Eight Hours in NYC

Last weekend, fresh off the plane from Portland, I unpacked my large suitcase and shoved stuff in my carry-on for a quick 72 hour stint in NYC for work. Following my first set of appointments I managed to squeeze in my first Broadway show – Cabaret! I couldn’t have had a better time – Alan Cumming and the supporting cast were phenomenal, and my balcony seats ended up having a decent view. Plus it was at Studio 54! Michelle Williams was meh. Jen Lindley can’t really do a British accent, nor sing…or dance. Basically, she was a bit of a hot mess.

At any rate, the next day I happened to have a glorious day off, and I took advantage of the warm fall weather and went for a long wander without particular destinations in mind (which for me is a mind-boggling move). Here’s how I spent the day, with photos at the bottom.

8:30 a.m. Line up at  Amy’s Bread in Hell’s Kitchen. To be fair, I don’t mind waiting if there are warm treats at the end. Plus they make hella-good croissants. I’ll save this for later when I’m hungry.

9 – 10:30 a.m. Polish off croissant, and opt to log some time in a coffee shop to dig myself out of my inbox a bit (much needed).

11 a.m. – 12 p.m. Wander the Strand. Have to say, if the inevitable happened and I got locked in a bookstore overnight, I would not flip out if I had to sleep here. Exercise restraint and only buy one book, a biography of Mick Jagger which I look forward to reading on a sunny bench this afternoon.

12:15 p.m. Grab a coffee to take across to Brooklyn. Should be a nice day to walk the Brooklyn Bridge!

12:30 p.m. Man alive. EVERY TOURIST in NYC has the same idea as me today and wants to walk across. At least it’s a nice day.

12:55 p.m. Still on the damn bridge.

1:10 p.m. Welp, hope you like my coffee, Brooklyn. It’s now all over a bench in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

1:30 p.m. Abandon efforts to find the Brooklyn Flea although I’m sure it’s probably two steps in the opposite direction from where I’m standing. Feeling hungry, should probably get a salad or some fruit.

2 p.m. Stop at Shake Shack instead. Potatoes are a vegetable, and I think there’s a mushroom in here under all the cheese.

2:30 p.m. Still hoovering fries into my face.

2:35 p.m. Ooo, another bookstore! I should probably check out powerHouse Books for a comparison.

2:56 p.m. Sam, you can’t possibly be hungry.

2:57 p.m. Okay, that passed. Not hungry. Maybe just thirsty.

3 p.m. (spots One Girl Cookies) Oooo cookies!

3:14 p.m. I got a mini whoopie pie so this is half the snack, right? Right??

3:30 – 4 p.m. Need a break from all the eating I’ve been doing, so sit on another bench (coffee-free, thankfully) and start reading book.

4 – 5 p.m. Wander Brooklyn aimlessly picking up a few gifts for Christmas. Notice sunny day has turned to clouds. Feel the need to eat some fruit.

5:15 p.m. Trader Joe’s, yes!

5:17 p.m. Realize line in Trader Joe’s actually snakes around the entire store. Will never complain about lines again. Leave store without fruit.

6 p.m. Toy with the idea of seeing another show while eating a healthy, balanced dinner of veggie tacos and a beer.

6:45 p.m. Head back to hotel room to change for big evening out! Flip on TV and notice The Campaign is on. A few minutes of this won’t hurt, let me just get comfortable to watch.

11:34 p.m. Wake up on bed covered in clothes. How is The Campaign still on?

11:36 p.m. Fall asleep again.

The end.

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Not sure if in future I’d wander without any sort of plan in place, but it was liberating to not travel with a set schedule or itinerary for once. Have you ever done this?

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Hiking A Mountain

Friday morning I hiked A Mountain!

Image of Tempe Butte

In name, only. Hayden Butte, also known as A Mountain (due to the giant gold “A” painted on the side near the top) is located in Tempe, Arizona. From the bottom, it looks like a quick jaunt up a rather-large hill. From the top, you get views of downtown Tempe and the Arizona State University campus, and it’s a great place to stretch your legs early in the morning before the sun starts to cook you.

It’s a fairly short but steep climb with a few gravel switchbacks and stairs to help guide your ascent. On your way up, you’ll notice various cacti (don’t veer or wobble off the path, for the end result will be a painful one should you slip) but surprisingly minimal wildlife (something I noticed everywhere in Tempe. Nothing but pigeons.) I did spot signs indicating the snakes (RATTLESNAKES) you could encounter on the trail, as well as a note indicating jackrabbits and pack rats lived there too. Poor pack rats, their name forever synonymous with hoarders. Thankfully, I didn’t spot any snakes. I would’ve jumped clean off that hill.

Cactus View from top of Tempe Butte

I did the climb at 6 a.m., and by the time I’d returned to the bottom it was already quite hot and closing in on 90 degrees. At 7 a.m.! Apparently this time of year is their winter, and while they’re having a heat wave I would not want to see what their summer is like. As such, I would not recommend doing this hike in the afternoon as you will melllllt. Arizona, your heat is nuts. Like wearing an oven. Bring lots of water, sunscreen and a hat.

Things I Love About Toronto – Part Two

Image

I’m a very, very amateur photographer, and Toronto is very kind on folks like me and provides ample opportunities for great photos. I really love graffiti – there are pockets all over the city (that haven’t been covered up yet, thankfully) to enjoy, particularly around Queen West. Always keep a camera handy – you never know what you might stumble upon!

Walking Around Auckland

In an effort to save money (and because I like walking), I went on the “Coast to Coast” walk in Auckland my second day to check out the city on foot and shake off jetlag. I had hoped to pick up breakfast and lunch items and bring them along with me, so I started my morning at Victoria Park Market. My guide book had touted it as a must-visit – one booth was open. As I wanted breakfast and not antiques (sorry Mum) I kept looking, and subsequently discovered that food is expensive EVERYWHERE. My initial belief that I would save money here due to the wicked exchange rate and low transportation prices has been dashed quickly. Breakfast cost me EIGHTEEN DOLLARS. Granted, I ended up eating at the Auckland Domain at a rather-nice café, but this was the price I kept finding everywhere. It is costing me the same amount for a hostel as eggs benny. MERCY. Moving on.

Full from breakfast (and of remorse over forking out a large percentage of my daily budget) I trudged on for the walk. The Coast to Coast walk was sold to me as a “lovely” (which I interpreted as “easy”) 16 km walk through neighbourhoods and parks, allowing you to see both harbours of Auckland.

This walk was not easy.

Granted, 16 km would be tiring anyway, but I climbed up and down huge hills, walked around an old volcanic crater, stumbled through a university and accidentally ended up in someone’s backyard. The trail was hard to find at times (hence the backyard adventure), but it did show different areas of the city I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. And I also saw just how lovely New Zealanders are as many people cheered me on for doing the walk (probably muttering “idiot” after I had passed by) and pointed me in the right direction.

At the end of the trail I discovered a grocery store and the one food item that is cheap here – chocolate.

Well that’s just fine now isn’t it? No complaints here!

I also discovered a free shuttle bus that went back downtown. Free ride and cheap Cadbury’s – all in all not a bad day.