I went on a whirlwind three days in New York City. This was a pretty big deal for me because as I love to travel, and always say I want to travel, I have gone places, but nowhere far lately. I haven’t flown since my honeymoon in 2002.
So when Jolene – my dearest friend, the eggs to my bacon, told me almost a year ago about an event that was coming to NYC – Book Riot Live – naturally I thought it sounded cool, but never really considered going. Jolene being the seasoned traveller that she is, saw it and thought to herself – of course I’m going to that – I wonder if Danielle will go with me. Book Riot is an awesome website and community about everything books. If you’re a reader at all, you should check it out. They had announced that they were having Book Riot Live – basically a two-day event, with authors, panels, vendors, games, signings, live recordings of podcasts, you name it. Basically drool worthy stuff for bibliophiles like myself and Jolene.
We had been planning this trip for so long – it never really seemed like it was going to get here, but it did – and it happened November 7th – 9th.
I feel like I want to write this blog post so I don’t forget. It’s been a week and I already feel like the feeling is starting to go. The amazing feeling that I felt while I was in New York City. Admittedly, it’s probably not for everyone. But I feel like everyone could probably find something there for them. Jolene was telling me about how much her Dad hated big cities, but he loved New York. I seriously can’t blame him – there is so much there to love.
Our flight took off on Saturday morning around 5:50. Between the time I arrived at Jo’s house on Friday night, and with the Niagara Airbus picking us up at 2:20am, I had gotten about 1 1/2 hours of sleep. It was a good flight and we arrived in one piece on the tarmac at JFK at just after 7am. We took a cab into the city and dropped our bags off at the hotel. From there we walked to the Metropolitan West, where Book Riot Live was happening. It was about a half an hour walk from our hotel. Our hotel was located on 7th Ave between Central Park and Times Square. We had to walk through Times Square to get to the convention. I loved walking in New York. It really is the best way to absorb everything, and feel like you’re really part of the experience.
Book Riot the first day was awesome. We got registered, and had our first look around. We got to do a bit of shopping at the various vendors – all selling bookish goodness. The day went very fast and included a bunch of different interesting panels, being part of a tattoo chain and actually meeting and getting my book signed by the one and only Margaret Atwood! That was so cool.
At the end of the day we made it back to the hotel, where we cleaned up, and then went out for dinner before going to see Kinky Boots. Now…Kinky Boots was awesome. So much energy, so much light. If you ever get the chance, I would totally recommend seeing it.
After walking back to our hotel, Jolene and I totally died. With only 1 1/2 hours of sleep since Friday morning at 5:30, we were both totally exhausted. No bed was ever quite so comfortable and no pillow was ever quite so soft as ours were that night.
We headed back to the Metropolitan West the next morning – feeling like real New Yorkers as we grabbed coffee and breakfast and ate while we walked. We had another full, interesting day at Book Riot Live. I want to take a second to really commend the folks over there. They are a really quirky (I mean that in the most complimentary way possible) and interesting group of people. They are so diverse, so forward thinking, so unique. I love reading their content, watching them on YouTube and following them on Twitter. They didn’t disappoint in real life. They’re an amazing crew and should be proud of themselves for putting on a fantastic event. I hope it’s the first of many.
After Book Riot Live was over, we hopped on a subway and made our way down to the World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial and museum. To be honest, I didn’t know really what to expect or how I would feel going there. We came up out of the subway station and the first thing I saw was the new 1 World Trade Center jetting up into the sky. It is a beautiful, impressive structure and the first sight took my breath away. We walked over to the memorial fountains, that sit in the exact footprints of the fallen twin towers.
The museum itself completely blew me away. In a way, I’m still processing everything I saw while we were there. It was huge, and beautiful, and so incredibly sad, while still preserving the pride and resilience of New York, the United States, and Americans and Western Civilization on a whole. In building this museum, they have found a way to preserve the details of that day, and the events leading up to it and following it, in a way that no one will ever forget even the smallest details. The human factor will never be forgotten. The planes flew into the buildings that day, but it was in no way about the planes or the buildings. It was about the people. The people in the planes. The people in the buildings. The people on the ground. The service people, the families. I walked through this space, full of people, and for the most part, you could hear a pin drop. I was quite overcome by emotions several times throughout my time there. It hit home several times – I remember this day. I remember where I was, how I heard, how I felt. This is part of the history of this generation, my generation. The events of this day changed the world. For me, there will always be life before 9/11 and life after 9/11. I can say that. My son will never be able to say that. He never knew what life was like before.
Needless to say, if you are ever visiting New York City, please don’t leave without taking a trip down and making this part of it. It was worth it, and it was definitely one of the things I will never forget about this experience.
Back on the subway we went, and got off at Penn Station so we could walk over to the Empire State Building. We crossed off another bucket list item for me by stopping for a slice of pizza on our way there. The Empire State Building was definitely another highlight of the trip, and I’m so glad we got to see it at night. Manhattan is so beautiful from up there at night.
After some dessert and some drinks, we made it down to Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Centre, and (the outside of) NBC Studios before heading back for another amazing sleep!
Monday dawned a beautiful day. We checked out early, and headed over to NBC Studios in the hopes of going on the tour, which was unfortunately booked. So we went for breakfast instead, after doing a bit of shopping in the store. After breakfast, we went up to Central Park. I had been very excited for this for the whole trip. It occurred to me at one point walking down the street when a dog stopped to do his business on the sidewalk that New York (Manhattan anyway) is a city without grass. Not a blade to be found everywhere. So walking into Central Park was crazy different to the rest of the city. It is an absolutely beautiful green space, and standing there within it looking out at the city around you is an incredible contrast. One I don’t think you can fully appreciate unless you are there in the middle of it.
After a trip to the BEAUTIFUL New York Public Library, a stroll down 5th Ave looking at all the stores that I could barely afford walking through the front doors, we stopped at Macy’s. Decorated for Christmas, Macy’s is a feast for the eyes and senses. To be perfectly honest, we walked in the door and into the handbags. Beyond that was the cosmetics and fragrances. Jolene went to some of the other floors, I never made it past that one area. I was totally in my element.
After a bit more shopping, and a couple more slices of pizza, it was time to hop the subway to head back to JFK. We got our bags and headed down to the subway, which was just down from our hotel. Before we went down into the station, I stopped, and did a complete 360, looking around and trying to take everything in. I knew when I next came out of the ground, we would be at JFK.
I was happy to get home, happy to see my family and crawl into my own bed, but I will always remember this trip and how amazing it was. How addictive this city is. I already have looked up flights for the spring so that I can go back and take Joe with me. It’s completely exhausting. I normally like to average about 10,000 steps in a day. In the three days we were there I logged over 57,000 steps. I ate everything under the sun and still lost 3 lbs while I was there because of all the walking. It was wonderful, it was life changing, it was one of the best times of my entire life, and I can’t wait to go back again someday.