Travel Bloggers and Writers, in a large room, alone, with no coffee.....Saga 1 of 5
24.06.2010 - 24.06.2010 50 °C
Bloggers Disclaimer of Truth - Day One has really nothing to do with the actual conference
Ah, New York. The city that never sleeps. The Big Apple. Home of the Yankees. Yellow Cab capitol of the world. Really, you should see it.......more Yellow Cabs than you've ever seen in your life. Well, more than I've ever seen, and I've lived in Chicago, where there are more cabs than pigeons on any given block. And this past weekend (June 26, 27) New York was also home to the Travel Blog Exchange 2010 - TBEX '10, for those of us fortunate enough to attend. It is upon this occasion that I begin my first blog here in that Big Apple of Travel......Travellerspoint!!!
Ah, New York. The city that...no wait, sorry, did that....
Accompanying me on this adventure into the minds of travel bloggers was the lovely Isadora. Rather I should say that I was accompanying her, since she has the better blogging pedigree. Though, in all fairness, I am more adept at muling all the luggage. We set out very early that Thursday on what was to become a fine summer morning. Chicago's O'Hare airport gleamed like a, well, nothing really....airports generally don't gleam. Perfect day for flying though. Even more perfect day for landing, which really is the most important part of any flight. Alright, takeoff, then flight, then landing....all equally important, but let's not nitpick here. We landed safely at LaGuardia airport, jewel of Long Island (and I say that in very nearly the most sincere voice I can muster) to the same lovely day. My senses were keen and sharp, and within 45 minutes I had located the Yellow Cab stand. I was on top of my game....I knew that this was to be an adventure that I could tell my non-existent children about when they were old enough to decipher my gibberish. My non-existent grandchildren would talk of the day that their grandfather strode to the queue, stood boldly, laden with several hundred pounds of luggage, and waited for the next cab to appear. Visions of Leonardo diCaprio standing on the bow of the Titanic wove through my brain as I stood in that queue. My Kate Winslet stood before me, radiant in her flip flops and flowered sun dress. We were the kings of that queue. About that time, a cab pulled up and pulled me back, screaming and kicking, into reality. We were not the kings of the queue. At least not to the rather impatient people waiting behind us. And so began our quest, our journey through the Apple That Never Sleeps.
We were graced to be admitted to the Washington Square Hotel after a mildly harrowing cab ride. And I say mildly harrowing only because truly harrowing would have involved the cabbie using his brakes a mere three times in the 45 minutes of roadway joy rather then the more conservative seven times that our driver managed. I believe that our driver was actually trained in his profession, though that training might possibly have taken place in downtown New Delhi, or possibly Baghdad at the start of the first Gulf War. The receptionist greeted us with an eye fully cognizant that the two people that stood before her had just experienced not so much a near death experience as an "interesting" ride from the airport. Plus, the heat and humidity of the day had exploded all over us, giving us an appearance not unlike two people rescued from three weeks of wandering the Sahara Desert with barely a bottle of gin between them. We were not a pleasant sight. Plus, I hate gin. Notwithstanding our less-than-freshly-showered spryness, we were checked into our room.
The Washington Square Hotel is really quite quaint, which in my mind has always been a euphemism for "old with tiny rooms". Rather like a Realtor describing a shed as a "fixer-upper". Seriously though, it is a very nice hotel. You can reach everything from the center of the room....without moving. Except the remote for the TV. I kid......it is an altogether charming hotel. No really, it is nice...I'm not kidding this time. They really do have a remote for the TV.
We unpacked with a lightning rapidity, which is quite difficult considering that lightning moves pretty fast. A quick survey of the complimentary map of Manhattan, kindly provided by the friendly yet suspicious receptionist, gave us a clue that we were indeed in Manhattan. Armed with this insightful bit of information, we strode confidently to the lobby and out the front door. Damn if it wasn't still hot. This city adventure was to test us in ways yet unknown. Yet we were determined to face the city with bravado and a sense of unbridled curiosity. Right across the street was test #1: Washington Square Park, which was constructed to honor the 100th anniversary of George Washington's inauguration as the first President of the United States of America....well there is a hugely impressive arch commemorating that event - the park could have been there earlier, but there were no signs about that. And we checked. No signs. But we wandered slowly through the park, taking in the beauty that is an American city park. OK, it's only a block and a half by one block, but the flowers were still nice. And the pigeons...the ever present pigeons. I imagined them as Jimmy Buffett described them in "Swine Not".....as "pigilantes" - patrolling the park and keeping it safe from the dangers of mankind. I like pigeons, even though most city dwellers refer to them as flying rats. I like rats too. They seem to clean up after we trash dropping humans. Rats are really very clean animals, as are pigeons. Quite honestly, I saw more people than pigeons in need of a good bath. But enough biology. The park managed to consume a full 40 minutes of our preciously dwindling time in the city. "Now what", I asked my stalwart companion and muse. "I do believe it's time for an afternoon repast, a cocktail as it were", said she. Right, just what we needed, a new mission. Several blocks along was located a Shangri-La of sorts, a bar. Setting ourselves upon the rigid wooden barstools, leaning heavily on the darkly stained oaken or possibly plywood bar, we steeled ourselves for a bit of sustenance. OK, that may be a tad over dramatic.....we had a couple of drinks. But they were good drinks, the kind of drinks that settle into the recesses of over-tired travelers and soothe the very soul, allowing for a kind of renewal of spirit that leads directly back to the hotel and the comfort of a warm bed with ridiculous amounts of blanketing. Sleep came quickly, but not before an hour of Comedy Central and the Discovery Channel. Cable is good. Sleep is better, though the Colbert Report was quite amusing. A feeling settled in, deeply into our being, that there was more adventure, more challenge, and more cocktails, yet to come. And so came to a close Day 1 of the saga.