Tim Horton's comes to NYC

It's been all over the news here - Tim Horton's opened up 12 stores in NYC today. Having not been to a Tim Horton's in months, we went for a visit. They had all the typical food of a Tim Horton's, plus the big TV screen menus, but they had New York prices. I remember the prices I use to pay in Waterloo, and here everything was higher and in US dollars. It was also a much smaller space - there was one small counter and the line up space was shared with a KFC. There was seating though, in the basement. It was a beautiful evening so we decided to eat outside in nearby Bryant Park just as an outdoor movie was starting up.

Our latest project

While we've been here we've taken advantage of the half-price tickets booth for Broadway shows. We've seen some great shows and some disasters. We found it difficult to find out what shows we would actually like. In searching through many sites for Broadway ratings we discovered an unfilled need. In an attempt to fill that gap, we created a new site - www.RateBroadway.com. If you have been to a Broadway show, feel free to add your opinion. :)

Daily Show and a Long Walk

This past week we went to a taping of the Daily Show. I reserved the tickets back in Nov or Dec of last year, and this was the only date left with 2 seats available. After waiting in a long line for 2 hours while everyone went through security, we got two seats in the very back of the audience. They began the show with a pre-show where a comedian talked to the audience and found out where people from and what they do, etc. Then Jon Stewart came out, and answered a few questions from the audience before the show began. The show went by very quickly. They did everything in one take. There was one guest that he interviewed, and the rest was just filmed in one spot at his desk. I didn't notice them filming the audience at all, but they use a live audience for their laugh track, so I'm in the background laughing and applauding. :)

Here's a link to the episode: http://www.thedailyshow.com/full-episodes/index.jhtml?episodeId=220250

The episode caught a lot of attention: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/will-bunch/what-battered-newsrooms-c_b_172397.html. So it's pretty cool that we were there in the audience, on the laugh track. :)

This weekend has been really nice weather-wise. Yesterday it got up to 21 and was just a beautiful day. We decided to do something outdoors to take advantage of the weather. We decided to walk Manhattan. We started at Battery Park, the southern tip of Manhattan, and walked up Broadway all the way to 125th street.
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We started just before 1pm, and got on the subway at 125th st around 6pm. We stopped a few times on the way. We had a cupcake at crumbs on 8th St. We sat on a rock in Central Park just outside Columbus Circle. We stopped for cappuccinos and an appetizer at a cafe at 104th St. We also walked around Columbia University which we've never been to before. It's a beautiful campus. The buildings have an old and beautiful look to them. They also have a big courtyard, and lots of open lawns and park space. Our walk took us through many parts of the city, from the financial district, to China town, to SoHo, to NYU campus, to the shopping districts of Union Square and Madison Square, and the tourist hot-spot of Times Square, then a short stop in Central park and the calm upper west side, then Columbia University, and finally to the ugly brown brick housing projects in Harlem where we ended our walk. It was tiring but fun. It made me realize how small Manhattan is. I always thought it was much bigger, but really you can walk the whole length of it in an afternoon.

Halloween and the Skating Curse

Our Halloween festivities began last weekend. There was a pumpkin festival in Central park which included a pumpkin carving day and a pumpkin sail. We walked through the park on the pumpkin carving day, and even though it was raining, there were lots of people and lots of pumpkins! People had carved out jack-o-lanterns and then placed them along the paths in the park. They were everywhere! It was neat to walk around and look at peoples creations. Most of them were pretty typical, but there were a few good and unique ones. The pumpkin sail took place in the evening. People brought their jack-o-lanterns, lit candles in them, placed them on Styrofoam floats and floated them down the Harlem Meer. It was really neat to see all these floating pumpkins, glowing at night and bobbing on the water. On Wednesday, there was a Halloween party at work, and everyone brought their kids in all dressed up. That was very cute, and my only opportunity to see children dressed up this year. On Friday we went to the Village Halloween parade. It was packed! There were more than 2 million people at the parade, and I'd say at least half of them were dressed up in costumes. There were some really neat and funny costumes too. I think my favorite was a group of girls that were dressed up as different coloured crayons. There was also a guy dressed up as a Ken doll, still in the box. He had created a full sized box with clear plastic in front, and he was wearing a bathing suit. It was pretty funny. We also saw a group of people dressed as Bananas, but they weren't wearing pyjamas. :)

In other fall news, the trees have finally started to be quite colourful. Last weekend, we bought a bag full of apples from the farmer's market and made an apple pie which was really delicious and heaping with apples.

In other NYC weekend news, we discovered there are free recitals every weekend at Julliard. We went to a harpsichord concert yesterday evening. It was the first time I've ever seen a harpsichord played live. Chris thought it sounded pretty primitive, and I guess it did, but that was part of what made it so unique. I suppose I would have been satisfied with a shorter performance. However, I'm glad we stayed until the end, because when we got outside we heard several large "boom" noises. At first we thought it was construction noise, but it was really too loud for that, and Ben thought we were being attacked by bombs, but then we thought it was probably fireworks. So we decided to head to Central Park, which was near by and the only possible place where they could be setting off fireworks. When we got to Central Park West, sure enough it was fireworks, and we breathed a sigh of relief. Apparently there were several calls to the local police departments with people worried that we were being attacked. The fireworks were really nice, and there were even some heart shaped ones! We had a decent view from where we were, especially considering we didn't even know about it. I can't believe there were fireworks and I didn't know about them! If we hadn't been there at the right time, we would never have known about them!

I later found out the fireworks were for the NYC marathon, which was today. When we went out this morning (I'll explain why later) the race was going right by the entrance to the subway near our apartment. It was really neat to watch. There were a lot of people running - more than 100,000 according to their website. I can't believe that many people can run a marathon. There were people standing all along the sides cheering them on, and clapping. We joined in for a bit, because we need to get to the other side to the subway entrance. It was fun. When there was a bit of a break in the people (there was a lot of running traffic) we managed to run across by running on an angle with the flow. When we came back about an hour or two later there were still people running! Fortunately, we didn't have to cross again because the exit from the subway is on the other side.

So the reason we went out was to go skating! We went to the Pond at Bryant Park which opened up last weekend. We had tried to go twice last weekend, but the first time it was closed due to rain, and the second day it closed just as we got there because it was too hot and the ice started melting. This was really frustrating because for the last three years we were waiting to go skating at the non-existing skating rink in the park near our house in Waterloo that they promised us when we bought our house. So we waited three years, we figured we could wait another weekend. So today we went as early as possible so the ice wouldn't melt during the heat of the day. We made it to the rink and it was open! We put our skates on and went around several times and I really enjoyed skating there. It's a really nice spot to skate.

A busy month

Wow, it has been incredibly busy for the past several weeks. It was um.. 4 weeks ago that Lisa visited. We had a fun weekend with l3tang , which you can read all about on her journal. You can also read about all the places we ate on www.myworldreviews.com.  We've now passed 100 reviews in NYC. It's pretty cool to look at our map with all the dots in NYC.

The next weekend was Open House NY. It's a weekend in which more than 300 places open their doors to the public for a free look behind the scenes. There's a link in that review to all the places we went to. My favorites were the Thirteen/WNET station tour and the tour of the Grand Lodge of Masons. We made it to 9 spots, but there were way more that I wanted to see. There just wasn't enough time to get everywhere. We'll have to see more next year. It also didn't help that I found out about it on Friday night, when a bunch of places required advance registration and were all booked.

The next weekend my brother came to visit. Another fun weekend! We took a day off on Friday to tour around the city, and have a chance to see the tour at the United Nations. It was pretty neat to see inside the general assembly hall. It was interesting to learn more about the UN too. We spent most of the weekend walking around different neighbourhoods and seeing the different sites - and also eating at more neat places. We also saw the Blue Men Group, which was quite interesting. The funniest thing that happened was when we were standing on the corner of two random streets in NYC waiting to meet Ben where we had arranged to meet him, and standing there in the middle of the street (the street was closed for a festival) was Josh! It's actually surprising how many times I've run into people randomly in NYC, especially considering how few people I actually know here. Granted, the other times I was running into people from work on the way to work. Running into Josh was totally random.

The next week was a pretty busy week at work, with deadlines coming up on the Friday. After three weekends of being super busy, we finally took some time off to relax. We made a trip out to New Jersey for a house warming party for one of Chris' coworkers. It was such a cute little town in New Jersey, with lots of cute little houses, and a cute little main street, with cute little stores. I felt like I had been transported to another world by that train ride.

Cool stuff

This weekend was fun, but there wasn't much interesting to write about. The only exception is that we went to the San Genaro festival in Little Italy and tried deep fried Oreo cookies. They were really good! The Oreo cookie is deep fried in doughnut batter, so it's like a Timbit with an Oreo cookie in the middle. Delicious!

Today there were a couple of neat things. We had lunch in Washington Square park which isn't far from work. Today there was a stage set up with people speaking on it. We sat close by so we could hear what they were saying. The first speaker was just finishing an introduction to, John Perry Barlow (one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation), after he spoke there was a speech given by Tim Westergren (one of the founders of Pandora). Pretty neat to just stumble upon this! The presentations were in celebration of One Web Day.

This evening we were having dinner looking out the window and we noticed lots of flashing blue lights on the water. We realized they were police boats! Lots of them! Then we noticed a motorcade of flashing lights going down the highway toward the UN building (which we see frequently). That's when I remembered that today is the beginning of the UN general assembly. Lots of excitement going on over there.

Another two weeks in review

It's been a while again, yet it was another very busy two weeks. Two weekends ago Chris' parents came for a visit. We wanted them to see everything so we had a very busy weekend. On Saturday Chris' mom and I went to a spa for a pedicure. That was really fun. My feet were all nice and soft after. We finally went to Lombardi's! They were the first pizzeria to open in the US. We tried to go there a couple times before but there was always a big line. This time there was no wait. We also had some Gelato in little Italy and went back to the Italian Deli for some more cheese. Chris' parents loved the place too. After all that we headed home while it started to pour from hurricane Hannah. We went to Costco to stock up on some toilet paper and other essentials while we had access to a car. In the evening we went to see Avenue Q again. It was as good as we remembered, and we enjoyed seeing it a second time and remembering things we had forgotten. Sunday was tour day. We went on a tour of the NBC studios. The neatest thing there was going to the Saturday Night Live studio. It was much bigger than I thought. We went on a tour of the Rockefeller Center which was actually very interesting. It was a historical walking tour. Then we went to Central Park where we went on another Central Park Conservancy tour. Then we ended the weekend with dinner and dessert in Little Italy. I discovered how much I like Canoli. Yum! :)

After the busy weekend with Chris' parents it took several days to recover. Thursday was our birthday! In order to celebrate I did some research on a nice place to go eat. I picked out a nice looking restaurant that was close to work so we could go straight there and not have dinner too late. Unfortunately when I called to make a reservation, their first available reservation time was 10:30pm! So instead, I made a reservation for the next available day that they had a 6:30 dinner available - Oct 1! Apparently you have to book well in advance. So we ended up having a nice dinner at home. We made a roast that we bought at Costco with some brussel sprouts and barely pilaf. We were planning to go out for dessert, but Chris surprised me with some cupcakes he bought at a bakery. :) That was nice. We celebrated our birthday on the weekend with Ben, with dinner and drinks at a rotating lounge at the top of Times Square - The View Lounge. It was a neat place and a fun evening. We spent our birthday gift from Chris' parents (a spa gift certificate) on a couples massage which was nice and relaxing.

Two weeks in review

The last two weeks have been really fun. Last weekend we had friends visiting from Canada. Together, we went to see Wicked which was really good! The story was great. It filled in a lot of the history behind the Wizard of Oz and gave you a completely different perspective on the story. The music, costumes, set, and acting was all great too. There was one song that's still repeating in my head.

Last weekend we went to one of my co-workers house in CT for a BBQ. It was my first time in Connecticut, and we took the train there which was also a first. I realized where all the trains go from Grand Central (they're underground for most of Manhattan). The BBQ was fun and interesting too. We learned about their pet chickens and bees. It was very different from Manhattan.

Last Thursday we had a team building event - bowling. It was just like in high school days when we had glow-in-the-dark bowling with fun music and cool lighting. I bowled pretty poorly, but had lots of fun.

For the long weekend, on Saturday we went to Little Italy to make another attempt at going to Lombardi's (the very first Pizzeria in America). We did some shopping first, and by the time we got there it was after 1pm and there was an hour wait again (this was our second time turning away due to a long wait). We went to another somewhat disappointing restaurant instead. After lunch we went to an Italian Deli. We learned about it on a walking tour we took previously. It's an interesting store. You take a number when you get there and then wait a while for your turn. When your number is called you can take your time ordering what you want, trying things, getting recipe and cooking tips. It was great. The cheese is super-high quality. They make fresh mozzarella, fresh ricotta (which was amazing!) and import real Parmesan cheese from Parma (which was so full of flavor!). It was great! We bought stuff to make Manacotti, which was the best Manacotti I've ever had!

Sunday we woke up early to take the bus to Philadelphia with Ben and a friend of his. It was my first time in Philadelphia. It is a nice city. We saw some of the historical sites, like Independence Hall, Congress Hall, and the Liberty Bell. We spent most of the day walking around everywhere (I calculated at least 12km). The parks and fountains there are pretty. We also tried a couple of Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches, which were mostly disappointing (Josh, you were right). It was a fun day, and we came home exhausted.

A funny thing happened on the trip to Philly. When we were in line for the bus in the morning there was a couple standing in line behind us that we asked if we were in the right line. We later ran into them throughout the day in two different tourist spots. We ran into them again on the bus back (there were several bus times, but they happened to be taking the same one we were), and then again on the train platform on the way home. They happened to be taking the same subways we were to get home. It was a funny coincidence. We didn't end up exchange contact info, but it'll be funny to see if we run into them again.
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