This post is a little late. Okay, it is a lot late. I went on holiday late June/early July (right between my last presentation at school and my first day of a summer job). I went on a multi-city tour but the main destination was… New York City! I had wanted to go to New York for a long time because
1. I have a couple of friends there I really wanted to see (again)
2. It’s New York City!
But first I went to London.
I managed to book a cheap(er) flight from London to NYC so I added an extra day in this great city to my trip. James showed me around London a bit. I finally went on the London Eye, had my first taste of Thai food and chilled on the couch watching movies.
Next up, NYC!
What I didn’t know before heading to NYC was how much walking I would do. I have an app on my iPhone (Moves) that tracks how much I walk in a day. Those days in NYC were record breakers, easily walking 10km in a day. That first day I just did some walking around Manhattan, taking the subway by myself and making sure I didn’t get too lost. Andrea, the friend I was staying with, had to work during the day so we met up after work to go to an event. The event turned out too busy for our taste though.
The next day I flew to Cincinnati, an almost necessary stop, to see my friends Daniel, Jenny and Jeremy. It is always a given that I will have a great time with these people and this time was no exception. We went to Jungle Jim’s, a huge international grocery store, and had a great time commenting on all the different foods on display. They invited me to guest on the Ramen Noodle again (ep. 151 – Belgian Love Letter). We played offline Words With Friends (or Scrabble as it is also known) at Velocity Bike & Bean while enjoying delicious cups of coffee/chai/whatever Daniel drank.
Photo borrowed from Jeremy who is obviously not pictured, as he was taking the photo. Duh.
All too soon it was time to say goodbye and for me to fly to my next destination…
I went to Orlando to spent a day at DisneyWorld with Cliff and Stephanie and their kids Meagan, Matthew and McKenna. The Ravenscrafts have been a part of every trip to the US I’ve taken in the last couple of years for good reason. I was more than happy to fly to Orlando to see them again.
My day at Disney didn’t start too great. My credit card kept getting declined, meaning I was in Orlando with absolutely no money. As you can imagine this was not a fun experience. I am very thankful that Cliff and Stephanie were there to help me out and help me quickly forget this was happening and enjoy my day at Disney.
We went to the Lion King show (amazing) and rode the jungle safari (cool to see this big animals up close).
We saw the big castle (can you tell I’m not all that educated on the proper Disney terminology?)
We rode the Winnie-the-Pooh ride and a whole bunch of other rides I don’t really remember. At the end of the day Meagan and I went of just the two of us to ride Space Mountain. I really wanted to try this ride as I had chickened out when I went to DisneyLand Paris (when I was 11). The line was quite long when we got there so we decided to get a FastPass and decide later if we would come back. We went to the Haunted House instead, followed by a presentation on the Presidents of the United States and the Electric Light Parade. We came back to Space Mountain a little before it was our time but they let us on anyway. We saw a couple of kids jump the line ahead of us but Meagan got them kicked out 🙂 Space Mountain was fun, but not the best for my already hurting neck and shoulders. After that we went to join the others again and walked to a better spot to see the Electric Light Parade again, this time from start to finish. By now it was close to midnight and time to say goodbye.
The next day it was time to fly back to New York City. And my birthday. Which I spent at the Orlando airport. Somehow that seems fitting.
Andrea treated me to a lovely cajun (I think) birthday dinner.
The next day I met up with Fred and Christine for brunch. Imaginary friends no more! It was lovely to finally see these long-time online friends face to face, and one of the reasons I wanted to visit New York.
Christine, me, Andrea, Fred
Andrea and I went to see a baseball game, a sport that I love. I didn’t care who was playing, I just wanted to see a game. The original plan was to see the NY Jets but they were playing out of town for the week. We ended up seeing the Mets play. Same price, much better seats and an amazing game. You can call me a Mets fan from now on (I even have the hat to prove it). They played the Arizona Diamondbacks in a game that lasted 13 innings (7pm – 1am) with a very exciting last inning.
I went to visit the Guggenheim. There was some amazing artwork on display, but overall I found it disappointing. The temporary exhibition changed the architecture of the building, obscuring the centre of the building. It was the building that I was most interested in because it is a beautiful building. I was also a little disappointed by how it’s boxed in by the surrounding buildings. I think the building would have looked a lot better if it had some space to breathe.
We celebrated Andrea’s birthday by eating Chinese food with a couple of her friends. It was storming in NYC that evening and my poor shoes and socks had become completely drenched. So, after dinner we went shoe shopping. On Times Square. At 11pm. A surreal experience to me. When I had new shoes and socks (and dry feet again) we went out for drinks. Twas a fun evening.
The next day was the Fourth of July, America’s Independence Day. This, of course, had to be celebrated. Andrea, Javi (one of Andrea’s friends I had met the night before) and I went to Coney Island to watch the hot dog eating competition. It was one of the grossest, most fascinating things I have ever seen. Joey Chestnut ate 69 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Those 10 minutes go fast. And afterwards we went and ate our own Nathan’s Hot Dog. Of course.
After that we joined some other friends for barbecue and drinks. I was introduced to Jungle Juice which doesn’t taste that strong but, man, you feel it fast.
To end the night we saw the famous Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks at the riverside.
The next day Andrea and I went to the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art). They have free entry every Friday evening so I decided to take advantage of that. As did a lot of other people. It was quite busy but I enjoyed this one more than the Guggenheim. The artist I ended up being most impressed by was Bill Brandt, a British photographer. There was something very special about his nudes. I have recently purchased a book with his work so I can go through it slowly and really study his work.
A picture is worth a thousand words
After the MoMA Andrea and I also made a quick stop at the Apple Store. We are geeks after all. It is a beautiful building but what I was most amazed at was the customer service. Andrea needed to exchange some earbuds because the sound in one earbud wasn’t on the same level as in the other earbud. The guy helping us out apologized profusely because she had had to exchange a couple of pair already and sent us on our way without ever questioning if we were even justified in our complaint. I wish we had Apple Stores in Belgium. Good customer service keeps people coming back.
On Saturday I was meeting up with Sharon, another friend who lives in the New York area. We met up in Grand Central Station, a beautiful old train station. At first we wanted to eat lunch at Shake Shack in the train station, but that one didn’t open until later so we went to the one in Times Square. I’ll just say this, the food at Shake Shack isn’t worth the experience of fighting for a place to sit. We walked around the Times Square area a bit until Sharon had to leave again.
Photo borrowed from Sharon, who is also in the photo because she took a selfie with Andrea and me
The next week I also explored:
Statue of Liberty
Andrea really wanted to meet Aisha Tyler who was having a book launch while I was in town. Aisha Tyler is the new host of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, a show that I have loved since my first visit to the US back in 2003. Andrea recommended that I try out Aisha’s podcast, Girl On Guy, saying I would probably really enjoy it. I downloaded a couple of episodes and started listening to them on my walks around NYC. I loved them. In the past couple of months I have listened to over 20 of them (keep in mind they are usually 1.5-2 hours long so that’s a lot of Aisha). I went with Andrea to the book signing, bought the book and got to meet Aisha. She was very nice and absolutely hilarious.
On my very last day I decided to try the Book of Mormon lottery. Some Broadway musicals hold a lottery. You show up an hour before the show starts, put your name in a hat and 20 names get pulled out. They get to buy front row tickets for a fraction of the cost of a normal ticket. I had already tried to win tickets to see Wicked, without success. I didn’t win tickets for Book of Mormon either, but the difference with Book of Mormon is that they also sell standing room tickets. I was lucky enough (they only sell 20 of these) to buy one of these tickets. Book of Mormon was worth the 2+ hours of standing up to watch a show. It was one of the funniest shows I have ever seen. I still play the music all the time.
After all of this my trip to New York City was over. I flew back to London.
I enlisted James to help keep me awake that day as I didn’t want to sleep before normal bed time in the time zone I was in but was also pretty exhausted. I had barely slept on my flight. We paid a quick visit to Celine who was working in the M&M store on Leicester Square and walked around London a lot.
The next day it was back to Belgium and the true end to my amazing 3-week trip.
Thank you to everyone I saw during my trip for making it truly unforgettable.
If you want to see more photos check this set on Flickr.