i have adventures (sometimes)

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Ali and the Giant Apple

I am in a big apple!

No, wait, the Big Apple. Which is for the best, because the last time I bought an apple, it cost me $1.19, so now I'm wary of fruit.

CouchSurfing has seriously let me down for this leg of my trip. I say that because I like to externalise blame, but I guess maybe I should have started sending out requests earlier to all these busy New Yorkers. So I've ended up spending way more than I wanted to on accommodation, but I am in a perfectly nice hostel, where apparently they're expanding but haven't finished doing so yet, which means I'm in a room roughly the size of the moon, but with only three beds. And two lights on the other side of the room, so I get to live in the dark corner. I guess it's a good excuse to finally use the torch I always carry with me in case of unwelcome darkness. And weeping angels.

You may notice that my bed is also surrounded by bed guards. I assume because it used to be a top bunk, not because the people running this place take the safety of 1 in 3 guests very seriously.

I spent my first evening in New York City exploring the wonders of the laundromat and the expensive grocery store, and sending fruitless CouchSurfing requests into the abyss. So yesterday was my first adventure day.

Once I'd stopped screaming on the inside and only a little on the outside about my dissertation results, I braved the grey weather and went to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, lured there by the promise of free entry on Tuesdays.

Even though the weather was a bit grim, walking barefoot on the grass is one of my favourite things, so I did that and felt happy.

Japanese garden.

Lurking in the trees.
After leaving the garden, I headed for a restaurant obscurely called Dao Palate, where the food was good, but one of the waitresses was so unfriendly that I felt like I should apologise for being there. So it made for an awkward place to kill time, but I did anyway, because I had a book to read* and it was raining outside, and I had a while before my tour started.

Eventually I met up with my orange-clad Free Tours By Foot guide and a nice group of people for a free walking tour of Brooklyn Heights, a fancy neighbourhood where the buildings go all the way back to the 1800s (I've been in England too long - I giggled at this).

It was a good tour, and I'll probably do more with the same company to get a feel for Manhattan, hopefully when the weather's better. Bus tours are for rich people.

It took me forever to get home, either because the subway was so busy I couldn't get onto the first two trains that came, or possibly because I lost some time to being abducted by aliens (did I mention I was watching X Files the other night?). I got back to the hostel at last with my very familiar headache/nemesis, to eat my disappointing soup from a box** and some much less disappointing edamame, which may be my new favourite food now that I've finally learned how to eat it.

I woke up at 5 again, probably because my brain hates me and still feels like I should be frantically checking my email for results, which did nothing to help the accumulated exhaustion. So, since the weather was grey again, I gave myself permission to take the day off, and spent most of it in my pyjamas. I got more or less dressed to stumble to the trendy coffee shop next door, which didn't live up to the standard set by its trendy look, because my chai latte still had a teabag in it. I do not believe anything you are calling a latte should ever have a teabag in it, but then again, maybe that's what the cool kids are doing these days. But it was a nice place to read, which was what I wanted.

This more or less sums up my day. Except that I don't always have a scary dinosaur claw.
Tomorrow, the adventures begin in earnest! I have a packed lunch and everything. Although, to be honest, this may have less to do with serious adventuring than with the fact that I really need to stop spending quite so much money on food. I'm also meeting up with my favourite flatmate Henrik, who's busy saving the world at UN headquarters while I lie around in my pyjamas eating edamame. I like to think we balance out the world. It takes all sorts. And right now I'm happy to be the sort with the edamame.

*The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury. I felt like I shouldhave liked it more than I did. But quite apart from anything else, having totally unquestioned 1950s gender roles in the distant future doesn't feel like visionary sci-fi to me.
**Never buy soup in a box. Or a can. It will make you sad, and I don't want you to be sad.


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