Thursday, 5 January 2012

Happy New Year!

Day 31cont: Despite contacting the restaurant beforehand, no-one could advise if this option was going to allow us to see the ball drop.  We had also booked another restaurant but looking at the location it was going to give us less chances so we cancelled the booking the day before.  Steve and Leonie's hotel also gave us the option of attending a party there, but once again no guarantee of getting out to be involved in the events. We were constantly told that Police would not allow people on the streets unless they had been standing with the crowd for hours in the barricaded areas.  By this point we were five tired travellers and decided that at least being in Times Square on NYE was the main thing we wanted so decided to go with our $125 per person option at the TSQ restaurant, which incidentally was right next to Olive Garden where we had spent lunch.  It took a long time for Gary, Tiahna and I to get through all of the police barriers and crowds (people were not willing to let people through after they had been standing around for hours - understandable).  We finally arrived in Times Sqaure and got to see the ball in it's top position waiting for the midnight drop - incidentally, it's quite a small ball, not at all what I imagined. In fact a lot of people were taking photos of the wrong thing as there is a large lighted ball just to the left of the real thing that is part of a building.  Even people that were standing in the barricades outside the restaurant were able to see the ball but not the stages and they had been there since about 3pm.  We went inside and found ourselves in to discover that all of the stage items were being displayed on screens around the room, but unfortunately they had a DJ so didn't have the sound up.  They had subtitles on though so it still worked well.  When Justin Beiber and Lady Gaga were on stage we quickly went outside so we could hear them live (but unfortunately couldn't see much more than a speck).  Once we were there we were advised that we were going to be able to go outside for the big event - yay. So at 11.40 we all headed out onto a reserved area on the footpath and got to witness the whole thing - amongst so many people we thought we were going to be crushed to death.  Poor Tiahna, I think she would have rather been any other place in the world at that moment.  There are stacks of large screens in Times Square and you would have thought that they would have used them to screen what was happening on the stage for those slightly back, but not so, regular advertising continued throughout the night - weird.  But the end result is we were there, we heard the performers and we watched the ball.  Gary and I had to look into each others eyes and have a delayed midnight kiss as we were on either side of Tiahna and couldn't even move to kiss each other because of the crowds. It was a 12:00:45 timed kiss. Check that off the Bucket List.
Day 32: After a short sleep-in, Gary and Steve met up and went 'boy' shopping whilst Leonie, Tiahna and I lined up to try and get Letterman tickets.  Unfortunately they call random people to attend the show and we didn't get the call :( We all met up and went to BB King for an early dinner.  This is where Gary had the best steak of his life when we were here 3 years ago and Leonie has been wanting to try it - it held up to the memory. Everyone then headed back to their hotels for an early night.
Day 33: Today we all met at the Empire State Building.  We decided to pay the extra and go as high as we could go which was to the 106th floor - so worth it.  The view is much better than the general area.  We had planned to go to the Statue of Liberty but it is currently closed for renovations and by this stage we decided that we would just drive past and look at it rather than catch the Staten Island ferry to go past.  It was sooo cold, we all agreed we didn't need to see it up close. By going up the extra floors we were able to see a lot of the landmarks that we wanted to.  Now although, I feel horrible for poor Leonie having to be in a wheelchair, can I say it was the best thing for us that day.  We were able to skip all of the queues going in and out of the building and saved ourselves a lot of time for more sightseeing.  My advice to anyone thinking of going there is to put someone in a hired wheelchair!!
We then picked our car up from the parking area and drove around New York for awhile.  We wanted to visit The Juliard School but unfortunately it was closed today.  They boys went to the Apple store whilst I took Tiahna to look at the Museum of Natural History where we saw 'Dum Dum', the monkey and T-Rex from the movie 'Night in the Museum'.  We then went and had authentic New York Pizza Pie from the first Pizza establishment in New York.  Afterwards Gary went to check out a music store - it's great having shops open so late at night, I don't know how I'm going to adjust when I get back home.
Day 34: We checked out of our hotel and picked up Leonie and Steve and went back to Juliard.  Tiahna and I dropped the others there whilst we went car-park hunting.  Seriously, New York is the worst place to park, each park has about 5 signs telling you when you can and can't park there and they often contradict each other.  Also, there are 'rules' which you're just meant to know and they don't always display which are paid parking and which aren't, if I hadn't of asked for help from a passing business man I would have not realised that 2 blocks up was a parking payment machine and left the car without a ticket in it. Anyway, everyone enjoyed their shopping and after a couple of other music shop stops (plus a stop at Hershey's - yum) we said goodbye and were on our way to Manchester, New Hampshire.  The original plan was to head to Cape Cod next to see all of the nice homes but we decided we would rather start a 'snow hunt'. It was -13 degrees celsius when we arrived in Manchester.
New Hampshire is the state that usually determines who the next President will be.  If you win your parties nomination in New Hampshire for the Presidential campaign then you are likely to be the next President.  Apparently New Hampshire is known for picking the Presidents, incidentally 96.5% of the population is white - interesting.  At them moment people are campaigning to become their parties Presidential candidate.  The hotel we were staying at was also housing a few of the potential candidates so we possibly said good morning to the next US President. We just made sure we said good morning to everyone we walked past in a suit.
Day 35: We left our hotel mid morning and headed towards the ski areas at Mount Washington. Gary wanted to drive in mountains of white and he got his wish.  We eventually found a little park with enough snow to get out and play.  The snow was quite light and fluffy so we weren't able to have a snowball fight or make snowmen but Tiahna and I did make snow angels - yay!  Gary found a frozen lake that he threw huge boulders onto that didn't even break the ice but I had to persuade him not to walk on the ice to test it - that was one headache I didn't need.  After 10 minutes of play we needed to get back into the car - it was freezing and none of us had really dressed in ski clothes, my hands were in so much pain because I made the mistake of taking off a glove to take a photo and Gary seriously was wondering if it was possible to get frost-bite in that small amount of time because his nose was in so much pain. Funnily enough, Tiahna and Gary then decided they had had enough of snow and didn't need to see it again, so we headed on to South Portland in Maine.  Ah, the adventures of a road trip!

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