Published: October 1st 2011August 18th 2011
'That bridge' in Central Park
None of us knew which movie it was in but it's definitely in at least one...
We arrived to a hot and humid New York City, quite the contrast to temperatures we had come accustomed to in Greenland and Iceland. We had both been to New York separately before and had done most of the touristy sight-seeing throughout the city, so this time our few days would hopefully be a little more relaxed.
We stayed in Upper West Manhatten, near the north western edge of Central Park, which was our destination for our first day. We entered the park and immediately were overwhelmed by the number of active people, running and cycling around the traffic-free road within the park grounds. Without joining the hoards in keeping fit, we also followed the road south, taking in the scenery of the large, urban, landscaped fields, lakes and wooded areas.
We turned out of the park in search for breakfast options and stumbled upon a New York institution - the Shake Shack. It's basically another fast food establishment doing burgers and the like but also shakes and ice creams and frozen custards! But because it was still 'breakfast' we opted to leave the main menu for some other time and instead had one amazing caramel shake!
Liberty & Jo
This was as close as Jo got!
Yum - so good!
We walked a little further south through the park again headed back into the streets of Manhattan, this time to meet Shawn - one of Brett's former London colleagues who now resides in NY - and his family. We then spent a great afternoon enjoying a catch-up and a picnic lunch back in Central Park.
Leaving Shawn's new baby boy to get some sleep, we left and headed to the south east area of the island and walked along the seaport to the very southern tip. Here we found the Staten Island ferry which crosses Upper New York Bay, allowing us a closer look at the Statue of Liberty. We took the ferry back to Manhattan and headed back towards our hotel, stopping only for dinner - at the Shake Shack. The verdict was good burgers and good frozen yogurts too!
The next day rained and rained in the city. As tempting as it was to sit in our hotel room and stay dry, we eventually headed out over to the eastern border of Central Park. We headed down Fifth Ave to the Museum of New York, where we were hoping to find
A busy little side street we stumbled across.
a layout of the history of the now bustling city. Instead we were presented with half the museum under restoration and the other half displaying a photo collection of 'New York life'. Thankfully though, not all was lost; we managed to find their theater screening an interesting short video on New York's history.
We headed back into the rain and walked down past the weirdly fascinating designed Guggenheim Museum, hoping to get a glimpse inside. However the line ups outside to get tickets were too long so we pressed on to deal with more important things - breakfast! We had arranged to meet with Anna and David - two high school friends of Brett's - over the popular Sunday tradition of brunch down town. The restaurant was in overdrive and loud, but it served up some good food and allowed for some good catch up time.
We left Anna and David to carry on with their respective Sunday afternoons while we headed for some of downtown's more popular attractions. The first stop was Grand Central Station (or Terminal as it's called) and to seek out on of the Terminal's hidden secrets - the Whispering Gallery. It is located
What? Huh? Speak up!
The Whispering Room in Grand Central Station... not quite the success as the theory would have it.
on the Grand Central Terminal dining concourse near the famous Oyster Bar & Restaurant. Here, the acoustics of the low ceramic arches apparently causes a whisper to sound like a shout. Sound impossible? Well we decided to test it out. We stood in opposite corners of the large arched entryway and faced the corner and whispered. The theory was the other person should be able to hear your voice as if you were right next to them, not whispering into a faraway corner. Theory is good, but for us it didn't work.
So we left Grand Central and headed up 42nd St to Times Square, which centers on the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue. In terms of atmosphere, it is the equivalent of Oxford Street during the lead up to Christmas - people everywhere. Perhaps we were fortunate for the rain to have kept some
of the people away but there were still plenty walking around, in and out of the many shops and gazing up at the numerous advertisements emblazoned by lights. With the intent to flee the mass of people, we left the Square and kept walking around downtown until it was time to go home.
Friends in New York
Shawn, Brett and Anna near Times Square before we left New York.
The next morning, we checked out of our hotel and joined in with the New York way of life for many at one of the local laundromats to wash our clothes. With fresh clothes now in our packs, we then headed north to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. This immense building of Gothic design disputes with Liverpool Anglican Cathedral the title of the largest cathedral and Anglican church and fourth largest Christian church in the world. It was impressive to say the least.
Before heading out of the city, we managed to meet Anna and Shawn for one last catch-up over a bite of sushi and a drink or two. Then it was onto the Greyhound depot for our impending overnight coach trip to Toronto.
The Greyhound trip and midnight border crossing through customs left us feeling pretty tired and worn by the time we arrived in Toronto around 6am. But help was at hand.
Just around the corner we found Tim Hortons, a Canadian institution for addictive coffee and - in Jo's case - even more addictive donuts. Jo managed to convince Brett it was only right that the first meal in
Canadian Goodness - Timmy!
Tim Hortons - a great Canadian institution with good coffee and GOOD donuts! A must for every morning...
Canada should be a coffee and donut. The stats show that Canadians eat twice as many donuts as Americans per year so we thought we should do our bit to keep them ahead.
Feeling slightly better after the caffeine and sugar hit we had a long walk to our hostel to drop our bags and then it was off to explore the sights of Toronto... the few they have anyway.
Luckily the weather was gorgeous; hot summer sunshine for the few days we were in the city. A nice, dry change after New York. We thought it best to head to T.O's tallest attraction, the CN Tower. A glass-wrapped elevator shot us to the top of this 553 meter tower. It's not exactly a city with a lot of significant buildings to spot from the viewing deck but the view was impressive and the glass floor gave us both a chance to get over any fear of heights, or fear of inferior engineering!
Back downtown we caught up with a friend of Jo's from her Banff days, Lindsay, for some delicious wings and beer (there was definitely a lot of food-themed tourism going on for us on
Now it all makes sense
Brett: "I wanna be just like Mike... or whatever his name is behind me".
this trip) in a sunny beer garden. Exhausted from the night of travel we headed back to our hostel - via Tim Horton's of course - for an early night.
The next day it was Brett's turn to chose the sight so we were off to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The mecca of all things ice hockey to Canadians across the country, the museum has an impressive and (in Jo's opinion) exhaustive collection of the game as it's played and has developed in countries around the world. Feeling a little like a mother with her 6 year old son, Jo took Brett's photo in-front of the Stanley Cup; the premiership trophy. We were both wishing we were kids when we got to the interactive section, a chance for children to step out onto mini-rinks and defend the goal net or try their luck at goal in a rubber puck shoot-out against a machine. It looked pretty fun.
Bizarrely enough we also discovered that Australia had an ice hockey team and Perth (of all places) had hosted a championships - sure we were in D divisions but we had no idea the sport was played at any
Jo got the chance to catch up with her Toronto-based Canadian friends from when she lived in Banff.
Jo thought she may also have found Brett's inspiration for the ginger-growth he was letting happen all over his face when we stumbled upon a photo of a retired player with an identical beard. It's tradition for teams who have made it to the Stanley Cup not to shave for the entire series, making the game a lot hairier. Jo doesn't know what Brett's excuse is. She thinks he sees the travels as his own 'no-shave' playoff series... at least it will come off once we touch down in Perth!
In the afternoon we caught up with Lindsay and her boyfriend Eric, at their place for some beers and then headed back downtown for dinner. Jo had the chance to catch up with great group of her Toronto-based friends from Banff and Brett got a chance to meet them. It was a wonderful night for catching up and for giant cocktails and cheesecakes!
It was a nice way to end our whirlwind trip to the east coast and we were glad to be able to reunite with so many friends that had been too far away for so long.
The next morning it was
off to the airport in search of more Canadian adventures - and more Tim Horton's.
There are more photos below