Monday, 22 December 2014

New York New York

Matt & Tui say goodbye
Alright folks,. prepare yourselves. I took 850 photos and wrote notes every day, so there's a lot to share. For everyones' sanity, I'll just do a day at a time. We'll start then at the beginning......
Thursday morning arrived, I failed to wake on time, roused only by the call of the Bunneh wishing me safe travels - yikes! Thanks Bunneh! I arrived at the airport in perfect time, still in denial that this was happening, slightly spooked by the sight of the 'plane on the tarmac.
12 hours later, a whole season of the IT Crowd, Walk the Line, and Carlotta, and spoiling by the QANTAS crew, we arrived in LA. Surprise, surprise, Marg and I did not pass Customs easily. We were picked up during the scan (where you stand in a tube with your arms above your head), where I apparently had some suspicious things across my shoulders!! I was sent back for another scan, failed again, and had to stand aside, not knowing what was to happen next. After a long wait, my possessions were gathered from the conveyor belt, and taken to a bench for searching. Without a word of explanation, I watched my bag get emptied out, my spare socks examined (yet they didn't open the zippered sections of my bag?!) - a fairly confronting experience. I was then taken to a dingy little room with two officers for a search. I had to stand on the footprints whilst I experienced a fairly intimate pat down, even having to sit down so they could pat the soles of my feet. Then I was free to go - what was all that about?!
The stretch limo - arriving in style!!
By this time I was really too tired to care, as we boarded the next flight to take us to JFK. Luckily, the plane was quite empty, and as soon as we took off we jumped into empty seats - dazed and confused, I pretty much fell into a row of seats, and slept very uncomfortably throughout the flight. On arrival at JFK, we were met by our booked car transport. "Unfortunately", one of the cars was caught in traffic , so they brought the stretch limo instead!!! Gee, Bummer!!
Our driver Chen, in the normal car, said traffic was very bad, so we took back roads through Queens, and saw some beautiful little houses with Christmas lights. On arrival at the Hotel Pennsylvannia, we alighted into  cold, cold brightness! Almost comatose by now, we queued to check in, then finally checked into our fairly crappy room. Small, with single beds instead of the doubles we expected, and a bathroom which had definitely seen better days, I was beyond caring, simply wishing for a shower and bed. The other 11 members of the group were reconvening at 8:30 to hit the shops - I struggled with myself for some time about whether I should join them, finally deciding that I just couldn't do it - New York would still be there in the morning! I went to bed, turning on the heater, which sounded like a generator,  and my roomate returned at 10:30, loaded with Macy's shopping bags to an oven-like atmosphere!!
After a stilted night of sleep, where the creaking of both of our beds continually disturbed, I awoke at 8, wondering if we were still to meet at 8:30?! Phew, not until 10! Jo went to the cafe in the lobby to get us coffee - a flat white, which was simply an enormous gumboot water, and a delicious fruit salad. After meeting the gang, we hit the shops. As we descended on Zara, I was a bit concerned - this wasn't really my scene - were we to wait around in shops all day?!  We agreed to meet at the Rockefeller Centre at lunchtime, which I very much doubted the others would make at the rate they were going. But it was Jo and I who were late, as we got caught up in our kind of shops. Our first stop was bebe,

which had lots of lovely sparklies, and some seriously lovely digital prints. I'm sorry I didn't get this dress. Just after this, I picked up my furry ear muffs, which were a much used item for the next ten days! This is me, shortly after, finding sparkly green platform shoes for, oooh, $12!  By now I needed a nom, so ended up getting a chicken kebab at a street vendor. Delicious! And I didn't die.

On meeting the others outside the Rockefeller,
 where the Salvation Army folks were rocking out, we went to Saks, and tried to get into the restaurant, then the cocktail bar, but queues were crazy, so we ended up under the Rockefeller at Cucina & Co, where we had Cranberry White Cosmopolitans with our lunch. Saks was beautifully decorated, and also had the foresight to have a lift that went only to the shoe floor - genius!

From here we all went to Tiffany's, which was very crowded, and frankly, of not much interest to me. I was more intrigued
with the star in the middle of the intersection, the amazing Christmas windows at Bergdorf Goodman's across the road, and the view from there of the lights of Tiffany's.

Martinique bottom right, Empire State behind
 We caught the subway home, then had a short time to regroup before meeting for dinner. Keen on a sit down and a drink, I checked out the hotel restaurant - full. I ventured across the road to the Irish pub - standing room only - aaaagh! I checked out the diner/bar attached to our hotel, where I walked in and was completely ignored by three staff - you guys work on tips, right?! I went back upstairs and had a mini-meltdown,, and then Jo convinced me that we should go and have a cocktail at the hotel restaurant. We were lucky to get a seat at the bar, but were unlucky in attracting the attention of staff. When we did get served, I got a Lemon Drop - delicious!

We ended up as a group for dinner at the Martinique, on Broadway. I was hungry, so ordered the burger - they asked how I wanted it cooked - yeeees - medium rare, thanks!! I obviously needed to wash it down with a beer, so got a Brooklyn Lager. On the way home, Jo and I went back to a shop we had seen earlier, to pick up a suitcase for her purchases and some t-shirts for our boys. I also stopped off at a drug store, Duane Reade, to pick up some wine. After queuing for service, I was asked for ID, and my Australian ID was greeted with "What is this?!". I said it was Australian, and he asked for my passport, which I did not have on me. He said he could not sell it to me! I resorted to saying "Geez, look at these lines on my face!", which seemed to work.  Back home, I was on the phone to Matt when I realised that it had a cork - bugger! Who has corks these days?!! Dear Jo went down to reception to ask for a corkscrew, where she was greeted with derision, so I ended up just pushing the cork in! It was not until the next evening that I discovered that this 'Californian Pinot Grigio' was 6% alcohol, with an ingredient list of: table wine, water, sugar, concentrated juice, natural fruit flavours, citric acid, and carbon dioxide. WTF?!!!
And so endeth my first day in New York.

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