Tag Archives: Travel

My New York City

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Small-town girl’s subway rants while visiting a friend for the first time in New York City

The city quakes with life. It calls to you the minute your feet hit the pavement. The blind man beckons for your change. The man in the suit reads his paper. Neither of them notice each other.  The subway stops. A middle-aged black man gets on with his toddler son in a stroller. The boy feeds his father a Cheerio.
Down the street the noise is endless. You look up. The buildings seem to lean in to each other.  Their size is overwhelming. The music booms and we order a Bronx Pale Ale. Our food comes out sizzling,  and it’s delicious. Back on the street the city swells with a mixture of tourists and locals. In some places the lights are so bright it’s difficult to discern whether it’s night or day.
The next morning I wake with an  excitement that it wasn’t a dream. The city exists, and we are in it. The streets are fresh and the atmosphere changes from one block to the next.  We emerge from the subway to romantic music played by an Asian woman on an accordion. The walls are covered in colorful murals of animals and sky scenes in blue, gold and green. The museum is booming with people of all ages and nationalities. The exhibits map our fascinating history.  The hot dog stand serves us up a juicy New York dog. On the way to the subway, a runway model struts her stuff for all her friends.
The doors open to the another section of the city–home to the World Trade Center. The history floods into my veins as I remember these streets from 9/11. The news clips of the twin towers flash before my eyes; it is all too real. The people crying and falling from windows; the stories of children who would be orphaned because both of their parents worked there; the rescue workers crushed by the debris. These streets scream remembrance.
Returning to the subway we grab a slice of pizza that is like no other–thin, cheesy and with a sauce that’s not too sweet and not too spicy–perfection.  The numbers get blurred, and we end up in Brooklyn. Every section of this city has a different story to tell. The kindness of a woman who can tell we’re lost touches me beyond belief.  This day has been full of emotion–the city is touching my soul. After this long ride on the dragon in the dungeon of the AC train, we emerge in Harlem once again, and it’s a relief.
Asian fusion calls our names as we make our way to Broadway. The crowd floods into the theatre with the excitement of the stage surrounding us. As the munchkins fill the stage,  the atmosphere becomes Wicked. Drama and comedy join together for the next few hours. My exhaustion hits me, and the city carries me to 137th.
We join the speed again in the morning at Lenny’s for bagels and coffee. Dropping off at Steps for ballet feels like throwing my daughter to the wolves. Competition surrounds the little ballerina from small town Alabama.  We trek over to Central Park and find the woods booming with bikers and runners and the yoga groups and couples with picnics. We discover Bellevedere’s Castle and sit on the steps to enjoy the view.
Our feet hit the street on our way to soak up our last day in the city. The shops on Fifth Avenue burst with consumers searching for the products to complete their lives. We pass Lincoln Center and I envision the thousands of dancers who have stepped out chasing their dreams on that stage. My guide discovers the key to my heart when he suggests that we go to the New York City Library. Over 6 billion books live on those shelves. We pass the familiar sites of our favorite shows–30 Rock and the hotel from Bass Industries of Gossip Girl and visions of stars behind cameras dance before my eyes. As we cross the street from one borough to the next, it is like entering a completely different city. The Upper East Side ends and we venture into the busy and mysterious streets of Chinatown. I immediately decide that this is my least favorite section and hope to hurry out. We purchase our souvenirs and move on to a pub for drinks and a place to rest our weary feet. The sun begins to set as we stroll into Little Italy and again we leave one city to enter another. The atmosphere is filled with romance from the music and the smells of pasta.  Tables lines the streets. We make our way into a cozy little restaurant and order wine and four different Italian dishes to delight in together.
We board the Staten Island ferry for our final destination.  The air is brisk coming off the water. Our nation’s symbol of peace is illuminated in the distance. As we make our way back to the island, I envision our ancestors arriving for the first time. On the dragon again our exhaustion reveals itself. As I drift in and out I notice the other passengers.  The man with an odd green stamp on his hand glares at me from behind a pole. A group of deaf girls sign to each other and laugh. We disembark and head down to Harlem for the last night’s rest before the trip home. As I close my eyes, I soak up the moments that have now become My New York City.

Universal Studios Orlando, Florida

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Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida“The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.”–Audrey Hepburn

<<<Taylor, Preston, Perry and I soaking up the stardom of one of my favorite actresses…loved her in Breakfast at Tiffany’s!

Last summer, we loaded up the Nissan and headed off for Orlando–me, my kids (Taylor and Preston) and one of my favorite people in the world…Perry Jones. Being the huge Harry Potter fans that we are, we were craving some theme park experience of the wizarding world. The eight hour drive took us from our small town in Alabama through Tallahassee straight down the Turnpike into Orlando. Nothing really interesting happened on our way although we did go to Starbucks to promote gay marriage and we boycotted Chik Fil A all day due to the rage against gay marriage that they had started at the time. We were also tempted by Club Risque–a nude restaurant advertised for by at least 13 signs, but we decided that it wouldn’t be a good idea with the kids and all.

Our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express, was only one and a half miles from the park. Right after we checked in, we went down to enjoy some $6 big girl drinks and let the kids take a dip in the pool before heading out to Emeril’s in Downtown Universal. Emeril’s had the hugest wine rack I’ve ever seen, so we of course had some to pair with our delicious pizza. A little walk around, and we were exhausted.

The next morning we all headed out bright and early to Harry Potter Wizarding World at the Islands of Adventure. Little did we know that everyone else had the same idea. It was so crowded, we could barely move! However, it was still awesome! Walking into HogsMeade with the theme music playing made me feel like we were walking into the movie! My favorite ride was Hogwarts: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey where you walk through the castle and then get into a flying cart and follow Ron, Harry and Hermione through an adventure. We also went and ate at the Three Broomsticks and drank Butterbeer–fun, fun. We waited at Ollivander’s for our wands for an hour, and we were disappointed to find that the choosing was only for one lucky person in the crowd. After we’d had our fill of the crowd, we ventured out into the rest of the park to find more thrilling roller coasters such as The Hulk and Jurassic Park’s Adventure Ride. Once again, we were exhausted by the end of the day and went back and crashed in our room.

Luckily, we’d paid the extra bucks for the park hopper passes and we had the choice to go back to Harry Potter Wizarding World after our tour of Universal Studios. Our favorite ride hands down was the Mummy. We rode it at least five times. Perry and I were amused at the test seats at the beginning of the rides–don’t ride if you are at risk of getting stuck, but just in case you don’t use your common sense, here’s a seat to test before you get stuck and cause everyone else to have to wait. The kids liked the Hollywood Rip Ride Rock It, but it jerked my neck around too much. Perry and I waited forever on them to ride it, and I thought they’d been kidnapped until they finally came running out. My theme park experience is never complete until I lose a kid or two!

We ended up back at HogsMeade for dinner and shopping that night. I spent $75 on candy–chocolate frogs, every flavor jelly bean, tongue tongue toffee–totally worth it. Preston got Dumbledore’s wand, and Taylor and I bought tee-shirts. Of course you can’t spend a summer’s day in South Florida without a torrential downpour, which we got stuck in for a good hour while we were trying to make our way to the gate.

Unfortunately, all vacations must end. On our way home we stopped at a truck stop to purchase one of the best travel necessities I’ve ever found…the Pastor Brown series of mysteries on audio CD. (Complete sarcasm)

This will definitely be a revisit when they complete the rumored renovations to Harry Potter Wizarding World.