New York Diary – 1st January 2006
New Years Day…and our last day in New York!
We packed all our bags and cleared the bedrooms as we had to vacate by mid-day but didn't have to get to the airport until about 6pm. We took our luggage down to the concierge and they put it away so that we could collect it later in the afternoon.
We then got a taxi to Chinatown in the morning – someone who we met at the hotel (who happened to be from Yardley in Birmingham) recommended that we go to check out the counterfeit designer bags and jewellery etc. I'm not a fan of stuff like YSL and Louis Vuitton bags (not the cheap rip-off ones anyway!) as they all look pretty trashy to me – if I see someone with a YSL bag (especially if it's the one with all the coloured logos all over it) I tend to presume its fake anyway so I had no interest in going bag shopping! But we went anyway….
As soon as we stepped out onto the street, a chinese looking woman approached us saying "Come see bags, cheap designer bags. CD's, DVD's, bags". So we just kind of politely declined and had a look in a nearby shop. Now the shops weren't really shops as such. The interior was like a shop, but the front was wide open and resembled more of a market stall. There was allsorts of jewellery and bags and clothes on display and some of the jewellery wasn't bad. I got some nice beads and matching bracelets (which I later lost at the airport!) and Laura got some fake Tiffany jewellery which wasn't bad. However, if you made the mistake of going a little further into the shop, and showed the slightest bit of interest in any of the goods the assistant would try and coax you into a special area – usually behind a curtain at the back of the shop – where the walls were just lined in fake bags. The special area was only the size of a broom cupboard but it was packed full with bags. Now, when you're only in a small space, its hard to browse and feign interest so it was just a case of looking at a couple of bags, and then trying to sneak out before they pulled you back in!
Mary, Anna, Emily and Rosie made made a big mistake and were coaxed through a strange door that was just off the street and up about five flights of stairs to the top of a run-down looking building. A woman approached them on the street and they agreed to go with her, not realising that they were going to be taken away to the seedy underworld. Ok, it wasn't that bad – but Iwouldn't have gone! Me and Laura managed to escape this experience but when they came back down they looked far from impressed. Poor little Rosie got cajolled into buying a YSL bag which she didn't even want – just so that they didn't appear to be rude!
Chinatown was a bit grotty really – it seemed quite dirty and the people were really pushy so we got out of there after about an hour! We got a subway to what we thought was Bryant Park (after going for a coffee at Starbucks(!) and waiting for the clan to go to the toilet – again!). Somehow we actually ended up at Macys store again and then were told that Bryant Park was too far away to walk so started walking towards Times Square instead.
Once at Times Square, Mary, Anna, Laura and Rosie went to Applebees to have a drink and a sit down. It was a pretty tiring last day – and we had all been up late the night before but Em and I weren't ready to stop – our last few hours in New York were precious and we still wanted to do stuff…. So we went around a few of the shops and then ended up getting our portrait done by a street artist – suffice to say they didn't really look like us!! When you see other people having their portraits done, they look really accurate, but when it's your own you are more critical as you know exactly what you look like whereas with other people, you just see the resemblance.
Em and I went back to Applebees to meet the others and they all had a good laugh at our portraits! We had lunch/tea at about 3:30ish and then went back to the hotel to collect our luggage and head to the airport. We got a taxi from hotel at about 5pm and went to JFK.
Now, I was going to end the entry there – until I remembered the funny bit at the airport where I was nearly staying in New York an extra night!! I am obviously the most sensible person in our party of New Yorkers so I had the job of looking after the tickets and passports etc – despite the fact that on the way out to NY, when we checked in at Heathrow, I neglected to hand over my ticket so after the guy had checked us all in, he was like – 'Who is Eleanor?' and when I said 'me' he said 'Well, do you have your ticket?' and I replied 'Yeah, its in my bag' – as if thats where it should have been and not in his hands with everyone elses…
Anyway, I handed over all of the documents (tickets/passports etc) to the check-in girl at JFK and she checked us all in and handed everything back to me. I put the boarding cards, passports etc back in my bag together. We then went and had a coffee etc whilst waiting to be called to the boarding gate. When it came to boarding, we were the last to get to the plane I think – I didn't see anyone arrive at the gate after us – and I handed over all of the boarding cards. The guy at the boarding gate said: "Who's Eleanor Lovell?" – to which I obviously answered "me". He then asked me where my boarding card was! I assumed it was with all of the others that the woman at check-in had given me but apparently not. Now I couldn't possibly have lost my own boarding card and managed to keep everyone else's safe – could I?!!
He said that I couldn't board without my boarding card so I proceeded to check through my bag frantically. It wasn't in there. He then demanded $50 for a reprint of the boarding card. There was no way that I had lost my boarding card (I don't think!) so I refused to pay – to which his response was; "fine – you will have to stay here then" and he told my cousins and aunty to carry on onto the plane. I was starting to get a bit annoyed now as he was being pretty arsey with me. I spoke to another (more reasonable) guy at the boarding gate and asked him to call the check-in to ask whether they had forgotten to give me a boarding card. Luckliy, for some reason, I remembered the girls name who had checked us in – so I told him to call her. By this stage, my cousins and aunty had actually carried on and left me at the gate, but I was pretty sure that I was going to make it on to the plane so told them to carry on ahead. This other guy was much more reasonable than the other annoying man and said not to worry and he just printed a new boarding card for me.
So then, obviously, I was the last person to get onto the plane. All of the other passengers were seated and as I walked down the aisle they were all staring at me as I blushed – they were probably thinking 'who is this muppet who is holding up the flight?'! Then we had a right struggle trying to get our hand luggage into the overhead space and had to ask an air hostess to put our bag in a special place somewhere at the back of the plane because there was nowhere else to put it!! Oh the drama!! Anyway, it was a great flight home – I watched the Wedding Crashers and slept quite a bit as it was a night time flight.
It was a brilliant, brilliant holiday but as always it was quite nice to get back home. Still, I can't wait to go again!! Thanks Mary, Anna, Laura, Emily and Rosie for a great time!