Monday, August 18, 2008

NYC Trip....

WARNING: This post is LONG, it includes my entire NYC trip.

Right now I am writing this in a plane flying somewhere over the the midwest, going back to Los Angeles. This makes me sad, but on the bright side I had an amazing trip.

--- Getting to New York ----
My flight was scheduled to leave at 7am Thursday morning. This would ensure that I would get to New York City mid-afternoon and able to do something on my first day. Because I am so brilliant, I decided to go out the night before to a concert to see Low vs Diamond. This proved to be a bad idea. I came home late, even though I needed to be out the door at 4am to catch my flight. I set my alarm clock, but neglected to actually turn on the alarm. I woke up at 5:30am, an hour and a half before I am supposed to be airborne. Needless to say, I would miss my flight. At that point I called Continental to see what my options were. They were able to book me on the next flight at noon for only a same-day flight fee of $50. This could have been worse, but the travel gods were with me. My new arrival time would be 9pm EST.

I took my time packing and even had time to go out for breakfast. I eventually took the Gold Line to Union Station where the LAX-Fly-Away left for the airport. Security was fast and only mildly annoying. While I was waiting for my flight to leave, a gentleman comes up behind me and asks how I am using my phone to access the internet on my computer. I explain to him which software and Sprint plan I am using. At this point he tells me that he is a member of the Continental President's Club, the VIP lounge for the airline, and would like to invite me. At this point part of me is thinking that he thinks I am pretty and wants to possibly rape me, but I still go.

The VIP lounge is sweet. It's behind this unimpressive door (looked like a janitor's closet) but it opens into a very fancy waiting room. There are sound proof family rooms (for the loud wieners) with kid's DVDs. Nice leather chairs, open bar, snacks, free wifi, and staff walking around making sure everything is fine. Did I mention open bar? Since I'm traveling I figured it was okay for me to start drinking before noon.

The gentleman who invited spent five minutes with me, at which time he informed that he had a flight to catch and left. I was left alone to enjoy the lounge. Sadly I only had about 20 minutes before my flight left. However, the travel gods again smiled on me and my flight was delayed an hour and I was able to further enjoy my temporary VIP status. Eventually I reluctantly I had to leave to go find my seat in the crappy coach section. This experience made me decide two things: (1) I am going to be rich and (2) I will return the favor and invite random people to VIP rooms.

The trip was uneventful and I eventually landed in Newark, New Jersey. From Jersey to New York there is a short train ride. On my way to boarding the train I saw this girl with 4 pieces of luggage (one of them was this elongated cardboard box) struggling to get everything into the train. Being a sucker for pretty girls, I offered to help. She was an senior at Harvard studying ecology, and was coming back from a three month field trip in Malaysia. She was trying get to Boston via bus. I offered to help her get to the bus station in New York. We arrived at Penn Station and from there we needed to get to the Port Authority Bus Station. Anyone who is familiar with NYC would realize that the bus terminal was a short subway ride from where we were. Of course, she had the back luck of getting somebody who did not know anything about NYC to help her. We went to surface and asked people for directions, the told us that we were 10 blocks from where we needed to be, and then we proceeded to walk five blocks in the wrong direction, so now we were 15 blocks away from where needed to go. At this point we gave up and started looking for a cab. This is easier said than done. I could not believe that it took us so long to hail a cab, this is supposed to be NYC, the taxi capital of the world. We eventually managed to get a cab.

Earlier in the evening she lost her wallet and I offered to pay for her ticket to boston. Becky suggested that this could have been a scam. Eventually she did find her waller, and paid for my first NYC cab ride, so no scam. We figured out where to buy tickets and the terminal where it was leaving. I left her waiting for her bus, although I would have liked to see her actually get on the bus is was almost 1am. Lisa was waiting for me at her apartment, I called her earlier in the night telling her that I was helping a random stranger and did not know when I was going to reach her apartment. It was time for me to head to her place.

I had printed directions that told me how to get the apartment from Penn Station, but now I was somewhere else entirely. Even so, I managed to follow the directions and get on the right train. I called Lisa when I reached the corner where her apartment was, or so I thought. It seems that I accidentally mistyped her address (missed one number) and I was a couple of miles away from her. At this point I gave up and took a taxi to her place. I finally got there past 1am, I was originally supposed to be there at 3pm. I was tired.

----- Exploring NYC -----

Lisa, Tony, and I went out the next morning (Friday) to have breakfast with her sister Laura. This was her last day in New York after doing an internship at a law firm. After breakfast Lisa and I went to Washington Square park to see the Washington Arch. We then went to Time Square, the UN , went to the top of Rockerfeller center, Radio City Music Hall, and St. Patrick's Cathedral. Later I went (alone) to the Museum of Modern Art (all the pictures of the art here). It was crowded because they were giving free admission this day. When it got too crowded I left and walked along 5th Avenue where the fancy stores (like Tiffany's . Near the museum there was a piece of the Berlin Wall which was really interesting. The thing that made my day was finding the famous 5th Ave Apple store, which is open 24hrs. See below along with some of my favorite pictures of the day [add pictures]. We ended the night with a Broadway musical (technically off-broadway), called Gipsy. This is the story of a performer turned stripper. The music was good, but the plot left much to be desired.

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On Saturday I went on a solo trip of the money places. First I took the ferry to Stanton Island to get a good view of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I then visited Wall St., the NY Stock Exchange, the U.S. District Courthouse, City Hall and the World Trade Center. I stood for a few moments at the WTC. If left me stunned, to think that the empty space I was looking at once held two massive towers. I eventually made my way to the Brooklyn Bridge and walked across it. At that point I was too tired to walk back so I decided to take the subway walk to Lisa's apartment. Because of construction, the trains were mislabeled and delayed, it took me a long time to get back. I barely had time to sit down and drink something before we had to head out again. We went to see a concert with Angie Aparo at the Living Room. Becky was taking a bus from Maine (coming back from camp) that afternoon but there were some delays so we met her on our way to the concert in one of the subway stations. She had to bring all her bags with her to the venue. Good show, picked up sushi on the way back and sleep. Here are some of my favorite pictures from that day.

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---My Last Day and the Return ----

Sunday morning Becky and I spent walking around central park. The two main things that I wanted to see was the Bethesda Fountain [add link]since it's famous (it was even in the inflight movie on my way back to LAX) and the Obelisk (aka Cleopatra's Needle). We stopped there a long time, admiring something that was thousands of years old. See pictures below.

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We took a cab back. I felt like a real New Yorker being able to spout-off directions of where I wanted to go. Got back to the apartment packed, said goodbye to everyone and left. By this point I was really comfortable taking the subway and finding the train back to Newark. The ride to airport, and the security check was uneventful. I had lunch a random mexican restaurant (not very good) and boarded my flight. Sadly my return trip was not as exciting as the one to get to NY.


-----Conclusion ----

I wish that I had gone to New York sooner as planned a long time ago (sniff). However, I got to visit great friends and a great city. I had an amazing time! I really like the city, at no point did I feel overwhelmed. In fact, I was a little disappointed with the size of the sky scrappers, for some reason I was imagining them bigger, but still pretty cool. I concluded that New York buildings are just like the ones on Los Angeles, but just more of them.

I could live here.

This is a great ending to my summer. Tomorrow I have to go back to school. At least its my last year of law school.

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