Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Hit the Sack" - Dublin

For this edition of "Hit the Sack", I'd like to offer my hostel suggestion for Dublin. I've been to Dublin twice and stayed in hostels both times. The first time was awhile ago and I don't remember much of the hostel except that it was North of the Liffey River, which is considered the more "shady" part of town. The hostel wasn't bad, but on my second trip to Dublin I wanted to try something else, so I did some research and found that the Avalon House is consecutively rated one of the top hostels in the world. Well, that sounded promising. It's located back several streets, but rather close to Grafton Street (which is VERY central) which is part of its appeal. The building itself is beautiful - old brick and everything. It's a very cozy hostel and the staff are super friendly. And like all hostels, it's cheap, with rooms starting at €14 a night! (cheaper on week nights obviously). For this trip, I was by myself so I really wanted some privacy. I got a private room for not much more (maybe €10 more) and it was so worth it. Although, my neighbors were kind of noisy one of the nights but I don't blame that on the hostel. ;)

Breakfast is complimentary but they also have more things to buy in their cafe if you so desire. The only thing I didn't care for was having to store your luggage in one main room and in order to go in you had to wait for the designated "luggage room times" that they had set up. I'm not sure if they do that anymore, but it was kind of a nuisance to deal with. Most hostels have a lack of places to store things, though, so that's something to look into when you do your research. Overall, this place is great. It's popular though, so make sure you book in advance! You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"Hit the Sack" - First Edition (NYC)

With the danger of sounding too neat and concise in a blog where I have thrown conciseness to the wind, I would like to have a feature where I discuss cheaper ways to get lodging when you go on your trips. Really, aside from the plane ticket, accommodation is the most daunting task when planning a trip. $70-$80 might not seem bad for a couple of nights, but it really adds up. Also, those budget motels can be really skeevy. And "budget" can mean different things across the globe. If you go at the wrong time, you may end up paying way too much for a place that you wouldn't even consider back at home.

This is why I love hostels. They're cheap, clean, convenient and also a great way to interact with different kinds of people from all over the world. Most people overlook them, I think because they have this immediate image of a smelly, dingy place where people snore loudly at night or are having sex on the bunk above them. No doubt there are some pretty bad hostels (I've heard some horror stories about London hostels, so if I'm ever in London, I will not be hosteling there, just in case), but the way you avoid them is quite simple.

Hostel World is a great site that I often use to find and book hotels. Here, you can also see what each hostel offers (whether you get your linen free or whether you have to rent it) and see how different users have rated it. In order to avoid the problem of trolls, what Hostel World does is offer you the chance to rate the hostel once you've stayed there. I'm sure there are people who are dishonest about it, but for the most part you get a good amount of votes that give an overall percentage rating. And not just on one area, but on several different categories, such as "cleanliness", "character," "location", etc. It also allows for a comment box so people can elaborate on their experience. In under 10 minutes you can know a lot about the hostel you are considering and the area it will be in. Then, you can book it right there and you're all set! Easy.

Remember, though, if you go during peak times, hostels will fill up very quickly, so it's a good idea to book in advance.
Bear in mind as well that with a hostel you're basically getting a bed and some linen. There aren't many amenities, and if they are, they're communal (these things might be internet access or a free breakfast). Often the restrooms are dorm style and you may have to wait your turn. If you're nervous about dressing in front of people or doing your morning routine around other people, then a hostel is probably too cramped for you. However, many hostels offer private rooms (or on-suites) for a little higher price that might be a good idea if you're traveling as a couple or with a family.

Hostels are really just about having a place to sleep after you've been out exploring all day. Because, really, what's the point of getting fancy hotel if you're not going to spend that much time there?

For my New York City trip, I heard about this great hostel from my friend Romain, who knew of the place because his Norwegian friend stayed there. It's called The New York Loft Hostel and it's located in Brooklyn in the neighborhood known as "East Williamsburg". It's about a 30 min subway ride to Manhattan and it's very close to the L subway stop on Bogart street. I loved the building - it was an old warehouse looking place that had been converted into lofts so the ceilings were high and there was a ton of old brick and metalwork. It was fairly new as well, which was nice. I will say that the main downside is that for each room of 12-14 beds, there is only one bathroom! Very inconvenient, I must say, but we all managed somehow. Hopefully they will consider getting more bathrooms in the future. But still, at $20 a night for weeknights and about $23 a night for weekends, I'd highly recommend the place. It's such a great value for what you get. There's no way you could get a clean, comfortable hotel for that price! Plus, the hostel was very close to a great grocery store where you could buy the food you needed to prepare it at the hostel kitchen if you wanted to save money. We stopped by there often to get drinks and snacks for our daily explorations. I give this hostel a 3.5 out of 5, I think. :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NYC Recap Part III

AKA “More Walking & Then Snow Comes in Droves”

Sunday & Monday, March 1 & 2

I combined Sunday & Monday for a couple reasons. First, because I’m lazy and I also don’t think it’s wise to break the “trilogy” formula that is going on here. Because no one likes a fourth part unless it’s followed by 2 more parts and I don’t have material for 2 more parts. Secondly, there is a combined theme for these two days and that is SNOW OMG SNOW! :D :D Thirdly, we didn’t do too much on Sunday, plus there wasn’t much we did on the day we went back to our homelands (Tuesday). Oh wait, did I inadvertently make that four parts??? FORMULA. SHATTERED.

Ok, enough of this nonsense. So, yeah like I said on Sunday we didn’t do too much. I think we were still recovering from Saturday’s walk-a-thon and the dance party at the Ritz. We also had to wait for the one bathroom in the hostel so we kind of got a late start. When we left the hostel it wasn’t snowing yet, but it was overcast and cold. And really windy, as usual. We met up with Romain at the subway and then went over our plan: we were planning on taking it easy today by just walking around Soho, The Village and Chelsea. We also planned to visit the Strand bookstore before heading back to Brooklyn because Romain had to pick up his laundry.

So, we got off at our stop and wandered around looking for a place to eat brunch. We ended up at a diner called “California Diner” (original) and it was Hollywood themed. It seemed not too touristy though – it was good food too (we were also really hungry at this point). We really were in the mood for waffles so we were just happy to find that it was on the menu (after trying Whole Foods and another random café near the Union Square stop). I got the Belgian WAFL with bacon. Because everything is better with bacon (sorry vegetarians). Even Emily, who is normally a vegetarian, had some of my bacon. xD You cannot resist the power of bacon.

After eating, we noticed that it was starting to snow in little flurries. It was very pretty. We walked around SoHo (I think it was this day we went into the Catherine Malandrino store and French Connection) and then walked through the Village, where I saw lots of pretty buildings and where it had become eerily quiet. I really liked it though, and it would be nice to live there if I was super rich. LOL. This is when we went into the FABULOUS cheese shop there and Romain bought Emily her cheese for her birthday present. She picked out like 5 cheese – I don’t remember them all, but there was a Tomey (my favorite I think), a goat cheese covered in ash, some Raclette (that was SUPER stinky) and a blue cheese that was REALLY strong. Gosh what was the other one – oh! It was a brie. Yeah, brie. And that was good too. When we got back to Brooklyn we tried them at Romain’s place.

I think it must have taken us awhile to walk around, because we were hungry again LOL. Oh, I know, we decided to have a light dinner in order to have time to get back to Brooklyn for Romain to get his laundry. So, we walked over to the meat district (which was cool) on our way to Chelsea where we were headed to VYNL. Great place, that. Our servers were so hot. LOL. We got this lad named Timmy who immediately fanboyed over Emily’s accent because he had lived in England for a couple years. Romain desperately wanted to know him more intimately, but was too shy to give Timmy (who we called TIMMEH because of the South Park reference) his phone number. We ended up not having a light dinner at all because the veggie burger they serve there is quite big. Oh and the fries were DELICIOUS. Love their fries. Emily ordered Watermelon lemonade and I had a sip – DELICIOUS. Yes, I write with caps a lot. I will have to curb this way of showing emphasis when I start writing more professional stuff in grad school. xD At the workshops, everyone’s going to be all “could you stop with the caps please? Thanks.”

After Chelsea, we went to Strand real quick and I was a little overwhelmed by all the books. We decided to just go up to the rare book collection and look around there. They had a great selection and there were so many things to look at here as well! Lots of old Milton books and a huge old Bible that had all the names of family members written down as it had been passed down through the family. It made me wonder when it had ended up in the store and who wanted to give it away. Maybe an estate sale? I have no idea.

That night, it was really low key, like I said. We tried the cheese and pretty much just had that for our “later evening snack”. Then we played games and when we saw that the snow was starting to fall more heavily, we packed it up and went back to the hostel to get a early night in since we had a big day on Monday.

And what do you know, Monday morning comes and it’s SNOW EVERYWHERE OMG SNOW! Apparently it was the biggest storm NY had gotten in awhile. Schools were closed for the first time in 5 years or something crazy like that. No wonder, because it was a BITCH to walk in. We didn’t exactly bring snow gear with us on the plane (no room in my suitcase quite frankly and there’s not much need for snow gear in central California LOL). So we carefully trekked outside to the subway, trying not to get snow in our eyes as it was pelted towards us. You know, snowflakes are really delicate things, but when they come at you at speeds of 15 mph+, those little fuckers sting!

On the subway, we went on a different line to go up to where the Natural History Museum is (close to Central Park). I should mention here that the people who designed the subway stop at this area are fantastic. There were a bunch of mosaic murals in the walls depicting various animals, and there were small little ones placed in the concrete on the stop itself. It was beautiful and certainly took a long time to create. Once outside, we looked for a place to eat breakfast, and finding the area surprisingly barren, we ended up at Starbucks. It was good to get out of the cold for awhile and while we sat and ate, I was amazed at the dexterity and speed by which the snow crews of NY made the streets clear. Those guys were on it! By 11, the asphalt on the road was entirely visible. And we were ready to go in the museum.

I could go on and on about the museum, but I won’t. I’ll just say that the Hayden Planetarium is the best I’ve seen and everyone should go there if they can. It was great to be inside and we ended up being there like 5 hours or something because there’s just so much to see. The view from the floors is great as well – to see Central Park and the surrounding areas blanketed with snow was just beautiful. And more warm looking at it from the inside out. ;-)

After the museum, we walked through Central Park and saw all the kids sledding on their snow day and were very jealous. If only I had waterproof gloves! No matter. It was great seeing all the familiar looking bridges in the park. We found one that we swore was featured in the movie Enchanted so I did a reenactment of Edward doing his song right before he gets plastered by a group of cyclists. Whattup? Nerds have more fun. xD
Across the park we went to the Park Avenue Armory, because Romain wanted to show us where he worked. This place is fantastic. It’s a giant huge old wood building with a ton of space that the Armory lends out to various groups. They have wanted to get involved in the arts, so that’s what Romain’s internship does – works with various vendors to lend out the space. The actual room where he works was very cool and looked like it was from the Elizabethan age of architecture.

By this time, we were really hungry, so we went to a place that Romain recommended for really good scones. Fairly inexpensive too, which was remarkable for that area (Park & 5th avenue region). It was called “Alice’s Tea Cup” and themed with Alice in Wonderland type stuff. It was the cutest tea shop I have seen and the scones were such a good deal for what you got! 2 huge scones for $6 and they were SO GOOD. They definitely filled us up and we had more to save for later. The tea was all right. I ordered Irish Breakfast but I don’t think that’s what I got. It was really watered down. Oh well. Finally, before we headed back to home sweet Brooklyn, Romain took us to this Chocolatier called “Pierre Marccolini” and bought me some truffles that were SO GOOD OMG. This one had a mix of four spices in it that was just so divine! Very light and refreshing, but still rich enough where you didn’t need to eat a whole lot of them. Good thing too because they are expensive! But so worth it.

At this point, the camera in my battery had run out so I didn’t get to take any pictures after Central Park. Oh well, I still fondly remember the good times.

Back in Brooklyn, we changed, relaxed and then prepared to head out again in the cold in order to go to a place for cheese fondue for Emily’s birthday dinner. It was great – we ordered a bottle of Pinot Grigio with the cheese and I drank my glasses too quickly I’m afraid. I was TIPSY MMM HMMM. It was a little hard to walk back. ROFL. But still, quite a great finish to a fabulous day and an even more amazing trip!! I was sad to the prospect of going home the next day. ☹

Pictures are here now:

We made Romain pose by this random Knight outside a jewelry store, lol. This was in The Village.

Random cool looking bar/lounge. Note the skeletons on top.


The meat packing district.


Starting to snow Sunday night!

Ok, now Monday is ready:

The snow fall the next morning.

The snow view from inside the museum.

Looking at the powers of ten exhibit.

The hayden planetarium.

The Hayden sphere (where they do shows) to the left. Use as a frame of reference for the powers of ten exhibit.

Emo dinosaur is emo.

Overlooking central park.

Sledding in central park.

The Park Avenue Armory, where Romain has his internship. Picture from the New York Times

Alice's Tea Cup (from Associated Content)

Pierre Marcollini truffles from the Upper West Side store. Found picture at Paris Breakfast's blog.

NYC Recap Part II

AKA “The Long Day of Walking Commences”

Saturday, February 28

So yes, the title gives you an accurate depiction of what this day was like. When Emily and I woke up, we were pleased to see it was sunny outside. However, as we soon found out, sunny doesn’t mean warm. Oblivious of this initially, we got all cleaned up and ready to go out. I was contemplating just wearing a sweatshirt (2 layers) because it looked so nice and warm. Thankfully, the logical part of my brain kicked in and I realized that it would be a loooong and dreary trip back to the hostel should I need my coat, so I brought it a long.

Thank goodness I did. The most frequent visitor to NYC is not, in fact, tourists or insanely rich people who can go to all the smancy stores (we stepped into Catherine Malandrino’s shop in SoHo and it was niiiiiiiiiiice. There was a guy to open the door. Fancy. Unfortunately, we could only look and dream. I love her designs though – she’s great. I would wear her stuff if I had the money), but rather, the most frequent visitor to the grand city is wind. It is always windy. I went to Chicago many years ago in the summer and while I though it was windy, I think NYC is even more so. Or maybe it’s just more memorable because it was February and the wind was cold. So yeah, even if it was sunny it was probably one of the more cold days, as there was no cloud cover to keep the heat in. So yeah. Thank goodness for my coat! And thank goodness for cheap gloves that while are not waterproof, do quite well in keeping your hands warm.

So Emily and I decided we were going to get a little snack at the grocery store right near our hostel (since the breakfast at the hostel left much to be desired; warm milk for cereal is NOT OK, PEOPLE) before meeting up with Romain at the Subway. You can’t tell in the pictures below, but we were always ALWAYS being nearly blown off the sidewalk. Especially in Brooklyn. Probably because there is less building cover.

The grocery store we went to is called Brooklyn’s Natural and it’s a fantastic little shop, with lots of organic and vegetarian/vegan goodies that are good for you and look so delicious. The only problem is picking the right thing, since you don’t want to necessarily lug around a big bottle of juice or a package of rye crisps, good as they may be. Whenever I could, I opted to get the “super fruit” type drinks that had stuff like acai and spurilina (however the heck you spell that) because I knew I would need the energy. The whole neighborhood is really great – right next to the grocery store is this place called “ad art hoc” (I think that’s what it was – the title of the place was painted on using stencils so it wasn’t very clear) that looked to be a place where underground artists would come showcase your work. It was painted bright red and littered with street art – from what looked like clippings of newspapers arranged in a stenciled outline (usually of a figure) to carefully crafted stickers promoting the artist themselves. Of course, there’s also the ugly squiggly lines from taggers, but there is more good stuff than bad stuff. On a wall right outside our subway stop, someone had done this great stenciled figure of a woman wearing a gas mask. She looked naked though no body parts were really defined – just the shapes. Not a day later someone had drawn circles where the nipples would be in pink chalk. *head desk* People…

Once we met up with Romain we got on the subway heading towards Manhattan and our day of walking commenced. First, we got off at 1st avenue, which is in the East Village. I don’t know if I’m correct in stating this, but it seemed to me that The Village (Greenwich) is too posh and expensive now and where the hipsters and bohemians were in the 70’s have now been pushed further East – in fact, I would say that Brooklyn has become what the Village was in the past. But on Manhattan, it seems as though there’s still the underground, artsy culture around in the East Village. I liked it – lots of character. We ate a fantastic brunch at this placed called Café Orlin that wasn’t that expensive, especially for what I got (Smoked Salmon on English muffin with poached eggs and hollandaise…. Mmm mmm). From here, we made our way West. Our plan was to walk all the way down to the Staten Island ferry and ride that since the weather was nice. It was good once we got there, but it was a long walk! We passed through Chinatown, which I thought was great. It was like we had just been transported to Beijing or something. I mean, we were the only Caucasian people walking around! xD I would have loved to explore it more but we didn’t have time. Next time, I guess.

Then, we passed through the financial district – along the way we stopped by Ground Zero, but didn’t go to the monument itself where it has some information and pictures of the people that were lost there. It was crazy to see this one building still getting cleaned from the disaster over 7 years ago! Also, all the street signs in that area are black to commemorate the event. A sobering site, but it made me thankful that other buildings were still standing. I loved all the architecture in NY, but it was great to see the mix of styles. Also, it’s always nice to get a sweeping sense of your own smallness when you’re walking past giant, monumental buildings. And yet, in the midst of these huge buildings, there were these little playgrounds surrounded by metal fences that I thought were neat. I would have loved to come to one of those as a kid.

On the way to the ferry, we passed by a square that looked like it was being used for some kind of ethnic festival. There was a bronze statue of an Ox for the Chinese Year of the Ox – my year! So of course, I had to take a picture of it. Interestingly, it took me about 10 minutes to wait for all the Asian tourists who wanted to take one first. Ha! Oh, and it’s snout was nice and polished from all the people who had rubbed it for good luck. It reminded me of Japan (lol, not China I know) and I missed it!

The ferry was nice, though short. We didn’t get off at the island except to get right back on the ferry (which was SO COLD when you were outside. Geez. The wind is crazy). According to Romain, there’s “nothing to do there” so we didn’t bother. The views were great though – I got the classic pictures of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. For some reason it looked smaller than I thought it would be (as in, I thought it would be wider across than it was). Still cool though. I think my favorite building is the Chrysler building, especially at night. Oh, on the ferry there were these two pigeons that had gotten trapped in, though one was lame with only one working leg. I think that’s what you call homeless pigeons, but I kind of view pigeons as flying rats – ie, they have no real home, they just always wander.

After the ferry, we walked up around the other side of Ground Zero through Tribeca (which is an acronym but I’ve now forgot it). The architecture is great in this neighborhood as well and I will have to go back and explore it in more depth. From here we went on to SoHo where we stopped at this chocolate bar called Marie Belle where they serve you chocolate drinks like its espresso (really really dark and rich chocolate in short little cups), Aztec style. I had an iced drink though that was so good. I never want Starbucks again. We walked around SoHo a little more, though we didn’t really go into any shops except French Connection (where Emily found a gorgeous dress) and this GREAT shop called Evolution. They had all kinds of crazy stuff in there – fossilized fish, bits of shark, beetles in test tubes, petrified wood, etc. They even had stuffed animals like full on baby deer and owls just staring at you creepily. I have no idea who would want to buy that stuff, but maybe it would be useful for a high school science class… I have no idea. Also, I thought the appeal of having a deer head put on your wall was due mainly to you having killed the deer yourself, thereby rendering it some kind of “prize” or something (I honestly don’t understand this appeal at all. Why on earth would you want a dead animal in your house as a decoration? Why??? Something is seriously wrong with those people). I bought a couple things there for the fam back in Chico and then I showed mah peeps the Kid Robot store (I knew the Bape store was around there but I had no idea where and I wasn’t about to try to find it. It’s always an ordeal to find the Bape stores, except for the one in LA).

Later, we stopped by this place called California Pizza (lol) and had a slice of NY pizza which was DELICIOUS. And cheap for only 3.50. We chose this place mainly because it was close to Union Square Station because we had to go home so Romain could pick up his laundry. I am painfully jealous of this ability to send out your laundry to someone else so they can do. Though it costs money so I guess that’s the deal. But still, not doing your laundry would be worth it. And apparently, many people do this. I guess not many people have a washer and dryer in their apartment, which is foreign to me as a West Coast native. It just seems like it would be VERY costly to have your laundry done every two weeks or whenever you need it. There are Laundromats too but it seems like I saw more “laundry service” places than “do it yourself” ones. Interesting. It’s EXPENSIVE to live in NY!

Once home, we got ready and went over to Romain’s to eat dinner (leftover vegetarian lasagna that his roommate had made. SO GOOD). Then, we placed some games (since we were all tired) and then went out to go dancing at this place called the Ritz in the Hell’s Kitchen area. It was a gay bar, LOL, but I didn’t mind. It was funny seeing the gay guys all lip-syncing when Britney Spears came on. The place itself was great too – smallish, like you’re at a party. The only thing I didn’t like was the fog machine. At this point though, my back was really killing me from all the walking and so we only stayed an hour and a half. I’m glad I went though. It was a good time!

Pictures below:

Writing at the top of one of the buildings near our hostel.

The street that leads to the Morgan Ave/Bogart St. stop of the L line. That art place on the left.

Street art on the building.

More art. I love the cyclops guy.

Brooklyn's Natural - a great grocery store!

Inside Café Orlin (with Emily)

What I ordered. Not a bite leftover.

In the East Village. See it was windy.

Walking in the Financial District. Justice building to the left.

Hope you're not afraid of heights if you have to cross this bridge.

There aren't that many bike riders in NYC. Because it's scary! Plus, they do not have the constitution of Oxford bike riders. Those people have nerves of steel. See that building in the back? That's the one that's still being cleaned, 7 years later.

The black street signs and the construction work at Ground Zero.

With the Ox. :D

Statue of Liberty, as best I could take it from the ferry.

The Manhattan skyline as viewed from the ferry.

Glad to be sitting down after lots of walking, lol.

We found a great little frog statue.

In Tribeca.

Some samples of the great architecture (Tribeca).

The chocolate place.

Picture of the Evolution store from their website. I didn't take a picture myself.

Candid shot of Romain while waiting for chocolate.

In SoHo.

Playing games in Romain's apartment. This was 20 questions. xD

NYC Recap Part I

February 27th

Arrived in airport at like 6:30 VERY tired. I maybe slept an hour on the flight. Oh well. I knew that I wouldn’t get too much sleep. Went into the bathroom to freshen up a little (put in my contacts, wash my face, etc.). Still felt gross. Had to go out and get my luggage which meant leaving the terminal so I couldn’t hang out there. I guess I could have hung out there but I didn’t want them to discard my luggage if I waited too long. So, I ended up going to the check in level for JetBlue and trying to sleep there for a little bit. I dozed for several hours. Then I went and got some coffee and some food from Dunkin’ Donuts (we need more of these on the West Coast).

At 9 a.m., Romain arrived to meet me. YAY. Much joy ensued. We hung out around the airport – he got some food and then we both played this Nascar racing game. LOL. Then, afterwards this random airport security guy congratulated me on my win and then later asked me to show him how to play the game. Uhhh why do only creepy guys hit on me?? WHY? I did see plenty of man meat in the city but most of them were gay (at least it was good of Romain to point out that they were before I got my hopes up :P). Anyway, I politely told the guy to shove off (by telling him it’s a pretty straightforward game – you push the pedal and turn the steering wheel while going around loops. Seriously, I hate Nascar. But it’s fun to drive for 2 min and hit as many dumb cars as you want) and then Romain and I thought it would be fun to make a sign for Emily and wait next to all the people with limos. I had brought my Tokidoki journal so the paper was bright blue and I think the limo guys thought we were mocking them. Romain got a dirty look from one when he said a little too loudly that he thought limos were “tacky”. xD Uh oh. Not a good start for NYC!

Finally, Emily showed up and we all got on the subway (after buying a week pass metro card) to head to our hostel, all our luggage in tow. Unfortunately, I was stupid and didn’t realize that the check in for the hostel in Brooklyn was 3:00 p.m. We got there at 1ish and didn’t want to keep hauling our luggage everywhere so we decided to take the subway further east towards Romain’s apartment on Covert St. By this time, we were getting really tired and hungry, so we put our luggage in Romain’s room and then walked a block down to this FANTASTIC Chinese takeout. Seriously, why is it that the places that look the most dingy are the best places to eat? This place was called No. 1 Restaurant (that’s the exact spelling, I might add) and the place to order food was about 3x3 feet. LOL. And there was tagging all over the place. I loved it. And the food was cheap. SO DELICIOUS. I got a dumpling wok meal and Romain told us that their homemade ice tea was really good so I got some of that and it’s like LIQUID CRACK, PEOPLE. OMG so delicious! So, after eating we decided to take a little cat nap before we would head out into the city for the MoMA (which is free Friday nights). Oh, and by the way, Romain's roommate Christopher has these two cats named Khyssa and Sammy and they are the cutest things EVER. They certainly made our lounging around time more enjoyable. I'll put pictures of them below.

The nap helped for a little bit, but I had been up for about 30 hours at this point (since I had to drive straight from work to the airport) so I was starting to feel a little wonky at this point. But, the walking in the cold kept me alert – we passed through some areas (like Time’s Square and 5th Avenue) before getting to the MoMA (which was pretty packed; and unfortunately we were led to believe we had to check in our coats when we didn’t have to. So we stood in this long check in line before realizing that we didn’t need to. Blarg!). We saw a couple floors – the 3D design was great. I love the cool furniture pieces that people come up with. I also like the really obscure modern art, like bits of couches shredded and a thing hanging from the ceiling that looks like a bull’s penis that is ironically titled “Little Girl” in French. LOL. Art is great. We loved making fun of stuff like the huge white canvas that was mounted on the wall. Also, both Romain and Emily don’t like Jackson Pollock, and I agree he’s kind of “cool” to like, but I like some of his stuff anyway. The Warhol stuff is there as well and most of it is ok, though I don’t gravitate towards him immediately.

But that was pretty much all Emily and I could take. We were exhausted – and it was free so we didn’t feel like we were wasting money by not staying very long. We finally were able to check in after getting our luggage and I fell asleep almost instantly, lol. We had a big day the next day.

Pictures below:

The sign we made for Emily. the donkey thing is a long story so I won't get into it now. :P

This is Sammy. He's adorable.

This is Khyssa. She's one of those old Egyptian cat breeds (forgot the name) and she's like the slinky of cats. Compact and stretchy.

She loves checking out drinks for some reason.

Romain's street.

One of the interesting furniture pieces at the MoMA. A "lettuce" chair.

The blank white canvas.

Ripped couches as art?

the "little girl". xD

Walking through Time's Square.