If New York is the city that never sleeps…
Las Vegas is Disney World for adults…
See you in a few days NYC! x
Before I worked in media I had a number of different jobs. The best by far was managing tour groups with a travel company in New York. The groups were made up of mainly over-65′s with a love of casinos, shows and the racetrack. Simply put, these auld ones and auld lads were brilliant fun.
They are certainly an interesting bunch, not subdued and definitely not passed their prime. They love a dance (good for keeping the hips going you know?) and have no problem telling you to feck right off.
Being a tour manager is great for a number of reasons. For starters, you’re not in an office looking at a computer screen all day and if you love travel and sightseeing, you can really learn a lot while on the job. But also, it is absolutely hilarious. I have so many stories from my days with the company (too many to recount here!) and every time I left to return home to Ireland, I went armed with a new cast of crazy elderly New York characters!
One of my favourite tours to take (and some say my speciality) was into Manhattan for a trip on the Water Taxi. The day involved me getting a train into Manhattan and meeting one, two or sometimes three buses of people at the South Street Seaport. I had to greet them, make sure they knew where they were going and then give them a time to meet the boat for the tour. Once they were all on board the boat, I got to sit up on the top deck in the sunshine and look at the most beautiful city in the world from out on the Hudson River. After the tour we all got back on our buses and went to Little Italy where we were served a gorgeous Italian lunch (another perk of the job) and after that I bid them farewell and got back on my train home. Blissful or what?
Not so blissful when you run into some roadblocks.
One day, a group of particularly rambunctious grannies decided not to come back to the boat, but to go shopping in the mall instead. I knew I was three people short, but the boat had to sail on time and subsequently without them. You know the feeling when you’re minding a child and they get lost? It was like that, except with someone’s Nana. Well actually three of them.
When the boat came back, the three ladies in question were laden with shopping bags and waving to us from the dock! They had a great afternoon shopping and didn’t even want to take the boat tour – yet still demanded a trip on the house in the future. Cheeky cheeky grannies!
I’ve had my fair share of injuries as well. One lady was on her way to the restaurant and tripped on a crack in the sidewalk, which resulted in her breaking a front tooth. That was the first and only time I’ve ever had to call 911 for someone. Another time, in the same restaurant, a lady fell in the bathroom and bashed her head on the toilet bowl. No call to the emergency services, but she was pretty shaken up.
One summer I was managing a group of rich kids from Upstate New York. They were enrolled in a “Travel Summer Camp” (a what now?!) and went on a different trip each day. I got to take them to the United Nations (which I was so unbelievably excited about – snort snort politics nerd!) and it was pretty disastrous. First, our tour guide was Asian and spoke with an accent, which they ridiculed him about for the entire tour. Then, anytime he asked them a question, they just stared at each other and laughed. Which meant I had to answer it. Eventually the guide launched into a big speech about how there are thousands of children all over the world who are not privileged enough to be receiving an education and that they should be grateful for the chance to see the UN. The rich kids sneered and giggled. Some made phone calls on their cell phones. Others put head phones in. Embarrassment city.
Another day, we went on a tour of Rockefeller Centre and NBC Studios (both of which excited me, obviously!) but most the tours were timed for elderly people, who are slow to do everything. Not energetic pre-teens who do everything at the speed of light. So we were left with a giant chunk of time in the middle of the most humid day imaginable.
What would I do? Where could I take forty twelve-year olds at such short notice?
I headed for the biggest and coldest place I could think of nearby: St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
There were several issues with this. Firstly, I knew very little about the Cathedral, other than it was the venue for several high-profile NY weddings.Secondly, unbeknownst to me, most of the group were Jewish.
In the end, the kids were so confused by my choice of venue that they sat quietly in the pews staring up at the place. Some even lit candles. Mission accomplished, I say.
Why yes, yes I do!
I rented “Paranormal Activity” last night and have been reminded of how much I adore the horror genre.
I am among those who absolutely love having the living daylights scared out of me! Ghosts, monsters, psychics, scary little children, the boogie man, clowns – any or all of these things will do. Coupled with dark alleys, creaky houses, full moons and the main character doing the exact opposite of what the safe option would be.
A couple of summers ago, some friends and I decided to rent a different horror flick every week. I’ve seen so many of them, I almost laugh at this stage! We watched everything from “Nosferatu” straight through to “Saw III” and it was a definite learning experience. If a scary film is bad, it is immediately evident. Perhaps the evil baddy is not mysterious enough or the main characters are so unlikeable that you don’t really care if they end up locked in a dungeon forever. But if the film is good, well then it sticks with you forever.
I think the best ones combine psychological scary with physical scary. “The Descent” written and directed by Neil Marshall is a great example of this dynamic. My friend Joey coaxed me into watching it a few years back and it still reigns as one of my all time favourite scare fests. For starters you have a group of mouthy girls in a maze of underground caves. Obviously one of them is stupid enough to have forgotten a map. This classic horrifying situation becomes complete with tiny cramped tunnels and close calls with caving equipment. Aside from the cave-scares this film is so much more. If you like horror, give this one a go!
Another one I only saw recently (hangs head in shame) and absolutely love is the Hitchcock classic, “Psycho”. At first glance I thought it would be dated and cheesy but on the contrary, it was supremely shot and directed and gave me the heebie jeebies (like any good horror should do).
So what did I think of “Paranormal Activity”? Freaky-deaky to say the least. I love the whole hand held camera style (ah “Blair Witch” we remember thee well) and the lack of music makes it even freakier. I’m already looking forward to “Paranormal Activity 2″.
One dead give away that I’m genuinely scared watching these films is that I make stupid jokes right before the scary part like, “oh crap, the lights just went on. Ha, why would a demon even need to turn the lights on?! huh?!” Lame.
So without further ado, Susan’s List of Scare-tastic Horrors (in no particular order)*:
1. The Descent
3. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (The original)
4. The Ring
6. The Shining
7. Silence of the Lambs
9. The Exorcist
*These films are best watched on a cold, dark rainy night when you’re all alone in a big old house.
Camping and I have never gotten along and it was not for lack of trying, believe me! I’m not generally a girlie girl sort, and although it usually takes some coaxing and a fair bit of moaning on my part, I can usually be convinced to try anything once. But camping? Definitely not for me.
I’ve been camping twice in my lifetime – both of which have been disastrous.
The first time was with a group of friends from college who happily assured me that I didn’t need anything except a sleeping bag. They would provide everything else. Did I trust them? Yes. Should I have? No.
I ended up in a soggy tent with a sprained ankle near enough to the side of a cliff on Clare Island.
We arrived on the island just as it started to rain and due to total lack of preparation, the only food we had was sausages, potatoes and marshmallows. RIDICULOUS. We also had lots and lots of beer…which eased the pain slightly.
The task of using the loo was a terrifying prospect because our tents were surrounded by rams and sheep…who had no problem coming up behind you in the dark and surprising you with a loud “bahhhhhh” mid-pee. Fun.
The ankle injury happened when someone rang me in the middle of the night and I jumped out of the tent trying to get reception. In my haste I tripped over a huge rock and landed on my face in the grass. I still have no idea who was on the phone..but I shake my fist at them in hindsight!
We did sleep a little but I can remember it being the coldest most uncomfortable night in my twenty four years on earth. The next morning we awoke to beautiful landscapes and a very fresh day. The only problem was that no one had thought to bring bottled water and all that remained of our supplies was a huge bottle of cider. We spent the rest of our stay on Clare Island waiting by the docks for the mainland boat with the driest tongues imaginable.
Camping be damned.
The only other time I’ve tried to be boy scout-esque was for Oxegen a few summers ago. This time I made sure to go with a highly experienced camper – my friend James. But even the most prepared outdoorsman couldn’t have accounted for the amount of mud, vomit and litter around our humble little tent. Bleugh. Never again.
*I was going to put in ACTUAL photos of my camping experiences…but if this post hasn’t already put you off the practice, those images certainly would!
Possible career options
The Muffin Man (yum)
*Sigh* I need a job.