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New York & Montreal
September 12, 2005

New York City is noisy, crowded, and often smells bad. It's also one of the most amazing cities I've ever visited, and I'd go back immediately.

We were landing at LaGuardia airport, which is fairly close to Manhattan, so our plane swooped around quite near to the tall downtown New York buildings upon descent. It was like having a free helicopter tour of the city.

After arriving, we checked into the Hotel Newton, which was moderately priced, but got great reviews on TripAdvisor. Great location, on the upper west side, only 50 feet from the Subway stations.

We were in a rush though, just like everyone else in New York, as we had a Broadway play to catch. We had tickets for Avenue Q, and it was hilarious. Think Sesame Street, but for adults, complete with a porn addicted monster.

Before the show, we had our first taste of Times Square. What a gong show! Just masses of people dodging taxis, a claustrophobic's nightmare. No wonder the locals try to avoid that area.

The next day we had a full schedule of sight-seeing. Starting early in the morning we took the free Staten Island ferry, with a nice view of the Statue of Liberty on the way by. Coming back, you're treated to the incredible New York skyline.

Next we walked around lower Manhattan, including the financial district (Wall Street) and paid our respects at Ground Zero. It's amazing how quiet the financial district is on a weekend, I'm sure it's quite different Monday to Friday. We also walked through Chinatown, which looks a lot like every other Chinatown I've seen.

We grabbed some dinner at Noche Mexicana, a great little Mexican restaurant that was close to our hotel.

Jacked up on Red Bulls and a bit tipsy, we jumped on the 1 train to The Roxy Nightclub. They were having a special party with famous New York DJ Jonathan Peters.

JP was amazing, but even more amazing was the sound. The Roxy is one of only a few nightclubs in the world that boasts a Phazon sound system. With the Phazon systems, you get incredible chest pounding bass, but the next day you won't hear any ringing in your ears. You can also talk to the person right next to you quite easily, without having to shout. It's pretty incredible, I wish every club could have one!

The next morning we woke up early, and ate some great bagels at Lenny's Bagels. By now Lenny's was becoming a ritual for us. Despite a late night at The Roxy, we had to get to Brooklyn quite early to catch the West Indian Day Parade.

It's apparently the largest parade in NYC, but to be honest it was a little dissapointing. Maybe I just had higher expectations, but I thought it would be more than people marching with political signs and a few really meagre floats.

We gave up on the parade and headed over towards the Brooklyn Bridge. Before checking out the bridge though, we wanted to try the famous pizza served up by Grimaldi's. They've won pretty much every pizza award in New York City, and are rated #1 by both Zagat and CitySearch If you know how many great pizzerias there are in NYC, that's quite impressive.

The lineup for Grimaldi's stretched down the block, but moved quite quickly. They really pack you in, and you don't get much service beyond your order being taken. It doesn't matter though, because the pizza is incredible and well worth the wait.

Of course we had to walk it off with a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge. It's a great-lookin' bridge with wonderful panoramic views of NYC.

Next we rushed off to the Ed Sullivan theatre. Months ago, we requested tickets for the Dave Letterman show, and a few days before our departure they called (with a skill-testing 'Dave related' question). Apparently they don't want the tickets going to non-fans, so if you don't know who Rupert Jee is, you're out of luck!

You show up to the theatre, they give you tickets with a number on it, and tell you to come back at 6:00. When you come back one of the ushers pumps you up with a speech, and tells you to laugh at everything you hear. Our tickets had the numbers 315 and 316, so I thought we were going to be stuck way up in the upper balcony, but we turned out to have amazing seats, on the floor, on the side where Dave sits.

The guests were D.L. Hughley, who was quite funny, The Naked Chef (who was not naked, nor did he cook) and Weezer. The experience was pretty surreal, as I've seen the show so many times it was kind of like watching the show on a giant television.

Later on that evening we headed for the Empire State Building. If you go about an hour before closing you can avoid the long lineups. You also get to see the entire city at night, which is quite a view to say the least.

The next morning, we had some more bagels (at Lenny's of course) and walked to Central Park. It really is quite incredible to see such an enormous greenspace in the middle of all that urbanization. We rented one of those cheesy tandem bikes, and pedaled around, giving our feet a rest.

We took it pretty easy for most of the day, before heading out to the Bronx to watch the Yankees play the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. At $8.50 USD/beer it can cost you a small fortune to get drunk, but the stadium was impressive. Despite Tampa's horrible season, the Bronx Bombers have had a lot of trouble against them, and we watched them lose a close game.

On our final day in the city we checked out Rockefeller Plaza, and all of the famous stores along 5th Avenue. We looked at jewelry that cost more than most houses (Tiffany's), and watched people re-create the scene from 'Big' on the giant piano at FAO Schwartz. We walked around the all-marble & gold entrance of Trump tower, and got lost in the iconic (and gigantic) Macy's department store.

To cap off our NYC trip we had pre-ordered tickets for the U.S. Open Tennis evening matches at Arthur Ashe stadium. First we watched Dementieva knock off Davenport. But the real treat was Agassi Vs. Blake. We really lucked out on catching what some have been calling the best tennis match of the last decade.

Down 2 sets, Agassi comes back to tie it up. Down in the 5th and deciding set, Agassi comes back to force a tie-break. Finally, down in the tie-break, Agassi comes back to win, with the full support of the crowd at Arthur Ashe.

We saw quite a bit of New York in only 5 days, but it was hardly enough. I've been to cities where I think 'I'd like to go back one day', but with New York it's more like 'I want to go back right NOW!'. We didn't even have time to check out a single museum.

The next morning we missed our train to Montreal, but were able to catch the afternoon train. It's a 10 hour journey, but has some pretty interesting scenery through Connecticut and Vermont.

We were in Montreal for the weekend, which was nice because Montreal is known for it's vibrant night-life. We spent the days wandering the streets of Old-Montreal and the waterfront, and the nights partying it up with my ex-roommate Graeme and his group of friends.