Camp Borreal – Quebec, Canada

The last blog about camping with the dog is linked to this really. This time I will talk about the awesome camping experience when you take away dangers to dogs. I love camping. Actually, I will clarify, the type of camping I like, is the camping where you have a toilet and shower block available. I don’t really fancy camping in the thick of the mountain bush with no facilities to clean yourself. I am not saying I wouldn’t do that if I needed too however I just prefer the access to amenities but still having the experience of being on a campsite, away from civilization to just relax.

I thought I was pretty much super organized. On the day we decided to go on this particular camping trip, it was more a last minute decision. There was no electricity in Laval and Saint Sauveur (45 minutes North) also had a power cut out failure so we were without ice. We luckily managed to find a servo (depaneur) in Piedmont that had a few bags left to save the day. We stocked up and drove. Our friend Sophie had organized for us to camp in Mont Tremblant however when she got there, it was full. We settled for another place she found called Camp Borreal. It is between Saint Sauveur and Mont Tremblant. Basically, North of Montreal. At first, as you drive through the gate, you see a man made lake and some interesting people sitting around but when we drove to our camping spots, the location was great. Every spot had privacy. It was nice. It was closer to the highway so you could hear the traffic in the background at night when it was quiet but apart from that, it was a great location. It wasn’t super busy with kids swarming around screaming, it was perfect. People would go on walks following the car path around and kids would ride their bikes on the same path which was good.

There was a pool near the entrance to the site and we enjoyed swimming in it when the other kids had a break for ten minutes. They consider a spot of sand near the lake, a beach which to me did not come close to earning that title. We did lay down on the brown sand but when I was faced to decide whether or not to swim in murky man made lake water, I opted for the pool. A much better choice all round.

We enjoyed sitting around the campsite, setting up the tents and I had bought a little two burner Coleman grill so I enjoyed cooking on it with the butane gas bottles. I loved it. Around 6pm, we would start the fire, because let’s face it, I’m not in Australia now, and even though the sun is still up at 6pm, doesn’t mean it is warm in the mountain areas. The camp fire was great. So warm and after dinner, which consisted of salad and steak / salmon on the grill, it was awesome.

For dessert, we had marshmallows. I found these huge camping marshmallows at the IGA store where I went so we had those. I loved the whole experience of burning the outside of the marshmallow and then eating it in bits, heating it again and eating it. It was a slower experience this way and so good. If you cook it lower to the burning wood on the bottom, you can get a better lighter burn, instead of a charcoal burn if it’s directly on the fire. Once you get used to the technique and master it, you can sit back and relax.

The first night, we had a blanket and sheets on our blow up mattress inside the 8 man tent we pitched. Let me tell you, when they say 8 man tent, in reality, it is a good size for two. Especially if one of those people are from Greek Decent and are used to living in big spaces. I froze the first night. The climate in Canada just isn’t warm like Australia at night so the next day, we went down the road to Canadian Tire and bought a thick sleeping bag that we could open up for extra warmth. It made all the difference and the second night, we slept very comfortably.

Loved it. Unfortunately it was on the morning we were leaving, that the incident with the dog burning her eye occurred but we were at least grateful that it happened at a point where it was day time to access a vet close by.

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Carlos and Pepe’s – Montreal

I recently went to have a birthday dinner at Carlo and Pepe’s. It is located at 1420 Peel St, Montreal. It is a Tex Mex Restaurant in Golden Square Mile. If you want to head there to eat, I suggest making a booking on +1 514 288 3090.

If you like spice and cheese, this is the place for you. It’s tasty food but you may end up with a little indigestion as it’s heavy. The guacamole we had to start was my favourite. Great consistency and tasty. I love avocado so it’s one of my favourite appetizers.

The great thing about this place is it has the bottom level inside and outside at the front terrace in summer. If you walk up the 30 stairs, you can stop half way at level two and you will find a cute narrow bar plus eating section where you can order the same as the menu downstairs. I find this spot a lot more intimate. The bar tender was full of smiles and he made us these huge margarita cocktails. I had the mango, and tried the strawberry. They tasted like they used real fruit which is great and they were good. I would have preferred them to have some more frozen ice but you can’t have everything. Maybe some of us are a little spoilt from New York City cocktails. I enjoyed it overall.

I don’t remember any loud music playing or no live entertainment so we could talk and it was a good night. There is plenty of parking around but you’ll need to drive around a while to find a good spot. After all, it is the city. We were lucky and found something close by. Montreal is a friendly city to walk around at night.

I ate these lamp fajitas but being Greek, I really should know better than to order lamb at a non greek restaurant. I should have eaten chicken. It was nice but nothing compares to lamb roast and lamb on the spit which is the way lamb should be eaten. I can’t wait to be in Australia at Christmas time to try some lamb on the spit, made by my uncle. Yummo. I highly recommend it.

Back to Carlos and Pepe. I got a little distracted, oops. Tends to happen when I’m talking about food. Well that’s it. A good night, a good experience. 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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Security checking people as they walk through the entrance.

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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.

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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.

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The city of Vancouver CANADA

Vancouver is such a nice city to visit. It reminds me in many ways of Sydney. Well, it isn’t the same however it is the closest city I’ve travelled too that has the same feel. I’m sure I’ve even mentioned that before. If you stay in the city, you can pretty much get anywhere you want easily enough. Whether it’s on a bus, the train system, walking, or even flying around the city on little water jet planes. I stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel last time and the location was fabulous. I recommend heading to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Stanley Park, Granville Island, and catching the aquabus water taxi along the river. I heard Victoria Island is great too but that will be on the agenda on my next trip.

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Old Terrebonne, Quebec CANADA

I love this place. I highly recommend you visit this gorgeous little town when you are heading to the province of Quebec. There is a beautiful river flowing off a reservoir and a great park beside it filled with trees, squirrels, outdoor tables and a children play park. It has a track to run on beside it. Dogs are not allowed so it is one of those ventures you can only do with your two legged friends. The pictures say it all really. When you have finished walking and taking in the beautiful natural environment, there are a variety of restaurants to choose from to dine in. It’s wonderful for a day trip.

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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.

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Cactus Club Cafe Vancouver

Cactus Club is the ‘latest trend’ in Vancouver. This particular cafe only opened in the past 12 months and it is a huge venue that gets ridiculously packed out at lunchtime. I went there at 1130am and was seated. By 1230pm, the cafe was full with a line up of people waiting to be seated. There are a few Cactus Club Cafes that are now opened but this one in the heart of the city, and in walking distance from the Four Seasons Hotel was a great choice.

The waitresses are really quirky and they remind me of the waitresses in the 70s in the old fonz days. Their hairstyles were lifted and curved like beehives and in skirts and heels flirting with the male customers. This is what this cafe is like so when I look around at the mostly male filled room, I completely understand the market they are targeting. High ceilings, trendy furniture, opened windows all around with views of the high rise buildings.

The lady recommended I try the rocket and goats cheese salad and it was delicious. Wasn’t totally keen on the coffee they served but the rest was great. I took a few photos of the atmosphere and some snaps of the waitresses inside. The chef is the first iron chef in Canada, Rob Feenie and they rave about his food. I enjoyed what I ate but I’d need to try a lot more dishes to rate the overall quality.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Mozza Pizzeria Laval QC

I visited Mozza for lunch recently which is located at 505 Promenade du Centropolis, Laval, which is in the province of Quebec, Canada. It is a modern Pizzeria and it’s done up like a modern cafe with High ceilings, dark furniture and a sense of a lunchtime networking venue for local customers. It’s a pretty cool place to eat at. I think one of the requirements to work there would be you must be gay and have a happy energy about you, because the boys are all gay and happy that serve you. Of course, that means, good looking too.

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I ordered a pizza with mushrooms, tomato, olives and rocket. It was delicious. Veronique ordered a pizza with eggplant, sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. They were both delicious. Lunchtime is very busy in the cafe because it is based in an area full of shops etc so there are alot of suits inside and group lunches with clients etc.

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Town of New Paltz NY

Driving upstate in NY, is a place called New Paltz. It is actually the town where Mohonk Mountain House is located. Mohonk is amazing and I love staying there. It is really pretty when it snows but as you will see by a photo further down, the snow can be a little dangerous when driving and accidents happens. I am always there to capture it.

New Paltz has everything you need really. Little country town feel, a local Chase Bank, and of course a local Star bucks and Mcdonalds and Burger King. It has a good sized supermarket with everything and you can tell you are out of Manhattan because everything is so much cheaper.

When you are right in the heart of the town, there are some great little different cuisine shops. Chinese, Thai, Japanese Sushi, seafood and pizza shops. There was even a Greek shop but I haven’t eaten there yet. I think when you have a greek background and you always have grown up with good greek food, it feels like an insult to my mother, if I was to eat at another greek restaurant. Okay, well maybe not that extreme. Maybe, it is the fact that most of the time, you will get disappointed because no one makes better greek food than my mother and relatives combined. Years of mastery.

Okay, back to New Paltz. The local deli is tiny but manages to have everything in there. It is cute and there is also a little cinema near the supermarket. I noticed they are big with their Yoga as I saw two huge Yoga centres along the way.

When I parked my car to stop along the way, I was with my partner and we went to pay for parking and it cost 25 cents. They have a 25 cent coin here and I just laughed. How affordable is that? If only we could pay that price for all parking everywhere.

The Bridge at the end of New Paltz to head towards Mohonk.

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Hachi – NYC

I like Hachi. I went there for my friend Nickis Birthday. It is at 185 Orchard St, Lower East Side. It is a Japanese infused restaurant. There were ten of us and it was a great night. Actually, I felt the service was very slow but I am unsure if that was because we were in a big group or not. We had to continuously tell them to take plates away and follow up on food.

The food was well presented. I was very disappointed that they only offered Saki, wine and beer as I don’t drink those things but apart from that, I enjoyed the food I ate. I had the salmon and it was great. The birthday girl is obsessed with moustaches so she organised moustaches for everyone to be able to click on your drinking straws. I have put some photos below to show you the food presentation.

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Dave and Busters NYC

If you enjoy Time Zones, Fun Arcade Games, Video games, and indoor fun parlours but wish there were no kids there and you could have other adults around you. Dave and Beers in Times Square is the place to go. It has a bar, food and games everywhere. You buy a playing card and off you go. As you play, you collect tokens and then take them to a window to see if you win anything. I love the games in this place. They have Deal or no Deal, Wheel of Fortune, basketball and all the game shows on TV you can think of. Lots of fun for an adult arcade. So take good company and go have some fun. I loved Deal or no Deal and they make good cocktails too.

Here are some photos of the place.

Basketball

Basketball

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The Game below is air Hockey but with four sides to it so four can play. How cool is that. IMG_8396 IMG_8397 IMG_8398 IMG_8399 IMG_8400 IMG_8401

Outside Dave and Busters in Times Square. Local Jewish guy riding with advertisment behind him. IMG_8404 IMG_8405

 

911 Towers Progress NYC

The First Twin Tower

911 caused so much devastation and then dispute over who was contributing to what in terms of the building of the twin towers that it has taken quite a few years to get it to this point.

I’ve been watching the progress and when I was in New York back in February they had barely started the second tower. Now they are progressing well with it. If you see the photos below, you can see the man power and huge cranes they are using to build. The gates below both towers are very high and you cant get in to the area. I have a great view when I stand outside it, right near Century 21 Department Store.

The Second Tower

A Different Angle of the second tower

The bottom of Tower One

 

Niagara Falls New York

Niagara Falls is a great place to visit. It is situated right on the border of the US, in New York, and Ontario in Canada. I had two friends with me so it was a good opportunity to get a car and split the cost while heading up and having the opportunity to stop by towns on the way up. Only drama is, when you use the GPS, it takes you along freeways and you really don’t see much of interest on the 7 hour drive up there. It can get boring as a drive however, with good company and plenty of chatting, the time goes by quickly.

The thing to decide is whether or not you will actually stay on the New York side of the border or the Canada side of the border. I had no choice, I couldn’t cross the border because of visa restrictions so I stayed on the New York side. The good thing though, was I chose to stay at the Seneca Niagara Casino so I had something to do and I managed to get a five star room for $85 that was really damn nice. I know you wouldn’t get that price on the Canada side. Probably for a good reason too. There isn’t much to do on the New York side so they know you will spend time and money inside the Casino, hahaha. I have been to Vegas and Sydney and Melbourne Casinos so when someone says Casino, I think “Casino”. Not here. It was tragic in terms of quality of games, people that attend (dress code very relaxed) and amount of great games and variety. People smoke inside the casino which sucks but apart from that, and the limited two eateries, the rooms were great. They may tell you there are great views of the rapids, but the truth is, you are too far away, and if you want great direct views of the falls, you need to stay on the Canada side. I didn’t care. I had an awesome camera and my idea of seeing the falls, is to physically walk there and take the shots of them myself and not outside a hotel window.

We went to the falls both days and from as many different spots we could find. We explored the whole area. My friends drove to the Canada side and took some shots from that side and looked around while i enjoyed a nice swim and spa in the hotel. A very relaxing get away from New York City. I enjoyed being right near the falls and being really close to it. Winter is a nice time to go as fewer people and you can take your time and enjoy the whole area without getting trampled.

Here are photos below of the hotel, the New York Side area which is really quite industrial looking and boring, but the main attraction is the falls and they are spectacular:

Plenty of Photos Below:

The road Trip

The road Trip

NEW YORK SIDE

The side of Falls

The side of Falls

View of rapids near Falls

View of rapids near Falls

Building off the Niagara River

Building off the Niagara River

The rapid before the Falls

The rapid before the Falls

The Aqua Jade colour in the water.

The Aqua Jade colour in the water.

The powerful water fall

The powerful water fall

The side of falls

The side of falls

Me at the Falls

Me at the Falls

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Boats in the River

Boats in the River

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The viewing Meter

The viewing Meter

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The edge of the fall

The edge of the fall

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Couple enjoying the Falls

Couple enjoying the Falls

The Rapids

The Rapids

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Sun is out reflecting

Sun is out reflecting

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CANADA SIDE

The River Water. Canadian Side

The River Water. Canadian Side

The viewing Deck, Canda Side

The viewing Deck, Canada Side

Canada Side Views

Canada Side Views

Canada Side Falls

Canada Side Falls

Canada River View

Canada River View

Canada Mist of Falls

Canada Mist of Falls

Birds near reservoir Canada Side

Birds near reservoir Canada Side

Canada Side Reservoir

Canada Side Reservoir

 

HOTEL

Casino

Casino New York Side

Hotel Room in Casino

Hotel Room in Casino

Pool inside Hotel

Pool inside Hotel

Pool area casino

Pool area casino

View of area around Niagara New York Side

View of area around Niagara New York Side

7R1A0295Above you can see the mist from the Falls. The view of the Falls from Hotel Window. Below is one of the Towns right near Niagara with Windmills everywhere used for energy.

Windmills on the way

Windmills on the way

Whatever you do though, when you leave and go home, do not eat take away at Arby’s. I ate it off the freeway and had the worst food poisoning ever. It was 24 hours of hell.

Caliente Cab Mexican Food NYC

Caliente Cab – Located at 61 7th Avenue S #1, New York 10014.

This restaurant is quite cool. Its two floors. The service is great and the atmosphere with good company is pleasant especially if you have one of their margaritas in a tall glass.

We ordered the Mango and Coconut Margaritas and also guacamole. The beauty about Guacamole is that the guy comes out with all these avocados, cut tomatoes and onion and makes the dish in front of you.

It’s great. It gets pretty busy so best to get there early. I love it when you walk in and they have a part taxi sticking out of the wall entrance. It’s cool and very reasonably priced too.

Making the Guacamole

Wall art

Making Guacamole again

Kim Kardashian Store – NYC

I was with friends the other night when someone mentioned that Kim Kardashian had a store in NYC. The next minute I know, we walk past it and thought I’d share my experience about it. It is called “Dash”. It’s at 119 Spring St, New York. There is a security guard inside it and as I began taking photos of the inside of the shop, security asked me not too. I had already taken enough by then.

My friend wanted to buy something from there for her little cousin who is obsessed with Kim K. I don’t get it, but anyway, each to their own right? So she bought her a little Keyring with Dash on it for $12. In Australia, I’m sure that would be $20.

The store presents well. Everything is laid out well. I sprayed her perfume and it was nice although I think the lady behind the counter was allergic to it as she couldn’t stop sneezing. Quite funny. The one thing I liked in the shop was the canvas painting on the wall. It was cool. Apart from that, the store is not my thing. There are some nice things in there though. I think everything is worth checking out once.

The Store – Dash

Security guard inside

My friend Rea in the store

The actual white keyrings

 

 

 

 

Buying Christmas Trees – NYC

Walking around the Upper East Side and Union Square and other major areas, you can’t help but walk along a footpath and experience a strong smell of pine and fresh trees from the recently cut christmas trees on sale in the area. It’s really a time when you realise you are in New York for Christmas.

There are a whole heap in a row and you pick, pay and take it home. They are a little taller than me. To get smaller ones, if you go to Whole foods, you can even buy mini trees in bags and they have a handful of decorations attached and twenty lights so you can out it up quickly in your home. They sell them in 19inch sizes and smaller. The 19inch trees are $19.95.

Here are some photos I took of the trees I came across outside in the footpaths. My experience with real trees in Sydney, is that they are alot floppier and not so rigid. It may be a climate thing. The trees here are so firm, that I seriously thought at some stage that the trees were fake by looking at them. I love the smell of the trees in a home. “It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas”.

Upper East Side

My little Christmas Tree at home from Wholefoods

Union Square Trees

The red bases

Whole foods 19inch Trees $19.95 with decorations

 

Thanksgiving Day – NYC

Thanksgiving Day was great. The lead up to it was like Christmas. The Americans place so much importance on it. We just don’t celebrate it in Australia, although I don’t know why not. We seem to celebrate mostly everything else.

There was so much emphasis on Turkeys and where people were spending the day. It falls on a Thursday every year. This year it fell on November 22nd 2012. I decided to take up my first relatives offer and spend it with my fathers cousins. They are really lovely and warm and love cooking, which is great, coz I love eating.

I remember standing in the line at Trader Jo’s which was nearly to the front door because everyone was stocking up for Thanksgiving and looking at the big Turkeys for sale which were selling by the pound. I think, maybe 4.99 a pound. Who knows how heavy they are but some lady said that was a cheap price.

On the day before Thanksgiving, people generally head over to their family homes and start preparing the food and spending time with loved ones. I didn’t do that. I left for New Jersey the day of Thanksgiving but when I tried to get to the Ferry at the Port Authority, the whole 6th Avenue was blocked due to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, all the way down to 34the St, that they were not going to let me through. I had my camera on my back and started filming the parade. I’m glad I did. It was nice to experience both sides of Thanksgiving Day.  I couldn’t help but think of all the families affected by Hurricane Sandy and what they were doing but I tried to just focus on the thousands of people lining the streets and taking in the parade. I took a video on the day and made a small online film, and I called it “Gobble Gobble” (watch it via link) as my little cousins kid Alessandra kept acting like a Turkey saying “Gobble, Gobble”.

Anyway, back to the parade. They have these huge character balloons like Spiderman, blown up and held up in the air with lots of strings like a huge balloon kite and people underneath it are managing the balloon. It’s amazing that the balloons are the same size as some buildings. It is a great parade to take kids too because if you can’t see the floats walking on the ground level, you can at least see the giant balloons in the air. It’s awesome.  In fact, the night before the parade, if you wish to go and see the Balloon inflation, you can. Just look it up online and head to it to watch.

The actual parade ends on 34th Street and it starts up in the middle of central park. It goes from 9am until 12pm. Three hours and it’s very energetic. If you are not there early enough, the police wont let you through the other streets to watch. The police on all events are trained to place barricades and stop people going through if the crowds get too much. I pulled the whole “I’m Media” card which got me through.

Here are some Photos below of the Parade. I don’t know who all the characters are but maybe you can help me out with some.

Spiderman

Fireman Sam??

The Macys Ball

Sponge Bob Square Pants

Pirates of the Carribean with Whoopi Goldberg on the front

Green Dragon??

Papa Smurf 1

Papa Smurf 2

Papa Smurf 3

Not sure who this is

Diary of a Whimpy Kid 1

Diary of a Whimpy Kid 2

WORM??

Jar on a skateboard?? No idea who this is

Mickey Mouse

Macy’s Basketball

Astro Boy

Ronald McDonald

Macy’s Baseball

Caspers brother? No idea

Mother goose

Xmas Candy

Xmas Kid Santa

Xmas Santa

Who is this?

Elf

The theme of Macy’s Believe

Where the balloons ended up

My First Thanksgiving Dinner in New Jersey. The dinner was so tasty and juicy. They cook turkeys for six hours in the oven. It’s so tasty. I hadn’t had a proper home cooked sit down formal meal for a while and it was nice.

The Turkey Dinner

Cousin George with dinner

Its cold at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving and bday cake

Nice Desserts

 

Snow Storm in NYC

First Snow Storm Video in New York City…. Link here: Snow Storm – Computer

My first real thick snow storm, blizzard is what they call it. It’s November 2012, and I’m sitting in the Grind Office on Park Ave South when I look outside and it’s snowing. I squeal like a little child having seen something for the first time and then realise that everyone is looking at me thinking I’m having a spasm at something they don’t quite actually understand at. I’m like “Hello, I’ve never scene a blizzard snow storm before in a city”. I’ve seen snow before everytime I go to Thredbo or Jindabyne in Australia but not in the city. Infact it dawns on me now as to what Christmas, in fact a white Christmas would be like from this little snow storm.

 

The way the weather has been around here, it may not even snow much this winter. It didn’t last year so who knows if it will be a cold snowy Christmas.

 

So I decide to leave the office early and get out into it to feel it, and let the starry snowflakes fall into the palm of my hand and get caught in my curls. It was so nice. It was also very slippery which I noticed quite quickly I went from walking, to lifting my knees stomping along to decrease the chances of slipping, once the snow settles and turns icy.

 

Such a nice experience and beautiful moment that I got to share with myself and the few office people sitting right next to me listening to my excitement.

Outside the office on Park Ave South

The bike parked outside the office space

Icy Garbage Bags

Park Ave South facing down 29th St

Snow on the Road Barriers

Heading home outside Canal St Station

My little Chinese Midget friend walking home

The Snowy Fire Hydrants

Lafayette St Intersection

The Sidewalk

Footsteps in the snow

The cars covered

Centre St Carpark

The Centre St Car park

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

 

 

 

Holiday Market Union Square NYC

I love it when I stumble across all the things that New York has set up in each of it’s little suburbs to entertain people.  No wander it is the city you can never get bored in. This Holiday Market has been set up on November 16th until December 24th. It is basically in place from Thanksgiving until Christmas each year. Seeing it from above is amazing the way it’s set up.

The Market from Shot Above

Sturdy stalls set up as permanently as can be right around the main entrance to the subway and surrounding the end of the Union Square Park. It has little stores that sell everything. From unique items perfect for gifts to woollen products, tibetan products, clothes, bags, jewellery, artworks, creative things and designs, food stalls. There was this gourmet meat ball stall set up. Pretty bloody awesome meatballs as the home made sauces they made were quite tasty.

They stores are basically little set up stores from big shops so they already have customers and this is a great way to get themselves known. The amount of locals and tourists that also head down there to check out the stalls is great. It’s a really nice vibe. Enough of the writing, I’ll show you the photos.

The Market from the street in Red, White and Green for Christmas

The stalls set up

The Puppet Shop

The Union Square Subway entrance

Awesome Bag shop called Insiders at Insiders1.com

The Buddha shop

The Buddha Stall other end

The back walkway behind the stalls

Such a cool shop. I bought finger puppets from here

These cards are cool

The fruit and veg market next to it

Mini Pumpkins

The Crowds

 

 

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.

 

City Hall NYC

City Hall has alot of history. You can feel it when you are there. It’s an established part of New York City. The buildings are grand. There is a real sense of power in the air. One of my favourite buildings to look at is down there with waves as part of its design.

History

It has the oldest City Hall in the nation that still houses its original governmental functions, New York’s City Hall is considered one of the finest architectural achievements of its period. Constructed from 1803 to 1812, the building was an early expression of the City’s cosmopolitanism. City Hall is a designated New York City landmark, and its rotunda is a designated interior landmark as well. To get there, you have to catch the subway to City Hall Station or Brooklyn Bridge. It is the spot where you can walk over the Brooklyn Bridge too.

The Subway

The park is quite nice. We have the big banana, and the big pineapple, we even have a Marino in Goulburn. Well guess what guys, they have a big tomato sauce / Ketchup bottle right in the middle of the park. Only in America I say. Un believable. I have now seen it all. Actually, I am surprised they don’t have a big cheddar Cheese in Central park because they love their cheese too.

The big Ketchup

The Ketchup with my favourite building in the background

 

The Park is called City Hall Park. It’s a small park in terms of seating area if you compare it to Central Park, Bryant Park and Union Square but still nicely situated and good for a sit down and a walk away from the buildings.

This statue man is everywhere

The side gates entrance

The Fountain

The lights with gas fire burning in them

this is an open area that Im sure is utilised for performances in summer

The old driveway for Post Offices

The Squirrels

I have realised that the squirrels in New York have different personalities depending on where you are. The central Park ones run away from you and feed off the grass areas alone as people have probably discarded their food scraps everywhere so they don’t need the humans to feed them. At Union Square Park, the squirrels are cheeky. They grab something near a human and then run. The ones at City Hall however, come right up to you and eat out of your hand. One was even sitting on a table eating linch with a park sitter helping himself to the mans food. It was hilarous. That happened to be the black squirrel and that was the first time I have ever scene a black squirrel in NY.

What’s for Lunch

So cute

A quick glimpse of a black squirrel. First time I saw one right near the tree.

The cities recycling bins look like this below. You can’t miss them which is good and you can open them from the side to change the bags and empty them. I like the fact that you don’t need to touch the bins and lift the lid. Practical. It doesn’t make sense for hands to have to touch garbage bins. Same with toilet doors. They should just open to have minimal bacteria contact and less medical illnesses.

The recycling bins

My favourite building to look at all bendy and curvy

 

There is a shoe shop in City Hall called Broadway Fashion, right next to 225 Broadway and it has UGG boots that are called bear paws and made from Sheeps Wool. I bought a pair to keep my feet warm here in winter for $79.95. Real sheeps wool apparently so the prices are cheaper than Sydney. I must say though, I think the Sydney ones are more bottom supported on the sole. Aussies do UGG boots well. What I don’t understand is how our prices for UGG boots have to be so much more expensive than the US ones when they are all made in the mother country. The store has heaps of shoes in there that I don’t mind the style of but the quality on some is questionable. The design is great though, and affordable so I guess it depends on what you are after.

That is it for me on City Hall.

I love Donkeys and Monkeys

Is there an animal that you look at and the minute you see one, you do a double or triple take coz you just have some sort of secret obsession to want to look at it more. For me, its the jack ass, the donkey, and the monkey.

Start with the donkey. It must be a greek thing as to why I am in love with this creature. They are so cute. Especially the grey ones.

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Here is a photo of my friends donkey below. Check out its mini mo hawk and its mouth is always looking as though its about to crack up in laughter any moment from now. It’s like they have a permanent secret smile. I wreckon if a donkey could talk, it would put our comedians to shame.

My friends donkey in New Zealand

My friends donkey in New Zealand

I saw many Donkeys in Greece. One year, my mother rode a donkey in Rhodes, Greece. She got on it from the top and it carried her down. Now they arent the smallest of women and these donkeys are strong. They endure long hot days and work hard for their food. On the islands, these animals transport stuff everywhere for their owners. They don’t complain, they just slowly plod along.

If you think they may make a great pet, well, they could but you’d have to make sure you don’t live near anyone else as they can be extremely loud when they yell out or do their donkey snort. I find donkeys simply funny and fascinating as they make me laugh and I guess that is my fascination with the monkey too.

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The face of a monkey when you look at it is so adorable and it they have an urge to scratch their armpits and then smile with a mouth so widely open that you see its pearly whites, nicely gapped. Although, I doubt its pearly white, maybe it may even be pearly yellows.

I would love a monkey as a pet, but it will have to be a young female one and I would have to have a separate quarters section set up for it so it has its one space.

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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

Brooklyn Bridge Walk Over NYC

To Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, or cycle over it, you need to basically decide which way you want to start first and then go across it. Make sure you leave a good hour to walk both directions so that you can take your time, take photos enjoy the walk and avoid hitting a cyclist. It is pretty tight and Im surprised they allow cyclists and pedestrians in such close proximity to each other.

You can either go down to Manhattan Side on the 4,5,6, J or Z train (get off at Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall) and walk onto the Bridge from there towards Brooklyn, or you catch a subway to the High St, Brooklyn Heights Stop and walk back into Manhattan. Here is a link to the Walk Over Brooklyn Bridge Site. To access it from Brooklyn:

  • The Brooklyn Bridge Pedestrian Walkway begins at the intersection of Tillary Street and Boerum Place. This entrance is what one sees from a car when crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • The second way to get onto the Brooklyn Bridge Pedestrian Walkway is to access it via an underpass on Washington Street. The underpass is about two blocks from Front Street in DUMBO. This underpass leads up a stairway to a ramp up that brings you onto the Brooklyn Bridge Pedestrian Walkway.

History:

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. Completed in 1883, it connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River. It was designed by John A Roebling, and David Steinman.

Here are the photos from my experience walking over the Bridge:

Shirts selling on the bridge

A funky building as you walk over on manhattan Side

 

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.

Santa Monica Beach LA

Santa Monica Beach in LA is another great place to go visit if you are in LA. In fact, I recommend going to Santa Monica in the morning for sunrise, having a swim, going on the rides and walking the boardwalk and then heading to Venice beach for lunch and then to watch the sunset from there. They are right next to each other.

Santa Monica was made famous by big movies and it has a big boardwalk and ferris wheel on it like a mini theme park by the water. As you walk along the boardwalk, there are a few stalls, and some people that perform along the way which is cool. If you walk to the end, you will see people fishing. Its a nice spot to check out. Last time I was there, the circus was there too.

 

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The circus in town

The circus in town

There is a huge carpark there which is easy to park at and leave your car there. There is a big restaurant there at the beginning of the boardwalk called Bubba Shrimp. It’s an American place to eat at.

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The Beach

The Beach

One of the performers

One of the performers

The rides

The rides

Shot of under the boardwalk

Shot of under the boardwalk

Overall, I enjoyed going down to Santa Monica Beach. There are lots of people there walking around, and also enjoying the swimming at the beach.

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

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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

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Absolute Bliss

Absolute Bliss

Just perfect sunsets

Just perfect sunsets

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The locals playing basketball

The locals playing basketball

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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

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Dinner on the rooftop

Dinner on the rooftop

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

 

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.