Tuesday, July 10, 2012


10th July 2012

Had a very slow first morning in New York. After being awake at 3am trying to deal with the noisy window air conditioner we slept in, partly due to jet lag. NY is 3 hours ahead of LA.

Our breakfast was sugary granola bars and coffee, supplied gratis by the hotel which is nice. After a bit of trip planning and facebooking, we finally got organised to leave by about 12.

To make life easy, we opted to go to the Natural History Museum, which is about 4 blocks walk away. After our first NY hotdog (you can live on it... but it tastes like shit) we stood in line for half an hour before discovering we were in the wrong line. The full experience. Second line was at least shorter. We have bought a NY City Pass for $89 each, gives us entry into 6 different things. It means our days are planned, at least.

The museum is in a rather old building and oddly set out. This means we missed quite a few of the exhibits, having got lost a few times. We started by perusing the stuffed American mammal gallery. This is the closest we've come to seeing bears, mountain lions and beavers and raccoons... and skunks. I discovered that the USA isn't rife with prowling big cats as I'd previously thought. Cougars, pumas, panthers and mountain lions are all the same animal. There ARE jaguars, although they're more in Mexico.

Took some amusing photos patting the larger stuffed animals.

Part of our city pass included a showing of the "Journey to the Stars" movie. We were a bit skeptical about what this was and expected it to be pretty dumbed down but it was a pleasant surprised. You sit facing up to a 180 degree white dome and they project a fab 3D movie about the history of the universe onto it. A bit like Monty Python's "Galaxy Song" but without the live liver transplants. Whoopi Goldberg narrated it which naturally caused us to quote Ghost ("Damn woman! What'd you do to your hair?"). The 3D thing was a bit sickening at times and resembled what it feels like when I'm having a vertigo attack.

After the movie we had a delayed lunch in the cafeteria and then hurried up to our original destination - the dinosaur bones on the top floor. The NY Museum is the number one place to see dinosaur fossils and it didn't disappoint. There were so many it was rather crowded. Got to see all the favourites - the stegosaur, triceratops, brontosaurus and of couse the Tyrannosaurus. It's the only actual fossil skeleton of a T-rex on display in the world. 20 years ago they rebuilt the skeleton so that it was no longer standing upright in that old-fashioned classic t-rex pose. They now think it stood in a more horizontal fashion with it's tail off the ground. The whole thing is marvellously impressive, as is the giant Brontosaurus - which has another official name that I can't remember. They also rebuilt it to make sure the tail was off the ground.

There were lots of other lovely beasts - Chasosaurus (Kazosaurus) has a lot of horns which I rather liked. And the raptor was posed in a rather hilarious fashion.

The museum closed at 5.45 before we'd seen everything. We then went for a wander through the streets of the Upper West Side, went down to see the Dakota Building where John Lennon was shot. There's no memorial or marker there, just security guards making sure you don't stand in the driveway. Walked back up Broadway and strolled along Amsterdam looking at restaurants. Opted for Thai before coming back to the hotel. We're both feeling a bit spacey and pre-flu. We may have picked up something on the plane yesterday. I guess tomorrow we'll see if it's just a passing illness or something more serious.

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