September 20, 2014 was the hersbernd’s & my first wedding anniversary!
Long story short… we were supposed to get married in 2007 but didn’t. After 6 years and multiple attempts to re-plan a wedding, we realized financially that a big wedding wasn’t in our cards. We’ve always been a paycheck-to-paycheck household, saving what we could for emergencies or very special occasions. Spending our nest egg just so I could smash cake in Travis’ face wasn’t worth it to us. So we decided after much discussion that we didn’t want to turn 30 (which we did in October 2013) and not be married. So we went to a little wedding chapel in downtown Columbus and had a private ceremony with just the two of us and finally “sealed the deal.” Our officiant looked like Kenny Rogers and couldn’t have been sweeter!
Much to Travis’ surprise, (because he thinks I’m cold-hearted and emotionally retarded) I cried when I began my vows. He thought I was crying because I didn’t want to go through with it, so he immediately began panicking and had to have Kenny Rogers repeat the part he was supposed to say. I felt bad for him at the time, but in hindsight it was hilarious!
We enjoyed our wedding dinner at our beloved Columbus Brewing Company! And since it was late afternoon/early evening on a week day, we almost had the place completely to ourselves!
We didn’t have the time or the money to go on a honeymoon when we got married, so we saved up over the course of the year and began planning one. After a very expensive spring and summer (new washer & dryer purchase and eye surgery for our Boston Terrier, Carli) we were afraid that it wasn’t going to happen. But then Travis had a freaking amazing couple of months at work and his commission checks put us back in the black and we were able to book a cruise!
We’ve both been on cruises before and have had a blast on them in the past! They’re very affordable when you take into consideration that you generally get to visit multiple destinations while only unpacking your bag once! And your food, which is usually 4/5 star quality, is included! Not to mention there is a ton of other really great free stuff you can do on-board as well.
This time around, we decided we did NOT want to fly. The idea of being crammed into a seat that feels like it was meant for a 10 year old and being catapulted magically through the air in a metal tube filled with hundreds of other passengers at the beginning of cold/flu season just didn’t sound like a romantic blasty-blast to us. So we picked out a few options… I think the choices were between:
- The Bahamas – Which I’ve been to twice before, it’s a fun place but I didn’t want to go a third time when there were other unseen options!
- Grand Cayman and Jamaica – Again, lovely but was the locations we did with my sisters last summer AND where I went on a cruise with my mom in 2005.
- Bermuda – Where neither of us have ever been!
So we chose Bermuda on the Norwegian Breakaway leaving out of the Port of Manhattan in New York City, New York.
So let me preface the beginning of our journey by saying this: For both of us, it was our first trip to NYC!
We rented a car to drive. Both of our cars experienced last-minute minor mechanical issues so we didn’t want to risk getting stranded anywhere. We left at around 6 am Saturday morning and started the 8+ hour journey east in a 2014 Hyundai Sonata with only like 300 miles on it. It was actually a really nice car! We completed the drive in about 10 hours after stopping for lunch, 2 bathroom breaks and traffic jams. We didn’t turn on the radio once. We gabbed and giggled like school girls out of sheer excitement the whole way there!
We even made the mistake of stopping to pee in Newark, NJ. Which I don’t know if the whole city of Newark is like this, but whatever part it was that we stopped was frightening. Travis is a brave man, and he was even a little concerned to get out and go to the bathroom that was 8 feet from the car. I’m even 99% sure they were chopping a car that was parked right next to us at the “gas station” we stopped at. I’m not shitting you. Yikes.
We are by no means world-class travelers like my dearest friends Jenny and Steve… I’ve been to some “bigger” cities like Atlanta, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Miami, Pittsburgh etc… I loved all of them! But these places are like flecks of dust compared to New York! Some of the foreign countries we’ve been to were less foreign than NYC.
Travis loved it. I found it to be a little… overwhelming.
Loud, busy places are sort of over-stimulating to me. For lack of a better way to explain it, they generally cause me to have sort of like a mini anxiety attack. I hate malls, busy grocery stores and rowdy bars (without me previously having consumed copious amounts of liquor). I can’t even go to concerts anymore without wanting to start flailing and punching people in the face who touch me or enter my “personal space bubble.”
Well, New York City was loud, crowded, dirty and expensive. I was shitting my pants before we even got through the Holland Tunnel into Manhattan.
There was no parking for anything, not even at most hotels. Finding a hotel room under $300 on a weekend was impossible unless you wanted to stay in something similar to the Bates Motel. Due to traffic, it took Travis nearly 2 hours to get back to Manhattan from LaGuardia airport after dropping off our rental car. However, when the Budget guys threatened to charge him a late fee for the car, he told them he was on his honeymoon and had run into traffic. They immediately dropped the charge and called a “cab” for him. A few minutes later a blacked-out sedan rolled up and took him back to the hotel. He said he felt like a mobster. Haha!
So unfortunately, while we had planned to arrive in NYC at around 4pm, and sight-see and get dinner in the city… we didn’t get to our hotel, the Grand Hyatt until after 6pm, due to traffic, and then didn’t get to venture out until close to 9, after Travis came back from the airport.
By then we were so exhausted all we really had time to check out was Grand Central Station, the Central Cafe, a restaurant from the end of one of my favorite movies Friends with Benefits and a “24 hour” sushi restaurant that was closed when we got there at like 9:30. So we ended up just walking around for a bit and then getting crappy $15 sandwiches at the hotel and watching Hell on Wheels and going to bed.
We didn’t even get street food… No NY Pizza, Gyros or Street Weiners 😦
The hotel we stayed at charged extra for WiFi and didn’t even have complimentary coffee. For breakfast we ended up paying $8 for a plain bagel that we had to toast and cream cheese ourselves. It was a very beautiful, modern and clean, but a bit of a price gouge. Also none of the hotels in NYC have pools, which I thought was weird.
The customer service was a 3 out of 5. I dealt with some jerks, but had an awesome door-man who helped me man-handle my bags, and jockey my way New Yorker-style into an elevator with our luggage trolley, since for the first 2+ hours I was in NYC I was completely alone, while Travis was returning the car!
We were on the 35th (top) floor. Our ears actually popped while going up and down in the elevator. And the view out our window was amazing. Since Travis didn’t get back to the hotel until after dark, he didn’t get to marvel over the view until first thing the next morning… And this truly is the “city that never sleeps” probably because these people honk their horns so much, it sounded like a traffic jam outside our window all night. There are actually signs posted around Manhattan that say “No Honking – $500 fine!”
The sheer immenseness of NYC is unimaginable. I knew this place was big, but had no idea it was THAT big. I love city life but could not fathom it in such huge proportions! Driving is near impossible. We didn’t get to experience the subway, but I’ve always been told to avoid the subway if possible, and I would think relying on cabs would become a nuisance very quickly. None of the cabbies knew where we were asking them to take us, and although one location was just a few blocks away and the other was the airport, we had to look up directions for them on our phones. At $22 for a 10 minute ride and $35 for a 20 minute ride, it can get expensive rather quickly.
I guess I take my car for granted! Living in a non “walkable” city, and a mostly rural state such as Ohio, being vehicle-less is considered a hindrance. I drive 45+ minutes to/from work every day. Columbus doesn’t offer any sort of rail or mass-transit system and riding a city bus is not possible for me because I live and work miles away from the nearest bus stops. I never realized how dependent we really are on our cars!
Even in two comparable rental cars, the rental going out of NYC was twice the price it was renting out of Columbus. We later realized it would have been cheaper to rent one car in Columbus and pay the $300/week to park it at the cruise terminal than to have returned it, pay cab fares and rented a separate car in NYC for our return. Sigh. You live you learn, right?
And speaking of cars… Travis loved driving in NYC. Which thoroughly surprised me. We both have what I previously considered to be “moderately-severe road rage.” Also known as “defensive driving!” I’ve even been known to run a car or two off the road for not letting me merge into the flow of traffic when I had the right-of-way. I’ve always driven smaller cars and larger cars/trucks tend to think they can “bully” you out of the way. Haha! Enjoy that ditch, jerk-face!
Well we quickly realized that we drive like old women compared to New Yorker’s standards. These people were on their horn the moment the light turned green, they cut you off at every turn, they used parking and fire lanes to pass you, they would pull u-turns without blinking an eye, they ran lights and then just stopped in the middle of intersections blocking all 4 directions of traffic. That’s not even throwing in the fact that the pedestrians just walked right out in front of your car no matter how fast you were going through a green light (with the “no-walky hand” for them!) or even just to jay-walk in the middle of the street. It was seriously like playing Grand Theft Auto… if all of the other cars and pedestrians were controlled by 2 year olds…
So that was our whirlwind 24 hours in the Big Apple! Don’t get me wrong, I am SO glad I got to experience it! I am blessed that I even had the opportunity! Most of all, I am blessed that I had an amazing human-being like Travis with me to tell me to stop freaking out in the most loving way possible, when all I wanted to do was get out of the car and curl into the fetal position in the middle of the street with my hands over my ears! Or beat the shit out of people honking their horn.
Would I travel to NYC again? Maybe. It would depend on the circumstances. Travis may go back again next year on business, and I think if I had a little more time to get in and chill out before venturing out, it might be better. I think the next time would be a lot easier now that we know what to do/not to do. I think it’s a place everyone should check out at least once in their life!