A Travellerspoint blog

New York

grande manzana etc.

semi-overcast 15 °C

Well aside from the usual NY type stuff, i.e. cab drivers I cannot understand, 42 types of gatorade, 300 options in starbucks and the requirement to have a degree in advanced sandwich making to be able to enter and exit a sandwich shop in under 25 minutes, I remain a huge fan of this town. NY has an energy about it that I have rarely found anywhere else. There is something about living on the rock that just, well, rocks. For a country which most people dislike (or at least mock) these days I always feel more than welcome to spend a few days within the first of the five boroughs which make up New York and its immediate surrounds.

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People actually talk to you. People are actually nice. It is not everyone and not at all times but its more than available and for a big city it is just about enough. And its not just the crazy ones either. Normal people doing vaguely normal things in and around New York feel free enough, and occasionally easy enough, to have a chat as and when 2 parties are available and sufficiently geographically fortunate. Big, scary, dangerous cities the world over are often unrefreshingly similar but here things are at least a bit different. Better is a relative judgement and opinions are indeed like arseholes but I like it. Energy is a commodity most of us glean from food or the regular hugging of trees but here it comes from the ground and works its way up through your feet. Its a vibe thing. And I haven't even hit the west coast yet so you can only imagine...

Tommy G put me up for the week I was there. Fine reception as well.

Did some of the more tourist type activities as now that I am no longer rich enough to be snooty nor "I is being too busy cos I is working on very important stuff" I figured I may as well. Good stuff too. MoMA below.

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As I stood there pondering a piece called blue dot on linoleum the question that came to my mind was whether or not it is really art.

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Only for a flash though as in all honesty, who gives a monkeys? Was going to work in some "load of old pollocks" type reference but it seemed a bit obvious when I tried it. And the world seemed to have enough of that already.

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Then to improve my understanding of life beyond the murky moat that is the Hudson river I took part in the 5 borough bar crawl. Time limit 3 hours. Pint in a bar in each of the boroughs. Public transport only. Some said it could not be done. I had no real idea as I would not have correctly named the 5 boroughs prior to said event but attempt it we did. Malcolm had a bet and as he said himself bets between friends are for pride first and financial inconvenience second. Started with Staten Island. Team below:

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On to Manhattan. Brooklyn, Queens then finished in the Bronx. Quite straightforward I hear you say. Try it I say. Lots of time on the subway and the moments in between we were drinking beers quite fast or taking a pee without always washing our hands. Sacrifices must be made from time to time. So how did we do? 2hrs 58 all in. Not quite the olympic sprint to the finish line it may sound but there were some tense moments. Not quite high drama but drama of an average height and sufficiently girthsome to boot. Hooray! I think that may be the first exclamation mark of the blog. Only added for effect though. Although I suppose they only ever are... !

Fantastic stuff! Better than all the tossers in the open top bus in close to freezing weather methinks. Talking of which Europe appears to be taking advantage of the recent currency fluctuations as most of them seem to be shopping over here. It may be cool to be disparaging politically but at parity with the swiss franc who can knock an anti-war, free tibet, che t-shirt wearing european twenty something getting an i-phone for the same cost as a barrel of oil? Not I clearly. Spending is good. Credit cards good. Re-mortgage your house, consolidate your debts, have a bud light and a breakfast wrap from BK for 99 cents. Erectile dysfunction? Take Levantex. Side effects may include dizziness, nausea, headaches, vomiting, hair loss, cancer, loss of personal wealth and also, potentially, erectile dysfunction. But the advert seemed to indicate we should all be on it. Fox news also worth 5 minutes of your time. Should you agree with anything they say during that 5 minutes I think you need to take a good look in the mirror tomorrow morning and work out where it all went wrong.

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Which sort of brings us back to the general frowning upon of all things American in recent times. Not sure about the rest of the States but for me, New York is a place to love, not to hate. It may be the home of the images most associated with the US but it seems a law unto itself.

To attempt to gain, and provide, some clarity on the rest of the US and its populace I am doing a bit of a tour. Bush kind of won an election in Florida and there I go next and using my awful Spanish attempt to pick some meat from the bones of the corpse of democracy. Then San Diego and reports have it that I may get to New Orleans to check out some more political moistness. Floods, Jazz, Construction work, Booze. No sacrifice is too great.

Hitting the road, well, the airport at least. Wing and a prayer etc.

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Ciao fair reader. Fear not. The world is not well but it might not be terminal. And if it is, its probably too late anyway.
Lid.

Posted by lidster 19:33 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Europa

is cold this time of year.

rain

So I had about 10,000 miles to cover in a month and a half and I decided that I could not really be bothered. Took a flight to Geneva and then London to see my friends and family. My brother is sure I came back to get my underwear washed and indeed I did although I would still quote my primary reasons for returning as because I fancied it and because I could..... Did I miss the beaches? Of course. Did I miss 6 weeks in a bus? Not at all. As such a new plan was required to replace the tattered ruins of the previous strategem which had one major flaw. Me.

Anyway. I did manage to get to the wedding of George and Jo. Still trying to get a photo of the actual wedding as my flight was delayed and I missed that. However I did make it for the evening do and saw a few of the boys.

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Went to school with all of that lot. Some started before, but 1985 was our first year all together. I suppose some would marvel at all of us still being in touch and how your formative years build strong bonds between friends. The bare truth of it is probably closer to the fact that we are just a bunch of anti-social losers but never let facts spoil a misty eyed moment of nostalgia. Boo-hoo and blah-blah. Bunch of wankers for the record.

So what else? Well this.

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Mont Blanc just out of view to the right. I'm not going to give the impression it was all champagne and sun bathed extreme skiing as most of it was spent in the pub with mates. Which was also super and much warmer although less sunny as you can imagine. Its all swings and roundabouts this life we lead. Although from my short experience back in the uk it can only be a matter of time before such potentially hazardous places as parks and playgrounds are closed in the interest of health and safety. No-one seems to be that much healthier and when it comes to safe?? As long as you don't count MRSA, flood warnings, school closures, persistently bad weather and yob culture as unhealthy its all smiles. Talking of yobs, watched some football with my brother Easter Sunday which was briefly interrupted by some idiot having the shit punched out of him by some local lads decked out in Stone Island. The landlady's view was "if you are going to beat the shit out of someone don't do it in my pub". Spirit of human kindness there although my brother and I merely picked up our pints to make sure they didn't get knocked over. Seems a shame but I wasn't there, nor am I here, to preach. So, as has been so often the case this year, time to move on.

Many thanks to all for welcoming me back. Many complained about the blog being a constant reminder of sunnier climes during their own winter of discontent but they (you) don't have to read it and if the generally sunny, sandy, boozy mix of my adventures causes you some existential angst then wean yourself off and move on yourself. Try with second life or world of warcraft for 6 hours a day and if you feel happier then you have a long term issue, if not then you'll be cured within a week. What am I talking about? Buggered if I know.

Off to NYC, the Big Apple. So good they named it twice. From there South, South, South. Sun and Margarita's available around the fat part of the planet and thats my intended direction. Move over. Fat bloke coming through. Thats if they let me past immigration. Fingers crossed.

Be well.
Lid

Posted by lidster 12:10 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Brasil the third..... and Out.

But where to next?

sunny 33 °C

Pipa had pretty much all of the things 2 blokes required. Caipifrutas, wonderful beaches and a little bit of sporting activity on the beach....

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Supposed to be a video of Pablo (our teacher) doing his thing but couldn't work out how to upload it again. Awfully sorry. He really was rather good and although Steph and I managed to get the correct hand gestures to indicate to other surfer dudes that we were indeed extreme the only really extreme thing we managed was to drink extreme amounts of seawater while being dragged through the water at low speeds. I am buying a kite in any case. Should have some time to practise in the coming months... fingers crossed.

Pablo himself was very cool. Argentino by origin he used to run a laundry business for hotels in Buenos Aires. Did so for 20 years. Stress of work and the big city led to heart problems and eventually his doctor wanted to put him onto tablets to reduce his blood pressure. He would have had to take them for the rest of his life. He spoke with the kids and the wife and they sold the business, moved to Brasil and he never took a single pill. Health is now fine and when you ask him how life is... he tells you to take a look at the garden his kids have to play in.

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Makes you feel kind of warm inside. Well it should anyway.

Back to the chronologically incorrect (and somewhat delayed) series of events that took place. No embellishment here. Just the facts. Probably.

Carnavale in Rio and Bahia are multi-million attendance events and super fun by all accounts but Steph and I were looking for something a little more chilled. The celebration in Pipa is 1 day not 5 but the local tradition is for the blokes to get dressed up in drag. We were not local so we grabbed a beer and hung around.

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Steph and I (pretty much carrying the banner for Gringo attendance) got into the spirit of things. This fella had gone to a lot of effort to entertain.

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Tough to tell if the tits were false or not. Ask Steph I suppose. The effort made was not only in the way he dresses. He had actually had some business cards printed up.

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If anyone knows what a bent coconut tree is could they possibly keep it to themselves. Even at 34 I'm not sure I am ready for that kind of information. Any Argentinians out there who wish to take advantage of the discount should call the number on the card.

So we had fun. Decided that we should chill out for a few days and have a look around the area.

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This seems to be the local approach to getting some volume out of your car stereo. Steph tried the same but not sure its going to have the same sound quality.

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Also slid down some sand dunes....video was most extreme. not working so make do with a picture.

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Which makes it look a bit crap. Your choice to believe me or not.

And after all of that excitment Steph and I decided that we should probably make sure our health was still ok. Worked out pretty cheap (and highly convenient to get a check up).

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Both normal so another beer to celebrate. Strange idea, not sure it will catch on in the UK. Not sure its really that popular in Brasil.

Which kind of brings me (in suprisingly good health according to the random woman dressed as a nurse in the pub) to the end of my six weeks in Brasil. Overall it has a lot of amazing beaches populated by a mix of both beauties and beasts. The vast majority of the population seem to be big fans of booze at any and all times of the day. Most of them are Christian but at the same time they are all a bit of something else too and that seems to work just fine. There was not one moment in the entire 6 weeks when I saw or felt any aggression toward me or indeed toward anyone else in the vicinity. I suppose that all countries are dangerous and you get lucky or not when you travel around them but I liked the place. My original travel plans skipped Brasil in favour of places I had not been before but 6 weeks ended up being too short. The culture revolves around the beach, cocktails on the beach, fat or muscly men in speedos, bikinis as far as the eye can see, surfers, show offs and all of it wrapped up in a little ball and a yellow shirt. The "other" religion in Brasil and this one everyone agrees on. They dance at will, party until the sun comes up and eat like kings once they eventually get up the next day. Gay men walk the street with no fear of persecution - highly unusual in South America. Kids practise martial arts on the beach from the age of 3. In between surfing sessions of course. Language, as always, is an issue but with happy people with some time to kill it nevers seems insurmountable. Especially when you are talking to a taxi driver about footy...

As such, obrigado Brasil. I still think speedos are hilarious but the rest of the country is outstanding.

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So for me, and for Steph, Ciao and hopefully we will be back. Best vibes.

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Where next? Will have to check which way the wind is blowing. Will let you know when I get my feet into the next destination. The suspense is tangible. Deep breath. See you in while.

Lid

p.s. The best vibes quote is from a kitesurf school we contacted. Written at the bottom of all their emails. We elected to go with Pablo as he was the only bloke available at short notice and he smiled like the sun shines and was highly unlikely to have ever uttered "best vibes" to anyone previously. Probably the most important lesson I have learned in 5 months. Forget the sales pitch, the flashy website, the package and the extras, bet on the people. Much better chance of success. Far fewer twats.

p.p.s. caipifruta instructions. Take handful of fruit of your choice (grapes, kiwis, pineapple, strawberries are all good) crush into some recepticle of your choice with 3 level tablespoons of sugar and smash into pulp. Add 4cl of vodka or cachaca (saki also an option). Add to crushed ice (lots) and shake violently for 30 seconds. Sit back, relax and imagine you are on a beach that (almost) never ends. Welcome to Brasil.

Posted by lidster 05:12 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

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