I awoke from a night of extremely lucid dreams, signalling that my body had finally recognised that I was on holiday and was beginning the process of unwinding the tangled mess of my brain that I had built up over the past year. It was a good feeling and something I had been waiting for ever since I landed in the US but I had never imagined it would’ve taken this long to occur. Still flush with a small victory I roused Rebecca from our slumber and set about preparing for the day ahead. It was shaping up to be a wallet draining affair.
I hit up Yelp again to find a breakfast place that was close by. Narrowing the search down I honed in on a cafe inside a hotel not far from us, the Cafe Edison. The menu was a simple affair, a welcome change from the massive menus we’d become accustomed to over the past week or so. We ordered ourselves up a hearty breakfast whilst basking in the rustic architecture, figuring out where we’d head to first. Whilst I had always known that I wanted to visit Nintendo World when I came to New York we had past it the night before on our hunt for the dinner place I had tracked down and had to refrain from going in there prematurely, but today it we would be making a bee line for it.
A short walk later saw us at our destination, the 2 story store entirely dedicated to the world of Nintendo. The bottom floor was almost completely dedicated to the DS with dozens of the handheld consoles dotting the show room floor. I fiddled around with the comically large DSi XL for a while before catching up with Rebecca who’d started looking over the wall of Pokemon figurines plastering an entire wall. There wasn’t much more for us on this level so we headed upstairs to the Wii/merchandise/history area and instantly I knew this is what I was looking for. There was an entire section dedicated to all sorts of Nintendo memorabilia including a working Famicon (the console before the NES). I spent a good half hour ogling the various things before shifting my gaze to the merchandise, eventually leaving there $100 poorer with several bits of swag in tow:
We’d also noticed that there was a Lego store not too far away so we wandered over there to have a look. It was patently obvious that this place was far more popular than the Nintendo store we had just come from with space being at a premium as you were trying to move around it. The audience was however a generation younger with the majority of the people in there being under 12. There were some impressive Lego sculptures in every section of the store but apart from that it was pretty much just your run of the mill retail store which was a little disappointing. I left there with my wallet in tact, but with a good dozen pictures to remind me of the short time I spent in there.
Just for kicks we decided to make our way to the Apple flagship store next to Central Park. Rebecca wanted to see if she could get a new case for her iPhone but realistically we just wanted to see the spectacle that is the giant glass cube protruding out of the underbelly of gotham city. Walking up to it I was impressed by how clean they’d managed to keep it in this pollution ridden city but that was instantly overtaken by the swarm of people coming in and out of the store. We made our way down and were instantly greeted by a swarm of people the likes of which I’ve never seen before, with nearly every display item being fondled by a potential customer and every employee either helping someone or frantically running around the store. I had wondered about the lack of Apple advertising in this giant metropolis and this provided the answer, they just don’t need it. With Rebecca coming up empty for a suitable replacement case for her iPhone we left the Apple store and started ambling towards Central Park.
We were initially going to go into Central Park Zoo but it was going to close no less than an hour after we arrived there. On advice from our recently returned from the US friends, Nick and Dannae, we started making a beeline for our closest retailer of the New York City Ticket. It’s basically a collection of tickets for local attractions at a discounted rate and can be purchased at each of the attractions themselves. Since we were in Central Park the closest one was American Museum of Natural History so we headed over there. The attendant had told us that the last show for the day in the planetarium had just started so she gave us a second set of tickets to come back to catch it another day. With that in mind we did a quick tour of the 2nd level before the museum closed for the day, sending us home.
Tomorrow is set to be filled with more shopping and sight seeing although hopefully more streamlined than we did today. My foot has been giving me trouble again and whilst it was fine for most of the day the walk home flared it up to the point of being properly painful. Thankfully it seems to get better rapidly so hopefully a day of light walking won’t set it off again and I can continue to enjoy the numerous sites this metropolis has to offer.
There was a sound at the edge of my hearing, familiar yet I couldn’t quite place it. The harder I concentrated on it the more I realised it was my alarm going off which sounded like one of those alarms they use in movies for when there’s an emergency. We had an early start today as we had a plane to catch at 11:20 and didn’t want to leave anything to chance. Still it was slow going getting everything ready for our short trip over the border to the United states, our bodies not wanting to leave the sanctuary that we’d become accustomed to. We made our way there, returning the rental car and making our way to the check-in desk.
The airport was strangely deserted with only a handful of other passengers milling around. Still it took us well over an hour to get ourselves through all the checkpoints leaving us only 5 minutes to spare before the plane was scheduled to board. The plane was an interesting one being quite small (I couldn’t fully stand up in it) with only 2 rows of 2 seats but it was also a jet. Anyone who’s flown from Canberra to Sydney would know that most of the time you’re going to be flying on a turboprop plane like a Dash-8 but this was a CRJ 900. With only 80 or so seats in the craft I figured that they could be taking in, at most, $8,000 per flight which wouldn’t leave a lot of room for profit on these short hop flights. Still when we landed I saw at least another 2 of these craft decked out in the Delta colours so there must be something I’m missing here. The flight was impressively quick and smooth so I’m definitely not complaining.
Arrival at JFK brought back memories of returning home to Canberra as we were lead out onto the tarmac into a makeshift shelter. I’m guessing it was just for the short hop flights as I could see a flock of aircraft off in the distance. Finding our luggage was painless, as was getting transport into the city. No sooner had we been standing idly by the nearest road than we were offered a taxi with a flat fare into Manhattan Island. The taxi itself was pretty impressive too as it had a monitor embedded in the front seat showing the fare, live map as well as other information. We had a good fiddle with it until we hit the city line, after which we just stared slack jawed out the window at what was surrounding us.
Block by block it wasn’t really that much different than any other big city I’ve been in, with stores at the street level and high rise buildings closing around you. What impressed me though was the sheer scale of the city itself where most would have just a few blocks of high rise New York’s stretches almost as far as you can see in each direction. It took us a good 15 minutes to get to our hotel but thankfully we were able to pull up right out the front. We’d arrived early for our check-in but the room was ready for us anyway so we dumped our things and set about wandering around the nearby area. We saw shops of all kinds, street peddlers hocking all sorts of random items and being accosted no less than 10 times by people trying to get us to go to a comedy club or some other event. Rebecca wanted to check out the central park so we headed over there. It was a remarkable place to have in one of the biggest cities in the world but with my foot playing up again we cut our jaunt there short and headed back to find some dinner.
After scouring Yelp for some place cheap and delicious I came across the Tri Tip Grill, a little food joint inside 30 Rockefeller Plaza. After getting lost trying to find it we eventually tracked it down and ordered ourselves a couple sandwiches. What got me was the glass coke bottles with non-twist tops on them, which I just had to try. The food was great, even more so considering the price. Satisfied we started to amble our way back to the hotel picking up a cup of pretzel pieces to snack on. Once we were back home I started looking for places for us to visit tomorrow and was instantly overwhelmed with possibilities. Needless to say we’ll be more than able fill 7 days with just shopping if we wanted to but there’s so much more for us to see than just the inside of the stores.
I was on a high from my trip yesterday having lucked out into the air show I wasn’t able to track down and narrowly escaping any sunburn despite my late and hastily applied sunscreen. The morning however started slow as my in room air conditioner had flipped itself from the previous night choosing to bake me in the Florida heat rather than trying to freeze my head as it did the night before. I first checked my email to see if there had been any word from my travel agent so I could go about planning (or not) the extra day that I would spend here so I could see Discovery’s last launch.
Whilst I hadn’t heard from my original travel agent one of her colleagues was watching her inbox and got back to me. The flight changes would set me back a cool $150, just $2 over the limit I had given them to take action without first confirming it with me. I sent her a reply back saying to go ahead and then hit up Hotwire to secure myself a room for the night. Hoping to luck out and get a room in the airport again (saving me a few headaches) I found that there were only 3 star hotels available in the airport area, knowing this meant the airport was out of the question. Checking with the hotel directly also proved fruitless all their rooms were booked out. The room I got was extremely cheap though and only a short drive to the airport so I figured that it wasn’t too bad, plus I’d need to book the car for 2 days in order to cover tomorrow afternoon after I returned the corvette and the trip out to the Kennedy Space Centre.
Getting a car also proved to be slightly difficult. There were a few with an extremely good rate however their return point wasn’t in the airport. Not wanting to have to chance getting a cab from there to the airport I decided that I’d pay the premium to get one I could return to the terminal. This also increased the range of vehicles that were available to me, including a convertible Ford Mustang (or similar, but here’s hoping). With that booked I was all set to go to the KSC on launch day, provided nothing else made the schedule slip again.
After perusing my usual sites I thought a grand tour of Orlando would be a good way to spend the day. I had a couple markets sussed out as well as a couple of the local parks which would have provided some great photographic opportunities. I began at the Orlando Prime Outlets, basically an overgrown strip mall with factory outlets from all the major brands. A couple shops caught my attention but there wasn’t anything really unique there, I could get all of this at home for pretty similar prices. When I’m overseas I like to get things that I just can’t get at home like the hand made turtle lamp we got whilst on Turtle Island. After about an hour of walking around I noticed that it was getting harder to walk normally thanks to a pain in the middle of my left foot. I sat down to give it some time to rest.
Upon resuming walking however the pain hadn’t quelled as much as I had expected it to. Fearing the worst I went back to my hotel room and let it rest for a couple hours, devouring a couple chapters of Pandora’s Star in the process. Getting up and walking around I felt I a little better so I decided to visit one of the parks I had tracked down. By the time I reached the car I knew that walking on this foot wasn’t doing it any good but I decided to go for the drive anyway, wanting to get the most out of this last full day I had with my yellow beauty. I didn’t end up getting out of the car since the area I wanted to go to was sectioned off for a concert they were holding tonight. If it wasn’t for my foot I’d probably be there right now, blast it all.
Coming back to the hotel room feeling defeated I had resigned myself to shamefully calling room service again (3rd time at this hotel) and resting the foot up whilst wasting away to American TV. About an hour into this pit of self loathing I felt inspired to not let the last night of my time with the corvette go idly by and hobbled my way down to it for one last night of shenanigans. I drove around randomly for a good 15 minutes until a thought struck me, why don’t I do a night shoot of the car? The auto HDR on the camera would make for some impressive shots, so I looked around for somewhere with some light (and absent of people) to do my shoot, and I found the perfect place.
It was the front of a truck depot just off the highway, lit by dozens of lights with nary a skerrick of people to be found. I snapped quite a few shots and will endeavour to get them all online sometime (along with the numerous other pictures) but this one is probably the best of the lot. The yellow just seems so much more vibrant than in the other pictures I’ve got.
I had still resigned to going back to the hotel for dinner since my initial attempt to get into Olive Garden had been thwarted again by the massive late night dining crowd there. However on the way back from the photo shoot I noticed a burger joint I had read about before, Five Guys Burger and Fries. I pulled in to find I was the only customer there but was instantly greeted and served. About 10 minutes later I had my dinner and was off back to the hotel where I spent the next half hour consuming the mad burger and only a handful of the half kilo of fries they had given me.
Today has the overwhelming feeling of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Had I not been spurned on by Brett’s words in the comments and Dave’s recent posts about his China trip I would’ve spent the entire time sitting in the hotel room feeling sorry for myself. Whilst my foot may not recover as quickly for this I still believe it was worth it as the pictures I got on the last night with my lovely yellow beast will bring back fond memories of ignoring my self preservation instincts and just having a good time larking around. That’s something I can’t really put a price tag on.