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Just got back from New York. Too pooped to say much about it, except that I had a brilliant time, and my one regret is that despite us turning up real early as advised by the organizers, the ice on The Pond in Bryant Park just flat-out refused to stay frozen long enough for anyone to tie on their skates and be allowed out on it...but other than that -- BRILLIANT!

holiday snaps )

Poor baby

Oct. 20th, 2008 01:01 pm
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Manasse has been vomiting since Friday night. It's not food he throws up; neither is it plants or hairballs. Mostly it's just a clear liquid, and quite a lot of it...He does this about 4 or 5 times a day, and 1 or 2 times at night. He's got me really worried, also because I can see he's feeling nauseous (he's smacking his lips and swallowing like cats do when they don't feel well, and meows plaintively just before the heaving starts -- which is good, because it allows me just enough time to pick him up and carry him to the linoleum in the kitchen). Wouldn't you know it? My cat gets ill just before I'm due to go off on a city break to New York...

Still, that's not the worst of it. I've been out of work for 3 months, have not been able to claim benefit, and am now really starting to feel the pinch. Of course, I will start earning again soon, but until my first paycheck comes through at the end of next month, money is going to be extremely tight.

I had to stop by the vet's this morning to pick up the special diet foods both Leila and Manasse require (KER-CHING!), and hoping they could give me some helpful hints described my baby's symptoms...but of course they're not in the business of handing out free advice and so I'm taking him in this afternoon for a proper examination. I do want him to get well again, but I wish he could have picked another, less strapped-for-cash moment.

As it is, I'm seriously questioning the wisdom of going to New York while skint and worrying about my moggie's health, but when all's said and done, the tickets are bought and paid for, it's only a couple of days, and if I have to be skint anywhere, I'd rather be skint but having a ball over there than skint and stuck in the same old rut here.

_________________________________________________________________


ETA: 16:07pm - Back from the vet. Somehow, in the last year and without my noticing it, Manasse has picked up a heart murmur, bad teeth, and a mysterious thickening of his stomach lining. For now, he's been given a jab, sundry pills, and a new diet, while I have been given instructions to administer the tablets 5 times a day, with some of the food, starting...immediately; there's not a moment to waste!

I came out on top in the wrestling match that ensued (my hands are in tatters, but the first pill went down his gullet eventually), but he's spat out the food and sits in a corner glowering at me. The vet wants a full update on the situation tomorrow, and for us to come back in to have an ultrasound done later in the week.
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Last night, I went to a performance of Nabucco by the National Opera Company of Tatarstan in Amsterdam. Allan had gotten us a pair of tickets as a spur of the moment kind of thing: he saw the billboard, realised he'd never in all his 42 years gone to the opera and despite the fact that he never listens to anything other than R&B, decided he really wanted to broaden his horizons, imbibe a bit of culture, and go. Of course, he didn't want to go alone and that's how I got to go as well.

We had quite an enjoyable evening; although at almost two-and-a-half hours Nabucco does take its time, there's enough going on to keep your attention on the stage. I have no idea who the soloists were or how highly they rate in the world of opera, but we liked hearing them, and so must the rest of the audience have done as it gave them a standing ovation at the end of the performance. The orchestra, the singers, the sets -- it was all good and I'm glad I went.

Going to the opera wasn't all that Allan and I did yesterday, though. Earlier that afternoon, we walked into a travel agent's and booked ourselves that trip to New York we've been talking about for months. We leave Oct 23rd, so we've got ample time to decide what we want to do once we get there.

Incidentally, this is my 1,250th journal entry. It's taken me almost 5 years to reach this number...and who could have thunk I ever would all those years ago? Not I! I've chosen to mark the occasion by changing my moodtheme from Doctor Who to The Gene Genie, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] radiogaga80.

Pah!

Jun. 29th, 2007 11:11 pm
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Back in January, my friend Allan and I pre-booked a trip to New York for January 2008. It was advertised as a special offer, and so we jumped at the chance. The travel agents got back to us and said they were very sorry, but that ad hadn't been meant to be published at that time, but if we were still serious about going, they would get back to us with an offer when they were ready to present the package (flights and hotel). And they did, this afternoon. But the price has gone up by 1,000 euros...each.

[livejournal.com profile] anonypooh, I might be able to take that ticket off you, after all.

Harumph

May. 3rd, 2007 04:33 pm
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That's all I need. My telly's gone on the blink; right in the middle of Houses Under The Hammer, too. No House, M.D. for me tonight. But that's alright, as long as I make sure there's a new one in place before Grey's Anatomy on Monday.

Though the CRT going on it can be described as something of a nuisance, it's helped me make up my mind about New York. I can't buy a new telly and go to New York; but I will contribute to the service by asking my correspondent to do the reading on my behalf.
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Peronne's former co-workers and friends at the UN are organising a memorial service for her on May 17th, at the church on Lexington she volunteered at in 2001. This morning, one of their number sent me an e-mail and asked:

"Would you be willing to come, stay over at my house and say something?"

Would I like to come and be part of this memorial service for my best friend, whose passing I still mourn every day? Of course I would! But at such short notice, arranging for a reasonably priced flight to NYC will not be easy. On the one hand...I really shouldn't let financial considerations enter into it, and pass up on this chance of coming together with people who knew and loved her too, and wish to celebrate her life. On the other, though...having checked the usual websites, I'm not sure if I can afford to spend 700 euros on a 2-day visit.

And say something? I can't hear her name, or see it written down, without bursting into tears.

I miss her so, so much.
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How could I have forgotten about the sea lions?

After lunch, we had to dash uptown to Central Park Zoo, in order not to miss the sea lions perform. Lisa had warned us their last performance would be on at 4pm, and with seconds to spare, we arrived at the ticket booth just as it was closing up shop for the day -- ours were the last tickets sold, and we had half an hour to enjoy them before the zoo closed. We rushed over to the sea lions, who were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their keepers/trainers and the fish they carried.

performing sea lions, some penguins, and a polar bear )

Final days

Apr. 5th, 2007 09:21 pm
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On the Wednesday, we make a concerted effort to spend our last full day in New York going round the shops. We have breakfast on Lexington, then pop into the Diesel store across the road. I like Diesel, but it's usually way to expensive for me. While it isn't exactly cheap in New York either, the exchange rate is so wonderfully adventageous to us Europeans at the moment that here, I can splurge out. A lovely young man with dreads down to his buttocks helps me pick out a pair of trainers and some T-shirts, and manages to talk Jules into a skirt as well. While I'm in the fittings rooms, my phone rings; but the caller has hung up by the time I get to it. It's Jon. I call back and we agree a time and place for lunch.

After which, we resume our dawdling around the shops, but neither one of us buys anything much. Instead, we just walk, and walk, and walk all over town, window-shopping and enjoying the sun, until we start to feel our legs almost buckle under us, but still we persevere. We want to take in a show, and after we find out our first choice, Altar Boyz, isn't on that day, we trail around the theatres hoping to find a show that starts late enough for Lisa to join us after work, and for us to have a bite to eat first, but are unsuccessful in our quest.

Back to shopping we go, and I purchase a cardie in Macy's while Jules tries on and rejects several skirts. Lisa meets us there and takes us up to the shoe department, but although there are thousands to choose from, none of them take my fancy. Though we don't really want to think about it, the next day we will be leaving, and Nawaz will pick us up from the flat at 2pm, to take us to the airport.

We make an early start the next morning. We want to make as much as we can from our last hours in the city, and after our suitcases are packed (mine with much accompanying frustrated shouting), we head out to South Street Seaport again, to go see the Bodies exhibition which was on earlier in London and Amsterdam, but which neither of us has seen yet. Although when Jules had expressed a wish to see it earlier in the week, my initial reaction had been one of ick, I soon became totally absorbed in the exhibits and was particularly impressed by the the cases of veins (just veins), preserved and presented in the way they actually run through the body and therefore taking on a recognisable shape, of an arm, a leg, or an entire torso.

We meet Lisa again in Times Square, for a farewell lunch at Ollie's, where they serve the most delicious squid I have ever tasted in my life. We ring [livejournal.com profile] freakspawn so that she can join us at the table, and then Lisa takes us to the subway and tells us to take the express to Roosevelt and change to the local there, we should make it home in time for Nawaz...and so we get off at Roosevelt Island, and waste a full 20 minutes. When we get to our building, Nawaz is already parked in front of it, anxiously talking to Lisa on the phone. They were worried about us -- bless!

We go up, get our bags, and Jules makes a final circuit around the flat videoing it so that she can show [livejournal.com profile] freakspawn her sister's new abode, and then we're off. Despite the fact that we were half an hour behind on schedule, Nawaz gets us to our terminals on time, and then with a final hug, he's gone.

I pass through JFK security with two lipsticks and an emery board in my bag. They would have been taken off me at any European airport, but at JFK, they don't seem that bothered. Later, on board the plane, the stewardess and I are amazed to see that the two fat ladies sitting next to me were even allowed to pass security with their own supply of Diet Coke! They think they're so clever, not realising that on board KLM-flights, drinks are included in the fare, and so politely refuse the soft drinks, wine and liqueur they are offered. After we land, another American anxiously asks why he hasn't been given an Immigration form to fill out, and is perplexed to hear we do things differently over here.
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The first thing I do the next morning, is to check my phone to see if Jon has texted us as I've asked him to. No such luck...but there is a MySpace bulletin to say he's got a gig at the Parkview Lounge in Houston (by which we assume he means the street) that night at 10. We leave him a message to say we're crazily busy that day, but will try to come to his show nonetheless.

Though really, we doubt that we can make it. We've been in the US for 4 whole days and a bit out of our 7-day stay, and we still haven't made any serious attempt at shopping, so today is set aside for that -- and OK Go in Prince Street at 6pm. Only it said to come down there early...but how early is 'early', we wonder. So we take the subway downtown to try and locate the Apple Store, and wouldn't you know it, it's right next door to J Crew, one of the shops on Lisa's list! The sun is out and the weather is uncommonly clement for the time of year, and so the first purchase of the day is mine: a stylish raffia bag, big enough to hold my coat and scarf.

We check out the Apple Store; there is a podium and some seating upstairs where we suppose the gig will be later, but where at that precise moment in time a woman holds forth on the blessings of iWeb to an audience of no more than 4 or 5 bored-looking individuals. Jules asks a 'genius', for that is what the assistants in the shop are called, what time he would recommend we come back to see the band, and he reckons 4pm should be good. That leaves us precious little time to do all the shopping we had planned on midtown...and when we get to the subway, we find our luck has run out, or almost: a building collapse up in 116th St has caused all trains up or down to be cancelled for the time being, and drives us to go back up and hail a cab. However, a cab is just as slow as a bus in Manhattan, and time is ticking away. We're dropped off at the Penguin Store, in search of a tie for Jules's hubby, but they don't carry any she likes and now she wants to go to Tiffany's...she has some birthday money to spend, after all!

We got there by way of Rockefeller Center, where we tried but couldn't find Anthropologie (Lisa had said it was around the side, but Rockefeller Center has too many sides to check if you're hot, thirsty, and in a hurry). After going around the counters in Fashion Jewelry twice, Jules settled on a cute silver ring with 5 little hearts on it. I texted Jon to ask till what time he'd be on, as not only were we now en route to OK Go, but we were also meant to be at David Berkeley's set at Makor in W. 67th St at 7:30pm, and thought we might possibly be running late.

We got back to Prince St just after 4pm, and joined the queue line, no more than 9 or 10 people long, and found that the wall we were leaning against actually belonged to the post office we had earlier been unable to locate!

the turn-out was overwhelming! )
(and that's my stylish J Crew bag there -- no, not the carrier bag, the one in front/next to it)

(tbc)
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We got back to Queens in the wee small hours of Monday morning, and while Lisa went straight back out again to return the car to the Avis lot, the holiday makers went to bed and slept in. On waking, we decided to take a trip down to South Street Seaport, and once there trawled around the shops for a bit and had a late brunch of cheap Chinese. The place is not without its charms

harbour scene )

but a bit windy

me against a background of not 1, not 2, but 3 bridges )

and basically, it's just another mall; so we soon headed back to the city by way of Staples where we picked up another memory card for Inspector Gadget, and Burger King to access the 'Net. I don't know why I logged onto Myspace, but I'm glad I did because I found that Corn Mo had left us a message, saying how our showing up at his gig Friday night had really made his day and were we free for lunch any of our remaining days? We let him know that of course we were, and Tuesday or Wednesday would suit us best.

Julia's lucky wristband really did work! Every time we rubbed it, something good would come our way. A bulletin came in from OK Go to announce that they would be doing a free gig at the Apple Store at 6pm the following day, and to get there early if we wanted to get in. And of course we wanted to! We'd been looking at buying tickets to the OK Go/Snow Patrol double bill in Madison Square Gardens before we came, but had left it too late to secure some -- and now this! All hail the lucky wristband!

We picked up Lisa from her place of work, and had dinner on Jules, to celebrate her winnings, at Ellen's Stardust Diner, where the waiting staff sing while you eat. We got to be quite fond of our waiter Benny

Benny at the Diner )

but unfortunately he was done singing before we were ready to go, and all our willing him back to mic failed to get a result. Maybe we should have rubbed the lucky wristband some more?

Back at the flat, Lisa must have been exhausted, but she willingly drew us up a list of not to be missed places to shop the next day, and then we all called it a night.

(tbc)
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Just before we left, Jules had got on the Internet and reserved tickets, which was just as well, because when we arrived at the venue, somewhere in Alphabet City, with a good half hour to spare, we were told it was sold out. "That's alright, we've got tickets", we said, and were advised to wait in the upstairs bar. I scanned the room, and saw the man himself sitting in a corner reading a magazine. He looked up, saw me, and got to his feet with a look of absolute delight on his face, which deepened as he saw Jules coming up behind me. We were caught up in a bear hug and a torrent of words which he used to express his joy and surprise at seeing us there, and we sat down at his table where he introduced us to his girlfriend telling her how we had been regulars at his shows in Britain over the last few years. We told him how we had meant to surprise him, and he told us how the surprise had worked, and how pleased he was to see us. He introduced us to some of the members of the other band on the bill, 'the best heavy metal tribute band to (80s soft rockers) Air Supply in the Tri State Area', Hair Supply, again emphasizing that we were fans of his who had come all the way from Europe to see him, impressing them with this fact mightily. After a while, they all left us to get ready for the show, and when the doors were opened, it was our turn to be surprised as Mo had apparently taken the time to ensure that we had front row seats.

Hair Supply were on first, and they rocked the place. They had brought a camera crew to record their antics for posterity, and our enthusiastic response to their set has now been preserved on video. [livejournal.com profile] anonypooh took some pictures, which can be admired in her journal, if you want to get an idea of what their show was like.

Contrary to usual practice when Mo comes over to the UK and it's just him on his own with his accordeon and (occasionally) keyboard, this time he came accompanied by his full band. He did introduce them, but I'm afraid I've forgotten their names. Apart from one new song from a rock opera he may or may not be writing, all the songs in the set were songs we were familiar with, although obviously, with a full band behind him, the arrangements were different. Needless to say, we had a fantastic time. After the show, we talked to him again, and he said that if we had time and weren't too busy, he'd like to do lunch or dinner some time. At the time, we took it for a politeness, but oh how wrong we were!

(tbc)
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The Customs Officer looks dubiously at me and my carefully filled out (because mistakes, corrections and crossed out sections are emphatically not allowed and reason for immediate refusal of entry into the United States) Immigration form and asks "Rego Park, New York, NY -- where is that?" "In New York", I say, "though I don't know where exactly." "Oh no", says he, "It may be in New York, but not in New York, New York -- you know, like Albany, or Niagara...You ever been to Niagara?", and without further ado, he takes a big black felt-tipped pen and crosses out the relevant section on my Immigration form and writes "Rego Par [sic], NY" in bold lettering across it. That's it, I think, I'm not going to be allowed entrance now because he's ruined my green entry form, while poor Jules has been waiting in Arrivals for me for 5 hours, and now it's all been for nothing! He goes on to tell me about Niagara and how the best way to see it is by going across to the Canadian side, then waves me through. Relieved, if slightly bewildered, I realise I'm not to be ignominiously deported, after all. I swear, of all the countries in the world (except Israel), crossing as a tourist into the US is more of an ordeal than a mere formality. Still, at least this time, he cracked a smile at the end, whereas I'd gotten used to a surly, dour-faced, and unnecessarily rude reception on my previous visits, so maybe the recent survey that said 70% of tourists rate US Customs to be the most unpleasant of Customs in the world has had some effect.

Rego Park, it turns out, is in the borough of Queens, New York, NY. It's the home of [livejournal.com profile] freakspawn's sister, who had offered to put us up in her new apartment there. When we got there, she had just nipped out down the road to get us some keys cut, but we didn't have to wait long before she arrived back. As she had recently moved in, the place was big, light, airy and fairly bare, and both [livejournal.com profile] anonypooh and I immediately fell in love with it. We went to the local supermarket to stock up on fruit and breakfast food, then after a while ventured out into a light drizzle (the only rain we were to encounter in our week-long stay) at the Pio-Pio Peruvian restaurant which is tiny but immensely popular, and if you've ever tasted their chicken, you'll know why.

In the middle of the night, Jules got a call from her husband telling her to ring in to a UK radio station right that very minute, to claim the £1000 she'd won in one of their competitions. If that wasn't a lucky omen for the rest of our holiday...

Lisa left for work early the next morning, but Julia and I took our time getting ready and deciding on what to do first, then took a leisurely stroll to Queens Center Mall where we had coffee and cheesecake and a look around the shops. I'd decided that while I was in New York, I would get a new pair of trainers as my 2001 souvenir Nikes could definitely do with being replaced, they're so old and tattered now; but I didn't see any I liked and I ended up buying a Hawaiian Slipper ring instead. After a restorative cup of tea and a change of clothes back at the flat, we took the R into town and wandered around the Theatre District to check out the available shows, as the plan was to go see one later in the week. Or go see a film...By the time we got back to Times Square, my ankle was giving me real problems, as I had optimistically, but as it turned out rather stupidly, elected to wear some modest heels for the evening. So while Jules went to intercept Lisa as she came out of work, I popped into the Skechers and got myself a pair of comfortable, casual, champagne with little pink flowers embroidered on them, sporty sneaker-type-but-not-quite, shoes. I had to fight another woman for them, as they were the only pair in my size, and she was convinced in hers too; but luckily when she tried them on, she found they were too small for her and she beat an embarrassed retreat.

Under Lisa's guidance, we made it to a Moroccan restaurant with live rai music and a belly dancer, where the food was delicious even if my portion was woefully small, consisting of only 4 (four!) jumbo shrimp. However, since my starter, of beef and runny egg in a spicy tomato sauce, had been more substantial, it didn't really matter, and we had a fantastic time, soon to be eclipsed by our next stop: Mo Pitkins, the venue for Corn Mo and Hair Supply.

(tbc)
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I came home about an hour and a half ago. It feels strange to be here again, where it's nice and quiet, after the hustle and bustle of New York. Have sort of overdosed on sets (3 David Berkeley, 2 Corn Mo, 2 Common Rotation, 1 OK Go, 1 Hair Supply, 1 Hotel Twilight, 1 Jason Webley, part of 1 by a band called Milton), divided over 6 different venues, 3 different cities, and all in 5 days; but have only managed to take in 1 exhibition (Bodies, at South Street Seaport) just before leaving. Am completely knackered, but it's not even midday here -- no time for bed yet.

As for shopping -- didn't do too much of that. Still, I bought 2 pairs of shoes, a few tops, a bag, and a gold and diamond ring from Na Hoku. I'm sure you can guess what design I chose ;-)
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Tonight, another series that I kind of watched (not religiously and with lots of stops and starts) has ended. Yes, tonight the last ever episode of Sex & The City was aired in The Netherlands. I only found out about it about an hour before it came on, had nothing better to do, and so settled down in front of the telly with a bottle of wine. And lo! it was good, as far as the dresses and the shoes were concerned, and the story -- ah well, I guess they had to wrap it up some way, and who cares if it was a bit saccharine and tame -- but damnit! why did they choose to have most of the action take place in Paris, when I've always liked this series precisely because it was situated in New York; when it could show me New York whenever I started to feel the itch to go back there?

Because it may sound corny, but I ::heart:: New York. Or Manhattan, because if truth be told, I only ever set foot in Brooklyn once, and I've been to The Bronx only to go to the Zoo. There are days that I truly miss taking Whitney (the dog) for a walk in Central Park, or going 3 blocks for my bagels on Lexington. Of course, I'm free to go back whenever I choose, but...I rarely, if ever, give in to the temptation. Instead, I watch Sex & The City on occasion, and although I'm sure the series will be on repeat ad infinitum, I am kind of sad that I won't get to see any new and (un)familiar places and faces of NYC by watching it anymore...

But enough of this! My mate [livejournal.com profile] calove informs me that we've got the tickets to go see Ian McKellen in drag at the Old Vic for [livejournal.com profile] bogwitch's birthday. Yay! I'm going to the panto with these two and [livejournal.com profile] hesadevil, and I'm counting the days. Because really, I ::heart:: London just as much as Manhattan.

(Speaking of tickets: I'm sure I ordered these for all three dates CoRo have put up for the UK next year. However, there were only confirmation e-mails for two...something must have gone wrong).
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The next day was cloudy and overcast, with the odd spot of rain -- perfect for doing the museum run, we thought. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten about the Guggenheim being closed on Thursdays, so Cass had to content herself with photographing the outside and lunch in the adjacent cafe, and since we were now in the neighbourhood, I took the opportunity to drop off a note for Fran, leaving it with the doorman (I hope he delivered it).

We'd taken the stroll through Central Park crossing to the Guggenheim; now we walked down Fifth Avenue to the Met, one of those museums that's always worth a visit simply because it's so vast there's always something you haven't seen yet. It also has one of the most amazing shops, and I watched in astonishment as a young girl of school age took 5 minutes to decide between two replica Byzantine rings, finally settling for the more expensive item: $5,500. Must have been out shopping with Daddy's credit card!

Before we knew it, we had spent several hours in there, and it was getting on towards late afternoon when we exited. We went into Bergdorff and Bendel, popped into Saks for five minutes, but strangely enough, and despite the sale being on in the shoe department, I couldn't find anything to tickle my fancy and my credit cards remained unused on this occasion. I left it up to Cass where and what we would eat, and she opted for a Mexican restaurant, where the portions were once again humongous.
I wonder if the staff at these places ever comment on the fact that I send 3/4s of whatever I'm given back? When I looked around me, the natives mostly cleaned their plates...Lord knows how they did it, or where they left it -- you don't see all that many grossly overweight people in the midtown or downtown areas.

By now, we were determined to get it right going back across the bridge. This was our last night and we weren't going to go back home defeated by the transportation system. And for once, our determination payed off. We got back to our hotel at a reasonable hour, and started watching a film on television. We must have dozed off pretty shortly after, because I woke up a couple of hours later finding the telly and the lights still on and my roommate fast asleep. I turned off the electrics, and slept some more.

On our last morning, Julie came up from Connecticut bringing her son Eric with her. We said goodbye to NYC by going up in a helicopter (all 4 of us), whizzing past the Statue of Liberty -- then Julie drove us to the airport and before I knew what was happening, I found myself aboard a McDonnell Douglas bound for Amsterdam. It was at once slightly strange as well as comforting to hear the conversations around me being conducted in Dutch again, and I looked forward to coming home, being greeted or ignored by the cats, and unpacking.
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Wednesday was a scorcher. Before leaving our room, I called and made arrangements with B. (aka Fearless Leader Lush) to drop by her place later for drinks and a chat, and then we took another cab into the city. Jules had suggested going to the Bronx Zoo for the day, and so we met up there again that morning. Despite or maybe because of the heat, we had quite a relaxing outing, wandering from enclosure to enclosure where most animals lay panting in the shadows and refused to be seen and admired. The sea lions seemed about the only ones unaffected by the weather...they certainly expended a lot of energy racing each other in the water.

Too soon, Julie had to go back home again, and Cass and I took the subway downtown, where we window-shopped till we dropped...or until it was time to meet B. Who was a wonderful hostess, and instead of the short visit we'd intended, we found ourselves staying half the night. B. wasn't enthusiastic about our preferred method of getting back across to NJ, but by then, Cass had become an expert on the subway and its underpasses (I've never been able to see any rhyme or reason in the system, but it only took her a few minutes and a metromap to work out how best to travel anywhere in the city at all. The few times we ended up going the wrong way were all down to me, I'm afraid), so we were undaunted, and firm in our decision.

This time, we did manage to find the GW bus station, and got on the bus across to bridge, but at the other end found ourselves stranded on the corner of Bridge Plaza North and Lemoine Avenue, where there should have been taxis waiting. There weren't. We called for a cab, but both taxi company despatchers told us "Sorry, ladies, we have no cars available tonight". I called the desk clerk at the hotel to advise us how to get there, but he couldn't offer any alternative (walking was out of the question according to him, and his suggestion of asking a bus driver to take us up route 4 and drop us at the gas station nearby didn't take into consideration the fact that it had gone midnight and that all busses had stopped going). And so we waited. And waited. And waited some more. Luckily, it was a mild night, and a friendly doorman kept an eye on us so it didn't feel as if we were completely deserted by man and God...We resorted to calling the cab companies once every 15-20 minutes, with increasingly more desperation in our voices until finally, after two and a half hours of begging and cajoling, Cass managed to wrest the promise of a car being sent to pick us up by one of them. Twenty minutes later, we were where we wanted to be, and dropped into our beds, exhausted.

tbc
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I had arranged with my friend Fran that after MR04 ended, Cass and I could come and stay with her on the Upper East Side -- but when I rang from Split Rock to let her know we were thinking of driving down route 80 and crossing over the GW Bridge, the concierge told me that she had left New York in a hurry on Friday, to deal with a family emergency in Colorado. She had left no instructions regarding guests arriving on Monday.

So there we were, Cass and I, up the creek without a paddle -- but not really. We just needed to make new arrangements, and one of these was that now we could take a detour to Connecticut and meet Julie's husband and son, and then the next day she'd drive us up to NYC all the same. We made reservations at a Best Western, and left the Split Rock resort with something of a spring in our step on Monday. On the way over, we stopped at some outlet stores as I was in dire need of a sturdy belt, having noticed that weekend at the resort that my trousers were falling down on me (has there ever been any research done into the possibility of air travel causing sudden and noticeable weight loss in females? I'd bought my pink jeans only weeks before going to the con, and now I had to constantly pull them up! The same with all my other trousers, so a belt had to be added to my wardrobe). We wandered into a GAP store, and stocked up on jeans (Jules), children's wear (Cass), flip-flops (me) and tops (all of us). Then we had lunch.

After arriving at the hotel and freshening up some, Julie brought her family over (hello Ron, hello Eric) before we went out to dinner at the local Japanese restaurant, which -but for us- was deserted. An enjoyable evening (with scallops!) was had by all.

Cass, Jules, and me that Monday afternoon )

The next morning, Cass went down to sort out our accommodation in New York while I had a leisurely bath; when I came down I was told that the staff had exhausted their options and New York was booked solid. Jules arrived to take us up there, and we took a snap decision to stay at the Fort Lee Best Western, where they had just one room with a queen and a pull-out bed available. Who cares? We weren't planning on spending any great length of time in our hotel, anyway.

We loved our trip up: Cass and I were suitably impressed by how big everything seems to be in America, and how strange it was that we could smell wildflowers along the motorway. We even saw some eagles soaring overhead at the Delaware Water Gap, or I think that's what it was called...

When we got to our stop-over point, the desk clerk advised us that the best way to get into Manhattan would be to take a cab to the bus station, hop on any bus to take us over the bridge, and then take the tube subway to wherever we were going. Our first cabbie implored us never to take a NYC cab back across the bridge as they would easily charge us $20-25 for the privilege, but basically take the same route back: bus across, and NJ cab from the bus station. It all sounded so reasonable and easy-peasy...

Anyway, since Cass had never been to NYC before, there were a few things on her list that she really, really wanted to do: go up to the observation deck on the Empire State Bldg., see Times Square, visit the Guggenheim & the Met, take a stroll through Central Park and finally, take a ride in a helicopter. Me, I had no special wishes, other than that I quite fancied going to the cinema to see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, simply because I'd heard that two of my favourite actors, Gary Oldman and Alan Rickman, are in it. Well, that and meet up with Fearless Leader Lush later on in the week. Having made arrangements with Julie to join her for a visit to the Zoo the next day, that left us with 2 days and a bit to cram all these activities in.

We arrived in Times Square around late lunchtime, and just off it, I spotted a cinema where Harry Potter showed. That was our evening sorted then, and off we went to find sustenance. Which we did, in a 'Bucket of Boat Trash' and great big glasses of speckled lemonade (it was a hot day) at Bubba Gump's. Then, we wandered along the streets, slowly but surely making our way to the Empire State Bldg., and did our tourist-y thing. There was a sale on in Macy's and Cass tricked me into buying a predominantly red top and a black and lilac outfit.

The third Harry Potter-film (and the first one I've ever seen) proved very good and entertaining, quite dark and scary when you're a kid but not too much when you're an adult, and I liked it better than I would have expected. Pity both my favourites had such small parts, though...I cried when the hippogryph was killed, and I got confused every time Harry would call his owl, but other than that, it was alright and I enjoyed it.

It was late when we tried to make our way back to the GW bus station, but proper signposting is not one of America's better virtues and in the end, we did take that NYC taxi over the bridge, paying the exorbitant fare just to get to bed without too much hassle.

tbc

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December 2012

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