Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I have walked a lot of miles in this city, and even more by subway, busses or cab.

There are so many things I haven't done and would still like to do!
Haven't really been in Brooklyn, Harlem, the Bronx or Queens, and despite bad reputation from movies, there isa lot of interesting things to be seen there.
And even in Manhattan itself there would be so much more.

New York surely is a city that I'd like to live in.


Now I'm sitting at home again; just published the pictures of the last two days on Picasa.
The bags are unpacked, and I'll be glad to catch some sleep!

When will I be back in New York City? I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Last day - Tuesday

Last night it got pretty late again, first packing all my things. I actually got the bags closed, which I hadn't been so sure of.

Then I went down to the lobby with by laptop to hijack the Starbucks Wi-Fi like everyone else, so I could check my flight back and reserve an airport shuttle.
There I met a girl from Costa Rica and we got talking with each other. We got a beer at the pub on the next block, and so it was 2 am again when I went to bed.

I did rise before sunrise though! Took the subway to Brooklyn and am now standing right in front of the Brooklyn bridge looking towards Manhattan.

Last afternoon it had been Raining pretty badly, but like the weather forecast had said, today is really nice weather!

I looked at lower Manhattan today, starting with wall street. No "occupy" - the cops have closed the whole place and are watching it.

Ground Zero
I was touched and very sad looking at the big area where the twin towers stood. I thought about all these folk, nice people like everyone, going to work there, dying there being killed by sick and hateful people. Every one of them unique, their lives ended.

I went to the memorial site, too, where all the names of the killed are engraved on the sides of the fountain pools.

And did this attack achieve anything? Just other wars, the opinion about the Islam further lowered.

The skyscrapers often are built with ancient castles in mind, or actually copying old temples. They are their representation as a symbol of power in our times, the modern cathedrals.
So the destruction of these two towers filled with innocents seemed to me like the razing of some medieval castle in some completely unimportant war, like almost any. But every single man, woman or child is truly dead for this useless and sinful act.

The new One world trade center is already halfway up.

Right now I'm at Liberty island. Had a great view of the Statute and the city on the boat going there. And I felt really privileged to new able to walk these positively historic grounds.

On the base of the statue is a plaque of a poem by a young American woman of the time. I liked it, and so I put the text out here:


The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus, 1883


Monday, January 23, 2012

Day 8 - happy new year! :-)

I didn't make it for Dec. 31, but I still have new year in New York! Not at Times Square, but with fireworks in China town. Welcome to the year of the Dragon. It's the luckiest animal in the Chinese mythology.

On the way to the ceremony I met a guy from Basel, and we went there together. We were both amused and amazed how unorganized the whole thing started. Sometimes there was music played by one group and from the loudspeakers at the same time, and the american anthem was sung by a man and a woman with about 20 seconds delay to each other...
The ceremony, once it began was pretty nice, with dragons and puppets, chinese musicians and a pretty nice and very loud firework!

After that I went through the little parts of town like little Italy, Soho, Tribeca...

In the evening I packed my bags for the flight back tomorrow night .

Sunday, January 22, 2012

7th day - sunny Sunday

"And on the seventh day god rested"...

Well, this city never really sleeps, and there's a lot to see!

I am on the subway driving back from something really nice. I went to the part of the city called the village, south of midtown , which has a lot of small clubs and restaurants. I had planned on going to a club called le poisson rouge, but it was pretty slow there. I also passed by the famous blue note jazz club, but they also had slow music there. I went into a club called the bitter end, where they had a jam session. Really good musicians , I enjoyed the music.

Other people were coming on the stage, too, some really good , and actually I played "take 5" with them on the piano. That was cool . Folks there were just really nice and friendly . And now I can say I played in New York City! ;-)

I also went to the skyride at empire state building. It's like an Imax virtual helicopter flight. Was pretty cool.

The new york subway won't win any prizes on being modern or beautiful... and I wouldn't have thought I'd be riding busses so often. Well it's 2 o'clock again , time to go to bed!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

6th day - Saturday - New York in white!

The weather forecast actually was right! Woke up this morning and new york was white, a heavy snow blowing through the streets.

Central park was all white, the joggers fighting through the snow, but even they had fun. It was frightening to whatch the taxicab sliding though... All the kids making snow balls or families sledding down the hills ... nice!

I've been at the Metropolitan museum of art today, which was really nice. With the snow I finally get to do the museums that I planned on.

Now I'm actually at the Met Opera, watching "the Enchanted Island", a new production with music by Vivaldi and Handel, and the plots from two shakespearean pieces . The program will begin any minute.

I did not spend the $200, I got a standing place (!) for $24!

the opera was very nice! the actors had world class voices. I'm glad to have been here.

Very much fun was the "decentralized boombox party" ! I read about it in "where " magazine. ,So about 100 people came together , many with boomboxes. One guy had the fm transmitter and broadcasted the music to the others.We started on union square, then took the subway to grand central station all together and went on to the library. Everybody dancing and trucking to the music! That was a cool concept.

Actually I met a guy from Germany and his girlfriend. they studied in Massachusetts, and he 's with Google in New York now.

I did have a little bit of bad luck today, too. Forgot my ID at the hotel so I couldn't go to the after party :-( The guy at the entrance just wouldn't let me in.

My stomach and my back were not feeling really well either.

Also a little plastic bit of my camera broke off - it's still working but I had to fix it with some tape. Looked for it for a whole while, but in the snow and dark - no way.

And two of the staff at the museum where inconsiderate jerks.

I had thought of seeing Woody Allen playing jazz at the Carlyle tomorrow, but tickets were 130 dollars...! *Sheesh!*

2 a.m., good night!

Check out the pictures!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fifth day - Friday already!

This trip is actually a hiking vacation! ... Every part of my body that has something to do with walking is complaining...

I know just from a couple of people that they're reading this blog, but from most I don't know if you do or not. So please let me know or leave a comment! :-)

Ok; so now I'm sitting at an Oyster-bar on 7th street right near to my hotel, a glass of red wine sitting on the table. Pretty nice atmosphere, and nicer writing the blog than on the smartphone at the hotel room...

It's amazing how fast the time passes here... already Friday is late in the night... and the day, like the last, was gone so fast!

I started going down 5th Ave. at Central Park this morning; that's where all the top stores are; you look left: Fendi, Gucci, Armani, Rolex..., you look right: Tiffany's, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana... etc. Lot's of stores so posh that I don't need to enter!

I went into Tiffany's just for the heck of it, to have an impression, and they were really very cultivated. I saw on their map that they had a "women's and men's lounge", which made me curious, and I also thought I could use a rest and a coffee. I was really amazed when I stood before the sign and the door, and found out that Tiffany's is even too "upsy" to call their toilets bathroom or restroom; no: it's a lounge!... hm...

Interestingly enough, there's always also stores like H&M or Forever21, with really cheap clothes, that make enough money to persist in these top notch locations.

Talking clothes (me being a guy and normally not very shopping-fevered...):

I liked Uniqlo, a japanese department store - incredibly good price-quality ratio. Very very good service, too.
Also, the Sale at Tommy Hilfiger was really nice, and really, really good service! So friendly and nice, and they even had a free delivery service to the hotel. Other stores don't or want $40 for that.

I also went into a men's apparel store that I don't remember the name of to look for suits. When I found out that their "junior line" starts at $1.200 (!! or !!! **breath**)... they were so nice and polite. I love service like that.

Other than at GANT, where they were really unforthcoming. It's strange how stores or companies do have their very individual atmosphere, which can vary greatly, but which is consistent for all staff in the company, good as bad.

Some of those clothes were reduced incredibly... at their original price I would never have bought them. So: if you want to shop, January seems to be the perfect month!

What else did I do? St. Pauls Cathedral is on 5th Ave. on this latitude. Quite a nice church, great organs, and I looked into it because Tiffany's made the altar.

And I went to Rockefeller Center, which is really a nice place... they have this ice-skating rink in front of the building, a tree alley lit by thousands of tiny lights, and the lighted huge Rockefeller tower... it is awesome.

It went "On Top of the Rock"(efeller Center), as they call the platform on the 70th floor. Really a great 360° view of all of Manhattan. It was so clear that night; all the buildings twinkling, ... great time to be up there.

I spent quite some time there, which was good. Because I seem to be caught by the normal New York phenomenon: they say New York is fast, and I think they are right. The last couple of days, I barely ever made a pause all day. Just so much to do and see! So the time up on "the Rock" and now in the bar really are valuable.

Interesting to me was also the languages you hear on the street. What's the second-most used language in New York? French! There are so many french people here, it amazed me. You hear it very often. Third is Russian! Many women that you can tell (for example, really by their thick fur hats! They seem to have a faible for that) who are from Russia.

I think it's time to say Good night! I'll write more tomorrow.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fourth day - Thursday

So where have I been today?

Walking around a lot. Was in the amazing Chrysler building, was in the beautiful Grand central station , had a great view of all the city from top of the Empire state building and looked at the United nations building . Then I was at Flatiron building and walked miles of fifth avenue... I just say SALES :-)

It was a little stress testing on the credit card...

There are 2 magazines that interesting for finding out what's going on in new york - one is free and is called "where". You can get it at the hotels. The other's called "time out" and can be bought at any news stand. And then there's the "Village voice", which I haven't found yet. It's also free.

Oh yes and I've started using the subway! Took me about 3 * as long as with a cab and a lot more walking too...

Was way past midnight when I got to bed again ...


Some new pictures are up on picasa - mostly skyscrapers and Times Square!

Strange to wake up and know that it's already halfway through the afternoon in Europe.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Picasa web picture album

Hi! I made the album Public - hope the new link works for you


Third day (Starting later ...)

Good evening New York, good night Europe...

Right now I'm sitting at the Birdland - nice looking jazz club. Also steep priced, but here not much is cheap... but most is really good like the peach martini I'm having, and a lot of fun.

I Don't know how cold it is, but it is cold!

Tickets at the Met? $200 where a little too much for me...

That was a 24 hour awake day ...

So today started a lot later.
My ears are still ringing badly ... ear plugs next time!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Second day (started early...) - Tuesday

It is 4 In the morning here,10 a.m. European time. I'm so done! :-) Have been dancing at a small club.


I have a date with spider man tonight! A perfect musical for Broadway! The stage was truly spectacular! And awesome flying!

The ticket prices are pretty gruesome!! Even at tkts same day prices, which are about half of regular.

Long day, way early morning in Germany right now, but night 's still not over here!

I called home earlier and could also talk with Sonja. That was really nice.

- -

Shopped at the GAP - good deal, nice clothes :-)

- -

It's raining now. I am sitting at the "European cafe" at Times Square having breakfast at 11:30.
Got a basecap at the Hard Rock Cafe against the rain.

- -

I just went jogging in central park. it was about freezing point , but the sun make it really nice. There were lots of joggers and hundreds of people with their dogs playing around. Many people looked very much like in Europe.

Also interesting to see quite a few people on little foldable bikes commuting.

I also saw the ice skating rink and had a beautiful view from the belvedere lookout.

It's really lovely. I just got a taste of the city but I understand why people say they love new york.

On the way back I got a bagel from one of the little street cars.

now I'll take a shower.

Actually I'm starting to love android, too, because most of this text was typed by voice recognition which works amazingly well.
The phone is my link here to the people that mean something to me. It's a way to share something with you.

- -

So I made it until midnight yesterday. As to be expected I was up after three sleeping cycles at 4:30. Now it's 6:00 and slowly getting light outside.

Unexpectedly, the streets are still empty, really calm outside, though it's a normal work day.

So: take a shower and seize the day!

I did all my posts and mail etc. on the smartphone yesterday, which was kind of hard work getting used to it. Laptop is way faster. With the phone I still feel like using a stone hand - axe : -) Homo digitus android novo yorki.

First day (Monday Jan 16) - and they even made it a public holiday!

Actually, I found out that today is Martin Luther King day. The stores and everything were open though.

When we got over north america at Labrador, the whole land looked like raked by glaciers and ice over millions of years.
The whole of Canada was frozen, all the lakes, the rivers and the mountains. The forests weren't recognizable.
Then we flew over regions I had been three years ago in October: New Brunswick and then followed the St. Lawrence Stream all the way to its' beginning at Quebec city.
I remembered my dad's and my travel along its' side through Ontario and Quebec three years ago, when all the trees' leaves were changing. On the flight map I saw Sept Rivieres, a small city that we had come through.
All the towns and cities looked as frozen by winter as the landscape, nothing moving at all. What a contrast to when we were there. Still, strangely appealing. All this huge amount of land where almost noone lives and can live, except for at the great rivers, the sea and the few roads. I'd like to go there again sometime.

Ok; so, how is flying on the A380? Well, pretty comfortable for sure. The economy seats are pretty spacious, and I especially liked the compartment at every seat's side in the aircraft side. It is spacious enough for a jacket, a small bag, the cushion and blanket, and gives elbow room. The board entertainment is very extensive, too. Could fly around the world a couple of times before being through. The food was alright, but no more than that for my taste.
The aircraft could have more restrooms, though! ;-) And it is improbable to me how much time most people spend in there!! (What do they do? And I probably don't really want to know but they should HURRY UP *dang*! Other people need it, too! ;-))

(Mo, 2:15 pm/8:15 pm Europe) Ok - so now I'm in the City! Sitting at a Deli, eating a turkey sandwich, yogurt parfait and a huge cookie... I've got great hazelnut-flavor coffee in my thermos cup and I already got a phone, a call card and $cash. *Gosh* I was hungry! Hotel seems really fine; checked in, but room wasn't ready yet. So getting all that stuff, I walked around the blocks here through the different phone shops. Seen different famous things already, like Broadway or the theater where the David Letterman show is. Weather is really fine! Blue sky(line). And most people were really helpful and friendly!

The flight was really early! They made 40 minutes headway! Great... my seat neighbor was a girl from Singapore that teaches in New York. I got some really good tips from her, and we shared the cab downtown, so I wasn't ripped off by the cabby! :-)
After dreary Queens, it was a nice view of the Manhattan skyline.

Thanks to Apple it wasn't feasible to get a SIM-card for the iPhone, would have cost too much.
Instead, the best deal I found was with AT&T; with unlimited US-calls on landline and mobile, unlimited SMS text messages and 500 MB data flat. There was a $10 package for international landline-calls available, but not for mobile phones *duh!*. Strange enough, they have an option that if you return the phone that you bought inside 30 days, you get the money back minus a $35 fee... so I practically rented a phone for $35. That's ok I guess, and I'm a "proud" user of an AT&T android smartphone... took some time to get this all set up...

Actually I found out that most electronics are not cheaper here at all compared to Germany. Apple might be an exception.

(Mo, 6:00 pm/0:00 pm Europe) I did check into the hotel, and the room is really nice! I'm tired...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Whoa, it's the #1st flight of the A380!

This is so cool! Today's flight to New York is the first ever flight of the A380 from Frankfurt!

They are having a special welcome-reception at the gate for the occasion - I'll be sure to take some pictures!

What a start for the journey...

I had no idea when I booked, so I was totally surprised at check-in this morning. At the moment I am sitting at the comfy Lounge at Frankfurt airport; it's 6:26 in the morning which started at 3:15 (well, earlier actually, since I couldn't sleep well...). It's 20 minutes until the reception, and then it's boarding. I have a window seat on the upper deck.

Update: The ceremony for the inaugural flight was kind of fun. After two dull little speeches, they had chinese drummers and performers doing a lion dance with two big chinese lion-puppets. That was a strange setting in the airport, but it was fun to watch! Wouldn't have expected that for sure! ;-) And they had a big "Frankfurt airport"-cake that they cut up for the passengers to eat - and while most people were watching a stupid red ribbon to the "suites"-class being cut, I got the first piece of cake! :-D Was really good, actually. And they had some other things to eat and drink. I got myself a picture taken before the "first A380 flight Frankfurt - New York" banner :-). They even handed out baggage tags printed with it.

Breakfast in america

Ok, today I won't make it for breakfast, rather lunch. But tomorrow I will...

Friday, January 6, 2012

when you've got no news, talk about the weather!

Since this is a topic of some concern to me, here's the forecast of what I am to expect:

* 17/01/12: weather is changing all the time here. After sun all day yesterday , it rained by midnight. It's supposed to be raining today , but fortunately isn't at the moment.

* 16/01/12: first day at New York, a d the weather was great in Germany and there, too - blue sky!

* 15/01/12: tomorrow is it! Ok, the weather forecast changed every day; at the moment I expect clouds tomorrow, no rain, day around freezing point and nights some degrees below.
A lot like here, actually. The days after are predicted about the same - not much rain fortunately!

* 05/01/12: looks a lot nicer! At the moment they have sunshine and 10 °C, and for Jan. 16 they predict sunshine and 2 °C during the day and -5 ° during the night. That's like it could be here.

* 01/01/12: the forecast for Jan. 16 forebode a drastic temperature drop to - 7 / - 14 °C. Aaaah! :-( Don't forget the long john's!! But much can change in that period, and the weather in NY is infamous for drastic changes within hours.


Update: the nightlife pass actually didn't work out. The company hasn't brought it to my hotel as they had confirmed with Isango. They didn't respond or could be reached . Isango refunded me the payment without any problems fortunately though. The pass wouldn't have been necessary at any rate though - seems to me that it is better to look for the in-Clubs and places directly when you're there. -- When the stores are closed, the park is dark and you don't want to spend "a night at the museum", what do you do "from dusk til dawn" in the city that never sleeps? Hit the clubs and get dancing!

That's where I found the "Nightlife Pass New York" via isango. It offers direct access to about ten big clubs in Manhattan, most with a welcome drink and some other perks; 7 days are about 90 Euro. I guess that's a deal, and I'll find out!

Monday, January 2, 2012

the friendly guidebook -

Today I hit the book store. I actually bought offline - haven't done that in a while. But it was good to browse through the different travel guides.

I got the James Rizzi New York guide - it's got his colourful paintings in it everywhere, which makes it look real nice and fun to read. Seems to give pretty extensive tips for different kinds of restaurants, clubs, shopping etc.
Additionally I got the Merian guidebook, which is cheaper and has got a detailed New York map printed over about 20 pages in the book, which I find more practical than one huge regular fold-out map.

New York Pass

I bought the New York Pass for 7 days online. It gives admission to about 55 sights and museums as well as cruises. In addition to the cost saving it's supposed to save time & nerves also by skipping the ticket lines most places.

There are several different passes for New York, "city", "express", ... from about four different companies, but this one seemed best to me with so many sights included.

There's also a free guidebook to these sights included, I'll see what that's worth when I pick up the pass on the first day.

Take a jumbo, ...

... cross the water, like you see America! [Supertramp, breakfast in america]

I simply booked the flight with STA travel, since all sites offered basically the same flights and rates. It was a good idea to call them and ask about flights on the new Airbus A380, since I had read that it started from Frankfurt. The price for an Singapore Airlines flight was good, so: I'll have a window view from the A380!

It's booked!

I found out that there are big price differences in the hotel fares - even if 5 different web shops had about the same price, another might have one a lot cheaper.

And I found that choosing hotel and flight separately was significantly cheaper for me than buying a package.

I finally decided on the Park Central Hotel, which unsurprisingly is close to the south side of Central Park, but also very close to Times Square and Madison Square Garden. It's a **** hotel, rooms look alright, guest feedbacks are very good, I'll find out!
Actually the best offer I found was directly via tripadvisor - a 40 % winter discount for booking on the hotel's own online reservation system. That took the daily room rate for a superior room considerably below 100 Euro, but with all the applicable taxes a little above 100 Euro ;-). Still, very good price!

Having read everywhere that rooms in New York hotels usually are tiny I was really surprised to find spacious junior suites - for example at the Shoreham (near Empire State building) - or even huge flats with living room, kitchenette and balcony (!) at affordable prices at the Marmara (Upper East Side). But I wanted to be more in midtown and close to Central Park.

Every journey begins... with a web search!

well, or with an idea where to travel to.

The web search was quite simple at first, really: open Google, type "vacation New York", see who's there! Next step was a lot more difficult: where in New York? What hotel?
Reading the ratings on tripadvisor and holiday check and comparing...
I burned some midnight oil over the Christmas Holidays.

And t h e n got a shock when I discovered that the hotel prices had gone up several hundred bucks (!) inside 3 days, no kidding! :-{
so... back to the search engines...

Why now? (January, of all things!)

I'll start my new job next month, so I have the time to do it now.
Yes, I know it's going to be something between nasty, gray and wet, and bonefreezing arctic.
On the upper hand side: there might be a lot of snow! :-)

Well, and everybody's done their shopping, so the stores are mine...

prices are very good at the time, and if it's bad outside, I'll stick to the museums, concerts and clubs, and move by subway!

#1st post (start here...)

Unfamous first words:

"Hello world!" (oh, brave new world... or probably the most-written 1st line in programming)
"Hello friends" (I sent you the link to the blog, so... thanks for visiting!),
"Hello strangers?" (If so, how did you find this blog? Nice to meet you, anyway.)

This is my first real blog. I am so excited about the trip to New York that I wanted to write it down and keep people updated on what I do.

There'll also be a picasa web-album for most of the pictures. I'll post it here.

Enjoy! Thorsten


New York for first-timers...

I've never been to New York before, though I have been to other areas in the States a couple of times.

I have seen Paris, London, Tokyo, (Berlin, Amsterdam, umm... Wuppertal)...

New York has quite a few superlatives!

  • there's the world-famous skyline with the Empire State building, Rockefeller Center etc.
  • also a kind of negative skyline, ground zero where the two World Trade towers stood
  • there's entertainment, showtime! Broadway, Times Square with all the shows and theaters,
  • the Met and Carnegie Hall and lots of clubs
  • gorgeous museums, like MoMa or Guggenheim
  • Central park, Missy Liberty
  • and all these 'hoods in the 5 borroughs, like SoHo and NoHo, places with names like TriBeCa and even weirder...
oh, and I have only 8 days!