Wednesday, June 6, 2007

New York, USA, 29 May - 3 June 2007

New York 29 May - 03 June 2007

New York, New York! It's a cool place. And it grows on you, I'm sure. I enjoyed my time there thoroughly and felt very relaxed, even though it's incredibly busy and I was out and about all the time. The reason for this is probably that I was there on my own - no one to consider, no plans to make, total freedom. I loved it. The only downside: I didn't see much of the night life, as I didn't feel comfortable going out to bars etc. on my own. Maybe next time.
I did go and see CSS, a band from Brazil, at the Fillmore. They rocked. It was madness, but great fun! I'm glad I was able to watch from the relative safety of the gallery. I guess my front row years are over...

I went to an exhibition at Grand Central Station, called "Celluloid Skyline - New York and the Movies". It shows how the city is being portrayed through the medium of film over the years, how it changed, and how people change with it. I liked it a lot. As part of the introduction, it said "There is a feeling that you get, when you step out of an Italian or Dutch gallery into a city that seems the very reflection of the paintings you have just seen, as if the city had come out of the paintings, and not the other way around. An American city seems to have stepped right out of the movies. To grasp its secret, you should not, then, begin with the city and move inward toward the screen; you should begin with the screen and move outward toward the city." This is exactly how I felt - like I had just stepped out of a movie (or TV series, in my case!). It's a bit strange - the element of surprise you should feel when visiting a place for the first time wasn't there. It was exactly what I had expected. Maybe I'm a little spoiled from living in London when it comes to big city craziness!

I also went to Ground Zero (very sad), lower Manhattan and Wall Street, Midtown, the East Village (didn't like it much), Soho (liked that a lot), Central Park and Strawberry Fields, took the ferry to Staten Island, walked over Brooklyn Bridge (barefoot), had pancakes for breakfast, and visited the excellent new MoMA (how cool is London with all the museums being free??), where I loved the Barry Frydlender photography exhibition. One of the most famous paintings, Dali's "The Persistence of Time", is on loan at the moment; guess where - yes, the Tate Modern.

My favourite part of town is probably Greenwich Village. It feels a bit more laid-back and relaxed than the always frantic Midtown, though buzzing with night life. And I loved Washington Square Park. It's so relaxing to just lie in the grass and listen to whatever musician or band is playing, feeling the warm air on your skin when the heat of the day is slowly fading away, watch the men play chess (and be offered a lesson), or maybe browse the market on weekends. This is probably a description of the average NY park in summer, but for some reason I really liked Washington Square.

Apparently they say New York City is the biggest back lot in the world. Of course, as a visitor, you have to walk down Broadway and 5th Avenue, go to Times Square and do some shopping. But it was that "back lot-feeling" that I found most appealing, people gathering in the parks or chatting with their neighbours on the front porch. Next time I will hopefully have the opportunity to explore the "inside" of NYC a bit more.

It was a great trip. Coming back to London was great, too. It is, after all, my one true love.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Montreal, Canada - 28 May 2007

Montreal May 2007

I love Montreal! Such a great place. It's vibrant, diverse, open-minded and trendy. We are staying in Plateau Mont-Royal, which is a very fun area. We cycled around town yesterday, the weather was perfect. So much fun - downhill more than the uphill part, though! Today is rainy and gray, just right for some shopping and chilling out at the hostel after a long and hectic week. Alas, our time here is coming to an end - Tiffany left today (which was very sad), Caroline is leaving tomorrow, and I'm off to a much more frantic New York on Tuesday. I'd definitely like to come back here, it's been great.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Toronto, Canada - 23 May 2007

Toronto May 2007

Niagara Falls and Niagra-on-the-Lake

Greetings from Toronto! So far I'm having a good time. I even got rid of my jet lag, so now it's kind of hard again to get up in the morning! Having said that, I went to the gym at 7am this morning (for the first and probably last time in my life). The conference (ASM General Meeting) is going well, although the Metro Convention Centre is vast and feels more like an airport, and we spend a lot of time walking around.

Went for a walk on Monday morning, 6am (that also doesn't happen very often...), in the deserted streets of Toronto, which is when I took most of the pictures. Later we drove to Niagara Falls, which was really wet but great fun!

Toronto I think is a weird city - nice, but weird. It feels small, but it's not - we looked down on the city from the 51st floor last night, and there are lights as far as you can see. Old buildings are mixed in with skyscrapers, and it's very cosmopolitan. It's like someone took a little something from many different places all over the world, put everything together and gave it a good shake, and put it on the shore of Ontario Lake. I'm enjoying it, though. We met some nice people, had a couple of nice dinners and went shopping as well!

Looking forward to go to Montreal on Friday, starting my holidays....