Bowery Mural

Faces and People of New York

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The thing about iPhones and smaller cameras is that people aren't as concerned that they're in your photo, or indeed that you could be taking street photography style photos of them. So wandering around New York gave me plenty of opportunity to snap away without being suspected of taking photos of people. Granted, the streets of Little Italy gave me plenty of interesting looking subjects but my guts to actually snap them waned a bit!

Here are a few favourite faces and people of NYC.

Little Italy street

A Guitar Hero on the subway

Bubble fun in Central Park

a reluctant subject

The Grandfathers - Little Italy

Whitney Museum Face

Photographer girl under Brooklyn Bridge

Waiting - Little Italy

Selfie in a Jeff Koons rabbit head mirror in the Whitney Museum

Photography in Dumbo

York Street Subway family

Angela x

Sunday in New York - Hotel swap

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Sunday I woke early again. Jetlag? I peered outside and saw it was greyish and kind of overcast. Ugh, I thought. After flicking through Twitter I got up and went onto the balcony. As soon as I opened the door a wall of fugg hit me. It was only 7.30am and although the skies were greyish and i couldn't see the sun, the air was thick and muggy. It was going to be one of those days.

Today would also be the day I said goodbye to the gorgeous Nolitan Hotel and hello Midtown and my other favourite, The Refinery. I packed my things as best I could and headed out to the Grey Dog again for breakfast. Pancakes and tea this time. Whilst there I made a decision about what I'd do today.

I had a skirt on and my boots and by the time I left the cafe after breakfast the sun had started to burn through the clouds and it was getting hotter so off i trotted back to the hotel to change into shorts and another t-shirt. After that I made my way along Kenmare Street towards the Williamsburg Bridge and caught the subway at Delancey over into Dumbo. I LOVE this area. And it was fairly quiet.
the couple with the selfie stick!

I wandered around a little then made my way to the river side and Jane's Carousel. Another place starred on my Google Maps app and one that I'd seen Instagrammed many many times. It's an old fashioned (refurbished) fairground carousel in a large glass building with doors that were slid open in this heat. I'm pretty sure they'd be slid shut in the colder months just around the corner. The site of this attraction couldn't be better either. Right between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges with amazing views across the river to lower Manhattan and beyond. Pretty.

Jane's Carousel - so pretty

Brooklyn Bridge, from below

The sun was now blazing in the sky and I was so hot so I sat for a little while and people-watched whilst snapping some pictures. Thankfully there was a little breeze coming off the water. There was even some sort of wedding / photo shoot going on. I don't know if this were a real couple or just for a magazine shoot. My guess - photoshoot.

After an hour or so here I headed back to the subway station via a shop for some water. I just got to York Street subway just as a train pulled away, I could hear it so there was a little wait for the next one. And thank god there was because I heard someone play guitar and sing. As I walked along the platform I saw him. Sitting there with his guitar and the most beautiful voice, he was gently rocking in time with his words. I couldn't stop watching him. The songs were slow and actually kinda sad but his voice was echoing around this platform like he was on stage in a stadium. Just wonderful. I took a few pictures and then a little video to try to capture him. Then I heard the train come. I scrambled to get some money out of my purse and placed it in his trolley before jumping on the train. He smiled. A sad smile. And gave gave him a thumbs up. I know. What a daftie... *thumbs up*.

Sitting on that train I as glad of my sunglasses, because something came over me and I kept thinking about that guy sitting there singing and my eyes started to well up. It was quite emotional, the whole thing, just one of those experiences that happens and you just can't explain but it means something to you. I wish I knew the songs he was singing...

As I got back to the hotel it was too early to leave here and check into the Refinery. My room wouldn't be ready until 3pm. So I headed out for one last wander around Little Italy. What an amazing atmosphere. One of the streets was closed off to traffic and it was lined with people sitting at tables that spilled onto the pavements from the many many restaurants. I even found a Christmas in New York shop - yes, course I bought something! There were plenty of great photo opportunities what with the great buildings and shop front signs as well as old guys sitting on street corners. Brilliant. I bought myself a strawberry gelato from a street vendor and headed up to East Houston Street - the Bowery Mural wall has gone by the way - boo!

street art in Little Italy

cool Italian shop signage

But what is there is Rag and Bone and I finally bought my much lusted after Rag and Bone fedora hat. I've been after one of these for about two years and I decided to take the plunge and get one here. I opted for the black one. Can't really go wrong with black, can you. But the only problem was, how was I going to get this home without squashing it into a case?! I'd worry about that later. After that I headed back to the Nolitan to finally check out and catch a cab up to Midtown.

street art on the Rag and Bone shop wall - Nolita

The traffic wasn't too bad and I was at the Refinery on West 68th Street in about 15 minutes. It was still warm and much busier up this end of the city but as soon as I walked through the doors, a calm and sense of 'home' returned. (This was the hotel I stayed in when I visited in March of this year).

Once again, my check in was easy and I was in a room on the 4th floor this time. When I got to my room I couldn't believe the size of it again. This was a queen room, the smallest, meant to be. But oh my goodness it was gorgeous and had a long layout which I really liked. Plenty of room to move around, a huge almost floor to ceiling mirror and another giant piece of wall art. The bathroom was smaller than the one in the first room I'd been in here but it was still packed full of features and those amazing Le Labo toiletries. Santal 33 - such a yummy smelling product.

Another amazing room at The Refinery Hotel

bathroom selfie

lots of space and a giant piece of art

desk and mini bar

It suddenly got dark in the room then I looked out and saw that it was raining pretty heavily. Next thing were a few cracks of thunder and flashed of lightning. This went on for about an hour which gave me time to have a wash and get changed. An our later the rain had stopped, thank goodness as it was only just passed 6pm. I headed out for a wander around Times Square. - at most a ten minute wall away. When I stepped out the air was so humid. It was still a bit cloudy overhead and you knew it had been raining. I imagined this is what is must feel like in a jungle. Warm, sticky, humid air.

Times Square was absolutely mobbed with people. There are some roadworks going on and so certain sections have barriers up so you can't walk there, which only adds to the big squeeze when you try to get around. I was stuck in a queue for about 20 minutes to walk a block. Jeez! I walked into a few shops for a browse and then decide to grab something to eat. Checked Google Maps again and noticed that there was a Chop'T on Bryant Park that was still open - according to the info. When I got there they had closed early. Damn. So I checked Google maps again and found one another short walk away, which thankfully was open. After that I headed back to the hotel, sleepy, feet killing me, and well tired.

Tomorrow would be Central Park day!

Angela x

Rooftop at the Nolitan

Monday, 15 September 2014

Because  of my detour to Soho for some shopping, it was gone 7pm by the time I got back to the hotel. I'd stopped off at Chop't for a bowl of salad. An amazing little place, simple and great idea. Salad bar. You pick what you want, they stuff a bowl full, empty it onto a board chop it up to within an inch of itself, squeeze on the dressing of your choice, pop it back in your bowl and you're off. I got a can of Coke and some pitta bread to go along with it and that would be my Saturday night dinner.

Back at the Nolitan, I plonked myself on the bed and turned on the TV. A reality TV marathon. This'll do. Then I looked outside. It had been a weird weather day in New York. Greyish cloud cover but extremely humid and clammy. Dusk was falling and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to go onto the roof at the Nolitan to take in the view and some more pictures. Off I went...

There's nothing on the roof, no bar, no pool but there's a few tables and chairs and guests are more than welcome to take drinks or food up there to soak it all in. There's some table and chairs wen across a quite spacious area. At one, sat two couples. I could hear their chatter in the background as I headed towards the corner of the rooftop to get my camera set up.

I sat there for a while snapping away, watching the city go about it's business. In front of me the lights of the traffic heading across the Williamsburg Bridge. To my left that amazing midtown shot of the Empire State building. To the back One World Trade Centre was lit up against the other tower blocks of the financial district. Very very pretty.

I wanted to try out the long exposure settings on my camera, and in doing so I got some interesting results...

I moved the camera! Love the results though...

Best results. Lights trails!

Sirens were going off below, as is the norm on the streets of NYC. There's was one below the hotel so I got up to have a look. Just at that one of the couples came across to see the commotion below and started to chat. That was an interesting conversation, to say the least. I'll leave out the details but two words spring to mind - dumb and racist. Harsh you might think, but you should have heard the things that were being said in this, by now, one sided conversation. Small minded people. "Do you use the british pound in Scotland?" was an example. And this from people who stayed near Manchester! I mean WTF!...

Mores shakiness, probably due to my blood boiling from that conversation!

Imagine, going all the way to New York and you hear that shit being spoken by people from your own country.

Anyway, I kept snapping away and eventually headed back to my room.

Angela x

Lower Manhattan: Museums and Monuments

Sunday, 14 September 2014

I sort of had a plan for Saturday, the 9/11 museum. But first breakfast! I swear, I seemed to spend a lot of time and thought on food on this trip. Good food though.

Breakfast today was The Grey Dog on Mulberry Street. Five minutes form my hotel and mighty tasty fare. I wolfed it down before I could take any pictures. I bet you're glad. But I had the grey dog breakfast which was eggs, bacon, pancakes, home fries, fruit, maple syrup and a cup of tea - which you could get refilled as many times as you wanted. Nice touch. I was fuelling for the day with my breakfast so I made the most of them. After I couldn't eat or drink any more I headed off into the sunshine and made my way to Canal street to catch the subway to World Trade Centre on the E line. The walk was a bit longer than I expected and I couldn't find the Canal Street subway entrance in Tribeca so at one point I doubled back on myself. Duh. Anyways... I got there eventually and was off again within 5 minutes. 

I made my way to the site which was looking very different to when I visited it in March. That time I had to go to a little shop to get a ticket to enter the site. Now it's fully open and you can get right up to the waterfalls. Now you only have to queue for the museum, which I did. I managed to get into the 11.30am slot and once inside this new building the temperature was cooler (thankfully) and i headed to the toilet. Those refillable cups of tea from breakfast taking their toll...

As an aside, here's a link to a good article on Medium I found by a guy who lives right next to the whole site. Pretty decent read, and the view from his apartment is worth a look. 

There are 2 floors up in the museum. On the first is a theatre showing a 20 minute film of that day in 2001. You're probably best heading there first. The theatre wasn't big by any many, but the screen was  and after a gentleman spoke the lights were dimmed and the film began. Mayor Gulliani and various recognisable people from that day spoke. Amateur footage was shown. News clips were played out. And the devastation of that site where we were sitting was all too real again. It was quite moving actually. I got caught up in it. Plus the fact the in the back row of the theatre were about 8 navy officers dressed in all white uniforms, including little white shoes. 

When the film was over, we filed out a door and down two flights of stairs into the museum, which is actually the bowels of the trade centre site.

There are various bits of twisted metal on display. You'd actually think these were works of modern art, if you didn't know any better. They are quite beautiful. It sounds weird to say that but I love architecture and buildings and all things related, so for me, although these are now symbols of some catastrophic act of violence, the fact that they are still standing in this vast museum is a wonderful wonderful thing. These pieces of metal are marked with which floors they came from - marked during construction of the towers I may add. That's why they know exactly where these twisted pieces fell from.

Also in situ are the very foundations of the towers. You can clearly see how big they would've been and inside the foot area of the north and south towers are exhibitions (no photography in those areas).

In one are various artifacts from victims, such as wallets, shoes, watches and a very old looking Nokia mobile phone. It was very moving reading about who these things belonged to. One wallet was from a British guy who traveled to New York for work. He was at a conference in one of the towers. There was his British driving licence (that ran out in 2010), a Tracker card for the alarm on his car, a BA members card and a Sainsbury's points card, along with a £20 note. Such a shame.

I made my way through each exhibition and took plenty of photos but it felt kinda wrong. They've got the fire truck that was fire damaged and its ladder melted and twisted by the heat. There's various papers and glass from windows. There's crystal from the Waterford crystal new year ball from 2002 which has the names of victims etched in it. There's large banners and drawings from children about the events of that day. There's the 'survivors stairs'. So called because it was a way for some people to get out of one of the buildings. A miracle you could say. I was fascinated by it all. There's rolling news reports playing on tv's. There's the sounds of the survivor stories. Sad. Effective.

Some pictures and writings on The Last Column

Twisted metal, like works of art

When I had seen everything there was to see I made my way up the stairs and into the light. I'd been down there in the dimly lit museum for a little under three hours. Certainly a must see in my book.

By now it was around 2.30pm. I wondered what to do next. Opening my trusty companion Google Maps I realised that one of the things I'd saved (starred) which wasn't too far away was the Irish Hunger Memorial so I walked around by the riverside to see it.

A strange little built up meadow in between two huge skyscrapers. You walk through a dark tunnel which has text written into glass tiles on the walls with the story of the Irish famine. Names, stories, facts, figures, it's all there. Once through the dark tunnel you're out into a courtyard are of a small derelict building, through an iron gate and then follow the path to the top of the monument, where you get a view of the Hudson. All along the pathway are rocks planted in the 'meadow' with the names of Irish counties on them - Dublin, Cork, Wicklow etc. The grass is wild and there's little dainty flowers everywhere. From the top I looked back in towards the city and it was a strange sight.

The old and the new, buildings

looking back into the city, yellow cabs, green meadow

It's not upside down, the rock was like that

After I left here I headed back towards the 9/11 museum site and planned on heading back to the subway. But just across the road there was a street market and as I got closer to it i saw crowd gather and heard some cool music. I stopped by only to be caught up in a 25 minute street show by the Afrobats.

I swear, those guys were great athletes, acrobats and they had the patter to draw a crowd. They certainly know how to work the crowds and get the crowds involved. I tried to get a video but my phone froze and I only got a little bit of footage. As it happens, when I ventured to Central Park two days later, the same group of guys were performing the same show and guess what? I stood and watched it over again because it's that good. You can find them on YouTube if you're interested. Have a look!

When that was over, I walked up the street market and bought a couple of touristy I Love NY t-shirts and a home made lemonade. Just what the doctor ordered.

By now my back was aching having been on my feet since 9am. It was 5pm and time to head back to the hotel. But not before a detour up Chinatown and then onto Topshop on Broadway to buy some shorts from Tophop and jeans from Madewell. Well, it is New York. I have to do some shopping!

Angela x

A Dreamers Thoughts on the Referendum

Saturday, 13 September 2014

This is a big week in Scotland. On Thursday my country will have the chance to decide whether or not it wants to be independent from the United Kingdom. It's a big decision that many people have been toiling over for the past few years, and even more so in the last few months and weeks leading up to the date.

I was firmly in the No camp when it all began for reasons that were pretty shit to be honest. One of the main ones was that I would never vote for Alex Salmond and the SNP. Because I'm not one of those over bearing nationalists. By the same token, when I was going to vote no, it wasn't for the stupid reason that I'd want to keep the Queen - I'm not one of those folk! Then I realised that a Yes vote is not a vote for the SNP, and that Alex Salmond (although I still find him smarmy and sleekit) is the leader of the Yes campaign. I couldn't stand that Nicola Sturgeon either (she kind of redeemed herself in the BigBigDebate on Thursday night with George Galloway and Ruth Davidson). I mean look at those last few sentences. That's what I was basing my No vote on. How stupid. Yikes!

Once I read a few pieces and saw what was happening in the press and on the news I started to wonder "What if...". What if the people of this beautiful country of ours could dare to dream. Dream of a country that would hopefully be a fairer society, a place where the NHS won't becoming a business but was still a service catering for it's people, a country that welcomed people with open arms. What if, eh.

Now, I'm a dreamer, I know. I know the Scotland garden isn't going to be all rosy for a while after the vote. But why can't we do this? Oh yes, I've read the things the No campaign have been saying. The pound! The banks will move their headquarters south! Supermarkets and huge department stores will bang up their prices! Guards on a fictional border! (FFS, really?!)

But where is the positive in my vote for No? Where and what is it? Because I think I've yet to hear / see / read any positives in voting No. Now, I like to think I've read quite a bit about it but i may have missed stuff along the way. A lot that I've heard from the No camp is scare mongering and negativity. I'm under no illusions about the Yes camp too, by the way. Neither side of the vote gives proper straight up answers. I've had to go searching in papers for answers to some of my questions. For example...Borders at Gretna - do you think the UK Government is going to spend millions (or billions) putting up a fence/wall and then have to spend money to man that fence/wall, and keep it maintained and policed and all the rest of it? They'd be daft if they did. See, I've read stuff. But it's a gut feeling. My more flippant side says "fuck it, why not go for it".

Maybe I'm getting carried away. But why shouldn't we get carried away. I don't want to be sitting years from now saying what if - jeez I've read many a pin on Pinterest that says that very thing... No regrets. This is the chance to make a change because we can. Everyone's always going on about making changes is good. Perhaps this is the time? Who's to say...

This morning I watched a video on YouTube that someone retweeted on Twitter. I found myself nodding with this young guy talking in a hall, somewhere in Glasgow. The video wasn't long, but it was good and he made some good points. All of those people who got on a train and hot footed it to Scotland this week, those politicians who don't care about us (because that's how I feel) unless they've got something major to lose, your Cameron's and Miliband's and Brown's and the rest. Them. Do you think they were told you can't do this? you can't do that? you can't become prime minister? you can't be the wrong brother to lead the labour party. Do you think they've been told they can't do those things? Maybe they were, but they went ahead and followed their dreams. And now they've visited us to tell us that we can't. Because that's the impression I got. We can't do this. We're Better Together! As a guy on a debate two weeks ago said, "if we're Better Together, why aren't we better together already?". They were up here telling us we can't have this dream. And yet they've followed theirs.

Which way will Scotland vote?

Yes, I've gone back to that dreamer word. And maybe you're thinking that my Yes vote isn't based on anything other than a dream. But to me that's fine (and you'd be wrong). But it's my vote, and I'm going Yes because I have hope. I am dreaming. My glass is half full.

Those were just some thoughts as I showered this morning after the gym. I do a lot of thinking in the shower. Don't worry, back to posts and pictures from New York tomorrow *wink*.

Angela x