Chinatown in Montreal

People would think after living in Downtown Chinatown in New York for so long, I would have tried to avoid coming into Chinatown in Montreal. The truth is, I love China town. No matter whether it’s Sydney, New York, or Montreal, Same same, different country.

It’s a busy area, there are heaps of asian food stores to choose from, plenty of dumplings, asian sweets, funky items on sale and plenty of supermarkets to pop into. In China town in New York, I couldn’t get over the amount of spitting they did, however I haven’t experienced it to that degree here in Montreal, thank goodness. It seems a lot cleaner here in general and that’s a good thing.

My favourite food shop here is Pho X.O Vietnamese Cuisine. It opened it’s doors in 2013 and it’s right near the China Town entrance. They make great food. I order number 10 off the menu every time. Creature of habit.

There is this shop called Miss Kiko which has all these glittery hats and caps. An interesting shop to take a look in. We buy all our dumplings from the supermarket next door to Pho X.O which is underground down the escalators.  I still cannot find my favourite dumpling sauce here that I get in Sydney and New York but they have similar options. I took some snap shots of the area in general so you get the picture. You will notice it has a similar feel to hay market but it doesn’t have the big marketplace we do which is a shame. I miss all the bargains you get from there.

IMG_2468 IMG_2466 IMG_2463 IMG_2462 IMG_2459 IMG_2457 IMG_2456 IMG_2454 IMG_2453 IMG_2452 IMG_2451 IMG_2450 IMG_2449 IMG_2448 IMG_2309 IMG_2308 IMG_2307 IMG_2306 IMG_2305 IMG_2303 IMG_2302 IMG_2295 IMG_2294 IMG_2293 IMG_2292 7R1A5080

Camping at Lac Simon Quebec

I love going camping. When I got to Canada, I remember thinking how I didn’t have any of my things from Australia to use here. My camping gear was a big part of that. I had everything back home such as an eight man tent, a camp kitchen, tables, chairs, bbq, and everything else you need.

It gave me a good opportunity to look around here and check out some camping gear. I noticed a few differences with their gear and the biggest difference was the quality of sleeping bags. They demonstrate how to determine the warmth of the – minus temperatures. I never worried about that back in Sydney. It didn’t get cold enough.

I got myself a decent sized tent for the two of us, along with a tarp, rope, a chair, torch, two sleeping bags and a cooking gas portable BBQ. That is what I call the bare minimum.

We headed to a new place I hadn’t been called Lac Simon. We decided to pick up some firewood on the way and lucky we did because it had been raining and all the firewood at the campsite was wet. When we arrived we had to register in the office first as our camping spot had been pre booked by a friend of ours. I noticed that the place was one of the biggest camping sites I had ever scene. There were different zones set up for camping vans and tents, and another zone for permanent cabins which you can hire. It was great. You could drive to your spot and park your car. There was a beach (with no waves of course) right next to the camp site but far away enough not to hear it. There was a small room set up with movies playing every night as an option for kids entertainment. Great idea when it rains. There was also a swing set and play area for kids away from the tents. It was certainly a family set up.

I took some photos of us setting up so you can see. It was nice to go there with friends and even better if you book a site next to each other. People book their spots from the year before so that gives you an idea about how busy this place can get if you want a good spot.

The bathrooms were clean in the off peak times. The showers operate on a coin system. You put the coin in and it turns on for 2 minutes so that you have enough time to clean yourself up. During the peak times there was a line up for the showers. Considering how many people are there, it didn’t feel too bad.

They have a wooden table with its own bench on each land plot and a waterproof electricity outlet that you can hook up your power too in order to pump up your mattress or put any heating on. It gets so cold outside that people use a heater inside the tent to cut the humidity. We rarely would need to do that in Oz. Friends of ours had a great set up with a huge table so we could all eat dinner together. This is the time when i began to fall in love with fondue. Putting your broth on the table with all your cut up meat, vegetables and cheese, and using a fondue fork to cook your piece. It’s extremely common hear as it is a great dinner plan during the cold winter nights.

I had my first swim in the lake here at Lac Simon. I remember thinking that I could see the bottom of the water. I always thought of lakes as dirty with mirky water. The lakes I have experienced here have been mostly clean. I felt safe swimming in the water. I put my goggles on and did laps. Lucky for us here, there are no sharks or creatures in the water that will kill us.

Overall, we had a great time on the camping trip. I would recommend it as a place to go.

IMG_2248 IMG_2247 IMG_2246 IMG_2241 IMG_2236 IMG_2234 IMG_2231 IMG_2230 IMG_2222 IMG_2217 IMG_2212 IMG_2210 IMG_2208 IMG_2207 IMG_2204 IMG_2203 IMG_2201 IMG_2200 IMG_2198 IMG_2197 IMG_2196 IMG_0745 IMG_0723

Pier 66 Bar NYC

This place is bloody awesome mate. In true Aussie terminology. In summer time, you must get down here on a weekend. It is Pier 66 Maritime. Located off West St, along the Hudson River.

There is a fairly long line to get in that stretches along the fence line of the Hudson River. Don’t let that out you off though because it moves pretty fast. There is a big boat and deck out off the pier and as you enter and walk through the wooden deck walkway, you are greeted by security and id checks. Once you get through, you have a choice to go onto the red and white boat on the left to eat some food and relax, or you can find a seat and table along the bottom deck and mingle, socialize etc. The back deck section is more of a sit down and get served area. If you sit around the bar and sides of pier, or go upstairs to the upper deck area, you can find a little round table and chairs and go to the bar to order your food, drinks etc. A bucket of 6 beers is the most popular choice of beverage as they just serve it that way with ice to keep it cool. A very cool place and everyone there is in a great summer, mingling mood. I just loved the experience of being in that atmosphere. I am certainly eager to  get back there when I’m back. Next time, I will go with a group of people and let loose and enjoy the time.

The food was good too. You can order burgers and fries and typical food like that however, I ordered the blackened salmon with salad and it was fantastic and tasty. When you go to the bar and order, they give you a buzzer and when it vibrates, you go to the back bar and pick up the food. They have trays in case you are carrying too much.

I got my usual cosmopolitan cocktail and I recommend asking for the better quality vodka. It is usually only $1 extra and much better. They serve the cocktail in small plastic glasses and they don’t last long so if you drink beer and wine, I suggest that is the better option to make your drinks last more.

The place has an industrial rustic type look. Old wooden steering wheels lying on steel pipes. I took some shots of the place when I was there to show you.

IMG_0099
The toilets downstairs. Freaky part is, the steel walls have holes in them so the person next to you can see what your doing from your butt downwards. Not cool. Beware.

IMG_0076IMG_0075

Security checking people as they walk through the entrance.

IMG_0097IMG_0077IMG_0078IMG_0079IMG_0080IMG_0081IMG_0082IMG_0083IMG_0084IMG_0085IMG_0086IMG_0087IMG_0088IMG_0089IMG_0090IMG_0091IMG_0092IMG_0093IMG_0094IMG_0095IMG_0096IMG_0071 IMG_0072 IMG_0073 IMG_0074

Wall St and Downtown NYC

If you head downtown to the financial district in New York, you will get to see some things that you have probably heard people mention throughout your life. One is Wall Street, being the stock exchange hub of the world, and the other being shopping.  When you head down there, you can go and see the grand building of Wall St Stock Exchange and the big statue of George Washington standing proudly facing the Stock Exchange. If you can get around the tourists down there, all wanting to take photos standing next to George Washington, than you can breathe.

When you have taken enough photos, you can go to the 911 Memorial at the World Trade Centre and take a look. There are always a lot of people in this area so be warned not to be in a rush. If it gets too crazy, I suggest you walk a few blocks over and head to Century 21. This is a department store that has five levels of shopping. It stocks all the designer brands like Bonds, Calvin Klein, Diesel, Guess, Armani and everything else and you get to go through the different sections and purchase what you need. They have clothing, accessories, handbags, sunglasses etc. Don’t forget, the shoe department is in the building next door and you need a few hours just to get through that.

On the bottom floor. The basement floor is homeware products, towels etc.

I noticed that when I went a few weeks ago, the whole store had changed and the renovations had been complete. They now have all the clothing a lot more spread out and more presentable. There are registers on each floor and plenty of cashiers to buy your purchases. The experience has certainly been a lot better compared to how it used to be years ago. You will no doubt walk out with heaps of bags in hand so be prepared for a wait to get a taxi. If you catch the subway, the Cortland St subway is right there at the bottom corner of the street outside the store.

IMG_0112 IMG_0113 IMG_0114 IMG_0115 IMG_0116 IMG_0117 IMG_0118 IMG_0119 IMG_0120 IMG_0121

Out and About in Montreal CANADA

Montreal is a cool city. Some describe it as a mini NYC. Well, having been there alot recently, I guess I can see what they are trying to say, but I also believe most big cities resemble each other. More people, tall buildings, public transport, taxis etc. There is a downtown area and Mi land area which is the ‘New cool place to be at’. Old Montreal is also a part of the city with a totally different feel and I love it. I have a different blog on that altogether.

I don’t think anything could come close to NYC. The mere size of it alone and the amount of people transiting through daily, allow it to flourish and continue to thrive. Back to Montreal. When you find a good eatery in the city, it’s damn good. I’ve been to a few nice ones. There is this great one i came across recently in chinatown. It is Vietnamese and has been open for a year. For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of it but its right at the entrance to chinatown on the left. It’s big inside and the waitress is a crack up. They have awesome Vermicilli with Beef and chicken. I’ll go there again soon and write more info on it because I’m suffering here and may have lost your attention by now.

They have these shopping centres in Montreal with a variety of stores. They aren’t huge shopping centres or anything but have the typical food section and a few separate levels with some jewellery shops, phone shops, clothing etc. A lot of the main brand stores are on the main strips. The arts theatre area is great to sit down on the stairs and enjoy the atmosphere in Montreal. Traffic like every other city is ridiculous. Anything after 3pm and it starts. At this time of year, there is so much construction going on because they only have summer for a short period of time and all the rest of the time, it’s snowing and how can they work on the roads when it’s snowing. We are talking major construction works. I still find the roads in Sydney are in much better condition than here and even NYC especially. They are woeful. This adds to the traffic congestion and it all becomes too much to sit in really.

I always find it interesting in a city looking at the different business names that are popular. Tim Hortons is like Starbucks to the Americans. A popular chain that is everywhere and people love it. It sells coffee and donuts too. The other main two coffee shop franchises are ‘Second Cup’ and ‘Cafe Depot’. I prefer Cafe Depot because they make awesome frappucinnos. Great in the summer. The banks are the ‘Bank of Montreal’, ‘CIBC’, ‘HSBC’, ‘Desjardins’ and ‘Banque of Scotia’, “BMO’, TD Canada Trust’, ‘Royal bank of Canada’. For international relations, CIBC or HSBC are the better choices. The others are more local and don’t deal with alot of international transfers. You would have to go to Western Union to do this. They are the main ones I’ve seen everywhere.

In most adjoining suburbs they have these huge carparks with stores set up but you really need to drive to each one separately because the shops are fairly big. I have noticed a pattern of the same big stores in most of the carparks. Walmart for everything you need, like Kmart in Oz. Winners is a store like Target. Homesense has lots of things for the home which is a mixture between Target, Kmart and Big W.

Structube is a cool shop for furniture on the more expensive side of things. Modern and great quality. ‘The Party Expert’ pops up everywhere and is fabulous for a party at a really reasonable price too.

Petrol stations are ‘Petrol Canada’ and ‘Shell’ with some other French local ones too however they are frustrating because they mostly have the system where you need to swipe first and then fill up which is fantastic when it’s working however when it doesn’t, it’s a pain in the ass. The current petrol prices I’ve seen range from 134.90 to 149.90 and so when I’m filling up my jeep, it usually costs $100 for a 75 litre tank on empty. I guess for many reasons, this is why canada reminds me alot of Australia.

To buy food at the supermarkets, you need to go to Super C, IGA, or Metro Plus. If you want that Mediterranean/Greek supermarket touch, you cannot beat Adonis. My place away from home. I love the Tarama, fetta and olives and it’s a great one stop supermarket. Spot the Aussie inside type thing.

The pharmacies are called Pharmaprix and Jean Coutu which are the main two I visit. They sell prescriptions, bathroom products, some food products, sunscreen and outdoor objects, chocolate and even lotto. Actually all of them have a huge beauty section so when you walk in, the girls say ‘bon jour’ and tend to offer you something to try, in order to get you to buy a beauty product. The one Jean Coutu I go to in Mascouche also has the small post office inside which doesn’t close until 8pm. How cool is that. No long post office lines because it is open for long periods of time.

The beauty about the pharmacy set up is that you when you put a prescription in, and it has repeats, it is on their system so you never need to bring in the old prescription form. The computers talk to each other and it’s an easy system. For some reason though, I find the service always takes so long to get the prescriptions. In Sydney, You are never waiting more than 2-5 minutes. The last antibiotics I got were $59. Expensive, so the point of getting private health insurance here is a must. Medicare does not drive the prices for medication down here. The medical system in general is great here and the public medical card that everyone gets covers people for lots of things. The beauty of it though, is it covers them when they travel too. If the private insurers don’t pay, I’ve heard that people can get the expenses back from the government medical insurance. Nice to know really.

The bike shops I’ve noticed here are called Centre Velo and have alot of race bikes and mountain bikes but it is a sport that you really only can do in the small space of summer. It is way too slippery for winter cycling here.

They have co working spaces in Montreal so if you are looking for a place to work out of, visit ‘Station C’ and you can find a good location for yourself to get in and get amongst the people of Montreal. Whenever I am in other cities, I think of all the shops back in Australia like Gelatissimo and Boost Juice, and even places like JB HiFi and I wander what they would be like in Canada. The US has Best buy which is very on par with JB Hi-fi so I guess they’re covered. Quebec is a very french speaking provence and you need to be very aware of this influence when considering business choices and even building homes or shops because some areas have very strict guidelines and laws in place to keep the feel of the area and design the same.

The one thing I really miss is seeing live entertainment and movies that are in English. I like alot of choice and being in Quebec is limited in that respect. They have movies on in both english and french but not every session so the times you have available to you are not as flexible. The shows are the same and with me being spoilt, having come from NYC and the availability of the shows there, It will never compare.

Here are some shots below of the actual city of Montreal.

7R1A2911 7R1A2912 7R1A2913 7R1A2914 7R1A2915 7R1A2917 7R1A2919 7R1A2920 7R1A2921 7R1A2922 7R1A2923 7R1A2925 7R1A2926 7R1A2927 7R1A2929 7R1A2931 7R1A2932 7R1A2933 7R1A2934 7R1A2935 7R1A2936 7R1A2937 7R1A2939 7R1A2940 7R1A2943 7R1A2944 IMG_0636 IMG_0637 IMG_0648

I love the strip / Street called Saint Denis. It is a really long strip that you can walk down and have a great choice of restaurants and small shops. It reminds me ofa really long version of Norton St, Leichhardt years ago, but much cooler. Saint Catherine is a huge strip for the big name shops with all the brands. Saint Denis is pictured in the three shots below. It looks like a street with French Styled terraces above but on ground level, really cool eateries and boutiques.

7R1A2910 7R1A2908 7R1A2909 7R1A2905

 

 

 

 
7R1A28277R1A28447R1A28457R1A28467R1A28927R1A28937R1A28947R1A28957R1A28967R1A28977R1A28987R1A28997R1A29007R1A29017R1A29027R1A2903

 

Granville Island, Vancouver CANADA

Granville Island is located in North Vancouver. It is really cool and a photographers dream place. Make sure you have an appetite before you go. If you are in the city, you basically need to catch a water taxi called an Aquabus to get there from downtown Vancouver. In fact, if you go and eat breakfast at the restaurant Provence on Marina side, then you can literally walk straight across the road and at the end of the pier is the stop for the Aquabus to Granville Island.

Once you get to the island, you can walk around it and through the different sections. The place has a very industrial feel initially, but when you walk around and see the island, it is also very picturesque like the rest of Vancouver. I loved it. The fresh fruit in the farmers market was soooooo good. It looked so ripe and tasted so good.

You can actually live on the island and enter the shop area from a bridge on the other side of the wharf. I loved the entrance bridge to Granville Island from the other end of Vancouver.

7R1A2271 7R1A2272 7R1A2274 7R1A2277 7R1A2278 7R1A2279 7R1A2280 7R1A2281 7R1A2282 7R1A2284 7R1A2286 7R1A2287 7R1A2288 7R1A2290 7R1A2291 7R1A2292 7R1A2293 7R1A2294 7R1A2296 7R1A2297 7R1A2298 7R1A2300 7R1A2302 7R1A2304 7R1A2306 7R1A2309 7R1A2314 7R1A2317 7R1A2320 7R1A2323 7R1A2324 7R1A2325 7R1A2326 7R1A2328 7R1A2331 7R1A2338 7R1A2343 7R1A2346 7R1A2351 7R1A2353 7R1A2354 7R1A2355 7R1A2356 7R1A2358 7R1A2359 7R1A2360 7R1A2361 7R1A2362 7R1A2363 7R1A2364 7R1A2366 7R1A2367 7R1A2370 7R1A2371 7R1A2372 7R1A2373 7R1A2375 7R1A2378 7R1A2381 7R1A2383 7R1A2386 7R1A2390 7R1A2391 7R1A2392 7R1A2393 7R1A2395 7R1A2397 7R1A2399 7R1A2402 7R1A2403 7R1A2405 7R1A2406 7R1A2412 7R1A2414 7R1A2415 7R1A2416 7R1A2417 7R1A2420 7R1A2421 7R1A2422 7R1A2426 7R1A2429 7R1A2431 7R1A2444 7R1A2447 7R1A2448 7R1A2449 7R1A2450 7R1A2451 7R1A2452 7R1A2453 7R1A2455 7R1A2457 7R1A2460 7R1A2462 7R1A2464 7R1A2467 7R1A2468 7R1A2469 7R1A2471 7R1A2472 7R1A2473 7R1A2474 7R1A2476 7R1A2477 7R1A2478 7R1A2479 7R1A2480 7R1A2482 7R1A2484 7R1A2488 7R1A2494 7R1A2496 7R1A2501 7R1A2502 7R1A2504 7R1A2506 7R1A2507 7R1A2508 7R1A2509 7R1A2511 7R1A2513 7R1A2514 7R1A2517 7R1A2518 7R1A2519 7R1A2520 7R1A2521 7R1A2522 7R1A2525 7R1A2527 7R1A2528 7R1A2529 7R1A2530 7R1A2531 7R1A2534 7R1A2535 7R1A2537 7R1A2538 7R1A2539 7R1A2541 7R1A2543 7R1A2544 7R1A2545 7R1A2546 7R1A2548 7R1A2549 7R1A2550 7R1A2551 7R1A2552 7R1A2553 7R1A2554 7R1A2555 7R1A2556 7R1A2557 7R1A2561 7R1A2562 7R1A2563 7R1A2564 7R1A2565 7R1A2567 7R1A2568 7R1A2569 7R1A2572 7R1A2574 7R1A2576 7R1A2577 7R1A2582 7R1A2583 7R1A2584 7R1A2585 7R1A2588 7R1A2589 7R1A2591 7R1A2593 7R1A2596 7R1A2600 7R1A2601 7R1A2604 7R1A2609 7R1A2611 7R1A2612 7R1A2615 7R1A2616 7R1A2617 7R1A2620 7R1A2622 7R1A2623 7R1A2624 7R1A2625 7R1A2628 7R1A2630 7R1A2633 7R1A2635 7R1A2636 7R1A2640 7R1A2644 7R1A2647 7R1A2649 7R1A2650 7R1A2653 7R1A2655 7R1A2657 7R1A2659 7R1A2671 IMG_0523 IMG_0524 IMG_0526 IMG_0527 IMG_0528 IMG_0529 IMG_0530 IMG_0531 IMG_0532 IMG_0533 IMG_0535 IMG_0536 IMG_0537 IMG_0538 IMG_0539 IMG_0540 IMG_0541 IMG_0542

 

There were some really cool artists and musicians performing around the island that you could stop and listen too. A stand out for me was Edgar Maenala. I bought his album because it was so beautiful. he plays these windpipe instruments and plays mostly known songs with them. It was so relaxing.

We walked along a side road that had a cool mirror we photographed and there were sculptures around the place also.

 

As we walked around the water side, there were great city views and bridge views of the mountains in the background.

 

 

Old Montreal Canada

I love this town. I cannot wait until Summer until I can go down here and be amongst the beauty and atmosphere in this great part of the city of Montreal, Canada. It is bloody cool.

It reminds me of Spain, Italy (Rome) and a touch of London architecture. It certainly has a european feel and considering most of the signs are in French, let’s throw Paris into the equation, except I haven’t been there, so I can only imagine.

Anyway, I want to share these photos with you of Old Montreal because I love it. The waterside is really nice and you can just stroll or roller blade along it, taking in the old train track and the boats docked in the harbour. There is a science exhibition right on the water too and apparently in summer it’s full of people.

I’m excited as summer is approaching.

IMG_0061 IMG_0062 IMG_0063 IMG_0064 IMG_0065 IMG_0069 IMG_0070 IMG_0071 IMG_0123 IMG_0124 IMG_0125 IMG_0126 IMG_0127 IMG_0128 IMG_0130 IMG_0133 IMG_0135 IMG_0136 IMG_0137 IMG_0138 IMG_0139 IMG_0140 IMG_0141 IMG_0142 IMG_0143 IMG_0144 IMG_0145 IMG_0146 IMG_0148 IMG_0150 IMG_0151 IMG_0153 IMG_0154 IMG_0155 IMG_0156 IMG_0157 IMG_0160 IMG_0161 IMG_0162 IMG_0163 IMG_0165 IMG_0166 IMG_0168 IMG_0169 IMG_0171 IMG_0172 IMG_0173 IMG_0174 IMG_0175 IMG_0176 IMG_0177 IMG_0178 IMG_0179 IMG_0180 IMG_0183 IMG_0185 IMG_0187 IMG_0188 IMG_0189 IMG_0190 IMG_0191 IMG_0192 IMG_0193 IMG_0195 IMG_0199 IMG_0200 IMG_0201 IMG_0203 IMG_0204 IMG_0205 IMG_0206 IMG_0207 IMG_0208 IMG_0210 IMG_0212 IMG_0213 IMG_0214 IMG_0215 IMG_0218 IMG_0219 IMG_0221 IMG_0223 IMG_0225 IMG_0226 IMG_0227 IMG_0228 IMG_0229 IMG_0230 IMG_0231 IMG_0232 IMG_0233 IMG_0234 IMG_0235 IMG_0236 IMG_0237 IMG_0238 IMG_0239 IMG_0240 IMG_0241 IMG_0242 IMG_0244 IMG_0245 IMG_0246 IMG_0247 IMG_0248 IMG_0249 IMG_0250 IMG_0251 IMG_0252 IMG_0253 IMG_0254 IMG_0255 IMG_0256 IMG_0257 IMG_0258 IMG_0259 IMG_0260 IMG_0261 IMG_0262 IMG_0263 IMG_0265 IMG_0266 IMG_0267 IMG_0268 IMG_0269 IMG_0270 IMG_0271 IMG_0272 IMG_0273 IMG_0274 IMG_0275 IMG_0276 IMG_0277 IMG_0278 IMG_0279 IMG_0280 IMG_0282 IMG_0283 IMG_0285 IMG_0286 IMG_0287 IMG_0288 IMG_0289 IMG_0290 IMG_0291

Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver

The Four Seasons hotel is located on 791 W Georgia St, Vancouver. Phone Number is +2 604 689 9333. I would recommend this place if you want something central in the city. Somewhere close to the big mall that is located underneath and beside the hotel. The train station is right underneath and it has a popular restaurant ‘Yew’ that has great food, cocktails and atmosphere. The concierge desk is fabulous and the ladies there are really helpful with recommendations about what and where to go. I didn’t like the room I had initially but when I requested to change, it was easy and effortless so I liked the fact they were willing to make my stay as enjoyable as possible. The room itself was very clean and a great size. King size bed, views of the city. I could see the buildings and the stadium from my room and that was better than looking straight out at another building so I was happy.

The bell men were great too, opening my door and supplying me with umbrellas every time I needed it because it does rain most of the time in Vancouver. Lucky for me, it was mostly overcast and I got to experience everything I could in Vancouver in four days. It really helped staying at this hotel, because to get to where I needed was very easy.

In fact, I wanted to go to the Capilano Suspension bridge and lucky for me, the free shuttle stop was in walking distance from the hotel.

My favourite part of the hotel was the gym and pool area. It has a pool that is half indoor and half outdoor. It is heated nicely and has a jacuzzi right next to it. The gym always had people in there working out with various aged people. They provide tea/coffee for guests and fresh fruit in the area so if you wake up and don’t want breakfast, you can walk to the gym level four and get yourself some complimentary tea and fruit and enjoy. This suited me completely. It was a little surreal to be swimming outdoors with high rise buildings around me in a heated pool. It was a great experience overall.

Getting a taxi was simple and never had to wait long. The bellmen organized the taxi the moment you step out of the hotel. They had l’occitane bathroom products available to use in the rooms and I found these products good quality. Here are some photos below of the room and around the hotel.

The Pool areaIMG_0316 Tea and fruit served in the gym and pool areaIMG_0317 IMG_0318 IMG_0319 IMG_0414 IMG_0415 Inside Yew RestaurantIMG_0416 IMG_0417 Inside Reception areaIMG_0418 IMG_0419 The elevatorIMG_0422 IMG_0423 IMG_0424 IMG_0425 The RoomIMG_0578 IMG_0579 The view from the room. i had the top floor, level 28.IMG_0580 IMG_0581 IMG_0582 IMG_0583 IMG_0584 IMG_0585 IMG_0586 IMG_0587 IMG_0588 IMG_0589 IMG_0590 IMG_0591 IMG_0593 IMG_0595 IMG_0596 IMG_0597 IMG_0598 IMG_0600

Canadian International Film Festival Vancouver

Between April 4th – 8th, 2013 I went to Vancouver to attend the Canadian International Film Festival. My film ‘Bloody Henry‘ which I wrote, produced and directed was selected as the Official Selection at the festival. I find festivals a great way to network so when my films get selected at them, I try to attend most of them. It is quite an expensive thing to do but it pays off in the end because the people you meet along the way are interesting and talented. I enjoy watching the films and supporting the artists and it also feels great being able to watch my own films on the big screen with an interested audience.

IMG_0475

Lucky for me, I managed to win an award for “Best First Time Director”. I was stoked about this award because it was on of my first films I directed, as well as Juliana’s Story. It has motivated and encouraged me to keep doing what I love and keep making films that I love to make as I know audiences appreciate my work. I only hope to keep improving my work and making bigger and better films for audiences to enjoy.

CIFF Director I met some great people at the festival such as Venetia Evripiotou who directed Counting Happiness. A great film, made in India about a boy who lives on the streets in India and sells toy chickens. Counting Happiness took out the major prize award at the festival and well deserved. Here is a picture below of Me, Venetia (Greece) and our greek friend on the night Ellenor Argyropoulos (Australia) who also won a student royal reel award for her short film Life through a lens.

IMG_0441

There was a man at the festival called K.Bhavani Shanker. I recognized his face but couldn’t quite work out from where. I was told by his photographers that he was a popular actor in India, having acted in over 220 films. I laughed because the Indians are funny. His photographer kept taking a million photos of him sitting down in the same position whilst the award ceremony was going on and I couldn’t understand why he would be taking a million photos of him. It’s not as if he was going to capture a different angle. It was crazy and I found it amusing. He was at the festival because of a short film he was in called ‘Dream’. It won a Royal Reel Award but wasn’t screened. There was a huge Bollywood Award Ceremony going on the same night next door at the stadium and 6,000 Indian people were in attendance. Hence why he attended the festival as he was in Vancouver for both events. That is him on the left below.

557997_10151368578289499_1766328092_n

I also me the Japanese guy that was in the movie Kenny. His name is Morihiko Hasebe. He had a great sense of humour and invited me to come visit him in Tokyo some time. I haven’t been to Tokyo but it is definitely on the agenda. Below is a picture of me with Morihiko.

IMG_0514

I met one of the nicest couples on the night that did a film together about surfing in Canada in the winter but it was mixed with the fact we are destroying the earths sea mammals and the director Myriam Caron compared it to having a cancerous brain tumour and being trapped. Her partner Mathieu Crepeau stars in the film as one of the surfers followed with the cameras. It was a very touching film and her speech was very emotional having shared with the audience the fact that she is suffering from Cancer and that she hopes it will not be the last film she ever makes. Her smile is infectious and she has such a loving soul. The film was called Surf Boreal. Its a documentary. Below are the lovely couple I met, Myriam and Mathieu.

60639_10151368588769499_990326238_nThe actual festival was at Edgewater Casino on the waterfront in Vancouver. I found it weird having the festival on the second level of one of the smallest casinos I’ve ever seen but it had a big theatre room set up where the screenings took place so that was good. The actual awards ceremony was on the Saturday night and it was a full house. They apparently has a record breaking number of entries this year and the quality of the films were really good. I am still waiting for my trophy to come in the mail but at least I have the certificate to comfort me for now whilst I look at it proudly and think about how great a job the cast and crew did with the film. It was such a small last minute film but the two cast members, Tina Bursill and Kevin Healy, who have a long and honourable acting history in Australian Film and Television Industry, made the film such a joy to work on and they really were very professional. No second takes needed. It really pays to work with experienced actors when you are on tight budgets and tight time frames.

I spent a few days exploring Vancouver and you will be able to read about more posts I’ve written about my experience in Vancouver and the wonderful places I visited and photographed.

The Casino.IMG_0439

Bloody Henry on the big screen.IMG_0438

The award ceremony.IMG_0450

Casting Director – Helen Mc Cready with the Special Jury Award for 5 hour Friends.48150_10151368587434499_288446934_n Venetia during her speech for Counting Happiness.537005_10151368587494499_937847404_n The Indian Boys from Montreal.541946_10151368588204499_1365443447_n

Myriam and I.IMG_0491 Anna and I. She won a student award for her short film. IMG_0499 IMG_0503

It was a great experience overall. Congratulations to all the award winners and all the people I met during the festival. Feel free to visit my Website www.littlescreenbigscreen.com to see trailers and links to my other work and projects.

 

Stowe Mountain Lodge Vermont

I stayed at the Stowe Mountain Lodge in Vermont recently. It is a skiing resort. I thought I might actually be able to get some writing done there but I couldn’t. It wasn’t because the place was no good, in fact, quite the opposite. It was busy, there were young people everywhere and very energetic and keen to get on the slopes to ski. As a skiing resort it is perfect, but to write, I couldn’t concentrate so my time there was cut short. I did however get to enjoy the surroundings and swimming in the heated pool whilst watching the skiiers glide down the slopes.

The Mountain lodge is located between New York and the Canada Border in Vermont. It is a nice drive to get there but if it is snowing, you really need to be careful. It has professional ski slopes that are really steep and I wouldn’t dare go down them. On the other side of the resort are the beginners slopes and there are lots of families skiing there. The food at the resort is good. I can’t say it’s fantastic after coming from Mohonk Mountain House for six weeks but it was still good. The room was definitely bigger and better though so it was a nice change.

This is a shot of my room at the lodge.

IMG_9678 7R1A1746 7R1A1747 7R1A1749 7R1A1750 7R1A1753 7R1A1754 7R1A1756 7R1A1764 7R1A1768 7R1A1771 IMG_9512 IMG_9515 IMG_9518 IMG_9519 IMG_9523 IMG_9528 IMG_9530 IMG_9549 IMG_9574 IMG_9578 IMG_9579 IMG_9580 IMG_9611 IMG_9614 IMG_9617 IMG_9619 IMG_9622 IMG_9623 IMG_9624 IMG_9625 IMG_9626 IMG_9627 IMG_9628 IMG_9629 IMG_9630 IMG_9634 IMG_9661 IMG_9667 IMG_9668 IMG_9674 IMG_9677

 

Missing my Dog, Charlie

Missing a pet is hard. I’ve been away from Charlie since July 2012. My great friend Stephanie has been her fill in mum for this whole time and Charlie loves her alot. She is like my little princess. This photo below is her at Double Bay in the water. Too funny. Stephanie sends me photos of her all the time and each time, they make me smile. I miss her but at the same time, I know she is in the best of hands.

IMG_0632
Charlies hair looks like its getting lighter on the body of her coat. The colour on her head still looks red but the back of her is lighter.

IMG_0713
This is Stephanie’s dog Ruby with Charlie at the park.

IMG_0715 IMG_0719 IMG_0720

 

Skyping Charlie: So much fun talking to Charlie. When she hears my voice, she looks at the screen. Technology is so cool and Skype is awesome. I get to watch her chasing the cat next door.

IMG_9311
This little girl below is called Ananda and she is a Yorkshire. She is from Montreal and soon, I want to try and bring Charlie to Montreal but I’m really not sure how easy that will be. I can’t wait for them to meet and be friends, and close like sisters. 

IMG_9315

Krause’s Chocolate New Paltz, NY

Chocolate heaven is what I call Krause’s Chocolate. They are in New Paltz, New York and worth getting the chocolate delivered and even worth the drive. It is amazing when you combine all the different sorts of chocolate they have for variety. The box below is what they serve the chocolates in. There are all different sizes and when you have your chocolate selected, they are weighed.

IMG_9436 IMG_9437
These below are my favourite chocolate in the shops. On the far left are the Dark Chocolate caramels. The caramel inside is dark and in between tough and soft. It is a darker coloured caramel inside and delicious. The square chocolates in the middle are called caramellow. They are Dark Chocolate on the outside and inside they have white marshmallow on the top and on the bottom is a thick caramel that’s beautifully soft. It feels sensational. The chocolates on the right are dark chocolate with coconut and they are amazing. They are called Coconut Toasties. I think that is because they toast the coconut on the outside making it lusciously tasty. The entire shop has a huge selection of chocolates as seen in the photos below but these three are my favourites. I love Dark Chocolate and the chocolates you see below are also available in milk chocolate.

IMG_9413 IMG_9414 IMG_9415 IMG_9416 IMG_9417 IMG_9418 IMG_9419 IMG_9420 IMG_9421 IMG_9422 IMG_9423 IMG_9424 IMG_9425 IMG_9426 IMG_9438

Mohonk Mountain House 3 NY

This is the third and last blog about Mohonk directly. It is Mohonk Mountain house and it is in New Paltz, Upstate New York. I have loved my time here and these shots below have been taken over the past few weeks and some on the weekend of my birthday. I came to Mohonk with the intention to write a book in my own time whilst enjoying the area, and I have accomplished that goal. The special factor around that book was that I wrote it at Mohonk Mountain House and I felt very inspired by the area, and the energy that the place house surrounding it. It may have something to do with the old burial ground nearby but it is a real lovely place to come visit. You can also Ice Skate too but if you are like me, and haven’t ice skated for a while, I would go slow or else you may just face plant onto the ice and feel sorry for yourself afterwards hehe.

7R1A1534 7R1A1544 7R1A1558 7R1A1563 7R1A1570 IMG_9095 IMG_9105 IMG_9112 IMG_9118 IMG_9119 IMG_9142 IMG_9156 IMG_9194 IMG_9206 IMG_9215 IMG_9226 IMG_9241 IMG_9263 IMG_9280 IMG_9287 IMG_9442 IMG_9440 IMG_9288 IMG_9292 IMG_9300 IMG_9446 IMG_9448

The Waldorf Astoria NYC

What do you do when you are an adult orphan in New York City for Christmas and you want to have an experience to remember? The best Christmas present for me was to got to the Waldorf Astoria for a beautiful Christmas lunch with two dear friends in town for the week. You must book in advance but it is worth it. The building is so grand. Inside, you can feel the richness within the walls, the clocks, the decor and the atmosphere is very grand.

The food is presented beautifully. The chefs are well groomed and look sharp. The cutlery shines and the Christmas decorations makes it feel like an open palace home with people sharing a meal. The drinks are made with such precision that the mix is just perfect.

I took many photos to show you what the whole experience was like. I am so lucky to have had this experience and it certainly will be a memorable one.

7R1A0861 7R1A0863 7R1A0864 7R1A0866 7R1A0868 7R1A0872 7R1A0877 7R1A0880 7R1A0883 7R1A0884 7R1A0885 7R1A0886 7R1A0888 7R1A0890 7R1A0891 7R1A0895 7R1A0897 7R1A0902 7R1A0908 7R1A0911 7R1A0913 7R1A0914 7R1A0916 7R1A0921 7R1A0924 7R1A0925 7R1A0928 7R1A0956

Max Brenner – NYC

This is definitely one of my favourite dessert places in Sydney, so when I came to New York City, I had to find it here and it is in Union Square, which as you know, if you follow my blogs, is somewhere I love and visit frequently. In fact it’s right opposite the Regal Cinema on Broadway (Between 13th and 14th St).

There are a few minor differences between Sydney’s Max B and NYC’s Max B. The menu here in NYC is alot more extensive. In fact, they serve breakfast as well, which I know isn’t done at all the Sydney venues. I believe there are more stores in Sydney than what there is in NYC. I have only seen one in my whole time here.

In Sydney, they also allow you to take away there milk or dark chocolate dipping sauce in little take away containers. They don’t let you do that in NYC. That is a shame coz sometimes I really enjoy taking those dipping chocolates home and sharing them as a fondue with friends. NYC does allow you to sample try their hot chocolate for free. You can do that everyday, and it’s set up for that. I don’t see that happening in Sydney.

I’ll share with you the photos of the Union Square NYC store which you will notice is also preparing for christmas and has christmas decorations around the centre of the store.

The entrance window

The chocolate pots

You can eat at the ordering counter

The Staff shirts

Jars in the walls set up

yummo

The Dark Chocolate Italian Hot Chocolate

The chocolate close up

Looking at the Shop from Inside

Christmas Decorations

Wall paintings

The Serviettes – Napkins

The Wall displays

Paying your bill

They come and give you the bill in this awesome tin. I haven’t seen that in Sydney either but it’s a really cool idea. I was here in the morning on this day because usually it’s quite packed inside.

This is the tin that they give you the bill in. How cool is that. You put your money in it.

The Bill TIn

 

The Chocolate Shop

This section is just inside the store before you go into the restaurant section and you can buy their chocolates etc as gifts. They have two people working this section generally.

The Chocolate shop counter

The Chocolate Shop counter decorations

Inside the Chocolate Shop Section

 

 

 

Citi Pond Bryant Park NYC

What happens to NYC’s Parks in Winter? I mean what do people do with them? It’s too cold to sit in them, and the grass is probably all wet too. In Bryant Park, on 5th Avenue, they put a big Ice Rink on there. People can go into the park for free and then they can watch or buy things in the stalls that are set up at the beginning and enjoy their lunch breaks looking around. They have music playing and enough light to see what’s going on. It’s very pretty. It’s just been set up and so I managed to go and photograph it before the crowds actually start using the rink. The whole thing is set up until March 3rd. A long winter ahead.

The Welcome Citi Pond Sign

Skating by the city

I must admit, I love NYC in the winter in terms of things to do. We really don’t have much to do when it’s winter in Sydney. It’s not cold enough to warrant ice rinks everywhere. It doesn’t snow. We can’t use our beaches so I guess, what do we really do? Visit friends, go to the movies, have dinner parties and I guess that’s why we all have lots of friends and great relationships because we enter each others lives and homes and be a part of each others lives. They don’t do that here. It isn’t normal to go to people’s homes. Everyone meets out in a bar or for dinner. No dinner parties etc. I miss having get togethers and having my friends visit etc. It’s such a warm thing to do.

Below are the photos of the stalls set up that you can go and shop at, right at the entrance of the park next to the ice rink.

The Election USA 2012

It has been a month leading up to the election between Barrack Obama (Democrat) and Mitt Romney (Republican). Just looking at both of them at name value, Barrack Obama is a leaders name. It is strong, it has depth and substance and uniqueness.

Barrack and Mitt Romney

Barrack and Mitt Romney

What does a lead up to an American election look and feel like. It reminds me of many things. A lead up to the Melbourne Cup in Australia that (if you could imagine all the jockeys trying to get people to punt on them from months before, instead of days or a week before)…. In terms of how much attention it gets, the election vote period feels like it literally stops the nation. The Melbourne Cup is a race that stops the nation so that is my comparison. I’m not saying that either Obama or Mitt look like horses or act like them but I guess thinking about it Barrack Obama’s name alone could be an awesome name for a Melbourne Cup horse.

This year Obama won, and now carries out his second term as president. I like Obama. In fact, I don’t know Romney but looking at him alone, there is something I don’t like. An agenda that just doesn’t sit well. My response isn’t very political is it. I guess I live life by gut instinct and how things gel around that. I don’t really read up on politics. It bores me. I’m interested in voting so that the leaders I don’t want, have less of a chance but all in all, the pressure of being a leader, is enormous and for that, I take my hat off for anyone who even tries to take on that role, whoever you are.

Below are all the States outlines and how all the voting is counted by states and how many voters and how many seats in each state. It is all a numbers game so that is why before the count has even been finished, they can tell who is going to win.

The States

The States Red Romney – Blue Barrack

In NYC, unfortunately due to Hurricane Sandy, the election for the first three to four days just didn’t make the headline news and I was relieved that they backed off the campaigns in NYC for that time period and credit to them for doing that. The news kept the attention where it needed to be so the whole hype was missed in the Big City. A bit like Sandy Killing Halloween too. I saw a big sign in the destruction saying how “Sandy Wins”. It sure feels like that. Obama and Sandy this month. But what about Count Dracula and Herman the Monster and even our pumpkins and skeletons? Well they have joined Mitt Romney in grievance.

They couldn’t really stop the hype in Times Square though. I ventured to Bryant Park where they had set up the pavilion there with Red, white and Blue balloons as celebration for the Election parties. They have these parties all through each state. It’s normally a really big deal.

The Party Balloons

The Party Balloons

Balloon Time

Balloon Time

The fact that you don’t have voluntary voting makes the campaigns longer and tougher. Not only do they have to sell themselves, but then they have to convince people to go out and stand in the freezing cold lines and vote. They are waiting there for up to 8 hours. For some, this is not a problem but for those that have commitments, children, elderly parents, disabled responsibilities, it can prove a difficult task to go and attend. Not to mention those that really couldn’t give a shit voting.

The media writes article like this one attached from The Daily Beast about the voting systems and what’s ahead. Leading up to the hype of it all.

As the voting begins, The Empire State Building lights up with Red, White and Blue colours. If the Democrats win (Barrack Obama) it turns blue to reflect the win. If the Republicans (Romney) were to win, it would turn Red. Interesting traditions. I kind of like that though. It would be great if our Centre point tower, or maybe one of our bigger icons like the harbour bridge and / or opera house changed colours like this. That would be quite a cool tradition.

The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building

In Chinatown, I was woken up by cars from the morning driving around in these utilities on mega phones with VOTE 1 signs on the side of the cars. The first part was Chinese so have no idea what they were saying. Then they spoke in English “Make sure you vote today. It is important you select the leaders that will shape the country”. Due to the hurricane, they allowed people in NYC to basically vote wherever they could get too and waived the “Vote in your area” ruling. This was a necessary move considering extra volunteers and resources needed to go into getting the elderly from evacuation centres and taking them to the polls to vote. It’s a big job dealing with an election and a natural disaster. They got through it and well done Obama. You got your second term.

 

Va Beh Restaurant and Weather Up Bar NYC

Va Beh, Italian intimate but open plan dining located at No 446 Dean St, Park Slope, Brooklyn. If you catch the subway to Bergen St stop, Brooklyn (red line 2,3 train) you will basically walk out and walk about 100m to Dean St and it’s on the corner their off 5th Avenue. The Subway stop is just past Atlantic Avenue.

It’s an interesting restaurant. It’s a small space and they fit alot of people in. It’s noisy as lots happening so not great for intimate conversations. If you have to wait for any length of time, the waiters pretty much give you free prosseco (until it runs out for the night) and they give you olives and cheese crostini type things to munch on in the mean time. They only serve wine so don’t even try asking for a spirit.

They write on the bar wall as shown below in photos.

The waiters are very talkative and there is one guy who is there to hype the customers, make a statement by giving waiting people free drinks, making them laugh and keep the jovial vibe in the air to heighten your experience. Alot of work. I ordered the duck pasta dish and I must say, there wasn’t much duck. Im not a big pasta fan which was my biggest mistake because I didn’t find it as tasty as what the reviews were saying and so I was hoping for some nice meat, but there was hardly any which was a shame.

The Menu (That’s it)

If you do enjoy your pasta though, you may enjoy it here, i just don’t.

The front of the restaurant view.

It is a good experience though so I would recommend you check it out, especially when its a little cooler because its open plan and the front is all open so air con is not really on at all so if its humid and muggy, you will feel it.

Weather Up Bar (A HIDDEN GEM)

If you walk up Dean St after dinner and cross the intersection and keep walking until you get past Vanderbilt St. You will come past 589 Vanderbilt Ave Prospect Heights and a bar called Weather Up. It looks like this photo below. White tiles out the front, no sign. You just have to find it and go in. Its an intimate bar inside so great for a date drink or after a date dinner. or even with friends too. There is an outdoor area out the back which is cute too, rustic looking with some greenery around the wire fence to give you some privacy from the residents. Basically if you look around, its like they have stuck a bar amongst the housing apartments in the area so they tend to close the outdoor area down around midnight.

Weather Up Bar

It is such a gem of a find. They don’t have much of a website apart from a map and menu so don’t bother. You will just have to go and enjoy it as that is how they want it to be. Check it out folks.

You can stumble back to Bergen St, to catch the subway home as it isn’t that far.  Careful walking around some of the smaller streets there and make sure you have company is always the best policy. They are building a huge new stadium right near this area so I am sure soon enough, the place will be constantly packed.

 

Gansevoort Hotel Pool NYC

My favourite Bar once again in the spotlight. Maybe because everytime someone from Sydney comes to town, I take them to the Gansevoort Hotel and shout them a drink. There are a few Hotels around the place but I go to the one on 9th Ave in the Meat Packing District. I love it there, and I love the fact my adorable friend Adriana works there. I mean how cool is that, mixing fun, friends and drinks all together with a great view of the sunset.

This time we got access to the pool as I hadn’t seen it before so we got to sip on our cocktails by the pool. I met my fairly recent New York Friend Jeannie there and I showed my godsister Joanna the place too. All three of us by the pool sipping cocktails to great music, and a cute crowd in the bar area which we stumbled over too later.

The pool at the Roof Top Bar

The Bar is through the glass

Jeannie and I

The sunset beginning. So beautiful

Meet Jeannie

The sunset on the pool

Jo and I

The sun has set

 

So what happens when you leave? Well normally, I take people to the diner for a New York burger to soak up the alcohol and then tonight we went to a penthouse party nearby owned by a very popular choreographer in the industry and his boyfriend and very cool, both the people and the place. All in all, another great and memorable night.

Kayaking on the Hudson River NYC

I love kayaking. I know I have written another blog about it but I actually took my camera out this time and took a few shots from the kayak so you can experience it with me. I placed my phone camera on my vest to try and take the shots. I love doing this. Unfortunately, they finish running it next weekend so ill have to wait for another 6 months but it has been loads of fun doing it and keeping fit from it. The beauty of it is, it’s a free service too run from volunteers that just love doing this.

Here is a live message from me to all of you back home:

Click this LINK HERE – To Everyone of my friends back home (From my Kayak)

The world tower in the background being built.

Its 10am in the morning here

 

 

Yaffa Cafe NYC

The Yaffa Cafe is pretty cool. A pretty out there funky looking Cafe. It is open 24 hours too. It is in East Village at 97 St Marks Place. Check out their website here if like. Kind of compare it something you could find on Oxford St. Very Camp and arty type set out. I like the back section as they have an outdoor section, like a beer garden but inside its pretty burlesque and raunchy type of venue.

The menus are cool. That is also how they served my carrot juice. The menu is quite extensive and long. The waiters and waitresses are all mostly wearing black and quite sharp in appearance.

The Menu

I went there with my friend Ash. We got an egg breakfast selection and she got the granola/fruit, plus I had a carrot juice and she had a coffee. The bill was $21 plus add tip on that. Pretty reasonable as they have a $6 breakfast and juice special.

The bar and back kitchen door

The outdoor section through the window

The inside space in front of bar

The Lead up to Halloween in NYC

This has to be the best night in NYC. I’m hanging for it. Two weeks away and counting down. Creatures everywhere. Costumes galore. If you go into Rickys on Broadway right now, which is usually a hair product place, they have replaced their whole wall with costumes, fake teeth, wigs, and you name it, they have it. Mouse noses , chicken noses, Ghost costumes etc etc. The coolest things I saw were these little plastic coffins the size of your hand and inside them are either two or four dracula teeth pointers that you stick onto your own teeth to make them look real as opposed to what they sell back home, the whole mouth guard that looks fake. You just can’t find this stuff so easily in any part of Australia and there isn’t enough of a market for it, but here, it is embraced. No wander why films and characters are so big here in the USA. People embrace them, they become them, they act like them. The story of each character is transformed through the streets. I love it. It’s great. I feel so privileged to be in NYC during this time.

Rickys selection of Halloween gear, coffins to store the dracula teeth

Rickys selection of make up gear

Rickys selection of more make up for costumes

The biggest question today is what am I going to wear for Halloween? Which character should I go as? I am thinking of filming the experience while I am out, so if anyone has any ideas for me about what angle I should approach it on, please email me at littlescreenbigscreen@gmail.com and let me know what you think I should do.

I was considering doing a funny skit about it and something unexpected but I think that if I am going to be down at the parade, I will be blown away from all the costumes and hype that I am not sure how I will pull off a comedy skit with my mouth open in disbelief and fear over the costumes hahaha….

Maybe I can do something as simple as interview some of the really cool characters I find and see what they have to say so that you can all share the experience with me. That could actually be quite doable….

I really wish my friends back home could all be here for the night so we can all dress up and go down to the parade. It would be awesome to experience and not like those fancy dress parties where some people make an effort and some don’t. Everyone there will be in halloween dress and I can’t wait. Maybe I could follow some kids around whole they “trick or Treat” without missing the parade.

I’ll work something out but it’s so cool. The shopfronts have halloween gear inside them and cobwebs on doors, pumpkins in front of the restaurants down at Little Italy. It’s awesome and very exciting. I can’t wait to post the blog about the actual night and the photos…

I even went and watched Hotel Transylvannia in 3D recently to prepare for the night and I wrote a blog about it on my business blog. Check it out here.

Stay tuned my fellow Dracula followers :)

 

Talented People in NYC

I have said this a million times but every time I head to Union Square, I see talented people sharing their work with the passing audiences.

This time a little Asian Boy captured the hearts of passers by through his piano performance. I have no idea of his name, but I’m sure it’s something like Michael, short for Wang. Remarkable performance. See below a tiny bit of what we were watching.

Asian Boy Playing at Union Square

Here are some pictures of him:

Thats Two songs dad

Play again son

So calm and such talent

We then walked through the park and it’s always so pretty…

Union Square Park

Union Square Park

I saw a piece of art that was pretty damn cool also. The guy that did it, wouldn’t tell us the technique buts its a rough texture and built up by material, probably foam that is light. Pretty impressive. I would love something like that up in my place for sure. I may even give it a go. He sells the pieces of art for around $150 each.

Great Skyline Art

Both colours of Skyline

If you walk further along, you’ll meet another guy who does screen printing type art.

And another guy who does bright distorted profile type artworks. Also looks great. The funniest thing about this guy, is as soon as he knew you were taking a picture, he hid around the corner. It’s as if the painting were stolen and he didn’t want to get caught. Wouldn’t surprise me if they were but just an observation. It really is a nice supportive art community down here where they display their work. Like a constant outdoor gallery.

Check Mate

There is always chess available to play. There are about 6 chess boards set up with generally male challengers waiting for someone to come up and play against them. This boy decided to take up the challenge and here he is. I love seeing this type of interactions between generations away from the digital devices and TV screen.

Chess time Man Vs Boy

Yoga at Bryant Park NYC

When you think of Yoga, you think of women, mats and stretching at the local gym. Not in NYC. Male, female, young, old, doesn’t matter. You grab a mat and join in. Take a look at the pictures below of Bryant Park on 42nd St Subway Stop. I crossed the road to go to Fashion Night Out and saw hundreds of people in the park doing Yoga. It was quite a spectacular site and only in New York. A short blog that I found interesting to see.

Crossing the road towards Bryant Park from Subway

 

 

 

Night Cruise in NYC

New York City at night is extraordinary. I love cruising past the skyline. It’s so big, long and always something to see as you cruise around. I had a visitor in town so we decided to do the Cruise Circle Harbor Lights Cruise for 2 hours. It’s $34 each for adults and leaves at 7pm. Check out the link here if you want to Book a Cruise or check out your options.

Details on Cruise Line

This is where it sails too

I booked the tickets online and then had to go to the line on there end to get the tickets printed. My advice is to make sure that you get there early because you want to get to sit on the top deck on the sides and these fill up pretty quickly. It’s a nice experience to see the city like this but if you don’t get a good spot on the boat, it makes a difference to your experience so be careful.

My camera is not great with moving night shots so if you expand them, they may be a little blury but at least you get to see what the night skyline looks like as you go past.

The clock below in the distance is the Old Colgate Factory.

My Friend looking out the window in the bottom deck

 

 

Italian Festival Little Italy NYC

The Feast of San Gennaro Festival is an Italian Festival that is run every year in September along Mulberry St, Little Italy/Chinatown, Manhattan NYC and the streets running off it. It is held here because this is the area where the Italian Migrants settled when they first came over from Italy to New York. It is run by the Children of San Gennaro. It attracts more than one million tourists every year. It is packed with Stalls selling Food, Sausages, Pizzas, Canneloni, Gelato, Pina Colada Cocktails and anything Italian you can think of. If you sit down and eat, be sure that the waiters will want to marry you themselves or set you up with their sons hahaa.

It has a great vibe in general. Very very busy so don’t be in a rush, make sure you are not clostrephobic and you’ll be fine. There is a guy there that I saw making cigars.

There are rides down there set up for the kids, like a mini ferris wheel and all sorts of bowling games, prize games like basketball and shooting ducks. The restaurants that are normally on the street basically have an added outdoor pagola set up out the front so that people can sit outside and be amongst everyone walking past. The roads are all shut down for the whole 11 days and the area is swarming with pedestrians. This year it ran from the 13th September until the 23rd September 2012 and I certainly couldn’t miss the whole thing as I live directly above the whole thing.

Here are some photos below of the festival:

Jo and I having a cosmo with dinner in the Apollo restaurant.

The Kiddy Ferris Wheel

Basketball Game

The Big Cannolli Man

Check out the blocks of this stuff

The ribbons on the ceiling

So Italian these streamers

Some desserts

The Prizes

I wanted one of these to hug. Big Yellow banana man

Gelato

Mr Cigar Man

They have italian coloured lights along the whole street

Pina Colada

Remember Zoltar

Greenwich Hotel Tribeca NYC

Greenwich Hotel is located at 377 Greenwich St, Tribeca, right near the corner of N Moore St and literally the next block from the Franklin St Subway (red line – 1,2,3).

The rooms and bathroom were a great size and the staff were very friendly and helpful. I love the fact they had a fabulous relaxing pool area that was clean. There was a steam room down there too as part of the shower but I found it didn’t get hot enough for me because heat rises and the room has very high ceilings, making it hard to feel the actual hot steam. In a busy city, sometimes it is just nice to have a quiet swim. Having a cocktail, coffee or tea after a busy day downstairs in the bar and lounge area is quite comfortable.

Ground Floor 

The Book shelves hallway to elevator

The downstairs bar area

The comfortable Lounges

The outdoor section of bar

Very pretty outside

Spa, Pool and Gym Area

Inside female change room

The change room basin area

The toilet room Basin

My greatest memory of this hotel is down in this area in the toilet here is a heated toilet in there with a control panel. As you sit on the warm seat, you can use the control panel to spray or wash your buttocks, front or whatever you choose. It’s quite an experience and I wish every toilet had that feature.

The heated seat toilet. You can see the back of the seat where the connection is

The control panel

The Rooms
The hotel except for Ground floor has a very night time, low light feel at all times during the day. The ambience is very calm, quiet, dark, low light. In the rooms, if you want the hair dryer, you may find it hanging in odd places like in a canvas bag behind the robe (so look carefully). The beds are comfortable although I would have liked to have the experience for a couple of nights with my own bed so I can really test the hotel out even more, rather than just experience it through a friends stay.

The hallway walking to the room

The room after it has been slept in

The bathroom. No bath in this room. Just shower.


Locanda Verde Restaurant 

Next door in the foyer area, you can walk through to the adjoining restaurant called Locanda Verde. It is a decent menu, nice atmosphere and clearly very popular seeing it is so busy you may have to wait for a table. The food was nice and fresh also.

The Gansevoort Views of NYC

I love The Gansevoort Hotel. It is going to be a shame when summer ends because this rooftop bar in summer is bloody awesome. The fact my friend works there is also a great thing because it makes the experience even better.

The views are so good. The Hotel is located in the meatpacking district on Gansevoort Ave. its near the corner of 13th St, and 9th Ave, Meatpacking District. You need to take the elevator up to the PentHouse Floor (PH).

Inside the Bar, My friend Adriana working with the sunnies.

The smoking area out back section

View from Side

The Soho House Hotel

The Soho House Hotel Distant

They make great cocktail and the whole rooftop bar wraps around the whole top floor so you can walk around. There are lounges around the side and lounges with a smoking area at the other end. On sunday afternoons they have summer parties in the summer period and a great DJ is playing too. So many female djs in NYC is the norm. So When you come to NYC, come and check out this place. It rocks and is just plain simply a cool place to be.

Here are the shots as the sun going down.

View from the front

Soho hotel at night

Soho Hotel at night

Lounge area at night

When you’ve had a few cocktails and you are with julian, you will always end up at an all American Diner coz he loves them. This one was so red it was like a brothel. They made great sweat potato fries.

At the Diner down the road of Gansevoort

Me at the diner. So American

Me being silly

Free Kayaking in NYC

I love kayaking. It has been years since I’ve been able to do this sort of stuff so when I was walking along the Hudson River walkway at the end of Canal st, and along West St in tribeca, I saw the kayakers in the water. Thinking to myself as most do. “Oh, wouldn’t that be great to do”. Then I said to Paul, “Let’s go look” As soon as we got there, we saw a sign “free kayaking”. I asked the woman and two men that run it, how they manage to do this, and basically they have the gear, and bring it down and just offer it to people that want to experience it in New York. How cool is that. They do have a donation tin so that you can offer money but it isn’t necessary. They have heaps of kayaks down there and a while stack of life vests hanging up. It’s so easy and they have lockers there to secure your stuff and there is no limit on how long you go out for. Can you believe that?

They are open Thursday nights from 5-7pm, and Saturday and Sunday between 9 – 5pm. They are there throughout the summer up until October and just walking distance from where I live.

I’m very excited about this. Paul and I jumped straight onto a kayak and tested it out. It was awesome.  Next time, I will get one on my own though as I love being able to just paddle at my own pace and race people hehehe. So, when you come to New York, now you can go for a Kayak around the river wharf and have the views of the new World tower and other buildings. how cool is that.

The ramp to the water

The view from the path

Victoria’s Secret NYC

When you are not familiar with Victorias Secret, it can actually be overwhelming when you walk into one of the stores. Here is the link to Victorias Secret Website.

I have found the secret to making your experience bareable and even pleasant.

When you go into a store, forget about even looking at the selection they have. Go straight to the fitting rooms and ask the lovely helpful girls to measure you up. Within a minute or so, they will use their head piece to call for a measure assistant and then a lady will come, measure you up and give you a box of bras that are your exact size and you then get given a change room with a name on it like Athina or princess etc and you get to try on their whole selection of styles they have without aimlessly searching through the store. How easy is that.

My Friend Jane Getting Measured

You put aside the ones you like and then you can ask them to give them to you in the colours you want and then even get them to grab the underwear that matches the bras you choose.

Without even having to go through the store, they go for you. At the end, you can still choose to go and have a look at the other colours of underwear they have available but at least this way, they take you directly to the drawer where they are and you then go straight to the checkout.

The pink doors in the Fitting Room

The prices are very similar to back home with bras being around $45 each plus tax but the service is definitely much better and the selection of bigger bras is much more available in the states due to the bigger breasted women here.

I love it. When you’ve grown up with boobs, everyone knows how hard it is to get the right fit, the right support and stores that have a great selection for those sizes. America is perfect for this. At least I know that I can prevent the whole going South problem for a few more years with Victoria Secrets supportive bras.

If you are waiting for your friend, you can always find a place to sit in the store and just patiently wait for them to finish.

The big Alice in Wonderland Chair in the store that I waited patiently on.

Venice Beach LA

One of the best sunsets I have seen is at Venice Beach located in Los Angeles California. It’s a great drive down there especially if you stop past Santa Monica Beach and spend a whole day down there. Venice Beach has a whole walking strip with many shops. You will smell marijuana the whole time you walk past some of the stores as most of them sell pipes but if you get beyond this they also sell a lot of bathing suits, towels, shirts etc as it’s the beach. They have a gym set amongst the outdoor palm trees and heaps of guys are there working and they have pretty tight bodies and are not shy to walk around showing off.

My advice would be to park on the beach in the huge carpark there which is a set rate of $15 for the day and then spend the day swimming, walking around, checking out the entertainment by the locals, and after the sunset, I would get in the car and leave as it can be pretty creepy there at night. Some of the groups of guys down there and some of the pot affected locals, and homeless in the pockets, can be a little daunting if you’re not used to it. The best part is the sunset anyway.

You can do a great bike ride along the bike track which literally is parallel to the sand. A great flat ride to do. There is lots of action happening, guys playing basketball, cement tennis, working out, and the entertainment of the ‘special’ people lurking around that never made it on Broadway and feel like they have to come to Venice Beach to perform. It’s lots of fun.

The shops Things for sale

The artworks for sale

The artworks for sale

IMG_7321

The palm trees along the beachside

The palm trees along the beachside

Love the start of sunset

Love the start of sunset

Playing games by the beach

Playing games by the beach

IMG_7356 IMG_7377

Absolute Bliss

Absolute Bliss

Just perfect sunsets

Just perfect sunsets

IMG_7919 IMG_7920 IMG_7921

The locals playing basketball

The locals playing basketball

IMG_7923 IMG_7924

Venice Beach bicycle track and walkway

Venice Beach bicycle track and walkway

The London West Hollywood CA

One of my favourite hotels in LA is The London, West Hollywood. I stayed there in February as well as just recently and it is always a treat. It has the best rooftop spot in LA with views of the Hills and the whole California with a roof top pool, bar, and sun deck chairs. It is a great place to spend the whole day in summer and also a great place to have a drink and some dinner as the sun is setting. The bathrooms in the Suite rooms are so massive, and I just love them.

The sign of the hotel

The sign of the hotel

The bathtub spot. The whole bathroom is this design of tile

The bathtub spot. The whole bathroom is this design of tile

Gordon Ramsays restaurant is within the hotel and it is also his menu that they cater too on the rooftop. The food is good. It isn’t my favourite food in the world, however with the night lights, the pool reflections, the candles, the cocktails and hopefully good company, the experience is five star.

The Roof top Bar and Pool

IMG_7934 IMG_7928 IMG_7930 IMG_7931 IMG_7130

Dinner on the rooftop

Dinner on the rooftop

IMG_7175 IMG_7182

 

Basically breakfast dining is served very well. Plenty of media and film industry people are always in there having meetings, pitches etc so don’t be surprised if you’re eating breakfast and you can hear a new TV series being spoken about etc. A lot of Australians stay in the hotel and I also noticed heaps of Jewish guests there also.

The elevators. how cool

The elevators. how cool

Me. Inside the elevator

Me. Inside the elevator

A great hotel, fantastic service and just located on corner of Sunset Boulevarede and N San Vincente Boulevarde. For a late night drink, the Viper room is literally in the parking spot out the back and the Viper Room is a very famous location. If you wish to have a great American Diner experience, I suggest you walk up Sunset Boulevarde and you will see Mel’s diner on your left. There are some other great restaurants there too so it’s up to you where you go but you definitely have options.

For those that like a great drink, head down to the Abbey which is just down the road. It’s a great venue for drinks with an outdoor and indoor section, pole dancers, three to four bars, plenty of dancing room and a variety of cool people.  There are great little eateries and bars down that same road too so The London Hotel is a great location if you want to experience the coolness of West Hollywood.

Dancing girl at The Abbey

Dancing girl at The Abbey

 

Big Bear Lake Film Festival CA

I went to Big Bear Lake Film Festival as my short film Juliana’s Story got selected to screen at the festival which was an exciting excuse to head to another part of the States and explore the area as well as use the opportunity to Network. Big Bear Lake is situated about two and a half hours out of LA. It’s a great drive through the mountains to get to a place with a man made lake amongst the mountains, with 7,000 altitude. Didn’t see any real bears there, but plenty of man made ones.

IMG_0795

IMG_0739

IMG_0800

The festival is run by a lady called Monika Skerbelis and she has done an amazing job with the festival. One of the other directors is Sandy Steers (Hollywood Screenplay Consultant) and they have both done amazing jobs to get the people attending. There were so many volunteers from the community working at the festival that you couldnt really get lost or not know what you’re doing because it is all there.

The main centre is the Performing Arts Centre. Here is where most of the volunteers are located and there is always drinks and food being served there as part of your festival entry.

IMG_0840

The food served at one of the meals

The food served at one of the meals

The theatre at the PAC centre

The theatre at the PAC centre

Basically if your film gets selected, they give you free tickets to all the screenings and all the events over the three days and most of the time an additional ticket for a ‘plus one’. There are seminars, screenings to all the Features and Short Films and plenty of get together events such as breakfasts, Gala Nights, A movie night where we watched Arbitrage and general networking at the PAC centre. Heaps of film makers took their advertising flyers and posters, putting them up and this really does work because people go past and look at the flyers to determine what they actually want to go and see. So take some flyers and even some copies of your film to give out to those that may not get to your screening.

I took my friend Paul with me for company and the whole experience was good overall. There seem to be less people at the Friday day screenings than the Saturday screenings because people work weekdays I guess. Friday afternoons are ok for screenings too as people start arriving after lunch. It is always a little nerve racking when your film is about to screen, especially on such a big screen. It was great to experience. I only wish I had all the cast/crew, my family and friends there with me to share that moment with.

Juliana’s Story Screening
My film screened at the 4-530pm time slot at the Village North Theatre 1. It was an intimate theatre as shot below. There were about 65 people in the theatre and it was full It could have fitted another 15 people max so i was happy with the turnout.

The front of the Village North Theatre

The front of the Village North Theatre

A shot of the big screen secretly (Bad angle)

A shot of the big screen secretly (Bad angle)

IMG_0826

Inside the theatre before the crowds arrive

Inside the theatre before the crowds arrive

Some of the other films that were screened with mine were Wallanda, Atlantis, Home of War, and City of Spires. I got to meet the film makers of these films. Wallanda is about a tight rope story and all done on Green Screen in one location. These producers are aiming to get an Oscar for this film so it was great to see the film. The producer came from a family of tight rope walking artists in the circus so had heaps of experience in this area. Atlantis was based on NASA with lots of footage from there and City of Spires (Kevin Kerr and Eric Weintrab) was based on a musician having to choose between music and his girlfriend. My favourite was Home from War (Writer/Producer, Steve Hartman – Director Jonathon Dillon). It was about two girls that were injured veterans from War and how they were at the US nursing base and based on the lack of support she received about bringing home her marine friend, (who she said to her family was the amputee), she committed suicide when we find that it was not her friend, but it was her.

Steve Hartman told me that 18 veterans suicide each day in America as they aren’t looked after and when they are sent home they are made to find their own way home. It is terrible that this is the case. I feel for those people as I sure know what it is like being injured from working for your country. I was clearly more fortunate than some of these people and pushed through the depression that consumes you to get beyond the thoughts of suicide and start to feel in control again. Good luck to these guys for getting it out there.

At the festival this year were some achievement awards like the honorary late, Jack Cardiff award (presented by McCall) and to Tim Schulman for his success over the years of all his written films like Dead Poet’s Society, Honey I shrunk the kids and many more greats. Patrick WIlliams got an award for his contribution and success with his music composing in films so the fact that these experienced men were there to receive their awards was great for those attending as we really got to rub shoulders with them.

IMG_7863

 

I loved listening to Toms speech as he told us all about the amount of rejections he received trying to get Dead Poets Society going so it was a very inspirational time. I enjoyed hearing about their take on things and how when you write a screenplay, it is important to think of the whole feel of the screenplay, including music you will use etc, so that if it is important to that scene, you include it in the script. It gives the reader a sense of being able to visualise the scenes within the film and I agree how important that is.
Seminars and Panelists
I attended many seminars they had organised so I could meet with agents, and consultants  in Hollywood. It was great and I enjoyed what I learnt from my time with them. Here are some photos below of the seminar rooms etc. A very relaxed environment and wherever you go to, there is water, coffee and tea available as well as a volunteer with a smile that will help you get to wear you are going.

Panelists: Seth Jaret, Nicole Jones, David Warden, Mathieus ? and Mark katter

Panelists: Seth Jaret, Nicole Jones, David Warden, Mathieus ? and Mark katter

Other panelist room with Diane Cairns, David again, Greg Beal, Agents like  Jennifer Good and writers Bruce Evans and Tom Schulman on left.

Other panelist room with Diane Cairns, David again, Greg Beal, Agents like Jennifer Good and writers Bruce Evans and Tom Schulman on left.

Patrick Williams talking at a seminar.

Patrick Williams talking at a seminar.

Mr Mc Call, Tom Schulman and Patrick Williams

Mr Mc Call, Tom Schulman and Patrick Williams

One of the agents that was at the festival was Seth Jaret and it was great meeting with successful people that are ahead of their field because they understand multiplatform and Transmedia Producing. A credit to him and his company Content Engine. Love the name. Here is a picture of Seth below after us all having lunch in down town Pine Knots Ave.

IMG_7886

Meeting some of the film makers
I met some great film makers. One in particular was a guy called Robert Matthews and he gave me his short film Retribution to look at. It was a great film and his film company Beanstalk Films I’m sure will do well. He is so tall that no wander his company name is called Beanstalk. Check him out on line if interested in seeing his work.

Robert and I

Robert and I

I met some great girls from Canada, one which was a documentary film maker, Rachel Bower, and she was so funny and had the most animated face that I had to photograph us together.

Rachel and I (she's pulling a face hehe)

Rachel and I (she’s pulling a face hehe)

Panelist Bios 
I have included below a list of the panelists that were presenting and their bios on the pages.

IMG_7875 IMG_7872 IMG_7874
IMG_7870

 

Overall, I recommend sending your film to Big Bear lake and if selected, head down there for the whole three days. It is worth the money, the time and the trip. I managed to get my feature scripts looked at and that is a huge success in itself considering how tough this industry is so get out there and make your dreams happen people because like is short. You may even be able to meet up with people that will change your life, guide your life and/or simply find lifetime friends. You will also get to see some great scenic shots like this below.

IMG_0597

Sunset at Big Bear lake

Sunset at Big Bear lake

You can find plenty of Scenic shots on my blog article on Big Bear Lake CA as those that know me will know I love photography.

 

Great Antique Stores CA

If you read my last post on Big Bear Lake, you will be familiar with the area, and how it’s like an old pretty country town that has a man made lake in it, making it stunning and very picturesque.

Big Bear Lake is full of Antique places. They are mostly located on Big Bear Boulevarde off the main road and you will basically drive right past each one. For those who like spending time looking at old things, rusted things, and basically everything that they can gather and fit in their stores, you will enjoy the set out.  The beauty about the Antique Stores, Especially the Treasure Antique Store, it has themed wooden cabins out the back which are decked out like rooms. I make films, and I will certainly be visiting Big Bear Lake if I need an oldern day set design. I have taken photos of all the stuff I came across at the Antique Stores so if you like it, take a trip out there, enjoy the views of the actual Big Bear Lake and take a break. It is pretty hard to believe that the first one below is all one store.

The Antique Store (Treasure Store)

IMG_7821 IMG_0823 IMG_0824 IMG_7784 IMG_7785 IMG_7786 IMG_7787 IMG_7788 IMG_7789 IMG_7790 IMG_7791 IMG_7792 IMG_7798 IMG_7799 IMG_7800 IMG_7801 IMG_7802 IMG_7803 IMG_7804 IMG_7805 IMG_7808 IMG_7809 IMG_7810 IMG_7812 IMG_7813 IMG_7814 IMG_7815 IMG_7816 IMG_7817 IMG_7818 IMG_7819 IMG_7820

 

Inside the Treasure Antique Store

I have to say, it is pretty unbelievable that all this is located at one spot. The outside is huge, like an outdoor Antique mini theme park. Inside had heaps too.

 

IMG_7853 IMG_7822 IMG_7823 IMG_7825 IMG_7827 IMG_7828 IMG_7829 IMG_7830 IMG_7832 IMG_7833 IMG_7834 IMG_7835 IMG_7836 IMG_7837 IMG_7839 IMG_7840 IMG_7841 IMG_7842 IMG_7843 IMG_7845 IMG_7846 IMG_7847 IMG_7848 IMG_7849 IMG_7850 IMG_7851

The Mill Creek Output Antique Store

This one is not as big as the other one above but it still has alot of stuff inside. I bought a big bear sling shot as a souvenir, then realised i probably wont be able to bring it home hahahaa. Ill see.

IMG_7895 IMG_7896 IMG_7897 IMG_7898 IMG_7899 IMG_7900 IMG_7901 IMG_7902 IMG_7903 IMG_7904 IMG_7905 IMG_7906 IMG_7907 IMG_7908 IMG_7909 IMG_7910 IMG_7911 IMG_7912 IMG_7913

Below are some pictures of a dear friend Rachel I met in Big Bear. What a gem!!

IMG_7914 IMG_7915 IMG_7916 IMG_7918

 

They say it’s pretty in winter with the snow and also very busy at that time. Summer was pretty though and being able to walk around looking at the stores in the warm sun was quite nice also.

Big Bear Lake CA

I basically went to Big Bear Lake in California because one of my short films got selected to screen there. I decided it would be a great opportunity to head there and enjoy the area at the same time as doing some networking.  If every you travel to the States and think some of the locals may be too busy to pay attention to you, then head to Big Bear Lake, because they’ll love you and talk to you in the nicest possible way.

I flew out from New York, to LA, then hired a car to drive to Big Bear. A pretty cruisy drive with GPS. Once you hit the mountains, you are basically going 7,000 feet up so the altitude is pretty full on. A great drive through the mountains and windy roads. Some photos below of getting there on the plane and through the woods.

Leaving New York for big Bear

Leaving New York for big Bear

Going to catch the A train to Howard Beach to JFK airport

Going to catch the A train to Howard Beach to JFK airport

View of Virgin America Plane with american flag wing

View of Virgin America Plane with american flag wing

The winding roads

The winding roads

Big Bear Lake has a man made lake that looks gorgeous, especially at sunrise and sunset. It used to have many bears around the area but they don’t come close anymore. They are in the mountain areas. The town has bears everywhere that are mostly carved out of wood and they are actually quite cute. We took some funny photos with the bears.

 

Inside the cafe

Inside the cafe

IMG_0722 IMG_0732 IMG_0758 IMG_0764 IMG_0766 IMG_0773 IMG_0795

 

We stayed in a local cabin studio which was basically located on a local street with the locals so I actually felt like I lived there with my car in the driveway. The place was called California Dreaming and we booked it through Big Bear Vacations. To get an idea. Its around $500 for three nights so its reasonable if you have a couple of you going. Its located at 589 Lakewood Lane, Big Bear. When you arrive though, you need to go pick up your keys from their office which is at 41693 big bear boulevarde and the ladies in the office are really lovely and will give you brochures of whats happening around the town.

My little studio cabin

My little studio cabin

The house across the road

The house across the road

Teddy Bear Café

We had a fabulous breakfast at the Teddy Bear Café on Pine Knots Ave. Absolutely yum. Eggs, sunny side up, with sausage, and hash browns which are made with shredded potatoes and onions. Was not oily at all and cooked perfectly. They come around and keep filling your coffee up. Very country style and just a nice way to start the day.  The lady on one of the days was so busy with all the extra tourists in town, that one of the local customers got up and helped her poor the coffees. Just lovely and sweet town. Totally recommend brekky here.

the street lamp outside

the street lamp outside

The Cafe sign and theatre across the road

The Cafe sign and theatre across the road

Breakfast time

Breakfast time

Inside the cafe

Inside the cafe

Sunset

If you drive through the town and find the bridge on your left, you will be able to witness pretty amazing sunsets as shown below.

IMG_0362 IMG_0373 IMG_0382 IMG_0396 IMG_0399 IMG_0422 IMG_0431 IMG_0446 IMG_0449 IMG_0454 IMG_0459 IMG_0464 IMG_0482 IMG_0486 IMG_0501 IMG_0516 IMG_0522 IMG_0533 IMG_0545

Sunrise

Sunrise in summer is around 615-640am. It is worth waking up for it because as you drive into the beginning of the town ship, just after the bends, you will find this stunning still lake area with two big rock formations. The houses along the lake have superb views and as the sun comes up, it lights up the mountains beautifully.

IMG_0586 IMG_0594 IMG_0595 IMG_0597 IMG_0599 IMG_0610 IMG_0611 IMG_0623 IMG_0631 IMG_0634 IMG_0644 IMG_0650 IMG_0657

checking out things in front of peoples houses

checking out things in front of peoples houses

Look like gingerbread houses

Look like gingerbread houses

Another spot of the lake for sunrise

Another spot of the lake for sunrise

IMG_0682 IMG_0687 IMG_0691 IMG_0696

 

They have quite a few stores in the area as well as a whole heap of Antique Stores which I have written another blog about so stay tuned as plenty of photos from this.

IMG_0839 IMG_7791 IMG_7799 IMG_7823 IMG_7828 IMG_7833 IMG_7841 IMG_7853
IMG_7911

 

I recommend people visit Big Bear Lake. It’s a great getaway, very relaxing and very small townish. It has the friendliest people in the whole of the USA living there. There are a lot of elderly people that live there, and they are all so friendly. I would love to go down there for winter when it’s the ski season as the snow down there and the Village would be gorgeous. Actually if you go have lunch at the local cafes, you may even get entertained by the local bands in their matching outfits.

IMG_7880

Book of Mormon Cheap Lottery Tickets NYC

I have heard so many great reviews about the Book of Mormon and I’m hanging to see it. I have heard that I can go get $32 lottery tickets to see the show in the front row so I’m patiently going to line up whenever Im in Times Square and try my luck. I tried it the other day but didn’t win. I’ll keep trying because the process is actually quite easy.

Basically you go to the theatre where the show is performing and in this case the Book of Mormon is being shown at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. You go to the box office and they have tickets at a table that you get given two and a half hours before the show. For example if the show is on at 7pm. You need to go to the theatre between 430pm and 5pm, fill out the form with your name and email etc and then hang around until 5pm to see if you get drawn out in the barrel. You must be there on the draw and only one entry can make it as a winner. If you put in two, they will disqualify you. Very strict but worth the process because the guy that does the lottery has a mega phone and is very entertaining.
Before you go, check the day before online to make sure the time is the right time for you as it may change. I’ve given you the link here for the New York Show Tickets Schedule. Read this to check times for all different show times for lining up for tickets.
You can also checkout the Rush or lottery tickets policies for Broadway shows.

It is actually a good experience. I took some photos of the people that went and the guy on the megaphone.

TIP: Go in bad weather and during the week when there are less people. It is drawn in front of everyone so it doesn’t matter where you say you are from .

The drawer

The people laughing at his jokes

The little table out the front where you grab the application ticket.

 

War Horse the Show NYC

War Horse was an amazing theatre show that I highly recommend. It was an amazing use of puppetry the size of an actual horse. It was truly beautiful. We lined up for tickets at the TKTS Booth in time square and managed to get $70 tickets and be seated 6 rows from the front orchestra. Usually the full price tickets are around $145. It was a nice intimate theatre at the Lincoln Centre and these seats were great.

Its best to be seated a little back to take in the whole stage. The cast were very talented, especially the main boy. The cast that were manouvreing the horses, were so well trained to be horses. They actually make the horse sounds as well as move the horse to be realistic like a real horse. It’s pretty amazing and you have to see it yourself to know what I mean. It’s a great experience that I recommend.

You can’t take photos inside once it starts but I took photos outside and the area outside is great so go early and eat and drink in the restaurant outside. You are right near the Julliard School of dance and the Lincoln Centre Hub. A nice spot to walk around and just enjoy the fresh balmy night.

The crowd inside the theatre

Me outside the theatre with the horses

Outside the theatre with view of Juliard School

The water feature outside

THE MET BOX OFFICE
This office is right next door and they have shows outside on this big screen below in the summer. If you are lucky enough to look up the opera show, you should go and see a show.Its usually on around Fashion Week in the first week of September because there are so many people around and they encourage outdoor performances. They have seats set up to cater for a big seated outdoor audience.

The MET opera section

The walkway around the MET and Lincoln Centre

SUBWAY:
You need to catch the red train line which is 1,2,3 train line. Number 1 stops right there at 66th street which is the Lincoln Centre and it basically is right there so you hardly have to walk at all outside the station. This is us at the Tribeca Station waiting for the train.

 

Buying Cheaper Broadway Tickets NYC

Who wants to pay full price for a show. Well, I must say, I am a musical and theatre whore. I go and see everything that comes out and up until now, I have been paying the full price that us Aussies pay to see shows which ends up being an expensive night out seeing most tickets that you purchase when they just come out are over $150.

In New York, You don’t even need to pre book show tickets. You can go to the Red and White TKTS Booth and line up to get tickets to your favourite show on the day of the show. I always heard about it but never actually used it until now and boy am I kicking myself for not doing this earlier. Here is the deal. You go onto the website I have linked here which is the Tckts Website link. It will let you know any new and current information of the times that the booths are currently open when you go. In the summer for me now, the booths are open from 3pm until 8pm. Even though most of the time the lines are long, they move really quickly so you generally get good seats. The discounts you save are generally from 30-50% which is a huge saving.

Basically, you got to one of three locations for tickets. The one i have photographed is Times Square and the most busiest. You can also go to Brooklyn or South Sea Port locations as they are less busy. You look at the list thats available that day. You work out which one or two/three you wish to see and when you get to the window, you need to know what you are asking for so don’t go there undecided as you may get told to go away again. You can’t split the money so someone will have to pay the whole amount. It’s easy. I always have three in mind i want to see and see which one i can get the best seats for. Then i see that show.

I have taken some photos to let you know what to look for so you arent confused.

Times Square famous stairs and the booths on each side

On these signs are the names of the shows and the discounts they offer that day

Signs stand out

A closer look at show lists

The line at the booths

The windows where you book

You can see the TKTS sign from 42nd St. They stand out


I went and saw War Horse and Bring it On recently through this TKTS system. They were both amazing. I am writing a seperate blog on War Horse. For an idea, War Horse ended up costing $70 per ticket and Bring it On cost $66 each person. Cheap Cheap Cheap.

There are also Rush and Lottery Tickets available by individual Theatres but you’ll need to look them up online to see what time the theatres are open for selling those tickets to the public. For example Book of Mormon, You can go to the Eugene O’Neill Theatre at 430pm and put your name on for a Rush lottery draw to see if you can get $32 tickets in the front row that night of the show. Only 22 seats are given out so 11 people get drawn out of a barrel to win the tickets. Ive written a blog about it specifically.

Bring It On The Musical
Bring it On initially sounded Teeny boppy but I can assure you, the audience was older and it was a really energetic production with very talented cast in the show. It was based on College cheer leading with guys and girls but done really well and there was a really funny girl in it that had funny punch lines the whole way through so made it very entertaining. The funniest line from the girl when she got shocked by what one of the girls said to her. Her reply was “Shut the front door and slap me with the screen”

It was very funny and i plan on using it with my friends hahahah.

TIMES SQUARE
There is plenty to see around times square whilst waiting for your show to start so be prepared and walk around and take it all in. You don’t need to go in dresses and heels anymore as some tourists turn up in shorts because they don’t make it to go home and get changed. If you want to be totally relaxed, go and have a frozen margharita or apple martini at Dallas BBQ and then go see a show. You’ll love it.

Apartment Living in NYC

Recently, I moved across the hall again. I’m still in Little Italy / Chinatown which is the same suburb at the Zip Code 10013. I learnt recently that the one zip code is for me, as well as Tribeca and Greenwhich so all in all, 10013 is a great area of New York to live. My building is like the show friends where everyone lives in the same building. There are three aussies living in the building and some others that are friends of the aussies in the building. It’s pretty cool because if you ever feel alone or like company, you knock on one of their doors and instantly you have company and generally a good laugh. It’s moments like this where you figure you will only ever experience a few times in your life at certain moments of being single or trying to move forward temporarily and find yourself in situations like this. Most of the time, you either have to drive to a friends place, or make an arrangement or put it in the diary for those in Sydney. This situation is a modern New York version of what my parents and I were exposed too at a young age in the villages of Greece.

You don’t need diaries to go visit someone, you just turn up. Who cares if they really don’t want to see you, you just show up, eat their food, drink their Ouzo and then leave. This is also in return and the only way you can avoid it is by closing the curtains, staying absolutely quiet and not moving, coz village Greeks don’t give up. If you don’t answer the front door, they’ll go around the back and check, and then look into all the windows, and then even try and find your spare key. If they don’t get anywhere, they then leave a leaf or a piece of twig at your door to tell them that someone came past to see them and they weren’t there.

I guess it is our equivalent of texting these days.

Anyway, back to the apartment. This is my new apartment. I decided to try and create some artworks for my wall to make it more ‘New Yorky’ and experiment with some art in the down time. I hope you like it. I basically used the Newspaper idea I had seen around and adapted it to my own style.

My painting of the Brooklyn Bridge

My painting of the subway on Cardboard

This is a blank canvas with just the newspaper backing. Any ideas of what i should paint on it?

This apartment is a one bedroom apartment and its a lot bigger than the studio O was in. More expensive but at least I don’t feel chlostraphobic in here and I can breathe and entertain a lot easier now.

The Living Area

The Kitchen area

The Bedroom with exposed brick wall

The bathroom

Hells Kitchen &/or Flea Markets NYC

Hells Kitchen is a little strip of stalls on 39th Street in the city, starting on the corner of 9th and 10th Avenue. It is open from 9am until 5pm every weekend all year (weather permitting). This section below is the Hells Kitchen Spot only. On the day we went, it was the labour day weekend and I didn’t find it as busy as what I was expecting and it was very muggy, humid and hot that day. I found the things they stocked were older collectable items, like old navigational nautical things and I found some columbian product woven sacks for a wall feature which were cool but some of the clothes etc were things that were second hand etc so make sure that is your thing before you head down there. You can find some amazing pieces if you filter through so it may be worth a day out and a walk around. You may even occasionally come across some older men in Bikinis or wedding dresses as you walk around.

The Hells Kitchen Strip

Man in Bikini riding bike. Hilarious.

Construction Strip nearby

When you get past Hells Kitchen and you think, mmmm that didnt take long, you then go for a long walk down to West 25th (near 5th Avenue End) and go check out the Public car park flea markets along that street. You will come past an old carpark thats filled with people trying to get rid of their junk. You may find an old map if that is your thing, a record, picture, rug, furniture. I found a very old pair of steel skates that I was thinking of filming so bought them for $2. Here are some Pics of the type of things around there.

The GARAGE ANTIQUE FLEA MARKET
Located at 112 West 25th St New York

Upstairs area

Upstairs section of Flea Market

Old comics on sale upstairs

Downstairs of Flea Markets

6th Avenue Stalls on Labour Day Weekend Saturday

Sometimes the best thing to do is to walk around and just stumble across the things in New York. I was trying to take my friend to Magnolia Bakery, near  49th street and 6th Avenue at the Rockefeller Centre to try their banana Pudding when we came across a huge long street strip filled with stalls and there was a dance concert on further up the Avenue that was ticketed with wrist bands. The whole entire avenue was full of people. Great vibe as you could hear the music pumping. Here were some of the pictures of the strip, the stalls, and even us finding Magnolia Bakery amongst the chaos and enjoying some corn on the cob. The Americans put parmesan cheese and chilli butter on their corn and you must try the way they prepare it. It’s pretty good. You can then walk to Central Park at the end of the strip and eat your corn and Pudding whilst putting your feet up from all the walking.

Pictures available in the stalls

Colourful Magnets

Man in drag wedding dress. Hilarious. He stops and does twirls when people are looking.

Magnolia Bakery
I’ve already written a post on Magnolia Bakery and so I wont harp on it. This was a different location than the other ive been too and even though i am not a fan of their cupcakes, their banana pudding is the best thing, although you must have a sweet tooth for it because it is very sweet.

The Window

Central Park (Cool Bike I saw)

Random Sitings
Here is a shop front I came across whilst walking which was really well dressed up for a music store.

This was a site only so common with a guy searching the bin for food and eating whatever he could find over the bin.

Love looking up the streets when youre crossing the road.

A guy playing at the Station half didgeridoo and half dance infused.

Madonna in NYC

Talk about being at the right place at the right time. Sitting at home, finally having a moment to turn the TV on to hear that another concert is announced by Madonna and heaps of controversy and I jump online and buy a ticket for $47 off some guy selling it called craig and then the next day, I’m at the Madonna concert. Seriously and boy oh boy, is it an experience I will remember for a life time.

The fact that it was at the Yankee Stadium made it even better. Who cared that the news all that day was warning residents in Manhattan about the tornado sweeping through. It’s Madonna and the only tornado stopping her will be the one that sweeps her up in it while she’s performing.

We had to catch the orange B, D train out to 161st /Yankee Stadium stop. We then find ourselves at the concert at 830pm. There was no rush because we had been told that although the tickets say 8pm, she doesn’t turn up until after 10. That surely wouldn’t happen back home as our places shut down at 11pm hahhaah. We went into a club nearby to kill some time and walking in there was pretty funny. It was like an old hall that had been converted into a night club and all these people were dancing in the middle and drinking around the outskirts. Julian and I were in hysterics, but when in Rome!!! So we got a drink and then all of a sudden, a madonna mix started. The concert may as well have started at this club coz everyone was on the floor, doing their madonna moves, and singing to every word. Everyone was ready to head to the stadium after this point. A great vibe.

Yankee stadium is huge with a capacity of 60,000. The actual baseball field section was secured so no one touched it but they utilised the rest of the field and then all the seats. Ive taken some photos of the stadium from different spots and also placing video footage of her segments so that anyone back home missing out on her tour in Australia can watch bits of it. I’ve taken it from up the top level so you get a full view of the stage and crowd below. It was taken on my iphone so sorry about any blurriness or distance.

Subway Train to Stadium

The crowds at Subway heading to concert

Having a drink at the first bar near the stadium

New york Stadium

The lower bar in the stadium

This fans madonnas pants

Another bar at Stadium

Inside the Yankee Office

The Field at the stadium

 

The Stands

The Stage

The Stage Closer

Side View of Stage

She actually came out to start her show with red monk outfits and got carried out in a tomb looking thing. She had a pistol that she swung around and had a fight with a guy on stage on the bed that was placed in the middle of the stage as if it was a domestic fight. He kicked the gun out her hand. She then took it and ran from him and was calling out “Die, you bitch” It was a total gun statement and she did it well.

 

MUSIC VIDEOS OF CONCERT
The best way to feel the concert is for me to share the night with you on the footage below. At points where I’m shaking, is because I started dancing and couldn’t help myself. Im not sure if you can see these videos as uploading may have been a problem. If you have troubles and youre a fan, I can put the footage on DVD and send it to you. Just email me.

Madonna Video Performance One

Madonna Video Performance Two

Madonna Video Performance Three

Madonna Video Performance Four

Madonna Video Performance Five

Madonna Video Performance Six

I have more videos but this was a good selection. Madonna still has the moves. At times the sound appears off key when she was running around the stage but it wasn’t so bad live. She sounded good and very energetic and very Madonna. An awesome time.

 

911 Remembrance NYC

September 11, 2001 is a date that will forever be in the history books of moments that have changed America. A tragedy that scarred a nation. WIth the amount of lives that were lost, and all those thousands wounded in the World Tower Attacks, America every year can only now reflect on that date and remember all those lives that were taken so tragically away.

The owner of my building, John and his wife, were two of the many volunteers that went down to the towers at the time of the attack and were helping the workers down at the site, trying to save those in the rubble.  I could only imagine the images they saw whilst down there. Every year, John organises a massive American flag to hang over one entire side of his building in memory of the attacks. It is huge and every year, his friends and fellow bikers get together to help lower the flag over the building and then wait until the flag is blessed by a short prayer from a pastor. I was fortunate enough to be living in this building that does this so I captured the whole process on my camera. The flag hangs over the building until the 22nd September and there is a sign on the bottom of the building explaining about ground zero. I have placed the photos below showing the flag and the images of the process of the flag.

Mike wearing the 911 shirts

Mike wearing the 911 shirts

Sierra who designs the shirt Mike was wearing

The view of some of the buildings from the rooftop

Our shadows

View from the rooftop of the street

Sunset on the rooftop

Getting the ropes ready

Spreading the flag out

The flag and view

The plastic underneath and getting poles ready to roll flag over

Folding the Flag

Wrapping it over the pole

Covering it overnight to keep it dry for tomorrow

View from the building

The other side

The sunset and the distant water tank

Sunset shot

 

LOWERING THE FLAG DAY

The volunteers getting ready

Taking the flag out of the plastic

John waving to the crowd before lowering the flag

Counting down

Pulling it over the ledge

Lowering the flag

guys on every level off the fire escape to help guide it down

The guys on the fire escapes

The guy from Fox across the building filming

John on the phone

The top of building

Sierra taking photos from the other side

The signs on the bottom of the building

View from the bottom of the building

The bikes lined up downstairs

The pastor doing the blessing with John next to her

Some of the boys chatting near the bottom of the flag

The blessing prayer

The candle, Stone and blessed water from down at the attack site

The ropes tied to the rooftop

Another view of ropes

The final view of flag on the building

The Blue Moon
Whilst preparing the flag the day before and being on the rooftop we saw the blue moon in the sky at sunset so thought Id put the photos of the moon on the end here.

The blue moon

 

 

Fashion Night Out 2012 NYC

Fashion Night Out is Thursday 6th September, 2012. It is the one night a year in certain states in the US and some international places that most of the shops in New York City participate in late night opening, organising drinks for customers, free makeovers, red carpet for famous guests, photo shoots with celebrities, chocolate coated strawberries and some even offer free fish and chips. It is a night that attracts every fun filled and fashion orientated male and female to hit the shops and mingle and network with everybody that’s out. It is a great vibe and an awesome night to spend in New York City. You really need to do your research before hand and find out what your favourite stores are offering before you head out so you really target the shops you want. The whole city gets behind it and it’s great. Many shops have DJs playing so you are basically walking around as if you are in a shop dance party with different themed rooms. It’s nuts but it’s great. Julian and I headed out to 5th Avenue to join the masses walking from shop to shop.

The New York Times on the way to FNO

GUESS
Guess was so busy. I must say, i don’t rate Guess back home but in the US they have really great clothing and their stores are really busy. I can see why their brand is still around. It is definately one of the stores that I walk into and find myself wanting to try on their clothes. Tonight, they were serving blueberry vodka and vodka and pink lemonade. Julian polished off about four of them waiting for me to try on some clothes. They were offering girls free makeovers, and free nail manicures. It was really a big deal in store and people everywhere. It was a great vibe in store.

Guess Store inside

The Guess catalogues

The free vodka and pink lemonade on offer

The big Guess sing on the wall

Inside guess

Downstairs in the store

The Bottom Floor

TED BAKER
Ted Baker were giving away white chocolate in store and if you grabbed one of their catalogues, you could walk outside to their pop up van and get free Ted Baker wrapped Fish and Chips. Talk about a point of difference to the other stores. They also had a maid and waiter out the front greeting everyone. It was a really nice vibe in the store. I wasn’t that impressed with their current collection in store though. 

Inside Ted Baker

The steps in Ted Baker

Ted Baker Passports

The chocolates they were giving away inside Ted Baker

The stairwell display going down to menswear

The Maid out the front luring people in

Outside Sephora

Sephora Sign on window

The crowds on 5th Avenue

The female DJ at United Colours of Benneton

Sunglass hut

Sunglass hut was one of the most happening shops. They had an awesome DJ that happened to be playing one of my favourite tracks Titanium. They were giving away Chocolate coated round ball cakes on a stick with glitter and Champagne. The place was packed.

Model One outside Sunglass Hut

Model Two out the front

Julian trying on some of the glasses

The disco balls above

The DJ and champagne being served

The crowd

The glasses selection inside

The Local Street Church and Shops on the strip

A beautiful church on 5th Avenue

The front door handles at Fendi

Outside Juicy Couture

The corner of Juicy Couture

DIESEL STORE
Diesel was pumping as they also had a DJ and a singer called Elly Varner and her album Perfectly Imperfect. She was doing a guest appearance on a DJ set. She was hot and had the hottest hair but she new it. I noticed many girl DJs along 5th Avenue. It was good to see them being recognised in the stores.

The Diesel Store Outside

Diesel window display

The cart display inside

Sign inside

The DJ Inside

Elly getting prepared

Celebrity Guest

Bodego Veneta

This store was also pumping with their two floors, female djing and champagne all round. This place must have had the hottest models paid to stand inside coz they were hot, especially the guy at the stairwell. Seriously, perfection and the clothing was soooo cool.

The displays on level Two

Looking Down

The wall displays

HOLLISTER
The stand out of Hollister was the front of the store. It has these projected images on their front glass of the sea and waves crashing. They also had their own water below it so together, it was such a beautiful effect to just watch.

Outside Hollister

The glass and bottom water display

Zara Shop Outside

Godiva Chocolate Store
This store was giving away chocolate coated strawberries and the line was out the door. The chocolate displays inside the store were so good and made the chocolate look so delicious it looked like a fashion store.

Outside Godiva Chocolates

The line for strawberries

The Godiva Sales Counter

The Selection

The Rockefeller Centre Concert and Red Carpet
There were models placed along a whole strip of red carpet so that people could come along and take photos with them. The following photos are of the concert crowds and the strip with the models etc.

The crowd at the Rockefeller Centre

Thats me. Peace

The Band

One of the male models

Me on the red carpet

Another female model

The cutest little girl with other model

Overall, it was a great night. Totally recommend you be in New York during Fashion Week next year and make sure that go to the Fashion Night Out.