I finally made it to The Big Apple! And you can bet I was singing that song in my head on the way to the airport this morning. There was a slight hiccup when I woke up and got ready only to realize I had left my shoes behind, but Grace was nice enough to drive me to Target to get some new flats.
Which brings me to my first travel tip- always be early. It’s not enough to just say plan ahead. Planning ahead doesn’t always work, and sometimes you end up leaving your shoes at home and having to wear your slippers to Target. Instead, plan for disaster. Wake up 30 minutes earlier than you think you have to so that you can get new shoes before the airplane leaves without you.
We went through airport security pretty smoothly, except for the fact that I haven’t been on an airplane in years and I looked dumb and confused the whole time. Some lady gave me a brochure of helpful hints while traveling Southwest, probably because I looked dumb and confused the whole time. But I made it through security and onto the plane with only a few people shooting me angry glares while I stumbled around trying to figure out what was going on.
I got the window seat on the flight to New York and got my first glimpse of the big city from the seat of the airplane. It’s amazing how small and insignificant everything looks from so up high, and regardless of how many times I travel by air I am always amazed by it. From the ground, New York is huge and sprawling and intimidating, but from the air it seems actually quite cute, like this tiny little city with all these teeny tiny little cute cars and buildings.
It was raining when we landed. We got a taxi from the airport to our hotel, and I was honestly scared for my life. The cab driver was a very angry ethnic man who kept muttering what I assume were obscenities in another language under his breath as he cut people off and drove on the median. He also loved to honk his horn for what I thought was no reason whatsoever and yell at other cars out the window. But from the front seat of the cab I saw the New York skyline appear in the gray fog in the distance, and I got very, very excited.
Our hotel, the Manhattan on Times Square, is only two blocks from Times Square. We unloaded and unpacked and I was so wound up from the excitement and fear and stress that I laid down on the bed and passed out for almost a whole hour. The windows of our hotel were shut tight but the noise from the traffic was so loud it might as well have been in the room with me.
Alicia Keys was wholly correct when she described NYC as a concrete jungle. You might as well be wandering around a jungle where you have no idea where you are and no idea where you are going, traversing through the wilderness of strange people and unfamiliar places. We attempted to go somewhere for dinner and I ended up taking us in circles around blocks, trying to find the restaurant in the pouring rain with no umbrellas. We ended up wandering right onto Times Square.
There are flashing LED screens everywhere, people yelling and talking, cars honking and whistles blowing, and music pumping out of every department store lining the sidewalk. Maybe it was just the psychedelic club music rolling out onto the street but it was almost a surreal experience, like I had transcended into an alternate dimension where everything is consumerism and bright lights. It’s entrancing in the best and worst way.
We finally found a restaurant and stopped to eat. The restaurant was called Virgil’s, a really delicious barbeque place not far from Times Square. Anyone who says you can’t get good barbeque in New York obviously had never been there.
Afterward we set our sights on ice cream and shopping. We went to a little ice cream joint called Tasti D-Lite and then wandered around Times Square weaving in and out of department stores. I bought a few things (on sale!) and then headed back to the hotel room to crash.