Sunday, February 12, 2012

New York night #1

I thought I should write about my trip to NY in December 2011. I've already forgotten what it was like so better late than never.
So as these often goes, it started on a whim. I had money saved for no particular reason (not to mention I thought it'd be a nice graduate gift to myself) and Steph always wanted to go to NY during Christmas time. Before I knew it, we had booked a hotel and plane tickets in June. To be honest I wasn't crazy about NY before this. Mostly because of the Yankees and it's general over-confidence. How dare they say it's greatest city in the world. Anyway, I went because Steph really wanted to go and I thought why not. Traveling is traveling.
We decided to stay in Brooklyn. Steph was scared of bed bugs even though that had happened a while ago and it was cheaper anyway. We tried to get some friends to come but everyone chickened out so it was just the two of us which I didn't mind anyway. Please realize this was a big deal for me. For the first time I was:

  • Traveling the farthest I'd ever been
  • Traveling without my family 
  • Being away from my family for the longest time in my life
  • Going on a plane for the first time in 10 years
  • Spending the most money I've ever spent
  • Basically being on my own for a week. No chores, no responsibilities. A real vacation.
Oh and this is pretty much for my benefit. I'm going to try to be as detailed as possible. So it'll be boring for you. But enjoy if you want. :)

Day 1:
Our plane left from Ontario airport at 6AM. Crazy right? But I was in charge of the flight and I got the cheapest I could find.
We had a layover in Dallas, TX. (I really did choose the cheapest flight). We hung around for a couple of hours and ate pizza hut (tasted kinda weird). The flight was pretty predictable. Some turbulence that had me questioning my life but nothing major. We finally landed in LaGuardia airport around 7pm, got our luggage and stepped outside. Now, we had planned for this trip for six months. I was expecting a snow storm. There we are all bundled up outside looking for a taxi and its like 60 degrees.Half disappointed and half grateful. We found a line of taxis and this guy directing people. He asks us where we're going and we say Brooklyn. He directed us to a taxi, the driver put our luggage int the trunk and we got in. Simple right? Well we told the guy we wanted to go to Brooklyn. I had memorized the address and neighborhood (apparently NY is all about "neighborhoods". they should just split up into cities or something cuz it gets confusing) anyway, he gets all pissed saying we didn't tell him when we got in the car. and he has the thickest accent. he makes this crazy u-turn and goes back. I thought he was going to kick us out. also realize this is my first time in a taxi. so he goes back and gets out. I guess he was asking for directions. I'm not sure what was going on. I'm still not sure what happened. He got back in and took off.  Speeding, naturally. We get there pretty quickly but not after I dropped his GPS when he asked me to enter the address. I said sorry but I wasn't that sorry. He was pretty rude. Luckily Steph is super nice even in uncomfortable situations. So she tipped him and he seemed okay after that. Helped us with the luggage and everything.
Okay so granted it was night so everything looked scary. But there was a lot of graffiti in the neighborhood. It was not a great first impression. The hotel was in Williamsburg which I guess is a "hip" section of Brooklyn with like boutique shops or whatever. The hotel is actually a couple of blocks away from the stores and more towards apartments, right next to the BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway). Anyway it seemed kinda scary even throughout the trip. So we get inside and it is tiny. It reminded me of a doctor's office building in Tijuana. Anyway, it was nice though. The people were really nice. They even had a bellhop guy. We finally made it to our room at the top floor, lie down, relax, unpack a little and then take off cuz we were hungry. Like I said, we had done (or more like I had done) some serious research. Turns out there was a nice Italian restaurant right behind the hotel. We asked the bellhop exactly how to get there 'cause we didn't want to walk around at night. Turns out the back exit stair led literally right next to the restaurant. Super convenient.
It was super quiet outside but we walk in there and we're greeted with very loud very happy people. It was crazy. The restaurant was skinny but long and everyone in there acts like they're family. Everyone is standing up and kissing each other on the cheek, speaking Italian, cursing in a happy way, hugging..ect. I felt like I was in the middle of a Sopranos episode.

That's me. Not glamorous, I know. It had been a long day of flying. See how tiny the restaurant is? The waiters had to squeeze by me to get through. We were seated right in the middle. So anyway, we ordered some champagne to celebrate, some pasta and bread. The waiters were all old and hard of hearing so it was a bit uncomfortable. Not to mention that Steph and I were the only non-white people there. Not to be racist, but it wasn't hard to notice. We felt a little out of place. But everyone was friendly. Especially the guy that paid for our meal. Yeah. Crazy right? So there's this standing right next to me talking as loud as he possibly could. He saw us staring at him like "wtf, dude?". He felt really bad and started talking to us. Obviously we were tourists. And man can this guy talks. He was like old. Like 60 but we still lied to him about where we were staying and all that. Just to be safe. So turns out he was really really nice. He offered to take us to lunch sometime to show us the city and gave us his card (yea, sure we'll go to lunch with a stranger). And then when the check came he literally took it and said he knew the owner and he'd take care of it. So that's how we got a free dinner our first night in New York City. and it wasn't cheap.
So overall it was a pretty amazing night. Just being in a different place and seeing different people (their Brooklyn accents were so cool--not the taxi driver). And that was our first day/night in NY.

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