The final leg of our adventure was, of course, the Big Apple. New York City! Let’s start with the journey there. After all, my previous blog left off in Canada and the journey to New York is a story in itself!
1. We were quite grateful that our journey to New York wasn’t by plane again, but instead by train. However, we had not realised what an epic journey that would be. Boarding the train was exciting. Would we see beautiful scenery along the way? The train itself was very comfortable and spacious. I could recline my seat and had a foot rest, there was a cafe on board, and I had a window seat. Perfect! I couldn’t get too comfortable, though. After crossing the border between Canada and the USA, we had to disembark for passport control checks, which actually felt more like an interrogation. They questioned me about my travels, took my photo and my fingerprints… I felt like a criminal! But I was glad to get back on the train and settle down for the long journey. And when I say long, I mean it. Eight hours on the train!! It was raining or snowing nearly all the way and getting dark too, so my window seat didn’t provide the scenic journey I was hoping for. On the other hand, it gave me a well-needed chance to rest and catch up on sleep after what has so far been a busy holiday. When the cafe car opened, Matt and I were ready to eat. We went to order some drinks and wraps, only to be greeted by a very miserable woman with no customer service skills and certainly not service with a smile. It was a stark contrast to the Canadians, who would bend over backwards to offer great service! But it didn’t matter because we were going to New York City… the city that never sleeps, the Big Apple. How exciting!
2. I think I just have to mention our NYC hotel here. Matt would never forgive me if I didn’t. It became the butt of our jokes and we renamed it “Hotel Transylvania”. Matt’s favourite word to describe the place was “decrepit” and believe me when I say he wasn’t wrong! The hotel was so old and out-dated. It needed a good revamp and the room was pretty grim. But we hadn’t gone to New York to stay in our hotel room. In fact, we didn’t plan to spend much time there at all with all the activities we had planned. So we decided to grin and bear it. After all, I would rather spend my money on life-long experiences and memories, rather than a luxury hotel. It was just our base for a few days and the location was perfect, right next to Maddison Square Gardens! It even proved to be an ideal spot for one of my favourite past-times: people watching.
3. You certainly see all sorts in New York. Just in our hotel alone, I saw people with blue, green, purple, pink and yellow hair. But best of all, we appeared to have chosen an interesting time to visit the city. It turned out that there was a huge pet dog convention being held just over the road at Maddison Square Gardens for the week. That explained why there were so many dogs in our hotel lobby. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a dog-lover. I absolutely adore my little Pepsi… But these people took it to a whole new level! Travelling from near and far (Korea, for example) with their beloved furry friends loaded into two-tiered trolleys, our Hotel Transylvania had become a pet palace. Big dogs, small dogs, fluffy hair, short hair, and a couple of rabbits were thrown into the mix. It was bizarre. These animals were being treated like celebrities, taking turns to have their very own luxurious photo shoot and being pampered and preened by their “parents”. Worst of all, these poor animals were being treated like babies. They were dressed in dungarees with bows in their hair. But worse again, they were wearing NAPPIES, with several dogs crammed into a pram with “parents” cooing over them. It was hideous! I tried to take a candid photo but failed, so I’m afraid you’ll just have to use your imagination to picture this for yourself!
4. We explored New York pretty well considering we only had three days there. On day one alone we went up the Empire State Building (which for some reason I keep calling the Eiffel Tower) and also the Rockefeller to the Top Of The Rock, we did an open-top bus tour and a boat trip to see the Statue of Liberty, we visited Ground Zero, the 911 memorial and the One World Trade Centre and more! What an experience. There were highs (literally crystal clear skyscraper views) and lows (the 911 memorial is sobering and extremely moving) and I loved the hustle and bustle of the busy city. Suffice to say we were glad we did all that on the first day when we woke up to a winter wonderland the next morning…
5. After an unsurprisingly bad nights sleep in Hotel Transylvania, we woke up to a white and snowy New York. Wrapped up warm, we headed out to experience the city in the snow. They’re well prepared for it, with snow boots on their feet and snow ploughs on the roads. We, however, underestimated how soggy the streets would be and almost immediately stumbled into slushy freezing cold puddles that submerged our feet. Not a pleasant feeling! So with wet feet squelching in our boots, we decided to head indoors to museums for the day. Natural history and art – It was a culture-filled day! I also realised that in another life I should have been an architect. I was fascinated by the merging of old and new buildings and unique structures. Maybe it could be another string to my bow? Later that day, we managed to explore Central Park when the snow eased off, but somehow we managed to end up in the same place we started, with wet feet yet again! I would love to see the park in summer too, full of people. I better plan another trip!
6. To complete our New York experience, we had to visit the famous Times Square and Broadway. It is safe to say that it was dazzling! There were so many lights in the Square that night felt like day. There were people everywhere, performers and tourists mingling on the streets. My senses were overwhelmed! You really have to go there to properly experience it. It had a buzz of excitement and an air of fun, preparing us for a Broadway show with one of my favourite actresses, Cate Blanchett, who certainly didn’t disappoint!
So all in all, this was the trip of a lifetime. It might have cost me a small fortune along the way, but it was worth every penny because I got to do all the things that I dreamed of and I will have these memories for life!
Now, where should I go next?