I really, really do! We're back from New York City and we're exhausted and our feet are so blistered that we can barely walk. But it was soo worth it. It was amazing. I took over a thousand pictures and finally managed to chose 120 for 2 Facebook picture albums. They're on there now if you want to see them :) Here is the trip report :
Disclaimer : This post will most likely be very very long ;)
August 24th - Day 1
I left work at noon and came home to pack and get ready for the trip. I stopped at Walmart and Shoppers before coming home to buy a few things for the trip and I'm sooo glad that I decided to buy 2 inflatable travel pillows for the trip; they were so worth the 6$ each. I came home and packed, Dad got here around supper to take Loki to Bathurst until after Labor Day since we're going to Fredericton Saturday and going to Saint John on Sunday to see Cirque du Soleil. At 5pm I went to pick Steph up from work and we stopped at Subway on the way home. Dad drove us to U de M and we got there at 7h15pm which I thought would be plenty of time to pick good seats on the bus since it was only departing at 8pm. Wrong! We parked and met Pat & Chantal near the bus (Steph's brother and his wife) and we were basically the last ones on the bus. They got on the bus in front of us and decided to each sit in a window seat, leaving us 2 aisle seats. During the rest of the trip while trying different seats, I realized that that initial seat I had had the least leg room on the bus for some reason. You'd think they'd have equal leg room? But my knees were firmly squished probably between the person in front's spine. When we made our first rest stop we told Pat & Chantal that we'd prefer sitting together so that we can alternate window/aisle seats and we took Pat's seats and phew, a lot more leg room. (Like a foot more!) It's pretty hard to sleep on a bus. At 3am we were all sleeping when they switched bus drivers (We were 2 busses going to NYC) and the new bus driver decided to give a loud welcome speech and crank up country music on the radio. Thank goodness for my new mp3 player.
August 25th - Day 2
After 17 hours on the bus we finally arrived to our hotel in North Bergen, New Jersey. It was only a 10-15 minutes ride in traffic to get to the middle of Times Square so that was good, but when I saw our hotel and especially when we entered our room, I realized that you really do get what you pay for. The trip wasn't that cheap for no reason hehe. HOT room, no hairdryer, no alarm clock radio, no coffee maker etc etc But you could get any one of these items at the front desk for 10$ each. The only thing we decided to shell out cash for was a second room key for 10$ which they did reimburse us for at the end when we showed the receipt. In the end it didn't matter, we were out of our room every morning at 8am and we only back in the room at 11pm. But the next time we go to NYC (Yes, we can't wait to go back!!) we're definitely willing to pay more for a hotel right in Times Square and not have to bother with all the little mexican busses and city busses and metros to get to the city.
It was sooo hot that first day!! We all showered and changed. I was trying to do my hair but it was frizzing up and sweating up as fast as I was doing it and my make up was melting as I was putting it on. But I was trying to look pretty to meet Heather! We had been text messaging back and forth and had decided to meet in our hotel's lobby at 5h30pm. We were all lying on our beds trying to not fall asleep and trying to not sweat too much when my phone beeped to let me know Heather was down in the lobby. I was sooo nervous I was shaking and my throat was so dry.. but all that nervousness went away as soon as I hugged Heather. She's so nice and smiley and... I don't know.. normal. It felt weird to meet an online friend of 5 years. It felt like meeting a celebrity lol!
We asked the front desk how to get to the bus stop and they told us to go up the street, behind the Toys R Us. It wasn't far away, but it was all uphill and with the heat, we were all drenched by the time we got to the bus stop. We missed the bus by about 2 seconds lol! None of us had the energy or strenght to try to run up to it. I could have touched it I think. But a little mexican shuttle bus arrived not 10 seconds later and we all got in. Filled with mexicans and mexican music playing on the radio, we felt like we were on vacation in Mexico not NYC! hehe.
We got off the bus, took a metro, and we were in Times Square. Wow! wow. amazing. I think that Heather was waiting for me to jump up and down and scream in exitement, but I don't really react that way. Beautiful and amazing things make me want to cry tears of joy instead. I'm weird I know hehe. We finally found Little Italy and quickly chose a restaurant because we were all super starving. We went to Amicci's and Steph said that he had never eaten better italian food before. Mine was good but I don't like pasta that much. But I didn't mind going to eat in Little Italy for our first meal because Steph and Pat love Italian.
After more walking in Times Square (wow!) and taking some subways we were looking for a bus to take us back to our hotel. We walked to a little mexican bus and asked the driver if he was going to North Bergen. He said yes yes! Are you sure? North Bergen, New Jersey? Yes yes. We all got in and we were too busy enjoying the air conditionning to notice that we weren't going in the right direction hehe. Well we did go to North Bergen but on the totally opposite side of town. The driver kicked us off at the last bus stop and we started to walk towards our hotel (according to our map), trying to find something that looked familiar. We were walking and walking and we stopped at a White Castle to get something to drink and washroom stop. We didn't call a cab because at that point we were still mistakenly thinking that our hotel wasn't that far. Wrong! It was Sunday night and everything looked dark, every business closed. There were mexican people here and there. We crossed the street instead of walking in front of a big gang of mexican guys... We were all pretty scared and cranky at that point. Heather never seemed cranky or scared though. We had cell phones but no cab number, no hotel number, and of course every phone booth along the way didn't have any phone books or cab numbers graffittied on. We were so happy when we finally found a little mexican restaurant (Is NJ filled with Mexicans??) to go in to call two cabs. Once we were sitting in our cab we could finally laugh about it hehe. Our feet were already really sore from all that walking and being lost hehe.
August 26th - Day 3
We were out of our room at 8am to go eat breakfast downstairs and take the shuttle into town at 9am. So our feet were already sore but so what, we had a 4 hour NYC bus tour in the morning, then we would rush to get to our 2pm Blue Man Group show, then we would go to our 4 hour New York by night bus tour. Little did we know that 'bus tour' only means that they're walking tours but the bus does bring you to different parts of the city for more walking. Our first stop that morning was Central Park. Wow. It's really beautiful. We walked about 5km of winding, uphill and downhill paths and going up and down many steps. It was so hot, Steph was drenched and I was buying bottles and bottles of water to keep him hydrated I thought he was going to collapse once or twice. Then we visited Rockefeller Center, Saint Peter's Cathedral, Grand Central Terminal.. etc etc. Then we rushed to get to our 2pm Blue Man Group Show.
We got there with 20 minutes to spare so we found a McDonalds close to Astor Place and the food was different than at the McD's around here. I had a Deluxe third pounder combo and it really did look like the picture on the wall. Then I flipped the container over and realized that they had the nutritional information printed on the bottom. I saw that my sandwich was 750 calories and threw the box in the air in horror. Oh well, with all that walking I broke even on the scale when we were back hehe. Then we went for our NY by night tour. We visited The World Financial District, Ground Zero, we took the free ferry to Staten Island to see the Statue of Liberty and we ran through the terminal to get on the ferry to come back right away, we visited SoHo, the meat packing district, Greenich, Chelsea, etc etc etc. I can't even remember we did soooo much.
We were finally back in our hotel room at 10h45pm, and by the time we had our order ready for the only restaurant we could find that was open and delivered that late, they said that they didn't deliver after 11pm. GAH! We were sooo hungry that we decided to order food anyway and that the guys would go pick it up by cab. They said that it would be ready in 15 mins. When they got there, they had to wait 45 mins. With our huge order because we were starving and the 40$ cab ride, Steph and I's meal cost 100$ lol! We ate about 1/4 of it before we were too stuffed to continue. What a shame. I sent my mom and dad a text message to say Happy Wedding Anniversary, then we all went to sleep with full bellies.
August 27th - Day 4
We decided that Steph and I would do our own thing and Pat & Chantal would do their own thing also that day because Steph was so sore he didn't want to slow them down, and besides, we didn't want to do all the same things anyway. We were out of the room by 8 to grab breakfast and take the shuttle in town while Pat & Chantal decided to sleep in. We started by going to the Manhattan Mall to buy me a new memory card because my other one was already full! But on the way there we decided to go in the huge Old Navy to buy me more tank tops because it was way too hot to wear the t-shirts I had brought. Wow! It was huge and it had 4 floors! I quickly found the "plus size" sign, but couldn't find the plus size section so I asked an employee and they said that they have to get rid of the sign because they no longer have a plus size section. GAH!! The horror! BUT then I realized that their sizes went up to 22 and xx large, and *insert heavenly music here* I fit into them! And some of them were even too big! Oh Joy!! Steph sat on a bench and I occasionally waived to him from the escalators as I was going from floor to floor trying on different things. I didn't intend on buying clothes in NYC but I couldn't resist. I can't believe the amount of stuff I bought for 192$ !
Then we went to the Manhattan Mall, and we went to Radio Shack to get a 2 Gig memory card for me and a new pair of headphones for Steph because his weren't comfortable. Then we grabbed a drink and I sat in the food court with the shopping bags while Steph went to the restroom. While I was sitting there I saw 2 women walk by with Bitten bags! (You know, the Sarah Jessica Parker line) So when Steph came back I told him that he could wait there while I went to see the Bitten line at Steve & Barry's. I was soo exited! There were screens with loops of SJP interviews playing all over the place. I thought : maybe Mindy was wrong, maybe the Bitten clothes don't fit her well but maybe they'll fit me great! They're so pretty and so cheap! I grabbed a few tops and a pair of jeans and went to try them on... Mindy, you were right. The jeans fit horribly. They were too big in the waist and yet my thighs were stuffed in there like sausages. The 'boot leg' cut fit my ankles like skinny jeans almost. My small boobs were too big(!!) for all the top exept one. It was surreal. My small boobs wouldn't fit at all in the space allowed for boobs in the tops, I was spilling out of them and looked like a hoochie. ONE top fit nicely and I bought it of course, just to have something Bitten. I got Steph a few t-shirts there too.
Then we were on our way to Chinatown to have lunch. It took us a while to figure out that it's just street vendors and shops ON Canal St. but the side streets are where the food is. The food was delicious. Then I went wild on Canal Street. I got designer knock off bags : Hermes, Prada, Gucci, Chanel and Coach, a Prada wallet, Chanel sunglasses, and a Tiffany necklace and bracelet set. I was in paradise!! At some point we actually found Pat & Chantal in a tiny Canal St. store. What are the chances! hehe Then we went to 5th Avenue where they have horse carriage rides at a corner of Central Park and we took a carriage ride. So much fun! Then we visited some street vendors and bought souvenirs. Then we took a break on a bench and I got a sketch of me done from a street artist. Pretty neat, but what am I going to do with that now? It's not like I want a portrait of me hanging in my house.. Then we took a Rickshaw ride (a bicycle taxi) to Rockefeller Center to go up to the Top of the Rock (Top of the Rockefeller Center) in time to photograph the sunset over NYC. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G !!! The lines weren't that long going in because we had already bought our tickets from a street booth, the security points went rather quickly too... but after taking about 400 pictures of the city lights and sunset, the lines for the exit were horrid. Our feet were soo sore by that time we could barely walk. We got back to our hotel at 11pm and ordered food and went to sleep with full bellies again.
August 28th - Day 5
Our busses were going to open their doors at 9am for us to load our luggage onboard and chose our seats for the trip back to Moncton. So we were out of our room by 8am, go our 10$ refund for the 2nd room key, and Steph went to eat breakfast while I went to be the first person in line to chose our seats on the bus because I did NOT want to be stuck in a seat with no leg room again for the trip back. There were already people waiting in line!! By 8h30 am everyone was in line hehe. But I was early in the line and I got great seats with about a foot and a half of space between our knees and the seats!!! Hurrah!! We put stuff on our seats to hold them and we were off to town for the day. Our bus was picking us up near Times Square at 8pm. We decided to do our own thing that day again. Steph and I spent the day walking in Times Square and visiting shops like the Hershey Store, M&M World, Souvenir shops..
Then I found Sephora!! *squeal!!* I was in paradise again. I got some Philosophy's "Hope in a jar" which I already am in LOVE with, philosophy's 'falling in love' perfume spray which I adore, philosophy lemon seat salt body scrub and philosophy coconut body butter. Okay I already adore philosophy. Seriously. Love love the stuff. Then I found Lush! I got 2 bath bombs and "Big" shampoo, "Rehab" shampoo, and "Veganese" Conditionner. OMG it is true what they say. The Big shampoo has some sea salt in it and it feels heavenly. The girl at the counter told me to just use a tiny amount and I thought 'yeah right, they all say that and I always need a big goop of shampoo and a bigger goop of conditionner to feel like my hair is covered' She was right! A tiny amount of Big shampoo had my hair full of lather.
At 7h30pm we walked to the Pensylvania hotel to where the bus was picking us up. We found the group and half of us was sitting right on the dirty sidewalks we were just too dead and sore to stand. Then we found out that the bus was actually on the other side of the block. ACK! We waddled over to the other side of the Pensylvania hotel and finally got on the bus. The drive TO NYC felt soooo long. The drive back to NYC seemed like nothing hehe. We were all so exhausted that we only stopped 3 times and we all slept the rest of the time.
August 29th - Day 6
We were at the US/Canada border around 10am I think, and they had told the 2 busses that they should arrive 30 minutes apart. They forgot. The two busses got there at the same time, and the border people were pissed. They quickly processed the first bust and let them go, but the tour organizer was on our bus, and they wanted him to remember to arrive 30 mins apart the next time. I'm sure he will. They searched us. They fired up their dusty x-ray machine and x-rayed all our bags. They brought a drug sniffing dog on the bus to sniff all of us and they made the poor thing smell the bus's toilet thingy. The poor dog must have probably weakened his sense of smell that day. ew.
They wanted to use their wand thingy to go over all our overhead stuff, but it was full of spiders and they hadn't used it in too long. We were all looking through the bus windows looking at our bags go through the x-ray machine. Some people were pretty nervous about undeclared alcohol. Only one got busted and had to pay tax. I sighed with relief when I saw that my smaller suitcase made it through and was put back on the bus. That's the one filled with all the knock offs and souvenirs. All of that undeclared. We were only allowed 200$ of merchandise each (WTF is that all about?) so we could mostly only declare what we had overhead on the bus hehe. (Just my Sephora and Lush stuff was 200$ hehe).
I was praying and hoping that my bigger suitcase would go through the x-ray and be put back on the bus and not put on the table for further searching. Not because I had anything undeclared in it. Well it did have all of my Old Navy clothes and other stuff but all the tags were removed and theres no way that they could know that I didn't just bring waaaaay too many clothes for a 5 day trip hehe. But it was packed so well, everything was all rolled up and I had to actually sit on it to close it up. I was saying "pleasedontpickmine, pleasedontpickmine, pleasedontpickmine". People on the bus were giggling and watching my suitcase with me and rooting for it to not be picked for further searching.
Of course my suitcase got picked for further searching. ugh. They all thought it was hilarious hehe. I was affraid that when the border lady would open it up that underwear and bras would fly out everywhere. So we were called outside and everyone was still watching in the bus while she put all of my bras, underwear, steph's underwear, etc on the table. *blush* She drooled a little bit over my Prada wallet and my Chanel purse that was in there. She asked if most of the clothes were bought from street vendors ? Yep. (yeah right hehe.) But she didn't find what she was looking for. We had zero alcohol. We're boring hehe.
At noon we were finally back in Moncton and Chantal's parents picked us up in 2 vans and we went to eat at Arby's. Steph and I could barely walk I kid you not. I was trying to look normal but every step was agony!! We got home after that and I immediately unpacked everything because I was still on the adrenaline rush. I knew that as soon as I put my feet up they wouldn't cooperate anymore. After unpacking everything I lined up all of my new wonderful lush and philosophy products along the tub and got in for a luxurious 1.5 hour bath. MMmmm! That Lush bath bomb was pure heaven in a fizzing bomb. I must keep a supply of that. Of course I haven't told Steph how amazing it is because I don't want him to be tempted to use it LOL. Unless he reads this.. I'll hide it :P hehe. There was a jasmine flower in the middle and it smelled amazing. The whole bathroom and my bedroom smelled like jasmine. Mmm. Then I had bought some Body Shop foot products also and I slathered my feet and wondered how I would ever get out of bed hehe. I was trying to think of a way to make someone go buy me isotoner slippers to cushion my feet and bring them to me. I spent the night narrowing down my 1000+ pictures to 372 hehe. (I wanted to have 120 for facebook). And then I went to sleep for a 13 hour night hehehe. This morning my feet are feeling much better but I'm still waddling. Hopefully they'll be alright in time for this weekend's Cirque du Soleil and birthday party!
So there you have it. I'm grinning from ear to ear as I'm writing this and we can't wait to go back. We had an amazing time! We're having crazy ideas of going back for New Years Eve and to see the tree at Rockefeller....