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30th December 2010:
Up early, we left Chloe unwell at home to board the Statton Island Ferry to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty for free.
IT WAS SO CROWDED! Let me say, honestly, it was probably worth it to pay a tour guided boat to see the lovely green lady rather than try and compete with the hoards of other stingey tourists on the ferry!
It was also freezing cold, but it was winter in NYC after all, and it was our choice at the end of the day…
From there we headed back to the centre of Manhatten to catch the elevator up to the top floor of the Rockefellar building for a spectacular view of the city skyline. It truly was magical up there, the city looks SO pretty from above, especially as the sun was setting (early remember, because it was winter).
We took the obligatory tourist photos with the Empire State behind us and then headed back down.
Chloe was absent for all of this, and again stayed in that night. Mum and Dad hit up some jazz bar for a drink or two and I headed back to BROADWAY!
This time I was off to see La Cage Aux Folles! I was alone, but I didn’t mind, I was SO excited about seeing this particular musical about love, folly and drag queens in the south of France!
Kelsey Grammar was FABULOUS as the drag queen club manager, and I wet myself laughing. It was SO camp! I especially loved it when Kelsey’s assistant told him he loved him to which he responded “if you loved me, you’d vacuum!” OH! And the queens! They just danced and bitched and danced and bitched! LOVED IT!

31st December 2010:
Hello New Years Eve!
This was the day we went to Brooklyn.
We wandered the streets a little, exploring all that this borough had to offer, before heading for the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
It had some pretty cool paintings in it. There was also a series of dinner plate ceramics, depiting various important historical women in an abstract way through flowers… It’s hard to explain excaatly what I mean without photos/gestures, but I can tell you they were very striking.
I think our favourite painting was the one of a family with all the men and boys dressed in black coats and white pants. Dad stood infront of this painting and announced “what kind of losers wear black coats and white pants?”
We replied: “You do!” as he hadn’t noticed he was wearing the EXACT same outfit the people in the photo did! Yeah that’s funny!
From there we WALKED (yes that’s right WALKED) back through Brooklyn, across the Manhatten Bridge, all the way to Chinatown. According to the taxi driver we hailed down in China Town, no one had ever walked that far across NYC before! We didn’t even REALISE we’d walked as far as we had!
We went back to the apartment to chill a bit before heading out to a funky little bar in the Meatpacking District for cocktails and dinner on NYE! We brought in the New Year there.

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27th December 2010:
We awoke to find ourselves in a morning of firsts. First blizzard survived, first time “snowed-in” and first time dad has ever had to use a shovel to dig us out of snow. THAT was hilarious!
Chloe and I had a muck around in the white snow, which was thigh deep and incredbily cold. We’d never seen so much white in our lives!
From there we bundled up and headed out, following through paths others had already made across the streets of NYC.
We were off to meet Chloe’s best friend from primary school, Kristen and her dad. On the way we stopped in at a couple of department stores for a bit of shopping before catching up with our old friends outside the Plaza Hotel!
They took us to the CUTEST, QUIRKIEST little cafe that served delicious food. I can’t remember what I ate, only that I loved it.
Afterwards, Chloe, mum and I headed off to see Mary Poppins whilst dad went to Madison Square Gardens to see an ice hockey matched.
Mary Poppins was spectacular. Well, atleast the second half was. The first half was lacking in energy and we were on the verge of walking out. Thank god we stayed or we would’ve missed a really special second act! Very much worth seeing for that alone!

28th December 2010:
Chloe had long dreamed about standing outside Tiffany & Co on 5th Avenue, a la Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and sip at coffee whilst staring longingly at the beautiful jewelry inside. 5th Avenue had already been mostly cleared of snow, so we picked up some pastries and hot drinks before posing for our obligitory photos outside the store. Then Chloe popped inside for a few new trinkets for her charm bracelet.
After our Tiffany’s detour, we headed for Central Park, where children were enjoying the mountains of snow. Central Park is GORGEOUS covered in white frost.
This what where I saw a “shelf” of snow and thought I could sit on it… I didn’t realise quite how soft snow was, and fell right through it onto the ground. Chloe, acting just as intelligently as myself, copied my act and found the same fate as I had. HILARIOUS!
There were already snowmen everywhere, as well as a few sneaky “snow shapes” pressed into trees which were very impressive.
We continued on, headed to a very special place. We were off for a mini lunch at a very snazzy (name withheld) restaurant in a huge centre on the other side of Central Park.
The food was fantastic, we were treated to some spectacular showmanship in the form of edible treats and the waiters were flawless – if only all waiters were like these ones! They DESERVED every tip they got!
Later that evening, Chloe and Dad ran off home and I managed to drag mum into FAO Schwartz. Dream. Come. True. GIANT PIANO TO PLAY ON! BARBIE FASHION PARADE! LIFESIZE PLUSH ANIMALS! HOORAY!

29th December 2010:
This was the day we went to Harlem. We boarded the subway and went almost as far north as you can go on Manhattan Island.
We spent the morning exploring the area well known for it’s jazz culture. Mum waved to buskers on the subway, then we ended up in a creepy little cafe that was empty. Mum was so fascinated by the photos that it was almost IMPOSSIBLE to drag her out! She wondered why I was being so pushy until I informed here a CREEPY OLD MAN had been glaring at us from behind a curtain. Good, glad we left… After she photographed the bajeezus out of the place!
We had “breakfast” as IHOP (International House of Pancakes) – which consisted of the most calorific quesadillas in the world and unlimited pancakes. Hooray!
From there we headed off to find this mystical and magical suit shop dad had read about in the travel guide. It wasn’t enough for him to just buy a suit in NYC, no, it had to be from some quirky little store with an eccentric owner in Harlem. He got just that, and a few shirts too!
We then wandered down the main strip, found the Apollo Theatre and talked dad out of buying some truly hideous shoes.
From there we headed to the Upper East Side and into the Met (after taking some fun “Gossip Girl” shots on the steps outside). The Met is amazing. I wandered for hours on my own (having ditched the fam) taking in some really spectacular art works. They had some really obscure Picasso’s there (yes, even for Picasso) that I was totally dumbstruck by.
By then we were starving. We met out the front, found dad on the steps (he had gotten bored after 20mins and gone to get a snack) and headed for 42nd St where we were off to have dinner with some old friends of mum and dad.
Sharon and Carl took us to PongSri, a cosy little Zagat-rated Thai restaurant nestled just off Broadway. I had the BEST Pad Thai I’ve ever eaten in my whole life, as well as a spicy eggplant dish and a Thai-inspired chicken schnitzel which was pretty delicious. I ate too much.

22nd December 2011:
Chloe and Georgia arrive in the Big Apple at 11am. We then proceed to hail a cab with our thousand suitcases and speed off towards the apartment we will be staying in in Chelsea.
After dumping our suitcases and exploring the apartment, Chloe and I wandered outside to find a small bakery next door. Half pound (250g) cookies and rich, fluffy cupcakes became our lunch.
Dad arrived an hour or two later and in order to keep him awake, I announced that we should explore Chelsea! Chloe stayed in, exhausted from the long bus ride, whilst dad and I ventured out to find Chelsea Market. Turned out the “little” market we were expecting to find was the size of a department store and had everything from an Anthropologie to an amazing bakery, fishmonger and a little Aussie pie shop! We wandered around before settling on a little Italian deli for some more food (dad hadn’t had lunch and well… I’m always hungry!) before heading back to meet mum.
Still excited by our little culinary find, we dragged mum back to the markets later that evening, when it was all lit up for Christmas! We then hit a trendy hole in the wall called Pop Burgers for an amazing round of sliders (mini burgers) before hitting the hay early, as we’d all travelled long distances that day.

23rd Dec 2010:
We set off relatively and successfully early (I believe it was the earliest we were ready the entire trip!) on our first FULL day in NYC. We headed south, hoping to explore Greenwich Village, Chinatown and Little Italy. Mother refused straight up to drink coffee from a little cart on the side of the road, so after the rest of us got our morning coffee and donut hit from a silver truck, we headed off to find some “real” coffee for the fusspot. We ended up at Jeffery’s, a quirky little greengrocer/cafe near Gay St, where mum got her “real coffee”.
Satisfied, we continued south.
On a busy street which I am thankful I don’t remember the name of, we came across a shop with some shoes in the window. Dad went in, deciding he wanted to look around. He found pimp shoes… We were in a pimp shop. Yes, my father the pimp. They were long, pointy leather shoes that were teal and pearl coloured. He wanted them so bad. Mum was feigning interest whilst Chloe and I were trying DESPERATELY to convince him that not even his friend Dapper would talk to him again if he bought them. They were foul.
Other items found in the shop: hooker boots with guns for heels, those dresses that have so many “trendy” torn rips on them you’re not sure if it’s really a dress anymore, pimp hats.
It took a good hour, but we talked him out of the hideous pimp shoes… although he did get SOMETHING from the shop: a very plain, basic pair of black leather gloves. He was very happy with his purchase.
And we kept walking, and walking, and walking…
And then we found a record store. It looked cool, so we went inside. We found a cat, and not just any cat but the WORLDS FATTEST CAT EVER! For realz, this cat was like four times the size of that fatty obese cat that lives down the road from you (you know the one, you all have one!). I would’ve broken my back trying to lift it. It was bigger than all three of my fatty pet cats combined. But he was a beautiful cat, and very friendly. Dad, Chloe and I spent a disturbingly long time with the fat cat, Carmel was highly offended.
So then we kept walking, and walking, and walking. We saw NYU and Chloe got this foul pretzel and we had lunch in Little Italy and we saw hoards of Chinese people hovered around a tiny little outdoor chess set – just like in the movies except instead of one or two spectators there was half of China there. Yeah.
More walking and we hit the financial district and we saw the courts and it was pretty cool AND THEN WE HIT WALL ST! We walked HALF of MANHATTEN in less than a day! By this stage it was getting dark (so early!) and we ventured down Wall St as it got dark and it was pretty cool I must admit. We saw the New York Stock Exchange and some other big buildings AND THEN WE SAW TIFFANYS! And of course Chloe disappeared inside… Eventually the rest of us followed, but not until we were finished being mesmerised by the Tiffany’s carolling men out the front, in their cute Tiffany-blue ties. Adorable.
Mum and dad were exhausted like the old people that they are by this stage and we headed back for Chelsea.
Chloe and I didn’t have much time to waste, we had to get ready to go to our first Broadway show: LION KING!
Let me just say one thing: if you never see the Lion King musical on stage then your life will be a complete waste. It was amazing. AMAZING!
Times Square is le disgust.

24th Dec 2010:
So we started our day with the hunt for the mystical bike shop my dad was so intend on visiting. Whilst Chloe and Mum went to get Chloe’s glasses repaired (she sat on them), Dad and I strolled a few blocks over to find the bike shop… What we found was an empty storefront that had closed down only mere weeks earlier… LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL! I was so pleased we didn’t have to visit the stupid bike shop… UNTIL WE FOUND ANOTHER STUPID BIKE SHOP! Karma: gets you every time!
We then embarked on a mini architecture self-guided tour. We visited the Flat Iron Building, the New York Public Library, the Empire State and many amazing skyscrapers before finding ourselves on 5th Avenue admiring the gorgeous Christmas windows. We also saw a man do a backflip over 4 standing people. It was pretty hilarious. It was also a pretty sweet deal kinda lazy exploring NYC day.
After a really late lunch at this amazing cafe, I ditched the rentals and sister to catch up with my friend Brad and do a little last minute Christmas shopping! I was after this particular bike book for my dad, and whilst I didn’t find it, I found something better: the sequel to his FAVOURITE bike book of all time! Hooray! I also picked up a few sneaky things at Sephora for mum and Chloe.
Then we all retired in for the night, eating dodgy late night pizza, before going to bed to await Santa!

So the weekend before exams (yes, I’m soooooo rebellious :P) I left Albuquerque to fly to Las Vegas and spend the weekend with my mother. I hadn’t seen her since I left Australia in August and was incredibly excited.

Friday 10th December:
I jumped on an airplane to Vegas, transferring at Phoenix, in the afternoon with the intention of landing an hour before my mother at our destination. Upon landing, I turned on my mobile phone to find missed calls from mum, who had arrived only minuted earlier!
It wasn’t easy tracking mum down, she was standing at the wrong luggage carousel waiting for luggage from Seattle, not Los Angeles.
After collecting our luggage we stood in the worlds LONGEST line (seriously, it was one of those snaking lines that doubled over 3 times and each section was well over 100 metres long) for a taxi to the Aria Hotel – our destination for the weekend.
We arrived, mother a little tired from jetlag and me starving hungry as always. I had endless energy and insisted going for a stroll to find dinner. Mum was a little reluctant but after popping a bottle of champagne (drink 1 – explained further down) she agreed on Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant in the MGM Grand. After pizza, some crazy mad salad and a seriously delicious chocolate souffle dessert (plus drinks 2 & 3) we wandered back to our hotel where mum proceeded to pass out and snore hilariously.

Saturday 11th December:
HOORAY! VEGAS! We were probably up before anyone else in Vegas, but hey we had places to be! We started the day with cake at a French patisserie (the breakfast of champions!) before a little shopping to prelude our plan to hit up as many of the strange, quirky and just plain weird hotels along the strip.
Our first stop outside the Aria was the Bellagio hotel, where we admired the amazing Christmas decorations consisted of artic animals made entirely of flowers. We then went outside to watch the water show the Bellagio puts on every half hour.
We then wandered across to Planet Hollywood where I knew I would find an Earl of Sandwich (a magical discovery from my trip to Disney World with Eloise & Eloise). Best. Sandwich. Ever.
As it began to get dark we realised we had only done 3 drinks since arriving in Vegas (a travesty if I ever heard one! and it had been a SHARED drink) and set about doing exactly what we had always planned to do when we finally got to Sin City.
Our aim? To down 21 drinks, or one at each hotel until we hit that magical number. The original plan was to do 21 drinks each, but after my third drink I was so giggly that mum announced maybe it was best to aim for 21 between us. I agreed, but only because drinks in Vegas are bigger than elsewhere and in many cases one could’ve easily counted as two.
So drinks number 4 and 5 took place inside the little restaurant half way up the tiny Eiffel Tower at the Paris hotel, from where we watched the Bellagio water show again (it was dark and is way more spectacular at night with lights added for effect). I was already tipsy by this point and there were a few drunk photos taken of the rather spectacular Eiffel bathroom…
Drinks number 6 & 7 were taken at a rather dodgy pokies bar inside the run down Flamingo hotel. More drunken antics followed when we stumbled across a sex shop with open legs for an entrance and proceeded to pose endlessly beneath them. Mum then spotted a naked male mannequin on a bed inside the shop and forced me up on the bed… More hilarious photos.
Caesar’s Palace was our next stop and by the time I was pretty far gone and was most excited when I stumbled across a giant wall of goldfish for me to make fishy-faces with. We also posed infront of the many recreated statues of David, Caesar, etc.
On our way to find dinner and drinks 8 & 9, we spotted CRIPPLE SANTA! (Santa Claus with a walking frame) at a restaurant and knew this was the place we were supposed to eat.
We were right too, the little restaurant we had chosen had spectacular pasta and we met an amazing couple who landed me the work experience I am currently completing here in ABQ!
After tossing a coin in the fake Trevi Fountain we wandered up the strip to see JERSEY BOYS at the Palazzo hotel. Drink number 10 occurred in the lobby.
Jersey Boys is the story of the Four Seasons and was an incredible show.
Afterwards, exhausted and ready for bed, we began the walk home only to find ourselves outside a champagne bar (the perfect place for drinks 11 & 12!) where mum drank champagne and I drank champagne cocktails.
We then journeyed back to the Aria and passed out, as we had to be up early for our helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon!

Sunday 12th December:
We awoke with enough time to get cake for breakfast again (hooray!), before boarding the little van that would take us allllllllll the way to the helicopter for our mini trip to the Grand Canyon. It was definitely the best way to see the spectacular desert attraction, as were were able to land directly inside one of the ‘rooms’ and explore an area that tourists who drive are not privy to. This was also the location of drinks 13 & 14. Hooray white wine! I wasn’t ready to leave the Grand Canyon when we did, although the flights there and back were just as astonishing, as we also hovered over the Hoover Dam and through the Nevada desert.
We headed for the Venetian, planning to stop for an afternoon snack at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon, only to find it CLOSED for renovations! Devastated and still hungry, we ventured into the Mirage hotel (after finding the Treasure Island siren show closed for renovations as well!) to have all-American style nachos and fried pickles alongside drinks 15 & 16.
A quick stop at the Mirage volcano show was in order before drinks 17 & 18 at the Mandarin Oriental (so classy) – our most expensive drinks of the trip at $16 each.
We still had a few hotels to hit: the New York New York, Excalibur (quick stop for a Maccas cheeseburger) and the Luxor. No drinks were drunk at these hotels.
We headed back to the Bellagio – realising we hadn’t had a drink there yet – and drank drinks 19 & 20 at a quirky little bar offerring 2 for 1 drinks. Definitely worth it, those drinks were delish.
Then we did some shopping at Caesar’s palace. Hooray!
I had decided drink number 21 (YAY! we made it!) had to be particularly memorable and insisted on dragging mum back up to the Paris hotel for one of those ridiculous daquiris in a hot airballoon shaped holder. She was reluctant, exhausted after another big day, although it ended up being a great night as we found a show called Duelling Pianos playing at a bar across the way from my drink stand. The show consisted of two grand pianos, placed opposite one another, with a man and a lady playing popular songs and ‘duelling’ for tips. They were incredibly entertaining and come highly recommended by one drunk little me.
Right before we called it quits for the night, we hit up the Blackjack table (21!) and mum sat me down, told them to go easy on me cos it was my first time and I had just turned 21… Well everyone started telling the dealer to give me 21, they were chanting it “21! 21! 21!” AND GUESS WHO GOT 21 ON HER FIRST ROUND? That’s right! MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
We played one more round, I lost that one but didn’t lose all my money… Actually I ended up still walking away with $13 (I’d won about $30 initially) ontop of what I had put down so I was pretty pleased with myself! What a way to end our Vegas adventure!
Afterwards, we stumbled back to our hotel bed as we had an early flight to catch!

Monday 13th December:
Up early, off to the airport, flying back to Albuquerque with mum! So excited to show her the little city that had become my new home. 🙂

Just before midnight on the 26th of November 2009, my parents, my sister and I touched down IN INDIA!

Now, let me try to explain exactly how excited I was: SO EXCITED!!! See, India is a nation of beautiful silks, amazing architecture and most importantly, my favourite kind of food: Indian. All I could think about was all the curries, the dosas, the samosas, the bahji that was calling my name: “Eat me Georgia, we are delicious!” they exclaimed. I was truly ready to eat nothing but curry for the ten days I was in this amazing country of spectacular food… And I wanted to buy some nice silks and see some temples whilst I was at it.

We arrived in Chennai, formerly Madras, on the south-east coast of the brilliant subcontinent, and despite it being so late at night, the city was ready and waiting to assault our senses the moment we stepped out of the airport.
Men and women in colourful saris lined the barricades outside the arrival terminals (see, in India you can’t even ENTER an airport without a ticket, so the crowds wait outside). Many of the men were holding up signs with names, we were supposed to find ours… amongst what seemed like half the population just outside the airport!

Immediately we were hit by a wall of smells: India smelt funny, but not half as bad as I was warned it would be. The faint smell of spices filled the air, mixed with sweat, dust and that disgusting summer-day humidity smell that didn’t seem to care that it was the middle of the night!

We were under the assumption that Chennai was small-ish. We were wrong. Chennai has like several MILLION people, it’s like the Melbourne of Australia… but with like a zillion times the population, and that’s not even counting all the “extras” in the slums. (Not that there appeared to really be many slums happening, which surprised me – although I was later informed that this was really only a problem in Mumbai, and most other cities had very little in the way of slums.) But Chennai was not only big, it was also busy: all day and all night. A city that never sleeps AND IT’S NOT EVEN A MAJOR INTERNATIONAL ONE!

I was so excited that when we finally arrived at our hotel, I had alot of trouble falling asleep (despite my severe jetlag due to the never-ending stop over in Bangkok airport), but awoke the next morning with so much energy and excitement, I was ready to go before my parents had even rolled out of bed!

Then it was time for breakfast: a good Indian breakfast was clearly the only way to start the day! (My family did not agree.) I couldn’t help myside, it was so tasty.

When we FINALLY went outside, it was hard not to be a little nervous, our hotel was on a major highway and there was like zero sidewalk (what sidewalk did exist was mostly crumbled or occupied by a cart or similar). The Indians on foot happily risked their lives walking up and down the side of the ACTUAL ROAD, going about their business like having a car driving at you 100kms an hour was nothing at all! So we followed suite, and headed down the road, trying not to become roadkill.

We headed down the first “side street” we came along. Apparently every Indian in the area was staring at me, Chennai isn’t exactly a big tourist city, white people are almost unheard of, and my particularly-pale complexion really stood out. (My family are luckily all quite tanned, and except for mum’s blue eyes, they all found it much easier to blend in than I did.) I was also apparently offending them with my almost-knee length shorts and a tshirt… I was told that would be fine (BY AN INDIAN!), clearly that advice was wrong.
So I made a future effort to cover up more… which was easier said than done in a country that has 35 degree days in the middle of winter, I couldn’t think of anything worse than covering up.
Of course, for India I’d do anything and it wasn’t an issue of modesty, but it was humid and that’s gross. (Next time I visit India, I will invest in many long, linen things… And not have to wear funny mismatched clothing in order to try and blend in.)

Interesting fact about lovely Chennai: The St Thomas Basilica is located in the city, and is one of the only three apostles world wide. (The other two are in Rome, Italy and Santiago, Spain.) That’s pretty cool.

We only had that morning in Chennai, but already I could tell that I was going to love every part of India. There were so many exciting things to photograph and for some reason we didn’t appear to have any culture shock… So it was off to the airport to go to Madurai and visit Mani and his family for his wedding.

To be continued…