Friday Feb 5 – Day 1 in New York

We arrived safe and sound, but very sleep deprived, after about 24 hours travel (5 of them sitting around LAX airport in Los Angeles). The airlines were both very helpful about Bertha, and she survived the trip with a few minor scratches.

We got to the doorstep of our apartment building at a bit after 6am, having paid for the previous night’s accommodation so we could check in as early as we liked. I’m sooo glad we did – it would have been miserable not to be able to settle in and relax before we went out exploring.

Our first stop after that was my favourite camera store – BH photovideo. I’ve bought most of my cameras, lenses, etc from there over the years (even adding shipping and taxes it’s still a lot cheaper than buying locally in Australia), so I was keen to actually go to the store.

Well, the boys loved the place as much as I did – if not more. If we hadn’t restrained ourselves it would have been very easy to spend tens of thousands in very short order. They have many departments, everything from oldstyle film and chemicals to computers, MP3 players, printers – you name it. In each dept you browse, get advice as needed and when you decide on your purchase they summon your tub (which runs on a conveyor system that runs right through the entire shop) and add your items to it. When you reach the checkout, it turns up there and by the time you’ve paid it’s all bagged and ready for you. Very cool

Our next mission was to buy Doc Marten boots for all of us somewhere down in the village, but the boys changed their minds and bought different boots (Scott was indignant that Alex bought the identical boots he did) so I was the only one who ended up with any docs. And yes, you can all fall over laughing now at the thought of me in docs!

But I’ve now got boots that will pretty much last me forever and I’m ready for anything the weather might throw at me the next few weeks – which is a good thing considering the snow storm which is engulfing Annapolis as we speak (Nikki was buying candles today just in case) and is due to reach NYC tonight.

Most of you will remember me saying that, should the weather be terrible, we’ll skip New York, or change things around. Well, too late for that now, apparently the coming storm is going to be the largest in decades, although New York will only see the edges of it. We’re hoping that it won’t go beyond the predicted 1-3″ here, and that we’ll have some pretty sightseeing opportunities in Central Park tomorrow but that it won’t stop us getting around. Hopefully it won’t be too slippery for Bertha, but if so, I’ll leave her home – I managed fine today with taxis and some walking. although I’m wary of it all catching up with me a few days from now if I keep doing too much.

Overall the impressions of New York so far have been great – fascinating place, the people are mostly very polite and helpful. We’re still getting used to being in a fairly grungy dowdy looking side street, turning a corner and discovering we’re suddenly on 5th avenue or somewhere similar. The differences, and all piled on top of each other, are amazing. We also saw a temper display from a New York cop on point duty in the freezing cold, who very clearly expressed his frustration by attempting to dive through a taxi window and telling the driver exactly what he thought of him in very colourful language!

Our apartment is tiny (as expected). One bedroom (queen size bed with just enough room to get around it, no wardrobe), a kitchen area slightly bigger than ours in Sydney, with a fridge, sink, stove – and two sofa beds in it. Then we’ve got a living area about half that size with another sofa bed and TV, and a tiny bathroom (much smaller than ours at home). But it’s big enough, nice and central, and we each have our own bed – most important! Tonight Jacqui C is staying with us on her way to Ohio – she came up to New York a day early, while she could still get out of Annapolis before the storm.

We’ve done a little bit of local exploring, found a great pizza store a half block away, an (expensive) grocery store a block in the other direction, and a Subway sandwich shop, another sandwich place that does good bacon and egg rolls for breakfast, plus a corner store, all underneath us in our building. Oh, and a kebab vendor directly across the street. Different to Sydney kebabs, but yummy! It turns out that we’re surrounded by the City University of New York, and have a large National Guard barracks across the street.

Oh, and Jacqui was wonderful and brought me my replacement new Nexus One phone! I’ve been happily reunited with it, and am having lots of fun. I think I’m starting to understand the fascination with iPhones. Ria, you liked that iPhone you played with, I’m betting you’ll have fun with mine!

I took a couple of photos on the way to the grocery store this evening, and it automatically stored them complete with addresses (thanks to the GPS chip in the phone) – and if you click on the photo it opens google maps, with the location of the photo marked on it!

The only drawback is that right now it’s not actually a functioning phone – I haven’t managed to get my sim card working, and have decided it’s not worth spending more time on it to try to recoup the $10 I spent. So I’m heading to a t-mobile store tomorrow to get another sim – I’ll keep you posted as to what the number will be. Right now you can email us, or skype Alex, or facebook the boys – our internet connection works just fine!