"...and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel..."
-Will Farrell as Buddy The Elf
Well, we didn't walk through the Lincoln Tunnel. We drove through it. But as Elf is an amazing movie, I figured it was ok to quote it. The Lincoln Tunnel looks a little like this when you're driving through it:
**Note: I did not take this while driving.
Turns out when you drive into New York City that late at night, the traffic really isn't that bad. To continue with our good luck, the Lincoln Tunnel basically spits us out into Manhattan a couple blocks from the hotel we found online (yeeaaaah our free place to stay may have fallen through...)
We roll up to the hotel with high spirits. There's a lot of happy shouting and honking for no reason (spending a week in a tiny Honda Civic with 3 other people often results in such things). Anyways, I hop out of the car and happily trot into the lobby. I trot out of the lobby 5 minutes later...less happily. Turns out this hotel doesn't do rooms with 2 beds. Turns out this hotel doesn't have any rooms with king size beds (see Nashville post...we're experts at sharing king size beds by now). Turns out no hotel does rooms with 2 beds in New York City. I return to the car with this information and the realization that we are in one of the biggest cities in the world at 11pm with no place to stay. Now, if this were 20 years ago, we may have been stuck. We would have returned to my grandmother's house to sleep on her couch. Good thing it's 2010 and we are all well equipped with modern technology. Sarah calls up some friend who is sure to be by a computer while I hop on the internet on my phone. We come to the same conclusion at the same time: Holiday Inn Express! We find some vacancies at the Holiday Inn Express at Madison Square Garden (yeah, I didn't know it was called that until this very moment. I'm not sure I knew where we were in the world by this time). Now I can show you we were here:
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Of course, we must do some tricky planning to make sure that the Holiday Inn Express thinks we're only 2 people. None of us are trying to pay extra just because we're going to squish 2 extras bodies into the bed. I find a parking spot in the street across from the hotel, run in and get the room squared away. I return to the car with one of those rolling carts so that Sarah and I can pile everyone's luggage onto it instead of having the boys help us bring it up to our room. As Sarah and I bring all of our crap to the room, the boys do a loop around the block and follow us up to the 10th floor after 5 minutes. In retrospect, the woman behind the desk at 11:30pm probably did not care that there were so many of us staying in the room. Plus, the rolling cart piled with enough stuff for 4 people may have been obvious (we thought we were rather smart at the time).
The beautiful thing about New York is that the bars stay open till 4am. We take our time getting ready for our night out in the Big Apple while we wait for my good friend from high school to meet us at the hotel. Steven moved to New York (see: Queens) after college to find a career in the theater biz. So far so good for him! He can eat and pay rent at least, which is pretty impressive in this city. He finds our room and we head south down 7th (Fashion) Avenue towards Chelsea. We wander down 7th Ave until coming upon a decent looking bar. It turns out to be one of those times when the fates just smiles upon us. In the crowded bar we find a great table that fits all 5 of us. The beer is also surprisingly cheap for New York (and even decently priced had we been in Texas. I think $3 for a pint of Bud Light). Even better, they have pitchers of beer thus negating the need for Francesco to show his fake ID. So we sit. And drink. I can't really even share any stories with you, mainly because I can't remember. I shall let some photos speak for me.
I do have a very clear memory of Sarah engaging a man in a conversation about Silly Bandz, though. Francesco and I did decide that the absolute worst topic to discuss when trying to pick up a man is Silly Bandz...apparently she was not trying to do so. We'll leave that up for you, the reader, to decide.
So we close the bar down. 4am rolls around and we wander into the street. Now, I cannot be sure why, but we wander quite a long ways past the hotel. I believe our plan is to see Times Square at night. If you recall, we had wandered south of our hotel, which was on 29th St. Times Square is located at 42nd St. Even from our hotel it's a bit of a walk. Somewhere around 36th St we realize that our plan is really stupid, that we're all drunk, it's about 4:30 in the morning and Steven still has to find a subway home. We part ways with Steven. Sarah gets a beautiful picture of me and Steven saying our goodbyes.
Sometime after all of this, Sarah and I stumble back into the hotel room. The boys have gone off in search of McDonald's (Sam's favorite thing about America is the Dollar Menu). And then, sleep! Because New York awaits us in the morning.