New York, New York. If I can make it there I'll make it
Well, I didn't make it there, so I guess I'm skwerled :)
So how did I end up in New York the weekend of the 16th of
My boss invited me, and all my colleague's at that!
You don't believe me, right ? Well, it's true nonetheless. After Barcelona last year this is almost turning into sort of a ritual. I guess he _does_ love us :)
So what did I do ?
As we were scheduled to leave way too early in the morning (I like mornings, but not if they happen after I go to sleep :) I drove down to Rotterdam on Thursday and spend the night with two of my more lovely looking colleague's :). Around 5am(!) we got up, sort of woke up and headed for the office to meet some of the others that we were going to join on the train to Schiphol.
Arrived at Schiphol, checked in, wandered around a bit, found a ticket, had shot of coffee and several shots of nicotine and off we went.
Apart from being squeezed in-between two people and behind a lady who might have sung at the end the flight was pretty uneventful (as you like your flights to be :)
The customs at Newark airport were very friendly, didn't seem to be at all interested in any of us (though some were a bit scrubby looking :) and wished us a good stay. We were picked up by a bus and driven to our hotel; the Wellington Hotel at 7th Av. and 55th St. (Those of you who know NY will know it's a couple of blocks down from Time Square as well as Central Park, IOW; a real good location).
After we'd dropped off our bags we had some time to kill
before we'd get a bus-tour. So we walked down and around Time
Square (waved at the Webcam
And of course Marnix and I were taking in too much of the scenery and taking too little interest in where we were going, so within an hour of being in NY we were already lost :) Luckily some of the people there speak English and some aren't even tourists, so we found our way back without too much trouble.
Got some food & drink from a local 'Diner' and waited for our tour-bus to arrive.
When you get to a big town for the first time, as most of us did, it's a good idea to get onto one of those tacky tour-busses. It'll give you an idea of the layout of the city; where everything is and what's worth seeing. As we had the bus to ourselves and the guide gave us an overdose on information, some of it related to our Dutch heritage, this tour wasn't even that tacky. Unfortunately the day was already taking it's toll and some got some shut-eye during the tour.
Back at the hotel we checked in and I had a small nap before
we went to dinner at TGI
Friday's; your basic American BBQ-type restaurant.
One thing I like of NY is that you're allowed to smoke there. Mind you, not everywhere, but there usually are places to be found where you can.
At TGIF this was at the bar. Sitting next to it was a woman who was 'anatomically challenged' as Elise pointed out to me :) And surely enough she got some more interest of some of my other colleagues :) NY again proved to be an international spot with languages being used at the bar ranging from English to lithuanian, the latter I didn't quite get :) Although a night on the town was planned, by the time we were done eating I was ready to go to bed and so I did. As I learned later others had had more energy and headed out for some Jazz- or dance-clubs.
After a good breakfast on Saturday in what appeared to be a
famous Diner (at least they had lots of celebrities on the wall
and I took a picture for a couple standing in front of it) we
headed up to the Metropolitan
Museum of Art through Central Park. Museums can be quite a
bore, but they also can be interesting, moving and provoking. The
Met was the latter, at least to me it was. Joined Albert-Jan,
Andy, Jonathan & Keesjan in a tour of the Egypt section which
made us wonder if we had indeed progressed since that time. As
we'd arranged to meet in front to look at the St. Patrick's Day
parade around noon, we then split up and went our separate ways.
I had a look at the modern art (where one painting reminded me of
a recurring dream I had when I was younger) and the African art.
Met Alfred, Allastair and Michael in the restaurant and then went outside to meet the others an watch the parade. Now I'm sure that if you're Irish and live in the US St. Patrick's Day is a major event. But from a tourist point of view it's just a parade of bands with some green in it :)
After most had left I hung around to wait for the other guys to get out of the museum. The rest of the day we roamed NY. First we went to the World Trade Center, where I made some new friends from Dallas TX by taking pictures for them. Although NY is a big city and even the center is quite large, it's actually a small village; we met most of our colleagues, who'd all gone their separate ways, up on the WTC. Next was China Town and Little Italy, working our way up to Soho, Greenwich Village and Chelsea. We never made it to the latter that day, maybe because some of us spend too much time 'interacting' with the locals :) But until it started to rain in the end it was a quite enjoyable day nonetheless. Got to see some other sides of some of the people I work with and liked it.
As we got back to the hotel a couple of us decided we still
had time to get aperitifs before dinner. Although not the most
logical place we chose Planet Hollywood for that. Next to the
booze (guess what goes in a 'Terminator II' ? :) we also got to
enjoy the sights :)
Dinner was served at Joe Franklin's where we met up with all the others again and exchanged stories of what we'd done that day. Food was very good (which I must admit I hadn't expected in the US) as was the company. All in all a very enjoyable dinner.
After dinner a couple of us decided to go to the Empire State Building, which
was open that evening. And to get there in style we rented a
stretched limo that took all 8 of us there. We didn't let the
staff at the ESBnyc deter us from going up ('No view at the top')
and got to see a magnificent view of NY by night.
After a drink in a bar in the East End, we headed over for a club that some of the others were supposed to have gone to. That was the idea, till we heard the entry fee; US$ 30,=. Yeah right. With prices for a beer in NY at US$ 5,= we decided we could spend that money wiser and walked around till we found a decent bar.
Got back to the hotel (don't quite remember how :) around 3am as had Manon who I was sharing the room with. Turned out later that a number of the others had indeed been at the club and most had enjoyed themselves there :)
Sunday was the last day of our visit. Don't quite remember at what time I got up, but I did and packed my stuff so we could check out. Hung out at M&M's room for a while till everyone had dropped off their gear there and then headed out to find a place to have breakfast. Found no familiar face at the diner we were the day before so we set out to find another place to eat. Starbucks was the place we selected to do some lounging. Although not all of us lounged as Keesjan proved by pointing out someone who had more than a passing interest for other peoples belongings.
As not all had been on the WTC yet we headed down there while
the others browsed the J&R
close-by. As we weren't too impressed with the selection or
prices there (with maybe the exception of a wide-screen LCD
monitor), we headed out again. Me to the other side of the street
to have a nicotine shot and look out for the others we were
supposed to meet there, the others to the music & electronics
shop down the block. And yet again NY proved to be just a small
town as while I was waiting Michael crossed my path and the
others had met Wilfred on their path. As the others were not to
be found again Marlies, Marnix and I headed over to the Cafe Cafe
cafe in Soho. Although they didn't have the bag Marnix had lost
there the day before, they did still have the nice sandwiches for
us to eat and cute guy for M. to look at :) Strolled through
China Town and Little Italy again (this time not leaving anyone
behind :) and got back to the hotel pretty much wasted.
Had a bite at the diner we started out at on Friday and hopped on the bus that took us to the airport via a little detour.
With the experience of the flight to NY in mind I arranged myself a nice bulkhead seat. As we had ample time to kill we headed for the bar :) The view of the waiting area was one of totally drained people who'd got the maximum out of their stay in NY. The flight back was a bit better although the extra room didn't help me much in catching some sleep. So back in NL it was a quick trip home and a good day's rest to get back in shape again.
All in all a very enjoyable and tiresome weekend (good
weekends always are :).
Got to know some of my colleagues better and as far as views go I'd have to say the Empire State was the cherry on the cake.
Only problem is; how are we ever going to top this ?
Well, it'll be hard, but we're at least going to try with the upcoming sailing-weekend :)
To be continued ?...