Categories
America America Trip 2016 New York Travel

Day 2: Ice Ice Baby

I don’t think even Ice quite cuts it.

It reached a low of-15C here today. That’s bloody freezing! Factor in wind chill, that makes it about -20! With that in mind, today I did very little!

This afternoon, I walked down the road to a small camera shop as I realised I’d bought with the wrong camera charger! (Typical). The shop was like stepping back in time – all old camera gear, slide projectors etc. Crazily they had a charger for my camera battery!

We then went to the local mall… where I made a little purchase in the Abercrombie Sale…. WHAT HAVE I BECOME?!

This evening we went to a restaurant called Zinburger where I had the most delicious seared tuna burger – we were joined by Simon, Zachary and Sydney who drove for 45 minutes to come and see me! It was so lovely to see Simon in America as opposed to seeing him when he pops back to the UK! It’s just a shame he was in the Wrong house at JFS – We all know Angel was better than Brodetzki!!!

Got to have a selfie or it didn't happen!
Got to have a selfie or it didn’t happen!

… and with that I’m off to bed! Shattered! (It’s tiring doing nothing!!) going to don the thermals and head in to the city tomorrow!!!!

Categories
America America Trip 2016 Jewish New York Personal Plane Religion Travel

The Flight & Day 1: Baby It’s Cold Outside

To say its cold is an understatement. Freezing piercing cold is probably closer… And its set to get colder still this weekend…!

Before we get on to today a quick run down on the flight….

Following a quick trip on the funky transit train from the main building to Terminal 5b, I was at my gate – as always it was the furthest gate in the building!

Boarding was quick and easy and soon I found myself in the middle of the plane in one of the middle two seats. Cozy…. And we were off.

I was ready with a TV plan – I knew I wanted to watch Adele at the BBC but couldn’t get the TV to work. As soon as the seatbelt light went off the guy in the row in front called the air hostess over for the very same thing….

Now, while I joke that “turning it off and on again always fixes the problem”… That’s exactly what solved it! Although that meant turning EVERYBODY’S TV system on and off… A process which took nearly 15 mins!

Eventually we up and running and Adele was singing! Breakfast was as good as a hermolis airline breakfast. You do the math. I did have a good game of “Catch the coffee” during some of the turbulence… No spills!

When the captain came on to say we were making our final descent and to prepare for some turbulence due to the 25-45mph cross winds, nothing could quite prepare me for what I was about to experience. At one point G forces were similar to that of a theme park ride! As it happened however, the actual landing part of landing was the smoothest I’ve ever experienced!!

Anyway… I arrived! The Journey to the city was pretty uneventful but I very early on learnt that the subway in New York makes our Tube look classy. It’s a bit more… edgy… 😉 Following some expert instructions, I made it to the bus station where the lovely Jemma was waiting for me! (With a Starbs, obviously!)

We went straight to times square for a look around. Wow! It makes Piccadilly Circus look amateur! People everywhere bright lights screens shops everything! Craziness!!!

So many Screens... so many lights!
So many Screens… so many lights!

From Times Sq. (with a quick stop at Cake Boss’s city shop) we got the bus to Montclair New Jersey where I’d be staying… had a mini tour of Montclair and I even go to go into Whole Foods (WOW!) before eventually heading for bed and sleeping in until 10!

This morning we got the bus and headed back into town! From the bus we got the subway to the Brooklyn bridge… and we walked across! Wow what a view!

From the start of the walkway....
From the start of the walkway….

As we went further and further across the bridge the view got better and better! While talking about the view it’s probably a good time to mention that the weather today, while it looked sunny with blue skies, was actually around -8. BLOODY FREEZING.

Thankfully the bridge wasn’t too windy and I managed to get some nice photos and a panorama:

Artsyone

The View from the Brooklyn Side
The View from the Brooklyn Side
A little panorama from the Bridge. Spot the Jem!
A little panorama from the Bridge. Spot the Jem!

Once we got to the Brooklyn side, we were a bit clueless as to where to go… and after a little walk Googled “Jewish Deli Brooklyn”… we followed google maps and turned up (Via a quick Shpruntz Round Trader Joes.. Noch) at Shelsky’s Of Brooklyn. WOWSER.

Food that I can’t explain. Sweet, Savory, Pickled, Gefitle’d you name it! We got some Rugalech and some Halva. OH MY. It was like a little corner of Jewish heaven had exploded in my mouth.

The owner came over and started talking to us explaining that he wasn’t supervised kosher as it was too expensive and there wasn’t a market for it – Lots of the Jews from Brooklyn have started to move out. While we were talking some Chabadniks came in, Wished us all Good Shabbos… Asked if we’d got Shabbat Candles / Laid Tefillin today, had a chat…so friendly!

From Shelsky’s we got the subway back to New York and went to Russ and Daughter’s. The wait for a table in the cafe was going to be 35 mins so we went for a walk and waited for them to text us! While we waited we walked up to Katz’s Deli. Very different to Russ… a Different sort of New York Jewish Deli. Quickly, the phone buzzed and we went back to Russ’s.

WOWSER again.

Food you just can't explain!
Food you just can’t explain!

What looks like simple latke, eggs and Salmon… I can’t even begin to explain how it tasted! SO SO SO GOOD. They smoke their own fish, and make their own latkes (Not so sure about the eggs!) but boy oh boy was it delicious! I took one of the latkes to go as I couldn’t finish it!

From there I was left alone in the Big Apple! (AH!) I went for a walk from the bus station to central park and then to the shopping mall – The Time Warner Center. Very nice! I had a little wander, found some free wifi, got a Cawfeee and made some calls home!

From there I walked back to Times Square as I’d watched it getting dark from Starbs! As amazing as Times Square was during the day… it was even more intense and immense at night!

For those complaining of the lack so far of selfies... here's one for you!
For those complaining of the lack so far of selfies… here’s one for you!

... and a Panorama of Times Square at night!
… and a Panorama of Times Square at night!

Then from Times Square, with achey legs, I made it back to the bus station, and found the correct bus back to Montclair! Thankfully the driver knew where to stop for me and soon I was back for dinner! I noticed at the Ticket Booth there was a certain musical at half price… on Broadway…. I might have to go and get a ticket… How do we keep our balance?

… and on that note… it’s 11pm here… or 4am at home so I bid you all night night…. or by the time you read this… a good Saturday morning!

Categories
America New York Plane Travel

Come Fly With Me….

I’m early. Very bloody early. Very very bloody bloody early. As a rule of thumb, us Phillips’s are never this early. When I say early… I’m checked in and through security and there’s still 1 hour and 50 mins until the gate is announced… Let alone boarded!

I’d guess this is earlier than any Phillips has ever been before.

Sadly it's a bit too early to do some serious damage in here!!
Sadly it’s a bit too early to do some serious damage in here!!

Thankfully due to a quick reshuffle just before check in, my bag went through at the right weight…. Also, I appear to have shaken off the Phillips trait of getting a good frisking! I sailed through security painlessly!

Sitting here in this “world class” terminal, looking at all the shiny metal and glass twisting and twining as far as the eye stretches I think back to stories grandma told me. When air travel was still fairly new. Things were a little different. As she said to me “the world was a simpler place”.

The terminals were tents or shacks and planes were a little different to the beasts that rule the airways today.

While grand and flash looking (apparently the largest free standing building in the UK) terminal 5 just leaves me feeling a bit…. Lacklustre. Everything shiny, everything nearly new….I’m yet to have a “wow moment”….

Perhaps I’m being a tough critic…. Currently the outside world is still “asleep”. Surrounding the edge of the building is darkness littered with the orange glow of some sort of lamp. Perhaps when things light up a bit the landscape will change and I’ll have a wow!

To me, this terminal suggests, as probably is true that we are out the other side of grandma’s flying stories…. The golden glamour age of air travel is over… This is now as mundane as getting a train or a bus. (Not for me it aint!)

Talking of the glamour of air travel. There is the odd whispery nod back in time – “The BA Concorde Lounge”. Now that was something I always wanted to travel on!

Sadly, the plane which was the fastest commercial airliner for 27 years, is no more. In an industry which moves as fast as air travel (see what I did there!) That’s an incredible feat. It amazes me that since retirement in 2003, no one has yet come up with a magical tin can which can break the speed of sound twice, while also carrying passengers like Concorde did.

Enough reminicing, back to the matter in hand…. Where in the world can you get sourdough toast and a coffee for £4? Weatherspoons Heathrow. Admittedly, its quite a snazzy spoons, but it’s spoons all the same! You can’t go wrong. Not even at 6am!

Mmmn. Toast and Tiptree jam!
Mmmn. Toast and Tiptree jam!

Opposite from me, I’m not sure if you’d call it art, but is a world map. The world map has cast upon it different degrees of light depending on where in the world is currently experiencing daylight… Some could say I’m literally watching the world wake up! (For a spoons that’s pretty impressive I’d say!)

Wake up world!!!!
Wake up world!!!!

On that note, toast has been eaten, coffee has been drank, it must be time to gawp aimlessly at copious amounts of Toblerone and alcohol as displayed by the duty free shop…. Does law require every airport in the world to sell Toblerone?

I can’t promise updates as in depth and regular as this… (I’m killing time here!) But I’d like to try and write something once a day!!

See you on the other side of the Atlantic!

Categories
America Trip 2016 IT Personal Travel

Start Spreading The News….

Thinking back over the years, I started writing a blog as I was starting work. There are still posts on here (somewhere) from 4 years ago, documenting the first days of my apprenticeship. Unsurprisingly, things have changed since I started writing this blog!

People keep asking me what’s going on with my life… so here we go!……

In December I decided to leave my job of 4 years and take a short break from working. Having left school and then very swiftly starting my apprenticeship/work I barely had a chance to breathe. So many of my friends left school and went on to uni with their three month summer holidays. Many then went on, or are currently on a gap year / travelling. I therefore decided that now was my time to have some rest and do some travelling.

I’ve always wanted to go to America. Especially to New York, and so with that in mind, Last Friday I booked my flights…. Next Thursday, (11th) sees me board a British Airways flight for the longest flight I’ve ever been on. To the Big Apple, where I will be Visiting friends, family and seeing the sights. From New York on the 17th Feb, I fly down to Tampa Florida where I’m going to be driving around the state a little, again seeing friends and seeing the sights.

While by no means as exotic as some of the exciting travels which some of my friends have endured I’m rather excited none the less, and hope you keep some bloggy updates of my trip.

What about work? What are you going to do? In honesty, I’m still not quite sure. I’m thinking about possibly freelancing for a while – doing IT Repairs and getting people new computers as well as perhaps some contract work…. If your computer is broken then let me know!!

I’m rather excited about next week – Need to get a new suitcase as I doubt ours will last and then need to start packing!! Hope you update you all either closer to Thursday or once I’m in the Big Apple!!

Watch out America I’m coming for ya!

(Sorry Frank. Was messing about at home and just thought I’d pop this in for fun. #BedroomSessions)

Categories
Jewish Personal Religion

I am a Jew

Since Lord Sacks shared a video, “Why am I a Jew” Just before Jewish New Year, I’ve basically been thinking most of this and was going to write a blog post….. Then, just now I saw this video on my facebook home page.
It’s 6 minutes long, and probably 80% just one word, But well worth a watch. One word, of only three letters, it reminds me more and more that we are one big family.
To those who ‘aren’t Jew’: Watch, Learn – This is makes up what is part of the “Connection” I always fail to find the words to properly explain.
To those who ‘Are Jew’, or at the very least a little “Jew-Ish”… I promise you will agree with at least one of the statements in this video!

עם ישראל חי – The children of Israel Live.

Categories
Cruise Personal Uncategorized

Day 4 – 15th September – Gibraltar

So today we got up early, had a posh buffet breakfast in the nice restaurant, then had a quick game of shuffleboard before going out onto the helipad to watch us sail through the Gibraltar strait and into the port of Gibraltar.

'pon the Helipad!
‘pon the Helipad!

 

I see Gibraltarr
I see Gibraltarr

 

The views were stunning and we could see Africa pretty clearly! Soon we were docked and we popped into their posh restaurant for a buffet lunch before disembarking to go round Gibraltar!

We walked down the main street ( Called Main Street!) Then jumped in a cab to go for a tour of the rock…

The Caves were Really Pretty!
The Caves were Really Pretty!

The views were magnificent and the weather was lovely. We went down into the caves which were beautiful, before going to the top of the rock to see the views and meet the monkeys. They are very funny and sometimes scary and it surprised me just how close they will get to you!

On the way down we stopped at the Moorish castle which was really pretty as well as having good views.

Two Monkeys!
Two Monkeys!
Another Two Monkeys!
Another Two Monkeys!

 

After the castle we went back to one of the squares where we had some delicious ice cream and a drink but most importantly….. WIFI!!!!

It was quite nice to get back in the loop and see what was going on in the world! After the cafe we popped into WH Smiths and I bought some fruit gums, at English prices, in Great British Pounds (All foreign countries should be like this! Hehe)

Beaut Views... (Hello, Little Ship)
Beaut Views… (Hello, Little Ship)

After that we got a shuttle back to the boat where there was a 45 min queue to get back on!!! Captain Tony apologized….seems there were a few issues!

..... and The Moorish Castle!
….. and The Moorish Castle!

Entertainment that night was Mark Walker who was a “Comedy Impressionist”… we decided that it was fair to say that everything that the comedian last night wasn’t, this guy was…. mainly “Funny”!!

We were up quite late, knowing we had a day at sea to recover!!!!…….

Categories
Cruise Personal Uncategorized

Day 3 – 14th September

So today we’d planned to get up at 10. At ten past ten, the phone rings…. Although according to my tablet next to the bed its 9.10. I answer the phone to mother with then phrase “Which bit of 10 didn’t you understand?!”… She told me it was 10 past. OOPS!!

We got up and had a relaxed breakfast….then we played a game on the deck called shuffleboard…. Bit like curling without the brooms. It was fun but lets just say I wont be taking it up professionally!! (Dad and I lost considerably to Mum and Adam!!) We sat outside for a bit, walked down the promenade and soon it was time for lunch! All these activities are just to fill the gaps between meals right?!

At 2.30 mum and I went up to the bar at the top of the boat for the “Guest Choir”. We’d been promised a Gareth Malone style choir so we’re quite excited – we were even promised a performance from the bridge on the Royal Promenade!

What we were met with was nothing more than a shoddy karaoke with printed sheets. A few of us had expected a bit more organization. We were all just sat round mumbling words! Mum and I led the enthusiasm with a few others joining in and we had a laugh. (Huge Shout out to Rowenna, Janice and Nan!!!)

We told Dad and Adam we had to audition from 65 an were whittled down to 30 before making the final 12. They bought the story,but we felt bad so said simply “Not really, it was sh*t!!!!”… Ah we had a laugh!

We then sat out on deck and took in some sun!

Here's the Sky, not too sunny in this, but it was, I promise!
Here’s the Sky, not too sunny in this, but it was, I promise!

 

 

Mum and I went for the early show by “Fourever” – an Il Divo tribute act…. They were very good…. They did a whole range of songs in English and Italian, mostly from the comfort of “Westlife Stools”!

Soon dinner time came round and we went and had a lovely (as always) dinner to be followed by the Late night entertainment of a comedian….

Let’s just say, the late night bit was correct!!! Comedian was pushing it!

After the ‘comedian’ we went for a walk down the Royal Promenade and had a cup of tea before bed where I found 5 of the 10 Israelis we’d been told were onboard! We’ve decided to do something together for Rosh Hashannah together!

Off to bed we go before tomorrow’s first port call – Gibraltar!

Click here for Day 4!!!

Categories
Cruise

Day 2 – 13th September

Well….. dinner last night was lovely (Watermelon & Raspberry soup, horseradish crusted salmon, and raspberry sorbet!) We walked round the ship and had a look in the night club;

One old man stood with a drink(like he’d wet himself), two people stood by the bar…. And two people in a corner. BANGIN NIGHT.
We ended up in the all night cafe on the promenade with our dinner table friends…

This morning we woke up to a lovely breakfast (we went posh). I had delicious buttermilk pancakes. After breakfast I decided to go up to the cabin so jumped in the lift. In with me were two rather large people, their rather large son (in wheelchair) and who I’m assuming is grandma.

There was slight confusion over which button was pressed. I wanted 10, they wanted 11. The bloke said “press 11 luv” to the woman. She replied with “I ave, the light’s on an he wants 10” (pointing at me….) I then said “ah, the lights are on, but nobody’s at home….” To which she smiled and said “Oh well you clearly know my son then” (Pointing to boy in chair)!!!!!

Thankfully as she said that, the lift doors opened I jumped out saying “Ah that’s not very nice! Byee!!” Regardless of the fact we were only at the 7th floor.

Most of the day was spent in the jacuzzi, the freezing swimming pools and lazing round the pool doing very little. As I seldom have days of nothing, it was actually rather nice!!

The evening soon came round and it was time for our first formal dinner! We scrubbed up and made our way down to the royal promenade for a photo and the captain’s speech followed by dinner (beautiful melon, potato curry and a raspberry jelly-mousse)

 

#Liftfie (Is that a thing? It is now!)
#Liftfie (Is that a thing? It is now!)

 

Here we are all scrubbed up on the Promenade
Here we are all scrubbed up on the Promenade

After dinner we we to the late performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Tell Me On A Sunday’. I can’t say it was my favourite musical, but the acting and singing was very good! Its a hard play to perform as its just one actress!

After the musical we met our dinner table mates up in the hot tub and bubbled away until about 1 am!

 

Day three…. Coming soon!!

Categories
Cruise Jewish

Day 1- 12th September

So, the day has finally arrived…. Cruise day. Its been long awaited and much anticipated, but as I find myself sat on my ones, in near silence, at the front of the ship, its clear that cruise time has very much arrived!!

We woke up this morning at some ungodly hour – before 8! *shudders* Put our cases in the car and set out early to Southampton to avoid the Boat show traffic…. and oh how we avoided the boat show traffic!!! In a Phillips family first, we were that early, we had to stop in a service station to kill time!!!

Boarding the ship was rather uneventful, but let’s get one thing clear – it ain’t small! I was expecting it to be larger…. Wider perhaps. Essentially however its a 14 storey floating 5* hotel!

We had a wander round…toured the Spa, Health club and Gym (I can say I’ve been to the gym today!) and then went for lunch!

Anyone who’s ever eaten lunch with me on camp knows how much I enjoy the prospect of a “multi-carb lunch”… The more different types of carb, the better…. I partook in pasta and bread, but could have added potatoes rice, different bread and I’m sure a few more…. I think this might continue!!

After lunch we carried on wandering and exploring… And checking if our cases had arrived. At 3.30ish we were called to do the evacuation drill – rather bland to be honest! (And the life jackets don’t have a cord to inflate them!! Bores!)

After the drill we went out on the deck to watch us sail away…. Soon we were out of Southampton and sailing!

Sailing, We are sailing..... (Byee Southampton!)
Sailing, We are sailing….. (Byee Southampton!)

 

 

At 5pm we went down to the conference room to do candle lighting…. We were joined by two stereotypical looking (and talking) “North West London Jews”… We’re yet to find our mutuals but they’re from Bushey – so I’m sure we will!! (Update: We didn’t)

Also joining us (late) were two young girls…. One wearing a long dress which went to her knee, and covered her elbows… she looked quite frum…. her friend however barely looked Jewish…..

They sat at the back and didn’t say much. As mum went to light the candles with the women from Bushey, they invited the two girls up with them…. When the blessings were said, the two girls looked rather confused (and horrified!) … They refused kiddish wine and weren’t interested in the BEAUTIFUL challah….

Turns out they were there by mistake, wandered in not knowing what was going on, and then scuttled out embarrassed soon after!!!

Lovely Challot and Sweet, Sweet Manischewitz!
Lovely Challot and Sweet, Sweet Manischewitz!

We’ve now unpacked and settled in, and I find myself in the quiet, sat out on the helipad at the front of the ship, in near silence. Just the water lapping the sides of the ship. The sunset is wonderful and it’s even not too chilly! Seems our adventure has really begun….

Sunset from the Helipad
Sunset from the Helipad

Now, it’s time for our first dinner (casual dress…thankfully!!)

 

Click here for Day 2!

Categories
Uncategorized

7th July

Today I’ve had a long day. It all started at half 6 this morning when the alarm went off. It’s still going as I write this now…..

At the end of today I’ll have travelled nearly 600 Miles (594 to be exact…. Calculated using road distance… so probably not 100% Accurate) Of those miles. Most of them have been by train.

The British train system while often in the media for negative reasons, Is definitely world class…. be it the London Underground, the Overground or National (“British”) Rail services. Today so far has been a dream… (and I hate to say it, it’s quicker, and less hassle than the car!)

I’ve been able to see all sorts of lovely sights out of the window as I whizz along at 125 Miles Per hour tearing up the countryside! (I’ve also finally managed to watch Frozen!)

9 Years ago, on the 7th of July was very different. I was in school. I was in the first period of the day, and all I could hear was Sirens. Those sirens were responding to the actions of a select number of people destined to ruin the lives of others.

On the 7th July 2005, Three suicide bombers took to the London Underground and one on a bus. They detonated bombs causing dramatic affects and scenes. All four of them were killed, along with 52 others, and left around 700 more injured.

I’d hazard a guess that of those 52 people killed or those 700 injured, very few of them had travelled as far as I have today by train the day or days before they were killed…. albeit a different train, but it’s still a public place whereby people should tolerate everyone and “play nice”.

I don’t seem to have seen many articles today commemorating the 7/7 atrocities… (It seems like some cyclists wearing a yellow jersey are more interesting) apart from one, detailing graffiti on the memorial – just just another example of the way humans will NEVER Learn, and people will never be happy to coexist with other people. (See Previous Blog here)

I rarely take public transport, being a huge fan of my car…. However it seems by fluke, in the last few years, every 7th of July, I take to public transport… a subconscious and coincidental memorial to those who lost their lives 9 years ago.