The adventure didn’t stop when we got back from our travels, find out what we have been up to and follow the new chapter at littlemenherion.com …
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A mega early start: yawn!!!! 0420 get-up Ouch! Good job we packed last night cause with this old house there’s no keeping quiet!
We quickly and as quietly as possible get dressed and cart all our stuff downstairs to the door in prep for Jay tuning up. While we wait Bernice writes on the their message board in the lounge as requested. Jay is very prompt, and the trip to the airport is hassle free. It’s all very quiet!
We grab brekkie and head through the gate before that changes! All is going too well isn’t it! Yep!
You see the reason Bernice has never been keen on coming stateside has always been around the entry and exit chaos, and today just summed it all up for her in a 1er! As we join the queue it’s not very big, bit it starts building quite quickly. The problem appears to be how they are processing everyone. They have a full height x-ray machine (we had this on the flight east to NY as well) that you walk into, raise your hands above your head and stand astride in. They seem to be having some teething trouble. There is a notice up all the way along the line, explaining the new machine, what it does and also saying at the bottom that it’s “optional” …
Surely that means there is a choice then? That you don’t have to go through it and get fried by x-rays? Doesn’t it? On the previous flight there were no such notices and so we went along with it reluctantly. But the alarm still went off when Bernice went through and she was physically frisked anyway. So thinking there’s nothing to lose, she decides to ask to exercise her “option” and not go through it. Especially as when the queue builds (before our turn) they open up the normal metal detector machine and send every other person through this. 50-50 chance right?! Well it didn’t go her way, so she asked…
As you can imagine, this doesn’t go down well. A very predictable conversation pursued … why doesn’t she want to go through, what is she hiding, hadn’t she read the signs – it isn’t dangerous! Of course it isn’t! It isn’t optional after all! She is declining on health grounds nothing less, oh and not wanting to be seen naked by the security team through the machine (that is an old wives tale isn’t it? isn’t it?). Eventually they tell her if she refuses then she will have to be frisked by hand, like that won’t happen anyway! She agrees, making the guards blood boil even further (he was a big big bloke!) but he directed her to the side gate to make this so.
Only she thought he said to go through it, but apparently he told her to wait by it. Yep you guessed it, the alarm went off and within seconds there’s a whole heap of bodies surrounding her (at this point Huw is as good as disowning her). Seeing they are just about at tipping point she relents and goes through the new machine. Which goes off and means a frisk down as anticipated. But as if to set and example two women take her to a side room rather than do it there on the spot!
Oh well, as is their want, it was no different from normal and definitely for the benefit of the others in the queue as a warning: Don’t question the system!* Then don’t have a sign up that says it’s optional!
Once the adrenalin had settled down and we were relaxing on the plane, the rest of the trip went pretty smoothly. We had decent movies to watch and if you haven’t already you must watch “Paul”.
So home at last, to the cold, and the wet and the rain … haven’t we been avoiding this for a year? Yuk! Huw’s sister along with his P’s are at the gate to meet us, and much to our relief no one else 🙂
It is good to see them.
Our last day in NY, our last day on our trip, our last day before home, before reality, before having to slot back into normality – whatever that is!
We aim for the MOMA first, it’s really quiet actually and more due to the fact there’s a parade on (it’s a bank holiday here, “Founders Day” we’re told) and everyone is caught up watching that than anything else. We make the most of it and whizz round and see all we can. Then a walk through Central park and we figure its worth checking out the Gagosian too, it’s supposed to be closed Mondays but with it being a holiday its worth checking… as it happens our instincts are right and its open, much to Bernice’s excitement, she gets to see the Jenny Saville exhibition after all 🙂
It’s mid-afternoon, but wanting to make the most of our last day we head over to Williamsburg to the thrift shops for a mooch, and are back on our route home in time for sunset. Planning to catch some lovely photos of the Manhattan views we keep seeing from the bus, but we’ve left it too late, the weather is changing and there is no sunset, its all overcast 🙁
Oh well, you win some, you lose some … back for Pizza, Vino and farewells with the troops. It’s quite a nice evening although the girls seem to still be suffering from the other night. Oops.
This morning at brekkie we met some more new guests: A couple of Aussies, one called Greg who’s a sculptor over here on a years exchange, and loving it.
There are still some bathroom issues this morning, much to the embarrassment of Jay and Maria. Funny though, the fact we’ve been here a few days now, it’s notched up as just a teething problem as far as we’re concerned and we know they are doing all they can to sort it out, but seeing the reaction and annoyance of new guests …. well they need to all take some chill pills we thinks :-/
Once we’re all breakfasted and showered, we head out and aim for Brooklyn … only we get our wires crossed and everything seems to go wrong. Starting with getting off at the totally, not even close, wrong metro stop! Oops! A long walk even to a bus stop is called for. It takes us past a crazy baseball cum footie game going on in a street court, involving mixed teams too. Like something out of Harry Potter without the broomsticks! Bizarre! Luckily though, we also come across a nice looking ‘greasy spoon’ and as we both need a wee we decide on a brunch stop. Plus there’s wifi so we can sort ourselves out and make a plan that works, gets us to the right area!!! A mountain of food later and facilities visited, we head for a nearby bus stop. One bus is just leaving as we round the corner so we miss it, the next – 10 min later – breaks down a couple of miles along the route. We give up, make a new plan and decide to walk to the ‘Dumbo’ area (Dumbo stands for “down under Manhattan bridge overpass”)
Here we have a wander around, we visit a nice furniture shop, some galleries, the park under the bridge and have a refreshment in a local bar before walking across the bridge back to Manhattan taking in the sunset on our walk.
We’re pretty trashed again and grab some food on our way back to the bnb. Another new guest arrives – Victoria, and Celine and Alexandra are back.
As we don’t actually get back till 0700 this morning, getting up for brekkie really isn’t going to happen. We should really tough it out as the time has been moved to 0800 today (Jay has an airport run to do). But there’s no sign of either Jay or Maria, so we all just sneak off to bed, then we drag ourselves back up around 1030.
Alexandra is up and on the PC obviously waiting on Celine surfacing too. We’re expecting our contact lenses parcel today from Angie, so no real plan to go very far, especially on so little sleep. But we soon realise the postie has already tried to deliver it just before we got up and no one answered the door. So it now needs to be collected. Doh!
The girls, it turns out still haven’t sorted further accommodation out from tonight onwards and they spend the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon on that problem. Well when Celine is able to that is – she’s a bit poorly (no sympathy for the self-inflicted) and has a huge BRI too. Oops!
We did have an initial plan to go to Brooklyn today – that was before we knew the parcel was being delivered and before we planned such a late night watching rugby. Oh well. The challenge now is to get the parcel today as tomorrow the post office will be closed and Monday we’ve discovered is a bank holiday. Which doesn’t leave us a choice – our flight is 0800 Tuesday :-/
You’d hope it’d be simple right, go to the Post Office with the delivery card, show ID and collect parcel… Nope! Huw meets a postie on his way, not the one with our parcel, but she says don’t go till around 4pm as the parcel won’t be back at the depot. This makes sense, ok, but when we do get there and follow her instructions – ring the bell at the side door, we discover that because the parcel is addressed to us, who don’t actually live at that address they shouldn’t really give it to us (something about using a c/o address, and security since 9/11). Not only that but it’s still out somewhere, the postie with it is still out on his rounds … We play as dumb as we can and throw in the sob story of flying home in a couple of days etc… and eventually the guy in charge calls the postie out on his rounds and arranges for him to come back to the bnb with the parcel before he finishes up. Result!
While all this is going on we also have a laundry in getting done – our last ever travel laundry, not something either of us are going to miss that’s for sure! Then, still nursing our hangovers we eventually drag ourselves off into town for art opening, a guy doing Airbnb invited Bernice along for a chat about residencies in NY. It’s a bit of a mission and disappointingly when we get there, there’s no sign of him 🙁
On our way back up town, we stop for some comfort food – cottage pie for Huw and fish’n’chips for Bernice, nice! The world’s not such a bad place after all.
We plan to take it easy today, so we can save our energy for tonight. We plan to stay up to watch the rugby – England v France – which isn’t on until 0330 local time. Huw has done some homework and found a pub option that’s definitely going to be open and showing it. This plan unravels slightly when we, spur of the moment like, agree to go to the “Jersey Gardens Mall” with Celine and Alexandra. An hours journey there and back and a traipse around the shops isn’t quite the recipe for an easy going day…
But hey ho, if we work at it we can have an afternoon nap. Can’t we? Hhmmm, well you’d have thought so, but we just miss a bus then have to wait an hour for the next one, it’s almost lunchtime when we get there, so part way round we all meet up again and take in a diner for lunch. On the up side we don’t actually spend too much money, Bernice buys a duffle coat – ever worried we’re going to arrive home to a blizzard. We leave the girls to continue shopping and head back to the bnb, there’s a plan in place to meet up later for the rugby :-), taking our own French fans with us … now that’s maybe a bit cocky or just a tad stupid … time will tell 🙂
Back at the house, the shower is now fixed in the upstairs bathroom, hurray! So much for our nap though, by the time we get back and take showers its pretty much time to head out again. Firstly we’re meeting David (an old friend of Bernice’s from her Glasgow Uni days) for dinner together with his wife and daughter. Should be fun 🙂
It’s around 7pm when we all meet up, just a short walk from Time Square on the edge of “Korea Town”. They have a restaurant in mind and after all the introductions, we head there, with Emma – David’s daughter – chatting all the way, with true Scottish heritage she’s not at all shy 🙂 It turns out the restaurant (ouch, can’t remember the name of it) is a favourite of their’s and they are well known by the staff. There’s a bit of a wait but well worth it. Jean – David’s wife – is nominated to order for us all, get a selection of dishes for us all to try. We’ve never had authentic Korean food before, or any Korean food for that matter, so it’s great to have someone in the know recommend and select for us.
It’s well worth the wait, the food is great and we have a brilliant catch up on what’s been happening since we last saw each other – probably in Motherwell back in 1990-91 ouch!!! No one’s really to blame as such, David’s been the US most of that time, on the West coast, and neither of us have visited Scotland very much either, never mind at the same time. Just shows you how time flies, and stays still – it was like we’d only chatted last week.
We have a lovely evening and it feels quite short but we all promise to keep in touch and not leave it so long next time! On leaving the restaurant, Jean takes Emma off to bed and David joins us for a further beer. We find a decent pub that he knows of with a huge selection of craft beers, then we manage to persuade him to come along to the rugby bar, just for one, where we meet Celine. She’s been sat at the bar a wee while on her own, Alexandra wasn’t up for it in the end.
David does have self control, well done him, and he heads off after his ‘one’. What’s the interest for him anyhow? England v France, he’s Scottish?!
The bar is surprisingly full, the Irish/Welsh game is on when we arrive and a lot do stay on for the England game. We’re told they’ll stop serving beer at 0400, but it doesn’t turn out that way, they continue serving throughout the game, which provides a messy end to the night.
What a rubbish result! Least one of us is happy – Celine is ecstatic, more so probably as she’s surrounded by English in the bar, who can blame her! A vague walk back to the bus station and a chicken bus home, it’s been a very long day, shame it didn’t have the right end to it 🙁
This morning the guys insist we leave our gear (packed) in our existing room and they’ll move it all up into the attic room later when they’ve managed to get it habitable for us.
So we bow away graciously and catch a bus to town for another day in the Chelsea gallery district. As we might have said before, there are about 8 streets and we barely covered a whole one the day we arrived, so hopefully we can rectify that today.
There’s some really interesting work on show and again it’s predominantly wall and floor based, very little – though a fraction more than the west coast – video/moving image work. We stop for lunch and a rest and find a nice wee courtyard garden offering a menu at an equally nice price. It gives us time to recoup and digest what we’ve seen this morning.
During our 2nd stint gallery-hopping in the afternoon we meet Holly, an English girl who has just finished her BA here and who went to school with a fellow student of Bernice’s at Central St Martins. Small world!
We gradually pull ourselves away from the galleries and head a little further east towards the Moma shop, it isn’t too far away now we’re this far south and it’s a good place to finish off our day before heading back to the bnb. Our attic room is ideal, it a bit low – funnily enough it’s Bernice who keeps banging into the eaves!!
Tonight the house seems full, we get chatting to Adrian (US), Freddie (German) and briefly with Barbara and Tomas (German) before they leave to go find somewhere nice to eat. The rest of us carry on with the chatter and share some beer for quite a few hours. There have still been some bathroom issues lingering on today and Jay and Maria show up at one point just to apologise yet again. It’s not like they’ve not been doing everything they can in order to fix it. They’ve been digging out blind since we arrived trying to resolve the problem. They really care 🙂
Brekkie is somewhat unexpected. Looking on Airbnb, it’s hit and miss whether or not breakfast is offered at all, even though you wonder what the other “b” is for if not breakfast. This however is a great breakfast. A big table in the dining room, serving all guests at once, it’s laid for up to 8 people today. Everyone arrives for 0900, and Jay makes us feel at home with fresh coffee, fresh fruit, cereal, hot rolls… Yummy. It’s quite a social occasion with everyone swapping stories about Broadway shows seen last night, and itineraries for today, etc.
After brekkie we try and make a plan for the rest of our stay, we’ve only booked two days here – our usual max, until we check out a location – but it’s also all we think they had available. Checking on responses from other requests we’ve already sent out – to Couchsurfing and Airbnb, – there’s nothing come back in. Before chasing or searching for more options we decide to ask with Jay and Maria just in case … we know they have other property nearby, so maybe… As it turns out they have an attic room here, which is not ready for letting yet, but if we’re prepared to take it kinda ready, then they could do us a deal on it. We could have it for the remainder of our stay in NY too. Sounds like a plan. It’s easier to nip in and out of town from here than we anticipated and you get a great view of Manhattan on every trip. Sorted!
That settled we head off into town, not sure of our itinerary, which brings the inevitable disasters with it. We buy a multiple tube ticket (good thinking) but it’s the wrong one and we can’t both use it (bad). We think it’s hard for visitors working out the London tube system, but at least there’s more explanations around, more staff to ask and more signage to help you! Here it’s potluck and having asked and received the wrong info, we try to exchange the wrong ticket for the right ticket. They’re having none of it! As it’s been used – we only used it to get through the friggin barrier to reach the office to actually ask!!! Annoyed? Yes we are, just a tad!
Moving on we head for Chelsea Market where we have some fish soup. It’s a nice set up albeit a bit of a posh area, not quite what we imagined. Then walking off lunch we come across some thrift shops near the university, which we have a quick gander through too.
Then it’s a subway back up north and but after having very little luck choosing a decent non-touristy place for dinner we carry on over to North Bergen where we again soak in the view of the city. We should have got off the bus part way up the hill as the colours of the Manhattan skyline from the light in the sky after sundown are amazing! But we don’t, we’re pretty tired and hungry and reckon there’ll be other nights, other opportunities, especially now we’re staying put.
Dinner is finally at a Cuban restaurant on the local high street. Weirdly we hadn’t called into the bnb before hand, if we had we’d have realised that Maria and Jay were cooking enough food for everyone – their way of apologising for the now ongoing issues with the bathroom we’re guessing. Shame they gave us no warning. Two new guests have arrived this afternoon and they are able to join in with the food eating, so we don’t have too. Phew, we might explode if we did. We join them all for a drink and a chat instead, too full to do much more. The new guests are Alexandra and Celine and they are French. Celine is a painter too. Chatting over food goes on quite late, amazingly we last quite well considering that we were flagging in town before even heading back for food – surely due to jetlag we decide.
Arrival time 0610 local, 0310 on our body clock! … and yes we feel pretty tired and achey! Having collected our bags without any trauma we opt for an express bus into town because we’ll run into rush hour otherwise, and with our bags that’s not the best plan on the subway. When we get to the Port Authority bus station we have brekkie as it’s only a little after nine and we can’t check in to the bnb yet. Well we can drop off our bags but can’t access our room till 1400, so no rush.
After an ok brekkie, what can you expect from bus station cafe’s – always hit and miss – we source the “chicken bus” as instructed from the bnb hosts but it doesn’t materialise and in the end we go for plan b and listen to uncle google, getting a bus (more like a coach) from the bus station. As we said, we’re going to North Bergen – which is over Hudson in NJ. Which means we travel all along the edge of the river, the bus giving us amazing views of Manhattan. A really nice welcome :-).
The situation of the house is really ideal actually, it’s just off this river front Manhattan view road, it only took us 25 or so minutes from mid town (just near time square) and the bus stops right nearby. We’ve booked 2 nights as we often do to make sure our choice is not a disaster, looking good so far…
Even better, the room is ready when we arrive, we can have a kip for an hour :-). In actual fact we have a couple of hours snooze. When we surface we discover Jay (one of our hosts) has put us in the wrong room, just as well we just lay on top of the bed. Maria and Jay (both Canadian) are really lovely, they tell us they’ll sort it out while we’re out this afternoon, move our gear across when the real room is ready.
Back in Manhattan we do a search on art exhibitions nearby and discover a group exhibition of Scottish Art is on in Hunter College, just around the corner so we head there 1st. It’s a good find and has some big names in it too – Martin Creed, Douglas Gordon, Jim Lambie…. The guys invigilating the exhibition tell us to head a few streets south to the Chelsea area, as there are some good galleries there to be seen. It’s an area we had in our sights, but thinking we’d just find big names there, we quizzed them in the hope of finding out where the emerging more edgy art scene was to be found … apparently there too.
Duly noted we do as suggested and are there till they all close – we find we’ve only managed one building!!! There are about 10 or more streets full of gallery blocks! All the way through the middle there’s an old railway line that’s been given a bit of a revamp. It’s about 30ft up and called the “Highline” http://www.thehighline.org/, which is now filled with lots of wildish plants and seats and is a nice walkway to tour the Chelsea district from. A good re-use of urban space.
When we’re done we head back for the bus, there’s a massive queue for the chicken buses (not sure where the name comes from!!) and we don’t think the bus station buses will be less popular, so we opt for a drink till it quietens down.
Back in North Bergen we take advice on shopping/dinner options and in the end plum for a Chinese takeaway, which is really yummy. Nice 🙂
So last minute admin jobs today: make use of Angie’s lovely washing machine for the last time, thanks Angie xx; pack or at least try to get everything back into our rucsacs, six weeks on the road with it all heaped in the boot, haven’t helped; write some blog entries …
Then time for a group chat with Bea and Andy back home in Derby, say hi to Bea, make sure she’s ok, she’s been poorly of late. we’ve been meaning to call for three days now but the time difference keeps catching us out!
It feels weird, it’s our third but last time leaving the Waddington household. We’ve had a blast, thanks guys. without your generosity (camping gear, car, washing machine, etc…) our trip in the US would have been a very different experience altogether.
A last lunch with Angie in Chipotle and a trip to FroYo with the kids after school enables us to have quality time with everyone before Angie runs us to the airport.
The traffic is pretty hectic, even more so in the other direction, but we still manage some time at the airport for some more blog updates and photo sorting.
Luckily we remembered to swap photo’s with Angie and now have some from the other night at the winery as well as them having some from Molly’s footie game.
It’s a sad farewell and even the weather is sad… we drive to the airport in what must be the first real rain since Panama, oh if you exclude the cloud bubble that was the grand canyon, that is. It’s obviously time to move on…..
The flight is ok, not a great deal of legroom but not as severe as UK bucket airlines. You do have to pay to view movies though, but as it’s an overnight flight we hope to sleep…. Well we get a little, do some reading too. But it is more than a bit uncomfortable – due to dodgy cabin pressure we think – we could feel the veins in our legs expanding and are sure it was probably the last thing to compromise on. We guess – nae hope – it isn’t intentional!