Red and I are back from our American holiday.
We actually came back yesterday, but I was jetlagged (but also all-consumed by the final book in the stupid Twilight series and had to finish it before I turned my attention to anything else in my life, because I didn’t want it sitting there, knawing at my brain, luring me back home just to read about sexy vampires. Stupid Stephenie Meyer.)
I did sleep until 10am today, though. I would have slept longer had a maintenance person not knocked on my door. I suppose it’s a good thing that I didn’t succumb to my jetlaggish desire to sleep all day. I got hit by some intense jetlag on the way over to America as well, waking up at 4am the first day and 6am the second day only to wake up at stupid non-holiday-ey hours throughout the rest of the trip. It’s the weirdest thing, because jetlag never seemed to bother me before on all my trips across the pond during the last 5 years or so.
I enjoyed our trip to Florida, but I can’t say it felt much like a vacation in ways. The first couple days we spent in Daytona with my grandparents, doing grocery shopping and errands. I wanted to do these things, but, like I said, not the most holiday-ey of holidays. I then got stressed out by people wanting me to call them to make plans with them when I made it expressly clear that I could call no one while in America because of the £1.50/minute cost and that they should treat email as they would texts since I would have my Blackberry on me at all times. Did they listen? No. How long did it take my Dad to finally figure out that I would not answer his telephone calls? Well, he finally sent me an email as a means of communication on my last day in Orlando. That is, only after calling me first and leaving me a voicemail. Brilliant. Oh yeah, and the stress of this was only compounded by the fact that I tried to get everyone to realise that I had made an itinerary of holiday events that I wanted everyone to join in on to try to make my holiday as holiday-ey as possible. But what did I get? Calls and emails from people asking when we could meet up and go out to dinner/catch a movie/hang out. Aggravation.
Granted, one of the best times I had on the Orlando leg of the holiday was at an impromptu hang-out session at Jason’s house during which time we played Apples to Apples and drank wine and beer. So, perhaps an itinerary wasn’t the way to go…
I also had great fun hanging out with my sister. While sitting at the bar at Sam Sneads while she bartended on our last night and eating spicy shrimps and drinking a seemingly never-ending cup of decaf coffee (yeah, I know that combination sounds gross), I realised I was having one of the best times during my Orlando holiday. Chillaxing. Enjoying the moment. No familial stress.
New York City was different.
We were there for about five days, four full days if you count the half day of our arrival and the half day of our departure. Yet, I feel I saw a whole lot of NYC. We managed to visit all five boroughs, and we walked around most areas of Manhattan. Hard to believe we got it all in, but we did. Yet, I didn’t feel rushed at any point. We didn’t end up going to the Cloisters, which I know I will regret, but I didn’t know how much it would cost (and I imagined it would have been exorbitant based on the museum prices all over Manhattan), and, well, dragging myself and Red up to the tip of Manhattan and perhaps rushing through it didn’t appeal to me at the time. Plus, I mean, I live in England. Medieval architecture and art galore. And generally free.
We caught a Yankees game on our first evening, and, I have to say, I really liked it. I brought the Twilight book with me that I was reading in case I got bored (I was actually looking forward to all the time I would get to read it, as it was plaguing my brain. Stupid Twilight books.), but I didn’t take it out of my bag once! We got some Yankee souvenirs later during the trip at one of the Yankees shops on Manhattan, and I got a t-shirt with Matsui’s name and number on it. Apparently, he’s not that good. And he didn’t get any runs during the game. But I like him. Mostly because he’s Japanese. Yeah. The Japanese love baseball.
A quick and perhaps unentertaining rundown that I’m documenting for my own memory’s and personal posterity’s sake, as the sequence of events is already slipping away from me:
Thursday: We started off the first full day downtown, walking around the financial district, rode the Staten Island ferry, meandered up Battery Park and over and along the East River past the Brooklyn Bridge and through Chinatown. We ended up walking up through Little Italy and Nolita and then down through Soho. We kicked it back at the hotel for a short time and then headed over to Chelsea to find some grub and to catch a comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (excellent and cheap. wine in a plastic cup, my favourite).
Friday: The next day we spent some time in Midtown, trying to catch all the normal NYC sights. We saw the DC Comics HQ, which looked like just a normal old building had it not been for the various Superman paraphernalia on the walls acting as beacons through the glass windows of upper-level floors. We passed by Radio City Music Hall, saw Rockefeller Center, and visited Grand Central Station and the New York City Public Library. We then meandered over to Times Square just to get a few pictures and quickly skirted out of there before I started feeling too much tourist remorse. Hopped on the subway and headed over to Queens for picture ops, we saw Silvercup Studios (of Highlander fame) and took in the awesomery that is 5 Pointz, an area of Queens completely covered in some amazing graffiti. Back over to Manhattan, we wantered up through Union Square to see the Flatiron Building and back down again to hit up the Strand Bookstore and Forbidden Planet. We made it to the hotel and relaxed for a while before going to Big Nick’s around the corner for dinner (FABULOUS) and then went to the Empire State Building, hedging our bets that the lines would be shorter at night. And they were. Seriously, we bypassed miles of red velvet ropes that usually delineate the lines that people wait in to see the view from the top. I’d say we waited for a total of 20 minutes, maybe, during our whole visit. Some people wait for the entire day to get to the top of the Empire State Building, or they pay a premium (more than double the cost of admission) to bypass the lines (not including the security line, which sometimes reaches out the front door and around the corner). Fools. If you’ve never been because you don’t want to pay a lot of money or don’t want to commit an entire day to waiting in line (no joke), then go at night. The view is more fabulous at this time anyway, and there are less children.
Saturday: Brooklyn. We went down to Coney Island and ate some Italian ice. We rode the Cyclone. Fuck. that. shit. Never again. I can’t wait to see my chiropractor and the bruise on my elbow has turned a horrific shade of purpley brown. We saw the Circus Sideshow (aka, the Freak Show), and it was AMAZING. I got called up on stage to help with the sword-swallowing act. The sword swallower asked for a volunteer and no one was raising their hands, and I really wanted to raise my hand but didn’t want to look like an overzealous child, but she picked me anyway! Score! Red ate a dog at Nathan’s famous. I had an arepa (corn cakes fried around some mozzarella cheese) from a food stall vendor. We rode the subway back up to Brooklyn Heights and got lost. We somehow made it to Dumbo and couldn’t find a toilet anywhere.
Aside: I really didn’t like NYC for its lack of toilet facilities. I found myself dehydrated like whoa by the end of the trip, because I was afraid to drink anything for fear that I’d have to pee but wouldn’t have the means to do so. Seriously, WTF.
After waiting in line at a Starbucks for 30 minutes (no exaggeration here) to use the toilet, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Seriously, who does that the other way around? The view from Brooklyn to Manhattan is far superior. Wandered through the City Hall area across to Tribeca. Saw the Ghostbuster’s firehouse. Walked up the Tribeca to the West Village and surrendered to aching feet. Took the subway back to the hotel and then ate an unexceptional dinner at another pizza place.
Sunday: We woke up and packed our bags. Checked out and took them to a luggage storage place so we’d have the day free to wander. Made it over to the Market NYC in Nolita, excited at its description as an ‘Etsy in real life’. It was nothing of the sort. Liars. We meandered around Soho until we were decidedly hungry and found that finding a good place to have lunch was more difficult than we would have thought. Not having internet access on one’s phone to browse Yelp and having a guidebook that is good but is far from inclusive makes eating decisions strained. After finally tucking into a pretty tasty soya-and-wheat-gluten burger, I found my stomach satisfied but my patience wearing thin with the crowds in Soho. We decided to head up to the Upper East Side, as we hadn’t been there yet. It was unexceptional. We ate some cupcakes. We headed over to Central Park. We looked for toilets. I found yet another lengthy queue for the ladies’. And no toilet paper. And a pee-saturated seat. The boiling hate I had for NYC toilets intensified. We continued to walk across the park and made it out to the Upper West Side. Only after I got really close to a squirrel and Red took many pictures. We found the subway and headed back to get our luggage. We caught the bus over to Newark. I drank an entire liter of water. I peed five times at the airport. We flew home. I read Twilight.