A post in which I decide not to complain about the weather then proceed to anyway

25 Jul

Recently someone on Reddit compared getting on the Tube lately to this:

indiana jones melting

And then getting off the Tube:

rhino ace ventura
Sweet, sweet relief.

I’ve only taken the Tube a handful of times since London has reached the temperature of Hell’s waiting room, but I can confirm the accuracy of the gifs. Last weekend I went to see Matilda the Musical with a friend (London show No. 18!). When it was time to go home I had a conundrum — should I walk for over an hour, sweating without sunglasses or headphones, melt on the Tube for 15 minutes (and pay more), or melt on the bus for 30 minutes (and pay less). I opted for the bus because I’m a cheapo, but it was miserable. I ended up getting off early because I was getting nauseous and it was just too stuffy. People occasionally ask me what I miss most about the US. Right now I’d say air conditioning.

But this post wasn’t supposed to be just me complaining about the heat. The other day Stephen asked if we should buy a portable AC, and I actually said no. I don’t even know myself anymore. The first few days the temperature went above 75 degrees (24C) I was irritable and crabby. I tried to go to the library to work, but it was even warm there. Then sometime around the sixth day of muggy hotness I just gave up. There’s a line from Jim Steinman’s play “The Dream Engine” that goes, “You can’t withdraw from reality. Sooner or later you have to succumb to it, sooner or later you have to negotiate with it, you have to work out some sort of peaceful settlement.”

I guess I worked out a peaceful settlement with the heat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a cool weather person who worships at the altar of AC, but the reality is that London has two or three weeks each summer that are unbearably warm, made even worse by the city’s lack of air-con, but the heat wave inevitably passes and we go back to a pleasant 20 degrees. (Side note: every time I quote a temperature in Celsius I can almost feel a bit of my American citizenship being stripped away). So every day for the past week I take a shower, put my wet hair up so it won’t dry, then position myself in front of the fan and get to work. It’s no air-conditioned office, but it also beats melting my face off on the Tube commute every day. Working from home has its perks.

…and I guess this post will be about weather. I’ll save complaining about the tourists at Cambridge for another day. Meanwhile, enjoy this corgi flop:

corgi flop

How I learned the iPhone 5s screen is not indestructible

9 Jul

You know those people who always have a cracked phone screen, or seem to post a “Lost my phone, send me your number!!” status every other week? I used to pride myself on not being one of them. Before I came to the UK I had the same phone for three years — never lost it, never dropped it in the toilet or let it go through the washing machine. I had an iPod Touch for five years — it’s still good as new. And then I got an iPhone. It would occasionally slip out of my hand or fall off a table, but it remained intact. It even got major air during my two recent running wipeouts, but remained unscathed. I started to think it was invincible — combined with my “shockproof” panda case it was unbreakable.

And then I dropped it on the concrete staircase as I was leaving for a run on Sunday. It was only on said run that I noticed a small crack at the top of the screen. It was barely noticeable and didn’t affect the performance, so after googling the astronomical cost of replacing an iPhone 5s screen, I decided to put off the repair. It still worked fine!

And then I put it too close to the edge of the table yesterday and it slid off. This has happened more times than I like to admit, but shockproof panda always saved it. Not this time. The screen, already weakened by the concrete plunge, completely gave up and shattered.

oh no pulverized

“Oh no… pulverized.”

iphone 5s shattered screen
Like Ralphie from “A Christmas Story,” at first I was dazed and stupidly hopeful.

christmas story shot

I thought maybe it would be OK, but then I tried to swipe my home screen and almost got a glass splinter.

I made an appointment with the Apple Store Genius Bar and as a backup plan routed directions to iPhone Surgery, an independent repair shop that got good reviews.

You know those people who can’t live without their phones? I also used to pride myself on not being one of them. But then I was without my phone all of yesterday afternoon and evening. I still had my laptop and iPad, so I figured I’d be OK. But then Stephen came home and joked about the obnoxiously large box one of his membership cards came in. “Take a picture of it and send it to your mom,” he said. And then I realized I couldn’t — I didn’t have a functioning phone. And then I walked to the kitchen, swinging my arm, and realized my FitBit wasn’t syncing with my phone. I didn’t even know if I should eat one mini ice cream cone after dinner or two, because I could not register my calories with MyFitnessPal and have it sync with my FitBit. Yes, apparently I’ve become one of those people I hate.

So this morning I headed to the Apple Store, hoping and praying that somehow a shattered screen would be covered under the one-year warranty. Nope. The guy said they wouldn’t even fix it — they’d just take my phone and sell me a new one for the low price of £209. Ouch. I told him I’d think about it, when really I was thinking about the fastest way to walk to iPhone Surgery without the GPS on my phone. iPhone Surgery’s website said they’d fix it for £79.99, which after £209 seemed like a steal.

I made it to Kingsway, but I forgot to write down the address and couldn’t look it up. I knew it was by the Tube station, so when I saw signs saying “phone repair,” I figured that was it. I walked in and asked the guy if he could fix a 5s screen, since Apple said they couldn’t. He was very helpful, but said they were out of white screens and they couldn’t fit a black one. My heart sunk — was I going to have to go on my run tomorrow without my phone? He took my phone number and said he’d call if they got more in later today. As an afterthought I asked him how much it would cost.

“£105,” he said.

“Oh… your website says £79.99,” I replied.

“No, it’s £105.”

£80 was already way more money than I’d like to spend for being clumsy, so I was definitely not going to pay £105. I got my phone out, turned it on, and gently typed in the iPhone Surgery website, and showed it to him triumphantly.

“See! Your website says £79.99 for a 5s screen!”

“That’s not us,” he said.

I paused.

“This isn’t iPhone Surgery?”

“No. This is Timpson. We’re at 82 Kingsway, you’re looking for 88 Kingsway. I think it’s right next to the Tube, but I’ve never seen a sign. Good luck.”

So there was still hope of getting my phone fixed!

I walked over to 88 Kingsway, which was an office building complete with a lobby with tea and a receptionist. It’s no wonder Timpson was out of white screens — they were banking off people who couldn’t find iPhone Surgery because they couldn’t use Google Maps on their phone and would never have guessed it was in an office building.

I told the receptionist I was there for phone repair and he called someone upstairs. A guy met me in the lobby, looked at my phone, then took it away and told me to come back in an hour. I went shopping, returned to the lobby, and the guy came back down with my phone looking brand new. I tested it out then handed over £80, and that was that.

I’m happy to have a fully functioning phone again (even though I had a fully functioning one a week ago and was £80 richer then), but now my phone’s indestructible image has been shattered (literally). I’m wondering if I should buy a different case or cover, or just treat it very gently and buy time until the iPhone 6 and it’s reportedly indestructible sapphire screen comes out.

Wicked queues and buses

22 Jun

There are two things that I am really grateful for:

1. Living in a temperate climate so I don’t have to wake up at the butt crack of dawn to run in order to “beat the heat.”

2. My flexible freelance schedule that allows me to sleep in and run in the early afternoon.

Yesterday I was on the tube around 8 a.m. and learned that there are actual people who get up and go places at 8 a.m. on a Saturday. There is this whole other London full of early risers that I will never be a part of, unless, of course, there’s a show I want to see. On Saturday it was Wicked. I have already seen Wicked three times back in Chicago, but it’s been a while, and as the girl at the front of the day seat queue who has seen the show 18 times could attest, one can never see Wicked too many times. I was a little worried about the day seat queue, as the Theatre Monkey called it “The most notorious day seat line in London. Battle the obsessive fans and you could get lucky.” But I also heard the demand is not as high now that the show has been there a while, so I decided to take my chances and arrive at 8:40. An hour and 20 minutes is about as long as I’m willing to wait for theatre tickets. There were about 15 people ahead of me and since there were two performances on Saturday, I knew I was in. The guy in front of me did not seem like a chatter, so I put on my headphones and played games on my phone. At around 9 a.m. the guy’s friend arrived and for a second I almost accused her of pulling Larry David’s infamous “chat and cut.” But before I went all Will from The Inbetweeners at Thorpe Park, I thought about it.

will inbetweeners pushed in
Every person in the queue is allowed to buy up to two tickets. So it didn’t matter whether the guy was by himself and bought two tickets, or he and his friend each bought one. So I let it slide. They ended up being entertaining Germans who would randomly break into a Book of Mormon song and then go back to speaking in Deutsch. Never a dull moment in a day seat queue.

wicked london day seats

10 a.m. finally rolled around, the box office opened, and I scored two front row center seats for the Wicked matinee, reminding me why I torture myself by waking up early to stand against a wall for over an hour — sweet, sweet cheap front row seats. It was my 17th West End show (I know my last post said I’ve seen 15, but I forgot about Charlie And The Chocolate Factory The Musical I saw in June last year). The performance was brilliant and I think my friend really enjoyed it, even though her bus got stuck in traffic. She arrived one whole minute late and the usher made her watch the beginning of the show on a tiny TV before seating her 25 minutes in. 2014 is the year of the bus in London, and while buses are cheaper than the tube and often more direct, they’re completely unreliable when you need to be somewhere by a specific time. That’s why I walked the three miles to the theatre. It took me an hour and I sweated out my nice dress, but I’ve been burned by buses too many times. (I also successfully ran home after buying the tickets without wiping out, a great victory!)

It’s Too Hot Out and The Siren Call of The Little Baker Frogs

13 Jun

One of the few things I miss about living in St. John’s Wood is being close to Camden Town. I used to walk there every other week or so to check out the 99p Store and Lidl, Aldi’s fellow cheapo German supermarket. Every time I would pass by The Little Baker and stop to gaze at the frogs in the window.

camden little baker(Image courtesy Google)

frog treats(Image courtesy CamdenPeople)

But over four years I never caved and went inside the bakery… until today. Now that Lidl is 2.5 miles away, going there is a big production. There are no direct bus or tube routes and walking there takes too long, so I usually run there (with a reusable tote bag stuffed in my back pocket, as Lidl charges for bags), then walk back with my bag full of chocolate, fruit and nuts (the necessities, of course). Today I made the mistake of leaving too late, so by the time I ran to Lidl and made my purchases, it was past lunchtime and I was hungry.

Pro tip: don’t walk by a bakery when you’re hungry and 2.5 miles from home. The frogs were staring back at me cross-eyed.

frog cakes(Image courtesy Yelp)

I needed to know if they tasted as good as they looked — for science. It would also be nice to support a local business, right? So I marched in and ordered a frog. The Little Baker offers a variety of cakes and pastries baked on site for ridiculously low prices, but since I am a child at heart who eats with her eyes, I needed to have the bright green thing with eyeballs.

little baker frog

I think frogs might actually be like sorority girls who look more attractive in a group — this is one sorry-looking amphibian cake. His “It’s not easy being green” looks more like “Eat me now and put me out of my misery!”

Or maybe he was just overheated (I really should stop personifying something I devoured). It was ridiculously hot today. I don’t know why 75 degrees (24 C) in London feels heat stroke-inducing, but it does. I was really struggling on my run, which may be partly why I thought I deserved a frog treat. (Because when you run 2.5 miles to get cake, then eat the cake as you walk 2.5 miles home, you break even, right?) When I finally made it back, the porter and I chatted about the weather, as you do in England.

“Do you like this warm weather?” He asked.

“No!” I replied. “It’s too hot and miserable inside without air conditioning.”

“I know!” he said. It felt good to finally hear someone share my sentiment — I’m tired of the “This weather is amazing!” camp. He said he actually hoped it would rain so it would cool off. I agreed. I’d like to have a proper English summer with highs of 20 C (68 F), please.

I went upstairs and put the remaining half of my frog in the refrigerator since he was starting to melt. The verdict is still out on the frog cake — it was good, especially for 90 pence (apparently the price has gone up since the photos above). But it’s been a while since I’ve had sweets other than chocolate and it tasted almost too sweet. It was better cold. I’m glad I can put the mystery of the bakery frog taste behind me, but I’m not sure I’d buy another one. It’s a sad realization when your healthy eating makes the bad food you used to enjoy not taste as good and even gives you a minor sugar headache, but I guess it’s for the best. I’ll stick to my Lidl dark chocolate.

Let the Right One Queue

1 Jun

Just for kicks, I made a list of every theatre production I’ve seen in London so far:

2012
One Man Two Guvnors (starring James Corden)*
Sunshine Boys (starring Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths)*
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time*
A Chorus of Disapproval (starring Rob Brydon)*
Scenes from an Execution (starring Fiona Shaw)*

2013
Old Times (starring Kristin Scott Thomas)*
Quartermaine’s Terms (starring Rowan Atkinson/Mr. Bean)
Once
Jersey Boys
The Tempest (at The Globe)
The Taming of the Shrew (at The Globe)
Viva Forever*
Chimerica*

2014
The Book of Mormon
Let the Right One In*

Of those 15 shows, I got up early to queue for day seats for nine of them (indicated by an asterisk). 2013 was a good theatre year for me, so obviously I have some catching up to do this year. Whenever my alarm goes off on day seat queue day I question why I do it, and then when my butt is sitting in the front row of a world class production that cost me less than a cinema ticket, I remember, and start planning the next quest.

Yesterday I took the Tube bright and early to queue for Blithe Spirit starring Angela Lansbury. It got good reviews, and as you can see above, I enjoy watching well-known screen actors on the stage. I simply knew of “that lady from ‘Murder She Wrote’,” but I clearly underestimated others’ devotion to her. The people at the front of the queue had been there since 6 a.m. — four hours before the box office opened. Another woman flew in from Spain just for the performance. I began to realize for the first time in my day seat queuing history I may not get tickets. As I waited I surveyed my options. I had planned a fun show and dinner day with a friend and was looking forward to it. I also got up early and came down to the West End. Thus, I was determined to get tickets to something. I pulled up my list of shows I want to see (yes, I have a running list), and noticed the Apollo Theatre (the one whose ceiling collapsed last year), playing Let the Right One In, was just next door. That would be my plan B. Finally the box office opened and the queue slowly snaked inside. When there were only four people ahead of me I heard the box office person say the only seats left were £64 or they had standing tickets for £10. I hated that I wasted an hour of my life in that queue, but I also was not going to spend £64 or stand for two and a half hours (and it’s a good thing too, because SPOILER ALERT I massively wipe out again on my run home from the box office.) So I made the tough decision to abandon my spot in the queue and scurried over to the Apollo, praying they didn’t have a queue of their own.

I walked right in and got two front row center seats for the matinee performance. Could not have been easier. I excitedly texted my friend our change of plans, then started to jog back home to shower and eat lunch before coming back out for the show. I made it all of five minutes before it happened — another massive wipe out. This one may have been even more majestic than my last. I could feel it happening and desperately tried to correct myself, but I was stumbling forward with too much momentum.

scooby running

Suddenly I was on my stomach in the middle of an intersection, iPhone and water bottle flung five feet away. I think I audibly muttered “Crap! Again?!” as passersby averted eye contact (as you do in the UK). I stood up to assess the damage. Luckily I was wearing long pants so there was no visible blood. I once again managed to wipe out in the most elaborate way possible with minimal injury. As much as I enjoy running with my phone in one hand, water in the other, I’m starting to think it’s throwing off my balance, so I may have to consider using an arm or waist band. I may also need to learn how to do the worm:

running fall worm

Wipe outs aside, Let the Right One In was an exquisite bit of theatre down to every last drop of fake blood and was worth spending an hour in the wrong queue. I came home and immediately watched the Swedish film on Netflix, also beautifully haunting, and I’m planning to watch the US version, “Let Me In,” tonight. Then I think I’ll be done with child vampires for a while.

Eggs, avocados, hanger, castles, manshions and blueberries

22 May

Lately I’ve been all about eggs. I still won’t have them for breakfast — breakfast must be sweet — but I’ve been craving them for lunch and dinner. I recently bought 5 avocados for £1 from a nearby fruit and veg stall, which is an amazing deal, considering they usually go for £1 each at the supermarket. Granted the ones I bought are about half the size of a normal £1 avocado, but that just means I can eat an entire one in one sitting instead of trying to preserve a half that always turns brown. Unfortunately it also means they are too small for conventional recipes, like the much-raved about baked egg breakfast cup (which I made for lunch):

avocado egg fail

I also overcooked it. Which is why today’s accomplishment was even more amazing — I made a perfect poached egg, something professional chefs even mess up. OK, maybe it wasn’t perfect, but the white was cooked and the yolk was still runny — not bad for a first attempt! I was craving avocado eggs benedict, so I decided to make it, leaving out everything that makes it benedict. Still, a poached egg over avocado really hit the spot.

I had another post written up about the unseasonably warm weather, but it was 492 words of me complaining about how I can’t stop complaining about the weather, and I realized nobody wants to read that. I’ll just say this — when it gets above 24C/75F, I get hangry — not angry and irritable from being hungry, angry and irritable from being hot. I am not good at summer, especially in a country that does not believe in air conditioning or window screens. I pray these next few months stay below the 24/75 threshold.

Last weekend we had some of that rare blue sky, sunny weather, so we decided to visit Windsor Castle, since Stephen had never been. I went a year ago with my parents and we had the infamous royal corgi sighting of 2013. Unfortunately it did not happen again this time. Still we had a nice time, along with the rest of Britain who thought visiting a castle was a good sunny day activity.

windsor castle

windsor

I asked Stephen to take my photo in front of the courtyard, scene of the 2013 Great Royal Corgi Sighting, but he didn’t want the black bars in the photo. I suggested I jump. This was the result:

windsor castle fail

At least you can’t see the bars!

Since it’s been so nice (read: almost too warm) lately, I’ve been running and walking along Regent’s Canal. How insane are these houses? Knowing London, they are probably all investments or summer homes and are vacant 90% of the year.

regents house

regents canal house

london big house

This house has a little bench out front. I wonder if anyone ever sits out there and watches us normies on the other side of the canal.

london canal house

This art installation is also along the canal. What would you write? I couldn’t come up with anything on the spot. (I’ve already seen the royal corgis and held a baby panda. There’s a chance it could all be downhill from here.)

before i die london

Since this post started with eggs and avocados, I’ll end with blueberries. We found these giant blueberries at Tesco. They were the biggest blueberries I had ever seen. They were also delicious and hard to photography. (Oat for scale.)

atlantic blue blueberries

giant blueberries

 

A former Chicagoan and current Londoner’s thoughts on New York City

15 May

Over three weeks ago I found myself on a prop plane from Philadelphia to Newark. I generally don’t have a fear of flying, but I do not like looking out the window and seeing this:

prop plane united

It was incredibly loud and vibrated the whole 32-minute flight, but we arrived on time and suddenly it hit me that I had really done it — I had bought a ticket just days before, got on a plane, and now I was a short train ride away from Manhattan where I was going to surprise Stephen who was having a work conference there. He was happy I came, even though he was busy with work most of the time. It gave me time to play tourist. The last time I was in New York was six years ago, so it was high time “the city” and I caught up.

-My first thought upon ascending the escalator at Penn Station: Wow, this city is crowded and dirty. I’ve heard that locals hate when tourists immediately write off the entire city as dirty and crowded when they never go outside a one-mile radius of Times Square, which I can understand — I’ve still never been to the other boroughs, but I couldn’t get over how crowded Midtown Manhattan was. Almost every street felt like walking down London’s Oxford Street and required full concentration not to bump into anyone. This was especially difficult when pulling a suitcase, because when I arrived at Penn Station I got the bright idea to walk a mile to the hotel on 42nd Street, thinking I could take in the sights while also avoiding the cost of a taxi and the hassle of the subway. For the record, walking a mile is a lot easier than dragging luggage a mile, and I do not recommend hauling a suitcase through Times Square. By the time I arrived at the hotel I had calluses on my hand from pulling.

times square suitcase

Hey look another idiot with a suitcase!

-This may be my biggest bit of advice for NYC as well as London (and I almost don’t want to give away my secret!) — Half price ticket booths are a rip off! The queues are always ridiculous and the tickets are not cheap. If it’s simply cheap Broadway (or West End) tickets you’re after, go to the theatre’s box office. If you go early you can get same-day rush tickets (NYC) or day seats (London), or even just a cheap balcony or restricted view seat. The half price ticket booths will sell you a good seat, but it won’t be cheap — If the seat originally cost $200, you’ll still end up paying over $100. While Stephen was in meetings on Wednesday I had my heart set on seeing a Broadway matinee. I planned to go to the Kinky Boots ticket lottery, but really wanted to see James Franco, Chris O’Dowd and Leighton Meester in Of Mice and Men. Kinky Boots will come to London eventually, but I’ll never have a chance to see all those A-listers in a show again. So I walked up to the box office three hours before the show, expecting it to be sold out, but was pleasantly surprised that they had a restricted view balcony seat available for $37 — my kind of price. I was smack-dab in the midst of an “OMG turn your phone on, I wanna text you!” group of high schoolers whom I had to resist smacking for 10 minutes before the show, but once it began my view wasn’t bad and the show was enjoyable. And afterwards I got to see James Franco sign Playbills for people who didn’t go the bathroom right after the show and end up across the street instead of outside the stage door:

james franco of mice and men

-No sales tax on clothing is the greatest thing. I think my wallet was thankful my luggage was carry-on-only, because I could have done so much more damage at the New York & Company flagship store.

-Where do people who live in Manhattan buy groceries? Do they all use delivery services? All I wanted was yogurt and bananas for breakfast but could not find a supermarket. I ended up at Whole Foods, with — by the likes of the queues — all of Midtown and the Upper East Side. If I ever moved to NYC this would be a big problem for me. (Not the outrageous cost of everything or the crime rate, the lack of grocery stores would be the deterring factor in my move to the Big Apple.)

-I’ve lived in London and Chicago — two cities well-connected by public transport, and I pride myself in my ability to easily get around. But New York City’s subway disgusts and confuses me. I had extra time the morning before my flight and wanted to head downtown to see the 9/11 Memorial and ride the Staten Island Ferry. My entire trip so far I had gotten around on foot — walking upwards of 6 miles every day, according to my FitBit, but downtown is too far from Midtown so I had to take the subway. Google maps on my phone told me I had to take the 4 or 5 train and get off at Wall Street. Seemed easy. So I went down into the grungy station and waited for whatever train arrived first. A 5 train came, but it said “express.” A little part of me panicked — did I want express? There were no signs or maps (as far as I could tell) in the station, so I let the train go by. Another one soon arrived and I realized all the trains were running express, so I got on. The map inside the train car was for the wrong line, rendering it utterly useless. I had no idea how many more stops there were until Wall Street or whether the express train even stopped there. Then I heard the announcement “Next stop, Brooklyn Bridge.” I panicked again — I don’t want to go to Brooklyn! So I got off at Union Square and waited for the 4 train, thinking maybe it wouldn’t be running express. Of course it was. I got on anyway, and heard “Next stop, Brooklyn Bridge” again. Instead of panicking once more, this train at least had a map and I saw that the Wall Street stop was in fact after Brooklyn Bridge. I eventually was able to get off at Wall Street and walk to the 9/11 Memorial, but I was mad at myself for letting the NYC subway get the best of me. I should have been more prepared and gotten a map on my phone. At least I never went full tourist and asked for directions. (Although I was stopped on the street and asked for directions, which is the highest honor a tourist can receive. Of course the bubble burst when I had to tell her I wasn’t local.) In short, I will never again take London’s Tube for granted. It’s so clean and easy to navigate. (And you can giggle at “This train terminates at Cockfosters.”)

-The last time I was in NYC was in 2006, almost exactly five years after 9/11. Ground Zero was still relatively a mess. I saw the 9/11 Memorial dedication on TV in 2011, but I wanted to see the memorial in person. I knew it was outside so I thought I could just walk up to it — nope. You need a ticket, preferably booked ahead of time. Luckily Thursday morning is not a peak time, so I was able to join the queue and only wait 10 minutes. We snaked through rails like we were waiting for a roller coaster, then went through airport-style security with X-ray machines and metal detectors. Three different employees checked my free ticket before I was finally released into the memorial area. I wandered slowly through the grounds, trying to get myself into the proper mindset. The memorial is very well done and looked like it did on TV, but being there didn’t feel at all the same. Watching people kiss or place a flower on their loved ones’ names during the dedication ceremony was heartbreaking, but there was none of that when I was there. There were just tourists upon tourists taking photos of themselves posing in front of the fountains — smiling — like it was any other NYC must-see sight. I have no personal connection to the Sept. 11 attacks, but their behavior still made me sick. And then I realized the teenagers goofing around were either too young to remember Sept. 11, 2001 or weren’t alive. No history book or Youtube video can instill that collective fear we felt as a nation on that day, even from as far away as Cincinnati. I left in a hurry so I could catch the Staten Island ferry, and was a little upset at myself for spending my whole time at the memorial judging my fellow tourists instead of reflecting or memorializing.

9 11 memorial

One World Trade Center from the memorial

One World Trade Center from the memorial

-My final thought/piece of NYC tourism advice: Take the Staten Island ferry. You get a great view of the Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty, and it’s free! And you don’t even have to stay in Staten Island — once docked, you can get off and immediately board the next ferry to Manhattan, as about 90% of my fellow passengers (and I) did. Just know that if you stay outside for the best views, it is insanely windy — so windy I didn’t take many photos because I was afraid my phone would blow out of my hand.

manhattan staten island ferry

statue of liberty staten island ferry

And now the photos that wouldn’t fit into the narrative.

This minion's expression embodies my feelings on Times Square

This minion’s expression embodies my feelings on Times Square

Easter eggs at Rockefeller Plaza:

30 rock

rockefeller eggs

I think the Today Show was wrapping up by the time I arrived.

today show audience

I wandered into the free exhibit at the New York Public Library, “The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter,” and it was amazing. Best use of killing time while waiting for housekeeping to make up my hotel room. Baby Renee loved “The Poky Little Puppy.”

poky puppy museum

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