NYC Journal 1 – WestJet tips, arriving, then promptly getting lost

Well guys, it’s taken awhile to bounce from phone to camera for the right photos, and team up the applicable write-ups. But here’s the start of The NYC Journal. Let’s go on an adventure!

NYC Journal – Tues May 3

New York City.

Just saying the words, I couldn’t believe that they’d mean anything to me anytime soon.

So when Hometalk invited some bloggers to come to NYC for a meeting to their NYC headquarters, that meant one thing. I’d finally be visiting one of my biggest bucket list destinations EVER.

But if you think you’ll get me there for only one day and have to leave, I’m afraid I would have white knuckled the hotel door. I wasn’t going anywhere for at least a WEEK.

Beyond excited, our new bags got packed up. Our old luggage had ripped during our last trip, and now I’m kinda glad they did. The way wheels swirl your bags around in every which way these days turned out to be so much easier to cart around. Due for an upgrade? Don’t hesitate!

Sandman Signature Vancouver Airport hotel during a sunset / NYC Journal 1
We head to the hotel airport the evening before, as we do for each trip, then fly out the next morning. Choosing the Sandman Signature in Vancouver, it was a treat to get there early enough to take advantage of the pool. It was so warm!

It’s a LOT of work preparing to leave. You get the house ready, then the laundry all done, then packing, then arranging for things in your absence… So this is the part where we start to unwind and just enjoy! 

Well… until flight morning that is…

Stone luggage art at the Vancouver Airport / NYC Journal 1 funkyjunkinteriors.net
Rock luggage art at Vancouver Airport

Morning flights from hotel rooms are always hard. You never get enough sleep. Add to the excitement of where you’re going, plus the pressure of hoping there will be no glitches along the way, you still feel like you’re ‘workin’ it.’

We were a little caught off guard… I hadn’t realized that we wouldn’t be going through Vancouver customs, because we were flying to another Canadian destination first. So we had a long, somewhat leisurely wait (yawn) before we head out. Better than running for the gate, though!

WestJet flying over pink tipped clouds during golden hour / NYC Journal 1 funkyjunkinteriors.net

Flying from the west coast to the east takes all day. We flew right across Canada! But we were set up well on West Jet. I had preordered our dinners, (they’re better meals if you do) and only two movies long, with a couple of coffee breaks, we were in Toronto.

WestJet Tips:

– DO preorder your meals, for better choices (the chicken salad was really good!)

– bring your own quality earbuds, noise drowning if possible

– download the WestJet app before you board, so you can view their movies on your phone

– bring your laptop, movies are free, and BIGGER to watch!

– the ‘extra room seats’ are worth it. A seat is removed in between, allowing you WAY more room for your gear and feet in front. I purchased the additional upgrade upon check-in on the way home, and it was SO much nicer!

Taking in the sunset at the Toronto airport / NYC Journal 1 funkyjunkinteriors.net
Toronto proved to be ‘interesting’. Being that we had to go through customs, were were instructed to not pick up our luggage, but to wait in a special room and watch an electronic board for our names. Once our luggage had cleared, we could proceed through customs.

Only thing is, one bag never came up. As I started biting my lip, watching the time like a hawk, (and begging several times that we NEEDED to go to catch our flight), they finally let us go through without our bag.

Hey… at least it was my son’s… LOL 

As luck would have it, our flight was delayed, so I guess our suitcase caught up with us somehow, because it all arrived to NYC, safe and sound. Whew!

Arriving at the NYC airport / NYC Journal 1 funkyjunkinteriors.net
And then we were there! I’ll never forget the feeling. Descending in to NYC at night fills you with excitement!

Oh my gosh… to see the gleaming silver New York lettering at the airport, completely surreal! Can you believe how empty this place was?

Well, the outside of the airport made up for it, and then some. It was mayhem. At about 10:30 PM, the place was buzzing with last flight pickups. We were immediately approached by a cab hustler before we even hit the NYC air, but for not being very street smart, I was kinda proud of myself, finding the airport’s taxi service instead. With my son asking, “Why didn’t we go with him?!”

I’m not exactly sure why, but I’m playing it safe, son! Turns out it’s illegal to hustle customers at the doors. Well, check street worthy me out…

Then it got really interesting. Imagine two, very country, very tired Canadians, smack dab in the middle of two city worthy cab drivers verbally duking it out big time for our biz.

Our first NYC chaos filled cab ride / NYC Journal 1 funkyjunkinteriors.net
Finally settled in our cab, things started to get real. Apparently most last flights of the day land at this time, so every cab is out there, and every square inch of tarmac was filled with everyone else. I could quickly see, vehicles jaywalk as much as folks do out here. I’m pretty sure my hand covered my stifled screams all the way in. I’ve never seen a cab win over a semi before. Plus backing up in HIGH traffic, once he realize he passed our hotel… 

Welcome to New York!

Transportation Tip: Cab or Car Service?

Cabs are quick and easy, and abundant. Perfect for getting from A to B while enroute.

But I’d consider ordering up a ‘car service’ from airport to hotel next round. It was a very different experience, and cheaper too. Our cab was just over $65, (we were quoted $40) which was a pretty chaotic, and tight fitting experience. The car service was a pre quoted $55 flat fee, with no drama involved, and the cars were much larger.

So… first evening there, we arrived at about 11pm and were famished. So we had to set out walking the dark streets of NYC.

Our hotel landed on a strip that felt really sketchy. Lined with garbage, and folks leaning against buildings, the non street worthy me didn’t feel safe. So we quickly walked towards well lit areas, and ran into the first pizza place we landed. It didn’t look like a quality food place, but I was wrong. The pizza was surprisingly really good!

And then I couldn’t help myself. We needed to continue to wander a little. Blame it on the well lit streets. They drew me in!

The well lit night streets of New York City / NYC Journal 1 funkyjunkinteriors.net
Macy's in NYC at night / NYC Journal 1 funkyjunkinteriors.net
Broadway street sign / NYC Journal 1 funkyjunkinteriors.net
Madison Square Garden light up at night / NYC Journal 1 funkyjunkinteriors.net
All these famous names just kept popping up, one after the other. I hadn’t studied a map of our area before we landed, so these were all surprises.

But then we started to get directionally confused. I flipped on my google map, but it wasn’t syncing correctly.

It was then that I realized I was becoming too dependent on the phone to guide us. How many times did we spin in circles at intersections, not knowing which direction to head? Countless! Concrete looks the same from all 4 sides.

And stuck in the middle of dark, somewhat sketchy streets,  please don’t let this be a guide on how this was gonna fly over the next week…

Wed, May 4

If you could imagine staying up for 7 days straight without any sleep, that’s what we felt like waking up today. We. Were. TIRED.

So I forgave myself for intentionally sleeping through my iPhone alarm , hitting snooze way too many times, and just resorted to wake up before a group of us bloggers head out to lunch at 1:00.

Hotel room with a city view from Double Tree Hilton in NYC / NYC Journal 1 funkyjunkinteriors.net

Wow. Waking up inside a pretty hotel room high in the clouds was surreal.

Our first full day there was about work.

My boy was in no shape to go for lunch, or anything else. So I let him sleep, and met up with a few bloggers in the hotel lobby. We found a burger place to meet up at. Clad with rustic wood beams and brick walls, it was the perfect NYC eatery atmosphere fix I was craving. 

After our meeting, I needed to go back to the hotel and collect my boy before dinner, so I set my good ‘ol iPhone to do the dirty work, and tried to find my way back. I admit, this made me really nervous. The tall buildings looked all the same to me, positioned very maze like.

As I watched the dial spin on google map, I wasn’t feeling lucky…. 

As I started walking through the mist and drizzle in between the tall, looming buildings, nothing looked familiar. Turn after turn, I started to feel a rise of panic. All the little side street stores loaded with stickered windows started to look the same. Bags of garbage lined the roads… was it garbage day or was this the norm? As I looked up into the misty air, the tops of the buildings disappeared into their own personal fog. It was strange, scary, yet mild fascinating… when I didn’t think of being lost that is.

So I kept on, but the panic did not leave until I finally somehow found the right door handle. I wanted to collapse on the familiar carpeted floor and hug it!

Upon collecting my boy, I resigned I did not want to get lost again, and hailed down a cab instead. So I went out to the street and started waving my arms.

Cab after cab screamed past me. Don’t they want my money? Am I doing something wrong?

So I returned into the hotel with, “How do I get a cab? Is there a ‘method?”

Apparently there was. I was asked to stay in the hotel, while the concierge left for awhile. And of course, returned with a pretty new cab like it was a pet on a leash.

So in we hopped, costing us a whoppin’ $6 to get back safe and sound, stress free!

Meeting day and the dinner in the evening was fun!

But I admit, while I was rattled from all the new, scary stuff around us, I was SUPER antsy to get outside these buildings, and take in what I had heard about this place for so very long…

The Empire State Building, Flat Iron District, Madison Square Park, Big Daddy’s (a vintage diner) and more drama, are next!

The NYC Journal – click for more

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  1. Wow! You are brave!I would totally do the walk around during the daylight. Night? No way.Reading the first NYC journal entry makes me want to go back. I visited once, way back in time (1984) so I know it has changed dramatically. Can’t wait for entry #2!

  2. Donna, as you have probably discovered New York is a walker’s town. They even have a distinctive way that they walk, head down, eyes front, with a determination on their faces, and full speed ahead. That is the best way to see the city. I remember when I went back after having been gone for 16 years and the cabbies really took me for a ride. Haha! But the next time I was a bit smarter. I am really enjoying your NYC journal as it is a view from someone who is not a native.

  3. Oh Donna, your description of your NYC visit took this small town country girl back a few years to my first visit there. What an absolutely magical time. Can’t wait for you to take me on the rest of your tour!!! Cathey

  4. Awesome experience, just was oversees my self visiting the old country, so different from where I live now.. Never been to New York, maybe some day!

  5. Wow you are brave but you make it sound so exciting!! New York has always been on my bucket list. Since it is not in my future, I will thoroughly enjoy hearing about your trip!! Thank you for sharing!!!