New York Rocks!…

29WP_20140616_21_43_00iWe didn’t linger long in the lobby of the Rockefeller Center; for in spite of our surprise encounter with Brussels’ darling Stromae, we were aiming higher. 70 floors and 260 metres higher.

We made our way through the entrance on 49th street directly to the lifts. Although our pre-booked timed  tickets were supposed to be a queue-free passport, there was still a line ahead for security scanning. But it was moving fast.

Booking tickets in advance is highly recommended and can be done on line, by phone or at the box office. It is worth mentioning that even if you opt for one of the numerous ”city passes” promising line skipping, you will still need to get hold of a ticket.

Entry to Top of the Rock operates under a ”timed” ticket scheme, so if you just walk-in they simply book you on the next available slot, which can be a few hours later. And don’t even think about a non-timed ticket, unless you are an early riser (the first lift goes up at 8 a.m.), in which case I admire your zest and  energy, but no thanks!

Another advantage of booking ahead is that you can choose your time slot. And if you choose wisely and arrive, for example, half an hour before sunset, you will not only enjoy the stunning panorama of New York by daylight, but also catch the first lights shimmering in the dusk. And, as the night progresses, the lights become brighter and brighter until the city glows in the dark, bathing the horizon in a gold sparkling light, as far as the eye can see.

Once in the lift, we reached the first level of the observation deck on the 67th floor, in a matter of seconds. From there on, there are two more levels reachable through escalators and stairs.  Whereas the first two are protected by large glass panels – handy in windy weather – the top level is completely open, giving a magnificent, unobstructed 360° view.

That’s where it downed on me that, contrary to the common saying, it is not lonely at the top. What actually happens is  that you have to elbow, duck and push your way to the good spots, by-passing heads, cameras and tripods, all of them fighting for the best snapshot. But once you manage, the view is breathtaking.

Behold the human capacity for resourcefulness, creativity and ingenuity that created this amazing urban landscape:











30WP_20140616_21_54_02i(Most of the) images by Konstantinos Implikian, save for a couple of mine. Easy to distinguish: besides being a better photographer than I ever will be, Konstantinos’ cell phone boasts a camera far superior to my compact Sony.

New York, 13th June 2014

Une rencontre formidable

Dawdling around the massive 19 building-complex that is Rockefeller Center can be very rewarding. Especially in front of the entrance on 49th Street, which leads directly to the premises of the NBC Studios, where occasional sightings of familiar faces are very likely.

- ”I’d like everyone to stand aside please”, said the security guard with authority. ”Make way please, thank you”!

Right behind him a tall, lean figure was dashing out the door. We looked at each other with amused disbelief, for the fellow we saw was none other than Stromae!

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DSC02746iLater that evening I read in the local news that Stromae was a guest at the ”Late Night with Seth Meyers” show to promote his second album and a single concert he gave on 20th June at the Best Buy Theater; and, apparently, he will be back in September on a U.S. tour that will include Philadelphia, Washington, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

What a wonderful  coincidence, I thought… of all the artists and celebrities in the world that could have been invited to an NBC show on that particular day, it had to be one of Belgium’s brightest young things. And a Bruxellois, en plus!

If you don’t know yet whom I’m talking about, let me just mention that Stromae, born Paul Van Haver, is a Belgian singer-songwriter with a very distinctive personal and, by extension, musical style. Stromae is a syllabic inversion of ”Maestro”, using a technique called ”verlan”, a French tradition of inverting syllables to create a slang. The word ”verlan” is itself an inversion of ”l’envers” – pronounced ”lanver” and meaning back-to-front.

When I was a little girl in Greece, we used a similar technique to create our secret  lingo aiming, quite successfully I might add, to sound incomprehensible to the adult ear. We  did it by adding a syllable in-between those of a proper word, usually -ko. So, for example ”talented musician” would sound like talkoentkoedko mukosikocianko. I’m sure kids still use similar lingoes all over the world, what do you think?

But apart from his name, Stromae sings in perfect French; so don’t let language be a barrier – just get into the rhythm and dance along.

Here is Stromae’s smashing hit ”Alors on dance” that took Europe by storm in 2009-10:

And my personal favourite, ”Formidable”, filmed entirely with hidden cameras on a rainy day, in one of the busiest tram stations of the uptown centre of Brussels. Just watching people’s reactions and those coppers wishing him well, is priceless!

Back in New York, stepping inside the building, was equally rewarding: sleek 30′s Art Deco interior, in typical New York-style. Shiny dark floors and walls lit by brass details. Soft lighting complementing large murals in the lobby, staircases and corridors. Like in most places in New York, it felt like walking directly into a movie.







DSC02740iRockefeller Center

New York, 16th June 2014


NYC Blues

New York was counting down to the big final. Τhe heat was on and temperature was rising – on land, on line, on air, on TV. Rangers fans took to the parks and the streets and turned them into a rocking block party. On the eve of the big game, the air crackled with electricity.

Alas, the Rangers yielded to the Kings and  the party mood swung West. Swinging grooves made way for icy cool moody blues in NYC.

Friday the 13th, outside Madison Square Garden and over Manhattan Skyline.






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NY Rangers – LA Kings : 2 -3

13 June 2014, Stanley Cup Finals