Sunday, May 1, 2011

Orlando to NYC to Salt Lake, wait, I mean Puerto Rico?

DISCLAIMER* This could quite possibly be wordy. A lot happened in the short 36 hour vacation and I tend to ramble. Just an F.Y.I. Also, I might abruptly cut it short in some places, because I have told this story many times and I tend to want to give the short version. Just another F.Y.I.

Months and months ago I babysat for a couple of buddy passes. I love traveling and never can really afford it so this was a perfect bargain for me. I fantasized for months about where to go with them; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic or even Seattle, Washington. It seemed that every week I changed where I wanted to go, but every plan was foiled by expenses or timing. Finally, the festival of colors in Utah was coming up. PERFECT! Ben and I packed and planned and were on our way. Chad Meyerson, the awesome and amazing person who gave me his buddy passes, made it to where our layover from Orlando to Salt Lake would be in NYC and we could spend all day there. Chad told me that he would watch the flights because sometimes SLC to NYC and vice versa were tricky in getting on the flights, but we looked okay so far. He would email me before we left with an update. It was done. Ben and I would be in NYC all day Thursday and then SLC until Sunday night and would be back in Orlando by Monday afternoon. Thursday morning, I awoke bright and early and was probably wayyy to spunky for my traveling partner. In was stoked. I love traveling. Plane, train, car, boat, I'm down.

We boarded our flight to NYC no problem and let me tell you, JetBlue is legit. Ben hates flying because it is just not made for anyone over 5'8". JetBlue has "even more leg room" seats and they were not lying when they said even more leg room. We also had our own t.v.s with live Direct TV. Pretty sweet huh? Well after 2 1/2 hours we landed at JFK. Thank goodness Cousin Cathy lives in Manhattan and is an expert New Yorker. She helped us via phone, texting and facebook to get out of the airport and into the city. We had a hard time working our way through the airport to store our bags and actually finding the shuttle into the city, but we figured it out eventually. Our shuttle took us into the city and dropped us off at Grand Central Station where cousin Cathy was to met Ben and I. We had to wait a little but so we got to take a few pictures and roam around the station.

That place is magnificent! I cannot tell you how surreal it is to be in such a famous place. I couldn’t help but think almost the entire time in NYC of movies I had watched and famous scenes that were shot right were I was. Cousin Cathy wanted to make sure that Ben and I were really going to be able to get back to the airport, so after eating at a 3-story McDonalds, she taught us the Subway system. It’s not too tricky. You just have to make sure you don’t look like a tourist or that can mean danger.

Our wonderful tour guide took us to Rockefeller plaza (where she was proposed to) and we saw where the Today Show was filmed and the ice skating rink was up and running.

Next we headed up 5th avenue where all of the fancy shops are (like Tiffany’s…. not only did I eel under dressed, but I wished Audrey was still alive to walk me through the place) and then we hit the Plaza Hotel and Central Park.

All of these places were more impressive that I would have imagined, not mentioning they all felt somewhat familiar. Once we made it through central park, we dropped Cousin Cathy off at her school and after repeating to her the directions on how to get back to the airport we left.

I am soooo grateful for her patience and loving help to get us through NYC. Once we left her school, Ben and I walked through Central Park, past the Tavern on the Green (I think it was closed or something; it looked rough) all the way to the American Museum of Natural History (you know, the Night at the Museum place?).

That place is HUGE! We only had about an hour in there, but we managed to see all of the big stuff (when I say big stuff, I mean things like a big dinosaur or a big mammoth, you know, the usual).

From there, we hopped on the subway stop under the museum and rode it to Times Square which was just starting to get busy and light up, for us I think.

Ben really wanted a slice of pizza that New York was famous for… after much walking, we finally found one.

Then it was about time to head back to our bus to take us back to JFK. On the way to the bus, we found another pizza shop…. Ben and I couldn’t resist. We bought another piece for the ride back.

Okay, now we’re back at JFK and we get to the JetBlue terminal and our gate. What do we see? TONS of people. I immediately start to freak. Literally, a full-blow breakdown. It turned into an over-full-blow breakdown when I went up to the desk and they told me that we weren’t getting on the flight to Salt Lake. That breakdown turned into a really really huge breakdown when I went to the help desk and they told met that no only was I not getting on the flight to Salt Lake City (there is only one NYC to SLC flight every 24 hrs!), but that I wouldn’t make it onto any flight to any airport in Florida. Basically, Ben and I were stuck spending the night in the JetBlue terminal of JFK. Luckily, Chad, who was in Costa Rica, was able to figure a way for us to get back home. Fly to Puerto Rico from JFK at 1 am and then fly back into Orlando from Puerto Rico at 9pm. I jumped on that opportunity. Too bad we packed for freezing cold Salt Lake.

That night Ben slept a bit (I couldn’t) and then at 1 am we flew to Puerto Rico!

We landed at 4 am and slept in that airport for a few hours. Then we headed to Old San Juan. Let’s just say that I felt way safer without a seat belt on in that cab than I did the entire time in NYC. They drive crazy, but they do it day in and out and they are so friendly that you can’t help but feel safe. Kind of. When we got to Old San Juan it was around 9:30 am and it was deserted. Everything was closed and no one was in the streets. Ben and I walked over (I more like drugged over… my feet were tired and I was tired as well as hot because I had on jeans and a ¾ length sleeves) to one of the 2 forts in the city.


It was huge! Ben and I are total history buffs so we eat that garbage up.

When we walked out of the fort where were probably a thousand students in the field flying kites! It was amazing.

At this point, I was dying of heat exhaustion (and I’m pretty sure Ben wanted to kill me for all of my complaining. What could he do? He can’t make it colder for me… poor guy). We ended up going into a Marshalls that was in the middle of the town and I bought a dress and Ben grabbed some shorts. We were then off to a restaurant that Ben’s dad and step-mother recommended. It was delicious and pretty authentic.

I had mofongo and some milk mixed with orange juice concoction. We walked to another fort and this one was even bigger!

Seriously, the fort in St. Augustine could have fit in it two or maybe three times. There were hidden passageways and dungeons and WWII additions.

It was crazy. The island is beautiful and we only got to see one tiny piece of it. I must MUST must go back to get the whole experience. I was so grateful for Ben and his amazing Spanish. I think he really enjoyed translating for me and getting to use it and I thought it was super hot. Our few hours in Puerto Rico have made me want to move to a Spanish speaking country.

I really hope Ben and I will be able to do that one day. It would be great for a couple of years and it would totally help with my Spanish. I was so angry with myself for not speaking up when I actually knew what to say. For instance, our cab driver asked Ben how many hours it took for us to fly to JFK from Orlando. I knew how to say “dos horas y media” (2 ½ hours), but I was scared and let Ben say it for me. I’m still kicking myself over that. Also, if you was to say excuse me (as in you want to pass through somewhere) you say, “permisso,” and if you want to excuse some one you say, “pardon.” I got those mixed up…. No wonder I got weird looks in Marshalls.

Basically that was the most eventful 36 hours of traveling. It was hectic and fun. It was wonderful and irreplaceable. It was fantastic. I don’t think I’ll ever have the opportunity to leave Orlando, Fl at 7 am to go to NYC and arrive back at 9 pm the next night from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Sorry for the long post, I’m just trying to archive memories here.

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Love Kaylee


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