You may remember that the previous day I had booked us on to go out to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I don’t actually remember how we got there (given that this was now a year ago, it’s not totally surprising!), but I would presume that we took the metro. I’m sure Kev can confirm or deny! Anyway, we got there somehow (obviously), and managed to find the right place to pick up our tickets (although this was rather confusing I recall), then I think we actually got to skip straight to the front of the queue because we already had tickets. Got through security and got onto the next boat.

When we got the the Statue of Liberty, we took a walk around it, and I was glad I had warm clothes and a jacket as it started spitting while we were there. After having a bit of a look around (and obviously taking a photo of us all in front of it!) it started to rain more heavily so we made our way to the shop (I purchased a Passport to the National Parks and the sticker/stamp for Liberty Island) and then went to wait for the next ferry to Ellis Island.

It took a while, but eventually a ferry showed up and we huddled inside out of the rain. I think Ellis Island was the unexpected wonder of New York – one of those things I thought would be good to go see and was surprised at how interesting it was when I got there! I really wish we had had more time to look around, and I’m so glad we did one of the free tours of the place! It still fills me with wonder, all the stories of people that have gone through there.

I think we got on the last boat back to Manhattan, and then went back to the hostel for an earlyish night.

I slept much better that night, and woke up at a fairly normal hour. We all met down at the internet area for breakfast, ate, and figured out what we were going to do that day. I rang up the people in charge of the Statue of Liberty boat tours, and was told that they were booked out today, but free the next day, so we booked ourselves onto that, and decided to get one of the get-on-get-off bus tours for that day.

We headed down to Times Square, where we’d been told we could get tickets for the buses, bought our tickets, and got on the Green line (Downtown). The tour guide was interesting, he seemed obsessed with ways to save money in New York, which was ok for a while, but got a little boring eventually. I really wanted to go visit Ground Zero, so we got off there, and had a short look at a church (St. Paul’s Chapel) in front of it that had a display about the day. Very interesting, and there were some books for sale inside, including one childrens’ one that looked good, but there was no one at the shop, just lots of people watching some sort of concert, so I couldn’t buy anything (probably a blessing in disguise!).

Ground Zero


We headed around to Ground Zero (after getting slightly lost) to have a look, but it just seemed like a really big construction site, so we decided to go have a look at the museum dedicated to what’s happening to the site. I bought a postcard of what the memorial is going to look like, it’s very green, and looks like it’ll be nice!

After that we decided to walk down to Battery Park, right on the tip of New York, and we bought subway for lunch on the way. I almost left my camera in the toilet, but remembered it thank heavens! We walked down to the Battery, had a look at Clinton Castle, and then ate our lunch looking out towards the Statue of Liberty. Took a few pictures, but none that were really good.

New York Skyline from Staten Island Ferry

After lunch we walked around the waterfront, and decided to get on the free Staten Island ferry, because the weather forecast for the next day wasn’t looking great, so we thought at least we’d get some good pics of the Statue going past on the ferry. We did that, I took a tonne of pics going past the island. We managed to get really good seats on the right side of the ferry which helped! We were also followed all the way by the Coast Guard, gun out the front, which we all joked was for us. After getting off the ferry on Staten Island, we got back in the queue to get onto the ferry again. It was a different ferry (not sure how that works) and we didn’t get nearly as good seats, but we’d all gotten pretty good pictures, so we didn’t mind too much.

Got off the ferry, and walked around to where the bus stop was, and waited in line for the bus. The queue was really weird, the first bus stopped in the wrong place (according to the sign), and lots of people were queue jumping (grr), but we managed to get on the second or third bus, and get back to Times Square.

We decided that since it was such a clear night, we’d do the night tour, which was also included in our ticket (although not a hop-on-hop-off tour), and still had an hour or so till the first one left, so we went and found a pizza place for dinner. Don’t remember what it was called, but the pizza was average, and the toilets disgusting!

After eating we walked back to the bus stop and lined up for a bus. We didn’t have to wait too long, and managed to get on upstairs (thank heavens!). I was glad I had extra clothes though, because it was getting cold!

New York Night Lights


This bus driver was much more interesting, and we drove down and across to the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a bit bumpy and we were moving a bit fast for me to take any decent photos, but we stopped for a few minutes on a side street with a fantastic view of the city skyline and lights!

After stopping, we drove back across the Brooklyn Bridge, and started driving up 6th Ave. There was a heap of traffic, and we kept hearing fire trucks which was a bit scary. I think we ended up seeing about 3 or 4. The tour guide said the last time she’d seen that many trucks was when there’d been a bomb in Times Square, but we didn’t see/hear anything after that, so not sure what was going on!

When the bus got back, we were pretty tired, so headed back to the Metro, and went back to the hostel. I think I spent a bit of time uploading more pictures to flickr and then went to bed.

I flew in to New York, and after an eventful few hours where I had a number of fails (couldn’t find the at&t store at terminal 4 and then got charged an arm and a leg to get from JFK where I landed, to La Guardia where MissMarkey and Lytteltonwitch were landing), managed to get to the youth hostel we’re staying in (HI New York) and checked in, and find K-J-H, who had arrived earlier on the train from Chicago.

I didn’t get a very good nights sleep, I fell asleep ok, but kept waking up glued to the bottom of the bed (gotta love those plastic mattresses (yes, I do have a sheet over it)), or too cold, or needing to blow my nose, needing to go to the toilet, etc, etc, etc. There were also a couple of snorers (one high pitched, one low pitched) who didn’t help much. I woke up about 4am and couldn’t get back to sleep, so lay there tossing and turning, until I must have drifted off a few hours later.

Got woken up about 8am by MissMarkey and Lytteltonwitch chatting quietly, and after about half an hour (and someone asking us to be quiet) we got up, I showered, and we all had breakfast at the hostel (not provided in the cost of an economy bunk or whatever it’s called, but still fairly cheap).

After eating Kev came down and we started planning our day/s. Kev and I wanted to go to MoCCa festival so we decided that we’d do that, and the others would go off and geocache in Central Park, and then we’d meet at the horse carriage tours at the end of CP.

Kev and I headed off to MoCCa, where I got to meet one of my favourite comic artists, Jeph Jacques!

Jeph Jacques

I’d heard he liked tim tams, so I took him some of those, and in return got a drawing for Alkaline-kiwi πŸ˜€

We spent a couple of hours browsing. Admittedly I’m not as much into the comic scene as Kev is, so didn’t know of many people there, but I enjoyed looking around at other people’s art! And I got a huge bag of postcards from lots of different artists. I was definitely tempted by a few of the things, but was really good and didn’t buy anything (I really should’ve got the Pompeii fun run AD79 tshirt though!)

After we’d had a good browse we headed back to the metro station, I got some lunch on the way, and made our way back to Central Park. Kev bought a hot dog for lunch (I kinda made him :p) and we spent about an hour trying to find the others. Turns out we were at opposite sides of Central Park. We eventually found each other and the carriage tours, which MissMarkey really wanted to do.

Finding a cache

Finding a cache

After the tour, MM and LW said they had a cache they wanted to find that they thought they pretty much knew where it was, so we scrambled around a rocky outcrop looking for it, and eventually finding it πŸ˜€

Then they said there was one not too far away again, so we walked up Central Park a bit, and had a bit of a look, but couldn’t find that one.

Can’t remember how many times that happened, I only remember finding one, but that doesn’t mean it’s true :p

We also went past Strawberry Fields which was pretty cool. Someone, or a few people had done some cool art with real strawberries that was neat!

Eventually we were almost back at the hostel, and we were pretty hungry, so we stopped at a pizza place to get delicious New York pizza (first time I think I’ve had broccoli on pizza!), and then headed back to the hostel, where I uploaded pictures, and started writing this entry. Internet was pretty crappy and kept cutting out, and I lost about 3/4 of the entry and was too tired and frustrated to write it again, so I went to bed.

Arriving in LA wasn’t nearly as stressful as I was expecting. I’d printed off the map of the airport and it looked terribly confusing, but apparently it’s only really bad if you’re transferring there, so because we weren’t, it wasn’t too bad! Then again it’s lucky it wasn’t too confusing, we were both extremely tired (or at least I was!), and I’d already stuffed up once by putting the wrong hand on the scanner.

After going through security we made our way out of the airport, and found someone who told us to take a taxi to our hostel, but I’ve never been anywhere where a taxi’s been cheaper than a shuttle, so we declined their offer and went to where there were a whole lot of shuttles, all going to different parts of the city. Finding the Santa Monica one was easy, I think it was the first or second one in the line. A few more people got in, and we circled the airport (and I realised just how confusing it could have been!) before heading to Santa Monica. We let at least one couple out before us, an Australian couple who had won a trip, but for some reason couldn’t fly direct from Oz to LA.

It didn’t take too long to get to the hostel, and we checked in and found our room. I was absolutely exhausted and wanted to nap but Megan forced me to get off the bed and we decided to go for a walk down to the beach. We grabbed a map from the hostel office, but we probably didn’t need it, the hostel was only one block away from the hostel.

Had a fantastic time getting across the road, the pedestrian crossings spoke, and to my ears it sounded ridiculous – ‘wait, wait, wait…’ and then it would tell you which road you could cross. Brilliant technology!

We had a wander along the beach, I know I paddled a little so I could say I had paddled in both sides of the Pacific Ocean, and then ambled up to the pier to have a look at all the things on it. Very exciting! Eventually we decided on Bubba Gumps Shrimp Co for dinner, and I think we both ordered hamburgers. Had a moment of hilarity when Megan ordered wine and it came in a water glass! And they somehow missed one of our orders, so we also got free desert (chocolate chip cookie sundae, which was a-mazing :D) Had a good time chatting with two woman at the next table to us who also helped us with tipping, which is still a foreign concept to me…

After dinner it was definitely time for bed, so we headed back to the hostel and fell (well climbed) into bed.

The next morning we woke up just in time for breakfast, and made our way down to the kitchen, where free breakfast is served. Unfortunately there weren’t any spoons left, so we ended up eating cereal with forks, which was entertaining at least! We ate breakfast with a group of other travellers, mostly from Europe, but a few from the USA as well.

After showering and making ourselves presentable, we decided to hit a farmers market, so walked down to that, had a look around, bought some seriously overpriced fruit, and sat down in the sun to eat lunch πŸ™‚

After lunch we decided to walk back along the waterfront. It was a really nice day, so we stopped and sat on the beach for a bit. Megan wanted to go and say hello to the life guards on the beach, because she’s a lifeguard here in New Zealand, so eventually she worked up the courage to do it. They were really nice, and one of them asked us if we’d like to hang out one evening.

The lifeguards had to get back to work so we continued walking along the beach, stopping at Muscle Beach to admire the acrobatics going on, and we also had a go on the swings on the beach. Lots of fun! Megan wanted to go for a run, so we went back to the hostel to change into more appropriate clothing, and then went back down to the beach where I hired some skates, so I could at least attempt to keep up with her!

At the skate place we actually ran in to the Australian couple from the shuttle, so spent a bit of time chatting with them, and I practiced skating, since it’d been so long since I’d skated before. Still wasn’t terribly fast, even though the path was flat as, I’m still a bit scared of falling! We managed to go for just under an hour, and on our way back we ran in to Shota (the lifeguard) who said he was having pizza with some of his friends that night if we wanted to come, so we raced back to the hostel, showered, and got dressed.

Shota picked us up in his camper van (yes, this sounds dodgy to me too now!) and drove us to the pizza place, where we met his friends, who’d already ordered a pizza. Megan and I were amazed at how enormous the pizza was there! After dinner, Shota drove us back to the hostel, and as we came in we met the breakfast crew who were planning to go for a drink and invited us to go along. Obviously we said yes :p

Sadly, we couldn’t find anything that really appealed and/or wasn’t charging to go in because they had bands playing, so we ended up at the supermarket and bought something to drink, and walked back down to the beach. We settled on one of the empty lifeguard stands, and had our own little mini party with their drinks and my chocolate πŸ˜€ Made it back to the hostel about 3am, and then played pool for another hour or so, and finally went to bed.

The next morning we got up barely in time for breakfast, had dry cornflakes with yogurt (ick), and then went back to bed to sleep for a bit.

In the afternoon, after getting up, we went back down to the beach and hired some bikes, and cycled round to Venice Beach, which was cool. Kind of reminded me of Cuba St in Wellington, lots of really eclectic kinds of shops. Definitely wouldn’t want to hang around after dark though. I felt like a complete dork for being the only one in sight for wearing a helmet, but not enough of a dork to take it off πŸ˜‰ Head injuries are much more dorky after all.

After returning our bikes we walked back to the hostel to participate in the $3 dinner. We were a little bit late and everyone had kind of started cooking, so we got put in charge of setting the tables, not a very good message, but good for us! Dinner was delicious, and it was cool getting to meet some more people. After dinner we found the breakfast crew again, who were going out again, so we joined them again.

After wandering around a little, we found a bar that was doing 2 for 1 drinks and settled there. 2 rum and cokes was apparently too much for me, so I just drank my body weight in water, and about 2am we all walked back to the hostel, and I went to bed. I think Megan and the others went out again after that, because she wasn’t there for a while (advantages of drinking your body weight in water include having to get up every half hour to pee!).

We were late for breakfast again the next day (starting to see a theme here!) but luckily the rest of the gang had saved us some food, gotta love having friends! Some of them had decided to go to Hollywood that day, so we figured we’d join them (you can’t really go to LA and NOT go to Hollywood I suppose!), so we found the correct bus stop and caught the bus to Hollywood.

I don’t think it was until that bus trip that it really dawned on me just how big LA is. I think it took us an HOUR to get in to the city. An hour! I don’t think you can go anywhere an hour in Wellington on a bus and still be even remotely in the city. You wouldn’t even be in the suburbs anymore! We managed to find the main street, the stars, and the theatres. All very exciting, although of all the places, this one was the one that freaked me out the most. Something about it just seemed dangerous, I guess because there were so many tourists, and so many hecklers. I was mega glad I had a lock for my backpack, even if it was a pain to get in and out of my bag all the time. We almost lost Megan once, but found her again.

We were getting quite hungry by that stage, so decided to find somewhere to eat where it wasn’t so crowded. After lunch we decided we’d had enough, so caught the bus back to Santa Monica. Did some laundry so we’d have clean underwear at least on the train. I think the hostel was doing $3 pasta that night, so we went and partook of that, and then I really wanted to go on the ferris wheel on the end of the pier, so a bunch of us walked down. Unfortunately we were about 10 minutes too late, but we had another wander down the pier, there were some musicians playing, so we stopped and listened to them, and then ended up at Bubba Gumps again where we had key lime pie with fries (verdict: yummy!)

The next morning we had to pack up all our stuff, went to the supermarket to get supplies for the train trip, and then had a hell of a time getting to the train station. Got a bit lost finding the right bus to get there, but we eventually got on it, thanks to a couple of helpful bus drivers, checked in our luggage, and got on the train. Which is another blog entry in itself!

The morning of my departure (not like that for anyone who loves Magorium as much as I do!) I woke up, had poached eggs and bacon for breakfast with Mum, and then we went for a walk down Lambton Quay. I released a few books that really just wouldn’t fit in my pack, and we eventually ended up at a jewellers so I could choose a St. Christopher necklace (which I’ve worn pretty much ever since).

After choosing a necklace, we went back to Mums apartment, probably had an early lunch, and then caught the bus to the airport. Wasn’t terribly sad to say goodbye (sorry Mum!), although I was a bit nervous!

My plane left at 4pm, and wasn’t terribly memorable, although we did have a beautiful sunset out the window πŸ™‚

Landed without any issues in Auckland at 5pm, and Kirsty and Erik were there to meet me πŸ˜€ We exchanged books and chocolate, and then grabbed some dinner together. I think I had pasta. An hour or so after my flight landing, Megan’s flight landed, and we made our way over to the international terminal. Said goodbye to Kirsty and Erik, and went through security, which wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting. Skipped duty free, and just headed straight for the gate.

Unfortunately, when we got to the gate, it was announced that there was something wrong with the air bridge, which meant that all the people who had had their boarding passes had to wait in one area, while the rest of were kept in another part. Luckily Megan had some jet planes to chew on while we waited!

Eventually they moved the plane, and we all got relocated, and boarded the plane. Megan and I were a few rows apart from each other, and I got a window seat, so we didn’t get to talk to each other really on the flight. This did mean I got to watch 3 excellent movies though, Inkheart, The Reader, and Wall-E, as well as a couple of Flight of The Conchords episodes. Obviously I didn’t get a lot of sleep!

And then we landed…..

As I’m sure happens on every long trip, the last week was a bit of a crazy rush, even after careful planning! I had applied for a visa to work in the UK, and had sent it off in what I thought had been plenty of time (the website said 3 weeks, and I’d given them 4 to be safe!) I had finally had to ring up and cancel it, or risk not having a passport to leave for the US of A.

In the meantime, there was my luggage. You’re allowed to take 2 check in suitcases when travelling, if your itinerary goes through the USA, and I had BARELY managed to get it down to that…and still had an extra box (of 5!) of stuff to pack up to take to Dads storage unit. Thank heavens for Mum, she managed to get my stuff down to one bag, and I managed to distribute the rest of my stuff around my friends (some of which I still haven’t got back!). I was, after all, previous to that, not sure when I was coming back, and didn’t want to pay rent on a place I wasn’t using, and couldn’t really afford.

Managed to get all the small stuff that needed doing, done, including (slightly secretly) sending myself a parcel of stuff to camp. BUT, my passport still hadn’t arrived by Thursday, the day before I was leaving. After much running around on my and Mums behalf, including driving out to the airport to pick it up*, only to find they’d already left with it, despite us having told them NOT to, we eventually managed to get it back in my hot little hands. Where it didn’t leave for the next 24 hours!

By that stage it was time to get ready for my farewell dinner atΒ Wagamama’s, which was very relaxing!



* Mum driving me anywhere isn’t a mean feat. She shares her car with a friend, because she lives right in town and doesn’t have anywhere to park it, so we had to contact said friend, arrange to pick it up, catch the bus to where the car was, drive to the airport (about 20 minutes out of town, which seemed like a lot at the time!), find out my passport wasn’t there, have a small panic attack and start crying, Mum goes in and sorts it out (gotta love Mum!), and then RACE back to the apartment to find the courier van. Which we did, luckily!

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