Archive for the 'America' Category

Leaving the USA

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

I’m sitting in the lounge at JFK waiting on my flight to London. I’ve been here for about 6 weeks and I’m ready to leave. I do like visiting but I’m not sure that I could live here. On a frivolous note it will take me months to recover from the overeating that’s so easy to indulge in. On a serious note the racial tension and violence, that seems to be on the rise, is unsettling.

Downtown Manhattan

Downtown Manhattan

Broadway Digital Lotteries

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

It’s expensive to go the theatre in New York.  I saw The Phantom of the Opera on Friday night, in a seat that was one row from the back of the theatre, and it cost $75 (57 GBP, 7,600 JPY).  Since I can’t afford to see every show I would like to watch I have been entering the various digital lotteries that are available.  It would be amazing to win the opportunity to buy reduced tickets for Hamilton, but I have not been that lucky.  I did, however, win the opportunity to purchase $35 tickets for The Crucible tonight.  The seats should be much better than The Phantoms ones, as they are in the most expensive section.  Without the lottery it would have cost between $149 – $189 for the seats.  I’m really looking forward to seeing Ciarán Hinds as the Deputy Governor, and Saoirse Ronan as Abigail Williams.

Walking the High Line

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Today we went for a walk along the High Line, which is public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side.  It was beautiful, if a little crowded, and a pleasant way to spend part of the 4th July.

Views from the High Line Park

Views from the High Line Park


Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

I’m staying in Midtown, New York.  It is chaos outside.  I have been told that the crowds will be worse on the 4th July, which will be quite something as there really isn’t room for any more humans.  I love how alive the city is.  I love that you can walk between places, even if you have to constantly stop and start at traffic lights.  I walked just under 10 miles today.  We didn’t have a destination in mind, we just wandered around, ate interesting food, and found beautiful buildings to gaze up at.  Of course, as well as looking up, sometimes you have to look down.

Paving Stone, at Library Way

Paving Stone, at Library Way

In Orlando

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

I’ve been in Orlando for a couple of weeks now.  Given the horrific massacre at the Pulse nightclub, it’s not been an easy time to be on holiday.  Of course, it shouldn’t be easy to forget the events and there are reminders everywhere.  The staff in the hotel are wearing Orlando United t-shirts, everywhere I go there are signs and messages about the tragedy, and this morning I was asked to take a picture of a couple going to one of the funerals.

It’s a time for sorrow.

Cold in Summer

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

I have goosebumps on my arms.  I have tried switching off the air conditioning but it’s tenacious and refuses to obey my instructions.  When I arrived at my hotel last night the air conditioner was set at 67 F (19.4 C).  It felt like a fridge in the room after the warm air outside  I had already spent a large part of my day on a plane being really cold and would have liked to be able to sit in my hotel room without getting into the bed for extra warmth.

Recently I spent quite a few evenings rehearsing in community halls in Japan.  It wasn’t easy, as I became so hot dancing, but they only use air conditioners once the temperature in the room gets above 28 C (82.4 F), and that only happened on a couple of occasions.  There is a “Cool Biz” campaign in Japan that runs from May to October to encourage businesses to set their air conditioners at 28 C (82.4 F) to limit the use of electricity.  This means that men have stopped wearing ties to work in the summer and that cooler clothes are used.  But I’m in America where the people around me are sitting in chilled rooms wearing t-shirts and shorts – something the Japanese wouldn’t really consider for work.  The are also carrying cardigans and jackets, because it’s cold inside.  The last time I went to the cinema in America, during the summer, I took a blanket!  It’s ridiculous.

I’m going to be in America for quite a few weeks so I’m going to have to come up with a way to keep warm while indoors.

Dear J

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Dear J, single of Manhattan,

I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation tonight and your contemplation as to why you might be still single in your 30s.  I know you didn’t ask for my advice, but here is some anyway.

  1. Asking your date questions about themselves is great but you really shouldn’t answer the questions for them.
  2. If you do decide to let your date speak, it’s a good idea to listen.
  3. When taking a date to a restaurant you should know something about either the restaurant or the cuisine.  Describing guacamole as “the stuff on green sushi” and using your phone to look up the other foods does make it seem that you put no effort into choosing the restaurant.
  4. Making racist comments and offending 1.2 billion people is probably not a good idea.
  5. Bringing up S.T.Ds and not seeming to understand that you get these from having sex is just odd. (You really can’t catch one just by visiting a country.)
  6. First dates are not the time to give a lecture on how you expect your future children to behave.
  7. Making comments about the speed that your date eats, and your concerns about how they will look in the future if they keep eating like that, is not endearing.

Yours, K, who wishes she could tune out background noise.

Windy City

Monday, June 9th, 2014

We’ve just spent a long weekend in Chicago.  We stayed on the Magnificent Mile, which is a rather grand name for a shopping street, but it does mean that we were central and could easily explore on foot.  We did more shopping than I expected but I also got to walk round the parks.  We had a small kitchen in our apartment, but we did eat out quite a bit.  I do enjoy the food in America but we are still trying to adjust to American sized food portions.  For breakfast we ate at Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe.  Making the most of our jetlag we were there to queue for it opening at 6:30am.  I managed to eat around half of what I was given, which was probably still too much food.  I have asked why food portions are so big but I get answers like “we pride ourselves in the size of our portions” which doesn’t make much sense to me.  Why not put quality over quantity?

On Saturday night we went to see Eddie Izzard!  It was such an unexpected treat.  We walked by the Chicago Theatre on the way back to our hotel on Saturday afternoon and saw the adverts for the show.  We weren’t expecting to be able to get tickets but there were a few left and we ended up with good seats just a few rows back from the stage.  I was a little worried when giants turned up to sit in front of us but we could still see clearly.  The theatre was huge and wonderfully old fashioned but the seats were small and crushed together.  This didn’t cause me a problem but the people around me were all super-sized.  They must put something in the water here to make them grow.  The men in the row in front of me were all more than a foot taller than me.

Eddie Izzard was amazing on stage.  He looked fanstastic.  His suit was beautiful and I loved the red nail polish he was wearing.  He was tired after flying in from the D-Day 70th anniversary celebrations in France, but he owned the stage.  He has such presence and his rambling speaking style was incredibly amusing and had Marty wiping tears of laughter from his face many times during the two hour performance.

We’ve had a fantastic time I do like the city but I can’t imagine living here.  During the weekend there were 4 people killed in shootings and another 27 people injured.  The streets of the city were also filled with homeless people. I find the contrasts in how different sections of the community live hard to reconcile.

Recent Travel

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

It’s 7:19am on a Sunday.  Why am I awake?  I’ve been awake for over an hour and I’ve cleaned the kitchen.  Cleaning and Sunday mornings do not go together.  I cannot stress how much I hate jet lag.  Yesterday I was woken up when a friend rang at 11:42am.  I can’t decide which is worse but neither are right.  It wouldn’t be so bad if I actually felt normal when I woke up.  But my brain has been foggy for days and I find it hard to be productive if I end up being awake at 3am as happened on Thursday morning.

The cause of the jet lag was a two week trip to America.  Autumn is a great time to visit New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.  It was much warmer than I expected but the good weather did mean that I was able to spend quite a bit of time outside.  I can see why it’s called “Fall” in America as there were fallen leaves everywhere.  To me they were beautiful but since I saw people using leaf blowers to blow these off their lawns I assume that there are some problems caused by the great number of trees in the region.

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

It was my first visit to Philadelphia and I was surprised by how much I liked the city.  I was only there for a couple of days, so didn’t get to see that much of it, but I liked how the city felt.  I had been staying in China Town in Manhattan and that was chaotic and smelly so I think I enjoyed the contrast in Philadelphia where the city felt fresher than Manhattan.  Of course Manhattan feels different depending on the part you stay in but I can see why someone described Philadelphia to me as Manhattan-lite.

Love Statue - the fountain has been dyed pink for breast cancer awareness

Love Statue – the fountain has been dyed pink for breast cancer awareness

For the first time I travelled in America by train and bus.  The train wasn’t that unlike travelling by train in Japan.  It wasn’t as clean, and I was a little unnerved by how little information you could get until 15 minutes before the train left, but it was much more pleasant than flying between New York and Philadelphia.  And unlike a plane you get to see the countryside as you are travelling. I also enjoyed travelling by megabus.  The trip from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh took nearly 7 hours but the bus was comfortable, had a bathroom and wifi on board, and made a stop at a rest stop half way through.  It also only cost $30 for the one-way trip.  It wasn’t without difficulty as it was hard to find the bus stop in Philadelphia.  There was construction going on outside the Philadelphia train station so it may be easier to find the bus stop when this is finished.

I got to spend a couple of days in Laurel Highlands in the Allegheny Mountains.  It was a great area to hike in and I was fortunate to be there when it was clear and sunny.

Laurel Highlands, early Saturday morning

Laurel Highlands, early Saturday morning

I spent a few days in Pittsburgh with friends.  I’ve been to the city many times and I always enjoy going back.  My friends do like me to experience new things when I visit and this time I got to see a giant rubber duck on the Allegheny River.  I think it’s leaving the city soon and I’m sure they will miss it as it’s surprising how happy watching a 40 foot rubber duck can make you feel.

Giant Rubber Duck

Giant Rubber Duck

I am going to be travelling again in just over a week and I’m not looking forward to adjusting to GMT but I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends.

Rubber Duck, at the end of the day.

Rubber Duck, at the end of the day.

American Holidays

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

I have two friends that have been teaching me about life in America.  I imagine that this isn’t a planned thing but last year I spent the 4th of July with them and went to a demolition derby and this year I visited over Hallowe’en.

Children really do go trick or treating.  They dress up, go out walking around the streets, and come back with bags of candy.  I’m not really sure if there is any actual tricking, as all I saw was treating, but it looked like fun.  Well, it did until the only thing I could think of was a dreadful horror movie I had watched as a child that had something to do with Hallowe’en masks and the killing of children. But back to the fun things…

My friends turned their porch into a pirate ship (I kid you not) and filled a chest full of candy treasure.  I dressed up as a wench and stood back and watched as the children looked amazed at the chilling effects that can be made by good lighting, a smoke machine, and several well positioned skeletons.

This was not my only Hallowe’en event as I also attended the first Hallowe’en costume party I’ve been to since I was about 12.  I can still remember that party as it was fairly unusual for us to do anything like that at Hallowe’en.  The church I belonged thought that dressing up as vampires and witches was evil.  But for whatever reason that year someone thought it would be fun to let us dress up.  And it was.  I spent hours on my make-up and remember looking fairly horrific.

This time I also spent quite a bit of time on my make-up as I wanted to look suitably dead.  I also discovered that a veil is a wonderful thing for hiding the lines on my face, but not an overly practical one.  It makes it incredibly hard to eat or drink.  It’s also surprisingly hot to dance in.

Vampire Bride

Vampire Bride