I ♥ NY

I really, really do.

I mentioned in my last blog that in early September I was given medical clearance to travel again. As you can guess, I found myself in New York a week or so after getting this wonderful news. It was Vi’s birthday, the bus tickets were cheap, and it was 2 for 1 ticket week on Broadway. The decision was practically made for me!

I took the bus from Buffalo, and is what you’d expect from a Megabus. Cheap, 2 hours late, but you get where you need to go and the wifi works about 60% of the time. I was content. I arrived around 10pm on Thursday evening, and wandered across town to Vi’s apartment where she was waiting with a plate of cookies. She knows me well!

On Friday morning Vi headed off to work and I had a semi-lazy morning before heading out. I met up with Mimi at Penn Station and we spent the afternoon wandering around town. We grabbed lunch at an uber-cute diner in midtown and then walked down to the West Village, my new favourite place after my last NY adventure. Not as many celeb sightings as in May, but we walked past Arthur Darvill and I awkwardly smiled, and it was awesome.

West Village:

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After that we headed for the High Line. The weather was gorgeous that day, so it was a bit crowded, but we still managed to walk the entirety of it.

Chilling on the High Line:

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We then headed back up to Times Square to meet up with Vi for dinner before heading to a show. We went to Juniors, because I’m a bit obsessed, and being Vi’s birthday weekend, cake was necessary.

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That night we saw The Glass Menagerie, and it was absolutely extraordinary. Not that I expected much less. I’d read the play and found it powerful, and this stage version was starring Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto, so… Yeah.

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I cried. A lot. It’s an incredibly emotional and quiet show, and we were sitting 2nd row centre which seemed to make it all the more intense. The set was minimalistic. They didn’t even include the photograph of the the father, a substantial set item in the written play. There was a small balcony, next to a living room containing only a few pieces of furniture and one piece of Laura’s glass collection. Next to that was a small dining room, with table and chairs. The set floor was three square pieces, merging at various angles, and the remainder of the stage was covered in water. This created a very neat and eerie effect.

There are four cast members, and if they don’t all win Tony’s for their performances I will burn Utica to the ground… Considering the praise that Cherry and Zach have been receiving, I have no doubt we’ll be seeing them win just about everything next year. I obviously knew ZQ was an amazing actor. It’s what made me such a big fan of his! But seeing him perform live was a whole new experience. You think he’s intense on screen? Yeah… nothing compared to live.

Though I’m pretty sure the biggest reason that I find myself so affected by this play is that I’m terrified that I might be Laura Wingfield. But that’s a whole other thing I probably shouldn’t get into in this post…

Anyway. It’s up there as being one of the most emotional experiences I’ve had in the theatre (top spot will probably always go to Porgy & Bess because that show basically ruined me!) and I’d love to get back and see the show again before it closes in the new year.

Here’s a montage from it:

After the show we headed to the stagedoor to meet the cast. They were all incredibly lovely and warm. Celia Keenan-Bolger has to be one of the most adorable human beings, I swear!

Celia:

1186267_806918742934_495727607_nBrian J. Smith and Cherry Jones:

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Zach came out last and went through the crowd, signing, taking photos with everyone:

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I asked for a photo, and he was like “of course!”. When I asked the guy next to me to take it Zach grabbed my camera and said it needed to be a “selfie”, which he then took:

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It appears that I grabbed onto his arm and neck. That’s not weird, right? It was super windy that night, so of course a gust came in the moment he snapped the photo. AGRH!

I noticed after, and Mimi and Vi both told me I should go and get another one, and I was like “can you do that?” Heh. But I went to the end of the line and babbled something like: “Hi, sorry, the wind blew my hair and I have a fancy mustache, can I get another photo? Sorry!” To which he just went: “Umm, sure.” LOL

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I grabbed the second one on my phone, so the quality it terrible, but he’s got a judgmental eyebrow happening, so it all evens out to a win.

After that we ran Mimi back to Penn Station to catch her train, and Vi I wandered back to the apartment. It was most definitely a good day!

Oh! We were also sitting in front of David Schwimmer, so, that was cool!

On Saturday we lazed around for a bit before heading up to Times Square to grab cheap tickets to First Date, starring the amazingly adorkable Zachary Levi. I honestly didn’t think I could love him more, but, oh boy, was I wrong!

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Before the show we grabbed lunch at a pub on Restaurant Row. We were the only people there! We sat outside in what was said out front to be there “beautiful garden patio”. They definitely oversold it with that description! It was charming though, and the food and service were good.

Restaurant Row:

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The beautiful garden patio:

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The show was definitely a lot of fun to watch. The music was upbeat, the cast was great, and I was entertained for the entire performance. If you’re in NYC, be sure to check it out. Here’s a preview clip:

After the show we headed to stagedoor, which was quite the experience. The crowd was MASSIVE. The barricades took up the entire sidewalk, plus one lane of the road, and was completely filled with people by the time the actors came out. Zach came out with his iPod and speakers and started up a “Stagedoor Playlist”, which was awesome. He then came around and signed for every single person in the massive crowd, chattering away to everyone.

At one point a woman leaned over us to hand him a piece of paper. He asked what it was, and she told him it was her number. He opened it up, and this was the priceless reaction:

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He then pulled out his wallet and put it inside. He chatted with Vi for a bit after she told him she’d seen the show previously and how much she enjoyed it.

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After he finished signing they asked anyone who wanted a photo to stick around inside the barriers. They then created an exit in one corner where Zach stood and you could get a photo as you were leaving. It was a much more efficient system than you’d find at most shows! Though, to be fair, I’m not sure most actors who draw that kind of crowd do photos at the stagedoor. At least not in any shows that I’ve seen!

Our awkward photo (well, awkward me, adorable him):

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That evening we went to movies and saw Austenland. It was amazing:

On Sunday we went out for brunch, and then met up with Carly. We wandered a street fair that was happening up around Columbus Circle before grabbing lunch. The sweet girls they are then indulged me when I headed back to the Booth Theatre to grab a print from The Glass Menagerie. I hadn’t seen the boards until after the show on Friday when we were already at the stage door and got it in my head that I needed one, because that’s how my head works sometimes.

They get it:

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The show let out, but it took a good hour for the actors to emerge. It looked like there were a lot of guests backstage though, so it’s understandable. Vi and I had tickets to Newsies (Carly had to head off to work), which started at 6:30. At about 6:28 I’d gotten my board signed by Zach, Celia, and Brian, as well as another dorky photo with Zach (I got super OCD and needed 4 photos with him because, again, my brain) before having to bolt it a few blocks to the theatre. I didn’t get Cherry’s signature on it, which I was bummed about, but what can you do?

We ran into the Nederlander, sat down, and about a second later the house lights went out. Phew! Newsies was fun, and had great music and Ian McKellen was in attendance. It was good time!

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Again, we hit the stagedoor. The entire cast was really sweet and appeared to be coming down from their nerdgasms over meeting Ian McKellen backstage after the show.

We then slowly meandered through the city back to Vi’s apartment. The weather the entire trip was beautiful, and that night was no exception.

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Early Monday morning I headed out to catch my bus home. And it was, surprisingly, on time! I even had the 2 seats to myself and slept a good chunk of the ride, which was perfect.

It was so nice to travel and feel good. I hadn’t realized just how awful I’d been feeling for the past year (possibly longer, according to doctors) until I suddenly wasn’t feeling like that anymore. It made the trip even more enjoyable!

I then followed the trip with working something like 60 hours over 8 straight days and am now fevered and disgusting and pneumonia ridden again. But, that seems par for the course at this point, doesn’t it? 😉

New York City: A Reason To Be Happy

I was in New York City this week for about 45 hours. It was probably the least interesting trip I’ve ever taken in the sense that I did almost nothing. But, you know? It was a much needed couple days away.

[Note: I inadvertently started rambling on and on about my neuroticism and love for New York, so please feel free to just skip ahead to my thoughts on “Reasons To Be Happy”.]

New York is one of my favourite places. I love big cities, which I know often confuses people, as I also have debilitating anxiety when there’s too much sensory stimuli. When I make this comment I suppose people think immediately of Times Square, making the confusion understandable. But, no. I’m happy to say I didn’t even venture north of 34th Street this trip. Unless I’m going to a Broadway show I really have no reason to visit the “crossroads of the world.” Though I did briefly consider it when Alyssa messaged me to say that the Bluth’s Frozen Banana Stand was set up there on Thursday…

But as tempting as that was, I decided against it. My love of big cities decreases slightly when I’m overwhelmed in a massive crowd of loud tourists moving every-which-way. I’m oddly okay in a well-moving crowd, however. Walking with the flow of traffic in SoHo, or navigating the underground during rush hour in London are relatively non-panic-inducing for me most of the time. If I know where I’m going, and everyone around me knows where they’re going, it generally goes quite smoothly. I’ve noticed that rush hour and non-tourist crowds are simply calmer, and consist of mainly people on their own (almost entirely single travelers in rush hour) and couples (more so in neighbourhoods), making the  crowds move quickly, calmly, and often pretty quietly.

Big cities are always a catch-22 for me. When I’m out I can’t not take notice of every little detail around me- I look at the face of every person I walk by, I listen to every word in earshot, I read every sign in sight, I glance in every window I pass, and so on. My mind fills with everything around me, and I absolutely love it. I can think back and remember even minute details, almost like I’m looking at a photograph of a moment. Cities are filled with so many incredible details in so little space, and taking that all in is really exciting for me.

I love being aware of everything around me (most of the time), and can’t imagine my brain not working this way. I can read something once and know it by heart, I never lose my car keys, and can give kick ass directions to places I’ve only been once. It’s great until the point that it’s just too much and becomes sensory overload, which for me results in panic attacks. And in the past couple years my panic attacks far too often result in emergency room visits due to blood loss, heart palpitations, or whatever else decided to manifest in a particular episode.

But I’ve found that outside of massive tourist zones my sensory input level in big cities is pretty much perfect. Sitting alone on a park bench or by the window in a coffee shop in Manhattan you’re pretty much invisible to the bustling world around you, which leaves you free to take it all in.

Anyway…

I arrived in the city by bus around 5:30 in the morning on Thursday. In London I came to learn than wandering the city between about 5 and 7am was a perfect time, and it turns out the same is true for New York. The sun is up, the air is cool, and the city is starting to come alive.

mspEarly Morning | Broadway & 22nd

I walked around for a few hours, taking breaks in Washington Square Park, Madison Square Park, and Union Square to people watch, snack, read, and search out free wifi. I then spent a few hours in the Union Square area after discovering some awesome book shops, a Forbidden Planet (aka heaven), and a cinema (though I was so exhausted that I actually fell asleep in the film for about an hour and a half… Oops.) Oh, I also walked past Peter Hermann, who it turns out is even more gorgeous in real life than on TV. Well done, Mariska.

usEarly Morning | Union Square

After that I headed to the restaurant where Carly works to get some lunch. I ended up just hanging out until the end of her shift, after which we headed to the West Village. I didn’t realize it then, but I’d not seen much of the West Village, which is disappointing, because it turns out it’s pretty awesome. It’s quiet, with lots of green space, trendy restaurants with patios, a place where you can go and play board games for $1 an hour (we totally did this, btw), shops, and tons of interesting folks about. We wandered for a bit, played an Office themed game of Scrabble, grabbed some dinner, and then headed to the Lucille Lortel Theatre to see the first preview performance of the play Reasons To Be Happy.

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I thought Reasons To Be Happy was excellent. It’s a play by Neil LaBute, and is a sequel to the his previous work Reasons To Be Pretty. A familiarity with Pretty may be helpful when watching Happy, but isn’t essential, I don’t think. The show follows its four characters (played by Jenna Fischer, Leslie Bibb, Josh Hamilton, and Fred Weller) through a complicated relationship crisis.

lltThe Theatre

Each scene alternates between a basic set that takes the form of numerous locations using only two benches, coloured lighting, and a small collection of props; and a second, much more detailed set which slides forward and backward, that is the break room of two of the characters workplace. The scenes are broken up with a darkened stage and loud boom of rock music, including several Nirvana songs.

Hamilton, who plays the lead character Greg, appears in every scene of the two hour show and does an incredible job. I liked Greg, even though at several points during the show I didn’t want to. The sincerity of the character makes you feel bad for him, rather than angry at him, when he’s unable to make decisions on the messy situation he’s put himself in.

Bibb, playing the role of Carly, was delightful to watch. Carly goes through the ringer in this show, and Bibb transitions through her characters emotional journey seamlessly. I wanted Carly to come out on top, and I think in her own way she did.

Weller played Kent, the ex-husband of Carly and best friend of Greg. I honestly don’t know what I thought of this character. At first I was annoyed by him, and then I started to like him, and then I felt bad for him. Weller seemed a little over animated, which didn’t quite fit with the sombre feeling of the rest of the show.

Jenna Fischer played Steph and rocked it. Though I suppose my adoring her makes this declaration a bit bias… ; )

Seriously though, I love seeing Jenna in roles that are completely different from anything we’ve seen her in before, and Steph definitely fits that bill. She’s abrasive, swears like a sailor, and initially has very unclear motives that make you unsure of how to take her. I wasn’t sure if I even liked Steph until the second half of the show, when a very touching moment happens between her and Greg  that made me trust what she was saying.

Steph is also pretty angry, which is something we don’t get to see Jenna play often. Though a few scenes from films like A Little Help and The Giant Mechanical Man come to mind, her characters have never been quite as consistently aggressive as Steph. She yells, she hits, and she swears throughout the entire show. And, naturally, Jenna is able to show about a million and a half emotions on her face while simply standing to the side watching other characters, which happens in the final scene.

Of course what I saw was the first night of previews, meaning there’s likely to be a pile of changes between now and opening night on June 11th. It’d be really interesting to go back and see the show after that to compare, but I don’t think I’ll be lucky enough to find a $5 bus ticket (no, seriously, I paid $5 for my return ticket!) again, which is basically my budget!

After the show Carly and I went and hung out by the stage door with a few other folks. The cast came out and were all really sweet and chatted with everyone for a bit. Jenna said that after the show ended she was flustered and didn’t even hug her costars, just ran straight for a brownie, which made everyone laugh. She chatted, signed Playbills, took photos, thanked everyone for coming, and then had to run off to the cast party. We took a couple photos, but they’re terrible, so I won’t be posting them anywhere! lol

autSigned Playbill

After that we headed back to Carly’s place to watch the series finale of The Office, which was, you know, emotionally magnificent. When it ended we both sat there and cried. I’m really happy I was able to watch the finale with a fellow fan. I knew of Carly from another fandom years before I even started watching The Office, and I’m pretty sure she’s the first person I ever spoke to online in The Office community. So, it was really, really nice to be able to share that with her.

Friday was a late start, as we didn’t finish watching the finale until around 3am. We headed in to the city around lunchtime, had a bit of an adventure learning how Canadians cash cheques in US banks, and then said goodbye when she headed off to work.

I then started to wander and discovered the new Star Trek movie playing in Imax, which pretty much put a SOLD sign on my afternoon.

On a whim I had a look on the MCC site and found I could get a super cheap single ticket (thank you under 30 discounts!) to that night’s performance of RTBH, and since my bus wasn’t leaving until midnight and I figured I won’t be getting back to see it again, I thought “why not” and grabbed it. So, I headed back to the West Village.

It was really interesting to see that there were already some changes in the show between the first and second night:

  • Weller toned down Kent quite a bit, which I thought really improved my view on the character.
  • Some of the music between scenes changed.
  • Jenna’s costume in one of the scenes was different, though I’m not sure if something like that would have been an actual change, or if there were simply multiple costume options for that particular scene.
  • They seemed to remove a number of props that caused spillage on the first night. For instance, Jenna stepped on a prop that on the first night caused a tiny explosion and required someone to go and wipe up the stage between scenes. However, on the second night there didn’t seem to be any mess, which of course makes sense to opt for! This happened again in another scene where 2 take away cups and a bag are thrown away and Josh Hamilton fishes the bag out. There must have actually been liquid in the cups on the first night because the bag was sopping wet on the first night. However, on the second night the bag was completely dry.
  • The name of a shop referenced changed from the first to the second night. On the first night is was “Costco”, while the second night was something I’d never heard of beginning with an “A”.

ccCurtain Call Friday Night | Faceless Cast

After the show ended I quickly scurried off to find some food and my bus stop. The bus was meant to come at midnight, and showed up around 2:30am. There’s nothing like sitting on the pavement in the middle of NYC in the middle of the night! But I guess you get what you pay for on a $5 return ticket ; ) Honestly though, it was annoying, but nothing more. The bus broke down on the way to us, which happens, so not much anyone can do. They sent a replacement as soon as they could. There were a bus load of us there waiting together and chatting, so the time passed quickly enough.

But, we made it back in good time and I had a very nice long nap before going out to celebrate the fabulous Miss Amy’s birthday Saturday night.

All-in-all it was a very nice little trip!

Oh, almost forgot… NYC Celebrity Sightings: Peter Hermann, John Lutz and Sue Galloway (Lutz and Sue from 30 Rock), BJ Novak, Sam Rockwell, Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper, Rich Sommer.

Los Angeles 2013

So, I’ve already posted about The Office Set Visit, and now it’s time for the rest of Los Angeles!

We had such a fantastic time. I’d never been to the West coast before (Sally had), so it was all new to me. The flight was long, but bearable (we had a SkyCouch!), and we arrived safely in LA around 8pm. We went to pick up our rental car, headed to hotel, and promptly passed out.

Our first day was The Office visit, and following that the trip was a whirlwind of excitement. We visited Disneyland, Santa Monica, The Grove, hiked 6 miles to the top of the Hollywood sign, ate lots of good food, shopped at Target, and met up with some great friends.

On The Office set:

163371_10151526539966349_1055000487_nOn the weekend we drove down to Anaheim to visit Disneyland and meet up with some of Sally’s NOAH friends:

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I love Disney, so I was so excited that we were able to fit this in! Now I can check Orlando, Paris, and California off the list. Next up: Tokyo!

The weekend was also very rainy, so we went to see a movie at The Arclight in Hollywood. We also went to Glendale to have dinner with Sally’s uber awesome friend Leigh:

184351_10151249571732352_771207916_nWhen the weather cleared up we headed to The Grove to wander around and have lunch at The Cheesecake Factory with our lovely MTT friend Karen.

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IMG_5026Sally has been talking about wanting to fly a kite for as long as I’ve known her, so this trip we decided to make it happen. We headed to Santa Monica with a Dollar Tree kite and gave it a go!

69285_751688554674_1059787814_nSanta Monica was neat. We had a lovely day to visit. I’ve missed the sun!

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IMG_5130On our last day we did a 6 mile hike to the Hollywood sign. Yikes!

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IMG_0432This is probably the most sporadic and incoherent post I have ever done. But I’m exhausted and my brain doesn’t know the time or date!

But, I can say I loved California and hope to return one day!

Auschwitz

As I mentioned in my last blog Amy, Tasha, Michelle and I headed to Poland a few days ago. We had a really good time, and were able to do quite a bit of sightseeing in just a couple of days.

I’m going to write a post on our actual time in the city in the next few days, but today wanted to do something separate on the tour we took of Auschwitz.

I’m not really sure how to properly convey what this experience was like. It was overwhelming and surreal at the same time. I have visited a number of WWII sites over the years, and each one always brings varying emotions. It’s hard to describe.

When we arrived at Auschwitz it was around 10am. It was overcast, and there was a low fog, making it very eerie. We toured two sections of the area: Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II- Birkenau. Auschwitz I was the original camp which used buildings that existed as Polish military barracks prior to the war, and Birkenau was an enormous complex built during the war to hold around 100,000 prisoners at a time.

Auschwitz I:

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Auschwitz II- Birkenau:

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Most of the bunkers have been torn down, but a sea of chimneys remains:6

Railway tracks that brought prisoners in to Birkenau:5

Rubble from one of the four gas chambers located at Birkenau. They were all demolished by the Nazi’s in the days leading up to liberation: 4

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The railway tracks and platform. From here prisoners were divided in to those who could work and those who could not. Those who could would proceed to the right of the track (next to the watchtower visible in the corner) through the gates to the work camp. Those who couldn’t (mainly the elderly, and children under 14 and their mothers) would walk farther down the track to the gas chambers. 2

Entrance to the work camp:1Again, I don’t really know how to describe this experience, so I’ll leave you with just the photos and short explanations above.

Christmas in London 2012

Christmas 2012 was a new kind of Christmas. My mom traveled to London and we spent a week here doing touristy things. It was very different, but a lot of fun. Sadly the only photos I have at the moment are from my phone. I took a lot with her camera, but then forgot my SD card reader and couldn’t get the photos on to my computer! Ah well. Hopefully my iPhone pics will suffice for now.

Over the course of the week we:

  • Wandered around Christmas markets on the Thames
  • Climbed the dome at St. Paul’s Catherdral
  • Shopped on Oxford Street
  • Did a Charles Dickens walking tour (around Trafalgar Square, Embankment, West End, Covent Garden)
  • Toured Westminster Abbey
  • Saw The Hobbit at the IMAX
  • Visited Harrodds
  • Wandered the Science Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, and The Natural History Museum.
  • Wandered Hyde Park
  • Ate at Hummingbird Bakery
  • Went to North London for dinner with Sally and Karen
  • Toured Tower of London
  • Visited Buckingham Palace
  • Visited The British Museum

View from the top of St. Paul’s:

23749_736307313804_499168664_nChristmas Day Charles Dickens Walking Tour (Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden):

563773_736500436784_551370287_n 557169_736532916694_1731581892_n 406591_736526105344_191123263_nHummingbird Bakery:

397635_736873833494_611571302_nHaving lunch at Buckingham Palace:

393061_737041512464_1070030160_nThe British Museum:

545469_737049721014_273341217_nI think she had a good time in London. She kept talking about wanting to come again, so that’s a good sign!

Roadtrip 2012 Recap: St. Louis and Memphis

The road trip ended a little over a week ago, so I figured I should probably get around to doing the blog!

In July Sally, Michelle, and I embarked on a 3 week road trip around the US. We drove through 14 states, totaling over 6000 km of driving.

We left Niagara Falls bright and early on Sunday (July 8) and headed south/west towards St. Louis. We crossed the border in the US without any trouble (everyone got their visas beforehand) and off we went! We drove for about 10 hours on the first day driving through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and stopping just over the Illinois border.

Sally at the PA border

We spent the night in Marshall, IL, which was as small town as you can get!

On Monday we were left with only about 5 more hours of driving, and made it in to St. Louis without any trouble. We stayed at the Millennium Hotel, as it was where Sally’s conference was being held, and it was very nice. It was downtown, just next to the arch, so a perfect location!

That first evening we were invited out for dinner by St. Louis native, Liv. We went to the famous Imo’s pizza, which we were all excited about. Sadly, we were not impressed. Like, at all. We’re thinking it might be something you needed to have grown up with…

On Tuesday we tried to go to the zoo, only to find there was no parking left. We drove around for about 20 minutes trying to find a spot, but eventually gave up and went to the St. Louis Children’s Museum instead. After that we headed to the mall. We had a lovely meal at The Cheesecake Factory, went to get Sally a SIM card for her iPad (that story’s a whole blog in itself!), and went to see Ted at the cinema.


The Magic House – St. Louis Children’s Museum


Sally in the museum

I then came down with some kind of flu, as trips usually go for me. As such, Wednesday was spent in bed.

Thankfully the bug passed quickly and I was feeling up to entering the world again on Thursday. Michelle and I walked around the city and visited the City Museum.


The Old Courthouse and The Arch

I thought the City Museum deserved it’s own post, which you can read here.

We also visited City Garden which was really neat!

It was also so hot that we had no choice but to run through the fountains that can be seen behind Pinocchio.

On Friday Michelle and I took a day trip to Memphis to visit Graceland. It was about 4 hours each way, and took us through Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

We stopped in at the visitor’s centre in Arkansas where the woman at the counter asked where we were headed. We said Graceland and she got very serious. She then said something to the effect of “As a mother and a Christian, I need you to promise me that you when you finish at Graceland you will be right back in to your car and leave. You can not be in Memphis after dark. Please, promise me you will leave.”

So, that didn’t completely freak us out!


Me in Arkansas

Way made it in to Memphis where we headed to the city visitor centre, Sun Studios, and finally Graceland!


Memphis!


Myself and Michelle at Graceland


Front of Graceland Mansion


Fun day!

I’m not a huge Elvis fan. I like his music and movies, but never went past that. I found Graceland really cool though. The house was gorgeous and they told lots of interesting stories. I definitely recommend it to anyone in the area!

We finished up fairly early, and decided to drive to the Mississippi border as it was only about 10 minutes down the road. After that we headed back to St. Louis.

Saturday was our last full day in St. Louis. Sally was still busy with her conference, so Michelle and I headed to The Arch. We got a package that included the Arch, a riverboat ride down the Mississippi, and a National Geographic Imax movie.


The Gateway Arch


Lewis and Clarke


The pod that takes you up the Arch. So small!


St. Louis from the top of The Arch


Riverboat Cruise


View of The Arch (and our hotel) from the river

That evening Michelle and I went out for Italian food and to stock up on road trip munchies at Target. The next morning Sally finished up her conference, we packed up the car, and we hit the road once again!

St. Louis City Museum

I haven’t blogged on here in while! To catch you up – I am currently in week 2 of a 4 week adventure. Week 1 was spent with Sally in Niagara Falls/Toronto. At the end of last week Michelle arrived in Toronto, and we set off on a 3 week road trip shortly after. We drove from Niagara to St. Louis on Sunday/Monday, which was quite the experience! We’ve been busy the past few, and I will post about that later. But right now, I need to discuss something very important.

Today Michelle and I visited the St. Louis City Museum. And it was the most amazing museum I have ever seen!

It’s enormous. When we purchased our tickets we asked for a map, to which they replied: “We don’t do maps. Just go explore!”

And explore we did! We started on the first floor with the caverns, which ended in us climbing 10 stories through a maze of caves and tunnels and winding steel staircases. At the top we reach the entrance to a slide, which we hopped on and took us back down. What?! I know! It was amazing!

After 1.5 hours in the caverns we grabbed some lunch (a whole meal in a museum for $6, which was insane to both of us!)

Next came floor 4 (floor 3 was a children’s aquarium, which was an extra cost, so we passed on), which had the most random assortment of exhibits, including a collection of working carnival games, ancient stone work, insects, rag doll making, a vintage clothing shop, and a trapeze school.

Now we headed outside to the 10 story all-age jungle gym. Which was absolutely amazingly awesome. You climb through tunnels and cages and stairways and tree houses up to airplanes and firetrucks and towers and it’s just so far beyond fun that I have no choice but to ramble on and on and on!

Our final stop was on the rooftop, which contained numerous slides, a dangling school bus, an observation tower, and a working ferris wheel.

So, basically, if the City Museum in St. Louis isn’t on your bucket list, add it now! These pictures don’t do it justice, but it’s the best I could do!

We are loving St. Louis so far. Everyone here is so, so nice, the museums are fantastic, and the downtown area is pretty mellow, clean, and easy to navigate.

Tomorrow Michelle and I are off to Memphis to visit Graceland. Woo! Sally is at a conference this week, so we’re filling our days until it finished and we head off to our next stop: Boston!

London 2012 – Part One

It’s closing in on 2 months since my London trip (WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?), so I figured I should probably get the promised blog up! It was a rather long trip, and I’m not too sure if WordPress will let me put all the pictures I want to in a single post. We shall see!

I left for London on February 14th, and came home on the 26th, making it the longest single trip to London I’ve ever done. And I had a marvelously wonderful time!

I landed on the 15th, stood in line at immigration for nearly 2 hours, and then headed out in search of Sally. 3 trains, and 2 extremely graceful falls later, I found myself Hertfordshire, in North London, where an extremely cold Sally sat waiting for me for hours (I didn’t anticipate the 2 hour immigration line and had no way to contact her!) We then made our way back to her house where I promptly collapsed after 15 hours of travelling.

The next day (Thursday) Sally, Michelle, and I headed to the country for cream tea, shopping, and lots of general tourist-y things.

(As always, click on pictures to enlarge)

Cream (Creme?) Tea:

The Roman ruins at St. Alban’s:

That night we decided to take on the daunting task of making Orla a TARDIS cake for her birthday as a surprise!

And the finished product, a good 6 hours later:

(Don’t laugh- making a TARDIS cake is not as easy as it seems!)

Picture Op!

The next morning, after a whopping 2 hours of sleep I headed in to central London to meet up with Orla and Aideen. With two pieces of luggage, a backpack, and an enormous tupperware container holding the cake, I ventured out solo and somehow managed a bus, two trains, and about a kilometre of walking. Eventually I made it to our hotel to find Orla semi-conscious in the lobby waiting for me. She was early, I was late, and the hotel was in my name. Woops! But, we checked in, managed to not pass out, and actually ventured back out to find food!

Later in the day Aideen arrived and we set out on an evening stroll, got some dinner, and headed back for some much needed sleep!

St. Paul’s Cathedral at night:

Saturday was jam packed. It was Orla’s birthday, so we’d planned a pile of fun things to do! In the morning it was raining, but we headed out to Camden regardless to wander around the markets and grabbed some lunch.

After Camden we headed to Oxford Street to find the Hummingbird Bakery. Unfortunately it was packed, so we opted to come back another day! Still, the rain had let up, so we wandered around shops for the afternoon. That evening we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the birthday festivities. Cake, out to dinner, cake, GloZell, cake, out dancing, and, of course, more cake!

(Please ignore our friends behind us: Mr. and Mrs. Dryhump)

Sunday was the last full day with three of us, but we were also exhausted, so we opted to have a full, but relaxing, day. We headed to Kensington Gardens, saw Royal Albert Hall, wandered through the shops in Kensington, and then went to see The Muppet Movie!

Monday we headed back to Oxford Street to get cupcakes at the Hummingbird Bakery. Well worth going back for!

We then walked to Covent Garden, and back to our hotel. A carnival set up under the London Eye:

Aideen headed back to Dublin that evening, and Orla and I transported ourselves from our fancy birthday weekend hotel to the Travelodge. And we, thankfully, had a much better experience that this Travelodge (Southwark), then we did on our last trip to London (Travelodge Waterloo). On Tuesday Orla and I headed to the Olympia for.. *drumroll* THE DOCTOR WHO EXPERIENCE!

Mock us all you want, it was amazing! They had everything there. We even got some sort of Platinum package, which means we also got a bag of nifty-gifties, including a certificate saying we flew the TARDIS. That’s right, be jealous.

WordPress is starting to freeze, so I think it’s time to end this one. More in Part 2!

NYC Rounds 1 and 2

As some of you know I’ve found myself in New York City twice in the last 6 weeks. The first trip was for my birthday and New Years, and the second, a few weeks later, so my best friend Tara could cross meeting Alan Rickman off her bucket list.

I’ve been meaning to write this entry for weeks now, but just hadn’t gotten around to it! But I’m now leaving for London in 3 days, and figured I ought to get it down now before I move on to the next big trip! Plus, I’m procrastinating from studying for the 5 exams I write before leaving for London…

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to go to New York City at Christmas time and see the tree in Rockefeller Centre, but the timing/prices have never worked out. This year I decided to just go for it. And thankfully Vi was in town as well! So a nice little 25th birthday/New Years trip was planned.

Of course, my first stop had to be 30 Rock. And that beautiful tree did not disappoint!

(As always, click pictures to enlarge)

While there we also saw two shows: The closing performance of Bonnie and Clyde, and Daniel Radcliffe’s last performance of How To Success In Business Without Really Trying. I didn’t love Bonnie and Clyde, but absolutely adored How To Succeed. And seeing Dan Radcliffe wasn’t too shabby either!

We also went to see The Artist at the Paris Theatre, which was great. The film was wonderful, and I ran in to Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Twice!

It was so nice to see the city completely decked out for the holidays! There were snowflakes, candy canes, and red and green decorations everywhere!

The second trip, just a few weeks later, was a jam packed weekend. Tara and I left around 4am on Friday morning and were in the city by 10. We checked in our hotel and dumped our bags before heading out in the pouring rain. We wandered around the stores in Times Square, grabbed lunch, and took an afternoon nap (I mentioned we left at 4am, right?)

That evening we grabbed some snacks and headed to the theatre to see Alan Rickman’s play Seminar. The show itself wasn’t my cup of tea, but it was fun seeing him live! After the show we waited by the stage door so Tara could meet him. He was quiet, and didn’t take pictures with anyone, but that’s okay. He signed our playbills, smiled at Tara when I said we came down from Canada just to see him for her birthday, and we took sly pictures with one another in the same shot with him. Heh. It worked!

On Saturday, our one full day, we wandering the city. I heard about The High Line from a friend, and decided to check it out. It was so neat! It’s a park that extends numerous blocks down the lower west side of Manhattan, about a story above ground level. It swerves around buildings, and even through them at some points. It was very cool!

After that we walked to Washington Square Park and then down to SoHo for some shopping and lunch.

After that we headed back to Times Square for a bit of a rest and then headed up to Central Park. We had such a gorgeous day. It wasn’t too cold, the sun was shinning. Perfect day!

That evening we went to see Porgy & Bess. Oh. My Gosh. It was without a doubt one of the best shows I have ever seen. I was familiar with it beforehand, but seeing it live was a whole new experience. I started crying about halfway through the second act and couldn’t stop. I was a hot mess by the end! Seriously, such a moving and incredible show. After we stage doored and met everyone. I was still a bit of a hot mess 😉

On Sunday we needed to be at the airport by around 2, so we headed out in the morning. We got breakfast and saw Grand Central and the New York City Public Library. Gorgeous architecture!

So, that’s been 2012 thus far! All that’s worth mentioning. Most of the time is spent on school work, or Twitter. Jenna Fischer just joined Twitter, so it’s been a pretty even split as of late 😉

Anyway, as I said, off to London in a few days. And I am so excited! I may blog mid-trip. We’ll see!

Happy Saturday,

Spencer