Saturday, February 26, 2011

Travel: New York Day Four

So today, with what seemed thousands of layers of clothing, we all got up and trekked to the diner for breakfast. Our tutor told us that we really needed to wrap up warm for the ferry, which to be honest was very good advice, because even in Times Square it was freezing and blowing gale force winds!! I had the same breakfast as yesterday but most of our group ordered to pancakes- and my god the portion sizes were insane!!! This is a picture of them once Ceeva had already started tucking in. A serving consisted off 3 big pancakes, an entire sliced bananas, a large handful chopped strawberries, and practically half a bottle of maple syrup!!

So we popped onto the subway, and then onto the ferry. Took quite a while to get on the ferry actually. Getting onto the boat, which takes you to Ellis and the "Statue of Liberty" island, actually involved airport like security- with bag checking and going through the metal detector and everything. Heres a view of the city from the water, whilst the weather was so windy, by this time I was looking like i'd been dragged through several hedges backwards.

The island that The Statue of Liberty on is absolutely tincy actually, it just contains the statue and a little gift shop/cafe. You may not know this, but The Statue of Liberty was actually built in France, and designed by the french as well! The date inscribed on the tablet she is holding is the day that The Declaration of Independance was written. The seven pointed crown is supposed to symbolise the seven seas and seven continents, and the torch symbolises how America's Liberty enlightens the world. What you can't really see in the photo, nor can you see very well from the ground, is the fact that there is a broken shackle attached to The Statue of Liberty's ankle. This is to symbolise the breaking away from oppression. The weather got slightly more pleasant and got a nice photo with a pleasant blue sky background.

Next stop was Ellis Island, and i found the museum really interesting actually. I mean, not only did it have loads of stories of the many immigrants that tried so hard to get into the country, it also displayed how America's language and soceity has been influenced through all the different influx of cultures. I not only felt inspired by all these stories of hardship, I also learnt a lot about American History that i had not known before. Here is a picture of the main Registration Room, a funny article on how the staff at Ellis island would often dress immigrants into more "American style" clothing, as they believed that many of these foreign attires were a little too revealing. The third picture shows how America used to be divided up/ which parts other nations used to own. Surprised me how much of America France owned actually.

Once we were all done with the museum, we got the ferry back to downtown and walked up a few blocks to Ground Zero. On the way there we went past Wall Street- not the most impressive looking street in New York, but I think you have to consider the fact that some of the world's biggest financial decisions are made up in those buildings.

You know to be honest, if i was advising people where to go when in New York, I would tell them that Ground Zero isnn't really worth it. I mean, I understand it's a really historic site, and the vibes around where the towers used to be are rather edgy, but at the moment it's all just a bit of a building site really. I mean, once the museum and the monument is all built and ready, then it will be worth having a look, but otherwise I wouldn't work my way all the way downtown just to see it.

Despite Ground Zero not really being what I expected, i still had a good afternoon- because I found this amazing little place to have a late lunch/snack! It is a chain called "The Bread Factory Cafe" , and theres a big patisserie section, biscuits/sweets section, a make your own salad/ sandwich counter, a soup counter, and a pizza counter with a proper pizza oven. I thought this was the perfect time to try a couple of things i had been dying to taste- a genuine slice of NY Pizza, and a nice little New York Strawberry Cheesecake! Here are some lovely picutres of this place. The staff were really friendly as well, I think they were polish actually.

I love New York Cheesecake, i had quite a lot of it whilst I was out there (and I didn't even put on any weight! how on god's green earth did that happen???). It's baked, which is different to most cheesecakes we make in this country, which are usually just set. This makes NY/ American Cheesecake much richer, thicker and firmer.

As a group we had one last stop before they let us all galavant off to spend our own free time. We all went to The Guggenheim museum, which turned out to be a really cool and interesting actually. I was slightly apprehensive, because when I was in Venice, I went to The Guggenheim there and i was a bit dissapointed- it really boring and there wasn't really any interesting peices, except a couple of interesting Picassos'. But this place in NY has got to be the best and most interesting Art Museum that i have ever visited. What made it more "managable" and interesting to me was the fact that when you got in there, the staff gave you a headset with a number pad, and most of the paintings had numbers by them. When you put numbers into the keypad there would be commentary telling you all about the artist and that particular painting. I do not know much about art atall, infact pretty much naff all really, but these commentaries were really informative and helped me understand the paintings a bit more and what the painters were like. There was also a collection of Kadinsky's work, which I enjoyed because I particularly like his paintings.

It was quite late by the time i left the Guggenheim, and i was fairly hungry, so I thought i would have a go and scout out a restaurant in the NY Restaurant guidebook that my boyfriend gave me. It was a Greek restaurant called "Anthos", i thought i rather fancied a bit of greek nosh, as something we don't have in Bath is a good greek eaterie (the only vaguely greek place we have in Bath is called "Opa" and it is absolutely dreadful! It's kinda what english people THINK greek food is- stale pitta breads and soggy falafells, lol). So after getting to the right street and avenue and street, i couldn't find it ATALL. I walked around that block like three times in the dark before i finally brought up the courage to ask this waiter smoking outside a restaurant " Scuse me, this may seem like a bit of a weird question, but did this place used to be called Anthos?", and he replied " Yeah, we took over 5 months ago". I couldnt ruddy believe it, i had walked what felt like miles in the cold to a greek restaurant that no longer existed! I also realised that this restaurant guidebook was published in 2008, lol. So tired, cold and fed up, I found the next closest restaurant in the guidebook to where i was, called "BLT Market".

I realised very soon after entering this establishment that this place was particularly upmarket! Meanwhile in come me, face all red, wearing a silly (but sensibly warm) bobble hat, weighed down with shopping bags, looking like a right munter! Ah well, they were friendly enough, so i sat down, had a look at the menu, and ordered a sparkling water (which i realised by the end of the meal i should not have ordered- they charged me $9 for it!!). The Italian/New Yorker waiter asked me whether i wanted to look at the wine list, and i was good and said "No thanks, i'm sadly only twenty" and he said "well, your'e certainly honest, haha!". Damnit- could have got away with it there!!! It was a restaurant mostly influenced by seasonal foods- almost like an American River Cottage really. For starter I had home-made paparadelli, with slow cooked pork, with a red wine ragu, roasted "sunchokes" and a lemon and herb gremolata. This was STUNNING, i was so impressed by the homemade pasta, you could tell they had used really good quality ingredients. I found out once it had been served, that sunchokes are just what the Americans call Jerusalem artichokes.

With the starter they also served me a nice amuse bouche, they called it "hot dogs" but it was more like a posh sausage roll, made up to look like a typical street-vender hotdog, but obviously posher, like for instance, instead of fried onions they had little shreds of mooli (japanese white radish).

My main course was "Amish Chicken, stuffed Bourgoise-style, with a wild mushroom and bacon jus, served with fondant potato and watercress. This was lovely, but the portion size was incredible. I am not kidding- they literally served me HALF A CHICKEN. I took a picture- it isn't the best, but of course it was a fairly posh place so i didn't want to spend too much time taking photos.

I got a doggy bag, and a quick coffee (with which they gave me a couple of really nice petit fours- mini homemade cinnamon dusted doughnuts!), paid the bill + tip (which came to $75) and rushed back to the hotel- to make sure i didn't get back after curfew- and get caught out! I watched a bit of a bad movie with the girls (I don't mean naughty! I mean just actually bad- y'know, 'anything-with-adam-sandler' bad) and wen't to bed.

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