Friday, October 17, 2014

New York Day 5 – In Which We Love You and Leave You, New York.


While I love travelling, I am usually ready on some level to leave when the time comes. But not this time! I was definitely NOT ready to pack up and go home and hadn’t even come close to doing all the things on my list. So I was a little cranky packing up the apartment – barking at everyone to hurry up already and whose sock is this and had they eaten breakfast. Kent calmly went about his business while I shouted out a countdown of remaining minutes until we had to be out on the street. As per usual, I was the last one in the place, banging around looking under beds etc while everyone else waited quietly on the street for me. We had to be out by 11am and at the airport by 2pm which left us two hours to kill. I had all sorts of ideas but none of them were practical while toting around huge suitcases. So I proposed a short walking tour of the neighbourhood, starting with the United Nations Plaza, which was, I discovered, only a few blocks from our place.

This statue was one of the first things we saw walking up to the complex. My first thought was Huh? followed by Wtf? and then Why?


Upon further investigation I learned that it is called Good Vs Evil and is meant to be St. George slaying a dragon. Somehow it looks more to me like a dude stabbing a long cocktail spear into a totem pole.

I also wondered if part of it had fallen over. Apparently the ‘dragon’ is made from bits of old US and Russian missiles. Mind you, this same website also told me the statue was 60 feet tall so who knows what exactly is going on. Either way, I guess I thought the UN was going to be a little more sophisticated.

But then, a little further along I encountered this sign:


“…has decided…”? Well that’s great but you don’t really need to put that part of the process on your sign. It’s kind of obvious. This, my friends, is why things take so long in large organizations. Did they really have a big meeting about this? Imagine if that were the case for all signage everywhere, like stop signs: “The Traffic Safety Department has decided that you must stop at this intersection”. Or “The architect who designed this building in 1947 decided that this should be the Women’s Washroom (sorry sorry we are in the US I forgot) Restroom.” And there’s also a resolution too. Hilarious.They put them on everything!
I think ‘No Smoking’ seems to work everywhere else just fine.

Having said all that, it was kind of neat to see all the flags, and the actual assembly building. Some pretty great stuff goes on at this place even if it could use a bit of updating…


I had been wanting to see the iconic Chrysler Building so it was handy that it was located between the UN building and Grand Central Terminal.

A classic art deco building, the shape is fabulous as are the huge gargoyles: some are eagle-like while others look like hood ornaments found on various Chrysler cars.


The Ford Foundation building was one building over – another one on my list as I was told the lobby has an amazing atrium with huge 40ft tall trees but it was, surprise surprise, closed to the public that day so I was out of luck.

Just as well as we were running out of time so we battled our way through the throngs to get to Grand Central station. I was really looking forward to going inside and being able to say ‘This place is so busy it’s like Grand Central Station in here’ but then I learned that it’s actually Grand Central Terminal which didn’t sound as good.


Anyway, when we got inside it was so spectacular that I didn’t say anything, just stared at the ceiling, tried to get a good shot that would capture the awesomeness, and failed. My apologies.


The entire ceiling was cleaned and restored 15 years ago and you can now see the original ‘astronomical’ ceiling which depicts many of the well know constellations. I have heard that many of them are actually backwards and upside down but really, who cares? It really is stunning and so beautiful.

I had also heard that the restorers left one small rectangular patch to show how horribly dirty and grimy the ceiling had become after so many decades of diesel and nicotine. I was able to find that and took this terrible picture.


You get the idea…kind of incredible really. And gross. Incredibly gross.

Like so many New York buildings, the stories and secrets they hold are fascinating. I could have wandered around for hours, people watching, having a drink (ok, a water) in the Campbell Apartment, shopping, searching for an access to the secret basement bunker etc etc but instead it was time to get our car to airport where Zoe and I were boarding flights to take us home and Kent and Jacob were heading off to St. John’s Newfoundland for a week to hang out with our dear friends Andre and Sonja.

A word here, if I may, about Newark Liberty Airport: nasty.

I recommend avoiding this place. I was OK with the whole ‘sorry we’ve changed the codeshare and now you must go to another terminal to check in’ and also with the uniformed man yelling at me to ‘go to the other escalatah at the end of the hawl THIS ONES CLOSED’ while loads of people were using it right in front of my face. I was also ok with the lack of any directional signage and the terrible smell (what WAS that anyway?). But I wasn’t really ok with the dude at security who was on facebook on his phone while a bunch of people walked past him (probably the same people from the escalator incident) and then looked up in time to stop us and demand passports, boarding passes etc.. Nor was I OK with the super rude and possibly mute woman at security who didn’t seem to think it was necessary to speak and just held out her hand like she wanted me to slip her some skin or something. After some eye-rolling on her part , I finally realized that apparently, I was also to hold out my hand while she silently wiped a piece of material all over it and then checked it for…what…I don’t know…chocolate? mustard? explosive residue? I don’t know it might be me but if you need someone to do something, we have this thing called ‘speaking’. I also didn’t care for the security experts who didn’t notice when Zoe left her metal watch on and sailed through the scanner, nor the guy who refused to go and get the stack of bins for all of us to put our change, phones, passports in etc and instead let them all slip through the cracks in the conveyor belt so that everyone had to scramble around on the floor to pick up their stuff. I kid you not, this actually happened.

A chance encounter with a classic elderly New York Jew at one of the food counters made up for some of this though:

Him: Were you here first?

Me: I don’t know…

Him: Well please go first. If there’s any chivalry left at all in the world, then please, go ahead of me.

Me: Thank you. Chivalry seems to be in short supply based on my experience here at the airport so far.

Him (with a smile): Well I don’t want to ruin your evening…

Me: Probably couldn’t get much worse so no chance of that.

Him: Things are looking up then.

Me: Enjoy your flight.

Him (With a smile) no chance of that.

I felt like I had just been in a Woody Allen movie. Awesome!

I went to find Zoe, who had been hoping for some wifi, being in an airport and all, but guess what, no free wifi at Newark.

Anyway, our flight to Montreal was leaving soon so I stopped all my whining for a few minutes to eat my salad (and I use the term loosely as I think a salad is usually made up of more than just lettuce and a single piece of cucumber) before getting on the plane.

It was only 52 minutes to Montreal, followed by a sprint through the airport to go through customs, collect our luggage and RUN to our gate with about 3 minutes to spare. The plane to Vancouver was huge and full, so I had high hopes that they would actually have some menu items from their onboard ‘café’ available as we didn’t have any time for dinner and I was a little hungry after my piece of lettuce. I don’t know why I thought this flight would be any different than all the flights before, cuz it wasn’t and I had to settle for a piece of ‘pepperoni’ pizza that was actually, I think, made out of paper (they must have read my suggestion from my first blog).

They do have a great selection of movies now on Air Canada and I laughed my way through 22 Jump Street. So funny!

By the time we landed at Vancouver, and then finally Victoria, found our car (that took a while!) and got home and into bed  we were completely zonked. But in a good way.

New York, I miss you! We’ll be back sooner rather than later.


And there’s a good chance of that!

Thanks for tuning in, everyone.








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