Monday, August 29, 2011

Earthquakes and Hurricanes

What with an earthquake, hurricane and a tornado warning, it has been quite a week in New York City!

We started this unusual sequence of events with an earthquake on Tuesday.  Tremors from an earthquake in Washington DC were felt here in NYC, but I have to say I didn't even know it had happened until I turned the news on!  Some buildings were evacuated, but overall it wasn't a big deal and most people just went about their business as usual.

The following day it became clear that the city was going to be hit by hurricane Irene, which was working it's way up the East Coast of the US.  As it came closer the mayor evacuated areas most at risk and public transport was suspended.  People started stocking up on water, canned goods, batteries and flashlights (they had no idea what I was talking about when I asked for a torch!) as recommended by state officials.

On the Saturday there was a very unusual atmosphere in the city.  Many places had closed down for the weekend, but some restaurants remained open until the early evening.  We had a late lunch before heading home to await the arrival of Irene.

By 8pm the streets of the city were almost deserted but for a few cars still on the road.  I have never seen New York so quiet, especially on a Saturday night!  We followed the progress of the storm on the news and late in the evening they issued a tornado warning across the city.  By midnight the storm had started, but seemed no where near as bad as they had predicted.  The worst of the weather hit during the night and by 10am on Sunday morning it had all but passed.

Luckily Irene had been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time she hit New York and the damage was no where near as bad as we thought.  There was little flooding in Manhattan and it seemed that everything put in place by officials had worked well.

However, outside of Manhattan not everyone was as lucky. Many people were without power for the majority of the weekend and some areas experienced flooding and damage caused by fallen trees and debris.

At about 10.30am, when it was safe to do so, we went outside to get some air and assess the situation for ourselves.  It was fairly busy out and by midday the streets were full of people.  You could see that a storm had hit the city, but damage was minimal.  There were some fallen trees and flooding in Central Park and it was supposed to be closed.  Unfortunately many people ignored these signs and were in the park, even though it wasn't a safe area.  It also surprised me that people were putting their rubbish on the top of overturned bins!  Surely you would either turn the bin upright or take it home with you?

By this time some restaurants had re-opened and they were packed!  Everyone was trying to get lunch and people were queueing out the door of the places that were open.  It was the same in the evening when we went for dinner, everywhere was full and we had to search for ages before we found a restaurant with a table.  New York apartments are small, so I guess people wanted to get outside before cabin fever set in!

Today it seems that everything is returning to normal with most businesses open and the MTA up and running.  It is a lovely sunny day with blue skies and let's hope for a less eventful week in NYC!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Running in Central Park

For the past couple of months I have been running around the reservoir in Central Park.  Not only is my fitness improving but I love the views as I run around the water.  If I am ever feeling a bit down or homesick, a run around that reservoir reminds me of how lucky I am to be living in New York.

Central Park can be very entertaining and it is much more fun than running on a treadmill.  On a recent run I saw two boobs, one testicle and a woman riding on a bicycle in a wedding dress!  Never a dull moment in this city ;-).  The only thing about exercising in the park is that it can be very busy, so be prepared to dodge tourists, dogs, cyclists and other runners.  It is great fun though and a busy park contributes to the experience.

There are running trails ranging from half a mile to the full park loop which is 6.1 miles, so there is something for every level of fitness.  The official Central Park website (http://www.centralpark.com/guide/sports/running.html) is in the process of updating it's running page, but you can find a map of the trails at http://www.soundkeepers.com/running/nyc_big_map.html.

Good luck and I hope you have as much fun running in the park as I do!



Monday, August 22, 2011

'Fuerza Bruta'- Look Up!

We recently went to see the show 'Fuerza Bruta' which is playing at the Daryl Roth Theatre by Union Square. I received a special offer via email and got tickets for $35 each. There are often special offers online, so it's worth checking out before going to the box office.

This show is unlike anything else I have seen in New York and is very different from other Broadway/Off-Broadway performances. Firstly, you stand the entire time and audience participation is required as you are moved around the theatre during the show.

When you first enter the theatre everyone stands in the middle of the room where there is a DJ playing dance music. It reminded me of a nightclub and lots of people were dancing-it was a really good atmosphere.

I don't want to give away too much, but expect aerial acrobatics, live music, dancing, water, wind and lots of fun! The show is only 70 minutes long but it is full of surprises and you will want to keep on dancing long after the performance is over.

We had a great time and I would definitely recommend it for those of you looking for something a bit different. For more information and to purchase tickets visit http://www.fuerzabrutanyc.com/.

If you do get the opportunity to go I hope you have a great time and don't forget to 'Look Up!'

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Six Flags Great Adventure

Earlier in the week we braved the rain and took the 90 minute drive from Manhattan to 'Six Flags Great Adventure' in New Jersey.

It was pouring with rain when we arrived and were told that it was a possibility the park could close if it became any worse. We thought we would risk it and made our way to the park entrance wearing our very trendy waterproofs. I had purchased and printed our tickets on line so went straight through to the park (although there wasn't a queue).

The good thing about going to a theme park mid-week, in the pouring rain, is that it is very quiet and so we didn't really have to queue for any rides. However, some of the bigger rides were closed throughout the day due to the weather.

The first ride we went on was the new 'Green Hornet' stand up roller coaster. We went straight on so I didn't realise exactly what I was letting myself in for. Well, I learnt that I am NOT good at going upside down numerous times standing up and felt so sick when I got off. The photo was very funny though, I looked like I was being tortured!

This theme park is not short of roller coasters, you can stand up, sit down, lay flat, ride in the dark, you name it they have it. They also have the tallest roller coaster in North America. Unfortunately it was closed due to the weather otherwise I would have gone on it, honest ;-).

As the park was quiet there weren't many eateries open and those that were didn't exactly offer a great choice. It was very hard to eat well and they class vitamin water and fruit as healthy choice meals-not exactly filling. However, these kind of places are known for burgers, pizza and ice-cream so it wasn't a big shock that we couldn't get a decent salad.

We had a really great day and there are lots of fun rides for all ages, although it is definitely more for the thrill seekers who love big roller coasters! We were so lucky that we didn't have to queue for any of the rides, it really made a difference to the day.

Separate to the main park they have a water park and a large safari park that you can visit for an extra $10, although it is included in some ticket prices. Also, if you get tickets online they currently have a special offer where everyone pays kid prices which is $36. Allow for another $20 for parking.

For more information on park opening times and to get tickets visit http://www.sixflags.com/greatAdventure/index.aspx

Happy roller coasting!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

On Location Vacation

When walking around New York City you might be lucky enough to see a TV show or movie being made. I walked past a live set yesterday involving a lot of firemen! It was a really big shoot and although I didn't find out what they were filming it was really interesting to watch.

A great way of finding out what is being filmed in New York, and across the US, is to visit http://www.onlocationvacations.com/. They list all of the upcoming shoots for movies and TV shows and give you the set locations. For live updates you can also follow them on Twitter @olv.

It is very exciting to watch a live set and you never know who or what you might see in action!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Getting Cable, Phone & Internet

It is probably a good idea to organise cable, phone and Internet services before you move in to your new home. Although an engineer will have to visit your property, it is a good idea to ring in advance to ensure you don't have to wait weeks to get your services up and running.

There are many different options when it comes to these services and the company you choose will depend on your individual needs. However, before you decide to use a certain provider check that they supply the services to your building. For example, we can't get 'Verizon Fios' in our building so had to go with 'Time Warner Cable', even though it was more expensive.

Also, I didn't realise that you don't need a phone line in order to get Internet services in New York. In the UK you have to pay line rental charges, even if you don't want a land line in order to access the Internet.

Unfortunately, if you want the best cable channels, such as HBO and SHOWTIME, you will have to pay an additional monthly charge. However, if you aren't that fussed about watching shows as they air you can sign up for NETFLIX which is much cheaper and gives you access to hundreds of TV shows and movies, although I think you need to a games console to watch it through your TV.

I would suggest doing some online research to find the best coverage and deals for your area, as they can differ from street to street. I have listed some websites for some of the main providers below:

http://www.timewarnercable.com/nynj/
http://www22.verizon.com/Residential/
https://www.netflix.com/
http://www.directv.com/
http://www.vonage.com/

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Feeling Far Away

Moving away from family and friends can be hard at the best of times, but when something bad is happening in your home country you realise just how far you are from them.

After the awful events that have taken place across London over the past 3 nights I am worrying about my family and friends that live close by to the areas affected by the riots. Although anxious and apprehensive, everyone I know is fine and just hoping the situation gets resolved soon.

I am especially thankful for the internet at the moment as I can chat to people online as well as keep up to date with events on the 'BBC News' website. News coverage of events outside of the US can sometimes be limited here, so it is a good way to find out what is happening.

Let's hope for a much quieter night tonight. Stay safe everyone. x