31 July 2012

Travel tales: the vow to make every day a great experience.

I have less than two weeks left in America. Every day of my holiday has been fantastic - something great has happened every day I have been away. And i worried that getting back to reality in Melbourne will be hard. How will I maintain a great experience every day once I am back to the daily grind?

I vowed to make sure I continue doing the things thaf have made this holiday great:

- Taking time to notice and appreciate small details - the miracles of life.

Maybe street art, maybe sunset, or a building. Maybe take more notice of what people say and their outlook on the world. Take more time. There is so much of Australia that I have not seen, and now I want to.

Yesterday Mum and I went to Central Park after the American Museum of Natural History. Look at the detail in this dinosaur's bones. Such strength. We are all going to die some day but like this dinosaur, we will live on, somehow.
Central Park felt a world away from New York City, and we noticed the beautiful greenery, the happiness of children playing ball games, and we saw a squirrel.

Look how lovely the view is!

- Ensuring I continue to talk to strangers.

I have met some great people on my trip, simply by striking up a conversation. I need to interact in order to get places and also to feel included. Yesterday at a fantastic diner with singing waiters (Ellen's Stardust Diner on Broadway) Mum and I struck up a conversation with two lovely people - Jen and her young daughter Josie from Dallas. We talked through dinner, and then took an impromptu ride on the subway to the Dakota building where John Lennon was killed, and then to his memorial in

On our way to the Dakota building (where Yoko Ono still lives) we stopped a guy to ask for directions. Jen told him he was very good looking. I agreed, telling him he is the best looking American I have met on my trip. His name was Parker and he agreed to be my American boyfriend for this photo. Jen asked him to take off his shirt.

Had we not talked to strangers we would not have shared in great experiences filled with laughter and new friendships, as well as sharing emotions.

Today I met a blogging friend who has been reading my blog in America for the past year. Katie made the trip to New York to spend the whole day with me. It was a wonderful day - we got along so well, and she was very pleased I was partial to an afternoon nap!

Katie was a semi stranger until today, yet we felt we knew each other and could open up. I really encourage you to talk to a stranger today. You won't be disappointed!

- Continuing to do something fun at least once a week.

I have done something fun at least once a day on this trip. It has not always cost a fortune. And it has often been spontaneous. Yesterday we went to the Chelsea Market.

It featured amazing food and shopping. The market building was home to the first Oreo.
We had great food at the market - crepes, hot chocolate and People's Pops. This is a blueberry and peach popsicle, plus peach shaved ice as we walked the High Line.
We shopped a lot. Anthropolgie I love you.

And we saw lots of food we wanted to go back to try. Including lobster.
And sushi.

We spent hours at the Chelsea Market, and it was a really fun experience - trying the foods, shopping and taking our time to stop and appreciate.

While my holiday is over in less than two weeks, and I realise I cannot sustain this lifestyle when I return, I will definitely adopt a few things that I have learnt while on holiday to make that daily grind a little sweeter.

I have done so much in the past few days and I want to blog about it all, but I just can't fit it in. I have been updating Facebook and Instagram (search @carlyfindlay) with my adventures, so when I am not blogging, do check in there.

30 July 2012

Travel tales: Shopping in New York, Radio Carly at Radio City, Cirque Du Soleil, Staten Island Ferry

I am getting into the groove of New York, and loving it now! The temperature has cooled considerably, and I am much more comfortable walking around. We have been doing things on a whim, deciding on our adventures in the morning, going where we feel like, and packing so much into each day.

On Saturday I worried that I would not find anything in the shops. Surely a practised shopper like me and this big city would be a match made in heaven. Hmmm... Mum and I walked through Macy's. I was so bored with the clothes, but she found a great dress and top. I tried two things on, both dresses, both with too much material, and waaaay too big, even in size small. I think Macy's is out of my age/style demographic. So I got despondent. Until we hit American Eagle Outfitters and I saw an outfit on the mannequin. And I tried it on. I loved it! Size 6 people. Size 6 fit. Here it is. An orange and blue striped top and a floral pleated mini.
I had some more luck with clothes at a street fair on 6th Avenue, buying this skirt. Clothes are so cheap! $15. It is reversible too.
To avoid the heat in the middle of the day (and it actually was not so hot) Mum and I saw Cirque Du Solei at Radio City. I had heard rave reviews about it from a friend at work, but never had the chance to go in Australia. I am so glad we saw it in New York. The stage setting was opulent, and the costumes amazing. The performance was mindblowing. There were musicians, acrobats, gymnasts, clowns, ballet dancers and even a painter. I marvelled at how much the human body can do, and what it can represent. At times the bodies flying across the air looked like ribbons twirling. And there was some spectacular hula hooping happeing - acrobats spinning inside giant hoops! The performers showed such endurance and team work, and there was a lot of trust in their acts. I took some photos on my camera, and Mum took better ones on her phone, but this is the only one I can get on my iPad right now. Hopefully I can share more with you soon. Radio City is a grand venue and I was excited that (Tune into) Radio Carly was at Radio City!
After the Cirque show there was a massive downpour. There was so much water in the streets and it was hard to walk in the crowd with umbrellas. People huddled under awnings or waited in shops until the rain passed. On our walk back to the hotel we saw one of many memorials to fire fighters who lost their life on September 11 2011. I choked up reading this, and I am sure I will get even more emotional at the Ground Zero site.
We had dinner at a very disapponting restuarant - here I am with a margarita.
And after dinner we jumped in a cab to the ferry terminal where we caught a ferry to Staten Island and back. It is a free ferry that runs very frequently between Staten Island and Manhattan.

Again, not a great photo, but I wanted to show you how spectacular the Freedom Tower at the Ground Zero memorial site looks. It is only half built and so in the night sky, it looks like it is piercing the sky.
On the ferry we met two lovely families. One couple was our tour guide during the trip to Staten Island, pointing out the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge and advising us of other tourist attractions we should visit. And the other family were visiting from Ohio and we shared a taxi back to Times Square.

It was a lovely day, and the fun we have had and the nice people we have met makes me wish I had more time here.

28 July 2012

Travel tales: The bright lights will inspire you. Times Square, New York.

As I whizzed around Times Square on a pedicab - dodging the traffic, and enjoying the cool breeze, I could feel it. I felt how I have wanted to feel. Living in the moment and enjoying New York City. It was a good night.

Our new hotel is a few minutes walk from Times Square. And so when it cooled down we walked there. We got dressed up - this holiday business agrees with my skin and hair, despite the moderate stress levels experienced in the last few days. And for some reason I have really good hair (and white teeth).

Mum did more shopping (as usual - can you believe she now has the same undies as Miranda Kerr?! Five pairs for $26 in fact.) and I was glad I had London to ready me for the maddening crowds. We saw some street performers and costumed characters. This Mickey did not grope my boob.
We saw a garden in the median strip, but you cant see it in this photo. Mum wanted a selfie - I am teaching her the art (must direct her to Styling You's guide).
We dined at The Red Lobster - quite a popular place. We waited an hour for a table, and while we waited I talked Mum into having her first cocktail since before I was born. We shared a meal of six raw oysters that came with lemon and a large garden salad plus crackers and then a seafood platter comprising crab, lobster, prawn and scampi. It isn't often I eat seafood as it is quite expensive. But here it was really cheap and tasty, and I'm on holidays!
After dinner we walked through Times Square, considering the stage shows we want to see, and saw a man riding a pedicab! There are lots of them around the city (like in London). I hesitated because of the heat, but the rider said it was a cool breeze. And so Mum and I went in a pedicab! It was wonderfu! We had to hold on as we weaved through the thick NYC traffic and pedestrians.

Here are some of the things we saw. The bright lights do inspire you.
Our rider took this shot. He was very funny racing other pedicab riders.
I told him I am a blogger and he posed for this photo.
It was a fun night and I am starting to like this city a lot more.

(Have you watched the Olympic opening ceremony? I loved those doves on bicycles, ridden during the Arctic Monkeys' song. I probably won't watch any sport.)

Travel tales: a brighter day. New accommodation.

I feel much better today. Thank you for your lovely comments of support for yesterday's blog post. Much appreciated. I read a tweet that said when we travel we are like toddlers - we need more sleep, food and care than when we live our daily lives, and I think this is true.

Our accommodation that we rented was less than suitable - lugging six pieces of luggage up five flights of stairs in this heat was a challenge - among many other shortfalls. And so we cancelled that accommodation and checked into a hotel this afternoon. It is luxury compared to our apartment - good lighting, a TV, airconditioning, lifts. And I feel more relaxed and rested here.
It is very grand! We are located in the heart of New York. Right amongst the bustle of it all. And it is right opposite this!
We went into a cafe and I had matzo ball soup - chicken soup for the soul and respiratory system. We met two lovely people there too.
I think I am coming around to loving New York!

27 July 2012

Travel tales: what if I hate New York City? The limo, the heat, the tears, more heat. The lobster. The new friends.

I arrived in New York with a broad smile on my face, excited about the possibilities. But I had a little cry tonight. What if I hate New York City? This post may be a little less positive than what you have come to expect. I can't apologise.

We arrived here at 8.00 am to be greeted by hot amd humid weather. Around 30-35 degrees celcius. Everyone has told me about the heat here at this time of the year. But I am here for BlogHer, and could not make my trip another time of the year. I worried that I had made a mistake coming here today. I still have 17 days to go. We walked and walked and walked to find a place for dinner. Even at 7.00 pm the heat was unrelenting. I felt sore and faint and just wanted to sit somewhere cool. When we found the first place that looked good to eat at, I downed two glasses of water and splashed cold water on my head, hands, chest and feet for relief.

I wish my body could regulate its temperature. I wish I didn't feel sore all of a sudden. I wish I could see all the things I have been planning to for the past year. People stare at and comment on how sunburnt I look here - more than in Los Angeles and far more than London, even though there is the notion that people can be as individual as they want in this city. I have had several homeless people/beggars comment negatively on my appearance. Hell, I've saved $8000 for my trip, worked hard and dress fabulous, and they are on the streets begging for change in need of a shower, and they have the nerve to comment on my appearance?! And my accent is proving more of a difficulty than a charm or novelty like it was in London. It is hard. I feel small. This isn't like being Carrie Bradshaw or Felicity Porter (though I got excited seeing Dean and Deluca's on Broadway tonight!). This is the realisation that I am not climatically resilient, and having a chronic illness is tough when you are away from home.

The flight from LA to New York was overnight. I did get some sleep in, but I was sore in the plane - a combination of a long day yesterday without a shower, the flimsy polyester blanket provided by the local airline, and the cramped leg space, meaning restriction of movement for five hours. And I have a chest infection. My letter from my dermatologist requests extra leg room, for medical purposes. I have been very lucky to have this request granted - and even a mini upgrade within economy class - on my international flights. But last night I was given an aisle seat with no extra leg room. It is really disappointing when I have a valid medical request and I see people at the airport demanding a certain seat or others requesting and/or receiving an upgrade in return for good PR. Anyway the skin on the rest of my body fared well and I did not look or feel worse for wear on arrival.

Anyway, I feel a little better after my cry, and I am glad I have got my Mum here who understands and will not tire of my indoor requests. We went to a trendy bar called Brinkleys for dinner. It is on the corner of Centre and Broome Streets. Brinkleys was packed with pretty young things having drinks and dinner. Mum had calamari and I had a lobster sandwich - filled with lobster, mayonaise, lettuce and bacon, on brioche. So good.
We also met two lovely girls who were concerned about me in the heat, we got chatting about work and food and shops, and they said they will keep in touch. The day ended on a high note and I thanked them and the rain for cheering me up.

When we arrived a driver picked us up. There was a sign on the car window the whole trip. Doesnt matter that it said Mrs. It announced to New York that Carly Findlay has arrived.
And this was the first view of the skyline.
I looked at the forecast and the temperature and humidity is set to decrease a little. That will be good for me. I want to love New York as much as I loved London. I don't want to suffer in this heat. A sleep in and indoorsy things tomorrow. Museums, galleries and shops. Wish me luck. I hope to heart New York.

26 July 2012

Travel tales: T-1.5 hours til take off to New York!

Hello from LAX!

My Mum and I are waiting to board our flight to New York! I can't believe it is finally happening. I can't believe it has all come together - I have been planning this trip from the day I got out of hospital on 9 August last year. And we arrive at 7:55 am tomorrow morning. So excited!

I am still not well - a sore throat and chest infection, and quite sunburnt despite covering up as much as I can. Hoping I will get sleep overnight on the flight.

Today we went to Santa Monica. I have been wanting to go there since Savage Garden fist sang that beautiful song, and more recently, since I heard about the farmer's market on the KCRW Good Food podcast. We went to the farmer's market and it was wonderful. The market stall holders were lovely and it was interesting learning about some of the produce including raw milk which is very difficult to come by in Australia. We sampled many fruits - so many yummy berries and stone fruits.
I ate this at Monsieur Marcel Cafe - sauteed vegetables from the farmers market and French mac and cheese. It was part sensible eating and part what the hell.
We went shopping (mostly browsing though I bought a cosy hoodie for the flight) and then walked to the Santa Monica Pier. It was beautiful. Today was not as hot as yesterday and I felt much more comfortable outdoors.

I love these pictures.
Here is what we saw yesterday.

The Grilled Cheese Truck on Hollywood Boulevard.
And Universal Studios.
Alrighty I am going to get ready to board. See you in New York!

Squeeeeee!

25 July 2012

Travel tales: Los Angeles, Super Size Me, Walk of fame, burn out

I am in America now. I am not well. It was probably inevitable given how much I had packed in during my London trip and the plane trip. Now I have a sore throat, chest infection and fever, and haven't felt well in my tummy. I am in the midst of a burn out. But America is good so far. I flew to Los Angeles on Sunday, and the lovely Tim Minchin was on my flight. I was lucky enough to talk to him and tell him how much I loved Matilda the Musical in London. We are staying at a lovely hotel in West Hollywood which is close to shops and Hollywood city. This building is near our hotel.


Yesterday afternoon Mum and I went to the Hollywood Walk of Fame and got excited over the Aussie celebs featured. We also saw a red carpet movie premiere which featured Ben Stiller. The crowd was crazy and screaming. And then we went to Madame Tussauds.


We saw many character impersonators on Hollywood Boulevard. A man dressed as Mickey Mouse grabbed my boob. Yuck. I am all for a good boob grope but not by a stranger, and especially not dressed as a scrawny Mickey Mouse. Anyway, The Mad Hatter was lovely -'maybe I am collecting Johnny Depp character impersonators.


It has been good to see my Mum. We have been shopping - she has shopped much more than me. Yesterday a lady gave us a lift to Hollywood Boulevard and Mum's pants got stained in her car. We made an emergency stop in Gap and I am proud to say I styled Mum with that grey striped cardi and some gorgeous orange skinny jeans. She was impressed. Today we went to Universal Studios. The weather is warm - not unbearably hot, but too warm for me to comfortably walk around in, and it was very difficult at Universal Studios today. That is one thing I would like to change about having icthyosis - dealing with the heat and outdoors better.

Everything here comes in massive portions. I am not enjoying the lack of healthy food available. It is cheaper to eat junk than healthy. I saw kids who are sadly overweight, eating massive plates of fried chicken. Their parents were too. It is sad. Last night we went to a place called Barney's Beanery which I really enjoyed. I had American chilli which was a reasonable portion size, amd it came with cheese corn muffins and jalapenos.
The service was great too. It felt like being on the set of a movie - it was very American diner like - with rock and roll references and motorbikes. It was a lot of fun.

The news here is filled with reports of that devastating Colorado shooting. All news agencies are weighing in on it, incuding entertainment shows. There is much talk about gun laws (can you believe guns are permitted in checked luggage in domestic airlines?!) and I get the sense of grief porn due to the excessive coverage of mourning families. All flags are flying at half mast, after President Obama requested it post Colorado massacre.

So far I like America but it feels like a strange place. The majority of people we met have been nice, but I am scared of the way the news portrays the violence. There is a violent protest happening in Anaheim right now, and the media is feasting on it. Maybe I will feel differently when arriving in New York. I hope I will be feeling better by then too. I will post more pictures when I have better wifi on my phone.

22 July 2012

Travel tales: Horses guard parade, Jack Sparrow, British Museum of Popular Music, the cable car, a night out and being recognised.

I am typing this in the laundromat. This will probably be the last post I write from London. I am sad to leave this great city, but I am excited to be heading to Los Angeles tomorrow and New York on Wednesday! Yay! I am looking forward to meeting my Mum. I am not looking forward to packing my suitcases.

I have had an action packed two days. Today I feel a little worse for wear - a self inflicted hangover. I just bought some fruit and water to snack on, because my eating habits have been rather bad today - Maccas for breaky and a pork pie for lunch (hey it's the last time I will have a pork pie for a while!). But I shall dust myself off and have a pub meal on my last GB £ and perhaps just one pint of cider this time.

Michelle and I went touristing yesterday. We saw the Horses guard parade, first at the Horses Calvary Museum and then parading down the road.

The horses looked spectacular - beautifully groomed, and their accessories were luxurious. I wouldn't mind one of their sheepskin rugs for myself!
Next up was a walk down South Bank where we saw a Jack Sparrow impersonator.
The likeness was uncanny!
We walked and walked and walked to find a pub specifically for a roast. They are on every corner here, but as we were getting angry-hungry, we could not find one very quickly. When we did, I had the roast lamb shoulder. Later that night I ordered a side of Yorkshire pudding and gravy!
I also had some apple pie and custard. This meal was at the Princess of Wales pub at The Strand.
I treated myself to a London momento - a Kate Spade bangle that reads "London Calling". I love it!
We then took the train to North Greenwich station and went to the Bristish Museum of Popular Music at The O2. I was very excited to see this poster. Very excited indeed!
The British Museum of Popular Music showcases music memorabilia and historical information from the 1940s until present day. It is very interactive, and visitors are given a card to store information found on their experience, as well as their activities, to download at home later.

Michelle and I had a go on everything - including the vocal booth where I disinfected the microphone well with hand sanitiser to avoid another case of karaoke flu. Michelle sang Rod Stewart's Maggie May and I sang Oasis's Wonder Wall. There was a girl singing before us who was really really good. I dont think we were! We also danced to The Locomotion, which was videoed, and we looked so silly!!

Here is me playing the drums.
And the Gibson Guitar.
The range of artefacts shown was vast - from costumes to setlists to posters. Here is some of the 1960s display - a shift dress featuring The Beatles, The Who memorabilia, and Lulu's dress.
And the 1990s display - my favourite. The Spice Girls' costumes, Noel Gallagher's guitar and the lyrics to Coldplay's Yellow.
I really enjoyed the museum - it was good value and very interesting. I think the interactivity really made it worthwhile. I wished I could have shared this experience with my Dad - he would have loved the music history, especially the stuff from his era - like The Who, The Kinks and The Beatles.

We made our way back to the city via the Emirates cable car. For around £4 each way, you can cross the Thames at 200 feet. The cable cars have only been running since late June, so I got here just in time to experience them.
It was a good experience with beautiful views. We had a cable car to ourselves. The ride was around five minutes.

I went home and had a rest, and then we caught up at a pub near to our hotels. We saw a guy whose hair looked like Princess Diana's. I had about a million pints of cider - a more realistic figure would have been five - I could not drink the sixth - and had a really fun time. I may or may not have pashed a man. And that late night, filled with drinking, leads me to today, where I tried to fit as much in as possible on my last day, but ended up fading several times!

This morning I took a walk down Brick Lane in Shoreditch, on recommendation from Maggie Alderson. I enjoyed the eclectic mix of vintage and designer stores. I saw some cute sights. A Noddy in his car.
And this beautiful street art..
I met Michelle at Borough market - I love that place, even though it was so busy today! We sat on the footpath - she had paella and I had that pork pie, and we people watched.

We tried some meat, cheese and sweet samples - including one of these pieces of Turkish delight.
As we exited the market, I heard my name being called. A lady rushed through a small crowd, telling me she knew I was in London, and is a reader of my writing on Mamamia! She told me she loves my work! It was so flattering - she was very excited! So excited in fact that I could not get a word in, and I couldn't ask her what her name was. So Aussie Mamamia reader in London, if you are reading this, thank you for making my day! Last night some guys at the pub also recognised me for being on a TV show - only I haven't been on that one - it was a show featuring two other girls with ichthyosis - but I did tell them about No Limits.

I also had my last hurrah in TopShop, Oxford Circus.That place is like heaven to me! Like my Kate Spade bangle, I have been dreaming of this dress since I saw it last week and had to have it. And now it is mine. I love the colour and style - I have bought two maxi dresses on this trip.
I have loved London. I have especially loved making a new friend in Michelle, it is funny that we didn't meet in our (same) hometown, or through Jen, but this big grand city. It has been great to share experiences with her. :)

Goodbye London, I have had a blast

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