Thursday, August 27, 2009

Appartment finding...

Woohoo! I've got some appointments to see some apartments in the next few days. One (which is a little pricey for my liking) today, but in a place full of art students with everything included and a big room. And one on the weekend to see a very very cheap place which is a bit far out (like 45 minutes on the bus and metro) and a very small room.

So I dont know. Guess I'll call home today to see what they think.

But yes, it's looking up :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I arrived in Montreal on monday night, 2 hours late (damn boarder control) and I already love the city, and I am so happy to be living here for the next 4 months. Just a touch of a worry about finding an appartment but I'm sure I'll figure something out.

The city is so relaxed. They've really adopted the french joie-de-vivre attitude, which I just love. I could just sit for hours and watch the people walk by, which I did on the main square in Vieux Montreal yesterday. There were vine-covered french-style buildings, an old man playing the accordion and a stall selling everything maple (we are, in fact, in Canada).

Also, the nightlife is spectacular (and cheap, compared to the US). Going out on a tuesday and paying around $6/drink = a great night. I cant wait to see this place on a Saturday night.

I have made a couple of observations about the place:
-Primarily, its French. People speak English but most things are in French
-7 years of French French study doesnt prepare you for Quebecois French.
-The quebecois swear... a lot.

I think that's it for now. I am going to resume my lazy day of sleeping untill 2pm and maybe possibly head out for a scoop of Ben and Jerry's icecream later on. I just wish that bagel I still have from New York could fly up to my bed so I wouldnt have to get up to eat it. Perhaps an Iced Tea too... Hmmm. Lazy day.

I think I'm still exhausted from the intensity that was my fortnight in the States.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I miss reading...

Oh, how I love to travel. I really do. I feel so good here that I don't often feel the need to eat (yet, this afternoon's amazing rendez-vous at Le Pain Quotidien on the Upper East Side was totally worth it). Travel, the new experience, the overload of art is all the sustinance I need (that and a good falafel roll from the place near the MoMA and the Harper Collins building in Midtown). I feel alive, I feel fulfilled. I love travelling alone for the quiet contemplation in my mind that rivals this absolutly anything-but-quiet city outside me.

However, there are some things I am looking forward to when I get my own place in Canada.
1. Reading - I havent been reading much. I have been too busy hopping on and off subways to read anything. There is too much to do, too many people to meet, I can't spend my time reading.
2. Films. I havent had the chance to see any. Why? Because I am too busy cramming as much of New York into a week as I can. Sitting, motionless and passive for two hours, devoid of interaction besides that between myself and the screen seems --- ludicrous, when there is so much to see and do.
3. Creating. I have been going too fast for my own good, being pummelled day in and day out with art, art, and more art. The only drawing I do is the sketching of things in gallery corners. My brain is still digesting. But I want to create something original and mine. Something that is me but not me, a me living beyond me, and yet not living but inanimate. But not soul-less and therefore semi-living, but yet not.

In other news... I want to live in SoHo. And I am convinced that the Met is just a ruse to get your time. You go in to see the 20th C. European painting and then you end up whiling away the hours amazed by the Ancient Greek and Roman art, the Ancient Near Eastern Stuff, and the European Renaissance Sculpture, not to mention the myriads of reconstructed rooms.

That is all.

-A xx

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The New York Metro (or Subway, always Subway, if you say metro they won’t understand you) is a complex and intricate thing, and one wrong staircase can land you on the other side of the East River in Brooklyn. In my two days in NYC, I have had plenty of experience in getting lost. So here are a few tips for you all to follow;

  1. The best way to get lost, and by far the quickest, is to forget which direction is uptown and which is downtown. If you are a bit directionally challenged this can be quite natural. However, forgetting that ascending street numbers mean uptown and descending mean downtown is a good way to do it. Say for example, if you want to go from 53rd St to 58th St (in Midtown), you would be going UPTOWN, but to get lost, you must forget and go DOWNTOWN. On certain lines this will land you over the East River in Brooklyn.
  2. Another sure-fire way is to confuse Brooklyn and Queens. Brooklyn – Downtown, Queens – Uptown. Very similar to method no. 1.
  3. Also, there are many entrances to each subway station. In the larger ones, getting into the wrong entrance can be rectified by a few down staircases, an underpass and an escalator. However, in the smaller ones, once you’re in the wrong entrance, you have 3 choices
    a. Risk death, injury and/or fine crawling across the tracks
    b. Exit and pay another $2.25 on the other side
    c. Ride the subway till a bigger stop comes up and then change directions.
  4. Just because a train goes past a station doesn’t mean it stops. Even if both 5 and 6 trains run past 96th St/Lexington, doesn’t mean you can catch both 5 and 6. Catching the 5 will land you very close to Harlem.
  5. When one line intersects with another on the map, doesn’t mean you can change trains at that point, because it is (not so clearly) not a station, unless there is a dot on the intersection of the two lines. Misjudging this will land you at the harbour, most likely and 10:30 at night when most people look like they are carrying guns. Catching the train out of a sticky situation like this may also prove a bit worrying, because (knowing your luck) you will get stuck in a carriage on your own until the next station where two frat-like guys will get on, sit directly opposite from you and stare intensely until their stop at NY University. In such situations, and unless they are incredibly good looking, it is best not to make eye contact.

Love, -a

Monday, August 17, 2009

About America

I am currently on the train from Baltimore to New York. My trip to Baltimore totally helped me to understand the ‘real America’ in my point of view, as I was staying with a family in suburban Ellicott City. They are friends of my parents, and so incredibly nice, they’re Polish immigrants but gave me a lot of information into the American way of life. So, I have decided to share a few.

  • College is intense. Jacob, their son, is a senior this year. It’s not about grades. It’s about sports. It’s a lot easier to get into ANY college, for ANY degree if you play sports well, then if you get good grades.
  • The tuition fees for college cost an average salary a year. Most college’s have tuition fees around the US$40,000 a year, not counting books, extra expenses, rent or food. And we complain about HECS. For example, a medical degree is 8 years, so $320,000 in tuition.
  • Most colleges also require you to live on campus, so there is not much room for money saving.
  • The food is big. A small cup of tea/coffee is like our large. An appetiser is a full meal. The reasoning is based strongly in tradition. When the pioneers came over from Europe, a lot of them were suffering from starvation and malnutrition. The big servings are to symbolise that this is the land of plenty, the land of opportunity, etc. Fair enough, but to me it seems a bit wasteful.
  • They are seriously strict when it comes to drinking. If you are under 21 you cannot even HOLD any alcohol. Say for example, if you are helping a parent carry the shopping, the assistant will not LET you carry the bag with the alcohol. In some states, like Kentucky (of all places), buying alcohol is a biiiiiiig run around. You cannot simply go into any liquor store and buy some booze, you have to first join the ‘club’ at the store 5e(pay a $5-$10 joining fee) and then you can buy liquor. By state law, it is illegal to sell alcohol to someone who isn’t a member. In other states, it is illegal for you to see your alcohol being poured at a bar. You order, the bar staff go into another room, pour it, bring it out to you.
  • I asked Ania and Jacob why they are so strict when it comes to alcohol. Reason is simple, America was settled by puritans. And it’s not just alcohol, so many of America’s laws still have a very strong puritanical basis.
  • Don’t ask, don’t tell: more than just the policy in the armed forces when it comes to sexuality. You do not talk religion. You do not talk politics. Period. It is tabooed. You do not ask people what they think when it comes to politics, or why they do or don’t go to church. You do not go yammering about. You do not say ‘Iraq’ in public.
  • Due to this, most of what hits the news back home and around the world doesn’t hit a chord here, for example, Sarah Palin’s famous ‘I can see Russia from my house’ statement is unheard of here. We care more about American politics than they do.
  • Obama’s victory was a shock. Everyone thought McCain would win.
  • Due to the stupid Electoral College system, Bush got elected to a second term having less votes then Kerry. Kerry had, in fact, received 300 votes more than Bush but Bush still got the presidency. Put it this way – One state has 55 Electoral College votes. In that state, Bush wins 51% to 49%. He gets all 55 votes. Another state has 10 Electoral College votes. In that state, Kerry wins 99% to 1%. He only gets 10 Electoral College votes. So, you can have the majority of the votes, but still have less Electoral College votes. Makes sense? No? Good.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Baltimore and Washington DC

I think I'm getting into the time here. I slept in untill 6:30am. Which is good considering I have been waking up at 4am. I guess I was also so exhausted from an intense day yesterday.

I caught the 8am train from NY to Baltimore, it was less then 3hrs and really empty, I had enough space for all my luggage and to stretch my legs. Wunderbar! I also had a typical NY breakfast, bagels! I caught a cab to Penn Station in NY mainly because I just couldnt be bothered lugging my crap around the subway. It was only $13 inc. tip, not bad. And I got to drive down Park Ave, see all the museums and embassies and wish I lived there. On the train I was busy taking photos, and they're all on FB. It's pretty amazing how many states are crammed on the East Coast. From NY - MD, I passed through New Jersey, Philadelphia and Delaware before hitting Maryland. Unbelievable.

I was picked up at the BWI station by our family friend, Ania, who is pretty much the nicest person on earth. We then went to this amazing Indian place for lunch, and headed to DC to check out some sights. God, it was so so so hot. But amazing, none-the-less. While we drove into DC, we saw pretty much everything from the car; Capitol Hill, White House, Washington Monument. We walked around and saw them all up close anyway. What a trek!! In that blasted heat too! But it's all really pretty and clean, so I didnt mind. We meandered our way through from the Regan International Building to the Treasury, the White House, The WWII Memorial and the Washington Monument.

If that wasn't exhausting enough, Ania and I then went shopping to Macy's and H&M in Columbia.... I want H&M to be my wardrobe. Just... love. and cheap. and amazing. I'm keeping a lookout for a nice dress to wear for a christening back in Poland/Christmas/NYE/Just out because it's pretty. Found some nice ones, and fair cheap too. (I enjoy being a size 10 in US sizes). However, I need a few more intensive sight-seeing days like the last few to get a comfortable size 8, or even 6!!! (WOW.. I love america and it's sizes).

In fact, I just love america. I totally see the hype now. People are friendly, its so nice, it's pretty, there are SO MANY things to do. Granted, I have only seen the East Coast. A guy I met at the hostel spent some time in LA and said it was the worst decision he had ever made; "California is a collection of everything that is wrong with America" -- direct quote. Well, ok, I love the East Coast. New York and DC are both beautiful. I would love to live in NY... perhaps one day. :-) For the time being, I am snoozing a bit before breakfast.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

New York in a Day.

This is how to see NY in a day, with maximum stuff, minimum cost.

WAKE UP: 8:30, get ready for free breakfast at the hostel at 9am
10am - leave hostel, buy a metro card - 4 trips for $8.00 (save $1.20)
10.30am - arrive grand central station. Take lots of photos, act like an yuppie tourist with mouth hanging open the whole time.
10:45am - get lost... try to figure out how to get to central park
10:47am - buy a bottle of water and an apple-flavoured snapple (disgustingly sweet flavoured iced-tea drink that americans love and have in about 20 flavours) total cost : $3.00
11:00am - 12 noon: walk up 5th avenue, look at the expensive stores, ask questions about things you could never afford, like $10,000 De Beers Diamond tennis bracelets. Don't ask if they serve breakfast and Tiffany's - it's been done. Stop off at St Patricks Cathedral (free entry). Buy cheap postcards at Barnes and Nobel -- $3.27
12 noon - 1pm: wander aimlessly in the rain between 5th, Madison and Lexington. Somehow end up at Crate and Barrow homewares and pretend you're decorating your NY appartment. Wander towards Bloomingdales. Get lunch at Green Cafe. Egg and Cheese Roll with free cup of tea. Total cost of lunch including tip: $4
1:20pm: Go to Bloomingdales. Get scared. Look like a lost rabbit. Leave.
1:40pm: Catch the Subway to 8th St/NYU. Look around east village. Walk to the Forbes Collection (free entry)
2:30pm: get an apple from street vendor: $0.60, Catch the train headed to brooklyn. look a little worried on the ricketiest train in the NYC subway fleet. Get off at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal stop.
3:00pm: Catch the free Staten Island Ferry.
3:30pm: Visit the SI Museum. Student Fare $1
4:45pm: Return to Manhattan.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The long, torturous trip to NYC

Well, I am here in NY and I love it. However, I am so screwed up that I would love anything that is not a plane, or a helicopter or hot air balloon. Anyway, I am glad to be on solid ground. So, lets start from the beginning.

I woke up at 3am today, which was really yesterday, because today is tomorrow. (It makes sense, ok?!) and headed to Adelaide Airport, and yet another surprise, EVERYONE was there!!! I was floored. Thanks to everyone who made the hideously early journey to the airport to see me off. I was sobbing quite a while into my melb flght. In melb, I spoke to the wonderous Amelia for quite a while, as the bloody Syndey and Aukland flights kept getting announced over the PA. However, no amount of annoying PA stuff would save me from the inevitable - a Qantas fuck-up!

My flight was an hr and a half delayed, and as I only had an hr and a half in LA --- I thought I'd miss my flight to NYC. However, since there were about 20 people on the same transfer, they waited for us. (how lovely). No matter how lovely it was, or how nice the new A380 Airbuses are, with individual touchscreens, new bathrooms and skycams, 14.30 hrs on a plane is torture. Especially because I felt sick, had the window seat so had to keep pushing past the two lovely californian ladies next to me (one of whom had the worlds cutest kids!) and Qantas didnt feed us for ages, I thought I would pass out!!! And, all the novelty of the new plane fades quickly especially when the jerk infront of you reclines his chair so you can barely eat your mushy, chalk-tasting vegetarian meal (and yet breakfast was lke rocks... go figure!)

But, I finally made it and had to quickly go through customs (no probs), get my luggage and check in again. It was rush, rush, rush with a 27kg suitcase, a 10kg backpack and a book-filled handbag. I was sweating like crazing in humid Los Angeles. While flying into LA though, I found it so ugly!! But it was so nice to see something that wasnt black and water (even though we flew over the Christmas Islands and Hawaii, it was night and who would see them/care anyway, it's all ocean). I only slept for like 2 hours on that blasted flight.

The flight to NY was wonderful though! Even though I was at the very back on the plane. The views over California, Nevada and Arizona are just amazing - deserts, canyons and mountain ranges. I had some amazing photo ops.

And New York!!! MY GOD! I love it. I was in the bus with my mouth gaping open, it's just like in the movies. It's amazing. Except the people are actually nice. And everyone in America is SO BLOODY HOT! Its like an insanely disproportionate amount of hot people in NY.

I was lucky enough to miss the first bus I could get, so there was amazing views as the city lit up through the fog. The skyline is amazing. Total tourist; mouth gaping like an empty thearte stage. Grand Central Station is also just breath taking. There is a reason they call it GRAND. And on the subway, I constantly had someone to help with my luggage, at the hostel the guys helped me get my shit upstairs. But now, I am so so so HUNGRY.

Peace, guys.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Countdown... 6 DAYS

So, this is my travel blog. Its only a few days until I really do fly away. Only 6 days!! I have so many things to get sorted, and I've told so many people already, I am getting bored of myself. So, I am not going to think/write/talk about them. I have got my NYC guidebook and I am loving it, making notes and calculations and also just getting more and more excited. I guess this is going to be like my little updates from my travels, my notes and stuff. Hopefully, a little more articulated then this. Yes, keep checking back for other bits and pieces.