Nivi's Adventures

Saturday, May 20, 2006

New York, New York!

New York City totally lived up to its reputation of being a vibrant, exciting city and one that I totally loved! With a population of 8 million (twice that of the whole of NZ!!!) it's easy to feel as though you are in the centre of the universe in the bustling hub that is NYC. It's an amazing city - there are several different cultures abound and I discovered that it does indeed live up to its rep as the city that doesn't sleep!

Anyway, it's an awesome city and arguably one of, if not the, top city to visit in the world. It was definitely one of the highlights of my trip! I'm certain I would loved it anyway but the fact that I had company made sure of it - my friend Tom flew out from San Francisco for a long weekend and my darling big sister Vasi flew out from London for the whole week. I hadn't seen Vasi for about 5 months (which is a long time for us!)

I was in NY from 11 - 20 May and here are some pictures - hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed NY...


Grand Central Station - this is what I love about NY, seeing things around that are in numerous books, songs etc etc


Shot of the streetscape, Chrysler Building in the background


Trying to capture a bit of the NY vibe


Times Square! I didn't manage to get a decent night shot of it unfortunately.


Times Square - take 2


The Sivapalan sister reunion at Union Square!


Tom, myself and Vasi out having a few drinks


Tom, me, Devin (Tom's mate from DC) and Vasi trying to capture the bright lights of NYC. (We are incidentally standing on a traffic island and not just smack in the middle of the road)


This ones a bit less shaky - the building with blue light, just right of the green traffic light is the empire state building.


On Sunday 14 May we went to a Yankees game! It was an awesome experience (thanks for getting the tickets Tom). Amazing though - the game wasn't that important, the weather wasn't great, the Yankees didnt even do that well (they lost) but crowd attendance was still more than 50,000!


We had to sit Tom in the middle so we could both hear the explanation of the rules


Well you know me and food - I couldn't go to a baseball came and not get cracker jacks! (I also had the hot dog earlier but it was too messy to take a photo)


Ground Zero. Quite an emotional experience. You can stand there and wonder what it must have looked like with the twin towers there but it was things like posters of timeline of events on Sept 11 and photos taken on that day that got to me... The city and her people don't seem to dwell on it - it is almost 5 years on now - although I imagine they'll never ever forget it.


The opulent glory that it the Trump Tower


The actual tower of Trump Tower. I think the trees on the building are quite cool - it's so unusual to see any sort of foliage above street level.

Carnegie Hall. A bit boring for me as I'm not a muso but I walked past it so worth a snap at least I thought.


Rockefeller Centre. All the tables and chairs are cleared out and the area is used for an iceskating rink in winter, complete with a giant Christmas tree overlooking the rink.


The Waldorf Astoria. Unfortunately not where I stayed whilst I was in NY...


The United Nations headquarters, no doubt helping fuel the amazing multicultural feel of the city


I quite liked this sculpture and oh how appropriate for the outside the UN!


A shot of the Empire State Building before ascending it. Since 11 Sept 2001, the Empire State Building is again the tallest building in NYC, like a familiar friend returning in times of strife as the Lonely Planet put it...


Looking south to downtown


North East towards the East River


North - you can see the green of Central Park


West across the Hudson River to New Jersey


Macy's and some traffic


Check out how many cabs are down that street!


Posing with the Chrysler building to my left


Brooklyn Bridge - still kinda cool to look at today but very impressive when you realise it was the first steel suspension bridge and opened for traffic in 1883!


Looking west towards Lower Manhattan


New York Stock Exchange - about a billion shares change hands each day behind this wall!


View of Lower Manhattan, home to the financial district, from the Staten Island Ferry


The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

New York was my last stop in North America, and sadly brought my 9 week tour of North America to a close. I had an truly unforgettable experience and I hope you've enjoyed my attempts to relay some of it via my posts.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Boston

So I didn't find Boston that enthralling - I'm not sure if that was because most of the stuff to do revolved around American history (which I got my fill of in DC) or because I was looking forward to New York, but I suspect that it had a lot to do with the fact it rained almost non-stop for the days I spent in Boston.

THE FREEDOM TRAIL

The Freedom Trail is a 4km path which winds its way through Boston, highlighting some of its most historic sites.

Boston Common - the oldest public park in America. Established in 1634, it was initially used for training militia and grazing cattle.


"Make way for the ducklings" It's part of the Boston Common - not so historic, but so cute that I had to take a pic...


The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial. It was built in 1897 to honor the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, the first all-Black regiment recruited in the North to fight for the Union army during the Civil War. (The story of this is depicted in the movie Glory starring Matthew Broderick and Denzel Washington).

Park St Church - the scene of the first Anti-Slavery speech by William Lloyd Garrison in 1829.


Granary Burying Ground is the final resting place for: John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine & Samuel Adams (signatories on the Declaration of Independence) as well as Peter Faneuil, Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin's parents and the victims of the Boston Massacre.


The location of country's the first public schools built around 1635. Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin attended the school.


Old South Meeting House - it was built in as a church in 1729 (Benjamin Franklin was baptised here). It was later used as a meeting place. On 16 December 1773, a meeting to protest the tax on tea spilled out onto the street and resulted in the Boston Tea Party, one of the events that started the American Revolution.


The site of the Boston Massacre. This is really a bit of misnomer - 5 colonists were killed by British guards in 1770. The colonist were unarmed but calling 5 dead a massacre seems a bit gratuitous to me...


The U.S.S. Constitution was launched in Boston in 1797 and is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world.

OTHER SIGHTS

This is the firehouse that MTV's The Real World Boston was filmed in 1997. I'm not sure if it was THE first reality TV series filmed, but I know that it was the first thing I ever watched - the birth of a genre eh?


Moving onto buildings that housed some more intelligent thought, part of MIT's campus.


I could hardly forget to include Harvard...


And just to show that it's not always sunshine and roses - a picture of me in travel mode, the day I arrived in Boston from Washington, complete with wet socks. Lucky my lovely macpac jacket kept my upper half nice and dry :)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Washington, D.C.

Washington DC is an interesting city, one steeped in tradition and where all the old buildings seem to be of some significance in American history. Which would have been amazing if I were American but nonetheless it was quite interesting. For instance when I visited the National Archives the Declaration of Independance and Bill of Rights were on view - which was cool to see as I've heard of them before, but most of the other people there were in an almost reverential state!

Another funnyish thing was the street naming convention. As most of you probably know, many North American cities have numbers as street names. This makes a lot of sense (and is really useful when you're new to a city) but DC takes it one step further - the North-South roads are numbers (1st St, 2nd St) and the East-West roads are named after letters (A St, B St). I was initially very confused when I asked for the closest pharmacy and the guy goes "on the corner of 14th and K".

Anyway I did a lot of touristy stuff - visited all the monuments and went to a fair few museums; photos and blurbs are below...

This is what I was meaning, a gorgeous old building, which is the Department of Treasury. A lot of the architecture is like this in DC.

THE WHITE HOUSE

The White House, complete with a sniper on the roof. The oldest public building in DC and where every President except George Washington has conducted the US government

Me posing ;)

The crowds outside the White House.

I remember thinking to myself, "well this isn't that bad, you can still stand outside the White House and take photos post Sept 11" when all of a sudden some military guy comes down the footpath saying "OK quit taking photos and move along". I thought it was crowd control but no, they were closing the footpath.

It was quite amusing listening to an American tourist trying to get the down low... "Why are you closing the sidewalk?" "For security reasons" "Is the President coming out?" "I cant answer that" "Why not?" "For security reasons" "Can we come back later?" "Sure" "So when will it be open again" "I cant answer that" "Why not, oh hang on, let me guess, for security reasons?" Man it was funny listening to the interchange!

THE NATIONAL AIR & SPACE MUSEUM

So Washington DC has this sweet deal where almost all the museums are free, which makes it very easy on the wallet, especially if you are on the plunging Kiwi dollar!

A sliver of moon rock

Gemini IV - the spacecraft that supported the first American spacewalk in June 1965

THE NATIONAL MALL

The Mall is the piece of land stretching from the grounds of the Washington monument to the US Capitol. It has seen many protests and rallies over the years but when I was there, this is what greeted me...

So it turned out that all of the military hardware was part of a Careers Fair. So what does Nivi do? Get in the thick of things of course!



US CAPITOL

A lot of monuments in Washington DC seems to have reflecting pools in front of them which makes for good photos!

THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT

Funnily enough, built to honour George Washington. The obelisk is 555ft high or about 170m and frankly is a lot more impressive in real life than my photo...

WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL


Over 16 million Americans served in WWII and each star on the wall represents 100 lives lost. (I counted them, there were 4048 stars.)

LINCOLN MEMORIAL

Now this is a memorial! The structure is grand enough but when you add all the history (for example, Martin Luther King made his "I have a dream" speech on these very steps) it makes it a very impressive monument.

Me posing with the statue, apparently Lincoln's hands sign the letters A and L in American sign language...

The view from the memorial (looking East). Spot the groups of school kids...

NIGHT SHOTS

ARLINGTON CEMETARY (next day)

There are approx 285,000 graves at Arlington - veterans from each US war are buried in the cemetery, from the American Revolution through to "war on terror" in Iraq. Needless to say quite a sobering experience...

After Arlington I went to the National Holocaust Museum which was a brilliant museum. No photos allowed (which is why I haven't posted any) but a museum I'd definitely recommend to anyone visiting DC.

THE CHELLIAH'S

On Monday night I stayed with TC Uncle, Shanthi Aunty and Sharm - family friends from NZ whom we first met when we lived in Bahrain. It was great catching up, we hadn't seen each other for about 5 years and seeing Sharm was quite a shock! He'd changed from a Kiwi-accented kiddie to a 6ft1, 17yr old complete with the american drawl! Anyway thanks Aunty, Uncle and Sharm for your hospitality :)

Me, Shanthi Aunty and Sharm

Me & TC Uncle