Jun. 17th, 2004

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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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