Me and New York City never sleep!
You talk about being a nervous wreck! First of all, as old as I am, can you believe I've never been to the Big Apple? Shoot, the farthest west I've ever been is to Tallahassee, Florida! So, seeing as how I have been a fan of the Millionaire show for a million years, this was the perfect excuse for me to travel out of my comfort zone. I took Bree, my 15 year old too, and, since she had never been either nor had ever flown in a plane before, I had to be the brave one!
After checking in 2 bags for $10 freaking dollars and the minor hassle of having to tie my shoes again after going through security in Jacksonville, we had a very pleasant flight on Jet Blue to JFK.
But then it started! Never take Super Shuttle! I prearranged online our ride from JFK to our hotel. Fifty bucks! They packed 8 of us into the van - now, at fifty bucks a head - those suckers made four hundred freaking dollars off of one trip! Not a bad days work! Geez!
Wouldn't have been so bad if we weren't second to the last to be dropped off! Had to wait through the grandma and her two daughters and two screaming grandbabies to be dropped off in Harlem. Then we got tossed all around while the spazz driver whipped through traffic, nearly clipping a bunch of cars. (I just learned why cars' side mirrors can be folded in!) You never saw two people so happy to get to a hotel in your life!
The Milburn hotel was fantastic! Ended up costing a bit over five hundred dollars for the both of us for 3 days and 2 nights. I didn't think that was too outrageous for Manhattan, one block off Broadway, on 76th. Not a gripe in the world! At least, none they could be held responsible for - it was chilly the first night and there's no individual room heat - you had to wait till it got down to 55 and the the big main heater kicked in. But they gave us southern-bumpkins two of the softest, most comfortable blankets I ever felt!
Also I had requested a "smoking" room and ours wasn't - no ashtrays - so when I asked at the desk, we had to pack up and move - no biggie though, 'cos we got a whole-nuther basket of goodies in both our bathroom and kitchenette!
Since we got there Tuesday afternoon and my appointment with Millionaire wasn't until 5pm on Wednesday, we had time to look around. Bree and I walked to a drug store by the hotel to get some Caprisun and chips and microwaveable White Castles and crap like that - our bill came to $50! Bree had a cow, but, we were on vacation, so we got over it!
We went to a Greek sandwich shop nearby on Broadway. Why would Bree order pancakes and bacon? Good grief! I figured she wanted something she was familiar with and not Greek-ified! But, I had a chicken salad sandwich with feta cheese on pita bread. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! Afterwards, we looked in a few windows, but were kinda pooped and called it an evening.
Yea, right! Believe that, if you wanna! New York is the city that never sleeps, right? We woke up around midnight and decided to venture out. Well, someone told us a lie! Seemed like it was snoring to me! Being that Bree is only 15 and I don't drink, there wasn't much for us to do. We found a McDonald's on Columbus Avenue, got some ice cream, and went on back. Good thing the hotel had free DVDs! We got a couple, The Departed (Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio - what an excellent flick!) and something else, and packed it in again.
Wednesday we got up around one - I had arranged with the front desk for them to have a ride for us at 3pm. The driver took us to the ABC studios, which was one block off Central Park. With time to kill, we walked over to the Tavern on the Green and saw the horse and carriages. Ya'll, that MADE my trip! We took the long ride - $75 - and had a ball!
- NOTE: when you look at the slide show I made, if you know what any of them are, let me know - I was taking the pictures so fast that I forgot what most of them were - and I'd really like to know!)
- Central Park is beautiful - the people are fascinating and the weather was perfect. At one point, a little boy started running after the horse & buggy - I was so afraid he was going to run into a tree 'cos he wasn't looking - he ended up crashing into the fence - I was laughing so hard that I didn't even get his picture, darn it!
An hour later, I was bummed out when it was over. Mahmet took some pictures of us and we of him and Sophia and Bree and I walked down to Times Square to have a bite to eat. We found a quaint little cafe where we ate outside and did some "people-watching."
We got back to the ABC studio around 4:45 - there was a long line. No problem - they book around 200 people for three different test times. We quickly went in and I sat at a table with 3 others. It was pretty much a cattle-call, folks. I'll bet we were there for under an hour. Nothing exciting about it - they will send me a post card to let me know the next step. (Yes, the test was hard.)
Bree was dying to do some shopping (what teenaged girl isn't, right?) so I reluctantly gave in. The night before I had seen a purse in one of the windows. We went there to check it out and I almost had a heart attack! The dad-burn thing was $675!
Every store we went into, we came right back out! Bree's budget was $200 - guess what? She did not buy one thing! I thought I was the cheapskate! The only store that had any reasonable prices was Lohman's, but she didn't see anything she liked.
(Note: She went shopping in Jacksonville when we got home! Came out with 3 shirts, 2 skirts, and a pair of sandals! My baby!)
I lied - we ran across a street vendor that had "ball caps" and she got a cute red one for $10. Down the street, we saw another vendor that had gorgeous gold and silver plated hypo-allergenic (so he said) earrings. Now, since I'm a little "porky" earrings are right up my alley. I got five pairs for me and 2 for Bree - spent $100. I HAD to be able to say I bought something from New York - good grief! I love the earrings too - earrings are kind of a passion for me - I probably have around 200 pairs - after all, I have a total of 7 holes in my ears!
- It was "dark-thirty" (you know, about 30 minutes till dark) and we were making it back to the hotel. My feet were absolutely killing me and I was miserable. Check this out: we passed a "bum" or whatever is politically correct to call this guy. I glanced at him as we passed and do you know, this jerk had the nerve to say, "What are you looking at?" Oh my goodness, wrong! He should have known better! I went off! "Not much, a**hole!" and a few other "choice" words! I'm sorry, folks, I did not expect that one at all! It's funny now, but with my feet hurting, and not having a successful shopping trip, he caught me at the wrong most 'un-funny' time! You should have seen his face too - I don't think he expected it either!
I got up around 8 and went down to the lobby to get our free "continental breakfast" - croissants, bagels, juice - very nice. I double checked with the front desk that they arranged a ride to the airport for us and went back to pack up. We checked out around 9:30 and the driver picked us up around 9:45 - $60 bucks this time - but it was so much more enjoyable, less hectic, and much less smelly.
JFK wasn't as easy as the Jacksonville airport. Getting through security takes a lot longer, but it is very understandable. I appreciated the extra efforts they make. I'm not ready to be a statistic. We finally got back home around 5 that afternoon, and Miss Missy wanted to go to the mall - so I dropped her off and went home to give and get some needed hugs with my dogs.
All in all, we had a ball. Slightly looking forward to the return trip soon. It would be nice if I could win a dollar or two on the show to pay for the trip too!