Titirangi Storyteller

Telling tales from around the world

Posts Tagged ‘travel

The first tunnel, first of many… but you never forget your first…

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CollegeAvenue-Bronx-3This is an underpass. It’s on 167th St in the Bronx and runs under the Grand Concourse. We lived in a block of 6-storey red-brick apartment buildings a few blocks away and this was where we shopped. It really hasn’t changed much since I lived there back in the early 60’s. Deep discount shops, fast food, bars, second run movie houses – chain link fences, barbed wire, guard dogs, alarms. Not a very nice place to gow up to be honest – but I didn’t really know that then.


The old Kent Theatre on East 167th St in the Bronx. Oh yeah… look what they’ve done to my song, Ma!

My movie theatre was there – The Kent Theatre – full of dreams and all the other places in the world. My pizza joint, where the jukebox had the Beatles and Herman’s Hermits and The Supremes and my Chinese Restaurant with real Chinese people – all of which totally directed me to exactly where I am now. Fortunately, I left when I was 7-going-on-8 and didn’t go back until November last year – so I didn’t notice all the drugs and related violence also going on there.

But back to this tunnel… you can see that the sidewalks have been sealed off and there is no pedestrian access. Not so 50 years ago, when my mother would give me a dollar to walk up to her favourite bakery on the other side of the Concourse to buy her favourite cake. It was a six block walk to get to the other side, 4 of them in the underpass. Dark, filthy, smelt of urine and and vomit and rotting food. Sometimes I had to walk around a sleeping drunk or bum (back before they were renamed homeless). I was terrified of everyone coming toward me or coming up behind me. Frightened of the rats and the cars careening past and of losing the money or dropping the cake… I walked tough, with clenched fists, totally ready to take on anyone that messed with me. No one ever did…

I’ve walked through a few tunnels in my life that later proved to be metaphorical and utterly transforming… This was the first.

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

09/07/2015 at 5:58 pm

A short stroll down Mulberry Street

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Wandered into Little Italy a few weeks ago. It’s a bit of the same as it’s ever been and a lot like it never was, except maybe in movies and TV and what we expect of it. Part history, part fantasy. We had a brilliant cannoli at Cafe Roma though, along with an exquisite piece of Italian cheesecake, which might be the most important thing.

The streets are narrow and cluttered with cars and people and lights and banners waving in the air, trying to grab your attention. Despite the cold winter day, vendors and restaurateurs beckoned as the aromas of a few thousand years of tradition wafted by.LittleItaly-4 Classic restaurants, straight out of 1952, or maybe Goodfellas or The Sopranos: LittleItaly-6This guy was determined that we were going to eat here… no discussion! Would you say no to him? Really?

LittleItaly-5While I enjoy al fresco dining, there was snow on the ground! This old place probably hosted a speakeasy back in the day.

This guy with the accordion however, as enchanting as could be! Did not notice the creepy dude peeking out over his right shoulder until I got home, though.LittleItaly-3 And who could resist Umberto’s Clam House??? LittleItaly-1 Or the charm of statues of Native Americans guarding the entrance to the cigar shop? LittleItaly-2 LittleItaly-7And of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a slightly menacing corner, with a couple of slightly unsavoury characters strolling by.

But despite the sentiment, Little Italy has all but disappeared, mostly gobbled up by Chinatown and SoHo and areas that have just stopped being Little Italy and become something else.

Kinda sad, kinda just how it is. Kinda weird being old enough that history is not something relegated to old books and movies. I remember how it used to be and see how it is now. And it’s not that I think it should be any different than it is – I just marvel at what has changed.

And if Little Italy is transformed, then I suppose I am too…

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

06/04/2015 at 11:14 pm

Kicking Around Brooklyn in the Snow

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I’ve been beating myself up lately for neglecting this blog… sigh… the reality is I’ve been doing so much travel and making so many pictures, I’ve really not had the time to develop or share them. Just got back from the US on Saturday. There’s over a thousand photos to process…

Let’s start with a Fabulous Snowy Day in Williamsburg! We rented an Air BnB apartment on Berry St and waited for the world to happen. The World did not disappoint!!!

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It’s kind of sad that the smokers are really the only ones out there savouring the moment. Everyone else was in a rush to get somewhere out of it.

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Looking down the street.

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And up the street!

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And just not going to be going anywhere, really… Better get back inside where it’s warm. (And I mean warm! Why are all New York apartments so bloody hot???)

I just love Williamsburg :-)

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

26/03/2015 at 11:30 am

Santa Monica Pier on a Cold and Lonely Night

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The view from our budget hotel on Redondo Beach Drive was a bit surreal. The beach was many miles away and there was no shopping or nearby attractions, making me wonder what might have possessed anyone to build a hotel in such a place…LA1-3But having settled in, we decided to go to Santa Monica Pier for dinner in the evening. And that’s when things got really strange…

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It seemed a bit ghost-y, all candy coloured, but somehow toxic… and if this was an amusement park – where are all the people???
There were a few stragglers and lost souls wandering around, including a little girl looking for some answers wherever she could find them…
But she couldn’t tell me what it was all about either since I have forgotten how to speak Threeish.

LA1-37Even the beach has gone mad,

LA1-39Yeah… I know… first Big and then Forrest Gump… it is LA we’re talking about here… I felt a wee bit of relief when we left… I mean, it was cool, but kinda creepy… like everyone was out of town……….


Morning mist

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On the way to the balloon festival… the morning was a bit on the foggy side. Misty morning is my favourite…The swan and friends are a bit romantic


The hospital in the breaking dawn – a bit sinister…BalloonsDay1-1

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02/04/2014 at 7:58 am

I need a holiday!

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I need a holiday. Someplace where I can meet new people, do some different things, try new foods, fall asleep with strange sounds around me…

This is from Cabo San Lucas. This would be a good place to go… I really need a holiday!


Written by Titirangi Storyteller

16/03/2014 at 12:09 am

One Day in Goa

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It was just one day, a stop on cruise itinerary. We had organised a driver for the day and instructed him to take him to some of his favourite places and anywhere we had to go. But… we were not interested in shopping and if he attempted to take us to one of the ubiquitous tourist shopping centres we would not get out of the car, nor would we give him a tip. He was very amenable and off we went…

First thing you can’t help noticing is the feral bulls. They’re very mellow, almost amiable… lean and lanky, they can be found ambling along the road, or rummaging in rubbish tips…

Goa Bulls

Cathedral Se – Goa was occupied by the Portugese and this part of India is mostly Catholic. We did not actually visit the cathedral as a much bigger attraction was just across the road. But it made a wonderful photo.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Basilica Bom Jesus – home of the mortal remains of Saint Francis Xavier. Roman Catholic gaudiness meets Indian gaudiness for a blinding tribute to… hmmm, not sure what, but it was gold on gold on gold…Basilica Bom Jesus

The actual remains of St Francis Xavier – through those little window are his actual body, minus a few bits and pieces purloined along the way by other churches in need of sacred relics. Basilica Bom Jesus - St Francis Xavier
View of the main church area. It is still an active church with regular services. One thing I noticed in India – things that are old are still in use. If not, they decay so rapidly, are reclaimed by the jungle, they soon disappear. This same day we visited the ruins of a cathedral that had been used until the 1930s. I thought it must have been abandoned at least 500 years ago, but very little can survive in the heat, rain, humidity that is western India unless it is continually looked after, maintained and repaired. This church was built in 1594. It’s got a lot of love and care over the centuries.
The beach – the Arabian Sea. We had the best seafood of our lives here. Arabian seaDays pass so quickly when you are in port for just one day. Back on ship, we watched the fishing boats come in at the end of the day. Goa Fishing Boats   A little further down the harbour it becomes more urban. We had the most incredible, melon coloured light. Goa fishing boats

I thought the big oil tanks looked like giant hat boxes.Goa Seaport

Added a wee bit of glow to this sunset shot… I really loved the day in Goa. We also visited Mumbai and Cochin, but Goa was my favourite. I would love to return and spend a few weeks there and really explore it. Who knows – maybe one day. Goa Sunset

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

16/01/2014 at 10:41 am


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