Tuesday, March 25, 2014

NYC Part 2 of . . .

You can read Part 1 here . . .  I wake up on Thanksgiving Day and it is a beautiful, crisp, clear day.  I had looked into going to the Macy's parade but heard that you pretty much have to save your spot at 6 am and stay there for hours till it's over.  In a tight crowd.  Not really my thing.  My aunt had previously mentioned that no matter what my plans, if I had a clear day, I should head to the Empire State Building because you never know if the rest of your stay will be cloudy.  And hey, if every other tourist is at the parade, no one will be at the Empire State Building.  I got ready quickly and headed out.  And I was right.  No lines and I was one of about 20 people at the Empire State Building.

I headed back down with the intent of grabbing a coffee and a quick bite and heading to the Brooklyn Bridge and then I realized I could actually catch the end of the parade from close by the ESB.  

Parade?  Check!

Now I'm off to the Brooklyn Bridge which I loved loved LOVED.  Walking across it was one of the top hundred favourite things I did.  : )  On my way to the train, in my wandering I walked past the NYC Public Library and Grand Central Station. (I did go back and do a proper visit of both).

And now the bridge!

My first glimpse when I came out of the subway. 

I walked all the way across the bridge and into DUMBO to get this picture of the Manhattan bridge from Brooklyn.  It's just so weird to see this huge bridge peeking through a side street.

Walking back across the bridge to Manhattan, I just couldn't believe all the buildings and the amazing blue skies.  

Then like a mirage, I see the Waffles & Dinges cart.  I'd sent them on Eat St or some other show like that and it looked tasty.  It was.
The Turtle - waffle, hot fudge, dulce de leche, icing sugar.

Next up, since I was in the area and it was a beautiful day, I headed over to the Staten Island Ferry.  

And now the sun is setting and I have to move fast to get back to the apartment as my hosts Beny & Wes invited me to join their Thanksgiving dinner!  I had so much fun and it was so delicious.  A couple bottles of wine and dancing (yes, dancing) and I had a bunch of new friends. :)

Don't worry.  There was gravy, it just hadn't circulated yet.
I'm in the back on the right side. :)
Once dinner was over, I went upstairs to my room and decided I was going back to the Empire State Building.  When you go during the day, you get a free same day admission after 10 pm.  I wanted to see it at night!  Off I went!!!  Night pictures don't turn out that well but it was so beautiful.

And again -- NO LINES!!  I was alone in the elevator!!!  Feel like a celebrity renting out the ESB.

And of course, the day wouldn't be complete with a quick visit to Times Square on the way home :)

At least this post was less reading. :)

Monday, March 24, 2014

NYC Part 1 of . . .

Let me just preface this by saying that this is SO LATE because I spent 9 weeks following this trip taking care of babies and my sister.  I'll explain that after too!!!

Let's back up . . . Sometime in the summer I started thinking about what I wanted to do for my 40th birthday.  I knew without a doubt that I just did not want to be here.  I wanted to do something really great.  Like a trip.  By myself.  I started googling places to go it alone and New York kept coming up.  Could I do this?  Could I go to New York BY MYSELF?  I decided yes.  I kept it pretty quiet.  Partly because I didn't want to be discouraged by other people from doing it and partly because I just didn't want anyone to come.  I wanted to do whatever I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.  And I didn't want to not do things I wanted to do because someone else was with me or they thought it was stupid.  (i.e. all the wonderfully cheesy movie scene stops!)

Next, I searched what was happening in NYC around that time and discovered that Thanksgiving fell late this year so November 28th and then the tree lighting was December 4th.  My birthday is November 30th.  So that clinched the dates for me.  November 27th - December 6th.  I gave myself an extra day because I really really wanted to skate on the Rockefeller rink.  Once I had the dates, I went to airbnb and found a ton of places available for rent to stay.  I narrowed it down to a top ten based on price and location and started emailing people.  Once I had that down, I checked flights every single day before I went to bed and finally caught a seat sale.  :)  IT WAS HAPPENING!!

As I grew more excited and started preparing my packing list and wardrobe choices (haha see second last post for boots, coat, and skinny jeans), I also grew a little more nervous.  What if this turned out to be a terrible idea?  What if I was too scared to leave the apartment??  Actual fear I had.

I made lists of everything I wanted to see.  I searched what Broadway shows were going to be on while I was there and figured I'd go see one.  I couldn't narrow it down to one and then thought, screw it, go for it.  Do everything.

Sooooooo . . . November 27th . . . terrible weather.  I made it out of Winnipeg and got stuck in Toronto.  The time on my flight kept changing.  I was so worried that I was going to get in super late and I'd done all this planning to arrive during daylight hours.  We finally took off and it was my second scariest flight.  Weather weather weather.  Now I'm at LaGuardia and I'm at the luggage carousel waiting near four women who flew in for the long weekend and to see a show and they knew where they were going and what they were doing so I just followed them from the baggage out to cabs and followed what they did.  Beats the hell out of stopping to ask people all the time!  I was trying really hard to not look like a tourist.  My airbnb hosts even told me what to say when I got in the cab.  Which was so awesome.

The cab ride was crazy.  What a wild ride.  It was still raining and we were flying through traffic weaving around and we were whizzing past all these places that only now seemed real to me.
I'm in an NYC cab!
It was now 5 pm, I was supposed to arrive at 1:30.  It was now getting dark and it was still raining.  I was thinking that maybe I would just take my time unpacking and start exploring the next day.  I was watching the street signs and knew we were getting very close to the apartment (I studied maps a lot before I left) and then I saw this . . .

I watch the Late Show from time to time if I hear someone is going to be on that I'd like to see but I'm not someone who watches it every night but for some reason, I saw this and we were just two blocks from the apartment and this was the moment I knew that I would not stay in the apartment and I was not going to waste even a minute.

We pulled up in front of the apartment and my host Beny was waiting outside.  So funny meeting a stranger that you're about to share an apartment with.  I got out of the cab and he sort of squealed and yelled "are you my girl?"and ran in for a hug.  I knew from that moment on, staying with him and his partner Wes was going to be a breeze.  (As an aside, Beny & Wes actually had two apartments so I basically had Beny's all to myself).  Beny quickly showed me around and asked me what my plans were and gave me phone numbers to text or call in case I ran into any trouble or needed anything at all. I put my stuff in my room, unpacked a bit, changed and grabbed my coat and umbrella and left.  It was now probably almost 7 and I wanted to try to stick to my initial plan for that evening so I could cross a couple things off my list. 

First up, I walked to Gray's Papaya.   I was starving by this point so a famous hot dog from a famous hot dog place that's been in both Sex & the City and You've Got Mail was going to be awesome.  On my walk, I passed Lincoln Center.

Then Trader Joe's!  (I actually went in and waited in a Thanksgiving Eve line to buy my friend cookie butter.  I'm a good friend.

And then there it was!  Gray's Papaya!  It seems so silly but I had SO MANY moments like this.  Where things really didn't seem like real places until I saw them with my own eyes.  And it was a delicious hot dog and the papaya juice was fantastic.  Just enough to tide me over until dinner seeing as how I hadn't eaten since breakfast at the airport 12 hours before.

Next, feeling energized by the hot dog, I decided it was time to conquer my irrational fear of the subway.  I don't know why but the subway scared me.  We don't have a train here.  We have only busses.  Above ground, stopping constantly busses.  I walked across the street to the station and decided it was a positive sign that the station was the one featured in the Michael J Fox show opener.  :)  And it was also at Verdi Square where Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are both walking on either side of it. :)

I could have walked to my next place but I decided to just do it.  I bought my unlimited 7 day pass at the terminal and then my first run through the thing, it didn't open and beeped and people were coming through the opposite way so I panicked and jumped back.  (like a TOTAL DORK)  As people rushed past me, an older woman coming through the opposite way glanced up at me and didn't stop moving with the crowd as she shouted "down and to the left a little slower this time, GET IN THERE!"  I laughed, that was so awesome.  I knew exactly what she meant and jumped in and it worked.  The train came in about 2 minutes.  I did my best to look bored but inside I was thinking "I'M ON THE TRAIN IN NYC!  I'M ON THE TRAIN IN NYC!"  Hahahaha - such a dork.  I don't remember if it was one or two stops but then I got out, walked a couple blocks and got here.  Cafe Lalo.  Yes, of course it's from a movie!  You've Got Mail!  Kind of felt like I should have brought a book and a rose. :)

I had a delicious grilled brie and whatever sandwich with roasted potatoes and a salad.  It was so tasty.  And another small fear was eating in restaurants by myself.  The place was so packed that it was hard to even tell if anyone else was by themselves but it didn't even bother me and I was enjoying myself.  So much atmosphere and it was loud and the music was cool.  Oh, and I was in NYC.  :)

Once I finished up there, it was 9ish I think.  I walked back to the subway and got on and was looking at the rest of the stops on the line and saw Times Square.  I knew Times Square was walking distance back to the apartment so why not!  By then it wasn't raining anymore.  Now, Times Square.  When I climbed the stairs out of the station and saw the bright lights of Times Square, it was unreal.   I kept walking towards thinking that all the movies, shows, pictures I've seen, nothing can capture it.  It's crazy.  I took so many pictures but none could do it justice.  It's crazy that such a thing exists.

From here, I realized that I needed to find an Apple store because I needed a charging cable adapter.  I googled and the largest Apple store was one subway stop away and was open 24/365.  I headed that way.  Such an unassuming giant store.  You walk into this glass cage and down the stairs to a huge store.

Now I was on Fifth Ave.  I decided to just walk down Fifth Ave.  The streets were still filled with people even though it was late.  And I was drawn to all the lights!  

THE TREE!!!  Soon it will be lit!

And with that -- I walked another couple blocks to the apartment.  There was a little corner grocery right across the street so I stopped in and bought granola bars, bananas, a 6 pack of some delicious apple type beer.  My bedroom had a double bed, wall mirror, big tv, empty dresser and night stand, empty closet and a mini fridge. I unpacked completely and put my suitcase away. I showered, grabbed a beer and crawled into bed.  I checked things off my list and checked the weather and figured out what I wanted to do the next day and then slept like a rock.

Don't worry, I know this is a long post and only day one but hopefully the next ones won't be as long.  Maybe?  haha!