I’m 90% sure that the guy in all these photos is named “Dylan”
By Jenny Bundock (words and photos)
To see the last entry in this travelogue, click this link. It won’t bite.
Sleeping till noon is no way to start off what you had decided previously would be an action-packed day full of adventure and learning how to ride the NYC subway. I recall getting up feeling as angry as can be, drinking a cup of NeoCitran using the dangerous little water boiler thing in our room that sputtered scalding hot water in a three-foot radius all around where you plugged it in. Drinking NeoCitran and avoiding the boiler’s corner of the room would become my “every morning in NYC” ritual. After that, we used the extensive map of the transit system to figure out how to get to the Museum of Natural History > (which we decided to go to almost entirely to see the big blue whale they have hanging from the ceiling, and more importantly, get a picture of Dylan with it. If you have ever seen the movie The Squid and the Whale, you understand). We were also going to try to go to the Met that same day, as it is right near there, but alas, there were but five hours while both places were open, so the Met would have to wait.
We managed to figure out how to get to where we wanted to go fairly easily after we had asked several guys trying to give us tickets to stand-up comedy where the subway entrance was. Foolishly, we assumed that you could get on the subway you wanted to be on at all the entrances… not true. It took us three tries and several blocks of walking to go down a flight of stairs that had a train going where we wanted at the bottom. The system, once you figured that part out, was exceptionally user friendly and easy to use! We became a little obsessed with the subway system, and rode it as much as possible, even if it was just a couple blocks. I’ll break away from the story here just to point out how much the TTC fucking sucks in comparison. The NYC subway system is probably ten times as complicated, and their city has over 10 million people in it, and yet, there was never a late train… we could always sit down once we got on that train… there were little electronically automated “you are here” type line maps in the trains, so you could tell how many stops you had left, or if the train you were on skipped the stop you wanted… there was also a board telling you who the person was that was in charge of that station, and where they were right now… and it only cost $2 a ride. If you bought $20 of rides on a card, from this easy automated machine beside the turnstile, it gave you a free two rides (so the ten rides you paid for became twelve, just for the hell of it)… and, the best part, you can get on the subway virtually anywhere at these mini-stations, where you go down a flight of stairs, and you are ON the platform, and if you want to go the other way, you go back up and cross the street and go down stairs on the other side. It really makes you realize how painfully weak the TTC is.
Anyways, we were on the awesomely organized subway with little pain at all, and on our way to the NHM. I knew there would be a lot of like, stuffed animals in there, but nothing could really prepare me for the lifelike settings they put them in. It was borderline twisted, but educational for sure. For example, I learned that my feet are the same size as the feet of a four-foot-tall, hairy version of a human being from thousands of years ago (woo hoo?). We also saw the skeleton of Lucy, who is damn tiny, and made of a lot fewer bones than I had thought she’d be. Unfortunately, I was still very sick, so though all of this was fun, I could not help but gripe non-stop and the family tree trailing us — who had brought everyone from their toddlers right on up to grandma — was not helping. It was like, everything we wanted to stop at for a second meant we were swallowed up by “Travelocity’s family-group rate vacation in NYC” crowding around us… and then mom calling back to grandma to “get a load of this here” and then four-foot-eleven grandma pushing her way in and calling behind her, insisting that Dad get the little four-year-old girl… who was having a grand old time just pulling her skirt up over her head and singing at the top of her lungs… and bring her over too so she can see… and then that girl starting to yell and bang the display case… and this happening to us no matter how far ahead we thought we were, every ten feet through a whole wing of the museum…
Officially turned off breeding for the next decade, we decided to head back to the hotel. I decided that I was not going anywhere until I had had a nap, because I’m a big mope when I am sick, and I put Dylan in charge of finding us some cheap place to eat. Being a student, he naturally put more emphasis on the value side of our meal than on the taste side. Old habits DO die hard. After my nap and Dylan’s research, we ended up at this sushi place that was definitely cheap, with mostly edible food, and a good value in amount of food per dollar spent… though on totally the wrong night. I was heavily medicated and not all that hungry, but being a vegetarian I have to eat like a hunter-gatherer (because I’m not sure when I’ll have food available again when living on restaurant food) so I ordered the vegetarian box meal, plus miso soup, because I was sick. This was moronic of me. I have never been given so much food in my life. On the upside we did get the quintessential NYC cups that have the Greek figures and “we are happy to serve you” written on them. That was worth the trip, and all the uneaten tempura.
Since I was still under the weather, and we wanted to try and get up before noon the next day (fingers crossed), we decided to turn in around nine. Yep, all the way to New York, and we were in bed by ten o’clock at night. My Grandma would be so proud of my good behavior.
Despite our best efforts, we were still asleep when ten thirty rolled around; by eleven we actually got up, and by noon, after my NeoCitran, we were out. On Wednesday’s agenda was the Metropolitan Museum, as we had not had a chance to go the day before. As you probably guessed, I was still sick… it was actually my worst day yet at that point, I was living on Sudafed and Advil, wandering in a daze. I had picked our subway stops, so we could walk the really smarmy areas of the city (Fifth Avenue, Park Avenue, etc.), only there was a total downpour of freezing cold slush. We had to duck into some sketchy tourist shop to buy a $5 umbrella in a futile attempt to not get totally soaked on our way from the subway to the front door of the museum. We walked around in the rain for nearly 15 minutes until we found a friendly enough local to ask for directions. We knew that the museum was on the street we were standing on, and that it was facing the park, so we simply asked which direction the park was. Foolishly, we listened to that woman, and ten minutes and two blocks later we realized we were not walking towards the park. Once we were in a cab, we felt much better about our situation. The coffee I had been nursing was finally in me, and the cab had this awesome video screen in it that showed you on a map exactly where your cab was and where you were heading to. It was totally boss. We got to the museum, and having been soaked through our coats, so that our shirts and pants were also drenched, we felt more like warm lunch than any art. The cafeteria was amazing!!! I got baked macaroni and cheese, Dyl had a half-roast-chicken dinner with hand-cut French fries, and you could buy wine by the half bottle to drink, and for a reasonable $12 a piece. It was awesome.
Since Dylan had decided to wear his suit to the Museum, everyone kept asking him if there was a bathroom nearby, thinking he was one of those people who tell you not to touch the art. After Dyl took his coat off and started carrying it on his arm, we had enough peace to continue through the building uninterrupted. We saw all the usual stuff, though the armor was probably some of the coolest stuff there. We were blown away that anyone could wear it at all without falling over. We saw the rest of the museum and ended our day; jumped back on the subway, went back to the hotel, I dried off and had my de-grumping nap, and then we went to this authentic Italian place for dinner. We were the only people eating at the restaurant, minus the mafia don in the front corner who greeted us on the way in and spent all night talking to a table of associates in Italian over pasta and smoking a cigar. There was also a sobbing woman who had been betrayed by her lover and her compassionate friend at the other end of the restaurant, but they were just nursing cappuccinos so I am not counting them either… we were the only ones with food, who didn’t own the place. Since this was the case, the entire staff was at our beck and call. They had this deal where you could have an appetizer, entrée, drink, and dessert of your choice from the menu for $24 even (there’s that student value sense again). Due to us being their only customers our appetizers came out in like four minutes, entrées just as we put our forks down, then dessert as the last bite hit out mouths, all before my latte had even cooled down. I felt rushed and awkward about us intruding on the lives of the other two patrons, so we left right after we paid, about 30 minutes after we had arrived… and the night was still young. We grabbed a drink at the hotel bar. A Harp beer from Nova Scotia counted as an import, so they charged me $7.50 for the one (and only) beer I drank. (A glass of wine for Dylan, $12… so it could always be worse.) We limped our wounded wallets back to bed by eleven thirty that night, watched Sex and the City (because it seemed only fitting), and then woke up at noon the next day for our last day in the city.
Next week: Day four, goodbye NYC!