Thursday, January 29, 2009

No Muppets In Manhatten

I was rudely woken at 6am local by a text from Sylvia, as I'd missed an appointment yesterday.

Sleep was broken from then until about 8am when we decided to get up. Had breakfast about 8.30am, discovered that 5th ave is only 7 blocks away!

Saw a mouse... a friend to share the apartment with.

Went outside... it was snow everywhere! And within minutes our feet were soaked from stepping in puddles that were a hell of a lot deeper than they seemed. :)

Decided we best get the bus since a 7 block walk with numerous puddles and Jia's Uggs would not be a pleasant experience.

So, hopping on the bus we discovered that 1 dollar notes were no good, we needed change or a Metro card, thankfully a nice woman who was getting on after us paid for us with her card and we gave her some notes. She then was very helpful in letting us know where to get off for our first proper day in NY - 5th Avenue!!!

Our first stop – FAO Schwarz, the biggest toy store I have ever been to! And I intend on returning before our trip is over! The ground floor is packed to the hilt with stuffed animals, a huge sweet shop, and the Make Your Own Muppet area! Something I didn't do today, but plan on doing before we leave if they get more Muppets in! Down in the basement floor are the pre-school toys, so we gave that a miss. On the maze that is the top floor lives the infamous Giant Piano, which again we didn't get around to, even though I spent 6 hours in the store, as well as a make your own Barbie and make your own doll sections. After an hour of looking around I discovered my favourite section by far - the “Make” area. We decided that Jia would go off shopping in the likes of Louis Vitton and Chanel while I got to work, and that we would meet 2 and a half hours later for lunch. Alas it was not to be, for when someone mentioned it was 4pm, I had well missed the 1.30pm deadline. :D So what kept me, well, they had a range of ceramic odds and ends, from plates, bowls and mugs, to picture frames, boxes and animals. What's so special about that? You get to paint them yourself, then have them glazed and fired and shipped on to you! I choose 6 pieces, a plate, a bowl, a mug, a duck savings box and two picture frames. Pictures will follow when they arrive sometime next week :D

Next stop for me – The Disney Store, 3 floors of the Magical Kingdom that is Disney. I spent the guts of an hour just looking around and picked up a few nice items. One shop assistant commented on how nice a bag I had, I was puzzled until I remembered it was a Tigger bag that I picked up in the Disney store in Birmingham late last year.

By then it was after 5pm, I was starving and tired, and my feet were soaking, so we headed off to the bus stop (I say headed off to, I mean wandered aimlessly for an hour before actually finding the stop), but the fun didn't end there, we got on the bus on the wrong side of the street and added an hour to our trip home!!!

But I digress, we got back in the end.

Not long after we arrived, the housekeeper came in to show some guys around the other room in our apartment, and we got to complain (but in a polite way :)) about the mouse, about the lack of internet and about the non working tv. She pointed out the computer in the room she had shown the boys and said we were welcome to use it, she would leave the door unlocked, just not to sleep in the beds. The tv in there works too, so we have pretty much all the hiccups sorted :D

And now, it is after 11pm local, after 4am at home, I am sleepy, and so I bid you a good night.

In a New York State of Mind

5:00am ... “Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never go-”

5:10am... “Never gonna give you up, ne-”

5:20am... “Never go-”

And there I am, still in a haze of sleep, trying to remind myself to tie the ribbons on the cases so I can identify them easily.

5:40am... Is that the damn taxi already?!

Hiccup 1 – Taxi was 15 minutes early, cutting out any breakfast plans!

5:48am... “we're outside... okay... yeah... okay”
“She'll be 5 minutes :D”

We arrived in the airport about half 6, checked for the check in gate, and we were off to a great start.

Hiccup 2 – The lady behind the desk hands me a green visa waiver form. Wait, what?! Didn't I fill this out online already?! Paranoid Yanks...

Breakfast courtesy of McDs, and off through security in Dublin Airport. A mess of inefficiency as usual. But we stumbled through uneventfully.

Border control went fine, fingerprinting (no crime spree for me I'm afraid!), and a smile for the camera.

Boarded the plane about 8:15am, plenty of time to get everyone seated for the take off.

Little touch screen in the head of the seat in front, and to my delight an episode of Dr Who. I also watched Big Bang Theory, some of How I Met Your Mother, played a trivia quiz (and won twice!), played a few other games, watched the majority of Hellboy.

Meal was ok – bread roll, jam, butter, cheese, crackers, fruit cup (which hit the spot quite well), some chicken thing that I didn't even open, a choc bar, the most rank orange juice I've ever tasted and a complimentary diet coke. Second round was a pizza with pesto (I ate my way around the pesto as much as humanly possible), some water and a biscuit.

By the end of the 7 hours my ass was numb and I was exhausted (from what, I don't know!)

Bags came through without mishap, and sailed through customs. Awaiting all the arrivals were some “express bus” tauts, and we decided what the hell. So we got dragged up to the airport car park (serious alarm bells ringing at this stage) along with an older English woman. And the guy stops at a stretch limo! I thought all my xmass had come at once! Sure enough bags were shoved in and we were informed that another 2 passengers were on the way... However they did not appear and so we were moved to a smaller cab, and away we went.

The pleasant Brit was over for a wedding, and for some reason the taxi driver took an immense dislike to her. But I digress, we dropped her off first, and over the Queensboro Bridge! We had quite an animated chat with the driver on the way, including a brief phone encounter with his Irish girlfriend! And soon we were at the door to the hostel/apartment. Of course not before the driver bumped his price from $19 to $21 each lol. He did however give us a true New Yorker experience of Jay walking, thank you Mark the Jamacian New Yorker driver.

So after 10 minutes of ringing the various bells to the apartment building we finally got let in... and so to many more hiccups.

Hiccup 3 – I specifically booked a ground floor apartment having read that the building had no lift, and knowing we both planned on bringing luggage. Alas nay, we are situated on the 4th floor (that's the 3rd floor for those of us with a normal sense of flooring).

Hiccup 4 – The wireless Internet connection that connects for 2 seconds, then disconnects, reconnects, disconnects, reconnects, quicker than I can type this! Even the wired one does it... Not as promised I'm afraid!

Hiccup 5 – The promised tv with satellite channels, again not so, apparently the tv has no signal! Goddamit.

But, despite all that it's quite a nice room, simple, but nice. And for the moment at least we have a little kitchen and a bathroom to ourselves. With any luck it'll remain that way.

It's now... 10:41pm home time, 5:41pm local time, and I'm starving!

Granny called rather unexpectedly, to wish me a late happy birthday, and was mightly surprised to hear I was in New York.

Had the most wonderful shower here, so it went back up one on the scale of hiccupness.

Went to the supermarket, just 2 blocks away, bought some basics as we've decided we're going to cook breakfast and dinner here, to save on moneys, and have lunch out most days.