America America Trip 2016 Florida Travel

Day 9: Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me

Today we woke up a bit late… I’d wanted a lie in so that was no big deal!

We headed down to the outlet mall… where I managed to do some damage! (not a great amount… but damage all the same!) After wandering the outlet mall we decided that we’d try and get to the beach in time for sunset…. What a Great plan!

Off down the highway we went… and over a lovely but huuuuge bridge… Lots of lovely views.

Huuuge Bridge
Huuuge Bridge

Eventually we arrived at Clearwater Beach. Bright White Sand and the sun low in the sky. We stood and watched the sun creep under the horizon… almost the polar opposite of waking up early and scaling Masada for sunrise! Artsy Flipflops

Beach Panorama!
Beach Panorama!

Soon the sun had set and we wanted some food so after a quick scout up and down the main strip and a look in Ron Jon’s surf Shop (again!) we sat down in Surfside Tap House… mainly due to the amazing girl playing guitar and singing in the front. WOW.

We ate dinner, had a drink and then when the singer finished went to leave for the Fudge shop next door. Sadly the fudge shop closed, but the singer was given some more time so we lingered on a table by the front to listen to the singers’s last songs.

We were then crashed by our new friends… “the Drunk Mums on tour” (Hey there if you are reading this… and Hi to your family… they weren’t that embarrassing… really!) They were having a lovely time and loved our Britishness. One of them made us talk to her daughter who loves British accents and then we discussed politics… cause what else should you do when you’re a little intoxicated on a Saturday night! (I was driving so remained sober!!!)…. Shout out to Candace if you’re reading this… hope you’re enjoying living my life vicariously!!

We eventually headed home… via a quick stop to 24h Dunkin Donuts Drive through. WHY CAN’T WE GET 24 HOUR DRIVE THROUGH COOKE DOUGH DONUTS IN THE UK?!?!!?!?!?

America America Trip 2016 Florida Travel

Day 8: It’s a small World

Except it isn’t… cause I went to Epcot!

This morning, I woke up, packed everything into the car… grabbed some breakfast and checked out the hotel before making the 10 minute drive to EPCOT at Disney!

Ever since I was young and saw adverts on TV I’ve always wanted to go and see the big Epcot ball in person and visit the Epcot Park at Disney World!

Here I now was in the queue for the Spaceship Earth Ride, The one inside the ball! This kind of set the tone for how I felt the rest of the trip went – Although still fairly clever, most stuff here feels like It’s not changed since it was opened in the 80s. For example the Space Ship Earth goes back in time through history to today… except “Today” was a guy making a computer in his Garage…. (Think Bill Gates / Steve Jobs)…. to me that was hardly the future…!

There was a selfie, It actually happened!
There was a selfie, It actually happened!

From there, on the strong recommendation from a friend… I made my way to Test Track…. This was by far the best ride at Epcot! (I went on it again later!!) from Test Track I went over to the MISSION:SPACE. Having been at the Kennedy Space centre the day before, I was unsure how I’d find this… Thank Goodness it was before lunch!

Rarely do I find motion rides vomit inducing, but on this I felt like I might actually vom. (I didn’t but well done Disney on all accounts!!)

From Mission Space I went for a ride in a VERY young looking Ellen DeGeneres’s dream… all about energy. The concept was clever… the way the ride is a “Moving theatre” but it was all quite dated to me. :/ (But I like Ellen so it was kinda fun to watch!)

From there I went to the Future World area and had a ride on the “Living with the Land” float along. This was really interesting… You got to look at the innovative ways Disney is trying to grow stuff to be a bit more self sufficient including their own huge greenhouses and fish farms!

Funky Rotating Lettuce Grower.
Funky Rotating Lettuce Grower.

After what was basically a food show I was absolutely starving and so grabbed what was easily one of my nicest lunches of the trip (In a theme park who’d have thought it!). Seared Salmon Noodle Salad number. AMAZING.

From lunch I headed to the Finding Nemo Ride…. Little to report there….!! In the queue a man asked me if it was scary… which then ended up him inviting me to tag along with his family around the themed country areas….

I managed to meet a penguin on the way….

Does anyone know which Penguin this is?!
Does anyone know which Penguin this is?!

The themed areas were a little of a let down. Mainly shops, bars and eating places… We went to a 40 min part film, part weird moving robot show about the making of America… it was part film… part weird!

I also took a little ride on what I described as “It’s a small Mexican World without the annoying music” (The Ride in Mexican themed area)… Imagine it exactly as that!

Some supposed Italian Architecture.
Some supposed Italian Architecture.

With my new found family… I went for another go on test track… Just as thrilling the second time… and then decided that it was time to leave for Tampa! (Despite their very kind offer of joining them in Animal Kingdom and going back to their hotel to sleep and swim!!!!!!)

Of course I didn’t leave Epcot without a Nightime Selfie of the Lit Up Ball!

Night Lit Selfie!
Night Lit Selfie!

In the car on the way to Tampa I had a while to reflect on Epcot. I think that back when Mum and Dad visited 25 or so years ago… what it was doing was Amazing and a feat. Nowadays… most of the attractions are pretty “theme park standard” making Epcot more of a Themed Park than a Theme Park. It was a fun day out however I think I was a little let down!

I arrived in Tampa and found Hannah… we went out for dinner and then to Walmart to grab some bits and bobs… Which was mainly a jumper for me which we never got. As we walked in, Hannah pointed at the Mobility scooter and muttered something, sparking the man from Walmart to say “Go on then”. Next thing you know, We’re chasing each other round Walmart on Mobility Scooters… All well and good until she broke down for a few minutes at the far end of the store! hehehe! We did get avocados and a new friend. What more could you want from Walmart at 2am?!!!!

America America Trip 2016 Florida Geek Space Travel

Day 7 : Space Oddity

Damn. It really is only yesterday’s post that is song-title-less!!

Today I drove accross Florida to the Kennedy Space Centre. To those who know my history with causeways, you’ll be pleased to know I managed to drive over NASA Causeway without causing any damage!

I’d had a tiny splurge and booked a “behind the scenes” style tour which included the Launch control room.

As I arrived I jumped almost straight on the tour bus to take us to the control room. The tour guide was very funny and as we pulled out the car park made a joke, pointing at the deliveries hut saying something like “well folks, if you’ve never seen a fed-ex delivery before, nows your chance… Don’t say things aren’t cutting edge here”

After that the bus pulled onto the main complex. The size of it was mind blowing. It’s got big main roads like the ones I’d driven to the space centre on!

We headed for the Launch Control suite which happens to be situated next to the Vehicle Assembly Building.

VAB and Launch Control.... It's so much bigger than you can imagine!
VAB and Launch Control…. It’s so much bigger than you can imagine!

In the lobby the guide explained the evolution of the use of Cape Canaveral and now the Kennedy Space Centre and how the two are now often referred to as one or the other when in fact technically they are different things.

On the wall of the lobby was a little plaque for EVERY rocket ever flown from the Kennedy Space Centre. It was overwhelming to see so many plaques on the wall. Each plaque contained the Mission Launch and End/Landing date dangling below. (with the sad exception of the few missions in which the Astronauts did not return home)

Plaques... so many plaques
Plaques… so many plaques

From there we were escorted (by two security guards at all times!) up to the third floor to visit the Launch Control room. The guide was telling us about how private companies are now building state of the art control centres… Not at Kennedy, but around the world, which would make the facilities here look a little silly… He also explained the fact the Kennedy Space Centre launch control room (one of them) is soon to become a multi user (i.e. not just nasa) facility (clues from the huge SpaceX hangar in the distance!)… As he was telling us about this… I did start to wonder…. WHY. It’s actually really out of date! For something as cutting edge as space flight… it’s still got melamine light switches from yesteryear…

Lighting up the room which lights up the rockets! It's all a bit 1960s.
Lighting up the room which lights up the rockets! It’s all a bit 1960s.

The Launch control building at Kennedy is simply out of date… It surprised me on one hand… but on the other hand I kinda expected it… Things have moved on since the Kennedy’s Golden days of space prominence.

How to Fly a Space Shuttle: FOR DUMMIES.  (No Really... that's the full shuttle user manual!)
How to Fly a Space Shuttle: FOR DUMMIES.
(No Really… that’s the full shuttle user manual!)

The view out of the Launch control room was pretty impressive. Views of a few of the modern launch sites and the surrounding areas….

View out of one of the windows to the launch pad... the white box in the distance is the SpaceX Building
View out of one of the windows to the launch pad… the white box in the distance is the SpaceX Building

While they are converting the room for individual companies to come in and use the room, NASA have still kept some launch control kit in the room to enable them to launch future rockets…

Nasa's Kit in the front (Closest to the huge windows!) ... and then the partitioned areas behind made for private companies.
Nasa’s Kit in the front (Closest to the huge windows!) … and then the partitioned areas behind made for private companies.

I was amazed by the detail of things we were being told… most of the information went in one ear, and blasted itself into space out of the other… but one thing did shock me and stay with me….

When launching a space ship, the Team at Kennedy only has control for the first 7 seconds of the flight before all control is switched to the control room in Houston. (Hence “Houston we have a problem”)…. Seven Seconds? That’s nothing! All this technology (however new or old) for Seven Seconds! That’s CRAZY!

Before we left the Launch control room, I couldn’t resist doing…..

A Launch Selfie..... Obvs!
A Launch Selfie….. Obvs!

From there we jumped back on the bus and did a tour of some of the launch pads, and other buildings on the site…

As we pulled away, the size of the VAB was still not really comprehensible, until you look carefully at things… illustrated best by two photos like this…

This is the Large... but in this photo seemingly small Boeing building on the site... Next to the VAB. Look how it doesn't even reach the top of the lowest part of the VAB Doors!
This is the Large… but in this photo seemingly small Boeing building on the site… Next to the VAB. Look how it doesn’t even reach the top of the lowest part of the VAB Doors!

Boeing building is hiding just behind the white building in the foreground right!
Boeing building is hiding just behind the white building in the foreground right!

If that hadn’t really put the size of the VAB into perspective for me, then driving out and along the crawler-way sure would. This area, with something like 8 inches of top layer, specialist shingle (Specialist as they had to fly the rocks in specially as they were rocks that won’t spark!) and the width of an American highway, this “roadway” as made specially for the crawler which would take the spaceship from VAB to the launch site. It was a size that was just magnanimous!

Again, if that hadn’t put the size into perspective, we then came face to face with one of the very crawlers which takes rockets, down to the launch site, at 1 mph. (It can go a whole 2 mph if unloaded!)

Not likely to go whizzing down the top gear track any time soon!
Not likely to go whizzing down the top gear track any time soon!

It took me a minute or two to realise, that this beast would fit through one of those doors on the VAB. ONE DOOR. (one of the dark blue bits)… THAT MAKES THE DOORS HUUUUGE!

We went down and got quite close to two of the launch sites. Including this one… where there is supposed to be a SpaceX launch on the Next week on Weds…. UPDATE: I thought about postponing my flights… luckily I didn’t as the launch was postponed!!

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2,1... LIFT OFF!
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2,1… LIFT OFF!

We journeyed round a bit more but there was little to note without boring you all to tears. We soon arrived at the Apollo/ Saturn 5 building… Where you go through a video/presetntation in a mocked up control room, taking you through the launch of an Apollo/Saturn Rocket… and then go into a huge hall complete with a restored (unused) Saturn 5 Launch vehicle (rocket)… It was huuuge!

I couldn't really get a picture showing how large this was!
I couldn’t really get a picture showing how large this was!

Underneath and around the Apollo rocket was all sorts of exhibits and pieces of space history, including ship control modules (The pod that lands in the ocean, with astronauts in!) Test vehicles for the lunar landing and exploration… and small piece of moon rock… Yup, I touched a piece of moon rock! You know officially know someone who’s touched a piece of moon. (LOL)

The Control Capsule
The Control Capsule

After a spot of lunch, I was back on the bus to the main complex…. Where I went to the Atlantis exhibition. I should realised when taking this photo, that there was a critical component of it missing….

Er... Where's the Shuttle Atlantis?!
Er… Where’s the Shuttle Atlantis?!

Once inside you walk round some information on the walls about space shuttle flights while slowly ascending up a slope. Eventually you come to a screening room where you see a video about shuttle launches specifically Atlantis’s missions.

I clocked on towards the end, as to what was going to happen… I don’t want to give too much away but it’s a pretty impressive and spectacular unveiling!!

After the screening you get to go and walk round Atlantis, and see the surrounding exhibits to do with space shuttles and the Hubble telescope as well as the international space station… and a slide which is supposed to give you a similar feeling to a landing in a shuttle?!

Ah, That's where Atlantis is!
Ah, That’s where Atlantis is!

I soon threw all my worldy goods in a locker and queued up for the simulator. WOWSER. What a feeling – Not sure I’d have coped… perhaps I’ll have to put my career in space on hold!

Wandering about the underside of Atlantis, was amazing how you could see each of the individual foamy looking, thermal protection tiles and their markings!

This would make Ikea assembly look easy!
This would make Ikea assembly look easy!

I managed to take a seat on a replica space station loo (as you do) as well as look at (And touch) the huuuge tyres (with purposely just the right amount of tread to save weigh!) amongst the artefacts.

No shuttle exhibition would be complete without remembering those who died flying in such magnificent beasts. There was a whole section dedicated to those who died on both Columbia and Challenger… interestingly the longest write up was for Ilan Ramon, the Israeli who was killed in Columbia in 2003. I still remember being in Watford, in the department store that is now Primark, watching the footage on the hundreds of TVs not long after it had happened.

A Piece of Columbia found after it had broken up on re-entry.
A Piece of Columbia found after it had broken up on re-entry.

Having wandered through the main exhibits, all that was left for me to do was to take some photos in the “Rocket Garden” – an area of the site containing lots of old unused and refurbished rockets….

Not your usual ornaments!
Not your usual ornaments!

From Kennedy, I travelled down the coast a little to see Cocoa Beach – Somewhere Mum and Dad visited 25 years ago…. I went inside Ron Jon’s Surf Shop which is the largest Surf Shop in the world! CRAZY! So so so huge!

From Coca Beach I set the Sat Nav to take me back avoiding Toll Roads (to make a change and to see some bits of america off the tourist trail…) To say I didn’t see much was an understatement… but there is something about driving 26 miles down a road, when you only see 2 other cars… and no junctions… AMERICA IS CRAZY HUGE!

Time for some sleep!

America America Trip 2016 Florida Plane Travel

Day 6: Down to Florida

Damn I broke with song titles… I’ll have to think of one for this….

So, after nearly 6 days in New York, Today, I got the bus back into the city and then the subway followed by the airtrain to JFK Terminal 2.
Let’s just say T2 at JFK made London Luton look pretty large and luxurious. All the same as long as you get screened and on the flight what gives!
At the bag drop I was told my bag was over weight by 3 Pounds. PANIC! As I took my case off the scales to repack the Check Agent said “You need to hurry, you have 3 minutes until Bags Close for your flight.” Frantically I looked for my key and unlocked my suitcase. Unclipped the baggage clip and unzipped. As I started taking items out, the Check in Agent said “apologies sir, I’ve got my flights confused… no need to stress”… I lifted out a Shirt and two pairs of Jeans… I was a little worried but thought I could probably manage to squeeze them in to my carry on bag…. as I was about to Zip Shut my case, Gate man said “That should do it… Actually, do you know what… Just stick it back in”.
Shocked I was like “Sorry what?” and he’s said “Just put your clothes back in your case” WEIRD!
Anywhos, I was checked in, and wandered through to security where I met two people who were snobbily upset that there was no Security Fast Track lane as they’d paid to be on the governmental fast track system at every airport. The entire queue was about 10 people!!! (Which was why, it turns out they shut the TSA Fast Track!)
Soon I was checked in, and I’m now writing this onboard A Delta, I would imagine nearly new Airbus A319. Very nice. Considering Delta are a budget carrier, you get more than you get at home!
A free drink, snack and a blanket! You wouldn’t get that on Squeasy or Ryanair!
Sitting here for an 2 hours I’ve had some time to reflect. (I also watched an episode or two of Big bang theory!). The biggest thing I’ve noticed here, since being in the USA is pride. They are SO PROUD. Nothing goes by without a Flag on it – Subway Train, Fire engine, bus you name it, there’s a flag on it. Everyone is Seriously proud to be American!! They are also proud of the state they live in. Last night on the way into town in the Traffic, while I was in the Lincoln Tunnel, I noticed that in the tiles on the wall, was the state boundary. The tiles were white, there was a line of black tiles and one side said “New York” the Other side said “New Jersey”… You just wouldn’t get that back home!
I’m sure I’ll write some more on this post… but for now we’ve just prepared for our final descent and landing. Tray table being stowed, and tablet keyboard isn’t great on my lap! Here we go Florida. I better get my Sunglasses out and prepare to drive… AAAAH!

So the flight was easy…. I arrived in Warm sunny Tampa and went to the car rental place. Got chatting to the lovely lady behind the desk who laughed so hard at my Driving Licence picture that everyone else at the Alamo Desk stopped working and came and looked. (I look 12. I am not 12. This always seems to prompt a funny reaction!) She managed to upgrade me to a Dodge Charger for a little extra. OH EM GEE.
It’s got a button to switch it on from the remote before you even get in…. need I say anymore? Driving on the other side of the road is a little bit of an experience! From Tampa I drove over to Orlando, and Checked into my hotel for 2 nights. Considering how much I paid for it… I’ve not done badly! Two double beds, a Fridge and coffee machine and a huge TV!
I popped out for a bite to eat and then into Walmart…. Wow! Hahah CRAZINESS!

Then off I went to bed ahead of a busy day tomororrw… Kennedy Space Centre!!!

America America Trip 2016 Jewish New York Religion

Day 5: Far From The Home I Love

Today completely involved things that could be done at home…. Almost.

I had a little lie in this morning, and at midday we went to Costco! So much of Costco here is the same as Costco at home… But there are some differences… Prices for example!

Costco here does fuel… I worked out that the fuel here, from Costco was under 20p a litre! Crayy!

From Costco we went accross to a TKMaxx style shop except it had a selection to make our TKMaxx’s look ameture…. It gave me a headache!!

With that we went back home before heading for the bus… we missed the bus by about 10 seconds and Jemma very kindly chased it. The driver noticed we were following him and pulled over to let me on!
The traffic was awful, but we only picked up one other person and the driver was friendly and chatted away.

The people here are much friendlier!

Once in town, I headed straight to the TKTS booth under the steps in Time Square and crossed my fingers. I got to the window and there were still tickets available for FIDDLER ON THE ROOF!

I got the most amazing seats in the stalls at half price.

What a bloody amazing production! Equal measures of laughter and tears. The characters portrayed perfectly by the actors, and as always with Fiddler, I ended up sobbing! Very few shows make me cry!

After my waterworks, I wandered back through Times Square to the Port Authority Bus station… Walked right to the back for a ticket, as had now become habit, and then waited at gate 20 for the bus to whisk me back to Montclair… Which funnily enough is Sister town to Barnet!

Thanks New York… You’ve been amazing. Tomorrow morning starts the next leg. Bring on the Florida Sun!

America America Trip 2016 New York Travel

Day 4: Oh The Weather Outside is Frightful….

What a day! I’m bushed!

Today started with a trip up to the top of the One World Observatory on top of the new One World Trade Centre. Sadly, It didn’t quite live up to the observatory’s slogan of “see forever” as there was quite a thick cloud coverage! We could see a fair distance though!

Worth mentioning the coolest lifts… I mean Elevators…. ever in the world. Floor to Ceiling HD Screens take you through time looking at the evolution of the New York skyline from very early on… right up to the building of the new tower! ( Including building and then a fade out of the old towers!)

The lift ride up to the top was so fast I can’t even explain… and so smooth it felt like we were barely moving! (SPOILER ALERT!!) Once at the top, you are taken into a room with a huge wide wall and lots of projectors… you watch a short video which ends with the screens going up and revealing the view! WOWSER!

From the room with the view, you walk through to a cafe and restaurant, where I probably consumed the highest Root Beer in New York! (See Facebook selfie!!) I Must say I love the fact you can get root beer so easily here! Love some Root beer!!!

From the Cafe we went down to the main observatory and had a good look round the 360 view! What a view it was! Sadly the clouds meant it was a bit restrictive but all the same it was amazing….

One Straight Road!
One Straight Road!

Rivers and Bridges... Including the Brooklyn Bridge we walked across a few days ago!
Rivers and Bridges… Including the Brooklyn Bridge we walked across a few days ago!

A little blurry but the pools where the original World Trade Center Stood...
A little blurry but the pools where the original World Trade Center Stood…

That last picture, of the Pools reminds me of something I really wish I’d added to last night’s post but couldn’t really manage to write on my phone….

Selfies. I love a good selfie. I love my selfie stick… I love to take selfies… BUT there is a time and there is a place! It is TOTALLY unacceptable, to do as I saw yesterday… Take a Smiling Selfie at the World Trade Center Memorial… Any memorial for that sake. Nothing says memorial like a smiling photo of you and your friend stood by it….NO. Take a photo of the memorial and be done.

Rant Over.

From the WTC we went for lunch where we met up with Charlotte and Anton – It was like being back at home popping out for lunch and a bitch with Charlotte! Very odd! For lunch, we went to Ellen’s Stardust Diner. Wow. One second the waiting staff and putting plates on the tables, next minute they are microphone in hand belting out a song to the entire place! CRAZY. AMAZING. They are all aspiring Broadway actors/actresses hoping to work there until they get a show role. Such a great place, and such a great atmosphere!!

While in Ellen’s the weather decided that it was going to snow! One of the singing waitstaff decided that it would be funny to sing Let it Snow (Let it snow, let it snow!).

From Ellen’s, we walked up a couple of blocks and got the 1 Train down to South Ferry. From South Ferry station we waited to board the Staten Island Ferry. Charlotte managed to wiggle her way down to near the front of the queue… while Anton and I were rather unfussed. This was all well and good until the announcement came on that the boat was going from a different door to the one we were waiting at! (teehee). Once on the boat, it was clear that the panic of getting on was very not necessary!

The Staten Island Ferry made it’s way out to Staten Island… Working it’s way past the Statue of Liberty! Stood out in the snow on the ferry, we took some photos of the Statue!

We're moving Rosie!! Leaving Manhattan!
We’re moving Rosie!! Leaving Manhattan!

The Lady herself!
The Lady herself!

Selfie with the Statue of Liberty.
Selfie with the Statue of Liberty.

Once the boat docked at Staten Island, we went for a little wonder in the thick snow down to the Staten Island 9/11 memorial. It sits on the dockside at a slightly odd angle, which I can only imagine means the centre sits where the towers would have been…

The memorial from afar.
The memorial from afar.

As we wandered through the centre of the memorial looking at the names of those who lost their life in the disaster I noticed that each one had their outline cut into the memorial.

Faces in the memorial.
Faces in the memorial.

From the memorial, we wandered back to the ferry, via a quick stop at the 99cent store…. we needn’t have bothered… teehee…

The ferry we got back was a little different to the one we got out with no obvious outside space to take photos from. As we got close to the statue I went for a wander to try and find somewhere and was soon joined by Charlotte and Anton who’d been bought down to the back of the boat by a man who worked on the boat… All that kept us from the sea was a piece of rope and a flimsy concertina metal barrier – Health and Safety would NOT allow that in the UK!

Night time Selfie with the Statue of Liberty!
Night time Selfie with the Statue of Liberty!

She's lit up nicely at night!
She’s lit up nicely at night!

From the Ferry it was back on the 1 train and then a quick walk through central park back to the bus station where I was rather early for the bus (as was becoming a theme!) Luckily I had a little wander round the bus station before waiting at the gate and starting interesting conversation with a fellow commuter! (Well… I’m not really a commuter!).

That’s all for today! While walking through Times Square tonight talking to mum, I managed to take this picture, which I’ll leave you with! Night all!!

Snowy Times Square a night!
Snowy Times Square a night!
America America Trip 2016 New York Personal

Day 3: World Trade Centre Memorial and The Empire State

Day three started with pancakes. Not a bad way to start! Following the pancakes I got dressed and spectated a game of monopoly while waiting for the bus! Soon it was time to walk around the corner and get the bus into town.

I’ve been surprised every time as to how easy it is to get about here… Especially the bus between New Jersey and New York (which I happen to be on right now writing this!)

Once in town, I managed to make my way on the subway to the world trade centre.

I wasn’t sure what to expect but the size of the holes in the memorial are unbelievable! Somehow ( I’m not quite sure how) on a day like today when the weather is about -15 C, the water was still flowing into the abyss in the centre.

Surrounding the pools, cut into the metal are the names of those who lost their lives in the tradgedy. It’s hard to realise how many names there actually are.

Having wondered peacefully round the memorial, looked at the queue for the museum… It was massive!! I had a thought back to our trip to Barcelona… Walked across the street and using the free wifi booked a ticket for an hours time.

Meanwhile I thought about food. Went for a wander and found the McDonalds which was featured in so much of the footage of the attacks.

I can tell you, the Fillets of fish are almost identical as England but the apple pies are totally different! Baked and served in square boxes… What’s going on?!!!

I wasn’t really sure how long I’d be at the museum, on the surface the building looked really small. Little did I realise that actually the museum was underground!

I still have not processed entirely what met me when I got off that escalator into the memorial museum. To see the foundations of the towers… the walls holding back the water and so many other artefacts was a lot to absorb.

The depth detail and care that has clearly gone into the exhibitions and the entire museum is astounding.

I watched a timelapse video of clearing and rebuilding of the site… It was very clever, projected onto three walls in the room… Lots to look at in every direction.

Having walked a bit further around I came to the exhibition called something like “11th September 2001″… The detail in here was someething else.

Literally a minute by minute breakdown of the events with real recordings of calls, TV footage and real artefacts. I was shocked to see bits of seatbelt from one of the planes that impacted the towers… And fusalage with window hole of the plane that hit the pentagon. Detail was astounding.

The start of the exhibition (and the main throw) focus on the events of the day; the towers, the pentagon, and the plane that was crashed into a field possibly headed for Washington. The exhibition then goes on to look at both before 9/11 and then after 9/11 including a section on the 1993 bombings.

I could and maybe will write a whole post in itself about the museum… It truly was educational and moving.

The end of the museum allows you to write a message which is then projected onto a map over the area you are from. They are then stored like a visitor book…

As I’d been in the museum longer than I’d expected, it had now gotten dark. This allowed me to see the memorial pools by night which is just as imposing… If not more imposing as by day. At night the thousands of names round the outside of the pool are lit up.

With a trip up the Freedom Tower booked for tomorrow morning, I decided to take the subway to the Empire State Building. This meant I’d get to see the city that never sleeps from above in both dark and light!

Wowsers…. 88th and then 102nd floor observatories both provided an amazing view. You could literally see for miles and miles and everything was lit up. Night time meant the grid system of roads was illustrated lights.

View from the Empire State of the World trade centre and if you look carefully, the Statue of Liberty!
View from the Empire State of the World trade centre and if you look carefully, the Statue of Liberty!

The building itself is decorated in a style I can only really describe as “old luxury”. Dark red marble… Chrome everywhere…

I did smile a little as the main elevators up to the first tower have had (obviously) an extensive refurb allowing them to be despatched by remote control by a man in the lobbies… The single lift between the two observatories however had manual doors and a man inside operating.

On the way down I was alone in the top lift… The lift man told me that this was the original lift… To prove he was really in control he stopped the lift between floors!

As I wandered back from the Empire State Building I was a little hungry… I popped through Macy’s but got chucked out as it was closing and then Stumbled accross “Mr Broadway”… Imagine Sami’s in New York!

A very happy Steven walked back to the bus station, nearly an hour early for the bus… But happy as he had a very fat brisket on rye to Munch while he waited!

Enough beef there!?!?
Enough beef there!?!?

I’m shattered – apologies for the lack of photos in this one… I’m writing on my phone.. Will plug camera Into tablet at some point and may add some photos!

America America Trip 2016 New York Travel

Day 2: Ice Ice Baby

I don’t think even Ice quite cuts it.

It reached a low of-15C here today. That’s bloody freezing! Factor in wind chill, that makes it about -20! With that in mind, today I did very little!

This afternoon, I walked down the road to a small camera shop as I realised I’d bought with the wrong camera charger! (Typical). The shop was like stepping back in time – all old camera gear, slide projectors etc. Crazily they had a charger for my camera battery!

We then went to the local mall… where I made a little purchase in the Abercrombie Sale…. WHAT HAVE I BECOME?!

This evening we went to a restaurant called Zinburger where I had the most delicious seared tuna burger – we were joined by Simon, Zachary and Sydney who drove for 45 minutes to come and see me! It was so lovely to see Simon in America as opposed to seeing him when he pops back to the UK! It’s just a shame he was in the Wrong house at JFS – We all know Angel was better than Brodetzki!!!

Got to have a selfie or it didn't happen!
Got to have a selfie or it didn’t happen!

… and with that I’m off to bed! Shattered! (It’s tiring doing nothing!!) going to don the thermals and head in to the city tomorrow!!!!

America America Trip 2016 Jewish New York Personal Plane Religion Travel

The Flight & Day 1: Baby It’s Cold Outside

To say its cold is an understatement. Freezing piercing cold is probably closer… And its set to get colder still this weekend…!

Before we get on to today a quick run down on the flight….

Following a quick trip on the funky transit train from the main building to Terminal 5b, I was at my gate – as always it was the furthest gate in the building!

Boarding was quick and easy and soon I found myself in the middle of the plane in one of the middle two seats. Cozy…. And we were off.

I was ready with a TV plan – I knew I wanted to watch Adele at the BBC but couldn’t get the TV to work. As soon as the seatbelt light went off the guy in the row in front called the air hostess over for the very same thing….

Now, while I joke that “turning it off and on again always fixes the problem”… That’s exactly what solved it! Although that meant turning EVERYBODY’S TV system on and off… A process which took nearly 15 mins!

Eventually we up and running and Adele was singing! Breakfast was as good as a hermolis airline breakfast. You do the math. I did have a good game of “Catch the coffee” during some of the turbulence… No spills!

When the captain came on to say we were making our final descent and to prepare for some turbulence due to the 25-45mph cross winds, nothing could quite prepare me for what I was about to experience. At one point G forces were similar to that of a theme park ride! As it happened however, the actual landing part of landing was the smoothest I’ve ever experienced!!

Anyway… I arrived! The Journey to the city was pretty uneventful but I very early on learnt that the subway in New York makes our Tube look classy. It’s a bit more… edgy… 😉 Following some expert instructions, I made it to the bus station where the lovely Jemma was waiting for me! (With a Starbs, obviously!)

We went straight to times square for a look around. Wow! It makes Piccadilly Circus look amateur! People everywhere bright lights screens shops everything! Craziness!!!

So many Screens... so many lights!
So many Screens… so many lights!

From Times Sq. (with a quick stop at Cake Boss’s city shop) we got the bus to Montclair New Jersey where I’d be staying… had a mini tour of Montclair and I even go to go into Whole Foods (WOW!) before eventually heading for bed and sleeping in until 10!

This morning we got the bus and headed back into town! From the bus we got the subway to the Brooklyn bridge… and we walked across! Wow what a view!

From the start of the walkway....
From the start of the walkway….

As we went further and further across the bridge the view got better and better! While talking about the view it’s probably a good time to mention that the weather today, while it looked sunny with blue skies, was actually around -8. BLOODY FREEZING.

Thankfully the bridge wasn’t too windy and I managed to get some nice photos and a panorama:


The View from the Brooklyn Side
The View from the Brooklyn Side
A little panorama from the Bridge. Spot the Jem!
A little panorama from the Bridge. Spot the Jem!

Once we got to the Brooklyn side, we were a bit clueless as to where to go… and after a little walk Googled “Jewish Deli Brooklyn”… we followed google maps and turned up (Via a quick Shpruntz Round Trader Joes.. Noch) at Shelsky’s Of Brooklyn. WOWSER.

Food that I can’t explain. Sweet, Savory, Pickled, Gefitle’d you name it! We got some Rugalech and some Halva. OH MY. It was like a little corner of Jewish heaven had exploded in my mouth.

The owner came over and started talking to us explaining that he wasn’t supervised kosher as it was too expensive and there wasn’t a market for it – Lots of the Jews from Brooklyn have started to move out. While we were talking some Chabadniks came in, Wished us all Good Shabbos… Asked if we’d got Shabbat Candles / Laid Tefillin today, had a chat…so friendly!

From Shelsky’s we got the subway back to New York and went to Russ and Daughter’s. The wait for a table in the cafe was going to be 35 mins so we went for a walk and waited for them to text us! While we waited we walked up to Katz’s Deli. Very different to Russ… a Different sort of New York Jewish Deli. Quickly, the phone buzzed and we went back to Russ’s.

WOWSER again.

Food you just can't explain!
Food you just can’t explain!

What looks like simple latke, eggs and Salmon… I can’t even begin to explain how it tasted! SO SO SO GOOD. They smoke their own fish, and make their own latkes (Not so sure about the eggs!) but boy oh boy was it delicious! I took one of the latkes to go as I couldn’t finish it!

From there I was left alone in the Big Apple! (AH!) I went for a walk from the bus station to central park and then to the shopping mall – The Time Warner Center. Very nice! I had a little wander, found some free wifi, got a Cawfeee and made some calls home!

From there I walked back to Times Square as I’d watched it getting dark from Starbs! As amazing as Times Square was during the day… it was even more intense and immense at night!

For those complaining of the lack so far of selfies... here's one for you!
For those complaining of the lack so far of selfies… here’s one for you!

... and a Panorama of Times Square at night!
… and a Panorama of Times Square at night!

Then from Times Square, with achey legs, I made it back to the bus station, and found the correct bus back to Montclair! Thankfully the driver knew where to stop for me and soon I was back for dinner! I noticed at the Ticket Booth there was a certain musical at half price… on Broadway…. I might have to go and get a ticket… How do we keep our balance?

… and on that note… it’s 11pm here… or 4am at home so I bid you all night night…. or by the time you read this… a good Saturday morning!

America New York Plane Travel

Come Fly With Me….

I’m early. Very bloody early. Very very bloody bloody early. As a rule of thumb, us Phillips’s are never this early. When I say early… I’m checked in and through security and there’s still 1 hour and 50 mins until the gate is announced… Let alone boarded!

I’d guess this is earlier than any Phillips has ever been before.

Sadly it's a bit too early to do some serious damage in here!!
Sadly it’s a bit too early to do some serious damage in here!!

Thankfully due to a quick reshuffle just before check in, my bag went through at the right weight…. Also, I appear to have shaken off the Phillips trait of getting a good frisking! I sailed through security painlessly!

Sitting here in this “world class” terminal, looking at all the shiny metal and glass twisting and twining as far as the eye stretches I think back to stories grandma told me. When air travel was still fairly new. Things were a little different. As she said to me “the world was a simpler place”.

The terminals were tents or shacks and planes were a little different to the beasts that rule the airways today.

While grand and flash looking (apparently the largest free standing building in the UK) terminal 5 just leaves me feeling a bit…. Lacklustre. Everything shiny, everything nearly new….I’m yet to have a “wow moment”….

Perhaps I’m being a tough critic…. Currently the outside world is still “asleep”. Surrounding the edge of the building is darkness littered with the orange glow of some sort of lamp. Perhaps when things light up a bit the landscape will change and I’ll have a wow!

To me, this terminal suggests, as probably is true that we are out the other side of grandma’s flying stories…. The golden glamour age of air travel is over… This is now as mundane as getting a train or a bus. (Not for me it aint!)

Talking of the glamour of air travel. There is the odd whispery nod back in time – “The BA Concorde Lounge”. Now that was something I always wanted to travel on!

Sadly, the plane which was the fastest commercial airliner for 27 years, is no more. In an industry which moves as fast as air travel (see what I did there!) That’s an incredible feat. It amazes me that since retirement in 2003, no one has yet come up with a magical tin can which can break the speed of sound twice, while also carrying passengers like Concorde did.

Enough reminicing, back to the matter in hand…. Where in the world can you get sourdough toast and a coffee for £4? Weatherspoons Heathrow. Admittedly, its quite a snazzy spoons, but it’s spoons all the same! You can’t go wrong. Not even at 6am!

Mmmn. Toast and Tiptree jam!
Mmmn. Toast and Tiptree jam!

Opposite from me, I’m not sure if you’d call it art, but is a world map. The world map has cast upon it different degrees of light depending on where in the world is currently experiencing daylight… Some could say I’m literally watching the world wake up! (For a spoons that’s pretty impressive I’d say!)

Wake up world!!!!
Wake up world!!!!

On that note, toast has been eaten, coffee has been drank, it must be time to gawp aimlessly at copious amounts of Toblerone and alcohol as displayed by the duty free shop…. Does law require every airport in the world to sell Toblerone?

I can’t promise updates as in depth and regular as this… (I’m killing time here!) But I’d like to try and write something once a day!!

See you on the other side of the Atlantic!