March 6th, 2010
I was in New York City all last week, both for work and for pleasure. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have been kept abreast of the many celebrities we saw in our travels. Odd, because of the nature of the weather (holy snow batman) but fun because I always like imagining what people are like in real life. We did not, however, see Ethan Hawke, which would have made me so dizzy with excitement I don’t know if I’d ever recover. As my RRHB likes to tease me, if we ever did, he’d walk right up to the man and profess MY undying love. Heh.
We saw Catherine Zeta-Jones carrying a huge umbrella and smoking as she walked near the Natural History Museum on the Upper West Side. She’s teeny-tiny. That Friday afternoon we spent over four hours wandering the halls and looking at all kinds of marvelous things. The only problem being my sh*tty North Face boots that leaked and which have even started to fall apart a mere months after buying them.
The next day we went for a nice walk in Central Park (I took a great photo of what it looked like with all the snow) and then headed to the Lower East Side to wander around. While we were at Katz’s deli enjoying a fantastic sandwich, Jake Gyllenhaal was there with a photographic crew who were taking photos of him wearing some really snappy clothes. He laughed a lot, and was very kind to everyone in the restaurant. My RRHB said, “How come he didn’t recognize me?” When he first noticed he was there. Funny. On the way out, one of Blair’s cronies from Gossip Girl was hanging outside Katz’s with her friends, her name is ridiculous, and so I am not going to type it. Judge me if you will. Then, coming back up Broadway we walked right by Chloe Sevigny.
Then, we shopped. A lot.
We had dinner with a friend in the East Village, and by Sunday AM we were both exhausted. Still, we rallied and wandered through a magnificent exhibit at the International Center of Photography on Sixth at 43rd — it was right by our hotel anyway. More walking. We spent a good chunk of time at the Library looking at their free exhibits — Candide and maps.
Again, more shopping. Then a little stopping for a pint so we could watch a bit of the hockey game before climbing in a car and heading to Newark for the flight home. While checking in our bags, I got a little flustered, and when we passed the next person in line, she smiled kindly at me. That person? Naomi Watts. She was on our flight to Toronto, and I’m not going to judge, but she was reading In Touch magazine. That made me smile. It must be hella odd to pick up one of those rags as airport reading and find pictures of your friends. Being a mainly Canadian flight, no one bothered her, but she did do a lot of the “I’m looking at my Blackberry because I don’t want to seem like I’m standing here all alone” stance that so many of us are familiar with. I’m a pro at that stance.
And now a whole week has gone by. I’ve got goals this weekend, both for my novel and for my latest classic start, and am taking Monday off to complete them (along with going to the dentist, ugh). I’ll just be very glad to be done both. My brain is too full of all kinds of stuff these days to settle down.
The photos from the trip are up on my Flickr. The shot of the socks made me laugh — that someone tried to die out their soppers stuffed in the stones of the public library rang quite true for me. On the Friday of the big snow storm, I took off my socks in the museum and wandered around trying to dry them out and leaving a nasty, smelly-smell behind me for anyone daring to come near us. Ah, the human body.
October 15th, 2008
After a ridiculously frustrating day taking two ferries yesterday, our karma was restored and was actually somewhat glorious. Yesterday: rain and misery. Today: sun and happiness.
We set off, as my bro said, on ferry time this morning (40 minutes late) and charted our way to Tofino. Even before breakfast we hiked (walked) through Cathedral Grove and looked an old growth forest. Snapped a million pictures and then got back in the car. Stopped in Port Alberni for some strip mall diner breakfast and then drove past some truly exquisite scenery.
When we arrived in Tofino the sun had just warmed up the coast. We wandered the beach after checking into our amazing hotel. Toss of the coin meant we opted for whale watching instead of surfing (my sick chest really decided for us) and we hopped back in the car to set off for town. Five minutes to spare and the three last spots meant we landed on the whale watching 3 PM tour.
What riches. Two killer whales, a harbour seal and four grey whales. Now here comes the mind blowing part: the whale came right beside the boat so close my brother touched him and I took some amazing photos.
The whale was bigger than the boat.
But it almost seemed that he (or she) wanted to be touched. The gentle way it brushed the boat could not have been any more amazing. I don’t even have words. Saw some cool birds I’d like to identify and we got back windswept and awestruck.
we ate an incredible dinner at Shelter restaurant in town and I have just climbed out of a bath dusted with Aveda products. Being any more relaxed could not be possible. There’s a fire and the ocean just outside my window.
And I have run out of adjectives, so I think I’ll sign off until tomorrow. Today could not sit in any more opposition to yesterday. Vacation has arrived. I just wish I wasn’t sick.
October 13th, 2008
My brother, husband and I are sitting in a huge line of cars on the Sunshine Coast trying to get on to a ferry. It’s going to be a long day. We haven’t even really started our journey. We’re trying to end up in Parksville at my aunt and uncle’s, but it seems we may be in transit and sitting in a rental car for many, many hours.
The wedding was lovely. The bride beautiful. The groom dashing. The service respectful and moving. The meal delicious. The setting quite spectacular and meaningful for the bride’s family.
Tomorrow we’re heading (fingers crossed) to Tofino, and then home on Thursday. I have been felled again by illness but I did my best not to cough my way on the dance floor last night.
One of my favourite parts of the night was when my RRHB danced with me to The Clash and my brother said we looked like Uma Thurman and John Travolta, and he wasn’t even being sarcastic.
And still we wait. If we’re lucky, we’ll get on the 4:30 PM ferry. If not, the 6:30 PM.
Oh, the joys of travelling.
June 20th, 2008
June 17th, 2008
We’re still in NYC. Our flight was cancelled. Bad weather on both ends and bam, we’re SOL in terms of getting home. A few panicked phone calls later and we’ve secured a hotel (with a shuttle service).
It’s funny. I am beginning to think I might be cursed when it comes to getting home. Paris. Mexico re-routed. Now a cancelled flight.
Annnywaaay. We’re in Long Island City New York. It has its charms, which includes a bird’s eye view of the LIE and Harp on tap. Two pints and a hotel room for the 4 of us. Life is nothing but an adventure.
We spent the morning on Coney Island. When we arrived, the place was shuttered, iron grates on the doors and nothing opened. But soon, as the haze disappeared and people shed their layers, it opened up.
We walked through Central Park, rested, and then made our way to the airport. Now, it’s 5 hours until we’re back at the airport to try and get home.
June 16th, 2008
We had a bit of a slower day yesterday. After brunch (only in New York can you ask for banana pancakes and get regular pancakes with six sliver-thin wafers of fruit on top). Then we walked down through the fair on 6th Ave, felt like we were in a bit of a time warp as the booths kept repeating themselves, and then ended up back at the halfprice ticket booth only to discover it was the Sunday of the Tonys so many of the shows were skipping their Sunday matinees and evening performances. In a stroke of luck, we decided to see “Gypsy” with Patti LuPone, which I enjoyed, but that almost killed my RRHB with boredom. Good thing too because she won the Tony for lead actress.
In between buying the tickets and seeing the play, we managed to make it over and see the Seagram building, and that made me quite happy.
Then my RRHB and I had dinner with some friends, parted as they headed back to Brooklyn, and we wandered into The Strand. A pile of books later and we’re on the subway back uptown.
Today, we’re headed for Coney Island. And then it’s back to LaGuardia and home.
June 15th, 2008
We’re back at the hotel now after another busy day. My RR M-I-L wanted to see Times Square, so we had breakfast and made our way down there. Today was hot, humid and packed with tourists all crammed into the city block where everyone in the world should visit at least once in their lives.
From there we walked to Macy’s (I had just a half-hour to shop) and then took the subway to the WTC site, which is still sobering, and ever-changing. Different each time we come here. Too hot and really exhausted we took a cab to Katz’s Deli, had a traditional NY lunch, and the walked back over to Broadway through the Lower East Side and bits of Chinatown.
Then our RR in laws (parents) retired and we walked up to the Lincoln Centre to see “The Hulk.” Honestly, I enjoyed it. The film is way, way better than I expected it to be.
We came out of the amazing-looking theatre to the rain. Oh, I forgot to say that we stood earlier through a crazy thunderstorm on Delancey Street. My RRHB wanted a slice so we stopped along the way. Greasy, hot, delicious. Kind of sums of my day.
Pardon my spelling. There are albatrosses on TV.
June 14th, 2008
We’ve been up for hours, lots and lots of hours. Our plane left at 6:50 this morning so we were at Pearson by 5 AM. My RRHB’s parents were already there. Zipped through customs, and the flight took less time (1 hour) than it did to taxi to the gate at LaGuardia.
The weather was extraordinary today. We walked from the hotel (the Hilton; there was a snafu with the room) along Park Avenue, stopped in at St. Patrick and St. Thomas cathedrals, and then ended up at my all-time favourite NYC destination: the NYPL building in midtown. The exhibits, always free, we saw were: Milton at 400 (very excellent old books), the portraits in the 3rd floor reading room, which includes the original Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed toys.
Then we walked down to the Empire State Building and stood in line forever and ever and ever. It was worth it and my RR in-laws were amazed and awestruck.
After hours spent being ideal NYC tourists we ended up having a snack at some swanky gastro-eatery place. Delicious, yes. Waste of time, yes. The bitchiest waitress I have ever encountered served us. She was 12 if she was a day and had more attitude than poundage.
Then it was on the 1 subway line to the Staten Island Ferry for a view of the lady and her islands. Quick turnaround and we’re back on Manhattan making our way in rush hour traffic to the hotel. A fellow on the train kept directing pedestrian traffic by saying, “Come on people, let’s fluctuate, fluctuate in here right now.”
Yes, indeed, let’s.
For dinner we cabbed it slightly south to Grand Cental and enjoyed the Oyster Bar. Is it ironic if noone had an oyster just delicious fishy courses. Now, I’m a little tipsy from our hotel nightcap and utterly exhausted.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll squeeze in a little shopping.
(Pardon the spelling and grammar: I’m on the blackberry).
June 3rd, 2008
Yesterday I was so tired that everything I looked at was blurry. My own face, my RRHB’s face, the television, my life, work, everything. And after the hell on wheels experience of getting to the airport I almost melted after getting home. But first, let me relate via list and ensure you that it’s a whole lot more entertaining when I tell the story in person.
The Day I Left Paris And Almost Lost My Mind
1. I woke up an hour early before the time I set my BB to because I was obsessed with the weight of my suitcase. Halfway through the night I’d had a brainwave about repacking. Yes. I know. But the way I had done it I couldn’t fit everything in, and I didn’t want to leave anything behind. So, 6 AM after a wedding is not recommended.
2. The guardian for the apartment was 15 minutes late showing up, but whatever. We got our deposit back. She was pleased with my cleaning.
4. My luggage was heavy. Like 30 kgs. But I carried it down the Metro stairs, settled myself in, and got to Chatelet okay, and even found the RER entrance to take the train to the airport. Here’s where the trouble started.
5. A ticket for the train costs $8.60 (Euros). I had eight. I needed sixty centimes. There were no attendents and nor was there a change machine. “No biggie,” I thought, “I’ll just take the Metro to L’Opera and take the Roissy bus.” Gathered up my luggage and dragged my ass back down to the train levels and got on the pink line. And sat there. And sat there. And sat there.
6. An announcement bings and I sort of half-understand that there are problems at Pont Neuf, which means I can’t get to L’Opera unless I go halfway around the city and that would take forever. Sigh. So, I gather up my luggage again and make my way back out to the myriad tunnels of Chatelet with the hope of discovering the one store I saw was open when I descended from the 1st line from Bastille. No such luck.
8. Again, dragging my impossibly heavy luggage with me, I go back up to street level. When I reach the sunshined streets I am bawling.
9. There is NOTHING OPEN. Not a bakery, not McDonald’s, nothing. So I wander around the area heaving and sobbing.
10. At least I spot a cafe opening up. I trudge inside and am so verclempt that I can’t even barely get out the English version of needing change vs. the French. They refuse me. I ask, in French, to buy a bottle of water. They say no. But then the guy pours me a glass of water. Um, thanks. I offer to pay. He says no. I pull out ALL OF MY EUROS and half-scream, “I JUST NEED SOME CHANGE.” They refuse me. I refuse to leave until I get my change. This goes on for about 10 minutes.
11. 5 fresh Euro coins in hand, I make my way back down to the RER platform (after using up 2 Metro tickets because my luggage got stuck before I could get through. I kicked it) and buy a ticket from the automatic machine. The entrance to the CDG section of the RER won’t let me through even though the machine says my ticket is good to go. I cry some more.
12. I then go in a different entrance and find my way to the tracks. With terrible signage (it looks like I’m going to Orly, not CGG), I stand and wait for a train. The illumination board says it’ll be 26 minutes until the next one comes. Um, it’s now 9:30 and my flight’s at noon.
13. Some random guy comes up to me and says, “Hey, are you from Canada.” I do not have time for him. But he does reassure me I am in the right place. He makes awkward conversation. The train comes in 3 versus 26 minutes. I am saved.
14. The stop for Terminal 3 is the second-to-last, at least I didn’t have to take a bus from the wrong place.
15. The lineup is huge. It’s now well after 10.
16. Finally get up to the check-in and have discovered that you can take ZERO liquids on French flights. I furiously repack my girlie bits and am happy that my luggage is well under the weight restrictions. The check-in fellow was kind as it took me A WHILE to pull all the liquids out of everywhere and repack them in my bursting suitcase.
17. The funny security girl makes a witty remark about having to leave my tragic hip behind as I go through the metal detector.
18. The next security check rifles through the Louis. Contraband liquids? Of course! I’d forgotten a lip gloss. I hand her all my papers and go throw it out. The colour was awful anyway.
19. I return to collect my things and discover: SOMEONE HAS TAKEN MY BOARDING PASS.
20. Without shouting, I calmly say, “Um, where’s my [totally wishing I could swear but I didn’t] boarding pass?” A second security woman who had waved some sort of magic wand over my carry-on hands it back five minutes later. She gives me no explanation as per why she took it in the first place.
21. At last, the gate! I’m there at 11:15, exactly when boarding was supposed to start.
22. The plane was late.
May 30th, 2008
It’s hard to believe that even with the idea of the time difference, the days have flown by at lightning speed. It’s 9 PM and I just ate dinner at a small bistro down the street from our rented apartment in the Bastille after the vegetarian restaurant AROUND THE CORNER FROM OUR HOUSE was also closed. Sam will understand. It’s the, um, 4th or 5th (I’m exaggerating, but only slightly) vegetarian restaurant from the Lonely Planet that’s a) closed or b) simply not there. Somehow, I think that perhaps the world is trying to tell me something. We hit a wall last night a about 8 PM, the third or fourth night in a row of not eating dinner before 10 PM, walking all that time, exploring all the time, shopping and seeing all that time, or rather, I hit a wall, and we had fish and chips at an Irish pub in the grossest area of Paris around Centre Pompidou. It was bliss.
Yesterday we took it easy. We looked to all the things we hadn’t done: a few old, old churches we longed to see (the organ in St. Sulpice!), visited the yarn shop, had a pint (me) and a Coke (Sam), did more shopping in the rain, thought the architecture of Le Halles quite disruptive if not just a little bit intriguing. The morning was spent wandering the Islands and having delicious ice cream. Oh, and having crepes. I could live on crepes alone although it’s not entirely healthy to have crepes and Berthillion for breakfast. Ah, when in Paris…
Only Sam and I could stumble upon a great building next to a church that surprised both of us (and as I’m here without the guide book the name of it shall have to be filled in later) next to a church that people lined up for hours to see. The most fascinating part for me was the women’s prison gardens, the place where they drank, the table where they ate (that I mistakenly sat on) and the iron-gated space where they waited to be executed. There was a recreation of Marie Antoinette’s cell that sent a shiver up my spine, even though it was filled with those strange waxy figured they always use in historical recreations. Okay, one waxy Marie and a bunch of other male prisoners, many of whom were very poor and living in cramed and truly gross quarters.
Afterwards, we ended up at the knitting store, which Sam will tell you about. I mainly contemplated making my RRHB a scarf made from bamboo by buying a metre of really pretty light grey yarn and then realising (upon talking it over with Sam) that I could probably get similar yarn at Romni at less the price.
Annnnywaay. It was raining, yet again, so we browsed the stores around St. Sulpice, and then made our way back to the Marais for gift shopping. I have some sweet presents for my RRHB and managed to finally find a pair of shoes that I actually liked enough to buy. This is all I’ll say: they are made in France and have red polka dots on the bottoms. How cute!
Skip past our truly “french”-style fish and chips and we’re in front of the Hotel de Ville, and all I kept thinking about was The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the Place de Greves, because it sits on that historical site. Walking home I actually, for the first time in a week, knew the direction and felt a part of the city. Chatted, walked, chatted, and then dropped down on the bed for some restorative yoga before bed.
We woke up early this morning, wandered through the Place de Vosges (sp?) and then went into a FREE museum that I can’t remember the name of off the top of my head. A bit more shopping and I finally found another pair of shoes worth buying. At this point I’m a little troubled about how it’s all going to fit in my suitcase. Sigh.
Then it was off to l’Opera to find Sam the bus for the airport. I would have cried but I didn’t. Then I went back to the mall and bought a cute jacket to go with my dress for the wedding, and then walked to ANOTHER UNOPEN vegetarian restaurant before deciding upon a cucombre sandwich and a good rest before attempting the Musee D’Orsay.
I wrote a poem about the above.
It’s to come.
Then I ate out by myself which is something I never do, and the waiter was amazingly nice, said something about ‘sur pleasure’ after I mumbled my French. The food was delicious. Seven days and only one mediocre meal and it wasn’t even remotely bad, just not what I wanted.
Okay, the internet place is closing down so I can get a little homesick and weepy for my RRHB and my real bed and his strong arms and grumpy demeanor and to be loved and to love in return and yes I’ve had two glasses of wine but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be home.