January 28, 2012


I know New Year's was essentially a month ago, but sadly I'm just getting around to writing about it now. Please forgive me. Also, fair warning, this will be long.

This year my friend Jackie and I decided to spend NYE in New York since we both have quite a few friends from college in the city. Overall we had an awesome time, but we will probably not be repeating the experience. I am just too much of a grandma. NYC is exhausting on a good day, so throw in an insanely popular holiday, and I'm actually quite surprised we survived.

Our holiday weekend actually began on Thursday when we worked our way from Connecticut to Long Island to spend time with our friend Kate. That's a process and a half. In total it takes about four hours and three different train rides. Nutty! But we made it painlessly (except when Jackie almost elbowed some tourists out of the way when trying to buy a metro card), and the fun times began!

We spent Thursday afternoon on the island and then went into NYC that night for some drinks with Jackie's college crew. We went to a great Irish bar called Molloy's. Having spent time in Ireland, I am obviously biased, but it was awesome. Super casual and great service.

On Friday, I was supposed to meet a friend in the city, but she ended up being sick. :( So we got brunch on the island and then headed into the city later for some shopping and moseying. Jackie requested a visit to Macy's, which neither Kate or I had never been to. Yeah... I'm sure it's a disaster on its best day, but it was still set up for Christmas. It was wall-to-wall people. Kate and I ended up abandoning Jackie to shop while we rode eight or so escalators up and down just trying to escape the crowds. Fortunately, Jackie is a very quick and efficient shopper so we were soon back on our way.

We made the pivotal error of wandering into Times Square, where they were already setting up for the NYE celebrations. There were barriers everywhere and hoards of people trying to take photos of the ball. At one point we ended up caught in a mob on the sidewalk that couldn't move. That was relatively scary and not at all fun. After prying ourselves loose we took refuge in the Hard Rock for dinner. I know it's touristy, but I still love it. The food is good and it's a fun atmosphere.

When we finished dinner and ventured back out into Times Square, we were met with some exciting scenes. First, they were testing the ball! Even though we'd be avoiding Times Square like the plague the next day, we still got to see the ball all lit up. Cool!

The ball wasn't the only thing rehearsing. We also ran into Ryan Seacrest going through his broadcast for the next day! We joined the crowds in the street to snap a few pictures. (I love that you can read the teleprompter behind him.)

We were supposed to meet up with Jackie's college pals again for another round of drinks, but they were running behind schedule, so we trekked over to Rockefeller Center to take in the Christmas decorations. While walking past NBC Studios on our way to see the tree, a solitary car came down the road with people running along side it. Who could it be, we wondered? None other than Paul McCartney! He had the window down a little and waved as he went by. It happened so fast - there was no time for a picture - but we flipped out all the same.

On Saturday, New Year's Eve (Day?), we met up with my friend Rikki in the city and did some more walking around. We got delicious cupcakes at Crumbs (and decided to count that as lunch given the insane calorie count) and then explored Central Park for the afternoon. It was so gorgeous out we didn't even need coats! In New York. In December.

Afterwards, it was time to get all dolled up for our NYE festivities! For three girls in one bathroom I think we did pretty well. I suppose it helps when you already have your outfit picked out. Anyway, we put on our dresses, painted on our faces, and headed to dinner with a bunch of friends.

After dinner we took a cab to the Gansevoort Park Hotel, where our NYE party was being held. I was pretty excited about this event given the Gansevoort's reputation for service and swanky lounges, but unfortunately, I ended up being wildly disappointed.

First, despite that fact that our tickets stated that doors opened at 8pm, we were made to wait outside for almost an hour until about 9:30pm before people were finally allowed inside. Thank goodness it wasn't too cold and it wasn't raining or snowing. I'm not sure what kind of system was in place - perhaps they were trying to prevent backups or break fire codes - but getting inside was a very disjointed process. I was separated several times from my group of friends as we were forced to divvy up and wait in different lines.

When we finally made it to the club floor - and somehow managed to find each other again - the party wasn't too bad. We had fun dancing and enjoying a few drinks. However, overall the party was way too crowded. I can't even begin to count the number of times I was pushed, shoved, stepped on, spilled on, or elbowed. Getting to the bar or the bathroom was a near impossible task.

I was also disappointed in the way we rang in the new year. It seemed like an afterthought instead of the focus of the event. I was expecting champagne to be passed out and TVs to show the ball drop. Instead, it was a free for all to get champagne (assuming you could make it to the bar), and all we got was a break in the music as the DJ did a quick countdown. All in all, not very exciting. 

I could easily have overlooked all that and still left with a positive impression, but what I can not overlook, and will never forget, is what we went through when trying to leave the party. As hard as it was to get in, it was even harder to get out. We were swallowed by a mob of people waiting by the elevators, and frankly I'm surprised we weren't trampled. At one point I tripped over a queue post tipped over on the ground, and another time I ended up stepping on discarded shoes that some unfortunate girls must have lost in the shuffle. To make matters worse, whenever the elevators arrived, people got off, but no one got on (at least that's the way it seemed). It got so bad, that one of our friends began to feel claustrophobic and started to have a panic attack, so we asked an employee guarding the stairs if she could take those down instead of waiting to try to get on an elevator. He told us no. I'm not sure why he was instructed not to let anyone on the stairs; perhaps it's a risk management decision on the hotel's part to avoid drunken patrons falling or getting lost and wandering the hotel. I could understand that. However, I believe exceptions can and should be made in outside circumstances - like when someone is having a panic attack. So I asked if he could find someone to escort her out. He said no. I asked if he could get her on the next elevator down. He said no. When I made one final plea to let my friend - who by this point was having trouble standing and had started to cry - take the stairs due to her state, he yelled at me, verbatim, "Then why is she fucking here?" I have never been spoken to with so much disrespect in my entire life. I was so offended. I understand the hotel has rules, but employees by no means should be swearing at guests. 

Shortly after, the fire alarm went off. I'm sure someone pulled it in a desperate attempt to get out, but regardless, when the alarm sounds, people should be allowed to leave. Heck, they should be told to leave. That was not the case, though. We once again returned to the stairs and were once again denied access. If not for a group of much larger men charging through the door and down the stairs - forcing the rude employee to finally step aside - we poor girls would probably still be up there waiting for an elevator. Assuming we hadn't been trampled of course. I think it goes without saying that I will not be returning to the Gansevoort any time soon. At least we got some cute pictures!

The next morning we met yet another friend for breakfast. Don't you love when practically everyone you know is in the same place at the same time? Afterwards, we all bid adieu and Jackie and I headed to see How to Succeed in Business for Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette's last show. I can't begin to describe my excitement. The service at the theater and the show itself certainly made up for NYE's antics.

The show was amaaaazing! I know I say that a lot and I've never really met a musical comedy I haven't loved, but seriously, I was dying. John and Daniel complemented each other so well. Plus, since it was the last show, the audience was insane, and the actors took longer pauses than normal just to let us cheer. At the end of Brotherhood of Man (the second to last number), the dancers kept Daniel on their shoulders and applauded him. They even stood him up and made him give a little wave. I thought he was crying at one point, but I think it was just sweat. At the end he came out and gave a little speech that was so so cute. I even thwarted the camera nazi for a few quick shots. 

But of course, all good times must come to an end. We hot-footed it through some light rain to Grand Central and walked straight onto a train back to Connecticut, thus concluding our NYE in NYC adventures. 

Thanks for making it this far. Sorry for the insanely long post. Happy New Year! I hope 2012 has been good to you so far. 

January 27, 2012

The Year Ahead

Hello travel bugs! I now it's been ages and there really is no excuse for not updating, but I have been extraordinarily busy. I promise a post all about my crazy New Year's experiences in NYC is coming soon now that I've finished my grad apps and can focus on what's coming up. January was my last month to get things sorted out, because starting in February my calendar is practically booked solid with fun travels through the end of April. Here's a sneak peek:

February 3-5: Weekend in Connecticut with friends to celebrate several birthdays (including mine!)
February 17-19: THON at Penn State (AMAZING experience! If you don't know about THON, go to thon.org to learn more.)
March 11-22: Europe! Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, and Prague here I come!
April 6-9: Easter weekend with friends in Boston
April 23-28: Vacation with friends in Puerto Rico!

There are a few more tentative trips on the horizon depending on schedules and what happens with my grad apps, but I think these should keep me pretty busy in the meantime. Hope you all had good holidays and have some fun plans on your calendars!