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Reisverslag NYC! (Longest blog so far)
16 april 2014
NYC! (Longest blog so far)
I was in the Big Apple, The Empire State, the city that never sleeps, yes! I was in New York City!
Saturday I left for Gainesville airport. All was well, I was 1.5 hour early, had already checked in and had no luggage to check and there was no line at security so I was feeling pretty relaxed. When I went to give the security man my ticket he said “Well you look very relaxed”, which instantly had the effect that I felt stressed. I look relaxed? What does he mean by that? Is that a bad thing? Maybe he thinks I’m smuggling drugs. I’m not smuggling drugs. I don’t want to go to jail, I’m not doing anything! (Yes, it can be hard being me). But all went well and after security I sat down, bought a bottle of water and hung out. That’s when Delta Airlines called me to inform me that my flight to Atlanta was going to be half an hour late, which mean that instead of an hour to transfer onto my flight to New Jersey (Newark), I’d only have half an hour and I “most likely wouldn’t make it”. Kind of annoyed, I asked her what I was supposed to do but “I was lucky because she could put me on the next flight to New Jersey from Atlanta, at 9:40 instead of 5:50.” Since I didn’t prefer arriving in NYC at midnight, since I’ve never been there and I was flying alone, I didn’t particulary consider myself lucky. However, there was nothing I could do plus maybe 30 minutes was enough to make my transfer… So I hung out for 2 hours before we boarded. The flight to Atlanta went smoothly, nothing special happened on it. When we landed it was 5:10 so I had a little more than 40 minutes to catch my transfer. As soon as I grabbed my bag, I ran to the first flight attendant I could find asking “Where is gate A33??” (Expecting something like, on your left) but no it was “you go down the hall, then you take the elevator down, then you take the train to gate A and then it’s at the end” and I’m like: “…. Are you joking? A train?” but I ran for it and I luckily made my transfer quite on time. The flight to NYC itself was also fine, nothing special. I arrived in New Jersey around 8. I had already bought a ticket to midtown Manhattan, because I figured It’d be too much of a hassle to actually buy it at the airport. The next step was for me to find that bus, though. I couldn’t find it and left the airport a level too high so I walked back in, after which I noticed a security guard following my every move, which was kind of annoying since I had no idea what I was doing but I was trying to pull it off. I can imagine though; a girl, looking confused, by herself, only one carry-on bag… Anyway, I found the bus and there was a very moody bus driver on it, that basically threw peoples’ luggage (not mine luckily). By this time I hadn’t eaten yet and even though I wasn’t hungry, I was feeling a bit lightheaded. After about an hour or so (some man came checking our tickets but that literally took half an hour) we arrived at Grand Central Station. We did drive past times square and I felt like I was in way over my head, thinking I could handle this big city all by myself. NYC is HUGE! I kind of expected it, but the size of it all kind of humbled me. For a minute I felt kind of insecure about having come here all by myself, but I figured it was too late to do anything about that. I already figured out that I needed to take the subway to get to my hotel, but I needed to buy a “7 day unlimited metro card” first, which was the most beneficial option for me, however I couldn’t find it in the ticket machine, it only said Metrocard 25$ and I knew the unlimited one was 30$. However, I was super tired and hungry and the lady at the kiosk wouldn’t help me so I got it. Sadly it was just a normal metrocard charged with 25$ on it, so I was kind of bummed that I now was going to have to watch how often I was going to use the subway, but whatever! At some point I walked past this group of guys and I could tell they were going to say something/talk about me so I kind of braced myself *ignore them ignore them* when one guy went “wow she has a beautiful necklace!” which instantly made me smile. It’s better than a billion other things they could have said. After this I got on my subway train, got off on the right stop and managed to find my hotel. I had to say at first I was really disappointed. I realized with 35$ a night in Manhattan, it wouldn’t be a Marriott or Hilton Hotel, but it’s really really minimal. The guys at the desk told me to “check the room before I paid” and if there’s one thing I know is that when people say things like this, there is a reason and you have to take that opportunity. So I went upstairs and checked out the “room”. I think it’s around 8 by 5 feet (iets van 2.5/3 bij 1.5 meter), it has a bed and a tl light, no ceiling so it was more of a closet. However, it was my only option and I knew finding something affordable at that point was going to be impossible so I went back downstairs and said “well I’m only going to be sleeping here, so sure I’ll take it.” The guy responded by saying “I wish more people were like you, our job would be so much easier! A lot of the time people don’t check the room before they pay and they check it and come back and don’t want it anymore when they’ve already paid.” I can imagine that, but that’s kind of their fault for not checking it while they got the chance. I dropped my stuff in my room, dropped of my key at the desk (you have to leave it at the desk whenever you leave the hotel so you can’t lose it) and went to get something to eat. The closest thing I found was a 7/11 so I got a salad and grapes there and this guy came up to me and asked “Can I ask you something? Do you know where something something 1st ave is?” and I was kind of flattered that he thought I looked like a local but since I obviously didn’t know I just replied with “Well since I’ve been here for 5 minutes, I’m going to have to say no. Sorry!” I went back to my hotel, ate my food, went downstairs to charge my phone and laptop (there are no outlets in the room) and went to sleep after this. The whole “no outlet” thing is a bit of a problem for me because my iPhone likes to give up on me after about 7 hours, even if I don’t use it that much, but thanks to sweet Nana I had a portable phone charger in case it really stopped working. Plus I have a map and even though my sense of direction is 0, my map reading skills are excellent so as long as I have a map I’ll always be fine. I have to say though, for somebody that can’t remember which way to exit a hotel room even after a week, my sense of direction must have gotten improved over the past months I’ve studied abroad or NYC makes a lot of sense but so far I’ve gotten around just fine without walking the wrong way or getting lost.
I slept surprisingly well (since everybody has open ceilings, you hear every cough and every sigh of everybody, and all I can think of is “hopefully there are no couples feeling too romantic tonight…”) and woke up around 8. Had a shower (there are 2 showers for the entire level) and went downstairs to figure out my strategy. I had anticipated to just go everywhere by subway but because I bought the wrong ticket and every time you check in it’s 2.50$, I had to change my route. I decided to take the subway to Central park, since that was the furthest away, and then walk back past everything I wanted to see. But, as a true NYC’er, of course I had to get breakfast first which meant a coffee on the go and a blueberry muffin. I felt kind of badass walking down Bowery to the subway with a coffee in my hand, acting like I knew what I was doing. Once I was on the subway it turned out there are constructions so the subways only stop at certain points so that was interesting. Once again I was asked by someone if I was from around NYC and I sadly, again, had to say no. I had looked up beforehand what I wanted to see in Central Park, as it is huge and I decided I definitely wanted to see the Strawberry Fields (Hello, Beatles?!) and the Alice in Wonderland statue. I figured I’d just walk from east to west and see whatever else I’d come across. It was beautiful! Sadly the trees were still kind of on “winter mode” (no leaves) but it was kind of sunny and I could see how it can be a lovely sight during the summer. I walked around, saw the conservatory pool and the lake as well. I loved being there and all I could think of was that scene of “You’ve got mail” where Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks finally meet in the end. After this I decided to go see the Empire State building. It’s so tall!! I haven’t seen it up close because when I tried to look for it (the entrance) I somehow managed to miss it so I just ended up walking further. Even though I hadn’t planned to see it, I walked past Bryant Park so I had a quick break there. Really pretty there, as well! Then, I finally saw Times Square. O.M.G. I have to say so far I’m in love with NYC but I would definitely avoid Times Square at all times. The desk manager here told me that “it sucks you’re here on a Sunday, because Sunday is the day of rest here in NYC” but if what I saw in Times Square was supposed to be people having a rest, then I don’t want to see it during the rest of the week. It was definitely a sight to see and after having watched so many movies and tv-shows it was kind of a dream coming true to see all the huge billboards, but after 10 minutes I was feeling really irritated and ready to smack people because everybody walked in my way. I did go to H&M where they had hung their mannequins from the ceilings by their heads (… suicidal much?) and forever 21 but I figured since I was on a tight schedule and I kind of had planned Tuesday as a day to buy clothes, I shouldn’t linger around too much. I think I did spend a good 2 hours there, though. By this time it was probably around 3 and I had yet to get some lunch so I had an “upper east side sandwich” (roasted beef!! Omnomnom) and after giving my feet a little rest ( they were pretty much killing me at this point) I decided to go to 5th avenue. I mean, I could probably never afford anything there, but still! Long before I was there, I walked past this store that had a 90% discount for the day. I figured: That’s awesome, imagine a bag being 200 dollars, and I can get it for 20! So I went in. Mistake. The bags were more around 1.000$ so they would still cost me 100$, while they weren’t from any designer I knew plus I felt like even spending 20$ on those would be too much, so I kind of casually left quickly. On fifth I saw all the big designer stores, Prada, Gucci, Armani, Louis Vuitton, etc. I walked into the Prada store, completely feeling out of place and scared someone was going to kick me out or something (The scene of Pretty Woman, where Julia Roberts pretty much got kicked out of a store came up) but nothing happened. I did feel super awkward so I left soon. At this point it was around 4 and I could barely walk but I realized I was kind of close to the United Nations plaza so I figured that’d be worth the walk for me, as a possible lawyer, too. After this, I took the subway to the hotel. I first spent an hour charging all my electronic devices and I decided for dinner, I’d go to Chinatown. I looked up several restaurants but New York Noodle seemed to be really good, so I went there. It was so cool there, all the Chinese restaurants/ shops, so nice to see! On the way back I walked back through Little Italy, which I adored immediately. It’s so funny how these two neighborhoods are really close together and you see Italian/Chinese stores mixed up. After this I went to bed. I just figured it wouldn’t be extremely wise for me to go out at night as a girl, by myself in NYC.
Monday I woke up around 7:30, nothing too special. I went to get breakfast at “Think Coffee” again and had a coffee to go and a lemon poppy seed muffin = delicious! Then, I wanted to get the subway to go downtown to Brooklyn Bridge but I accidentally went into the wrong subway entrance (the one that goes uptown). Thinking I could probably transfer for free, I checked in the right entrance and wasted another 2.50$, so that was annoying because I’m sure you’re allowed one free transfer but I can’t seem to get it. Brooklyn Bridge was really beautiful, I walked over ¾, I think. It was so awesome to see Brooklyn and Manhattan from the bridge. I really wanted to climb it, since I saw people at the top, but it turned out they were construction workers and I wasn’t allowed up. After this I walked over to Wall street, but first I paid a little visit to City Hall Park. Because I’d obviously walked too much yesterday, I decided to take it easier today because I didn’t have that much on the itinerary. I sat down for a few minutes, eating the rest of my muffin and making friends with the birds (at some point there were about 5 birds around my feet which is when I realized I should stop). Wall street was interesting, I probably could have lived without seeing it, but it was nice to walk by the buildings and the banks and see all the people in suits. Then it was time for me to see the statue of liberty. When I arrived at the Staten Island Ferry building, I saw I could get on the ferry for free, which I wanted to try. Then I was told the wait was about 1.5 hours (dear god, imagine having to work at staten island every day, how the hell do you ever get on time if you must take the ferry) so I ditched it because I figured I could spend my time better than just stand around for 1.5 hours. I hadn’t planned on going to any of the museums here because, as much as I’d love to be, I’m not that cultural. I like art but I can’t stand around for hours just watching it if there’s nothing else for me to see/do, it just doesn’t interest me as much as I’d like. However, because I had only planned on seeing the WTC site after this and it wasn’t even noon, I figured I needed to do some other things too. I walked past the National Museum of the American Indian and it said free entrance, so I figured why not? It was pretty nice plus I felt good about myself for voluntarily going to a museum. I don’t think I stayed too long though. I ended up at Ground zero, the WTC site, but I hadn’t gotten a ticket to get into the 9/11 memorial (didn’t think about that one) so I just wondered around a bit before deciding to grab some lunch. It was still really impressive, though. I ended up getting a chilidog for lunch since I’ve never had one and I’ve always wanted to say “A chilidog with EVERYTHING please” like they always do in the movies, so that’s what I did. I kind of felt ripped off having to pay 7(?!)$ for the thing but it was pretty good. After having stuffed my face, I went and got my very first manicure ever. I’ve just never really done it back home and I figured, why not do it in NYC? I went to VIP nails salon and it was really nice, I shouldn’t have done it because I feel this is something I can do every week! (I don’t have the money for that but I could do it every month and I have feeling that I just might do that!) I tried having a conversation with the lady that was doing my nails but other than “nails” “polish” and “cubicles” she didn’t get very far. I asked her “So how long have you been doing this for?” “What?” “How long have you been doing this? You know, nails?” “When I came here?” “Uhm yeah no I mean just in general, how long have you been working with nails?” “Oh usually customers come every week, because of cubicles!” Right. But she was nice, it was relaxing. I ended up going to Forever 21 and a few other stores after this, because obviously I’ve got to get me some NYC clothes. It was absolutely ridiculous though because there was a line of, I kid you not, 50 people at Forever 21 and only 2 of the 6/8 registers were open! What. The. Hell? I’m usually the kind of person that then walks out because it’s not worth it, but I really wanted to get the clothes so I stuck around and got about a billion apologies (I must have looked very annoyed.) I did get a discount so that was nice. By this time I’d basically seen everything I wanted to see. Sure, I haven’t climbed the Empire State Building and I realized I haven’t seen Rockerfeller Center either, but I’ve done pretty good. I ended up going to Dominique Ansler’s Bakery (the inventor of the Cronut/cookie cup) and I was like “Oh could I get a cronut please?” And the lady at the counter looks at me and she’s like “yeah we’re sold out, we usually sell them in the morning” so I’m like “Okay cool, I’ll come back tomorrow morning!” Then I read this sign saying they open at 8 but customers usually line up at 5 FREAKING 30 in the FREAKING morning to get one of those cronuts. If there’s one thing I’m not doing, it’s that. I’m still contemplating on going there tomorrow at 8:30 but I’m not sure. By this time it was around 5 and it was time to get some food so I walked around Little Italy and China Town. I really wanted to get a pizza somewhere so when I walked past this restaurant called “Novella” I just went for it. They asked me to wait at the bar and these two waiters (I thought) were speaking in a language I couldn’t quite identify and not too subtly they kept looking at me and it was really kind of annoying me because they were almost staring so just when I was about to ask them what the problem was, one of them apologizes and says “I’m sorry we were just speaking in Albanian”. He ended up being the manager of the restaurant and he gave me a free drink, which was nice. We talked for a little bit about living in NYC and everything and it was just kind of relaxed. It kind of hit me “I’m here in NYC in Little Italy just ordering a pizza, it’s so awesome.” I took my pizza to the Roosevelt park where a lot of people were playing basketball and other sports. I have to say it’s my first decent pizza since I’ve been in the US, it actually tasted like the ones back home/ in Italy. After this I went and got a gelato (Oreo & Reese’s peanutbutter) it was really good. Altogether I haven’t been eating too healthily today (muffin, chilidog, pizza, icecream) but I usually never eat that badly and while I’m here, I should at least have tried these things. I walked home around 7 and because the only things I want to do tomorrow is go to Barnes & Noble, get some souvenirs and maybe a cronut, I figured I’d just stay in and do some homework. It’s 9:17 PM and I haven’t done anything productive yet so it’s probably time I do so.
Tuesday it was the last day I was there. I woke up at 7:30, got my stuff and checked out. I was pretty happy that I could leave my trolley at the hotel for the day. It was an interesting day in terms of people helping me, I don’t think I’ve been offered that much help in one day ever, I must have looked completely incapable. Anyway, I had yet to buy some souvenirs, so my plan was to first walk up to Union Square to see Barnes & Nobles and then walk back and find some souvenirs and see whatever else I could see before I left around 1. The weather wasn’t that great, it was raining a little bit and when I got to Barnes & Noble at 9:30, it wouldn’t open until 10, so I walked further. I ended up seeing Madison Square, which was cool, but then it started to pour and obviously I didn’t bring an umbrella or rain coat so I was pretty much screwed. Since it was closer to 10, I figured I’d be best off just running back to Barnes & Noble. I decided to grab a few free papers out of one of the paper stands and put them over my head like you always see people do in movies. I can tell you it’s not as functional as you might think plus I felt like the biggest idiot ever, so I quickly got over that. Somewhere close to Barnes & Noble there was a pie shop and there were some construction workers and as I took out my phone to take a picture one of them says something like “Hey, you!” And my instincts just say “ignore these people” because I’m a bitch like that. But he started walking towards me so I’m like “… What?” And he says “you just dropped this” and hands me the 10 dollars that I indeed managed to drop. Perfect example of how mistrusting I am. Anyway, that was really nice of the guy, he could have easily kept the money himself without me noticing. After this I went into Barnes & Noble and it was awesome! I can’t believe I’ve never really been there, the prices are really good and it was big and cozy and I wish we had it back home. I decided to buy the “Divergent” book, since I’ve seen the movie. I wanted to buy the other ones (it’s a trilogy) as well but there was no way of me being able to get them back to Gainesville and then back to the Netherlands in 2 months, so I’m going to have to get them later. I’ve already almost finished it (It’s Wednesday morning as I’m typing this) and I love it. When I went to pay for the book I saw these Harry Potter boxes and they all had these things like a wand or a snitch or A TIME TURNER. Now for those of you who don’t know (that’s probably everybody), I’ve wanted one of those since I was 12. I had one at some point but it was huge and really cheap looking and this looked so cool and at first I was like “I’ll buy it back home” but there’s no Barnes & Noble back home so I had to get it now, obviously. That’s the way I justified spending money on it. After Barnes & Noble I went to look for a street that had souvenirs, the first days they were all I could find but now I couldn’t find anything. I ended up finding a nice shop after about 30/40 minutes and got some souvenirs for my family which almost didn’t fit in my suitcase, but hey. After this I went back to the hotel, stayed there for a little while and then decided to just leave early. I think it was around 12:30 at that time and my plane wasn’t leaving until 5, but I just figured it’d be sensible to do that since I didn’t know where LaGuardia is and how long it might take with traffic. I. Am. So. Glad. I. Left. Early. First of all I knew I had to take the subway to make a transfer to Laguardia, I just managed to F up and think that I had to get off at the last stop. After about 25 minutes the lady announces that “At this stop you can transfer to Laguardia” but I figured, meh, it’s not the last stop. However, I decided to check where I was a little later and realized I pretty much missed my stop by 6 or 7 stops. I must have looked confused, because this really nice guy came over to me and he asked me where I was going so I replied with “Uhm yeah, Laguardia, but I guess I missed my stop” and he said “Yeah you looked a little confused” and helped me figure out where I was supposed to get off (luckily I only had to go 1 stop back to still be able to transfer). Then, as I left the subway, I exited the wrong way which I realized after 10 people walked the other direction so I turned around and make this face like “I’m an idiot” and thanked him again. After I managed to AT LEAST get off at the right subway station, I still had to find my bus. I couldn’t find the busstop at first but when I found one, my bus came, I THOUGHT. It said “Laguardia airport” and I realize that buses go in two directions, but I figured that if it was the one in the direction of Broadway, it would have said that, so I check in. After about 10 minutes I was like “It’d be so typical if I was on the bus in the wrong direction, haha!” And I check my maps to see where we are and we are, as a matter of fact, going in the wrong direction. Dang it. So I walked over to the busdriver and asked him and he’s like “… Yeah… I’m going to broadway”. If I had had 5 minutes before the bus came, I would have figured out which way I should have taken the bus but because this one came before I had time to look at the actual destionation and the bus itself said Laguardia, I didn’t check it out. So I got off, he gave me a transfer ticket and he told me to cross the street (4 lanes) so I said, yes, thanks! I walked to the sidewalk first so I could cross at a crosswalk after which he started to knock on the glass and honk and point to the other side of the road. Thank you sir, I understand I’m supposed to go there, I just, oh I don’t know, don’t want to get killed by any of the cars on these 4 lanes? So I managed to get on the right bus (See how good this is going? Seriously I lost like an hour, so glad I left early) and the bus driver wasn’t nice and he was all like “where did you get this ticket from?!” and I was kind of fed up so I wasn’t too nice either but at least in the end we got to Laguardia. Once there, the line for security was pretty long but I still had enough time so that was good. I seriously don’t understand how so many people mess up during security though. Yes, you have to take off your shoes, yes you have to take your laptop out of the bag, yes you have to take your keys out of your pocket, yes you have to put liquids in a bag. I get it, if you’ve never flown before, you can’t possibly know everything, but you’re not telling me that the 5 people in front of me all have never flown before. (I was kind of annoyed at life at this point and just wanted to make it to my gate and chill out). After security I went to my gate to, surprise, find my plane was delayed with 40 minutes. How long was my transfer in Atlanta? About 40 minutes, aka, I was going to miss my transfer in Atlanta, the last transfer of the night to GNV. As much as I was calm on the way to NYC, I was kind of annoyed and just fed up so I called my mom asking her what I should do, even though I already knew I had to call Delta and demand a hotel or something. The thing that annoyed me though is that Delta has this procedure where they call you and an automated voice tells you that your plane will be delayed which will make you miss your transfer and that they’re looking for other flights for you and that’s it, you don’t hear anything else. I first tried to get on the plane for 2:59 instead of 5 (since I was already there) but there was a stand by list of 30 people. Then I saw a delayed plane for 4 (leaving at 4:30) so I called Delta asking them to put me on that plane then, which they luckily did so it all turned out all right. At some point they started “preboarding” and I’ve flown more than once in my life but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it done like this, preboarding, sky members, first class, zone 1, zone 2, or maybe I’ve just almost missed it. I was accidentally standing in front of the line so I tried to make my way to the back when I realized the order but this old man came up to me and he asks “Are you preboarding?” So I’m like "No, I’m just trying to-“ “Well then you shouldn’t be standing here.” It was super rude, but this guy ended up being rude to more people so it wasn’t just me. The flight itself was fine, but on the way back we couldn’t get into our gate so we ended up being delayed with 25/30 minutes. It didn’t matter much for me because I had some time now, but it’s gotta be so frustrating to stand there, right in front of the gate, knowing you’re going to miss your plane. One woman went to the bathroom with her daughter and she was trying to get back to her seat to let the other passengers who needed to transfer go first, and she had the misfortune of walking into grumpy old man, who told her to wait and she tried to explain she was trying to make it back to her seat with her daughter so everybody could get off but he just blocked the way between her and her daughter. This is when other passengers started interfering too and luckily the old guy shut up but he was pretty rude. Obviously my flight to Gainesville was delayed too (next time I’m only doing direct flights, this whole transfer thing is ridiculous) but only by 20 minutes. When we landed this gentleman actually went out of his way to get my carry on out of the cabins, which was really nice of him, (do I look that incapable of doing anything, though?) and I was lucky to have a friend like Anthony who picked me up from the airport (since there were no more buses driving at 10…)
Altogether I had a great time traveling alone and being in NYC. I didn’t go to Brooklyn or Queens and I didn’t stay out during the night but I never for a second felt unsafe. I loved it in Manhattan, the people were friendly most of the time, the atmosphere was good, I saw everything I wanted to see, it was awesome. I was afraid I wasn’t going to like traveling alone but it was a really great experience for me, personally. I love being able to just decide my own pace, wake up when I want to, rest when I want to, see all the things I want to see, it was awesome! Sadly now I’m really going to have to start studying and the semester is coming to an end. In 2/3 weeks exams will be over and everybody will be gone. My father’s going to be here so that’ll be great but I’m really feeling so confused about everything now. I don’t want to go, I don’t want to stay, I don’t know what I want to do. I’m just enjoying it for the moment!
Hope everyone is doing well! Muchos Besos
Foto's bij verslag (1)
16 april 2014 18:50 | Door: Sander van Hove
Wow! Wat een intens verslag! Muchos besos desde Alemania.