What Up New York!?

Friday, October 14, 2011
I am fortunate enough to have my big sister (sorority big sister that is) be in a graduate nursing program at NYU.  I was so happy for her when I heard she would be moving to NYC, but also extremely excited to go visit her.  I had never been to New York City, and I was dying to see what all the hype was about.  After pushing back dates multiple times Nikki and I found a date that worked for us both.  Our friend Erica who lives in the DC area dropped out of the trip a week before and I was reluctant to travel there by myself.
I knew I was going to take a bus up to NY and assumed I should go with a big bus company; Grey Hound.  Nikki recommended me to take the Bolt Bus.  I was reluctant to book with them but after multiple phone calls to Grey Hound asking what the pickup address was in Baltimore I decided I’d give Bolt Bus a try.  The purchasing process was easy and I was very happy to get a round trip ticket, nonstop for 44 bucks. 
Of course it took my entirely too long to pack for my big New York debut; but I needed to blend in the crowd and try not to stick out like a sore thumb.  After trying on and laying out almost everything in my closet it seemed; I found a few outfits that would work.  I was told to bring one “fancy’ dress for one of the nights and then a regular going out outfit for the other.  Me being the over packer I am, brought 3 dressy outfits and 3 normal out on the town outfits.  
I took a half day off at work. (Working the first half at home)  My mother was nice enough to drive me all the way to inner city Baltimore to the Bus stop.  I had read reviews online that it was not the safest place to leave your car, and upon arriving to the bus stop I could definitely see why.  I boarded the bus and was lucky enough to get some pretty awesome seats.  I sat in the very back of the bus. Some might see that location as gross, right near the bathroom; but I saw it as an opportunity to not have to sit next to anyone and be able to spread out.  My seats were raised a lot higher than the other seats on the bus; making me feel like the queen I think I am, overseeing the entire bus.  We left at the heart of rush hour so a 3 hr and 40 min bus ride turned into a 5 + hour bus ride. I entertained myself pretty well the first half of the trip. I didn’t touch my book; which was expected, but decided to tweet everything that came to mind and check in-to the different states I was crossing through on facebook.  Halfway through our trip we stopped at a rest stop in New Jersey.  This experience was interesting to say the least.  I was shocked to see men pumping gas for customers. I then quickly remembered that it was illegal in NJ to pump your own gas (weirdoes) and continued to walk into the rest stop to use the little girl’s room.  I refused to use the microscopic facilities on the bus that everyone seemed to use.  I bought a Cosmo for entirely too much and reached for some beef jerky but dropped once I saw a price tag of $8.00. Seriously, that much for some jerky? 
I hopped back on the bus and we slowly but surely made our way closer and closer to NY.  I was keeping track how far away we were from the city with my handy dandy iPhone GPS down to the mile.  Hitting refresh every 5 mins. Finally I tore my eyes from the GPS app and out of nowhere the beautiful concrete jungle was visible out in the distance.  I looked like such a dweeb taking twit pics of the city from the bus window. I was just so overfilled with joy and happiness that I was going somewhere where movies routinely take place and where famous people walk around.
Right before the tunnel there was a huge back up from the toll booth.   I had been amazed on how many toll booths we had gone through.  I it would have cost me $20 bucks just in tolls to get there, the bus was definitely the way to go. As I sat in the dark in the tunnel with no cell phone service I could not help but get teary eyed and think that every spot I looked at was the spot that Princess Diana died….. I started to get nervous about my lateness when Nikki kept asking me where I was and said they were starving.  Nikki read the pasta carryout options to me and I decided on cheese ravioli, only because it was the cheapest.  
After what seemed like an eternity we finally were making progress and went through the tunnel.   The bus driver made an announcement saying they were going to change the drop off spot. This of course had me in a fluster.  I quickly tried to GPS the difference in locations on my iphone and before I knew it we were getting dropped off.. I got off the bus as quickly as possible, petrified someone off the street was going to run and grab my blue paisley Vera Bradley duffle.
Once I got my bag and stepped back I was amazed by the city.  It was everything I imagined it would be.  After getting over my initial shock I went to the corner hoping to catch a taxi.  I stood waving like a mad woman.  But still to no avail not a single taxi even slowed down.  I think decided “okay maybe I should try the thumb thing.” I stuck out my thump and put it out as far as I can; still no progress.  Completely fed up and thinking that the city must hate me, I called Nikki  and asked her if there was a special trick to this or a secret code.  The first thing Nikki says, “Tara… Where are you a standing.” I look and I am standing almost up against the wall of a building, aka the furthest away from the street I could possibly be. As I am having this epiphany I see a business man just walk into the street in front of me and flag down a cab like its nothing.  I hung up with Nikki and decided that the only way to get a cab around here was to walk into the street.  I mimicked the business man I saw before me and within seconds I got a cab.  I being so excited to accomplish something I open up the door to find this little cool Asian sitting on the other side.  She looks at me like I am a ghost and I proceed to shove my bag into the cab. She screams “I am not done yet one more second!” “Oops! I thought we were sharing a cab.” I said as she exited the cab from the other side still looking at me in disgust.  Sorry sister I’m new! I climb in and told the cab driver Nikki’s address.
I walked into Nikki’s apartment building.  It reminded me of downtown Frederick.  Having old townhouses made into apartments, but much much taller!  I was carrying a heavy duffle bag and looked around for an elevator, there were none in sight.  I began to walk up the basically spiral staircase.  Nikki must have heard my clunking and screamed from the top for me to hurry up.   There were so many stairs that just seemed never ending.
I finally made it to Nikki’s floor, now dripping in sweat, and gave Nikki a big old bear hug.  It was so good to see her. I hadn’t seen here in about 6 months.  I met her fun roommates, both also in the nursing program at NYU, Tori and Jessica.  She showed me around her adorable apartment.  It had a long hallway with 3 bedrooms.  Nikki had the largest room with this cool loft which I am still convinced she should use for a secret fort area but she uses for storage.  I chatted about my long trip and spoke my sadness of going through the tunnel where Princess Diana died and Nikki quickly belted out a laugh. “Tara that was the tunnel in Paris…” Yet another blonde moment I had.
 Her friend from college, Amber was already there when I arrived, along with my ravioli.  I opened the food box ready to dig in and starving for the trip.  There were literally 3 raviolis in that thing! I could already tell this was going to be a rough night with nothing but some cereal and 3 raviolis in my stomach.  We all ate and freshened up.  I was told to bring a fancy outfit for tonight and of course I packed everything but the kitchen sink and still did not feel like the options I had were cute enough for NYC.  But I settled on a black skirt and silky pink tank top with cute black peep toe pumps and a white boyfriend blazer.  Jessica ended up not being able to out with us because her boyfriend was visiting her from Jersey and did not bring a fancy outfit. We all pre-gamed a bit then walked a bit and caught a cab to one of her roommates’ friend’s house.  This apartment too did not have an elevator so I made the climb in my clod hoppers up the stairs.  Tori’s friend Adrian met us at the door and we walked in.  I was perplexed when I walked into an adorably decorated apartment with teal paint on the walk.  I learned soon that he found this place on craigslist and lived with 2 other girls.   We met one of the roommates soon after.  She had just gotten home from a flip cup contest and was beyond hilarious and entertaining.  Adrian was a very good host offering us absolute vodka drinks that we all took graciously.  I also asked about the Heineken lights and was given one.  We had a blast just talking, drinking and listening to music from some DJ’s mix.  Adrian was very upset we had never heard of this DJ.  We then switched to funny you tube video’s where I shared my latest fav. “The talking dog tease” Adrian’s friend, Benedict showed up right before we left and seemed like a nice fellow.
We all hoped in a cab and went to the meat packing district. I was super confused about the name and wondered why the heck I was told to wear a dressier outfit tonight if we were going to a meat packing district.  I stepped out of the cab and instantly saw pretty people that looked like they had a ton of money and all that jazz.  We walked to one club after another that Adrian said he could get us all into with a roof top bar, but none of them would let us in.  Finally after feeling like we were the ugliest girls in the world for not being allowed into a damn club; we decided this fancy part of town was not in the stars for us tonight.
We showed up outside of this other bar called 230 Fifth Ave, roof top bar.  Once again Adrian and Benedict could not work their magic and Nikki, Tori and I were about to give up on the night when the boys slipped the doorman a few hundred dollars and in we went.  We were led by a very attractive hostess to an elevator that took us to the roof top of the building.  She then handed us off to our waitress who led us to our own personal table.  From the moment we stepped out of the elevator I saw all of these people in these red robes with hoods.  I was freaked out.. Where the heck was I?  Was this a cult? Was I going to be a part of their weekly sacrifice? But by the time we got to our table I went from being completely sketched out to really really wanting one of those robes!  Once we were seated all I kept thinking was this is so awesome.  To our right was the Empire State Building in perfect close up view and everywhere else were twinkling lights of the city and the stars.  The boys order a big bottle of absolute and a plethora of juices and other mixers.  We all were so happy to finally be somewhere let alone a place as awesome as this.  

{Nikki, Me, Amber}
      {This is Benedict}            

It became chilly and the waitress noticed and asked us if we wanted robes.. “why yes we do!” the girls replied.  The robes came and I was in nerd heaven taking pictures.  Before we knew it the bottle was gone and the boys order a huge bottle of champagne which we quickly devoured. 

    {Cheers}

{Adrian and Tori}

{Putting my hood up}
                             {So happy to have the robe}                             
Soon after we decided it was getting too cold for us and we wanted to check out the actual club part of this place.  But before that we needed to go potty.  The bathroom was crazy.  It was just doors in the hallway of the bar that were your own personal little room with sink and toilet.  I was amazed of course.. it’s the little things like personal toilet rooms that make my day.  We clunked down the steps and walked in to the most amazing bar/club ever.  It was very dark but all around us were windows; no walls.  It was beautiful seeing nothing again but the pretty city lights.  Around the windows were these pretty curtains with hit pink lights. 

Somehow some of us got split up and Amber, Nikki and I decided to head home.  On the way out I almost screamed seeing this very life like jaguar staring at me. 

We caught a cab back home and stopped by this 24 hr pizza joint Nikki swears by called Ray’s.  Amber and I got a slice of pizza and Nikki got an onion bagel with chive cream cheese.  We ate like hogs and stumbled back to Nikki’s apartment and up those endless freaking stairs.  Amber pulled the cushion off of the futon and brought it in Nikki’s room and we all fell asleep.
The next morning came too early and I woke up thinking I was dying.  The level of thirst I was experiencing was not okay.  We said our goodbyes to Amber who had to go to a wedding.  I showered and tried to get myself ready for sigh seeing as best I could.
First on our list was to get some coffee and breakfast.  We went back to the 24 hour pizza joint near her house and both got onion bagels with chive cream cheese.  We then walked nearby to the Washington Square Park and sat and ate our lunch.  We chatted up a storm despite our hangovers and people watched.  It was a very beautiful day and a lot of people were out and about.  We saw a young man reading near the fountain with a sign “Advice $0.25” and people were actually stopping and asking him for advice.  What an awesome way to make some money eh?  We also saw a group of men building a piano which was cool.  We were right next to the Washington Square Park Arch that I of course took a picture of and reminded me of that other arch thing in Paris I think it is? 

 
We finished up and took the subway which was an experience in its own.   We made our way to the Brooklyn Bridge.  I loved it and snapped a bunch of photos.  I loved the love locks placed along the bridge.  Then Nikki decided to ruin my experience and tell me about how there is 1 suicide a day from people jumping off the bridge into oncoming traffic or climbing across the steel beams and jumping into the river. The second option would be so much less selfish. 

{Brooklyn Bridge}

{Love Locks}
We then walked to ground zero and walked into a building nearby where you could look up and over the fences to see the progress of the upcoming memorial.  It was very sad and an eye opener.  Not much more I can say about that.

{Ground Zero}

After that we walked along the Hudson River for awhile and through Battery Park where we stopped and watched a really funny group of street performers. 

We walked to where the Staten Island Ferry picks up and were onboard in no time.  We went by the Statue of Liberty and it was awesome.  On the way back we sat inside the ferry because it was getting chilly outside. 

 {Nikki and I on the Staten Island Ferry}
 {Statue of Liberty}
 {Ellis Island}
Once we docked we went to Times Square, per my request, and finally sat down to eat at the Brooklyn Diner (Have no clue why it was called that.. we weren’t in Brookyln).  We ordered hummus as an appetizer and I was in heaven.  I took the heifer route and ordered a cheeseburger and fries.  

 {Humms!}
{Nikki’s Asian Chicken Salad}
 {My burger and Fries}
Before leaving Times Square I had to take one of those nerdy photos with myself and the flashing building banners in the background.

 {Where the NYE ball drops!}
We hoped the subway back to Nikki’s neck of the woods and made a pit stop at the new (and only) US Topshop.  I was beat and didn’t find anything I wanted so we headed back to the apartment and up the stairs of hell.  We took a long cat nap before getting up and showering for the night. 

Tori asked if I had another fancy outfit because Adrian was at a penthouse party for one of America’s top economists Nouriel Roubini and also one his favorite professors.  Thank goodness I had another dressy dress to wear and threw on a black silky tank top dress with gold beaded embellishments.  Jessica couldn’t come with us again because of the whole boyfriend not having a fancy outfit thing.  But we vowed to meet up with her later since we were heading to the party pretty early.
We decided to walk and ended up walking all over kingdom come trying to find this place.  On the long journey I saw about a hundred piles of old suitcases and grocery carts but no homeless people in sight. Where the heck were they?
We finally arrived and got into the elevator.  (Thank goodness an elevator! Finally!) I thought Tori was joking (she had been there before) when she said the elevator opened up into his penthouse.  Low and behold it did.  The doors opened and there we were, 2 NYU student and little old me entering a penthouse full of economists, model looking women and just all around prestige people.  To say the least I felt way way out of place but it was awesome.  Supposedly Mr. Roubini invites his fav students to his little soirees, Adrian being one of his favs and in turn Adrian inviting his friends.  I was immediately taken aback by the modern art and furniture.  We went outside on the patio where there was a nice little set up of snacks and more importantly free alcohol.  I was in love with the little margarita maker machine. 

 {The Man Himself}
 {His Stairway}
We sat and chatted amongst ourselves.  Eventually, Adrian gave us a tour of the place and I was even more amazed.  He also introduced us to some fancy important people who I forget. (I’m thinking some journalists and photographers or something) Then finally we got to meet the man himself, the host with the most, Mr. Roubini.  He was so nice and seemed happy to have us in his home.  He introduced us to his 20 some year old girl friend who was an inspiring lingerie designer.  Once again fancy people.  We went back outside to sit down and I looked to my left and saw these glowing plastic wonderful deck chairs.  I walked closer and I saw something even more outstanding.. Little gnome stools! I was so giddy when I saw this.  I was too chicken to take a picture of it in fear of looking ridiculous in front of the dukes and dutches that I forced Adrian to take a picture of it J It was just so amazing to find this little guy amongst all of this modern expensive furniture.

{Little gnome stool}
  After a few hours of putting my staring problem into work, Nikki and I decided to ditch the joint and meet up with Jessica at a bar right around the corner from Nikki’s place called “13th Step”
We took a cab back in fear of getting lost again and went on into the bar.  This place was very casual but awesome and played nothing but 90’s music. I was def taking back to my childhood, a time when Backstreet boys, *NSYNC  and Spice Girls ruled.  We all danced and had a ball.

{Jessica, Nikki, Tori, Me- at our corner in 13th Step}
We stopped at Ray’s 24 Hr Pizza joint again and I got a bagel and we headed back to the apartment.  I actually did not remember the dreaded stairs this time which was a plus.
The next morning I was sad to leave but completely exhausted.  I showered and packed up my stuff.  We still have a few hours to kill before I had to leave for my bus so Nikki took me to this brunch place called “The Yuca Bar” It was a cute little Spanish place.  We both order crab cakes topped with guacamole, poached egg and hollandaise sauce with a side of breakfast potatoes.  We were excited the lunch came with a mimosa or Bloody Mary. But when we went to order the drinks we were shot down saying this was only included after noon, so we got coffee instead. 

{The best brunch ever- Crab cakes topped with guac, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce}
Afterwards we walked into knick knack stores for me to buy something NYC related for Wade but seemed to only find things smoking pipe related.  Finally we found a store with a tiny little Statue of Liberty which I purchased for an insane amount and we made the trek back to Nikki’s.  Before going, in I took a picture of the oldest pub in NYC that Nikki lived right next to called, McSorely’s Old Ale House 1854. I was pretty bummed I couldn’t get a beer in there but that is on the to-do list for next time.

{Oldest Pub in NYC}

I gathered my things and said my thank yous, good byes and nice to meet yous and I was off in the cab to the bus stop. 
I got to the bus stop in plenty of time and stood on the street for what seemed like hours.  Finally we boarded the bus and I was not lucky enough to get my grand queen seats again like on the way to New York.  I sat in the window seat next to this ten year old little girl who feel asleep almost instantly and snored for a good portion of the way.  I was obviously not as cozy this time but tried to go to sleep.  I slept for about an hour before awaking and attempting to read my book.  When that lasted only a few mins I decided to whip out the good old iPhone and play “Words with friends” all the way home. Wade was waiting for me at the bus stop in Baltimore and I was very happy to see him.  I told him all of my stories all the way home.  Good thing I got home at a decent hour so I had the rest of the day to relax and catch up on my sleep from that crazy weekend. 
Although I did not see any celebrities it was an amazing trip.  I got to sightsee, meet new people and experience things I never would have had the chance to otherwise.  I cannot wait to go back in November and do some more sightseeing (Empire State building, the Frying Pan bar, McSorley’s Pub) and see my beloved big sis.  

I LOVE NEW YORK!
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