The whole" New York" trip idea started last April when my favourite DJ Above and Beyond announced that they would be hosting their 100th podcast in New York City. This was a HUGE deal to me because typically the big shows were hosted in places that were inaccessible financially, over seas in places like Moscow, London and India. Before Above and Beyond started their radio show Above and Beyond Group Therapy (ABGT for short), they hosted a show called Trance Around The World (TATW) which I have been an avid listener to for the past 6 years. I heard the live shows and always wished that I would be able to attend. Stasia told me that we were going and despite the non-spontaneous Lauren voice screaming out, I got up super early and purchased the tickets in a frenzy on Ticketmaster. That was it; we were going to new york. I booked the trip in August using Expedia and found it to be a rather pain-free experience for anyone seeking the whole "flight, hotel, transportation" package!
Day 1 - October 16
I typically have the world's worst luck with plane delays. It seems as though every aircraft I set foot on seems to break in some way or another. Our flight was supposed to leave at 7:15am (which required us to wake up at 3:45am to get to the airport). Our plane boarded and we sat upon the plane for TWO HOURS before the captain finally said to the stuffy, angry cabin full of passengers "The plane is too broken so we will have to put you on a new flight."
Stasia said that we should have just stayed on the broken plane because "The plane would be fuelled by the hatred of 200 angry passengers." People were un-in-fricken-pressed with the situation. We all deplaned and were forced to grab our baggage, re-check it and left on a flight at 12:15. We had to wait in the customer service line up to get our bags checked because we had already paid for our baggage fees. I can estimate that I said the F-word about 40 times in a row and seriously began to wonder why more people using airports can't get onboard the e-ticket and e-check in process. IT IS THE 21st CENTURY: YOU DO NOT NEED SOMEONE ELSE TO PRINT OUT YOUR TICKET AND BAG TAGS. THANK-YOU VERY MUCH. Air Canada needs to hire more representatives for f sake. When another representative came to the podium I kid you not, there was a god damn round of applause.
We arrived in Toronto and ran through customs. I am not kidding you when I say that my knee caps were sweating and I sported a sweat moustache. We made it onto the flight (which conveniently was delayed by an hour due to the fact the LGA airport was slowing down the airspace above... sounds legit) and arrived at our hotel 16 hours after our day started. The Holiday Inn Express 60 West 36 Street was lovely, welcoming, clean and offered free wifi and a pretty kick ass continental breakfast. I would definitely stay here again. We went out walking around times square to see what all the hullabaloo was about, but it was pretty extraordinary with the bright lights and the crowds of people. We stopped in at a Mexican restaurant and grabbed a quick bite to eat. I even splurged and got a pina coloda that was so boozy that I shuddered every time I took a sip. Our feet were so sore we headed back to the hotel and immediately entered a coma.
Although Starbucks shouldn't be where we went while in a new city, it sure provided great services for a tourist on the run. We Starbucks hopped all weekend: bathroom break, venti iced water and a wifi check-in to get directions. I am horrible with directions in small places so travelling through New York sans map and without the ability to use Google Maps was a little inefficient.
I wasn't really sure what eating in the states with a gluten-allergy would be like, but it wasn't too bad. We stopped in at a little place that was nestled into the side of a building and I immediately honed in on the word "gluten-free". I marched in there and got myself a little breakfast tofu wrap and a freshly pressed carrot, beet and cyanne juice. Stasia said the drink tasted like cold soup and it made her gag. I persevered and drank it like I was one of those fashionistas who needs to get her fresh juice for health reasons. Really, I just felt guilty that it costed $8 and tasted so putrid.
I spotted a subway station and we ran down the stairs and started to decipher the map. The subway in New York without google transit is absolute hell, let me tell you. We ended up looking SO confused that the subway attendant told us which way to go to get to the train "Take the C train downstairs" so we bought our tickets ($2.75 each, pretty cheap!) and headed to the train. I asked some guy on board if the train was going the right way (after I had convinced myself that we were headed off the island to the land of no return), and then what the station name for Times Square was. The woman announcing the station names sounded totally drunk and mumbly, so I had to keep peering out the window to see if we had reached 42nd street station. The guy I asked which way the train was going made sure we got off at the right station; people in New York are SO nice.
Stasia didn't want to use up her calories on 99 cent pizza so we looked for a more "expensive" pizza place where she got her piece of New York Pizza. I looked on with jealous eyes and asked her if I could smell the pizza for old time's sake. We hit up this awesome salad place for my lunch and also got a really delicious smoothie that had coconut milk, dates, almond milk and chocolate in it. I'll admit that the dates were a little chunky but I think they provided the sweet flavour. Salads in New York are the bees fricken knees. You get such a massive salad for $9 and although that may be an expensive salad it still has so much awesome stuff in it, you would never get bored even if you ate salads for every single meal.
We walked through Times Square again and down through the theatre district and I felt the insane need to punch everyone because no matter where you go, people are in your bubble. We even walked by the New York Times building and I thought about all of the struggling journalists who were inside suffering.
We tried to get up early but ended up making it out the door around 10am. We walked over to the Empire State building and paid $29 each to take the elevators up to the 86th floor. The elevator scared me because it moved really quickly and you cannot assure me that elevators that are constantly moving up and down a billion times a day are safe machines. That just screams disaster to me so I believe I was justified in being scared. Not to mention people were actively coughing in the elevator. Elevator etiquette says: NO COUGHING IN ELEVATORS.
There was a lot of waiting in line ups, but once we got up to the top we ended up seeing the entirety of New York and I got an overwhelming feeling of how small we really are, just tiny ants on top of a building; it was beautiful. It still amazes me that even back in the day there was the level of sophistication to create a structure that is still standing today and is a marker that people associate with New York. We saw the statue of liberty from up there, far far away in the distance; time didn't allow us to get around to see everything we wanted to see. Stasia wondered how many people were killed in the building of the Empire State building.. we guestimated a lot..
We were both pretty hungover and exhausted from the day before so our day began a little later than we had planned. Being avidly interested in park spaces and their applicability in the inner-city street scape, I have been just itching to see the High Line Park, a special linear park that has been transformed from an abandoned elevated rail line and into a VERY well-used park space. It legitimately felt like we were lemmings all walking along the railroad track pathway. I love this space so much and judging by its popularity, natives and tourists alike feel the same way. We made our way all the way down to Chelsea Market where we decided to go on a quest for coffee. We ran into this neat little market collective where multiple vendors all set up shop inside the same little warehouse and each offered different delicacies.
We left the hotel at 8:30 and again, our flight was delayed by two hours and Air Canada had one representative working for 3 flights that were leaving; the ticket kiosk was also broken. Like I said before, I ALWAYS have delayed flights; it's my thing. We got to Montreal where I bought a bunch of candy and some Starbucks to soothe the travelling pain. The 5 hour flight back to Calgary was so long that my arthritic knees swelled up beyond belief and as soon as I got off the plane I requested a wheelchair transfer to the baggage carousel and an ambulance ride to my apartment.
After all our entire weekend, the only casualties were both of our Visa cards (lost in the fray) and almost all of my eyelashes due to the fact I ripped them out when I hastily pulled off my fake eyelashes when I wanted to go to bed.
Overall, a too quick, superbly amazing trip that will go down in my memory banks. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to explore a new nook of the world :)
Now, to book the next trip to wherever ABGT 150 will be. Fingers crossed it is in my budget (just kidding, I will go anywhere for that).