Monday, June 3, 2013

Sightseeing In NYC - ESB, TAC, Blogger Picnic, And More!

In case you all have somehow missed the overwhelming storm of tweets this last week, BEA just ended. I was there. It was incredible. But equally incredible was where it was located. I've never been to New York City before, so I was over-the-moon to finally visit the city of my dreams.

Head below the jump-break to learn more!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Getting to New York on Tuesday was - thankfully - uneventful. I arrived in LaGuardia close to 7 PM and took a shuttle to my hotel on W 29th St. Yes, I was one of those geeky people with my nose pressed to the glass the entire drive, but I couldn't help myself. There was so much to see! We passed so many skyscrapers and industrial-type buildings, as well as the HUGE Macy's on 34th St. Oddly, NYC reminded me a great deal of London with its gloomy grey skies and tall buildings, so I was relieved to pass familiar sights such as McDonald's and Five Guys just to remind myself that, yes, I was still in the US!

My roommate for the week, Hannah from The Girl in a Cafe, didn't get in until after 3 AM due to transportation issues, so we stayed up rather late discussing plans for the morning. Sidenote: Hannah is one of the sweetest people I've ever met, and her accent is INCREDIBLE.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wednesday, Hannah and I went down to breakfast, where we met Merl Reagle and his wife, Marie. Merl Reagle, in case you didn't know, is the guy who creates crosswords for the Washington Post. He's also been on Oprah and the Simpsons and is a genuinely nice guy. After eating and hobnobbing, we walked the 19-minute or so path to the Javits, because this was before our feet were broken and cranky. We picked up our badges, then Hannah went in for the Blogger Conference, and I went off to sightsee!

After much dithering on my part, I decided to head to the 9/11 Memorial first. I schlepped down to Penn Station and got terribly lost, but eventually managed to by a pass and jump on a train downtown. Have I mentioned that I love the metro? I do. I hate driving, and there's no amount of money in the world that could induce me to drive in NYC. But the metro is amazing. It's organized, easy to navigate (except for Penn Station, because it's huge), relatively quiet (I tune out track noises pretty easily), and I don't have to pay attention! I'd love to be able to reclaim my commute and read a book. Freaking lucky New Yorkers.

Anyways, off I trucked to the 9/11 Memorial. The day was grey but slowly becoming blue as the sun burned away the fog and mist surrounding the uppermost levels of the nearby skyscrapers. You know, I never really understood the literalness of the name "skyscraper" until that day.

1 World Trade Center, shrouded in mist
Before making it to the memorial, I stopped by St. Paul's, the church where the first responders would go to catch a brief respite for diving back into the ruins of WTC. The cemetery outside was old and beautiful and so still, despite being separated from the rest of New York by a simple fence. Lining the walls of the inside of the church were different stations explaining what the first responders went through and the different mementos left inside and outside the church in the days that followed 9/11. It was amazing.

Patches left by PD and FD depts. around the world
After finishing at St. Paul's, I bought my memorial ticket in the little store across the street and then made my way to the memorial itself. Again, very quiet, very beautiful. It was interesting watching most everyone go through the same little internal struggle when it came to taking pictures. They wanted to be in it, to show they were there. We're conditioned to smile in pictures, but smiling didn't feel entirely right in such a place. Not smiling didn't feel right either, though. I ended up sort of half-smiling, though I'm not sure that was right either.

I got a little lost leaving St. Paul's, but I managed to pass by Grand Central and the Chrysler Building on my way to the New York Public Library. Now when I saw NYPL, I mean the BIG one, the one you see in all the movies. Let me just say that it did not disappoint. Gorgeous! Again, very quiet. I could have stayed in there forever.

Next, I tore myself away from NYPL and meandered to the Empire State Building. The day was still a little too grey for my taste, but I didn't know when else in the week I would have time to visit. I was cheap and only went up to the 86th floor observation deck, as opposed to the tippy-tippy top. As I explained to my sister, if it's good enough for Meg Ryan, it's good enough for me. (Although, now that I think back, Meg Ryan may have met Tom Hanks at the tippy-tippy top after all. Hmm.) Thanks to the crazy lines, it took FOREVER to get up there, but the view was so worth it.

Once again, the thing that stood out to me was how quiet it was. The deck was PACKED with people, and all of New York (and part of New Jersey) was laid out before us, but barely anyone made a peep. The wind smothered all the extraneous noise like the world's best white noise machine. The streets were so far away, and while they were busy, they seemed more organized and calmer from where we were. It was like the coolest Where's Waldo imaginable. The more you looked, the more you noticed. I wanted to just sit and stare out at the city and sleep for the rest of the day.

Off to the right is the teeny-tiny State of Liberty
I spy the Chrysler Building!
Sadly, I could not, for there were more sights to see! I dashed into the Museum of Natural History real quick. Fortunately for me, there wasn't much I wanted to see. I picked up a bird book for my littlest sister and then went off to find THE DINOSAURS!! Once finding them, I immediately reverted into a giddy, bouncing four-year-old. I have no regrets.

After seeing my dinosaurs, I hurried back to the hotel to meet Hannah and get ready for the Teen Author Carnival downtown. We were late due to a metro snafu, so we missed the first half of the first panel. You can check out which authors were present for which panels here. I personally spent most of my time tweeting, giggling over the faces Sarah J. Maas and Susan Dennard made at each other, and cheering the Megan Whalen Turner references.

When the panels were finished, we were all supposed to queue up to meet the authors, but I had found out that A.C. Gaughen and Claire LeGrand were in the audience, so I hunted them both down first. Guys, it was SO nerve-wracking to actually meet people in person, but I'm glad I started with these two. They were both SO nice and seemed genuinely pleased to meet me. Hugs were swapped, and I walked away thinking that these were two people that would have made excellent real-life friends even without all the author-blogger dynamics.

I also found and met Rachel from Rachel Reads for the first time, which was hilarious. I'd creeped on her during the panel via Twitter, and she was very relieved to learn that while I acted like a creeper, I didn't look like one (whatever that means).

Downstairs at the author meet-up (which was supposed to be a signing, but ended up just being a lot of excited book people squealing), I honed in on Sarah J. Maas and Susan Dennard. I wanted to talk to the other authors, but I hadn't read their books (yet), whereas I follow Sarah and Susan on Twitter AND have read their books. And oh my gosh, you guys, they knew who I was. Sarah actually SQUEALED! And I died of happiness. They let me take pictures with them! Sarah signed my copy of Throne of Glass that I dragged all the way to New York! I left the event on Cloud Nine.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hannah and I were totally swallowed and then spat back out by BEA, but we did manage to rouse our broken bodies for a trip to Books of Wonder. We sort of interrupted a signing that we didn't know was going on (oops!) but otherwise had fun oohing and aahing over the adorable store and all of the amazing signed stock! Hannah especially went nuts, as there were several books there that were unavailable in Australia. I ended up buying a signed copy of Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst, a signed copy of Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (for Sunny), and a clearance copy of Lirael by Garth Nix (for whenever I get around to reading Sabriel.) And then the nice man behind the counter gave us both a Books of Wonder tote bag, even though we had bought less than $50 worth of books!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Picnic photo courtesy of Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books
Even MORE BEA on Friday. Hannah and I nearly cried at the thought of leaving our hotel again, but the Blogger Picnic in Central Park was that evening, so off we went. I'm so glad we did! Really, all it was was a bunch of bloggers standing around in Central Park eating cake, but what fun! I got to meet a bunch of really nice ladies and even participated in a rousing impromptu discussion led by June from Gossamer Obsessions about negative reviews, author behavior (good/bad), and rabid fans. None of us stayed very long, because we were all tired and apparently our permit only lasted so long, but I had a great time, and roommate Hannah, Hannah from Paperback Treasures, and I stopped by the nearby bridge to take photos on our way out. There may or may not have been an Enchanted sing-along/quote-a-thon as well.

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

This was the day we had considered going by the Statue of Liberty via the Staten Island Ferry. However, just the thought of traveling that far made me want to hurl. Instead, after mailing out my packages, Hannah and I walked up to Times Square. Can you say AMAZING?

First of all, TONS of people. Second, all those big screens look even more amazing in real life. Third, we managed to find a HUMONGOUS Toys R Us and Disney Store right next to each other and acted like small children for a solid hour or two. Seriously, if you want to have a good time, let an Aussie loose in an entire store devoted to princesses. I don't think I've laughed so hard in all my life.

It's so fluffy she's gonna DIIIIIE!
After making complete fools of ourselves in the various stores, we went down to the heart of Times Square and took pictures before doubling back to find a Coldstone. I was craving ice cream and Hannah had never tried Coldstone before. We both agreed that it was worth the trip, but that it was past time for bed.

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

No sightseeing today, as it was time to go home. :( Hannah walked me down to the curb and we waited for my shuttle to arrive. It never arrived. The people said it did, but the only shuttle that appeared kept calling for a "Gabe," which is NOT my name. Let's just say that I was not a happy Shelver. Thankfully, a cabbie was killing time nearby, so I made it to the airport in plenty of time, but not without some nausea.


As you can see, it was a GREAT week for sightseeing. I didn't see all I wanted to, but that's okay. I plan to return to New York in the future, and when I do, the Statue of Liberty, the Met, and the Strand are MINE!

Here are a few miscellaneous things I learned while sightseeing:
  • LaGuardia is not pretty.
  • There are stands for $1 hot dogs and $1 pizza slices EVERYWHERE.
  • The aforementioned $1 pizza is ridiculously good.
  • No matter how hungry you are, if you eat an apple on the metro, people will stare.
  • Don't listen to the worker in the ESB who says you have to go down and all the way around again to pick up the stuff security confiscated. He lies.
  • Other tourists are perfectly willing to take a picture for you if you offer to take a picture for them first.
  • If you're freaked out by taxidermy, the Museum of Natural History may not be the place for you.
  • Shelver + dinosaurs = insta-hilarity
  • Do not get between Rachel and Susan Dennard if you value your life.
  • Sarah J. Maas looks like Jennifer Lawrence in real life, so hugging Sarah J. Maas is like hugging Katniss. It's CRAZY.
  • Authors who are nice on the internet are DEFINITELY just as nice in real life.
  • Books of Wonder is like a crackhouse for readers. A tiny, whimsical crackhouse.
  • Times Square is essentially the world's biggest Walmart when it comes to people. Seriously, people there are WEIRD.
  • Taxis make me very, very carsick.
Stick around for my post tomorrow about BEA and one Wednesday about my haul!