After the disappointment of having to call sick for my first rostered New York trip, I was happy to see that I finally was assigned one the following month. (Perhaps the rumor that they give you the trip you called sick for as 'punishment' is true- I need to call sick on a Sydney next then, no??)
As you can imagine, I was pretty excited at the fact I'd be going to the City That Never Sleeps, city of scenes from movies I'd been watching all of my life. When I called sick in December, one of my disappointments was that I'd be too late to see the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. After seeing it in the 'Home Alone' movies, I'd wanted to go and look at it for myself.
Since joining the airline, all I'd heard was how hard North American flights were, and how demanding the passengers were, asking for this and that. While we worked hard, I can't say it was the worst flight I'd ever done. I just had to keep reminding myself that while *I* knew 15 people had already asked me for stuff, as far as one passenger was concerned, I was probably doing nothing in the galley. So I tried my best to keep smiling even though they'd ring a minute later to see "where I was" (hunting down the last ginger ale in aft economy, if you must know)
Despite the busy flight, the crew were amazing (especially our lovely supervisor in the aft) and the time passed quickly with lots of laughs and teamwork. I think our good mood must have rubbed off on the passengers because aside from one or two sad-cases, they were quite nice, much nicer than the stories had led me to believe.
When we arrived and headed to the bus, it was SO cold!! I have yet to be issued an overcoat so braved the chill in just my suit jacket and skirt. Even a scarf would make a difference but unfortunately we cannot wear either it or gloves without a coat :( We settled on the bus for lots of chatter, excited to be in this big city. I was very happy to see snow on the ground, all white and pretty. Soon we got to the hotel, checked in and received our allowances and room keys.
Although we were tired, about six of us made plans to meet fairly soon to grab food and then go ice skating in Central Park. A short stroll form the hotel was a Ray's Pizza branch. We filed in, ordering in our various accents and excitedly awaiting the delicious smelling pizza. Of course I took the opportunity to order a slice with pepperoni (REAL pepperoni!) and we chatted while waiting. The guy behind the counter was happy when we thanked him in Arabic, after hearing him speak to his colleague. He asked us where we were from and how we knew what he was saying. Finally we got our pizza and boy was it good! I almost inhaled my piece in seconds, I was so hungry!
Next we made our way to Central Park. Along the way, I happily snapped photos of the interesting architecture.
I was so happy to see it, just like in the movies. It gave the crew great amusement to see me happily running at the snow covered grass yelling 'Snow, snow!!" - and promptly falling on my butt when it turned out not to be soft powdery snow but solid ice... oops!
Not snow, but ice! (Still looks- and was- cold though!!)
We got to the skating rink only to be disappointed- it was closed for a private function and wouldn't open again until far after jetlag had claimed our weary selves. Accepting the fact that skating wouldn't happen today, we headed out of the park and decided to walk down Fifth Avenue towards Rockefeller Center and the shops along that way.
Americans are so patriotic. There's so many flags everywhere, more than I've noticed in other countries. They're on all kinds of buildings, not just on major landmarks or official places.
I love the variety of architectural styles in NYC. You've got old and classic alongside modern and sleek. There's always interesting details like these red canopies & banners as seen above.
Bulgari store along Fifth Avenue. Can't really tell from this photo but the window decorations were these cool bubble-like globes. Neat.
Old next to new. I love seeing contrasts like this between buildings. I have a bit of a thing for parallel lines, as well. They're very graphic and sleek. This picture below almost looks like those fake backdrops they use on tv to show a lit-up cityscape at night :)
Being just after Christmas, there were still decorations on the streets and in the storefronts. This giant snowflake was suspended above the road. We also saw a really cool animated light installation of moving bubbles and snowflakes on the side of a building near Rockefeller Center.
Got to love the straightforward New Yorker attitude. Even the street signs tell it like it is!
More US flags adorning buildings- you literally see them everywhere...
After a brief stop at GNC (so the boys could buy protein shakes, of all things) we finally got to Rockefeller Center. I rounded the corner, and there it was:
The Christmas Tree!! Despite being early January, the tree was still there, looking just how I remember it in 'Home Alone'. I think even the angel statues are still the same! All of us gleefully ran down for a closer look.
Although it was only decorated with lights, I still liked the tree. I could just picture Kevin sitting there wishing for his family. I was happy to see one of the things on my 'list' of things to see, as basic as it was. We still really wanted to skate, but the line was long and jetlag was starting to bite us in a big way, so we trudged on in search of coffee.
The next stop was the Starbucks at Times Square. We armed ourselves with a hot beverage and again went outside to brave the cold. (I had hot chocolate, not being a coffee drinker)
You know you're in New York when you're standing in Times Square. It didn't really hit me until then and this was when I really started liking NYC.
US Forces Recruiting Station. You could be eating a burger in Times Square one minute, and enlisted in the Army, Air Force, Navy or Marines the next. Kinda scary thought.
At this point, two of the girls and myself somehow got separated from the others, so we continued on by ourselves despite being tired.
All of us are big kids at heart, so of course we had to stop by two kid-friendly places near Times Square: the M&Ms Store and Toys'R'Us. (At this stage, I had no idea that Impossiblecat and her husband had been here just a day or two before- clearly great minds think alike, lol)
The Toys'R'Us near Times Square. Home of the indoor ferris wheel, massive Barbie aisle, cool Lego sculptures and giant T-Rex from Jurassic Park. Great for kids small and large, haha.
'Elmo'. Somehow not as cute in the large version. But I felt sorry for the guy as no-one was taking photos (he wanted tips for photos, fair enough). So I took one for a laugh.
Chocolate town! Hershey's & M&Ms are right near each other.
Of course, there were lots of hyperactive kids running around. Like the big kids we were, yes we looked around the store and played with all the stuff.
Cute jumbo screen above the M&Ms store, showing Red as King Kong over the city. I love the look on his face!
Found my perfect match! Hahaha! I've always loved Red & Yellow, the ads are funny and very clever. I liked the 'Colorblind' campaign back when black & white M&Ms were around.
Custom colour M&Ms. I hoovered down a whole bag of these last time I visited Mel's house. (Sorry Mel, I owe you more on my next JFK trip!)
There was even a wall featuring M&Ms as figurines in different countries. They had Australia (yay!)
and here's one for Robyn:
We scoured the gift shop and I bought my standard magnet, as well as a tiny shot glass in the shape of a beer stein with Red on it.
By this time we were well & truly sleepy, so it was time to head back to the hotel. True to form, by the time I had a shower & changed into my PJ's I didn't feel sleepy at all!
The next morning I woke up hungry, but as it was almost lunch time I felt justified in having more Ray's Pizza for br/lunch :P then a short walk through Central Park again and down 5th to look at the Lego Store in Rockefeller Plaza. I also decided to go check out the Chrysler building, but as this post is very long already I'll save it for the next installment.
(For those of you wondering, yes I am aware my yellow coat is similar to Gwyneth Paltrow's in the film 'View From the Top' and no, it wasn't intentional) :P