America or Bust. Day Fifteen: The Journey Home

Today was daunting; with lots of travelling ahead of me it was going to be a big day. We checked out of the Sheraton Times Square New York at midday.

2015/01/img_3087.jpg This is a great hotel. I was apprehensive about staying here as a lot of reviews were saying it is the crappest hotel ever but on the same day there was a five star review saying that the hotel was excellent. I suppose it just goes to show you really you do have to make up your own mind and not believe everything you read. We were really happy with this hotel. I’m not sure if it’s because we upgraded our room which gave us extra privileges like complimentary breakfast each morning but I’d recommend staying here to a friend. And its location was spot on: walking distance to everything. First stop was to JFK Airport to board a Delta Airlines flight bound for LA. This was a six hour flight and was quite enjoyable.

2015/01/img_3105.jpg We had a celebrity on board: Victoria Justice. The kids watch here on Nick Jr and Violet would’ve got a big kick out of seeing her. I took some sneaky pics to show the kids.

2015/01/img_3127.jpg We checked out of LAX domestic and checked in at Tom Bradley International airport. After a bit of shopping and a quick bite to eat we boarded our Virgin Australia flight bound for Brisbane. A total of 14 hours!! I was not looking forward to this. We managed to get through it though. My legs were so swollen (does anybody else get this when they fly or is it just me?) I had bad lower back pain due to my monthly friend but I got some shuteye and we arrived in Brisbane without fault. We only had a very short time to get our connecting flight to Perth. After collecting our four suitcases, clearing customs, checking in, waiting 26 minutes for the AirTrain to take us to the domestic terminal, we were “that couple” that were legging it through the airport to catch our plane before it left without us. Phew, we made it. This flight was another five hours. That’s a total of 25 hours of flying in a two day period, five airports, two continents and one well earned shower when I get home. But first things first: those kiddies of mine are going to get the biggest hugs. I hope they’re ready for it.

2015/01/img_3128.jpg Until tomorrow … Aimee x

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America or Bust. Day Fourteen: 8 January 2015

Today is the second last day of our holiday of a lifetime. I’m not sad about that at all; we’ve done so much in our fourteen days it feels like we’ve been gone for a month.

We headed to breakfast this morning then took a casual stroll down to Grand Central Station. This building is gorgeous! I found myself just looking up at all the beautiful windows.

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There was a lot of security there; police aswell as the army. I suppose that’s understandable seeing as what has been happening lately.

We then made our way down to Macys on 35th Street. I finally got a Michael Kors bag! We bought some gifts and Mark bought himself some goodies too.

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We caught a taxi home with a few hours to relax before heading to Madison Square Garden tonight to watch the New York Knicks versus Houston Rockets.

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I had to have a big-ass slice of pizza from New York before we leave tomorrow (it’s one of my 50 Things to do Before I’m 50). The verdict: the New York pizza I had in Vegas was soooo much better than this piece of pizza. At least I tried it though.

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The game was good but the crowd wasn’t as lively as the Lakers crowd. The Knicks are on a 13-game straight losing streak and tonight they made it 14 losses in a row.

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We did spot some celebs in the crowd though:

Spike Lee – director
Michael Rapaport – actor
Victor Cruz from NY Giants (grid iron)
Ansel Elgort from The Fault in our Stars
Willie Randolph – NY baseball legend
Darryl Dawkins – NBA Legend
Steve Schirripa from The Sopranos

I’m ready to come home now. I’m missing my babies.

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I want to hug them and squeeze them and never let them go. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss my house. I miss my hometown. I miss my normal. I’m ready to come home.

Until tomorrow …

Aimee x

America or Bust. Day Thirteen: 7 January 2015

Today was so much colder than yesterday even though the temperature this morning told another story. Yesterday I think I was running on adrenaline so I didn’t feel the cold as much.

After breakfast we jumped on the Hop On-Hop Off bus bound for the Statue of Liberty. Waiting on 7th Avenue for the bus it was so cold we stood on the grates in the sidewalk to keep warm. After about 15 minutes the bus came. It’s a double-decker bus that’s designed for seating upstairs only. The seats are covered with a domed roof for protection from the elements. The back is open though and there was snow on the seats at the back which shows how cold it was today.

The bus took us on our journey down towards the Financial District. There was a man down the front of the bus telling us informative facts along the way. I think I was colder on the bus than on the street!

Twenty minutes later we came around the corner and saw the Statue of Liberty in the distance across the water. This was the last stop so it was “everybody off”. I know the Statue is a landmark and a “must see” when you’re in New York City however, our cold kidneys and frozen feet turned us in the other direction, up the street and straight into a coffee shop to have a cuppa and defrost! We simply could not fathom getting on a boat on that choppy water and freezing to death! Be rest assured we both had multiple layers on that were doing us no good.

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I know it’s a wasted opportunity and I may regret it but fair crack of the sav, it was too flippen’ cold! Something had to give. So sorry Lady Liberty, we’ll come back and see you in the Summer.

We caught a taxi to Bloomingdale’s on Lexington Avenue, with a scenic trip under the Manhattan Bridge which leads to Brooklyn.

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Bloomingdale’s is so fancy and so very expensive! I bought myself a “The Big Apple” Pandora charm and some MAC cosmetics.

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Then it was across the road to Sprinkles Cupcakes. Yum bloody yum! We shared a vanilla cupcake then got one for the road. And did you know they even have a cupcake ATM?! Yes, for real!

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We walked about 9 minutes down East 59th Street to FAO Schwarz.

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I first heard about this toy store in the Tom Hanks movie “Big” where Tom plays “Chopsticks” on the large floor piano.

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It’s a pretty cool store with mainly chocolate and lollies on the ground floor and toys on the top floor. We spent a bit of money in the store (which wasn’t hard to do), buying stuff for the kids as well as some goodies for us.

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After a whole lot of shopping we headed home to dump our stuff before heading out again to grab some dinner. We also had to buy another suitcase.

It’s 8.30pm and -12° outside. How is that even possible?! I’m sleeping in tomorrow for sure.

Until tomorrow …

Aimee x

America or Bust. Day Twelve: 6 January 2015

Well I was hoping for some snow today and boy did I get some! I woke up this morning to see it was -6° and snow was falling outside my window. It was coming from New Jersey way. The George Washington Bridge was nowhere in sight and Central Park was fast disappearing from view. There was no time for breakfast. It was straight to Central Park!

I was literally skipping the whole way there! The excitement I felt was overwhelming. I was even saying to strangers on the street “How beautiful is this?!” The snow was coming straight for us – falling as light as a feather but stabbing us in the eyes at the same time. I’ve never experienced anything like it. Just a five minute walk from our hotel saw us in Central Park. The steam coming up from the grates in the sidewalk, squirrels running up the trees, joggers still jogging through the park (what crazy cats!) It is purely a magical sight to see Central Park like this.

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Hugh Jackman even shared my excitement for the falling snow. I commented on his Instagram feed but he didn’t get back to me. Must’ve been busy.

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Back to our hotel for breakfast in the Club Lounge on the 44th floor.

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Then it was off to the American Museum of Natural History.

The American Museum of Natural History is located on Central Park Avenue, so back to Central Park we went. I’ve dreamt of coming to this museum for a long time since seeing it featured in many a movie, like “A Night at the Museum” but my fave is “The Pick-up Artist” with Molly Ringwald and Robert Downey Jr. We had such a fun time walking there. Playing in the snow, taking pictures and throwing snow at each other. That was the best! The snow has made us hold hands more. We have to or we’ll stack it! It’s so slippery!

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After about 20 minutes we reached the Museum. Because of our New York Pass we fasttracked the line and went straight in.The museum was great. So much to look at that you kind of get lost.

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We took a cab to Rockefeller Center. I thought there might be snow on the tree but there wasn’t. We went to the NBC Studio gift shop where I bought a Jimmy Fallon T-shirt, then we walked down Fifth Avenue in search of Tiffany’s.

Ah, Tiffany’s. What a magical place. I’ve never been to one before and I wanted my first to be in New York City. We found ourselves on the third floor: this is the floor that normal everyday people like us can afford to shop at. We had a lovely English salesman who was great and I walked out with three little blue boxes. Little bit excited I was.

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Our next stop was Trump Tower. We went to Trump Grill for a late lunch/early dinner then headed home. I don’t know what my rush was this morning to see snow because it didn’t stop until about 5pm! Magic!

A couple of hours were spent in our room recharging and defrosting before heading out to see “The Lion King” on Broadway. We only purchased our tickets yesterday so how we got front row seats I’ll never know! We met some cool people who were sitting near us: two young girls from Melbourne travelling around America, and an African-American couple from Pennsylvania. They were lovely. She was showing us pictures of her grandkids who are pre-med at college. So proud they are.

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The show was spectacular! As I knew it would be. They performed the whole movie with added dances and songs. Two and a half hours later it was over. What a great night.

A quick walk back through Times Square saw us home by 10pm. Considering the sun sets so early here and today was so cold we still managed to fit quite a bit in. Tomorrow we’re off to the Statue of Liberty and a few other places along the way.

Until tomorrow …

Aimee x

America or Bust. Day Eleven: 5 January 2015

After a much needed sleep-in this morning, the hubster and I headed out to explore New York. Did I mention that we’re in New York? OMG!!

It was freezing today. I’ve never felt weather so cold. I loved it; it makes me feel so alive. Plus it has to be this cold if I want to see snow.

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First stop was to buy the hubster a scarf and gloves. He’s one of these guys that’s happy to live in a singlet and shorts. I didn’t have to persuade him to buy these today however. It was an absolute necessity.

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Before we left home we bought a “New York Pass” online. It allows you free entry and sometimes queue jumping into multiple attractions within New York City. We picked them up from Planet Hollywood this morning.

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And then there was Times Square. Wow! What an explosion of colour, people, large screens, entertainment, shopping, places to eat, Broadway, and cold. Oh so cold! You kind of just stand there at first thinking “Am I really hear? This plain, ordinary girl from Byford? In the Big Apple?” These memories I will have for a lifetime.

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After some quick snaps we headed to Bubba Gumps for some lunch (I had the yummiest burger) then we went to book our tickets for tomorrow night to see “The Lion King” on Broadway. Can’t wait for that!

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After some more pics in Times Square we headed towards Rockefeller Centre. Wow again! As soon as you see the iconic Radio City Music Hall and NBC Studios, The Jimmy Fallon Show and 30 Rockefeller Plaza, you know you’re somewhere special.

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We had a bit of a look around and then I found The Tree. I’ve been dreaming about this tree since we booked our holiday in February and, even though it’s not Christmas anymore, it’s an amazing site. They’re taking it down on Wednesday so perfect timing for us. I also said I was going to ice skate while I’m here but, seeing as I can’t skate, I’m gonna leave that to the experts.

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Next stop was to go to the “Top of the Rock” to get a birds eye view of New York City. It was about 1:30pm and we were told the next available spot wasn’t until 6:15pm. We went to get our tickets and we were told if we did the Rockefeller Centre Walking Tour aswell (which was free with our New York Pass) we could start the tour at 2pm then head up to the “Top of the Rock” afterwards. Perfect timing.

We were in a group of about 20 led by a guide who talked into our headsets with heaps of information about the history of Rockefeller Centre, its surrounding buildings, how it came to be, the art and sculptures, the tree, ice rink, flags plus more. It was a great tour that went for about an hour. It’s nice to hear about the history of where you’re visiting; it means so much more than just being a bunch of buildings.

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Up we went – 67 floors up. Wow! What a view! Central Park, the Empire State building, the Statue of Liberty. The list goes on.

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After about 15 minutes, we were back on street level heading to Magnolia Bakery, made famous in the TV world by “Sex in the City”. We got cupcakes and coffee and headed back to the hotel to enjoy them. Yum.

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As I write this, the hubster is snoring, the telly is on and I’m in my PJ’s feeling nice and warm. It is 7.15pm on Monday evening. Outside our window – 47 floors up – there is a tower that tells me it is -3°. Tomorrow there is supposed to be snow. We’re heading to Central Park in the morning where we’ll hopefully get to touch some. Fingers crossed.

Until tomorrow …

Aimee x

America or Bust. Day Ten: 4 January 2015

This is just a short post today as it was mostly just travelling that took place.

We checked out of the Hilton Garden Inn Hollywood this morning, bound for New York.

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Our shuttle driver kindly dropped us off at LAX. We went to check in at Virgin America; they had no record of us on their flight. We were sent around to American Airlines. They had us on the system but then it was cancelled. At this stage it looked like we were going to be flying home to Perth today. We thought we’ll just check Delta Airlines and see if they have us on their system. They didn’t either. So back to Virgin America for one last check, and they found us! Phew! Thank god for that!

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A bit of celebrity spotting along the way (Mr Chow from The Hangover), a quick bite to eat and then we were onboard.

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Our flight to New York was delayed due to weather, and it was full of turbulence which was fun. But we made it and landed at 11.45pm at JFK Airport.

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Then we had three hours of trying to find our shuttle service driver. How annoying. But we got there in the end. Us and a whole bunch of other Aussies sandwiched into a bus bound for our respective hotels.

We saw a glimpse of Times Square. Amazing!! Then we arrived at our hotel: The Sheraton New York Times Square.

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We upgraded our room and checked in at 2.45am on Monday 5 January 2015. A quick phone call to the kids back home and a bit of unpacking saw us in bed at 3.15am.

Looking forward to exploring tomorrow. The weather is freezing but I can’t wait.

Until tomorrow …

Aimee x

America or Bust. Day Nine: 3 January 2015

Today was supposed to be a day spent at Disneyland but we were so knackered we changed it to a Warner Bros tour. I’m so glad we did – it was a great tour.

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We were picked up at 9.30am and taken out to Warner Bros. The tour included a tour of the backlots and buildings used in True Blood, Pretty Little Liars, Hart of Dixie, Gilmore Girls, F.R.I.E.N.D.S and more.

This building is Merlotte’s in True Blood, The Rammer Jammer in Hart of Dixie and it’s also used in Pretty Little Liars.

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The lagoon used in Hart of Dixie and it’s also the lagoon where Kermit the Frog sat on a log and sung “The Rainbow Connection”.

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Wade Kinsella’s cabin in Hart of Dixie. It was also used in “Million Dollar Baby” and for the greenhouse scene in Pretty Little Liars.

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Hannah’s house in Pretty Little Liars. It was also used as the house in The Muppet Movie.

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Rosewood Hall is used in Pretty Little Liars, Hart of Dixie and Gilmore Girls.

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This is Suki’s house in Gilmore Girls. It was also James Dean’s house in “East of Eden”.

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The stairs in this house were used for the prom flashback scene in F.R.I.E.N.D.S where Ross is playing the keyboard.

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Rosewood High is the high school in Pretty Little Liars.

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This park is where Ross from F.R.I.E.N.D.S turned into “Red Ross” while playing rugby to impress Emily’s friends. It was also used for the kite fight between Raj and Howard in The Big Bang Theory.

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This is the orphanage in “Annie”.

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This “New York” street is used in F.R.I.E.N.D.S. It’s also where LMFAO filmed “Everyday I’m Shuffling”.

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We went onto the set for The Big Bang Theory. We weren’t able to take photos as they’re still filming the show but it was pretty cool.

We saw where F.R.I.E.N.D.S used to film and then went to another area where the set has been moved to preserve it. That’s where this happened. I was a little bit excited at this point.

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Here are some more pics of the tour:

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Plus I had to buy some goodies from the gift shop:

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We’re leaving LA tomorrow, bound for New York. The weather looks cold so it’s back to layer upon layer.

Until tomorrow …

Aimee x