Sunday, January 01, 2017

New Year's Eve Aftermath

2017 had finally arrived and we were in New York for the day. Time to make some moves. This was Brandon's first time to NYC so we let him take the reins.


We finally opened that box of convent baked cookies that we bought in Madrid. I took a bite and realized: these were the worst cookies I've ever tasted. Clearly Spain has been politely buying cookies from some cloistered nuns just to humor them. They had an anise flavor to them but someone forgot to add sugar. Jarringly bad.


This "I survived New Year's in Times Square" t-shirt got a knowing chuckle from me. It really was something to survive, wasn't it? And we weren't even the poor folks standing and waiting for 12 hours in the cold.


Brandon wanted to check out the gaudy faux golden headquarters of President-Elect He Who Shall Not Be Named. Why oh why did I take my impressionable friend to that Springfield pep-rally all those months ago? It was a more innocent time back then. Now we were at Castle Grayskull itself. I figured maybe we'd get lucky and see old orange mop jump off the top of it.


There was a funny sort of security in place. The sidewalk in front of the building was fenced in and lots of scary looking police were standing around guarding it. I thought maybe it was closed to visitors, but then noticed a line with some people being allowed to pass, so I got in it. The policeman guarding the entrance was simply asking people what their business was in the tower. If you said anything that didn't involve the tower then the cop would tell you to go around. So when it was my turn I just told him I wanted to get a drink at the restaurant. That was easy.


I bought zero anythings here.


There was a news crew with a camera pointed at the elevator apparently playing "spot that Nazi".






There wasn't a whole lot to see, but I'm glad we took a peek.


We took a stroll though Central Park and then headed back to Times Square. Brandon wanted a slice of New York style someplace.


We walked all the way over to where the ball had dropped so we could finally get a glance at it and... there was no ball.










Only after I'd had a couple slices did I walk outside and see the B health rating. New York style indeed.


Scientology recruiting propaganda.






Ho ho ho




We flew back to St. Louis and all high fived each other after another successful trip. Huzzah.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve in a $5K Times Square Hotel Room

We waved goodbye to Spain and hopped on a plane. We had a decent sized layover in Rome.






Turns out the pizza in a Roman airport is still pretty damn good. Lydia woke up feeling not great in Madrid but now innocent things like food and water had become projectiles. She was taking lots of puke breaks and though the pizza was good it did not have the healing properties that I had hoped. While walking to our next gate Lydia pointed at a wall and told me she'd vomited on it while I was taking a nap. Charming.

Both in the airport and on the Alitalia flights home they were playing all the classic American Christmas songs. I thought that was neat.


And man do these people know how to make a commercial. The first time I saw this it brought tears to my eyes and I couldn't tell you why.


Turns out being sick on a plane is the worst.




When we go abroad on Christmas we routinely return on New Year's Eve because the flights then are way cheaper. I relish hitting our friends' New Year's parties the night of returning from someplace exotic. Someone who doesn't know the score will be like "hey what's new I haven't seen you in weeks?" and I'll be like "Iceland son!" and slap them in the face. It's a guilty pleasure.

Anyway this time we were going to alter the script a little.

In October American Express sent me an email with an offer that if I spent a grand on my Hilton Amex card then they'd give me one free night pretty much anywhere Hilton Hiltons. So I says to myself, I says: "How can I make these people regret giving me even the smallest amount of power?" I did a little research and figured out that the most expensive rooms at the most expensive time anywhere on the damn earth are in Times Square. On New Year's Eve. And then I booked it. KABOOM.


Now I am become Death, the destroyer of credit card promotions.


Just for giggles I put my room at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton - Times Square in my shopping cart to have a gander. The total for a two room suite (the humblest hotel reservation in the building) for one night came to... over $5K. How would you like to pay $650 in taxes for one night in a hotel room? I'm confused how this could even be a transaction that humans would take part in.


News of our killer room spread and soon our good friends Brandon and Zoe had booked a flight to meet us and party. I was impressed that they flew all that way just to fart around in a hotel room for one night. When you're cool you're cool, what can I say?

I had apparently gotten myself onto a list of people who dearly hate their money because I started getting strange offers from the DoubleTree sales team:

Dear Valued Guest:
We are excited to celebrate with you the most anticipated time of the year – the New York City New Year’s Eve celebration! 
Our concert view suites offer views of Broadway where you can enjoy the New Year’s Eve concerts and festive at the comfort of your room with this Year’s headliner Mariah Carey performing among many others! 
The Prime Party View Suites are located from our 9th floor to 14th floor.  If you would like to book the upgrade in advance or not later than December 28, 2016, we can offer $200 discount for the prime floors for a total of $1,800 only!

Below are our other options on for the convert view upgrades:
Floors 15 – 20 $1,600
Floors 21 – 24 $1,400
Floors 25 – 26 $1,200
Floors 27 – 29 $1,000
Floors 30 and above - $800

Deliciously the sadly spelled email included some pictures of the available view taken by past guests.


So for the initial $5K plus an additional $1,800, I could get the chance to see the top of Justin Bieber's head from 9-14 floors up. Now that's an exciting limited time offer.


Whelp, we landed in New York, time to do this thing.


Even Google Maps was excited.


Lydia was less excited. She was looking a bit better I think but was still feeling ill. She believes that she got sick yesterday in Madrid on Fungi Mountain. I ate some of it too though so I have my doubts about this theory.

Uber guy while driving us to Times Square: "People are crazy there. Good luck for you."


Each ring of the barricade that we passed through on our way to the hotel was littered with the unworthy who didn't have a pass and so were in various states of acceptance. Some were whining or trying to talk their way past in vain, while others were in the process of getting directions from the helpful police. From the looks of it not being me sort of sucks. Speaking of sucking this video is long and nothing happens. Don't watch it no matter what.


We met up with Brandon and Zoe and soaked up the view.


There were countdowns and confetti blasting every hour for hours. We could open the window and stick our hands out to catch confetti.


I ordered us some hideous yet festive light up glasses and Zoe brought them with.


While we were in a well placed building for the show we couldn't actually see the ball drop. Which I know, is lame. The only view we got of the ball the whole night was to go up as high as the elevator would take us then look out through the hallway window. That tiny blue speckle next to that bright red reflection is the ball.


Watching other people nervously open bottles of champagne as if defusing a bomb is most definitely the best part of champagne. To be specific this is a Spanish cava that was imported by me about 3 hours ago. Not. A big. Deal.


We pre-gamed and watched some of the show on TV. Sometimes we could see the show that was on our TV also out the window. Sometimes we would turn the sound off on the TV so we could hear the music through the window. It was fun, but I didn't spend five thousand pretend dollars on a hotel room to sit in no hotel room. No sir.


Lydia stayed in the room and nursed her mushroom hangover.


Outside the DoubleTree is what I would describe as a happy riot. There was pushing, there was crying, there were a whole whole lot of police.


Ryan Seacrest was there. We could see the stage we just couldn't see what was happening atop it.


Poor Mariah Carey was the headliner this year. Wow was it bad. Something was wrong with the sound, and Mariah didn't seem to have come intending to actually sing, so she just sauntered around on stage sometimes singing and sometimes letting the music sing like a lazy karaoke performance. Man was it bad. Sure glad I didn't spend a ton of money to watch it from above!


It was fun to have seen the meltdown live though.




Well then it was time for the actual ball drop. For some reason New York's finest at this point in time decided to release the throngs that had been stuck behind the multiple levels of barricade we'd passed though earlier. A stampede developed with all kinds of people pushing to try to see the ball which I don't believe was possible. I kept getting pushed up against a metal fence thing and a nearby policeman kept saying to stay behind it. Well I was about the only person who listened. I just have a deep respect for the law what can I say? I got separated from those other two turn coats but I spent the countdown with my friend Sinatra.


We popped back up to the room to avoid the trample of people all trying to leave at once. It really cleared out fast down there.


Inside the hotel.


We popped back outside to witness the aftermath.




Now that's a lot of confetti.




People who showed up this morning to get a good spot to see the show were not allowed to leave and were not provided bathrooms. Apparently the drugstores in the area do brisk business selling adult diapers. Grown man with a diaper rash is quite a sad way to start the new year but I am not one to judge. So in conclusion I believe what happened here was someone drank a bottle of water, ripped the top off said bottle, peed into said bottle, then delicately placed said bottle on the sidewalk, thereby completing the water cycle.


We wandered away from Times Square a bit and were not disappointed. This is a giant neon menorah in the back of a pickup truck driven by what seems to be an Orthodox Jewish dude. Of course it is.




Based on its auspicious start I think it's pretty clear that 2017 is going to be a fantastic year.