Saturday, 4 April 2009

Goodbye

So this is it, last entry. I'm sitting in the same chair in London I was almost two years ago when I wrote the first entry on this Blog. Since then I've spent time in: Japan, Australia, USA, Mexico, India, Hong Kong, Macau, Canada, Bermuda and Barbados as well as watching too many concerts and sports events to try and even start to list.

If you've been following my travels for a while then you'll know that the majority of my time was in either Japan or New York. If you want to read my summary of Tokyo then you'll find that here.

As far as New York goes, well I'll miss a few things:
- the beer (no, not the Bud and Miller rubbish but the small microbrewery brands such as DogFish Head, Lagunitas, Smuttynose)
- late drinking (back to London closing times of 1.30pm is a shock to the system)
- concerts (in NYC I saw so many bands I like in really small venues for cheap prices)
- delivery (I could have ordered food from a different restaurant every night I was in NY and it would have been delivered to my door for free inside half an hour)
- 24 hour tube trains which never seem to break down (if NY can manage it why can't London?)

And there a few things I won't:
- the weather (5 months of the year is ridiculously hot and humid and 5 months of the year are ridiculously cold)
- the city is filthy (seriously, the whole place is just manky)
- it is a long way to get anywhere out of the city (in Greenwich I'm still close to the middle of London but it never feels like living in a city)

At the end of day the question I asked myself was: do I see myself wanting to live long term in NYC and it didn't take long to decide the answer was no. Do I see London as that place? That's a more difficult answer.

So there you go, a last few thoughts. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it.

"Nothing makes the Earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes" - Henry David Thoreau

Friday, 3 April 2009

Windies v England

OK, caught up with yesterday's post - time for today's. As I mentioned I went to two Windies v England ODIs while I was in Barbados both of which were played at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown.

Friday

The first match was delayed by about an hour due to rain. When it did finally get under way England were batting - but not for long. They quickly deteriorated to 68-8 and looked on course to beat their lowest ever score against the Windies of 114. Only a late rally by a couple of tailenders stopped this as they were bowled out for 117 (apparently the 15th lowest ODI score ever by England).

The Windies would have had to do something really awful to lose this game and after Chris Gayle hit 80 from just 42 balls (including 8 sixes and 5 fours) that was never going to happen. When Gayle was finally bowled the score was 98-1 (his batting partner having scored only 8 - for those of you who think I have my maths wrong there were 10 extras).

The Windies wrapped this game up by 4pm and finished on 117-2 after only 15 overs.

Sunday

Even though watching England get thrashed was obviously hilarious I was rather hoping that the second game would be a bit more exciting. The Windies batted first in this game and Chris Gayle started where he left off from hitting 46 from 39 balls (including 5 sixes). Unfortunately for the Windies they lost their way a bit then and were quickly reduced to 83-3. They kept losing wickets fairly regularly without scoring too quickly before Dwayne Bravo launched a late assault and scored 69 from 72 balls. In the end the Windies finished with 239-9.

The opinion of the crowd seemed to be that this may be enough as England had been so poor. However, we'll never know as the rain crashed down over lunch and the England innings was delayed for so long that their target was reduced to 135 from 20 overs to win the match.

England never really looked in danger of not making this total scoring well in the powerplay overs of the game to reach 136-1 with 9 balls to spare.

Barbados

Well, there you go. For the first time in almost 2 years I forgot to write a Blog entry yesterday - and I only had a couple of days left before I stop for good too. Anyway, what I was going to write about was my long weekend in Barbados where I stopped off on my way back to the UK (OK, its more of a detour than a stopover).

I flew down on Thursday morning and left Monday evening so had almost 5 days there. A couple of the days were filled with West Indies v England ODIs which I'll cover in a separate post but the rest of the time was split between the beach or the bar.

That was the view from the deck outside my hotel (which I would describe as cheap and cheerful at best). On Thursday and Saturday nights I headed along to the main bar area of St Lawrence Gap which was about 20 mins walk. This is about a mile long and is full of bars, clubs and restaurants. On Saturday evening I was sitting in a bar chatting to the bar staff when about half a dozen rather drunken guys wandered in - I assumed they were England cricket supporters but it turned out to be the BVI rugby team who were in town to play Barbados. I ended up getting into a few rounds of rather hideous cocktails and shots with them that night.

Friday night I headed to Oistin Fish Market which, from the early evening onwards if full of tourists and locals. This place is full of dozens of little fish cafes selling the days catch and Banks beer at really cheap prices (one place was selling bottles of Banks for BBD$3 (which works out to US$1.50 or about £1).

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Last bands in NYC

I'm running out of time if I'm going to finish writing this Blog this week so I'll have to cover two concerts in one post. My final two nights in NYC were spent at gigs so here we go.

Bloc Party at Terminal 5

Another band who seem to have expanded their US fan base since I arrived as they were playing two sold out nights at Terminal 5 whereas their last tour was at the much smaller Webster Hall. To be honest it really was only the songs from Silent Alarm that I wanted to hear and it seemed that way for a lot of the crowd as these were the songs the crowd were most into.

Some of the newer songs didn't seem to require anyone to be playing onstage except the drummer. However, they played pretty much everything I was hoping for from the first album.

Morrissey at Webster Hall

I can't claim to be a particularly big fan of either Morrissey or The Smiths (greatest hits for each of them in my CDs but that's it). However, as he was playing such a, relatively, small venue and it was so close to my flat I got tickets.

Luckily there were a couple of Smiths songs in the set including my favourite "How Soon Is Now". Otherwise, the final song (can't remember the name) was a bit mad. One guy from the crowd climbed on stage to hug Morrissey and was thrown back and from then on dozens of people were trying the same thing. There were 4 security guys at the front of the stage throwing people back before they made it - not sure if that was song specific or normal at his gigs.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Last post in NYC

So this will be my last entry from NYC. I have a couple of hours left in the office before I head off for the day but tomorrow I will be finishing packing in my flat and then Thursday I fly off. Back in London next week via a bit of a detour over the weekend.

So I'll have a couple more stories to finish up with next week but then this record of my two years of travels will be done.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Last of the early beer starts...

...or at least last of the early beers starts due to the 6 Nations in NYC. I'm not ruling them out completely in the future. Turning up for the France v Italy game wasn't really necessary to guarantee a seat either - in fact there were only about a dozen people in the whole bar for the start of that game.

However, the place was mobbed by the time the Calcutta Cup game started and I doubt you could get in the door when the Wales v Ireland game began. Not sure whether the whisky shots were a good idea - actually they weren't...

Friday, 20 March 2009

Jimmy's Corner

The leaving drinks are beginning to take their tole on me this week. Thankfully I have a night off tonight before the 6 Nations at 9am tomorrow morning.

Yesterday I went out mid-afternoon with a few guys from work which ran until around midnight I think. Ended up in a bar called Jimmy's Corner which is just off Time Square. Generally I wouldn't even consider going anywhere near a bar in this area but this place was a bit different.

It is owned by a guy called Jimmy Glenn who is a pretty famous boxing trainer and the whole place is filled with pictures and other memorabilia. Interesting place to look into if you are passing by.