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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ill get to the title of the post later...... today, it seemed like we were running late all day. Our tour had a respectable start time of 10:30am. But, it wasnt on our train line, so it involved a transfer. And, the closest subway station to the MET is at 86th street and is a brisk 20 (or so) minute walk from the station. So, we didnt arrive until 10:45, but our guide waited for us which was nice.

The tour we took was called 'Integrity.' It is designed as a follow-up to the previous tour we took last year called 'The Woman and the Seed' and takes up from Greek and Roman world powers. Was really interesting. We had an enthusiastic tour guide (Pedro) who was very knowledgable and the tour was very compelling. It was like a three (ish) hour public talk.

But, back to the title.

This is an Ionic capital from Ancient Greece. The moulding right at the top is very common, even in homes today - its called Egg-and-dart moulding. The column was 58 feet high. The name gives it away - egg. It has origins in mother worship and the eggs are shown coming out of the Fallopian tubes (look closely - its gross). So, this is just one of the examples of things that we saw on the tour - but it was a good example of modern traditions just reusing and rebranding beliefs from the ancient world.

Here is a sampling of some of the things we saw;

This is an athlete. He was a victor from the games (as seem by the band around his head). Who is he? Do we know his name? Nope.

We saw a tonne of these pottery urns. 

This is a head of Socrates. 

This was part of our tour group. Interestingly, on our tour were seven couples that were graduates from the 21st Class of the BSCC in the US. 

This room was amazing. It was an original room that had been reinstalled in the MET.

This was an amazing view - looking down directly into the Roman room, through to Greece and then further you can just see Egypt - like looking down over thousands of years of human history. So much to process - Kylie took some good notes and we will have to review them to make sure we dont forget.

Oh, i forgot one thing about the tour - halfway through, there is a break where we can have lunch at the MET cafeteria. So far, its the most expensive meal in New York that we have had. I had Sushi in a pack and that was $13. Kylie wasnt sure what she would order, so I suggested she have the chicken curry. Its based on weight and Kylies plate of food (plate was about 3/4 filled) was $21.50. It was hilarious! As we were leaving, we were watching the reaction of people at the price of their food - Kylie saw one person whose total meal came to $109. So, here is the tip - the lightest option if you are eating is spinach leaves. And, there is free water for you to drink as you pass through the registers in the dining room. 

Then, after this, we went outside and it was RAINING! Spew! We did our brisk walk back to the subway station, got lost and then ended up in a cafe. Since we were running late this morning, we had no time for breakfast and no time for coffee. Here in the US, the coffee is not great. But, somehow, ive gotten used to drip filter coffee. And, I think that its slowly weaned me off, which is a good thing. So, when I saw this cafe, I was more than happy to order a short black. It was terrible, but I was still happy. Kylie ordered a small latte.

When it came on the counter, I asked 'is this mine?' and she said that it was a small latte. I think there was about a liter of warm milk in the drink, with a measely shot of coffee. How was it Kylie? Her words "It wasnt repulsive, but I endured it." Imagine if she ordered a medium? Or a large? It was totes cray cray (that one is for you Greg).

So, on the way back to the subway, we stopped in at H&M - that shop seems to be on every street here in NYC and we both bought some stuff. Then, Kylie asked an innocent question - 'What time is it?' And, we continued on with our theme of running late for the day. It was 5:30, the meeting we were heading to was at 7 back in Brooklyn and we had to eat something for tea. So, it was going to be tight. Added to that, our feet were literally about to fall off, it was raining and it was cold. So, down into the subway but not before an agressive hispanic lady told me I was a sinner and needed to repent. It was rush hour by now and the platforms were teeming with literally thousands of people. Trains would arrive, trains would departs, within seconds, the platform would go from being packed to being empty and then packed again within minutes. Was just amazing. The train ride was interesting. Kylie starts talking to everyone. In NYC, people are just in their own world, minding their own business, ignoring the homeless person asking them for money. So, when Kylie asks them a genuine question - it really takes them by suprise and they arent sure how to react. We got into a few discussions about health care in Australia, a lady saw me playing 2048 and said that he nephew sent her a screen capture of how he had gotten to 4096 and we met an Aussie ex-pat who moved to NYC in Feb this year. We eventually got on the A line and got to our stop (Nostrand Av) and made the quick walk to our apartment, got changed, scoffed our dinner and got to the meeting (it was the CO visit). Had a nice time with the friends, came home and by 9:45 we were fast asleep.

Tomorrow is rainy again, so might be a good oppportunity give the feet a rest....

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

We love this city. We never dreamed that we would get here once, let alone twice. And, we just love it!!!! We walked sooooo much today and still didnt even scratch the surface. I dont know what we would do without Google Maps. The app on the iPhone is so much better than the native Maps app that comes with the iPhone. These apps are designed for cities like New York - the subway and bus system is built in, so you can get from anywhere to anywhere so easily.

First up today was breakfast. We went to the same place as the day before because we love it so much. All they need is a coffee machine and it would be perfect. This is the neighbourhood that the cafe is in.

Its so weird that this photo was taken at almost 10am and most of the shops are still closed. My brekky for the day was this awesome dish with asparagus and eggs with hollandaise (I never really read the menu throughly, as I HATE hollandaise usually, but this was a great combo. I cant remember what Kylie ate...... 

Off to Bethel this morning. Google Maps got us there in less than 20 minutes. As we stepped out of the subway and followed the directions, here was what greeted us.

Had to take a pic (or seven) of that.

Since we had been on the tour last year, and seen the self guided display called 'A People for his Name,' we really wanted to see the new display called 'The Bible and the Divine Name.'

And, so we did. It was awesome. I read everything, but I will need to review again later as there was a lot to take in. But, here are some snippets of the display.

Like I said, there was ALOT to take in. When we get back, Ill upload all of the pics to my Flickr account and share them with you if you would like to see all of the artefacts (is that spelt correctly?). I photographed every single bible / manuscript.

Another exciting thing that happened when we went to Bethel was that we caught up with some friends who have just been reassigned back to Brooklyn. Karl and Sue and I all worked in Australia Bethel in the late nineties - early noughties. They have been working in Brazil for the last 10 years. It was great to see them again.

They live in the Towers Building and this is the view from their room.

It was so nice to see them again. If any of you have been to our place, and you remember the cool mirror on the wall - I got that from these guys. Karl had his life story in an Awake a few years back - look it up. Its a really interesting story. We stayed for lunch which was cool. The fro-yo dessert was really nice. When we were in the lobby, someone tapped me on the shoulder and introduced himself to me. I knew who he was immediately.

So, we have some friends in common, since we are both associated with the Hindi field. And, Anton and I follow each other on Instagram, though we had never met in person. He works in the dining room in the Towers building as a waiter. It was great to finially meet him.

From here, our walking adventure began.
We walked down on the Brooklyn Heights promenade which boats some amazing views of the Manhattan skyline.

The girls in the background of this shot were hillarious! They were taking ages taking pictures and were fully posing.

lol Kylie

This is Toby and Adele from the UK. We met them in the lobby of bethel and caught up again here. The british accent is so distinguished. Great to chat with you guys. 
Money shot! Thanks random stranger for framing this photo so well. We have learnt to look for people with nice cameras because; a> they know how to use a camera and b> they wont steal it (hopefully).

We walked through an area known as DUMBO (down under manhattan and brooklyn overpass) which is utra-trendy. And then, across the bridge we went.

LOVE this pic!!!

Next stop was Tom's Restaurant, made famous by the TV show Seinfeld. Took ages on the subway, as its above 109th street near Columbia University, but it was a nice ride. We eavesdropped a coversation between two students who were talking about the new apartment they are moving into. He said it was a steal at $1800 a month. Do the math - thats $900 a fortnight and $450 a week. How? Must have rich parents! We are also both completely hooked on an iPhone game called 2048 (thanks Allison for suggesting I try it) so we had an opportunity to try beat each other's scores on the train ride. Back to the restaurant - The interior is completely different. So, we sat outside. I ordered an iced tea. And, a cold glass of tea arrived. I was expecting a nice tasting tea (like the Lipton Bottled Ice Tea that comes in lemon or peach flavour). But this was just tea. cold. I leaned on the table and the table collasped sending my tea across the table. I felt like I was in an episode of seinfeld. Next stop - Times Square. 

This was the view when we stepped out of the subway. It such a lively place. A lot of construction happening at the moment. Our plan was to get to the red steps and just watch the world go by. But, first, we went to the Hershey store. I LOVE Peanut Butter Cups. So, I bought a pack ..... or four of them. We were served by Shaquisha (pronounced Sha-kwee-sha). Some of the names are ..... interesting. Next stop - Fossil shop. Didnt even plan to go in, but both of us love all things Fossil. I walked out with a new watch and Kylie got a new wallet. We were going to go to the M&M store, but we already bought a kilo of Peanut Butter M&Ms and thought you would judge us for buying more. lol

Last stop for the day - Grimaldi's Pizza. I went there in 2001 and last year, one of the challenges on the Amazing Race was they had to go to this world famous Pizza place and eat an entire PIzza each. Now, look at the size - we didnt finish it between the two of us..
It was enormous. We ordered the standard pizza and it was delicous! And, again, no we didnt finish it.
Then home. Then sleep. And, you will be happy to know that I slept the whole night - hopefully this means my body has gotten used to the time change. Kylie on the other hand woke up at 3am and was wide awake.

Next up - we are off on a tour of the Met. Cant wait!

Monday, April 28, 2014

After the afternoon and evening spent walking around the city, and after retiring for the evening at 9pm, awake is not what I expected to be at 1am. But, awake I was - WIDE AWAKE. Im hoping that this doesnt continue.

So, first thinge, we did a search on to find out the location of the closest Kingdom Hall as we wanted to catch the Special Talk being given worldwide this weekend. But, before theat - food. We searched on Yelp for places close to use that were well reviewed and came up with 'CHOP CHOP GRUB SHOP.'

How did we get this photo? Well, I went outside taking some photos of Kylie and there was a guy talking on the phone next to Kylie in Italian (I tried to eavesdrop on his phone conversation, but I could only pick up every third word). So, while I was out taking picures, he asked if we wanted him to take pictures of the both of us. So, I handed him our camera and said 'Please dont run away with our camera.' To make me feel better, he left his jacket on the stool as 'bond' that he would return. And, return he did.

I never order pancakes, but these were delish.

'Put your phone away and eat, Bruno. We have to leave in five minutes!' Such a nice cosy setting. We will DEFINATELY be back. We ended up at the Clinton Congregation in Brooklyn. It was just a few blocks from where we are staying. Its a nice Kingdom Hall in a nice neighbourhood. 

The hall was packed. The talk was excellent. Imagine our suprise when the conductor for the WT was Anthony Morris. Such a treat. He has a great personality and very knowledgable. Ask me later about the 'ambassador' comment. That made me lol my head off.

Home again after a quick change and into the city. We were off to our first pre-booked show. And, we were not disappointed. So, the first issue was line near us was closed, so plan B was enacted. I dont know what we would do without my iPhone. Its so cool to get directions as soon we get out of the subway - thanks so much Siri. When you are walking about town, you stumble across places that you have seen on TV for years - its so weird!

Strangeley, the main star of the show (Carly Ray Jepsen from 'Call Me Maybe' fame) retired after the first act 'due to illness.' It wasnt a bad thing as the girl who replaced her was much better anyway. And Fran Drescher was also in it and she was a laugh and a half. 

This next picture is for all you Melburnians who sent me pictures of your recent visit to H and M at GPO - can you say that you have been to H and M on Fifth Avenue?

I went. But, both of us couldnt be bothered trying anything on.

When I was in New York in 2001, my local guide took me to Grand Central Station. It was very Grand and it was Central.

In the maze of underground tunnels the, the coolest thing happens. You can stand in one corner and whisper to the other person on the opposite side and due to the acoustics and vaulted ceiling, you can hear every word. I took video and Ill try to upload it in another blog post,

Home again, but not before....

Andm just before we say goodbye, we met up with some friends, a few of which are coming to IC2014 in Melbourne in October.

They are everywhere. Off to bethel this morning which we are totes excited about.
Speak soon...

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Alicia Keys, when speaking of New York says that its a 'Concrete jungle that dreams are made of.' To be honest, after a total of 20 hours of flying - just get me a bed! We can check it out another day.

The first leg of the flight was to Los Angeles. We flew with Virgin Australia which was great. The configuration of the planes were 3-3-3 in Economy and the seats were very comfortable and had an individual screen in both each seat back. But, regardless of how good VA were, it was still 14.5 hours in a plane. I think all up, I slept about three hours. 

While we were packing for the trip, Kylie and I were having an ongoing discussion about what the weather will be like in the US - we are going to New York, which is just coming out of winter (and an average of 16 degrees) and then to the Caribbean, which according to my research was going to have an average of 25 degrees. I forced her to take a coat, mainly because it was cold in Melburne the morning we left. She thanked me for the times on the plane that the AC was a little too chilly. And, she thnaked me when we stepped off the plane at JFK and this was the weather;

As much as you do research about the weather in a place you are visiting, you never know what it going to happen until you are there. And it was rainy. And it was dark. And it was chilly!

But, before we got there, there was a little 'incident' in LAX. Our bags were tagged to go right through to JFK, but we had to pick them us at LAX and drop them off at the transfer desk and then check in. So, we picked them up and dropped them off and then proceeded to check in. Have you been to LAX? It is this enormous behemoth of an airport - under construction and badly signed. We finally got to the terminal we needed to be. The check-in counters area literally had about a thousand people in it in a room that was no wider than 10m wide snaking around in aisles. We joined a shorter queue which was for the electrinic check-in. Of course, someone pushed ahead and they were grossly incompetant at the prcoess and no matter which line we joined, we waited. And waited. And waited. And, then, it was our turn. First, our reservation couldnt be found. The, the message on the screen was 'Its too late to check-in for that flight.' Um - excuse me? Our flight isnt for another three hours! So, we asked for some assistance and we were directed to another line that was about fifty people long when we joined it and it wasnt moving very fast (did you notice that I left the name of the airline off - see if you can guess which one?). Get to the front of the line and we were served by Aisha. One thing I have learned from my dear wife if that if you are nice to people, they do all they can to help you. So, we BOTH were very nice to Aisha - I even sang the song 'Aisha' from the early 90's which impressed her (who wouldnt be impressed with my singing?). Were not sure what happened with the reservation - it was confirmed and we had the booking reference and all of that. In melbourne, it was there when we checked in and our bag was tagged because we had a confirmed seat. But, when we were standing there in front of Aisha at the Delta counter (whoops! I gave it away), we didnt have a confirmed seat. She did what she could to help, but all she could do was put us on the standby list. EEEEEEEEEK! 

When we arrived in LAX, we imagined that we would have hours to kill. But, as it turned out, after waiting to see Aisha and then going through security and walking for what seemed to be kilomteres through corridors and walkways, we were waiting maybe 20 minutes before boarding began. We watched the screen. We saw our name on the screen on the standby list. We were 2nd and 3rd on the list. Boarding began. Then boarding was about to close. The hefty security guards came to the gate and made an announcement that boarding was closing in 2 minutes and the gate would be closed. The flight staff give you no indication of whether they are going to give you a set or not. They were madly moving people around and it was frantic. Then, out of nowhere, he printed a boarding pass for the both of us and handed them to us. They were at the back. And, they werent together. But a kind gentleman next to Kylie moved seats and we sat together and slept for most of the flight.

Our accomodation is really nice. We found this place on AirBNB. 
Its a cool sunny loft/warehouse apartment in Brooklyn. We had hoped to stay in Manhattan, but we left it a little too late to book. But, we are happy ..... so far. lol.

Im sorry there is so much writing in this blog post. I woke up early after sleeping a bit too much on the flight over from LA, so here I am typing away. Were off to the meeting this morning for the Special Talk and then we are off to see a Broadway show, which Im totes excited about. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Well, it HAS been a long time between blog posts - sorry about that! And, it seems like the only time I blog is when we are going on holidays and ..... well, we are off very soon. So, your inbox's are about to get a workout.

My awesome wife has been busy again. This is another trip thanks to Stampin' Up!

We love cruising and we love holidays that we don't have to pay for - so we are doubly happy!!!! This is the cruise that we are taking on the Allure of the Seas. We depart from Fort Lauderdale in Florida and we are visiting Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico. Its an enormous ship!! Its 362 m (1,187 ft) long and 72 m (236 ft) high above water line. It has 16 passenger decks (ours is on level 14) and the capacity is a maximum of 6,296 passengers with 2,384 crew. Those figures are incomprehensible. Here are some more pics (thanks Mr. Google).

In addition to that, we are going to New York for a week - this was an extension that we made to the trip. We are going to skip all of the touristy things in New York. We have a tour booked of the Met, we have booked a few shows on Broadway. So far, we are seeing Les Miserables and Cinderella (dont judge - its starring Fran Drescher from 'The Nanny' and Carly Ray Jepsen). We also have planned to visit Bethel and see the new Bible display as it wasnt open when we visited last time. We want to see the historical display again, because it was so interesting. And, for those that new me in the late nineties, early naughties, we are catching up with Karl and Sue who have just returned to Brooklyn.

So, I better stop writing, or there will be nothing to write about on the trip.....
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