Thursday, 29 November 2007

Tube Snot

Apparently travelling 40 minutes on the tube is the equivalent to smoking two cigarettes.

After two days in London, I already had 'tube hack'. You know the cough - a dry rasp when your lungs become coated with toxins making you think you are actually a coal miner living somewhere in the Midlands.

'Tube snot' quickly followed my newly aquired 'tube hack'. I'll spare you all the details on that one.

Despite its toxic dust, it is quite an amazing system, the tube. It opened in 1863, and by the end of the nineteenth century, had a fair bit going on. Considering New Zealand still doesn't have anything that constitutes an underground rail system, I find that quite advanced.

The Tube has also created a number of sideline industries. Such as the trashy free newspapers given out to people as they enter a station. An excellent way of finding out what happened on 'I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here' the previous evening. It is also a great place for religious fanatics and generally crazy people to congregate. If you want to busk, you will have to audition however.

A website has also come about, for all those that spot their prospective soulmate, whilst attempting to avoid all eye contact and stare vacantly at the Tube map. was created for those wanting to track down that cute 'metro reading, hacking, vacant looking' Tube rider.

Big news this week was the voice of the Tube being fired for putting joke recordings on her website, such as "a reminder to our American tourist friends that you are almost certainly talking too loudly".

As much as people complain, any system that leads you to moan if you have to wait more than 5 minutes for the next train, must be pretty good.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Thanksgiving in NY

What else does one do on the most celebrated of American holidays apart from stand on the border of Central Park and watch massive balloons float down the street. Thanks Macy's (the world's biggest department store) for sharing your parade with me. By the way- the building in the background of the photos is the Dakota Apartment building, where John Lennon was killed and Yoko Ono still lives.
It is rather odd being somewhere on a major holiday such as this. Masses of people heading every which way; to parents, families, friends. I could only imagine the goings on in the apartments as I walked down 5th Avenue in the evening. Turkey, laughter, egg nog, smiles.

I simply celebrated my first thanksgiving with a pretzel, the New York Times and a stroll through Central Park, occasionally giggling at the squirrels.

Friday, 23 November 2007


I spent four hours wandering the floors of the Museum of Modern Art. That must be some kind of record for an art retard like me.

By the time I left, my mind was so noisy from all of the messages banging around my otherwise quiet head.

As always, the simplest of things pleased me. A ladder to nowhere; an old fashioned airport departure board; art which, even I can seemingly knowledgably say 'oh well, that simply must be a Lichenstein'.

New York, New York

She is the kind of city that makes you want to throw back your head and laugh. You feel like flinging your arms out and spinning around on her wide pavements.

New York is not just another city; it is a whole 'nother planet. It runs at its own pace; by its own watch. I feel I have slipped into another dimension.

Here you can be anyone.

Anything can happen in this city. And you can bet that it probably does.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

And Back Again...

U.S. immigrations didn't prove to be quite as friendly as our Canadian friends. In fact the woman that boarded the carriage as we rolled back over the border from Canada appeared to be sort of cross between Stalin and a hostel matron. But at least she provided a little bit of entertainment to break up the 13 hour trip - although the Mexican woman she hauled off the train and interrogated, probably doesn't feel so kindly about her.

Toronto was a great city - it did its best to steal my heart with its food, sprinkling of snow, cutesy houses and crisp sunny days.

New foods were a running flavour throughout my time in Canada. Ohh the sweet maple-y taste of Maple Leaf cookies; the peanut butter that is so good I snuck it straight from the jar; smoked salmon cream cheese dip; and even sushi pizza (don't ask - it sounds gross when described). But there was one flavour that outdid them all. No - it was not the plastic orangeness of 'cheeze whizz'. It was Baskin Robbins' cookie dough ice cream. It was simply symphonic.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Riding the 'Maple Leaf Express'

I like trains. Anyone who knows me well knows this fact about me. So it was with a small bubble of excitment that I boarded a train at Penn Station, New York; bound for Toronto, Canada. A mere 12 hours away. Coffee, bagel and New York Times in hand, I was prepared.

The autumnal colours were beautiful as we followed the river north. Early morning cloud hung low over the water with picture perfect houses peeping through occasionally.

Tom -the Londoner kept me entertained with stories of being hit on by naked cowgirls in Times Square, and he bought us snacks with the $100 bill he found in the back of a taxi on his way to the station that morning. We celebrated crossing the border into Canada with high fives, hot dogs and Canadian beer.

The Canadian immigration officer was so cute I tried to stuff him in my bag, which was unfortunately too full of clothing to fit him. I just wanted to keep him so everytime I opened my bag he would pop out and cry 'Welcome to Canada' in his perky blue-eyed way.

Friday, 16 November 2007

28 hours in Tahiti

What does one do for 28 hours in Tahiti? Not a lot I discovered. Tahiti is indeed couple paradise. Why would anyone in their right mind travel here by themselves? There is nothing to do except walk hand-in-hand along the beach or argue over whether to go sailing or shopping.

Papeete is the entry city to the islands of Tahiti. Admittedly the other islands looked stunning from the plane, but Papeete was deathly quiet, dull and a little unnerving.

So what did I do? Swim, read (an entire book) and get consumed by a tirade of bulimic mosquitoes.

The local beer (Hinano) proved to be quite nice, and the supermarket was cheap entertainment. A small baguette, a large chunk of edam and a papaya made for a good dinner.

My usual travelling paranoia was tripled when my airport pick-up was half an hour late. Simply because I feared I might have to spend another night in this paradise-hell. Fortunately my friendly driver arrived and I was joyfully whisked away to the airport.

See ya later Tahiti. Good beer and baguettes. But unnervingly quiet for a singleton city girl like me.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Leg one - Auckland-town

Where Wellington is the dysfunctional 20-something, Auckland is all grown up. It is a city coloured with terracotta, tea and biscotti, pushing 4WD pushchairs, drinking lattes from takeaway cups. It is white shirts and pinstripes, shiny cars and brunch in leafy suburbs on the weekend.

It is an inbetween city - Auckland. It is not small and quirky like Wellington, or massive and crazy-cool like Tokyo. It sits somewhere inbetween the two - its hand waving in the air, frantically fighting to be noticed. Too big for the kids table, not quite mature enough to sit with the grown ups.

But on a super sunny Saturday (dressed in shorts and t'shirts), I saw a different side of this biggest city of ours. From the top of Rangitoto island we were witness to the city's true beauty. From every angle, as far as we could see, it was islands and penninsulas, rimmed with lines of white sand beaches and aqua coloured ocean.

Thanks for the send off Auckland. You're a bit of alright really.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Lady Sleep

She can be a beautiful thing, that lady of sleep. She will sit next to your bed, brush the hair away from your face; tuck the covers around your chin. She will hum sweetly to you as you make your way through your dreams.

But when she is feeling temperamental she will stand in the corner, back against the wall, arms crossed. There she will stand, hiding in the shadows; peering at you out of the edge of her eye, drumming her fingers on her forearm.

We have had a rollercoaster relationship of late, Lady Sleep and I. It seems that, sometimes, there is simply nothing I can do to persuade her out of her foul mood. And so we each stare into the night time murkiness, listening to the thud of the alarm clock's second hand.