Oh shit, its raining. BIG BLOODY AMERICAN RAIN!!! Wait till it subsides slightly (and its still bloody hot out), and me and Tim go our separate ways to do some random bits and pieces. I head down to the Smithsonian museum back down by the Staten Island Ferry. Mainly because NOFX mention it one of their songs. Museum is cool, lots of native indian stuff on display, but its not very big, so am out within the hour. Theres a funny security guard there that likes my accent. This was mentioned a lot, and its funny – how on earth does my grating south London barking sound “ nice”!?
Its stopped raining enough for some outside stuff, so get back on the subway and head up to Central Park. First stop is the Dakota Building and the Imagine Mosaic (John Lennons apartment building where he was killed, and the memorial for him). Took some pictures, but found it funny the amount of people taking smiley happy pictures outside the Dakota. Hey, heres a happy picure of us in New York at the site where John Lennon got shot. Weird. I guess it’s the kind of thing my friend Shaun would do…but then he’s a bastard. ;-)
Central Park is cool, but only really get to check out a small part of it. Walk round the small lake taking pictures and realise you can’t hear any traffic – its so quiet there! Its cool that theres such a massive patch of green in the middle of this city, just a shame I didn’t come along when it was sunny and dry!
Wandered back down to Time Square, but it was getting scary busy again. Jumped back on the subway and headed back to Manitobas in the East Village in time for Happy Hour. Had a few beers and chatted to the groovy barmaid and waited for Tim (who was late!). He managed to get one cider in happy hour, then headed south to an irish bar for some food.
Woke up and was pleased to see it was sunny again, but news of Hurricane Irene was getting more and more heavy and we were getting concerned about what was gonna happen on Saturday.
Got up and headed to Times Square again so Tim could look round Toys R Us – which is a bit of a nightmare, cos I love toys and always wanna buy loads of random shit I’ve never seen before. Latest obsession is a range of horror-based high school dolls – based on Dracula, Frankenstein, Creature From The Black Lagoon etc, but look like 50s style pin up girls. ARGH!!! Luckily I can’t fit them in my rucksack. (for info, see Monster High!)
Decided to hit Tims favourite chain restaurant for lunch, so off we went to Bubba Gumps in Times Square. Had another comment about our accents from the seater guy in Bubbas, who did a pretty good impression of us. After lunch, we figured we should prob go back to the hotel to see what was going on with the hurricane. Luckily we did cos the shit hit the fan.
NY was gonna shut down at midday on Saturday. Both our flights to San Diego from JFK had been cancelled, so we spent the whole afternoon trying to get out of NY. I’m pleased to say American Airlines were brilliant, and I got sorted pretty quickly, although I was gonna have a three flight 10 hour journey to SD – although I was gonna arrive there earlier than originally planned. Tim had more problems and his escape plan was more complicated, but he also managed to get out the following day.
Once sorted, I headed off to Greenwich Village for a beer. It was so wicked round there, and was a bit gutted that we hadn’t got to spend much time in this part of town. Had an Anchor Steam in the Peculiar Pub on Bleeker St, then headed to the City Winery to see Juliana Hatfield do an acoustic gig. Venue was nuts – a very posh and refined wine tasting room, with lots of tables and chairs. Got a seat close to the stage and had some food delivered, along with some Mad Jamaican IPA. This beer was amazing, although it was 7% - after two I was suitably wooly, and decided I wouldn’t go and have a final beer in the Village after the gig after all.
Juliana was great. I haven’t seen her play live for over 15 years, so was excited to see she was playing in NY. She really doesn’t look any older, and personality-wise hasn’t changed a bit. Still ridiculously shy and amateurish (she restarted at least two songs from scratch) andchanged the set around as she went along, but her voice sounded great and she played a cracking set of old and new songs (including Ride with Me by The Lemonheads). Was so chuffed I got to see her.
Went back to the hotel and crashed out with a fuzzy head. Tim had sorted hi escape plan and was off at 3am. I was leaving at 5am. Got some shut eye and waited for the madness to come!
Up at 4.45am, packed and headed to the airport. JFK was heaving and I was a bit worried I wouldn’t get on my flight, however, this was when I realised how brilliant AA were gonna be. I checked in almost immediately and was through security within half an hour of arriving.
Flight to Miami was awesome, as I had been put in first class! So I had a full reclining seat and loads of movies to watch. Laid the seat flat and settled down to watch Bridesmaids, which was bloody hilarious.
Arrived in Miami and headed over to my next flight to Dallas, which was less than an hour to take off. This plane was a little smaller, and was the longest of the three flights. Slept for most of this flight and landed in Dallas ahead of schedule.
Jumped on the Dallas -> San Diego flight and had a whole row to myself. Spent the whole flight looking out of the window gobsmacked. I wish I’d taken my camera out as the view was insane. There is NOTHING between Dallas and SD other than farms and desert and mountains. Was mental. Even when we came in to land there was nothing – until the houses came into view and you realised you were landing in the middle of town! Then came the biggest surprise. My bags turned up. I was sure after three flights, this wasn’t gonna happen. YAY. Left the airport, grabbed a shuttle and headed to the hotel.
I was the first of the UK people to arrive there, and I couldn’t check in cos Tim needed to do it. Luckily, Kelly and Alex from Australia had arrived, so I dumped my bag in their room and we headed out for some food and drink.
For this part of the SD trip, we are staying in the Gaslamp Quarter, which during the evening is a bit like being in a hip hop video, especially during Saturday and Sunday night. The main drag is full of bars and clubs playing banging hip hop and club-type music, and everyone is hanging out outside the bars and on the street, it chaos. Eventually we managed to sniff out a grungy looking bar on the main drag called The Hopping Pig, that did ace burgers and had an extensive beer list, which suited us fine.
Eventually we were joined by Tim and Tom who arrived about 10pm, but after one more beer I was dozing off in my chair in the pub cos of the 5am start. Christ knows how Tim was still awake. So I left them to it and went back to the hotel to crash out and get some well needed sleep – just in case Tim took us on one of his “walks” the following day…