it live.

So that was the 4th of July… a month late. Next up, back to Venice!

Looking back –

4th of July 2011
4th of July 2010
4th July 2009

Jun 10 2012
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Lindsey Buckingham… again! #blogjune

Lindsey Buckingham has been touring again so naturally, this meant I had to go. Lucky Bill was coming along to keep me company. I just cannot miss Linds when he is in town! It had still only been less than a year since I actually met him! WHOA!

He was playing at BB Kings Blues Club in Midtown and I had never been there before so it is always good fun checking out a new venue.

Lindsey at BB Kings

For dinner, we went to Becco on 46th Street. Becco is Lidia Bastianich’s restaurant – it did not disappoint. I opted for the three dish pasta where they come around with big frying pans filled with the three pastas of the night and continually fill your dish. The pasta was fantastic (the penne with veal ragu and peas was easily on par with pasta I ate in Rome) and Bill got the main chicken dish that was in a light broth with some Israeli cous cous and vegetables – the chicken was absolutely amazing. The only downfall was it was seriously the noisiest restaurant I have ever eaten in. I am not one for shouting over the table so basically we basically didn’t talk through the whole meal.The tables are very close and we had two very loud speakers on either side of us so we didn’t stand a chance but the whole restaurant was like having five McDonald’s playgrounds inside but with adult voices.

We then made our way back down to 42nd St to get to BB Kings. Here is where the ranting starts. We got there 10 minutes after the doors opened and decided to have dessert there so we would reach the $10 per person charge that you must make for sitting down. The tables on the floor was pretty packed already but we didn’t get to choose where we sat… even though it was general admission. The guy leading us to our seats offered us one table that was behind a pillar or right down the front where Bill would have his back to the stage. We took down the front but it was awful. We were told we HAD to sit facing each other. Um ok? Luckily, no-one was sitting beside us so I mentioned to Bill that when the show starts he can come and sit next to me so he could actually see the stage.

Then, at about 8.15 (show was starting at nine) they bought down a girl and sat her beside me. Um – how does it work that you can come in late and end up with a better seat than Bill? Okkk then. But we still had the seat beside Bill where he could move and then wiggle around when the show started. Oh no we didn’t. About 20 minutes later, they sat another girl beside Bill. So we were essentially jammed beside the stage with not even an inch of room between us and the other people and Bill couldn’t see a thing as now he didn’t even have room to spin around. I went up to our waitress and asked if we could just move seats up to the back as they had great booths, with a good view of the stage and these were still empty. She said no – if we did we would have to pay another $10 charge per head AGAIN. This was on top of the $60 each ($73 including Ticketmaster charges) that we had already paid for our tickets and on top of our desserts and drinks that we had already bought. So I cracked it and said to Bill I wouldn’t care if we left because he couldn’t see, I was slammed against the side of the stage and it was just miserable.

Then, the waitress came over with our bill. Bill noted to me how the tip was already included and she wouldn’t be getting anything else as she was pretty much hopeless. She came and took our card and then came back ten minutes later with the receipt for us to sign. She pointed out to Bill that this was just a partial gratuity, basically letting us know to add more to it. Bill is a VERY good tipper so he was very much “No worries!” and was about to up the tip to his usual ‘average service’ tip of 15%. That was until he saw the amount. The included gratuity was ALREADY 15%. So he wrote that on the receipt an when she came back he pointed out to her that it wasn’t partial as it was already 15%. To which she said “Exactly – that is only a partial tip!” AHA – she thought we were tourists – understandable considering my accent but who was she kidding?! I would LOVE to know how much she is swindling other customers (especially those who were drinking) out of more money with her scam. Bill quickly pointed out to her that 15% is a partial gratuity but that is only when it comes to GOOD service. She then just walked away. Worst service EVER.

I looked up towards the back and noticed that all the decent booths and tables up there were only just filling up. Which means that people coming in last, were getting way better seats than us – it was a schmozzle of the highest order.

Lindsey came out and I tried to enjoy it being squashed against the stage and with the girl beside me basically sitting on my lap. He played REALLY well. It was just him and his many guitars… but check out the setlist. Go Insane was AWESOME and he totally rocked Come.

Cast Away Dreams
Bleed to Love Her
Not Too Late
Stephanie
Come
Shut Us Down
Go Insane
Never Going Back Again
Big Love
I’m So Afraid
Go Your Own Way
Trouble
Seeds We Sow

Here is proof that I did stay to see him –

Lindsey Buckingham

It was then time to leave… which would have been easy but President Obama was at an event across the road. EEEEKKK. We had to have the flash off for the Obama/Clinton lighting to show up but… here is Obama, Bill Clinton and me!

Across the road from President Obama

See all those huge garbage trucks? They are used as barriers while the President was there. They circled the block! Which left me a bit dismayed as that means all he sees lining the streets when he comes to New York is old garbage trucks?! You can see more pictures here of the garbage truck barricades.

When we were finally in the cab on the way home, Bill also mentioned how he saw a mouse trap under one of the booths there… so then I got visions of mice running over my bag that I had under my seat. UGH!

The worst came the next morning when I checked our online banking and somehow our credit card had been used online at the Apple Store and Anthropologie. I knew the transactions had taken place between 6am (when I first checked) and 8.30am (when I checked again)… sometimes it does pay to be OCD about banking! Bill and I also had a fair idea about who may be responsible but of course, no proof. Anyway, after all that, we contacted BB Kings and they have been STELLAR in dealing with the issues we bought up. We learnt that for a gig like Lindsey’s there should have been no issue with us moving seats and the set tip is definitely is NOT a partial gratuity. They were sad we had such a horrid time with our server and have offered us tickets to another show of our choice. Our bank has also been great dealing with the card issue so no complaints there… the only way we can find out who it was would be to file a complaint with the police and then our bank will hand over any documentation (if they even find it) to them. The Anthropologie transaction didn’t end up going through so that is a bonus but that also means there is no record of purchase or shipping address.

So there you have it. Could any more drama happen over the course of twenty four hours?! Sheesh!!

Jun 09 2012
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Walking home #blogjune

If I decide to walk home from work, it is about 4 miles (about 6.5 kms) and takes me about 1 hour 20 mins. My pace slows considerably over the Brooklyn Bridge due to the amount of slow walking tourists walking in packs.

I tried walking home every night during Lent but various things got in the way and now the weather is too uncomfortable, but here are some pics that I have snapped on my phone along the way home.

Live news broadcast trucks at City Hall –

Walking Home

Walking Home

Walking up to the ramp of the Brooklyn Bridge –

Walking Home

I couldn’t imagine living right on the ramp of the Bridge… the traffic there never stops!

Walking Home

View looking back towards the Financial District –

Walking Home

Ahhh that skyline –

Walking Home

Brooklyn at dusk –

Walking Home

In Brooklyn and looking back towards the bridge –

Walking Home

My bridge –

Walking Home

On the Brooklyn Bridge looking at the Manhattan Bridge. Yeah.. I love bridges!

Walking Home

Cars cars cars!

Walking Home

The aftermath of the Superbowl parade –

Walking Home

Around City Hall –

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Our neighbourhood in late February –

Walking Home

Can’t get enough of the cables-

Walking Home

The Brooklyn waterfront –

Walking Home

With lights –

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Getting dark and the skyline sparkles –

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Home sweet home –

Walking Home

Brooklyn traffic –

Walking Home

Protests at the park –

Walking Home

Police van –

Walking Home

Fireman responding to a false report on the bridge –

Walking Home

Locks on the bridge –

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