Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Duran Duran at Madison Square Garden

Last night I went to my first concert at Madison Square Garden to see British super band 'Duran Duran'.  I have always really liked their music and this was the first time I had seen them play live.

I was really impressed with Madison Square Garden.  It holds about 20,000 people which is similar to the O2 Arena in the UK, but somehow it felt smaller and more intimate.  When we arrived we were informed that they had rearranged the seating and that our seats were no longer available, but that we would be given  seats in the front row of the the floor section!  There was a small standing section just in front of us but we had a clear view and were really close to the stage.

I thought Duran Duran were brilliant.  They played a good mix from their new album, 'All You Need is Now' as well as many of their greatest hits, including my favourite 'Hungry Like the Wolf'.   I was really excited when Ana Matronic from the 'Scissor Sisters' joined the band on stage to sing 'Safe' and then Mark Ronson, who produced the album, played guitar during another song!

It was a brilliant night and I really enjoyed my first concert at Madison Square Garden!

Duran Duran on stage 

Giant 3D faces of the band hung above the stage 
The band are joined on stage by Mark Ronson
Duran Duran rocking Madison Square Garden!





Thursday, October 20, 2011

New York Taxi Cabs

Getting a taxi in New York is relatively easy unless it's Saturday night or pouring with rain, in which case they all seem to disappear.  Taxi rides are fairly cheap in the city, which is pretty much the only good thing about them!

In London all cab drivers have to complete 'The knowledge' before being able to drive people around the city.  This means they know exactly where they are going and the best way to get you there.  In New York however, it seems that anyone can drive a taxi and I have found that they often have no idea where they are going.  If you know the quickest route to your destination make sure you tell the driver. I also try to get them to repeat my destination as they often don't listen and I end up in the wrong place.  For safety reasons make sure to wait until you are inside the car before telling the driver where you are going.  

Every time I get a taxi in New York I feel as if I am taking my life into my own hands and am always surprised when I arrive at my destination in one piece.  Taxi drivers tend to be quite aggressive on the roads pulling in and out of traffic unnecessarily and stopping suddenly throughout the journey.  I hate to stereotype, but after living here for almost a year I have found the majority of drivers rude and unhelpful.

You can pay for your ride with cash or by credit card, but beware that you have to leave a tip if you pay with a card.  I don't mind tipping for good service, but I think it's very cheeky to expect a 20% tip if the journey was unsafe and the driver was rude.  

New York taxi cabs are a necessary evil, they are cheap and readily available most of the time.  I have come across some nice drivers, so hopefully you will too!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tropical Storm Irene and The Catskills

We recently visited the Catskills for a weekend break and were really shocked at the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Irene.  The TV news coverage of the storm focused mainly on New York City and I had no idea how badly the rest of the state had been affected.

Many of the small towns were completely flooded with shops and houses left derelict and uninhabitable.  The rivers were full of fallen trees and subsidence had affected some of the roads.  We visited Margaretville and the high street was recovering from severe flooding.  The local supermarket was completely destroyed and is in the process of being rebuilt.  One side of the high street has been left empty and deemed unsafe as the severity of the subsidence is determined.  Many people have had to leave their homes due to flood damage, with many being condemned and completely destroyed.


Margaretville after the storm damage

The locals are in the process of rebuilding the small town and many businesses have reopened.  Everyone we spoke to was extremely positive and determined not to let the storm get the better of them. 

Many other towns were even harder hit by Irene.  In one small town 60 of the 80 homes were condemned after the storm.  We watched footage of the floods and were amazed to see the water run through towns and villages like rivers.  

As you can imagine, rebuilding after such a massive storm is time consuming and costly.  We saw posters for benefits and fund raisers, but I think a great way of showing support is to visit the Catskills and put some money back into the economy there.  It is a lovely place to visit and each town has something to offer. There are lots of outdoor activities to enjoy, including horse-riding, hiking, biking, kayaking and skiing in the winter.  There are some great little shops and restaurants too.

I'm happy to make some recommendations for those of you who are interested, just let me know!  For more information on visiting the Catskills visit http://www.visitthecatskills.com/index.php.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Jeremy Kyle Show-Going to a live taping

'The Jeremy Kyle Show' has been on TV in the UK for 7 years and has recently arrived in New York.  It is a 'Jerry Springer' style show, with guests airing their problems in front of a live audience and the rest of the United States!  We always had a good giggle at the show in the UK, so when my friend came to visit we thought it would be fun to go to a live taping of the US version.

At the moment, as it's a new show over here, it is easy to get tickets.  All you need to do is go online, request tickets and someone from the show will call to confirm.  Filming takes place on Thursdays and Fridays in a studio on West 57th Street.

We were told to arrive at 9.30am for the morning taping.  We queued outside the studio with the rest of the audience while we waited to go through security.  They provided a very basic breakfast of bagels and coffee, but I would eat before hand if you are hungry.  We also saw a few people smuggling the bagels into their bags, so I'd get in there quick if you want one!

At about 10.30am we were taken into the studio and assigned seats by some of the crew.  They had a comedian to warm up the crowd and they took practice shots of the audience.  The set was a lot smaller than it appears on TV, but it was very interesting to see how things work behind the scenes and what happens when making a TV show.

Just before 11am Jeremy Kyle came out to say hello to us all.  He was very interactive and friendly with the audience, making jokes and asking questions.  Shortly after this the taping started and the show was underway.

The guests on the show were very 'interesting' and the topics were what you would expect from the Jeremy Kyle show.  It was great to see it all in action though and we really got in to it, cheering, clapping, laughing and booing in all the right places!  After the first show had ended we were given a drink and a snack and a quick loo break before the next taping.

The next show was a bit more serious and some audience members got quite upset as the story unfolded.  It was OK though, Jeremy was at hand to put us all at ease and help the family fix their problems ;-).

The taping finished about 2pm and they provided lunch for audience members wanting to stay on in the afternoon.  We had exhausted ourselves by that point though so decided to end our Jeremy Kyle experience and head off for lunch.

It was great fun watching a live taping of the show and I will be watching future episodes to see if I made it on to the small screen!  To get free tickets and for more information on the show and being an audience member visit http://www.jeremykyleusa.com/.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Black Eyed Peas Concert in Central Park 2011

Last Friday I was lucky enough to go to the 'Black Eyed Peas' concert held in Central Park to raise money for the charity 'Robin Hood'.  I didn't get tickets the first time around and was one of the few people who benefited from the concert being cancelled back in June.  I got online when the remaining tickets became available and after an hour of trying I got 4 tickets!

'Robin Hood' is involved with many programs that help fight poverty in New York City.  The show was completely free, but I'm sure the people lucky enough to get tickets made donations to the charity-we did!

It was a brilliant concert and the 'Black Eyed Peas' were amazing.  Everyone was dancing and there was a great atmosphere throughout the night.  Unfortunately it did rain during the performance, but no one seemed to care and just carried on enjoying the show!




It was a fantastic night and I felt very lucky to be a part of such a great event.  60,000 people were watching the concert in Central Park making it the biggest show I have ever attended.  With the backdrop of the NYC skyline behind me it really was a night to remember.

To find out more about the charity 'Robin Hood' and how they are helping to fight poverty in New York City, visit http://www.robinhood.org/home.aspx.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Celeb Spot-Alexander Skarsgard!

Whilst walking along the High Line today I saw Alexander Skarsgard, who plays vampire Eric Northman in the TV series 'True Blood'.  He is also currently staring in the remake of 'Straw Dogs' which is out now in cinemas.

He was with a small group of people and seemed very relaxed and friendly.  He is even better looking in the flesh and I was very excited to see him as I am a huge fan of 'True Blood'!