Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Boxing Day Chaos

Did I mention how absolutely insane Times Square was on the night of Christmas Day ? I am still in shock of it . We really shouldn't have dived into that and to think that our taxi driver from the airport told us that it will be quiet in the city hahaha . That night we didn't do any drinking as that experience kinda shook us both . Nothing personally bad happened , it's just I'm not a big fan of most tourists ... You know ! The ones that stop in the middle of an intersection to take a picture or the ones huddled in the middle of a sidewalk instead of moving to the side ? I call them tourist pylons that one has to weave through to navigate a sidewalk 😜 well imagine that with thousands of people possibly tens of thousands ... It was so packed . Anyways that was Christmas and this is Boxing Day . 


We woke up with our bags already packed the night before and grabbed a Starbucks which was closer then we thought ! I gobbled the second half of Kathleen's leftover pastrami sandwich from Katz's (remember it was like $25cdn ) and we checked out and dropped out bags off at hotel storage , by the way I would definitely recommend the Holiday Inn on Washington in the financial district . We knew after last night that there is a possibility for chaos and we wanted to beat the rush if we could .... Too bad we missed the R train and the next one showed up 20 minutes later . First stop ... NHL Store powered by Reebok . 

I was hoping for some Boxing Day sales but that was a pipe dream . Regardless I found what I wanted and probably paid more then I would have back in Toronto but regardless as a hockey fan you must go to this store to at least see all the stuff that ou probably have browsed over on their website before :) then it was time to have a pint or 5 .....

Yup I got on the piss before I had to fly home .... Never the best idea , what do you think ? Anyways we went to the Aston Villa supporters pub in hopes of meeting other Villa fans but with the game not being televised would make those hopes probably not possible . When we arrived after walking 20 min we knew Villa were winning 1-0 with a Bacuna goal and we got a table with the Man U game and sat beside a group with every plastic jersey you could imagine at it . Funny . I asked where the villa supporters hung out and they said downstairs at the bar ... I went down and it was rammed with Chelsea supporters ... Not my cup of tea ... So back to the table beside the group of plastics and thankfully Brooklyn East IPA was on tap .... 5 pints later we had to leave . Nothing spectacular happened , Villa did win with a goal from McCormack and we did end up finding the villa shrine in the bar on our way out after the Chelsea supporters left ... Oh we also found the championship supporters down there huddled together . Newcastle and Norwich were 2 of the 3 lol .... It's tough for clubs to keep fans coming out so thumbs up to them for showing up at the boozer to support their clubs ! 

We were both pretty buzzed and we decided to walk the 1 hour walk back o our hotel with what I though was soho , not sure lol but it was really nice with a lot of cool bars that we would love to check out next time , yes there will be a next time as I really do love visiting this city . Now like I said we were on our way to get our bags , jump in a taxi and head to the airport . All went as planned and maybe too well planned because when we got to the airport it was dead ? No joke ! Just like on our way here at Pearson same thing we basically walked through with no lineups at all .... Amazing since its Laguardia which you would expect to be constantly busy ? Can't complain but I was not too impressed with the airport and its duty free which was pretty limited .... At least I found my Johnnie Walker Island Green to add to my collection . Too bad Kathleen ended up settling for a Smirnoff bottle or something boringly lame ... I know she likes it but we usually get stuff we can't buy at the LCBO . 

By the time I cleared customs I was sobering up and somewhat feeling hungover ... It's more fun when you keep drinking and then things got shitty as soon as we boarded our plane we were told that we would sit on the plane and wait an hour and a half to fly to Toronto because it was foggy in Toronto :( in that time I finished Suicide Squad which I liked and started to feel a bit crappier . Then we took off .... I watched some Vice program and a JFL comedy show which was ok but yeah , I didn't feel great . Our landing was rough as it was raining in Toronto and I felt a bit air sick .... Remind me not to drink the day I fly home again :( when we got out we grabbed our bag which was opened and rifled through by our American friends :) thanks ... Again 🤗 happens every time . Get home and find that magic note that says they went through it .... Just so you know I could tell someone went though it and if anyone I thought it was you . When I got home I gave Kathleen her other little gift , a bottle of Simple Syrup to make some cocktails with ... Can't wait to try some !

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Day in NYC

Who doesn't like waking up on Christmas morning and opening gifts ? I am lucky to have an amazing person like Kathleen in my life because she brought gifts with her for me . I was lucky enough to open two gifts :) first I gave her the gift I bought here for her .... A selfie stick :) she mentioned she wanted one a few times in the last couple weeks ! Then I opened my gifts ... I got a new pair of fancy socks with planes on them and the new A Tribe Called Quest cd ! When we get home I will have to give her the other gift I bought her . 

We went for breakfast at George's again since it's so close and was pretty good then we started to plan our day . Originally I wanted to go skate at that rink in Central Park but then I realized how much it was !!! I think they wanted like $40 USD for the 2 of us ??? So instead I looked to see if there were any rinks closer to us and there was this little rink right on the Hudson River called Brookfield Place which wasn't as expensive ao we went over . It wasn't rammed or crazy busy and it was good enough o give Kathleen some more practise :) she really is getting better and I will have to continue helping her over the rest of the winter . We stayed at the rink for about 45 mins then headed back to the Holiday Inn to get washed up ... I was sweaty :) 

One of our new traditions lately is to go watch a movie on Christmas and the last 2 years now we have been lucky to go watch Star Wars movies ! Lat year I passed out watching The Force Awakens in Birmingham, England and yesterday I stayed awake to watch all of Rogue One . I am not gonna ruin the plot , don't worry :) but let me say that I loved it . It's hard for me to not like anything that has to do with Star Wars but I did not love watching it in 3D . The glasses hurt my face and my eyes and that will probably be the last time I ever go to watch a 3D movie . Waste of time and cash . 

We then went for our Christmas Dinner at Katz's Deli . It is an iconic place to eat in NYC and if you like a good deli then this is the place to be . We had to wait half an hour before being seated but we were expecting that . When we were seated we found out that this place ain't cheap but nothing is in NYC . We wanted pastrami sandwiches and yeah .... They were $20 USD each and that comes with nothing , just the bread with meat on it ! That makes this the most expensive sandwich that I personally have ever had , no joke !!! Have you ever had a sandwich that cost this much ? It seems to be the norm here that a decent meal will cost the 2 of us more then $60 and we have burned through our funds like a hot knife through butter but we knew what we were getting into . Now don't get me wrong , the sandwich made me drool it was so good and I would do it again but I have to let you and everyone else know that it is not cheap . As I've said the last few days , nothing is cheap here but this is what you get when you come to NYC . So if you ever decide to visit which I will do again and again make sure to bring a pocket full of cash :) 

I hope you all had a great day like I did and most of all I hope you all had the Merriest of Christmas' . Ho Ho Ho ;) 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Eve in NYC

What's this ? I woke up yesterday and didn't have a hangover ? Strange isn't it . I didn't go on a rager the night before and I'm travelling ... Doesn't seem like me does it hahaha ! I'm on good behaviour this time since I'm travelling with Kathleen :) so first thing I did was to get a couple coffees from the Dunkin Doughnuts down the road . This stuff is awful .... Both of us agreed . After drinking our sludge we washed up and went to George's for breakfast . Standard breakfast was had (bacon & eggs) then we went to the closest tourist shop and bought some things . I bought Kathleen a selfie stick for a Christmas gift which I did in full stealth mode then we headed to Starbucks for another coffee before we really started our day . 

We went to catch a train at Rector St and headed up to Central Park to go skating . It was raining in the morning but the website said the rink was opened ..... When we got there it was closed ? Wtf ! I was not a happy camper . There are two rinks in Central Park , I played in a tournament on the other rink about 10 years ago . That rink is Lasker Rink and this one we were at yesterday was Wollman Rink , obviously I am going back today to say I skated on both ! 

We both have our skates in our bags and I am super determined to go for a skate so we started walking down towards Rockefeller Centre but it was rammed beyond belief ... Damn it ! I'm not giving up , I will skate on a puddle if I have to !!! There is another rink a bit further south in Bryant Park at the Christmas Market . When we arrived there was no lineup but a lot of people watching others skate . Now here is the low down for this rink which is a total scam .... It's free to skate here , you are allowed to bring your own skates and there are rentals if need be so if you don't have your own they make money . Now if you brought your own skates more then likely they are in a backpack of some sort which we both had . I asked the girl at the entrance if I could wear my backpack while skating like I do back home , she said yes . So after I got my skates on I went to jump on the ice and one of the rink guards stopped me saying that I can't bring my bag . I asked him , so where doin leave my bag ? He said in a locker :( so if you bring your own skates they still make money of you ! Does this seem free ? Nope ! So being the ghetto kinda guy I am :) I took Kathleen's bag and put it into mine and checked one bag ..... For $10 !!!! Ok don't get me wrong , I enjoyed getting on the ice but I don't enjoy being swindled with these fake free skate bs . We skated around for almost an hour and had another run in with the rink guard when we were taking photos .... The rink guard said we are not allowed to take photos and I asked him is there anything we are allowed to do here ? He didn't like that but I didn't care . Come
chase me down if you want you ankle burner hahaha ! We did manage to get a few pics though :) 

After getting my sweat on we went for a wander to find NHL store which was closed ... But on the way we stumbled upon the HBO store , Kathleen was in Game of Thrones heaven . She loved it , and that made me happy . After that we wandered over to Heartland Brewery for a pint and I had some wings which I might add were really really good . 

We were a hop and a skip away from Times Square so we went to experience the madness on the way to the next pub I had to hit .... The Flying Puck ! Yes it's a hockey bar dedicated mainly to the New York Rangers , I have been here before . It's a bit of a dive bar but that's what I like . It is Christmas Eve so unfortunately it was about to close but I snuck in a quick pint and we headed back to our hotel to relax for a minute .... 

After mulling around in our room for a bit we decided to go hit a bar . We were gonna head to the lower east side but decided to check the hotel boozer which is called St. George Tavern and we met a very friendly Mexican bartender and decided to spend the night at the bar :) I drank a few glasses of scotch with the local IPA and we both got a good buzz . On the way out I went to the convenience store to grab snacks for the room and that was it .... That was my Christmas Eve in NYC . 

Merry Christmas to one and all , I hope you all have a great day today . Ho Ho Ho !

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Back in The Big Apple

What a day I/we had yesterday . It's not just about me in case you didn't know 😀 we took a taxi to the airport yesterday as Uber is becoming more of a scam with their hiked up prices . An Uber to airport was same cost as taxi .... It is becoming more and more redundant to use their service .... I'm sure most can agree . When we got to the airport the machine checking me in couldn't process my check in so I was sent to the 1 hour lineup . Gotta love those automated machines that never work for me . I think it's because it reads my name as Adriana instead of Adrian A. as my middle name is on my passport . When we finally checked out bags we wen through American customs and believe it or not , it was dead ? Yeah no joke ... We walked straight through with no lineups ? It makes no sense at all but I'm not complaining ! 

The flight seemed to have left late but was on time when we landed . I watched the first half of Suicide Squad and will watch the other half on the way home so don't ruin it for me ok :) when we arrived at LaGuardia Airport we jumped into another taxi and made our way to the Holiday Inn in the financial district . Right near where the World Trade Center used to be :( we dropped our bags and walked over to check it out . I have done the 911 memorial and I don't think I can handle that again to be honest and the last time I was here with Kathleen it was just a giant hole .... She was pleasantly surprised to see what they have done here. I noticed that there is a church being built here at what was once called ground zero . It's good to see progress . New York is a resilient city and I love it for that . 

Time to eat . I spotted a place from our 38th floor window called Bills Bar & Burger which was intriguing since it had 2 things I wanted in its name . Yeah I could go for a pint and a burgers , so we ended up there and the food was awesome , the service was fantastic and the cost was high but this is New York and nothing is cheap here . $9 USD for a pint of Brooklyn IPA ... That is like $12 CDN ... I had 2 pints , gobbled my food and we were off to Brooklyn to watch the New York Islanders play the Buffalo Sabres . 

It was Ralph Macchio bobblehead night. We got 2 of them lol ! He is a super fan that can't skate or play hockey , he said so himself at the beginning of the game which we got to via transit , did I mention how amazing transit is here? $3 gets you anywhere !!! Don't get me started about how shit transit is in Toronto ! We got o the Barclays Center a bit early and I was really happy to find tins of this Brooklyn IPA at the rink and yes it wasn't cheaper .... $12 USD for a large tin . I had 3 or 4 as I do when I'm out and about , no I wasn't too drunk but I was feeling good . Kathleen had a couple vodka crans which kept her smiling and we watched a game full of goals with the kinda home team Islanders winning 5-1 . It was fun talking with some local fans about the good ol days when they were a dynasty and we talked about players that played for both the Isles and Leafs .... That Jason Blake guy ??? What a bad signing that was eh lol ! 

After the game we got back on the subway and got lost . Funny thing is everyone that got off that same stop were also lost . The subway system here is crazy but in a good way . Between the people lost at this random station we figured where to go and found our way back to the Holiday Inn YAY ! We were hungry but not starved so we walked over to a local pizzeria called Pomodoro which was pretty friggin good . We gobbled it and next thing you know I was sleeping .... I slept great ! At least one of us did 😜

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Holiday 2016

Today is the day that I have to pack my bag (no hockey bag) for NYC . I'm heading over with Kathleen to spend a few days over Christmas . Most years we are overseas together over the holidays and this year won't be any exception . When I was planning my trip to Eastern Europe I was looking at using my RBC Rewards Points before I switched over to my new Aeroplan Visa . I had enough points for a flight from Birmingham-Sofia & Bucharest-Birmingham .... I was thinking ahead and checked to see what I could get for 2 tickets and saw I could get 2 flights to NYC with the same amount of points . So I booked the flights and broke the news to Kathleen :) she was happy ! 

Tomorrow my flight leaves and yeah I'm not playing any hockey BUT I'm going to watch the Islanders play the Sabres tomorrow night and I'm taking my skates to go for a skate probably at Rockefeller Center with Kathleen . We are also going to watch Rogue One just like last year when we watched The Force Awakens on Christmas Eve in Birmingham .... If you read that you would know that night was fun lol ! Highly doubt that will be the case this year but you never know with me :) hahaha !!!! 

I took today off work :) and I'm glad because I have to do more laundry , visit the bank , and get a haircut ... Yeah I have to look half decent to fly :) I also have to get some flags sewn onto my new travel bag if I find the time . Today will be busy , and I can't wait to get over to New York tomorrow . 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Home Time

Was I happy to go home ? Yeah I kinda missed my lady , but I kinda didn't want this trip to end . This was one of those trips that nobody in their right mind would want to end . Alas the ticket I booked had me leaving on this day and for some stupid reason I booked another stupid early flight .... This time I had to be up at 4 am to get to the airport for 5ish as my flight left at 7 ... When I woke up I wasn't in the soberest of moods :( 

When I got downstairs at the Jurys Inn the night manager who is a dbag was there ... I have had words with him before on other trip and I've actually complained about him , he must have some nuclear cockroach super powers because he is still there .... Whatever I'm checking out . He offers a taxi and I declined and ordered an uber . The driver that showed up was super friendly and we had a good chat as the reality of me leaving set in . I was sad and I am still sad that I left but my life is here in Toronto . It will always be my home .... But I love leaving it ! When we got to the airport I checked my bags in with Lufthansa ... Yes they suck ! They charged me another $100 for my luggage and at this point I don't even care , ok maybe I care a bit but hey it's money and Lufthansa is not about making you happy ... They are about keeping their pockets lined until they go on strike again like they currently are ...grrr ! 

Anywho I flew to Frankfurt and had enough time to buy some Prada cologne and a bottle of Johnnie Walker :) new bottle aged in rum casks only available at certain airports ! I barely had time but made my flight to Toronto on time . When we boarded it was chaos ... Don't they know about queues ? Why can't they rope off a line ? What a disaster free for all ! Took forever to get us on the flight ... I ended up with a window seat in the back with a bunch of spare room beside me :) a girl sat beside me and was instantly looking to move seats ... Is it me ? Do I smell ? Maybe it's my breath ? Who cares right ? That self conscious behaviour made me a bit sweaty . Maybe it is better if she moves then I have a row to myself :) how can I chase her away ? Do I fart or turn the air on or keep the window open ? Forget it ! I'm ok the way this is lol . She stuck around and no I didn't fart (that much) hahaha . 

I was hoping to see a good movie on board .... Best selection was Ghostbusters . Wow was that shit ! I wish I could've slept but that didn't happen . Instead I watched 3 horrible life stealing movies which I won't talk about because they seemed to drag the flight on . You can't imagine how happy I was to arrive in Toronto . Home sweet home . Now I have to clear customs and I'm home free ..... I know I lead you to believe I had some issues but no it was all good . No weirdos , no hassles and next thing you know I'm in a taxi home . And that was that ..... Another amazing trip in the books . I can't wait for my next trip ....

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

That last day :(

Last day of my trip . I know this happened a week ago now ... I'm so sorry I have been busy being normal again back home :) I'm happy to be home now but last week I wasn't feeling so good . 24 days of travelling by plane , by bus and by car rental . Covered a lot of space and had some good times ...maybe too many based on the way I was feeling . Made a lot of good friends and a lot of amazing memories .... Usually this is that day I reflect on all this and it's sad .... 

When I woke up I went downstairs to get some breakfast because the person that checked me in had said that there was breakfast included . As said in my last post ... I doubted it when she even said it as you never get anything inclusive when you book third party reservations . When I got to the breakfast area the person at the entrance took my number then called for his manager and honestly I knew what was coming and I wanted to run and hide as this makes me feel a bit desperate and embarassed and sure as heck the manager tells me sir your room is not inclusive of breakfast but you can pay £10 and charge it to your room .... Of course I'm not that stupid so I replied I will just go to the Witherspoons and pay £4 for the same food , then I scurried back to my room . I still like Jurys Inn but this is one of those embarassing experiences I don't like having to deal with in a hotel I am paying a premium to stay at !!!  

Never had breakfast :( instead I went to my room , packed my bags and went back to bed . When I arose from my sleep I noticed Aideen was out on New St so I got ready and weaved my way through the massive Christmas Market and met her inside the Villa Shop . No i didn't buy anything else as I already have something like 50 kilos to drag around ! We met to grab a bite so we went to the Wok & Go and had a box of noodles before finding where Peever was at . Newcastle plays Leeds so we wanted to find a pub .... Peever suggested The Outback on Broad St , I haven't been in there since my trip over in 2004 ... Back then they served all types of interesting meat like crocodile and kangaroo !!!! So when we were going I thought about trying something different .... Unfortunately they don't serve anything aside from pub grub now :( at least they have BrewDog on tap !!!!! Yes I had drinks that day .... 21 out of the 24 days travelling I consumed alcohol ... I am such a drunk lol ! Anyways Aideen had to split and catch her flight after a couple pints and one of Peeve's buddies showed up and we had a pint with him before heading to Mike's place . He is so close to Broad St ! It's just a hop and a skip away :) we "chilled" there for a bit 😜then headed out for dinner . 

There is no better place to go to eat in Brum then Turtle Bay . I know it's not for everyone but man the food is so good there . I love me some Carribbean spices :) I'm still surprised Peeve had never been there . So when we went over I made some suggestions and we ended up slinging back some Beachcomber Zombie cocktails . The beer selection there is actually shite so if I was you I would stick to the cocktails ok ? Yeah that beachcomber zombie has 3 or 4 rums and absinthe in it so it has kick . I know as a manly man I shouldn't be drinking cocktails like Reece does but hey when the beer option is slacking then go with the flow . I had another jerked steak , couldn't bring myself to eat anything but ! Peeve had a full chicken , it was massive and he smiled the whole time he ate that bird . I'm sure he liked the food and atmosphere there . It was actually quiet and hung in with the theme of being sad a depressed about leaving . After we ate we went to BrewDog and had a pint there to was down the food ! And yes Peeve tried a beer at Turtle Bay .... Ask him how it went . Lol ! Stick to the cocktails 🍸

It was nice hanging out with Peeve that night . At some point we gotta call it a night and walk back ... Surprisingly he didn't wanna go for some sheesha so we  left John Bright St and headed for Broad St. .... When we got to Fletcher's Walk we emptied out our pockets and gave some homeless kid our shrapnel . He must've got at least £5 in change just from me and when we arrived at Jury's Inn we gave each other a big hug and said our good byes ... I already miss you big guy ! This is the end of my trip . Have to wake up at 4 am to get to the airport .... I'm not booking early flights ever again  .... Think I've said this before hahaha !