For the memory box…
Tickets and Zoo map.
Wrist band, receipt, and ticket for the Franklin Institute. As well as a Titanic boarding pass, handed out to you before entering the exhibit - the boarding pass featured the name of one of the real Titanic passengers, as well as their back story (reason for travel, etc). At the end of the exhibit you found out whether or not ‘you’ survived the sinking ship.
Also, bus and train tickets and a business card for Sabrina’s Cafe.
New York City
The above is sort of a general NYC collection.
Places we ate: Hooters, Hard Rock Cafe, Buca di Beppo
Places we visited & shopped. NBC Experience/Studio Tour, Harry Potter Experience, HBO Store (Game of Thrones bag)
The Circle Line tour. Top of the Rock. Irish Famine Memorial.
T-shirt, Visitor pass and guide to the 9/11 Memorial site.
Empire State Building
Souvenir guide book, Visitors guide, Observation deck ticket, skyride ticket, skyride sticker and photo op ticket.
Museums: Natural History & Intrepid
Tickets, floor plans and guides.
Tickets, metrocard (used to get there), guide, and free souvenir keyring
New York City: Goodbye 2606
The alarms went off at 8:30 for the final time on the trip. We all lazed around, people got showered, packed some final things. Then it was time to say goodbye to 2606 (and 2602), head down to the Lobby and check out.
We had to be back at the hotel for just before 3pm, to get the shuttle to JFK, but we had a good few hours left before then, so we went for one last meal together, then had a walk around Times Square, and that general area, before going to get a drink and sitting on the Library steps for a bit.
We got back to the hotel, got our bags (which they’d kept for us after we checked out), and the shuttle arrived to take us away.
The drive was a lot less exciting on the way back, more tunnels, less bridges.
We made it to JFK.
Stuart had planned on stopping in London, to go to a friend’s wedding. He was booked all the way through to Aberdeen, but when Paula checked everyone in the night before, she had purposely not checked him in on the Heathrow to Aberdeen flight.
At the Self Check-in, it automatically checked him in to all the flights. He attempted to get out of it, but failed. Meaning he had to travel back to Aberdeen with us all (once through security, he started looking into alternate options for flying BACK to London the following day).
The good news is that everyone got their luggage in under weight limit (not something that was guaranteed with Paula & Hannah) and then came the wait for the plane.
The entire journey home felt a LOT shorter than the journey there. Less hold-ups.
On the flight back, I watched a heap of shows, but slept for only an hour. We were late getting into Heathrow, and a bunch of passengers had been told that they wouldn’t be making their connections (but that they had been booked on later flights) - thankfully, we weren’t one of those groups, but our connection time was still tight and we had no idea how long we would be at the border.
I called my Mum to say we’d landed. She told me that the flight was delayed. Which made the whole thing a lot less rushed - and sure enough, bringing up the BA app, it told us the 8:55 flight had been delayed until 9:17.
We stopped by a WH Smith to get something to eat and then went and sat, waiting for the gate to be announced.
I hadn’t eaten anything on the flight over - I didn’t want either of the hot meal options, something the flight attendant couldn’t seem to understand.
“This is the ONLY hot meal on the flight!”
Aye, and it’s not good, so no thanks.
Our gate was eventually called and it wasn’t too far from where we were sitting, so we went over and took a seat there, then eventually, boarded.
The flight back to Aberdeen felt super short. Just as I was considering trying to get some more sleep, they announced the final approach.
Once in the airport, we made our way to baggage claim - thankfully, everyone’s bag made it. Mine was at the front of the queue, which was a nice surprise.
My mum came and took Paula and I home. Where I went almost straight to bed and slept for 12 hours.
New York isn’t somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. There’s stuff there that I’ve wanted to do, but the idea of travelling to the city to do them hasn’t really appealed. I’m not a city person. At least, not when it comes to cities like New York.
That said though, I did enjoy it and I wouldn’t be opposed to visiting again, but I doubt I’d make it the focus point of a holiday again.
There was a lot of talk of living in New York when we were there and I wouldn’t ever want to do that. Out of the two cities we visited (New York & Philadelphia) I probably enjoyed Philadelphia more. It just felt… nicer.
I wasn’t sure how I’d get along with everyone, spending all day, every day with them - we spend a lot of time together any way, but I can always not come out/go home when it becomes to much. That was less of an option here.
It ended up being a pretty positive experience though. No (huge) fall outs, no-one got on my nerves (too much).
Still, one of my favourite parts of the trip was when I went it alone.
New York City: I’m a Fucking LOL a Minute
This morning Ryan, Allan and me went to Yankee Stadium, while the others did shopping or something.
We headed to Grand Central, got out our metrocard, ready to go.
The cards ran out at midnight last night. A quick trip to a ticket machine and we were on our way.
Once there, we got to the street and looked around.
Where do you think it is?
Ryan turned around first - I think it’s there. Allan and I turned to see A MASSIVE STADIUM on the corner.
He was right.
The tour was pretty cool, we saw the museum, monument garden, dugout, and the locker room. I think if I was actually a baseball fan, I would have found it a lot more interesting than I already did. At the end they gave us a Yankees keyring as a souvenir. Which was unexpected.
The three of us made our way back to grand central, then did some shops, starting with the Apple Store in the station.
I then ended up spending $130 on tshirt at the NBC store. After that, I went to the HBO store and headed back to the hotel.
When I got back, the door was slightly open, due to the latch being closed before the door.
A sudden panic set in, did it close like that when we left this morning, was the room going to be empty when I opened the door? Fuuuuckkkkk.
Opened the door. Stuart was lying on the bed. Hannah and Paula were due back soon, he didn’t want to have to get up to let them in. Lazy.
Hannah and Paula came back and we sat for a. Bit, before going and meeting Allan and Ryan at Times Square.
From there, we went to Madame Tussauds.
It was a lot creepier than I thought it would be, but still, pretty fun.
After, I went to Hard Rock again to pick up a tshirt, then back to the hotel before dinner.
Back at the hotel, the clouds darkened and then. LIGHTNING! The whole gang gathered in our room - best view - to watch the lightning. We watched it for far too long then headed to an Italian place for food.
The place was good but everything was double portions meant to share. It worked out well, but was confusing at first.
After dinner, Tain and I walked back to the hotel, while the others did some snack shopping. Stuart was first back, he’d been caught in the start of a shower. A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door. I answered, both Hannah and Paula were stood there, soaked. Looking sorry for themselves.
Then… Came the packing… We leave tomorrow.
New York City: 69’s Good Right?
We all had to be up, out and at NBC for 10am, so we could make our slot for the studio tour.
We made it with time to spare. The tour itself was shorter than I thought it’d be, but it was still pretty cool. We visited Brian Williams’ news studio, as well as the SNL studio - which was tiny.
After we were done with the tour, we looked around the store, then headed to Pier 86 to get on the Circle Line tour.
The tour we went on was only the half circle, it took us down past the Statue of Liberty, around the bottom of Manhattan under all the bridges, and back again. The guy giving the tour was good, talked less about food than Madge though.
Ecause the tour was shorter than we expected, we went to the intrepid, which is docked next to where the circle line launches from.
The intrepid was hit by Sandy, but it was still cool to cool around, they have a concorde, and a space shuttle on board. Admission also included a tour of The Growler - a submarine.
After, we walked back to times square area. I then opted to go back to the hotel, where I ended up staying for the night.
The others did some shopping and went for Mexican food at night.
New York City: A Fancy Stroke
Today was Natural History Museum day.
We woke up to the news of Margaret Thatcher dying, or rather we woke up to the multitude of jokes about her dying.
We got a subway direct to the museum, which saved my feet a little bit. Got ti jets for the museum and planetarium and started to explore. Our planetarium time was 12: 30.
I had never done a planetarium before, it was pretty awesome. While I like Whoopi, I’m sure they could have found a voice with more gravitas, when talking about the beginnings of the universe and our galaxy.
After the museum, we went to ShakeShack, the food was good, but I’m not sure it was amazing, like everyone says it is.
After, we went through the park - Paula left us to meet someone, then the rest of us went to FAO Schwarz via the Apple Store.
FAO Schwarz seemed to be lacking in interactive stuff. I expected it to be more of a playground for kids and kids at heart, but it was more just a straight up toy shop. Still cool though.
After Schwarz, everyone else went shopping, I opted to go back to the hotel - my feet, by this point, were killing me. Blister. Generally sore muscles. Not a god combination for walking the streets of New York.
After a while of being alone at the hotel, everyone else came back. They had decided to go to Bubba Shrimp for food, then Top of the Rock after.
Bubba Shrimp was pretty cool. Obviously tourist orientated, but that’s what we are, so who cares? After that, we went to Toys R Us, where the Jurassic Park area had no JP toys in it. Makes sense.
We went to the Disney store after, where, after 5 mins, Ryan asked “is this the Disney store?”
What gave it away?
Then. Top of the Rock.
Entry was free with the pass, I had Leads just assumed that the famous picture of the guys on the girder was from the Empire State or Chrysler or something, but turns out it was from the rock.
The views at the top were awesome, definitely glad we opted to do it at night, too. Being able to see the Empire State at night, lit up etc.
Central Park looked weird but cool from the top. You could see all the pathways lit up within the relative darkness.
We have had our photo a lot in this trip, the pictures from Top of the Rock are the only ones we have bought.
Leaving the plaza, we headed back to the hotel.
My feet going back to killing me. Sweet.
New York City: If we’re not number one, who is?!
Today we all woke up pretty early (for us), got dressed and headed out to the Empire State Building. We wanted to get there early-ish to avoid any massive queues, which I’m glad we did, because walking through what would have been the queue area made me think about just how awful it’d be to have to wait in it. Though, if we did wait in the queue, we would have seen all the information/museum boards, which would have been interesting - instead, we walked right by them.
The views from the 86th floor (we didn’t go all the way up, cause it would have cost extra) were impressive. We walked around, taking photos and generally taking in the views for a bit, before heading down, exiting through the gift shop, as is customary at all attractions.
On the way down, we were looking for the SkyRide, something we had free entry to with the passes. We ended up on the ground floor, before being told it was back up the way. We eventually found it and got on.
It wasn’t good. But it was so not good, that it was actually kind of good. Kevin Bacon narrated it, so, y’know, there’s that.
After the Empire State, we went to find something to eat. Everyone apart from Hannah, Acloud and I were going to WrestleMania in the afternoon/evening, so we needed to get something quick, together, before they left.
We settled on the Tick-Tock diner, which was (and I’m sure still is) right next to Penn Station (where they’d be getting their train to Wrestlemania from). At the diner, we, pretty much, all had breakfast foods. Pancakes, etc. It was good. Allan and Acloud ended up sitting alone, cause they could only sit six of us together. It all worked out in the end though.
After, we said our goodbyes and the three of us left in New York headed back to our hotel to get organised, drop off stuff we bought at The Empire State building, all that kind of stuff. Once we’d done that, we all went to the NBC store and booked tickets for the Studio Tour - We had thought to do it the next day, but they couldn’t fit us in, so we ended up booking for Tuesday.
Then Hannah abandoned us.
Acloud and I walked up to Central Park and explored it a little more than we had the previous time. I’d marked a couple things on the map that I wanted to check out, so we hit them. Hannah was meeting with her friend from Uni, she text to say she was done and we arranged to meet.
We had talked about getting a night-time bus tour of the city, by the time we got to the ticket office, there was a bus due to leave not long after, so we bought the tickets and got on.
We went upstairs and sat at the back, an old woman came and gave us headphones, it later turned out that she wasn’t just the headphone giver, she was also the tour guide. Her name was Marge - or at least, that’s what Hannah decided her name was.
Marge was obsessed with food, not any particular food, just food in general. Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Italian, Mexican… She never shut up about food, except to talk about Jay-Z.
As we were driving through Brooklyn, she noted “Hip-hop fans may want to take a look to the right now, that building is the high school that Jay-Z attended. I’m not sure if he graduated, but…”
Acloud missed out on all of Marge’s little gems, as he’d taken out his headphones. When Marge wasn’t talking, she was breathing. Loudly. Down the mic. Sounding like something from the Ring.
I miss Marge.
After the tour, we decided we’d just grab a McDonald’s. We had thought about getting a pizza delivered to the hotel, but in the end, we were tired and just wanted food. Now. We stopped by Walgreen’s, then McDonald’s and went back to the room.
We lay and watched TV for a bit, before kicking Acloud out of our room, back to his and getting into bed.
I have vague recollections of Paula and Stuart coming into the room, but don’t remember them getting into bed or anything.
[this blog was written nearly a month after the events, due to it having disappeared the first time round]
New York City: Shine Bright Like a Fucking Highlighter
Today I lay in bed while everyone else got ready around me, they were all going to some car show which I had zero interest in.
Once they left, I got up, took a shower and attempted to skype my mum. She wasn’t on skype though, so ended up texting her a bit.
When I was finally ready, I left the hotel and ventured down Fifth Avenue, until I reached Madison Square Park, where I sat for a bit, taking some photos. I then crossed the street and took some photos of the Flatiron building.
Stuart had talked about a mural of a GTA5 poster on the side of a building, I looked at my map and it was only two blocks over from where I was (and south), so I decided to go that way.
It wasn’t nearly as big as I thought it was, but I took a picture anyway and carried on. Walking through the west village. I stopped at another park, where a guy was playing piano. Also while there, I swear I heard a fire engine go “nee-naw nee-naw”.
I continued walking, eventually ending up in Battery Park City. There, I saw a weird, out-of-place mound, with a path leading up it, covered in heather and stuff. Confused, I walked around, looking for an entry. There were quotes on the wall, but nothing to say what it was.
There was an entry point at the back, I went inside and saw a box of leaflets. ‘Irish Famine Memorial’. I walked up the meandering path and saw, for the first time, the Statue of Liberty.
I walked down the esplanade a bit before taking a seat looking out over the Hudson. From there, I heard snippets of conversations, from runners going past.
One guy announced, to his running friend, that he and his girlfriend had got engaged. His mate seemed genuinely pleased.
Another running pair had one guy telling the other that “A famine is where there’s no food and everyone dies.” - while true, I fear for a world where people who look to be in their thirties don’t already know that.
It was, I thought, getting close to the time I was due to meet everyone, so I went to see if I could find a starbucks to get wifi, to see of they had WhatsApp’d me. While on the look out, I passed the Ground Zero memorial site. The queue was huge, we had planned on doing it, but I really didn’t think it’d happen.
I found wifi, then also got a text from Hannah. They were pretty much done, but would still be another 30mins or so.
I went up some steps for what I thought was just an overpass, but it turned out to be an entrance into One World Financial Center. In there, I found a starbucks, got myself a drink and a egg sandwich and sat down. There, I ended up in a skype phonecall with Debbie.
After a while, I headed back out onto the esplanade, where I walked south. I sat down and got Mother text from Hannah. They were on their way, where was I?
Things got a bit confusing, but I found them all in the end and we walked up to the WTC memorial again. The queue was a lot smaller the it had been, but it was still huge. We decided to just hit up the museum.
At the museum though, they asked if we wanted passes for the memorial - it’s free, but they have passes for crowd control. We said yes and did the museum (hello nosebleed) and then went back across the road for the actual memorial.
It’s a really nice area, I just hope that once everything is built, they open it up properly. Even reading the names of the dead, it was still really hard to link the park with two fountains to everything that happened on 9/11.
From there, we went to Wall Street, then got a subway back to the hotel for a bit, before going to Hooter for food, we had lost Acloud to a sore head„ so it was just the seven of us.
After Hooter, we walked down a few blocks and saw Jurassic Park in IMAX 3D. Worth every one of the twenty dollars.
Tired, but happy, we walked back to the hotel for the night..
New York City: 25 - 30 Burbs
After the long day yesterday, we all decided to sleep as long as our bodies let us, opting not to set alarms.
We all woke up around 9:30am, with 2202 (we are 2206) going to the deli and choosing not to ignore our WhatsApp pleas for food.
We had a plan to meet Dee and Ray at Shake Shack for lunch, but when they got there, it was packed. We, instead, made our way to Planet Hollywood. The place was pretty quiet, so we got sat and served pretty immediately. Dee and Ray left, as they had to do some stuff before heading to JFK.
After lunch, we stopped by the gift shop then went to collect our city passes, before going to see the Harry Potter exhibit - it closes on the 7th.
It was a similar thing to the Titanic exhibit from Philly, but it had extra touches, like a sorting hat sequence at the start conducted by a wizard member of staff - handy that they have one, really.
After Potter, we walked up to central park, sitting for a bit before walking around some of it. It was super warm.
We left central park onto 5th Ave, stopping in by the Apple Store on the way back to the hotel, getting back at around 7:30,we sat for a while, then headed and got some snacks before coming back and watching TV.
New York City: Philadelphia edition
“Philadelphia fucking loves a sculpture”
We woke up at 5:30,got ready and headed to Port Authority bus station, for a bus going to Philadelphia.
It marked the first time I’d been on a bus in the US, and surprisingly, it was a pleasant journey. The two hours flew past in no time.
Once in Philadelphia, we made our way along Market Street until City Hall, where we saw ‘The Rocky Steps’ - poor art museum gets no love.
We got some pictures and video there before heading to ‘Sabrina’s’ for breakfast/lunch or, if you want to get all fancy, brunch.
We were joined at Sabrina’s by Dustin, a guy Paula knew. He ate with us and ended up paying the entire bill for us. Something he definitely didn’t have to do at all. Needless to say he seemed like a really nice guy.
After food, Dustin took Paula, on the back of his motorbike, away to see Roger another of her friends while we went to the Franklin Institute, and interactive museum, which, while mostly aimed at kids proved to be a lot of fun.
Unfortunately, while at the institute, I died.
They had a Titanic exhibition, before you enter they gave everyone a boarding card with details of a passenger - name, age, class, reason for travel, etc.
It was a pretty cool idea, once in, we all started talking about who we were. Hannah was a six year old girl, Acloud was Solomon Guggenheim.
As you walked around they showed artifacts from the ship and mock ups of the rooms on board.
They had a replica of the staircase and another of a large hallway which, whether intended or not, all made us feel slightly un-easy.
The exhibit ended with a section which documented the sinking. First iceberg sightings, attempts to get away from it, the realisation that the ship was doomed.
Then, on the far wall, was a list of all the passengers. The ones who made it and the ones who didn’t.
It was weird how attached to the person on your card you became, seeing I didn’t make it genuinely made me sad. My guy had a son though, and he did make it. So that’s something…
Paula got a taxi back to the institute to meet us, then we went to the train station to get tickets for the journey back to New York.
We then walked to Jim’s Steaks, which took us back the entire length of Market Street, then down through the historical district, which was really pretty.
After Jim’s we talked about going elsewhere, but tired and grumpy, we went to starbucks, for a drink and some comfort, before finally talking a taxi back to 30th Street station.
“What was that talk about trifle?”
New York City: You Soccer Good?
Woke up a few times last night, noticed Paula was awake too. Eventually, Tain sent a WhatsApp, revealing that we were all awake.
We put the TV on, ending up on NBC’s today show. Having seen it loads before, seen all the people outside the window, etc. It was really weird seeing it, having actually walked past that window just a few hours before and knowing that all that was happening just down the street.
Once everyone was ready, we headed to the subway (via at&t) and got a metrocard, after some difficulties for Acloud and Allan we ventured down to the platform and made our way to the Bronx Zoo.
We had talked about how long it’d take, we knew it was a big zoo, but even taking that into account, we figured we’d be done by 3 at the latest. On the subway, we were treated to a crazy guy, full of conspiracy theories.
“Why did the Japanese stop at Pearl Harbour? They wouldn’t! They would have carried on across the USA, bombing the lot - It was an inside job.”
We got there about 11ish and didn’t leave until around 4:30 - the zoo closed at 5.
It was a really nice zoo, all the animals seemed happy enough, with the possible exception of the of the polar bear… Maybe the giraffe that was licking the wall, but I’m choosing to believe that it was sending some secret messages, he was being super sly about, reeall cool.
We had planned to go to a Game of Thrones exhibit after the zoo, but we were crazy tired, so ended up back at the hotel, lazing around a bit. After some organising for tomorrow and Friday we headed to the bus station, then Hard Rock.
Tonight marks the second time we’ve shown up to a restaurant - a group of 8 people - and been given a table pretty much right away. How?
We all started fading toward the end of the meal and so headed back to the hotel after. Early morning tomorrow.