Feb 14 2007

Farewell Miami and Hello Orlando…

Train travel – such a classic and timeless way to travel across long distances. Connex are exempt from this for obvious reasons. When I arrived at the Amtrak station at Miami it was still dark – 6.30am and in the middle of nowhere. I checked my bags with some mystery guys that looked like they had been regular stars on America’s Most Wanted and just hung out. When we were able to board I was so impressed with the leg room and seat room and room in general. You realise how inhumane long distance air travel is. My carriage was basically empty – there was a girl in front of me though. We were not able to change seats as the train was going to be full within a couple of stops.

The train hadn’t even started choo-chooing along the tracks when BANG. Back goes the seat in front. As in full on laying down mode. Her blanket comes out and so does… her phone. Well it started.. “Hey sister… uh-huh… yup… well I told him… he is no good… I got my ass outta there girl…” This talk went on. And on. And on. Thirty minutes later she was still going… fully reclined and setting up her temporary bedroom on the Silver Meteor Amtrak. I could even hear her over my Bose (I still love them so much!) headphones.. it was cruel!!! Well then out it comes – “Well girl.. I just told him I hope he gets AIDS and got out of there!!”

WHAT??! I just cracked it – pushed out of my chair, kicking her chair at the same time and stormed through three carriages to get to the Dining Car. It was 7.30 in the morning. I had had no breakfast and dealing with her rubbish and constant talking was just too much! I sat there slipping and sliding on the vinyl dining chairs with my sausage and cheese bagel. This bagel had been nuked beyond recognition. It was so hot that so much condensation had formed in the plastic packaging when it was microwaved that the bagel was soggy. And it takes A LOT to get a soggy bagel. The sausage pattie resembled something that was brown. And the cheese was orange and lit up the packaging. So I smothered it in 4 sachets of ketchup and sulked. I wanted to be back with my mega legroom chair, listening to my Nano and enjoying the Florida scenery – but instead I was being help hostage by a girl who was majorly angry and her phone.

After about an hour I wandered back and she was asleep – but the carriage was now full. So much for classic and timeless train travel. Next time I’m booking a sleeper just for the solitude. That is the great thing about planes – NO PHONES. The sooner Amtrak implements this a no cell policy the better. That trip ended up being one where I was subjected to listening non-stop to mindless chatter for five and a half hours. Hell. On. Earth.

Orlando station was wierd. I jumped off train onto gravel! My cases came out covered in Florida dirt. There was a cab and I hauled my bags into the boot to learn he was a learner driver. And sooo slow. Then in the distance I saw it – La Quinta. People – if you ever go to Orlando I have to recommend La Quinta at the Convention Center. It was fantastic and so clean, smelt gorgeous and everyone was so darn nice! By the time I got to my room it was 2 o’clock. The girl at the front desk pointed me to the desolate, nearly fully closed down shopping centre across the road for a quick bite as she said there was a pub there. I wandered over to find it was called the Cricketers Arms! It was full of English people watching the Man City/Portsmouth game on the big screen. I ordered a hot roast beef roll and they had malt vinegar to put on my chips. Yay!

Orlando is just full of English tourists – they have English shops for Cadbury chocolates and McVitties and lots of English pubs. I knew there would be a fair few but didn’t realise how many English make Orlando their family holiday destination! Much like how we end up in LA.. Orlando is their LA.

I wandered back to my room and ended up falling asleep at 4pm – to wake up not knowing where I was at 7pm. I settled in to celebrate Geraldo being back on Fox News 😉 😉 with his Anna Nicole special, ordered a pizza and was back asleep by midnight to prepare for my day at Universal Studios…

Feb 09 2007

If you thought yesterday was touristy…

I have been sleeping so well here… last night asleep by 9pm and then awake at 5… but then went back to sleep until 8.30..! The mystery tour was picking me up at 9.45am so I went downstairs to the foyer and there was a massive fight going on. This lady had fallen in the foyer and 2 hours later appears to say she wants MONEY!! It was just crazy and a full on screaming match. Her arm was ‘hurting’. Like if you were so hurt why would the first thing you would be yelling would be how you want some kind of compensation?

Well my tour van turned up and I had my 20 year old Real World contestant again as my guide! It was a full bus and the tour started with a drive around Collins Avenue, Washington Avenue and then Ocean Drive. We pull up outside Gianni Versace’s home, where he was killed and it was just too cringeworthy with everyone pointing their cameras through the bus windows trying to get a good photo of the place. Argh!

Another thing, he was driving and narrating and doing the tour in English and Spanish. And he had a hand held microphone so he was driving one-handed! Talk about multitasking… but it meant that the tour took double the amount of time that it should of. At least I got to put my four years of Italian to use and see what words I could kind of understand!

We then drove out of South Beach and down to Little Havana – basically you feel like you are in Cuba. There is nothing in English.. we stop and well what a surprise at a ‘souvenir shop’ – it just reminded me of Contiki so much. I walked around a bit and grabbed a Strawberry sundae at Maccas where even the menu board was half in Spanish and all the people there were talking Spanish. It really was like another world.

We jumped in the touristmobile again and headed to Coral Gables. If there was anywhere I would live here, Coral Gables would be it. It reminded me soooo much of Bel Air/Bev Hills – I love the Spanish style of houses and they look so cool in the heat – I wonder if we should adopt this architecture at home because just looking at the homes makes you cool – they are gorgeous and Coral Gables was a stunning area. I posted a picture of their local swimming pool on my Flickr account – just stunning. Also, in the Coral Gables area is the Biltmore Hotel. WOW – for some reason we were able to go through into the swimming pool area (the largest hotel swimming pool in the US) and also into the Lobby area. If I was a guest there, the last thing I would want while I was sitting beside the pool would be a gaggle of daggy tourists taking my photo but we were able to for some reason! I think I will start up a Paypal donation account for everyone to put money in to allow me to stay at the Biltmore on my next holiday – it was just stunning.

After that it was time to go to the Bayside area for our cruise. Oh-my-goodness. Ok so Gator Land was interesting. Well I had images of this cruise being on a nice little white boat and sailing around the islands like in a Jennifer Lopez filmclip. No no no. I hopped out of the tourist mobile and my quaint boat was a – PIRATE SHIP. ‘Aye Matey… my gosh – they had music blaring and I was squashed up the top part with so many people and cameras I was tempted to jump overboard there and then… let me walk the plank, anything! It was just awful!

We start the cruise and the guys who work there are all like Robbie the waiter from Dirty Dancing. The narrator boomed over the microphone – “Go down to the bar guys – lots of drinks, hot dogs (?) and chips!” My visions of a glamourous cruise were ditched totally.

To get us into the spirit of things they chucked on a soundtrack that was just blaring that the fish under the boat would’ve been scared away. Soundtrack started with One Love by Bob Marley followed by Kokomo!!! Arghhhhhh!! It was 80s at its best. I couldn’t stop laughing to myself. Here I am surrounded by people drinking budweiser and stuffing themselves with hot dogs and swaying to KOKOMO! Then when Kokomo finished on came the Miami Vice theme. As we saw each celebrity home (or former home that a majority were) they would play a song from that person – even for Vanilla Ice.

This went on for an hour and we were then told about the tipping which is the most easy to understand speel of the day. We were let off back at the Bayside Mall area. If you think the previous experience had been touristy enough – think again.

We only had 1/2 an hour for lunch so there was no way I could go to a restaurant and they were all packed so I saw a sign for a foodcourt on the upper level. Picture any food court – now picture about 30 people lining up at each food place and people actually sitting on the floor and eating because there aren’t enough seats. I kid you not. Everyone was wearing these big cards around their necks. In fact there was a uniform it seemed for everyone there –

*White socks
*Pure white unmarked runners
*Some t-shirt from some touristy 5 t-shirts for $20 shop
*A big name tag

Aha! A cruise ship had docked and EVERYONE converged on this foodcourt. All I managed to get was a pretzel and ate that walking around – I had never seen anything like it.

There were some things that screamed tourist at the Bayside mall – some observations I made –

*Multiple shops that do hat embroidery
*A shop purely dedicated to glow in the dark products
*An american flag vest and bow tie – in sequins
*More than one singlet shop – with slogans like ‘Princess’, ‘Miami gal’, ‘Miami’, ‘Hottie’ etc on them
*Lots of others that sell multiples of the following – fridge magnets, keyrings, pencils, BIG pencils, patches and badges.

Enough was enough! I made it back to the bus and just wanted out!

So tonight I will walk around the Ocean Drive and Collins again before settling in for another evening watching the Anna Nicole saga unfold. I am checking out at 6am for my 7.15am train to Orlando and I won’t get to the hotel until the afternoon there.

Miami has been a great way to have a ‘real’ holiday – there is sightseeing but not a crazy amount – it is a real destination where you come and do nothing and I definitely need more holidays of this kind.

Feb 08 2007

Jenelle is a totally touristy tourist

Yesterday, I was able to book two tours in this tiny hole in the wall ‘Florida Visitors Advice Center‘.

Warning lights go off when after one minute of conversation I hear “But we do it cheaper for you… not $49.00… make it $42.00 instead” The guy reeked of what was a seemed to be a mix of Blue Stratos and Old Spice. I couldn’t be bothered working out how else to book these tours so I chose my fragrant friend and after all he was giving me a ‘good deal’.

I got a bright green ticket for ‘Paradise Tours’. The first tour I would be going on would be to the Everglades and Gator Park (!) for an airboat trip (this is the only thing I wanted to do). So I had to give a $20 deposit for that and also for my Miami city and islands tour tomorrow that is done half on a bus and half in a boat. Eeek. I cringe when I go on these tours but sometimes it is a) the only way to get somewhere if you don’t have a car and b) it is easier to leave it in someone elses hands.

I handed over my deposit and was basically thinking if I get picked up, as promised at 9.45am, it would be a miracle. I was expecting to find out that no tours actually existed. But this morning, without avail my fragrant friend was there to meet me in the foyer.. just to let me know that my bus was on its way. Hmm wierd service and then he disappeared.

So my bus turned up and this 20 year old guy who looked like a contestant on the MTV’s Real World was my driver. I jumped in and after a few more stops the minivan was full and we were on our way to the Everglades. I ended up travelling with one guy from Melbourne who had been living in Bermuda for two years and was on his way home and another one from Manchester – they had met yesterday on the Miami day trip and they warned me that for tomorrow if I get their guide, Ernesto, I am to be warned. He burped in the microphone the WHOLE time. Something to look forward to!

We had a 40 minute ride out to the Everglades and we saw alligators in the canals by the side of the road… we then rocked up to ‘Gator Land’. Sheesh. If there would be anywhere where Clark and Ellen Griswold could be found, it would be Gator Land. We were greeted by the two closest people I have ever found to Dog the Bounty Hunter and his wife, except they were in khakis. “Y’ALL STAY IN YA TOUR GROUP ORDER YA HEARRRRRRRR!” was repeatedly screeched to us and I was seriously losing it – like the laughing you try and hold in at a school assembly but cannot. It was surreal. A half an hour away you have models and guys on rollerblades coasting around eating anything that doesn’t contain a carb and here we could’ve been in Hicksville, Kentucky. Just too strange!

The airboat ride was really good – we saw lots of gators and native fauna and we got up a really good speed – that went for about 45 minutes and then it was time for the demonstration. I walked in and the guy pounced on me with a HUGE scorpion. I screamed and I think even sprayed spit everywhere I got such a fright. I was mortified – in front of all these people! Then I ended up laughing so much I just had to sit up the back and behave myself after that. He bought out a toad that is found everywhere here and has slowly killed all the native frogs and toads in the area, then a couple of gators, a panther etc. All very touristy and in the end it was almost like “Is that it?” After hanging around for what felt like an hour while many of the others ordered gator burgers, gator sausages and the like, I just spent the time chatting to others to make it go quicker. The subject then went on to tipping.

I had already paid $42.00 etc. The Bounty Hunter’s wife mentioned to us as the airboat docked, “Your tips are how I make a living..” I had no change – I didn’t think I’d be tipping people who were doing their job?! Then the demonstrator mentioned tips. And then of course there was the driver who apart for a 5 minute speel when we hopped in the bus, just drove.

My two other gator pals and I decided on $2.00 each for the driver as I had to scrounge around for dimes and quarters to even get to this. For me, the whole tipping thing just puts a real yuk feling onto the end of the trip for some reason. People just scurrying off to the side to slip some money in someone elses hand. I can’t stand it and it is the one thing I am so grateful that we don’t have to do at home.

Tomorrow it will be another 9.45am start for the Miami tour and then on Saturday I am off to Orlando via Amtrak that leaves at 7.15am. One block from the Tropics is Jerry’s Famous Deli. I had dinner there last night and I think I will eat there for the rest of my time here – it is so good, great food, big screens and awesome service.

The news that has been everywhere here has been about Lisa Nowak – the astronaut who drove to Orlando to confront (and prosecutors say she planned to murder) the woman who was going out with the other astronaut she liked. The thing is, for the nine hour trip she wore… nappies so she didn’t have to stop. As one tv host said, “Can someone please tell me the what CAR doesn’t require gas duing a 900 mile trip!” Astronauts are held in the highest regard here and this has been getting tracked non-stop. What has been hillarious has been the headlines and USA Today has some of the great ones listed.

Feb 07 2007


I so don’t fit in here.

I am not blonde.
I am not tanned.
I am not a size 2.
I don’t smoke.

The first thing that I noticed about Miami is again, the smell. I forgot about the whole cigar thing. Cigars are everywhere and I have to try and be polite and not do the whole waving-my-arms around my face to show my disgust at smoke. Argh.

I finally got to the Tropics here at about 5pm and was starving. I thought being a nearly 3 hour flight I would have got a bag of nuts or something to hold me over until dinner. Nope – AA seem to thing a can of coke will suffice. I should’ve grabbed a bagel before we took off! I also had a seriously amount of washing to do so I went and walked the Lincoln Road Mall where I felt and looked like trash against the whole lot people milling around there so I grabbed a salad at Johnny Rockets – well forget that I am going to go back and get a burger next time. See what happens the minute you get to this place? You get sucked in to the whole Florida ‘thing’.

Anyway I have to get out of ‘quick quick gotta go here’ mode and into holiday mode as this is exactly what Miami is – a holiday destination. Where it isn’t bad if you relax. Well good-o I have taken this on board. So I just laid around this morning, sorted all my clothes in my luggage and watched Road Trip. Nice!

Off to just walk Collins Avenue and take some photos and just look around and enjoy the sunshine. I will look at booking an Everglades tour – I was wanting to go to Key West but can’t find any decent places that run them. This is also a place where a car would be a good addition to your holiday!

So I am in holiday mode enjoying nice normal temperatures and the beach is only a block away.

And I have had the Miami Vice theme song stuck in my head for 24 hours now. Ridiculous!

Feb 07 2007

New York in a nutshell..

While I was on my flight from NYC to Miami I tried to write down as much as I could about New York so it would make for easier blogging! 🙂

So here goes –

On the Friday morning – the Mike and Juliet show was soooo much better than I expected. With breakfast provided by News Corp 😉 and the local Au Bon Pain we were all so hyper on sugar from their danishes, I think that is why everyone else was just so loud and couldn’t stop clapping. The warm up comedian, Jessica Kirson was HILLARIOUS. She was just so natural and had us all in hysterics. I love how over here, people don’t mind making total fools of themselves for a laugh – she invited four guys and four girls to come up onto the stage and dance with her – they were all mums and dads and it was just the funniest thing – people just making their own laughs. I loved it! Mike and Juliet were soooo nice in real life – I have been watching them since they used to appear on ‘Fox and Friends’ and seriously this show would have to be one of the best ‘after 9am morning shows’ going!

I then ventured down to Macy’s at 34th to look for a coat but basically cracked it because there were too many to choose from and they were just everywhere and laying all over the place. Forget it – I’ll get one when I get home! It was then warm enough to make the trek down the road to Old Navy – PFFT. NO JEANS hardly AT ALL! I said to the guy how I just basically fly over to stock up on their jeans (my fave bootleg style) :((( And they hadn’t had a shipment since DECEMBER!! But I bought lots of other goodies anyway and will wait until I am in LA before hitting Old Navy again. At the Manhattan Mall I made my usual pitstop at the Hallmark store. I would love to work in a Hallmark store!! And then had a late Creole lunch of Bourbon Chicken, greens and red beans and rice. This was just usual food court fare in a near empty food court and one homeless man picked me – out of the 5 trillion empty seats – to sit next to and yell at the wall. Sigh. Amy arrived late from Boston and we stayed up talking which was a blessing – staying up late enabled my jet lag to disappear!

On Saturday ’twas COLD and we walked from 5th Avenue up to the Shrine of APPLE. As you can tell by my Flickr account, I am no longer taking photos of St Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th… it is now the Apple store. heheheheh It was so cold we decided a great way to escape the cold would be a Broadway play and as stated earlier, we saw the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Such a great musical and just so good because it was so original. I think we were impressed because we got to see it for half price without lining up for 5 hours at 8am! Yay!

With a stop in at M&M world and the grouse popcorn place (the name has slipped my mind) we headed back to the Big Apple to warm up before dinner. We ventured out quite late and just plonked down at TGIF’s which, being in probably one of the most touristy places in the world, charged a premium. It would do and is the usual American chain restaurant fare.

Sunday morning saw it being even colder – I can’t describe how cold the cold actually was. Basically – so cold it hurts. It made my legs red and rashy and my eyes were constantly bloodshot. I thought it was my mascara but after being here in Miami – my eyes are fine. We did the subway and buses all day to escape the cold and still see a lot, first making a stop at the WTC site. It is amazing since after I first saw the Towers in 1999, to seeing them after they were destroyed in March 2002 and then in 05, 06 and now 07 – the development that is taking place is really good. Having the Path station open has bought a lot back to the site and has bought the commuters back. It needs people. Bloomindales was our next stop – such a lovely store inside and then we headed to Dylans Candy Bar. Wow. This has become one of my favourite NYC places. It was fantastic and we stocked up on goodies. It is also one of the best smelling places ON EARTH. The smell was just pure sugar and sweetness. YUM. If I could eat the whole shop, I would! We then trekked across town, back to Columbus Circle after stopping in at Daffys, which reminded me of Ross Dress For Less in LA. At Columbus Circle I went and bought those Bose headphones – BEST PURCHASE EVER. Ok well my Mac was the best purchase… but the headphones would go down as the best accessory. They are so soft, comfortable and the sound has bought my iPod to LIFE! All worship BOSE!!!

We then trekked down to Greenwich, my favourite area of the City. After all the shopping and walking we stopped in at John’s – my favourite pizza place and I was glad to show it off to Amy! We shared a great pizza and it definitely didn’t disappoint. I hope that place never changes. We walked along Bleeker Street to Magnolia but the line was ridiculous for a freezing day so I had to skip my Banana Pudding *sobs* so Amy and I warmed up at Bigelow’s where I did my big stock up on ‘girl stuff’ and stuff for Ev before taking the bus right up 6th Avenue to take in the sights and sounds of NYC.

Dinner that night was at Maxine’s Deli in Times Square. It was wierd. The service staff all seemed somewhat… illegal perhaps? The people dining there were just as strange – the whole setup was just.. strange. The girl behind the bar looked like she had taken fifteen valium and spent the whole time just staring into space and yet this was in Times Square… it just cracked us up and I think we spent the whole of dinner just saying “What are we doing here??!”

Monday we were getting tired but made it to the United Nations for the first 9.30am tour. It was really good seeing it all and the tour went for about an hour. But that place is in desperate need for a makeover… bring in Martha! The whole basement area with the giftshop, bookstore and post office resembled the old Dental Hospital at the top of Elizabeth Street. Each of the chambers need new carpet and seating… badly. Maybe it is time to start a UN makeover fund? The tour was really informative and at least now I can say “I’ve seen it!” as that was the one last touristy thing I hadn’t done in NYC before. We then headed down to Century 21 where we battled through the piles of stuff for some goodies and did the 6th Avenue bus trip again all the way up to Midtown. We had our best meal at this pub a few doors down from the hostel and it was the best of our few days! The English guy that was our waiter had been to Australia and even Crowded House came over the radio while we were there. Amy left and made it safely back to Boston and I wasn’t that tired so I decided to head up to 79th to vist Zabar’s and H&H Bagels (right next to each other).

Firstly, Zabar’s was FANTASTIC. The minute I walked in I got blown away by the smell of… Olives. I looked to my left and there were what looked like 1000 different kinds of Olives! If I lived in NYC, I would basically do all my shopping at Zabar’s. It was awesome. I left with some vine leaves for a light dinner. Now H&H appears in all the guide books as the best bagel experience ever. I have to agree. I got a plain and a cinnaraisin bagel and it was so deliciously chewy and fresh… oh wow. There is such a demand for their bagels they bake 24 hours a day. My carbs skyrocketed – I could seriously live on H&H bagels. Best bagels. Ever!

I then walked along Central Park to head back to the Apple store for one last worship. It was packed and forget the old Mac Lab at RMIT. This takes the CAKE! Thanks Mr Jobs!! 🙂

As my New York visit was drawing to a close, my homemade balaclava that I was able to put together using my ear muffs and scarf actually froze. The condensation from my breathing was hitting the cold air and my scarf developed ice. My nose couldn’t run anymore as even those contents were frozen in my nose. What a great memory!

Checking out the next morning there was a great fight in the foyer of the hostel between this girl and the staff. She had already lost her ticket to South Africa to get home and then had stuffed up with her key deposit. It was entertaining while waiting for super shuttle. I made it to the airport in one piece and boarded my AA flight. As we took off, I got a great view looking back to New York City. As crazy as it is, I am already missing it. The city though. Not the cold!

Feb 07 2007

New York in categories –

Sights –

*Water frozen in gutters with rubbish frozen in them as well
*Guys selling fake bags and touristy NYC prints – no matter what the weather
*A gambling operation on the subway – people were actually participating!
*People in balaclavas. They don’t scare me anymore after seeing so many people wearing them. I get their purpose now!

Sounds –

*Hardly any beeping of horns. On 6th Avenue I actually saw a sign – “Don’t beep – $350 fine”. Whoa.
*Subway announcements. I don’t know why they bother as no-one can understand them in between the noise/static/bad sound quality and Brooklyn/Bronx accents
*No sounds at the hostel after the first night – it was soooo quiet!

Smells –

*Pizza at Johns. Yum.
*The rubbish piles on the street at 8pm
*The smell of hot roasted almonds/kebabs/hot dogs/pretzels
*The wafting smell of the heat from the subway lines – totally took me back to Barcelona
*The zillions of olives at Zabar’s
*The boiled dough smell of H&H

Feb 04 2007

Brrrr it’s cold in here…

There is cold weather and then there is…cold weather. It is absolutely FREEZING. I cannot describe it in any other way. Basically it is so cold it burns. 🙁 No snow either – just freezing arctic air. It makes sightseeing extremely difficult so I am looking forward to Miami that is for sure!

One thing – NY still puts on a great show! The Mike and Juliet show taping on Friday was fantastic. The special guest was… Marie Osmond! Yay!!! I will post more about this and the rest of the happenings here. The 5th Avenue Apple store is just out of this world… Apple heaven! To beat the cold Amy and I went to see the 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee at the Circle in the Round theatre on 50th and Broadway. It was really really good! The night before, Julie Andrews was there and they called her up to spell Supercalifragilisticexpaliadocious. (I am guessing the spelling!)

Today is Superbowl Sunday and my favourite ad so far is the K-Fed one – do a search on You Tube – it is awesome!

Today we are heading up to Dylan’s Candy Store before hitting Greenwich and SoHo and all south after fully covering Midtown yesterday with a late night eat at TGI Friday’s.

Blogging will get back to normal in Miami! 🙂 🙂

Feb 01 2007

Martha. Martha. Martha.

I was within 2 metres of Martha Stewart. I am still in shock.

Due to the joys of jetlag, I was up at 3am. Watching CNN Headline News and repeat episodes of The Real Housewives of Orange County and the Shape N Slim Infomercial. (See the difference – over in Edinburgh it was BBC Radio 4 – now, infomercials) But I was feeling much better than the day before so knew this was a good thing! Being up and ready by 7am was fantastic – I was able to see the city while it was still a little asleep. Walking through Times Square, when the temps are below zero and before the crowds was lovely. I got asked twice what perfume I was wearing? And not by dodgy people either… strange.

I grabbed some breakfast at Pax and made my way down to West 26th to the Martha studios where I checked in and was given my audience ticket and was told to come back at 8.30. I wanded over to Dunkin’ Donuts where there were a bevy of 40-something year old ladies with lots of foundation, big hair and big voices. I had a feeling they were going where I was going.

I sat down with my DD hot chocolate (the best hot choc in the world) when a lady came over and introduced herself and said that they were behind me when I was picking up my ticket and saw I was on my own and asked if I wanted some company! Awwww! It ended up her son, who was with her and her husband works here in NYC and arranged tickets for them all to Martha. Awww! It ends up this son happens to work in stocks in the Fox News building around the corner from the hostel. Spoooky! Anyway they were from Boston and were so nice but we got split up when it was time to go into the studio.

The studio is GORGEOUS and I took lots of pics. But better than anything – guess who was joining Martha today? Joan Rivers! *faints* Seriously – it was one of the most hillarious segments ever. Joan who is so out there and Martha who is not. They should seriously do a show together – people had tears running down their face it was so hillarious. I loved every minute and Martha is just totally STUNNING in real life. She has it going on – and is so polite and warm and when the cameras were off… she was the same. She stayed around to answer audience questions afterwards and was just really polite but not uptight. I cannot describe her – she oozes intelligence and is just such a lady. Bless!!!!!

Primadonna she definitely is not – even in the ad breaks with all the crew she has, she would still clean the chopping boards and the cooking stuff herself.

I’ve then spent the morning and afternoon just wandering the streets. I headed back to Columbus Circle to the Bose shop. I so want the headphones. I explained to the guy that Ev and I were here last year debating the same thing. The new ones are so hot. Let me know what you think.

I then wandered around Whole Foods Market and made my lunch and then did some more wandering around mid-town. I think now I will head up to Bloomingdales as I really need to find a new winter coat and the sales are on. Yay!

Tomorrow morning I am up early again to be at Fox News by 7.45am for The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet

By the way – it is freezing and it is going to be getting colder. But NYC warms me like nothing else! This is my place – it felt comforting coming here – seeing the smoke rise for the subway grates, smelling the burning pretzels, people who just talk to you for no reason (if you don’t want this to happen, keep your headphones in), the guys selling dodgy NYC photos, people playing Otis Redding at 59th Street station – it just doesn’t get any better.

Feb 01 2007

Gas and other happenings at 38000 feet

Yesterday felt like one of the longest days of my life!

(First of all, yes I’m in New York safely – but I am working backwards!)

So, the day started at 5am where I was laying in my cramped little bed (Did I ever mention that the beds at the hostel in Edinburgh were tiny? My back is still recovering!) just busting at the seams to get up and busy and on my way to the airport – I was all ready and waiting in the foyer at 6.45am – getting my last sniff of that Edinburgh smell and listening to my last BBC broadcast in a while! Getting out the airport is fine and checking in with British Midlands was a breeze – the only problem was that as they aren’t part of one world I would have to collect my luggage at Heathrow, run to a terminal on the other side of Heathrow, and then re-check in with American Airlines and then go through security all again. If the plane landed on time, I had two hours to complete this task… and this is for an international flight where you are supposed to be at check in two hours before. Argh! The Amazing Race begins…

While waiting at the boarding gate I began to feel extremely sick – typical. A full on fever came on but I was shivering as if I was in the middle of an arctic blast, and at the same time my legs felt like they were going to go from under me. All I was doing was thinking to myself over and over “I will not get sick again!” I made it onto the plane and I could feel the sweat dripping down my back but I was so cold I kept my polar fleece and scarf on and was covered in goosebumps. My head felt like it was going to explode. Halfway through the flight I remembered the panadol that I kept in my travel cosmetic case and skulled two of those and by the time I landed I felt half normal. Oh yes… but remember I had to make it to the New York flight.. and the plane decided to taxi the runways at Heathrow for 20 minutes and my case was basically the last to come out of that mystery conveyor belt. Still sweating and feeling light headed and looking like a less-than-savoury-passenger I RAN. And ran. And ran. If you have ever had to change terminals at Heathrow you know what I mean. No shuttle buses – nothing. Just my legs, my case, my carry-on and… my sweatiness. Gross.

My NY flight was due to take off at 12 noon. I got to the counter at 11.20am. Boarding was at 11.15am. I still had to deal with security. I still had to run to the other end of that terminal to get to the gate. One question – why is the gate for my flights always at the very end of the terminal? Please explain!

Well – I made it. Yay!!! I managed to buy a bottle of water and try and make myself look more respectable that I was feeling and get on that plane.

Now to American Airlines.

Have you ever sat in your seat on Qantas… Air NZ… BA… and wondered where all your leg room has gone? Well I found it all! On the AA long haul planes. AMAZING LEG ROOM!!!!!

On domestic routes, AA is hmm. That is all I have to say on that – but on long haul, bring it on!!! The food for this flight was so-so. A chicken pasta that had about half a block of western star butter in it. Some disgusting corn salsa that I tried one kernal of. Some strawberry cake/pudding thing that was so sweet I was rapt! But drinks drinks drinks. The (non-alcoholic) drinks trolley went around five times, you have access to a bar of drinks at any time you want and they just don’t stop! Then with about an hour to go they bring around an AA stack box. Toblerone, Oreos, Pringles, yoghurt covered things (what I am thinking they think is the healthy alternative), cheese and crackers. So I could not say I did not leave the nearly 8 hour flight, unsustained.

Their flight crew were really good and AA now have the headrest screens so that was awesome as well. (I was thinking it was going to be a viewing of Pocahontas on repeat on one large screen!) One of our stewards was a crack up – he looked just like Vince Vaughn in Starsky and Hutch but with straighter hair –

We were due to land at JFK 45 minutes ahead of schedule, then all of a sudden on the flight map the time extended by an hour. The captain announces we will be delayed due to PRESIDENTIAL MOVEMENT in the skies! (He had been at Wall Street and had to fly back to Washington DC urgently for a meeting with Nancy Pelosi and the others who just returned from Iraq) So this caused me to nearly pull my neck out trying to get a full look over the wing to see if I could see Air Force One in the distance. I didn’t – but there were about five other planes doing donuts in the sky for an hour as well and I got some images of them flying a little to close for my liking to AA105.

Now the only downside of the flight? The guy beside me! I have really lucked out on all my flights with awesome people but this one was gross. And considering I was gross all yesterday, that says alot. The minute the seat belt sign was off I was off to the bathrooms to use my 4711 cool as ice refresher towels and Cocoa Butter hand cream and my lipsmackers collection but the guy beside me? Ewww. He processed to ahem.. pass gas on more than one occasion throughout the flight. So much so I was forced to put that blowy air thingy on full and put the little blanket over my nose to act like I was freezing cold. He also proceeded to burp the contents of the chicken lunch at least three times. Arghhh. And he was such a surly fellow, I am sure if anyone had pointed their finger at him, he would have proceeded to point his finger at ME!

So with that we landed. It was a very long time going through immigration and customs and even longer getting through the traffic to the Big Apple. I made it but I was starting to feel pretty average so I checked in, ran out, got some dinner, ran back, had a shower and was sound asleep by 8pm. I didn’t even get time to watch Nancy Grace or Greta. Shock!