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So good, I’ll blog it twice (Two)

iBlog USAWhat I knew about New York before I went there:

Well, it’s in America. On the east coast. Oh and it’s in New York state. And it’s quite big and a lot of people live there (8 millions at last count). Manhattan is the main ‘place to be’ where everything happens, and that it equals if not betters London in terms of shopping. It has a subway system that is bigger than Londons too.

Oh, but the weather is typically colder than back home – as indeed I found out on the first night I was there when it got down to about minus five degrees centigrade. (That’s 23F to Americans!)

What I can now tell you about New York having been there:

I feel like I could a ’10 things’ again, except for the fact that I can’t actually think of ten specific quirkly things that happened. Or maybe i just don’t to turn my blog into ’10 things’ list all the time. Whatever. I’ll probably talk about more than ten things now.

First – The flight over. I shall never fly with Air India again! I went with them because they were �30 cheaper than the cheapest BA or AA flight – but you notice the difference. An older plane, no personal TV screen (which you just kind of expect nowadays on long haul) and things were just a bit more tatty where fittings in the plane looked like they were falling apart – made you wonder if the essential bits for keeping me up at 34,000 miles in the air were all in place.

The cutlery with the meal though was still cold. I’ve flown 23,130 miles in the first nine weeks of my life this year (which means that I’ve traveled on average 367 miles per day at a speed of 61 mph per day), but I still haven’t worked out why the cutlery is alway cold. Why is airline cutlery always cold?

Or what would make Air India give out dried cornflakes and raisins as your snack with your beer as apposed to peanuts or pretzels like everyone else does! Still at least I remembered to tick the “I am not a terrorist” box again, and this time US Immigrations were quite pleasant on the way in.

There was one interesting moment on the flight out though, when the PA crackled to life and they asked “Is there a doctor on the plane?”. Fantastic! And there was me thinking that that sort of thing only happened in movies, and here it was in real life.

New York 1

I’m flying into JFK. Leigh is already waiting for me at the airport as her flight arrived much earlier. And then mine was delayed coming in, meaning that my first experience of the subway had to wait as we just opted to take a cab instead to get us into Manhattan more quickly than farting about on the train.

And it was cold … my goodness it was COLD! It had been snowing a couple of days before, and although all the streets were clean (apparently they shovel a lot of it into the water and let it melt) but in Central Park where we took a beautiful stroll through on Saturday morning there was still plenty of the white stuff about to make for a picturesque landscape.

Chilled from all the cold, we popped into Starbucks (There were two within 50 yards of our hotel entrance, and I think I went into five in total during the time I was there) they wanted my name again … “Geoff” I said .. “But Geoff with a G!”, and duly so they spelt Geoff with a G to the point where the label read “Geff” on the side of the cup. Jeff with a G = Geff, y’see?

Grand Central station is cool, architecturally wise – it’s also here that there is the MTA subway store – i.e. the New York equivalent of the LT Museum & Shop. They had huuuuge roll up size maps (5 foot wide) maps, which I would have loved to have had but there was no way I could have carried it home. Instead I settled for a magnetic sign of 42 St – Times Square with the lines marked, which is now on my fridge at home. But they also do T-shirts, mugs & stuff … with the map printed over it, or parts of the design printed on, just as we do with the tube map & design spin-offs. Nice.

New York 2

Medium Brown BagShopping in Bloomingdales is a bit of a “must do” (as was Tiffany’s) which was handy as it was only two blocks up from the hotel we were staying in (It was suprisingly easy to slip into the local lingo – jump into a cab and say “Corner of 57th and Madison please!”) easy, as I went to buy a pair of gloves which /were/ needed in the cold weather. However, paying $70 so that I could get a ‘medium brown bag’ with a free pair of gloves seemed a little excessive, and I ended up buying a very cosy and warm $5 pair off of a street trader near Central Park instead.

Wandering through Greenwich and Soho on the Sunday revealed more character to NY – away from the skyscrapers – and we came across ‘Station A’ – the Apple store, which is IDENTICAL in layout to the Regent Street one in London. I picked up two iPods Nano’s for people at a dead good price (Plus the 8% sales tax which I’d forgotten about).

Oh, I also got a new iTrip for my 5th generation iPod, which is MUCH better than the old version. This one doesn’t rely on “beep codes” played out as sound files, and attaches itself to the bottom (dock connector) of the ‘pod. Although it can only cope with the US FM range of 88.1 to 107.9 (UK goes from 87.5 to 108.0), in tests back home so far, the quality IS a lot better and I’m much happier with it than my old one.

New York 3

On Saturday night we took a ferry west, out of New York and into only the 8th American state of my life that I have visted – New Jersey. The view back to Manhattan all lit up at night is quite stunning.

I found out that Times Square is NOT a square – well not like Leicester Square anyway, it’s just a part of the road which is even wider than normal but yet is still dwarfed by the sky scraper buildings that dominate the landscape. New York to me did feel a little claustrophobic at somepoints. London is all hustle and bustle – sure, but it also has its little squares, openings, and quiet areas where you can escape for a few seconds.

I also got humming the my most hated Pet Shop Boys song of all time in my head – “New York City boy” when at the junction 7th avenue and Broadway “Where 7th avenue meets broadway”. It was also impossible not to hum Petula Clarks “Downtown” followed by Billy Joels “Uptown girl” everytime we went on the subway and the signs either led you to Downtown or Uptown.

The World Trade Centre/Ground Zero area is now basically just a building site. I’m not quite really sure what I was expecting to find but at the site itself there was nothing much to see, instead across the road at St. Pauls Chapel there was a memorial to the events of five years ago, and it was quite a poignant moment.

At the starbucks near the WTC site, I got given some change … and saw some coins that I’d never seen before. What were they? They one one dollar COINS – not bills, which I didn’t know you could get. Neat.

Sunday night took us ice skating at the Rockefeller centre – made famous from movies such as End of Days, it took me the statuatory ten minutes to get my balance and find my feet again, and in the end I was whizzing round like a pro, dodging round all the little kids that kept on falling over.

Ice skating also through up a moment of possible confusion. What shoe size am I? Suddenly I realised that they work on a different scale to us, but it’s not that different if you look at this chart here, and so my UK size 11 easily became a US size 12. I wonder what else they have different scales of sizes for apart from shoes and ring sizes. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

New York 4

We also went to the the Guggenheim museum, currently showing the amazing works of David Smith, a guy who’s work only became famous after he died (like all good artists!).

Also I found myself spending a couple of hours on Sunday in one of the most amazing camera stores I’ve ever been to in my life – and not just because they were giving out free candy in little bowls at every turn, or because there was a counter where you could grab a free soda.

And so after much mindwrangling I decided that the ��� equivalent of what they wanted in $$$ for a shiny new Nikon D50 was indeed going to be a very good purchase indeed.

And so yes (Jono, Ian, etc … ) I have a new camera. First shot? (After waiting an agonising couple of hours for the battery to charge) was a night-time “headlight streak” effect. Balancing my camera on a trash can on the corner of a junction was a bit silly though. I can see now I’m now going to have to invest in a tripod!

MTA Map of new York SubwayI felt like there was a whole long list of things that I didn’t get to find time to do – as every man and his dog spent the week before me going emailing me saying “Oh you must go to…” and the list was too long to squeeze everything in.

So I didn’t get to see the Brooklyn Bridge, we didn’t go up the Empire State building (the queue was faaaar too long!), I didn’t even get to see the Statue of Liberty. Ah well, there’s always next time.

Oh, and I picked up six MTA maps. I’m keeping two for myself. Anyone else want one?

39 responses to “So good, I’ll blog it twice (Two)”

  1. Fascinating. And I’m sure there was something significant in there, but I may have missed it.

  2. I think I noticed it, DG…

    Having bought a DSLR, you’re about to discover that’s there’s no end of things you need to buy….

  3. Anthony says:

    Trash can? Candy? Soda? It’s a slippery slope, Geff…

    But at least “the Name” has been revealed. Now all that remains is “the Picture”…

  4. geofftech says:

    >Trash can? Candy? Soda? It’s a slippery slope, Geff …

    Couch (Sofa), Tire (Tyre), Color (Colour), Diaper (Nappie), Trunk (Boot), Cell (Mobile) – so I think you’ll find my slope is already slipped Anthony!

    Photo of who? whom? 🙂

  5. Neil says:

    Yes, all this Americanisation of the blog is worrying to the hardcore element of the readership.

    Like, stop it already!

    Anthony – I saw “the pictures” last night when Geoff came round my house for sausage and mash!

  6. Rob(Geoff's brother-in-law) says:

    -5c overnight is no big deal, we get that here in Tandridge (East Surrey, for those of you that have never heard of it!)

  7. Photo of WHOM, not of who. Really! The spelling slippage is one thing…

  8. kate says:

    d50! most excellent. American prices are great… did you get the stock lens with it, or buy anything else?

    YAY!

  9. She has a name … its Leigh then eh Geff?!

  10. Anthony says:

    It has been postulated thus!!

  11. Jono says:

    Right. You’ve got the camera. You’ve got the Flickr account. Start using it.

  12. geofftech says:

    #8 – I got the 28-80mm DX lens, it was ridiculously cheap – because so many have been produced and a lot of people have them, they can afford to practically give them away I guess. I could of gone for the 18-50, but it was $50 more.

    The one thing I miss is a ‘macro’ mode, which just means I’ll have to get a pukka macro lense at somepoint.

    Much quicker at taking photos as well than my old Coolpix 3200 too. And even in ‘auto’ mode, just the fact that it’s 6 megapixel, has a good lens, etc… means i’m just taking better pictures already without really trying. I love it!

    #11 – Flickr? As owned by Y!a!h!o!o! ? – Noooo way, you must be kidding. Am not a Flickr fan, as I think it’s kludgy, slow and over-hyped.

    And Nikon are better than Canon! (Lights touch paper and retreats…)

  13. Flickr is fab. and so is New York in the snow. I want pics!

    Not that I’ve got snow envy or anything… or SLR envy for that matter..

  14. tami says:

    If you and I keep going back and forth to the UK/USA – Maybe we can arrange our own exchange rate on pounds/dollars and bypass all the service fees!!! Kinda like the black market….

  15. I think the last line of #12 is designed to detract attention from #10.
    I shall not rise to it.

  16. kate says:

    #12 – ah interesting! you can use many many many many lenses on it. Beware the slight flimsiness of the flash, or blinding people in the dark with the autofocus light tho!

    you may wanna check your battery – this goes for any other d50/d70/d100/d200 users with an EN-EL3 battery: http://www.europe-nikon.com/newsdetail.aspx?countryid=20&languageid=22&editorialId=1783

    whats the battery usage like? with my d70 i get about 1500-2000 exposures before i have to recharge 🙂

    aaand – didya get the silver one or the black one?

  17. geofftech says:

    I got the black one.

    It comes with a battery called the EN-EL3a. Is the ‘a’ model a better version of the original EN-EL3 then?

    Not run down the battery yet, but have got the fun of having to use a US-to-UK adaptor to charge it, as it’s got a US style plug on it of course.

    Oh, just seen this note on that Nikon support page:

    Please note – EN-EL3a or EN-EL3e batteries are not affected by this defect.

  18. geofftech says:

    What I thought was quite funny though is the respect that people seem to instantly give you just because you’re using a ‘proper looking’ camera.

    e.g. I went to the BBC Radio & Music festival here at work on Tuesday (an internal event) and normally I’d of been running round with my Coolpix on me just taking random snaps.

    But now of course I had my ’50 on me, so I must have “looked” more the part of a photographer – as someone came up to me and asked if I was taking photos for the internal staff magazine, and a couple of other people were all apologetic “Ooh, are we in your way? Sorry!” when I didn’t really mind.

    It just seems to command a little more respect off of people than a snappy-style camera. Cool!

  19. #18: The downside of this is that whereas you can take your coolpix anywhere, people may object to you taking photos with that which they perceive to be a professional camera.

  20. Anthony says:

    E.g. on the Tube!

    That being said, I’d rather have one of these DSLRS than my current compact.

    Maybe one day when I have lots of money…

  21. Simon says:

    I’d like a D70… but not quite at the pirce they are at! In the mean while the Ixus 750 will suffice 🙂

  22. geofftech says:

    I remember the time back in the late 1990’s where laptop prices were so expensive in the UK, it was cheaper to buy a flight to New York and buy the laptop there – and the cost would be less that what it would be in the UK.

    Not quite the case now I admit – but the camera was still about £80 cheaper than if I’d of bought it here, including the sales tax.

  23. Simon says:

    What about VAT on the purchase as you came back through customs?

  24. Anthony says:

    Nothing to declare, Simon…

  25. can I have a map please Geoff/Jeff/Geff/Mr M?

  26. Richard says:

    If you’ve got a D50 I’d very much recommend this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1579908047/qid=1141952501/sr=2-2/ref=sr_2_3_2/203-4660770-6948724. Way way better than the manual – I got my D50 in November, am loving it but still need to go out and take more pictures (moving house has taken up all my time…)

    Glad you enjoyed the city that never sleeps. 8% sales tax is a bummer; if you’re going again, take your passport to the international desk in Macy’s where they give you a discount card that just about removes the effect.

    Glad you enjoyed the Subway. Next time try the Railroad (there’s this weird thing where they punch holes in a tag they put on the seat when they take your ticket away) and the PATH – then you’ll be a true MTA expert! (well, stricly the MTA doesn’t run PATH, the PANYNJ does, but I’m starting to look really geeky now…)

    Richard

    PS: Sigma do some good macro lenses: http://www.warehouseexpress.com/photo/lenses/sigmalens.html?cd=20061215#1770dc – there’s a new 17-70mm I’ve not yet tried, but I’ve had a play with a 70-300 f4-5.6 APO DG Macro and loved it.

  27. Tsk…flying the budget airlines is so not worth saving £30!! Have I not taught you a thing? Especially when you have lost all that free mileage on the big carriers. You only need 50K for free passage internationally on most carriers!

    #12. Neil–I feel your pain, but you will have to get much more used to more Americanization by the minute from Mr. Marshall here. We now just have to get him out of the habit of saying “whilst.”

  28. geofftech says:

    Anyone who wants a map – eMail me your address. First four people get one sent to them, postage paid.

    We just have to get you prouncing “Router” properly Kris, or actually “Urinal” as I discovered at the weekend that that is yet another word which I didn’t realise was pronounced differently…

  29. amy says:

    Amy Matthes
    ###########.
    #########
    Canada.

  30. geofftech says:

    amy – have removed your address from the comments!! don’t make it public! you’ll get all kind of weirdos sending you stuff now.

    2 maps left! anyone?

  31. Americans are so sensitive to anyone knowing they what they are doing in the bog (cf: Bathroom, restroom), that they would never even consider pronouncing Urinal with the stress on the first syllable.

    And “Lense”? Where have you found that “word”? It’s not even an Americanism.

    What’s the point of a 6MP camera if you’re only going to show us 0.03MP pictures ?

  32. Andrew says:

    “Lense” is a bit strange. I only came across it a couple of weeks ago, but put it down to the fact that it was written by a French company…

    I just discovered this page:
    http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/index.html
    Written by an English professor, it lists loads of common spelling and language errors. Far from being too picky, it’s quite light-hearted and informative. We can all learn something! And get answers to questions about the great English language which we never thought to ask.

  33. geofftech says:

    I like my 200 pixel wide pictures! At least I make the effort to jolly up my blog every post with at least one photo or image of some description.

  34. Fimb says:

    I’m up to £140 in my DSLR savings account *l* I’m thinking I might go second hand if I also want a proper holiday this year!
    I looked into the D50 too actually, as I can get some nice NHS discount on that model.. but not as nice as the advert initially made out.
    Really really wish I had had one on this trip though..

  35. Dave says:

    Surely it was 34,000 feet up not miles ?

  36. Stuart says:

    I can supply a few extra maps, if needed. They’re free, after all…

  37. Kathleen says:

    a name…woohoohoh

  38. Andrew says:

    How friendly did you find the New Yorkers? Whilst on the streets, looking lost with my map, we were approached on 3 different occasions by locals asking if they could help. You would never find that in London. On the other hand, in the shops they could be unhelpful to the point of rudeness. It’s so bad that in McDonald’s they have a sign up offering free fries on your next visit if your server fails to smile when you are ordering! And on your next visit you must go to the Empire State Building. I was there when they opened on a Monday morning – and found the staff there to be the most humourless, beligerent bunch of people I have ever encountered. It was fun 🙂

  39. Bob Hannent says:

    Andrew, I have to disagree, I know many times I’ve stopped to help confused tourists on the streets of London. Even once after a night shift when there was a tube strike I gave an Australian tourists a quick walking tour of central London before wandering off back to my over-due bed (without said tourist).

    The sincearity of New York service people is rarely true and you get a much more honest “FU” in the UK. Although it is fair to say they are much more emphatic there and sometimes the people actually mean it when they ask how you are?!?

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