New York City Recap

August 10, 2015
I just got back from a whirlwind of a trip with Rachael! We spent the past three weeks in New York City, Iceland, and then Boston. Both of us decided not to bring our laptops, but truthfully it was nice not have to worry about them and also freeing to have a break. It even feels a little weird typing right my fingers lost some muscles from not being able to do all the typing I usually do. I guess I'll have to build them back up starting with this post, ha ha.

Anyway, I thought I'd recap our trip to New York City first! Let me just say that while I have been to NYC three times before, I felt that this was the first time that I wasn't running around doing touristy stuff the whole time. That's why I loved this trip to NYC so much, even though our start to the trip was a little rough and there were a few ratchet moments.

Rachael and I met at the Cleveland airport and we were both pleasantly surprised that we did not have to pay to check our first bag. I just assumed since JetBlue was pretty cheap that we would be forced to shell out the cash, so it was nice not to! We flew into Boston where we had a layover. Originally, we were supposed to get into NYC in the early afternoon, but they e-mailed us and changed our flight so that we would be arriving after 5 pm. I didn't even get the e-mail--it must have gone into my junk folder, so I'm glad that Rachael was on top of it. We were nervous because we had already purchased tickets to a Broadway show for that evening, and arriving at NYC during rush hour was going to be pushing it if we wanted to get to the show on time. We saw that there was an earlier flight leaving from Boston and tried to get on that, but the JetBlue representative wouldn't let us because we had already checked our bags on the later flight. We sat down at our gate and had a lot of time to kill. We were just chatting when we noticed that our flight had been canceled and no one was at the desk or anything! Both of us saw that the earlier flight to NYC was boarding, and once again tried to get on. At first we were not going to be allowed, but then a more competent man came over and said that we were actually put on this flight anyway since ours was canceled. Well, I'm glad we took it upon ourselves to immediately go over to that gate!! We asked if our bags would be transferred and we were told most likely yes, but that the airline industry couldn't 100% guarantee anything. Oh, and the day we were flying out of Ohio was very stormy in our home state and all over the east coast, so flights were being delayed left and right. The flight we were put on had been delayed several hours, so tons of people were in a bad mood. Also, the flight was really turbulent to the point where I broke out into a sweat and was gripping the seat next to me at the end. When we got to the airport, our bags didn't show up, but there were about 10 others who had the same problem as us. Luckily, our bags were delivered to us at 3 AM the next morning. It was kind of annoying to have to go to a Broadway show in not the best clothes and to not have our toiletries available at night, but these things happen.

Our first night, we stayed at the Wyndham New Yorker, which was actually free for us because Rachael had earned some points for a blogging campaign she did.  Awesome! We went out and got pizza by the slice (which was absolutely delicious), and then went right to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre which is where Finding Neverland was playing. This was Rachael's first Broadway show and my second!! My friend Scott is an actor and goes to NYC all the time because his brother lives there. He has probably seen over 50 shows or more, but he said that Finding Neverland was one of his favorites. After we watched the show, I could see why! It blew the other show I saw on Broadway years ago (Cabaret), out of the water! I mean, it's just a great story, but it was delivered so well and the actors all did a wonderful job. We were both beyond satisfied with the show.

The next day, we had to get a taxi and move our stuff into our AirBnb. Rachael had stayed in an AirBnb in China, but this was my first time ever staying at one. We were a little disappointed with the location because we were in Harlem in not the best neighborhood, but Rachael said it was advertised as being very close to Times Square.  I never felt unsafe, even though maybe I should have felt unsafe because other reviewers later wrote that it was not a good location for female travelers. The bed was really small, and Rachael and I practically slept on top of one another...helloooo Rachael. It was a good way to save some money, though! One night was $90 and there were at least some free granola bars. Something we thought was weird is that they didn't give us a key to their place. At first I was annoyed, but they promised that someone would always be there to let us in, and they always were, so in the end we didn't care that we didn't have a key. There was also a warning posted to just say that we were friends of the hosts and to not admit that we were AirBnb guests to the neighbors, hmmmm. Thankfully, no one asked us! The other odd thing was that there was this girl with pink hair (who will from now on be referred to as Pinky), and she never introduced herself to us even though we think she lived there. I mean she was always there no matter what time of day or night it was. Also, I'm not quite sure that Pinky had a bedroom because she was always watching t.v. or sleeping in a room by the bathroom that was maybe supposed to be the living room (??). I guess we would have just felt better if she said who she was or tried to talk to us, since we had to pass by her when we went to the bathroom. Then we wondered if the room we were staying in was actually her room since she didn't seem to have anywhere else to go. I seriously felt so awkward by her! The actual AirBnb host was really nice and friendly, but I only saw her a couple of times. I would have asked her about Pinky if I had seen her again. I guess it wasn't the worst AirBnb experience, but it probably wasn't the best, either!

The next day, we woke up bright and early to get some breakfast and to take the Sex and the City tour. Rachael was in her glory shouting out answers to the trivia our tour guide asked us. We went all around the city and saw Carrie's stoop, the park where Miranda met Steve's new "hot" girlfriend, to Aidan's bar to have a cosmo, and many other locations from the show. We were brought to the Pleasure Chest since Charlotte made a purchase there, but I didn't feel right going in because someone was in there filming the guests for a show and if I ever do decide to work in public ed. again...well, it's probably not good to be on tape in a sex toy shop. The good thing about the tour is that they played clips from the series before we would go to the next location. I really needed some refreshers since the last time I watched the show was in 2007!  All in all, it was a fun tour and now I want to re-watch every Sex and the City episode from start to finish!

Later on for dinner, we met Rachael's sorority Little who moved to NYC to work on Off-Broadway. It's funny because she showed us selfies with Chris Noth (aka Big from SATC.) The three of us had dinner at an awesome Mexican restaurant called Mojitos close to our AirBnb. Their sangria was really good, and our waitress even said a whole round of drinks was on her. Rachael and I thought that was so nice, but Rachael's friend told us that a lot of places do that as a tactic to get customers to stay there longer and to order more drinks.  Either way, I'm not going to knock a free drink!

After dinner, we went downtown to a place called Pioneers Bar. This bar was awesome because they had all kinds of games to play!! They had jumbo Connect Four boards, Jenga, playing cards, etc. At first we played the games by ourselves, but then we met some strangers and joined in on some of their games. It was an easy way to meet people and tons of fun.

The next day, Rachael and I decided to check out the Birchbox Store! We mainly wanted to go to the braid bar, but I tried to book appointments at least 5 times online and by calling with no luck. Our other reason for wanting to go was to build our own Birchbox! For $15, you head to the back of the store, grab a box, and you pick one sample sized item from the following categories: hair, makeup, skincare, and body.  The 5th item can be any item of your choice. 

That evening we decided to sign up for this BlogHer event in which we could screen Grandfathered, a new show that will premiere this fall. The show stars John Stamos and Josh Peck and is about a self-centered bachelor (Stamos) who finds out at age 50 that he is not just a father but also a grandfather. We watched the pilot, and although I usually like darker shows, this one was one I would watch for a few laughs. Josh Peck was also there to talk about the show and answer questions. Some of the other bloggers were freaking out about him, but truthfully I hadn't heard of this dude until that day! Rachael knew of him because of a show on Nickelodeon that he starred in called Drake and Josh, but it aired long after my childhood was over, so I was not familiar. In the Q&A, Josh was hilarious and down-to-earth and talked about some of his struggles with weight. Even though I wasn't a fan, I became one after listening to him.

The next day, we woke up early and headed to the Hilton Midtown to go to the BlogHer conference. After our breakfast, we listened to a small group of women pitch their business ideas to a panel. Basically, the winner would get support/funding for their idea. It was pretty inspiring to watch because many of the women had wonderful ideas, some of which would help at-risk students, those living in high-poverty in the inner city, or those affected with HIV/AIDS. Afterwards, there were a lot of seminars to choose from, but we decided to go to one about search engine optimization. While the speaker was qualified and gave many tips about what Google likes, the set up for this event was very poor. There were a bunch of tables all pushed together and it was extremely hard for each group to hear their speaker. The whole time I felt like I was straining to hear and Rachael and I would look at each other and ask, "What did she just say?" I also went to the How to Build a Media Kit, presented by Erin of Scandalous Beauty. While Erin was delightful and had good advice to share, again, I really could NOT hear. At first it was because of the loud music and then it was because of the other groups/too many side conversations. I ended up getting frustrated and left a little early and just went through the Expo to meet the sponsors of BlogHer. It was really not what I expected, but I didn't really have much of an idea of what to anticipate, since this was my first ever blog conference. I thought that different companies would be there and would be looking for bloggers to work with, and while maybe there was a little of that going on, mostly it was representatives from such-and-such company trying to tell us about their brand. Many brand representatives were giving away free stuff and doing giveaways. Rachael got a years supply of toothpaste and won a FitBit. We both left with samples of SheaMoisture body oil, Toms products, some organic snacks, and so on. I wish I would have known about all the free stuff--I had to pass up on a lot of it because there simply wasn't room in my bag since it was full of everything I needed for Iceland. Oh well, you live and you learn.

For the closing party, we headed out to Pier 84 to go to a concert sponsored by McDonald's. We were greeted by all of these young, attractive males holding trays of chicken McNuggets. hamburgers, and cheeseburgers. It made me a little uncomfortable because the less attractive and bigger people were hidden in the food tent making fries and burgers!  What?! I told Rachael that I thought McDonald's had hired talent and that none of those guys actually worked for McDonald's. She asked them, and they confirmed this. The concert was actually pretty enjoyable--if you haven't heard by now, Boyz II Men performed along with DJ Spider and Nick Cannon.  Rachael and I met up with fellow blogger Rachel of Small Towns and City Lights and had a good time getting to know her.

All and all, I really just wanted to learn about blogging, so that's why I signed up for the conference. While the events were fun and the speakers were interesting/passionate about their causes, I do not feel that I gained many valuable insights about blogging from this event.  If I ever go to another conference, I'd like to make sure that it is more focused on how to grow a blog. Also, every single blogger I've ever met in real life has been beyond fabulous, but BlogHer had its fair share of ratchet bloggers. (Interrupting the speakers at the sessions over and over, being pushy, etc.) One example of this was my run-in with a real-life Hamburglar. At the McDonald's party, I went to grab a cheeseburger off of one of the trays and apparently it was the last one.  This other blogger saw that it was, and bolted in front of me, grabbed it out from underneath my hand, took it, ran away, and then turned around and laughed at me. Lady, if a McDonald's cheeseburger means that much to you, then you can have it!! Rachael witnessed the whole thing and said, "I cannot believe she did that to you!  The laughing was beyond rude!" Looking back, it is kind of funny, but I wish I knew where that lady blogged at, ha ha.

Overall, we had a good trip, made some memories, and laughed a lot! This time it's okay that I didn't learn a lot about blogging. Like I said, next time I'll research it more.

Have you ever gone to a blog conference? What did you think? What do you like to do in the Big Apple?
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