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If you love coffee and food, and appreciate dry humour and childish antics then we're off to a good start. If you are interested traveling, DIY, home remedies, and random nonsense to you I say: Welcome :-) And I suggest you start by reading About Me to see if you'll want to punch me or not before continuing. I hope you enjoy!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Mother/Daughter Road Trip Part 4: NYC, Day #1

I love New York City. If I could marry a city, this would be the one. I dream of having an apartment there one day (c'mon lottery!). There is just something about this metropolis that calls to my heart, and I know I'm far from being the only one who feels this way.

I first discovered my love for NYC when I was 14 years old and on a week long trip with my talent agency to compete at IMTA. I could have been famous... the list of alumni includes Ashton Kutcher, Katie Holmes, Jessica Biel and most importantly: The Stifmeister himself - Sean William Scott. But instead I, ever the ping-pong ball, chose to be a sailor instead (more on that some other time). Trust me - I'm not as big of an idiot as I just made myself seem to be! Anyway, I didn't get a whole lot of time to explore between screen tests, competitions, award dinners, etc. but I did get to see a bit. And let me tell you - what I saw made me instantly smitten. I think it was Times Square that really sold me on the city, as did the people. There are so many people, and they are all so different. You really never know what you'll see in NYC. Okay, enough about the past. I'm here to tell you about NYC in 2012. Onwards:

Fast forward I-don't-want-to-talk-about-how-many years later. I had somehow (although I really doubt how hard it was) convinced my mom that The Big Apple absolutely MUST be on our road trip. Logic of drive-time and routes unfortunately made it our last stop but I was ridiculously thrilled to be going at all.

Searching for a hotel in NYC that wouldn't break the bank or put us in the slums proved to be very difficult, just as I'd suspected. I searched for many hours reading hotel reviews, checking locations on maps, cross-referencing with subway stops, and making sure anything that checked out also had all of the amenities that we required. Finally I found what we were looking for at the Queensboro Hotel in Long Island City, Queens. It was a 10 minute walk to the nearest subway station through a residential neighbourhood, and about 12 minutes from the time you walked onto the train and walked off it in Times Square. The room was pretty tiny and the beds were pretty hard, but I paid $109/night and it was clean, felt safe, had in-room wifi, a fridge, microwave and coffee maker. Plus they served free continental breakfast every morning (only until 9am though - too early for us night-owls) and free off-street parking. I would definitely recommend the Queensboro Hotel to anyone willing to sacrifice a bit of time, space and bed comfort. Besides - when you're in NYC the last thing you'll be doing is sleeping or hanging out in your hotel room.

Mom and I weren't sure how much we were going to end up using the subway so we purchased a 7-day MetroCard for $29 each which gave us unlimited subway rides 24/7. As it turns out, we didn't take the subway as much as we thought, we just ended up spending more time in one location for most of the day as opposed to the city-wide tours we intended on having. Whether or not I'd get another pass would depend on how long I were staying for and where I were staying. And as a note - the MTA is actually SO easy to navigate and runs so often that you'll rarely wait more than a few minutes for the next train. It's much more efficient than the horrifying TTC in Toronto.

If you're going to be headed to NYC, make sure you check out the New York Pass, an all-in-one pass to over 70 top-rated attractions. I purchased a 3-day pass for each of us, but I swear you'd need at least a week to do it all (challenge accepted)! It was SO HOT during our entire vacation that this gave us the added bonus of escaping the suffocating heat into air conditioned bliss that wasn't crowded by loiterers that were in every store.

But seriously, enough rambling. Here are some of the things we saw/did on the first full day in Manhattan:

1) When it's nasty-hot, either FDNY or the city (not sure which) does this:
Genius, no?
2) Ripley's Believe it or Not! is always a good time (and free with our New York Passes!).

3) So is Madame Tussaud's New York, right next-door. We got to "meet" the likes of Bob Marley, Princess Diana, Will & Kate, Morgan Freeman, Brad & Angie and many more. Wax museums are actually super awesome (even more so when they are free with the New York Pass). Just sayin'. 

4) Spy The Exhibit is seriously one of the most interesting exhibits I've ever visited. I learned a lot about the techniques that spies, both past and present, use to pass information while keeping their identity a secret. A LOT more goes on around us than we would ever realize. That's pretty badass. Kinda wish I were a spy. Kinda.
*Also free with New York Pass

5) Cake Boss Cafe is pretty disappointing in appearance, but the desserts (at least the ones we tried) are really freaking good. This place is set in a cafeteria-like setting in the basement of Discovery Times Square and is ridiculously overpriced so it's very clear that it's mainly a tourist trap. Not to mention, the staff didn't appear to know how to wipe down a table. However!!!! The Tiramisu and Lobster Tail are SO GOOD (and SO PRETTY). I died and went to pastry heaven, especially after trying the Lobster Tail. Just get it to go if you must :-)
Mmmm Cake Boss Tiramisu

6) After visiting Spy The Exhibit and the Cake Boss Cafe, we came out onto the street to a ridiculous thunderstorm. There was a mad dash for umbrellas, while some people were busting out those plastic ponchos and others were fashioning rain suits out of wet umbrella bags. Cops were playing "bouncers" at some of the bigger stores like Disney just to make sure things didn't get out of hand. It was ridiculous. But it looked cool:
Times Square at about 3pm. Crazy storm made it crazy dark!

7) M&Ms World in Times Square. Need I say more?

8) Olive Garden in Times Square. Delicious peach bellinis and Ravioli di Portobello, so-so salad, tasteless breadsticks, miserable hosts and bartenders and crappy service. Once we got our meals, we didn't even see the server once. No making sure everything was good, no drink refills, nothing at all. We had been finished eating for over 20 minutes before I went to search for someone to get our server to bring us our bill. It was tempting to just walk out but - aside from not wanting to get into trouble - I wanted to take my meal to go for later as I hadn't even eaten 1/2 of it. I would not go back and I would not recommend, mostly based on service and cleanliness of washrooms (they were a hold-your-nose-and-hover kinda deal).

9) The Empire State Building is a must for everyone who visits NYC. The view from 86 stories up is stunning. We chose to go up just because that's how it worked out. Am I ever glad we did. There is just something about city lights at night. Check it out:
*Noteworthy: Had we waiting until the following night, we could have been serenaded by a classical saxophone player who plays every Thursday - Saturday night from 10pm-1am.
Times Square as seen from the Empire State Building. So damn pretty.

And that just about wraps up our first full day in NYC. Hopefully you discovered a thing or two while reading this slightly longer than usual post. I told you I had a lot to share! Day #2 to follow ASAP.

Indy thought he'd help me proof-read (sorry - it's pretty dark). If anything is messed up, it's all his fault.

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