NYC & BookCon 2014

It’s been a REALLY long time since I’ve gone on a vacation. So when the chance to take a trip to NYC and go to BookCon arose I jumped at it. My return to Manhattan and the City That Never Sleeps was both victorious and glorious, to the point where (a week later) I still haven’t managed to catch up on all the sleep I’ve missed.

Our adventure began at 3am Friday morning. The flight left at 6:15. Once everyone was boarded and settled the Flight Attendants informed the grumpy red eyed crowd that there would be no coffee this morning, the machines were broken. For a brief moment I feared I was about to experience mutiny and would spend the remainder of my life as a member of a band of sky pirates on a quest for the Holy Grail of Coffee Cups. My imagination comes up with strange things when I’m low on sleep. The fight was short, we were barely up in the air before we were touching the ground again. Chelsey and I exited the airport and headed to the shuttle that would take us to the hotel.

Forty minutes later, lacking suitcases, but gaining Starbucks we found ourselves meandering through Central Park heading in the eventual direction of  The Museum of Natural History. It was a beautiful day and we managed to hit up some of the major Central Park Landmarks:

Returning to the Museum of Natural History was a little bit eerie. As we waited in line and I finally managed to connect my phone to the wifi I felt like I had gone back in time three years and that if I turned around I would not find Chelsey but the people who I had visited the museum with the last time I had been there. Memory is a peculiar thing. With tickets in hand we entered the museum and promptly began the important search for food. Two awesome things happened during our museum trip. The first being the special exhibit: THE POWER OF POISON. The exhibit covered not only naturally occurring poisons (I’ve been taught to be wary of a large variety of insects, I’m looking at you Bullet Ants) but man made poisons. Chelsey and I had a nice chat with one of the Guides who told us all aboutQin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, who was obsessed with quicksilver. It caused a lot of flashbacks to The Kingdom of Little Wounds.

At the end of the exhibit we sat in on a short lecture on the history of forensic science and the signs and symptoms of Arsenic Poison. All in all it was an awesome exhibit showcasing a lot of information in some really clever ways. I would highly recommend it.

After the Poison Exhibit we wandered through the rest of the museum. Which led to the second awesome Museum experience. Chelsey’s ultimate fascination with the Blue Whale model in the ocean room. When you walk into the Ocean Room the very first thing you see if a life sized model of a Blue Whale hanging from the ceiling staring at you. Understand that this thing is so big that the tail has to bend back in on itself. I had seen it before. Chelsey hadn’t  and she couldn’t get over the size of it.

After the Museum we headed to conquer one of my personal fears: heights. We headed to 30 Rock to go see the Top of the Rock, considered the best view of NYC. The lines weren’t too bad, and we soon found ourselves packed into an elevator shooting to the top of the building. The view was beautiful, but definitely outside my comfort zone, especially when Chelsey pointed out an old rickety wooden fire escape getting a well resounded Nonononoonononono out of me.

We wandered around Rockefeller Plaza for a bit and then made our way over to Times Square for some shopping and dinner. When we arrived Times Square was packed with tourists and buskers, but a freak rainstorm cleared everyone out pretty fast. We hit up some of the stores, including a trip to the M&Ms and Hershey Stores. We bought a lot of chocolate.

What’s a trip to NYC without some fantastic food? Friday Night dinner was at Carmines featuring the BEST lasagne that I have ever had. If you’ve never been I suggest checking them out. It’s a family style restaurant, so go with a large group of people. Between the two of us we had enough leftovers for a second meal.

We stopped into a few more stores to pick up supplies for the next day, and then headed back to the hotel to bed. We had been awake for over 20 hours. It was time to call it quits for a bit.

SATURDAY: BOOKCON (THE TRUE PURPOSE OF THE TRIP)

After a minor crisis over missing tickets, Chelsey and I found ourselves crammed into the convention center trying to navigate the crowds and figure out exactly where we wanted to be. Being at BookCon was like being at a decent party but knowing that the party happening next door (in this case BEA: Book Expo of America) is the party of the century.

There were books everywhere, but unbeknownst to us, the majority of them were free or pay by donation. We underwent a life changing transformation when a woman at a booth casually handed us copies of The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet. “You mean we can just TAKE them?” We asked. We couldn’t decide if it felt like Christmas morning or that we had just gotten away with a bank robbery.

We wandered around talking to authors, picking up books and getting in line for signings. All in all we were pretty pleased with ourselves. It was then that we experienced the perfect moment of being in the right place at the right time. We were wandering in the direction of the washroom when we were faced with a large mob. The Little Brown booth was handing books out. We approached. Chelsey got her books first and I nearly screeched. They were handing out The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black. A book that I was super excited about but was going to have to wait until January 2015. Not anymore.

Sadly we didn’t get to all the panels that we wanted to see, but we did manage to make it to the Holly Black, Cassandra Clare & Maggie Stiefvater Panel. The three of them were informative, entertaining and had great chemistry with one another.

After the panel and one last tour of the Show Floor, we headed back to the hotel to drop our hauls and then go to a Booktube Meetup happening at the Strand Bookstore. This was our first venture into the NYC Subway system and to our delight. We not only managed NOT to get lost, but we arrived early.

The Strand has to be one of the coolest bookstores that I have ever had the pleasure of exploring. I had to restrain myself from loading up on books, my suitcase was already uncomfortably full. You could easily lose a day exploring this store. At the meetup we met a bunch of awesome Booktubers and Book Bloggers.

Liz from Elizziebooks

 BACK TO REALITY (SATURDAY NIGHT)

We left the Strand and headed out in the direction of food. I had told Chelsey that if we were going to be in NYC then there was no way I would miss out on going to Lombardis for pizza. So we hightailed it to Little Italy to hit up the first pizza restaurant in NYC. As expected the place was crowded, but we soon found ourselves sitting at a table in the basement waiting for our pizza to appear. It turns out we were much hungrier than we had expected and the pizza was demolished. So we went in search of more food.

We grabbed cupcakes at the Little Cupcake Bakeshop and headed for SoHo to hit up the Comedy Cellar.Chelsey had made the reservations just on a whim and we were really lucky. We were seated right at the stage leaving us in the line of fire of the comedians who made a few great jokes at the expense of our Canadian-ness.

After the show we left and made our way back to the subway. Tomorrow would be our last full day in the city, and we wanted to make the best of it.

SUNDAY: THE DAY WHERE WE WALKED

We walked everywhere. EVERYWHERE. The subway line that we could have been taking was under construction. By the end of the day I was telling Chelsey that if I were to fall over than she should continue on without me. I learned my lesson, black converse shoes don’t offer the best support when you walk over 90 blocks.

Our day started with us heading to the Chelsea High Line: a railway converted into a public walkway. The High Line weaves through buildings old and new, over traffic and past some pretty awesome street art. Near the end of our walk we came across a section of the walkway made of stone with about an inch of water running over it. The idea was to take off your shoes and walk through it. Which I happily did.

We climbed down from the High Line and decided it was about time to make another Starbucks run. We wandered around Chelsea searching but to our surprise the coffee shop that had graced every street corner for the last three days was no where in sight. After a few more blocks we came across an Apple Store, which Chelsey pointed out to me and I perked up, exclaiming:

If there’s an Apple Store there must be a Starbucks! I know my people!

And what do you know. I was right!

Our next stop was the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We headed through Central Park (remember the subway was closed) towards the Museum. It was a beautiful day and the park was full of people. We could hear a parade off in the distance, but we never actually saw it.

If I had to choose between the two museums we went to, I would have to say my favourite was the Met. If you’re going to go, I would suggest setting aside an entire day. During our four hours there, Chelsey and I didn’t even manage to scratch the surface of the collection. We wandered through the Egyptian, the Medieval and the Greek wings looking at statues, weapons and armour. The detail on the artifacts was beyond mind blowing. I spent a good ten minutes analyzing a copy of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, while Chelsey couldn’t tear her eyes away from the suits of Samurai Armour.

The museum did introduce me to some statues that would go on to fuel my nightmares for the coming years. While we were wandering through the Egyptian wing I pointed out to Chelsey that the statues didn’t really have eyes, instead there were the eyes were supposed to be were just smooth orbs. No sooner had these words come out of my mouth but we were faced with a statue where the eyed had been/were still painted on. It didn’t make it any better. Later on when we were in the Greek and Roman wing we came across a statue of a boy where the eyes were just holes, as if someone had scooped them out. The more I looked at it, the more uncomfortable I felt.

The stuff nightmares are made of

The most surreal experience of wandering through the Met was to see pieces of art that I have seen my entire life in textbooks or on television, but now in real life. We wandered into the Van Gogh Wing and I couldn’t help but remember the Van Gogh episode of Doctor Who, specifically the monologue at the very end. Our final stop was the Modern Art Wing.

After we left the Met we grabbed dinner at the Irish Pub down the street from our Hotel. Chelsey did a little bit of shopping and I read. Not wanting to spend our last night in NYC doing nothing we decided to head out to see Disney’s Maleficent. Watch the review here.

TO CONCLUDE

NYC BookCon Weekend was a whirlwind three days full of street performers, art, books, food and walking. It was great to return to NYC and get to see all the things that I had missed out on during my previous trips. I know that next year we’ll be returning to BookCon and hitting up BEA.

Below is the vlog we filmed Sunday night after we returned from Maleficent on our adventures in NYC, check it out and see just how exhausted we actually were!

Written by
Alexandra is always looking for the next book she can devour. She has a love hate relationship with teen fiction specifically when it comes to fantasy, post apocalyptic and failed shakespeare adaptations.

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