Twelve hour drive. Five girls. Spring break. Cue the fanfare. Instead of going to Punta Cana with the rest of the Notre Dame senior class, four other girls and I stuffed supplies for a week into my sedan. Our mission: New York City. The first leg of the trip was six hours to Pittsburg and was full of tolls as we got used to five people crammed into a car. After spending the night at one of the girl’s homes and being pampered with food, puppies, and love, we left for the city.
In preparation for the trip, every driver made her own 5-6 hours long playlist on Spotify. I downloaded them all offline onto my phone so that each driver could listen to her own music while on the road sans cellular data usage. Juanes serenaded us for a good portion of the drive although the car reserved the right to veto songs (re: Taylor Swift and Justin Beiber). In addition to learning each other’s musical tastes, we had two copies of Veronica Roth’s Divergent begin the rounds.
Our hotel was in Queens, and unfortunately the only way the GPS knew how to get us there was to drive straight through the middle of Manhattan. As soon as we discovered this, we switched drivers so that I was in the hot seat even though I had done my shift the day before. It was incredibly stressful to drive, but it was for the best. Otherwise I would have been sitting in the backseat, gripping my seat with white knuckles and praying.
We checked into the hotel a little after four and found ourselves in an itty-bitty room with two queen beds and about five square feet of open space. Instead of debating how we were going to sleep five people in the room, we changed from driving clothes into stylish outfits and sought the subway.
Due to our main organizer’s fantastic foresight, the hotel she had chosen was only two blocks down from the nearest station. We rode the purple line from 40th St. Lowery’s St. Until I said it aloud and was laughed at, I genuinely thought the station was Fortieth Saint Lowery’s Street. It was not. 40th Street – St. Lowery’s Street. Can you say Notre Dame problems?
With moderate difficulty, we rode the subway to Central Park. We had a delightful walk along the rain soaked pathways, happy to be out of the car and breathing unrecycled air. The Doctor Who fans in us made several appearances as we searched rocks and bridges to find the ones featured in the traumatizing Angels Take Manhattan episode.
Part of our mission in New York City was to experience as many cultures as we could find. Google and Siri were godsends for the trip, and with their help, we found Tina’s, a Cuban hole in the wall. We demolished yucca chips and secret dipping sauce courtesy of our waitress until Christine, our planner’s cousin who lived in the city, found us.
We popped into momofuku, a milk bar, for coffee at her insistence. I had never visited a milk bar before that, and it was an interesting experience. I say interesting because my cup was busted and hot coffee spilled down my dress before we got a second, sturdier cup. A few bus stops later, we looked skyward from the base of the Empire State Building. Christine’s husband worked with insurance for the Empire State Building so we were able to use his VIP card to skip the lines. We suffered a lot of glares and even a Rosa Parks comment, which was startling because we are not a monotone group of friends.
Twenty minutes later we were at the top, listening to commentary on each side of the building and trying to avoid vertigo. We spotted the Statue of Liberty and Times Square as expected, but we also saw a rooftop bar with abundant lights that looked, for lack of a better word, awesome.
The VIP card made another appearance, and we rode an old fashioned elevator up to the 102nd floor observatory. It was surprisingly less impressive than the open patio. Again, we eyed that colorful bar from our spots by the window. We thought, why not?
It wasn’t as easy as that, but nothing worth anything ever is. We were told the bar was 305 on Fifth. That was incorrect. After getting directions from several different people, we finally found it. An awkward situation about a broken-looking elevator and a bit of a blush and we were up. A trademark of the bar is to offer bright red robes to wear against the chill. We helped ourselves to robes, adult cider, and adult hot chocolate, sipping our drinks while looking up at the Empire State Building.
Our robed adventures weren’t complete until a man (we later decided he was between 31-34 years old) attempted to pick us all up. He was actually rather charming, and potentially a lawyer from Chicago. Alas, we were just finishing up our drinks and we left, looking for somewhere to dance. Lost in the city, we walked for half an hour before realizing 1) how late it was and 2) how early we had to wake up. A kind stranger helped us with the subway until we were back on the purple line toward our little room in Queens.
I thought I was going to be able to fit the entire trip into one post, but it appears that I enjoy rambling. Days two and three of New York adventures coming right up.