So this will hopefully be the FINAL recapping post before I’m up to date – yussss. I’m going to try to sum up the last of 2016’s noteworthy events and then I’ll be able to start making more current posts.
2017 New York City Marathon
Just for a new experience and as a way to get in amongst the action, Tammy and I decided to volunteer at the 2016 New York City Marathon. We worked the first shift at one of the fluid stations, getting there at 6.30am to help prepare for the day ahead. This involved setting up the tables at the side of the road and filling a gazzilion cups with Gatorade (or maybe a bajillion, I’m not sure,I lost count). Once everything was set up and the sun had begun to creep over the buildings we saw the first lot of contestants come past. About 45 minutes later the ‘front of the pack’ runners blew past and shortly after that the road was flooded with bodies as the bulk of contestants had reached us. The race starts on Staten Island, crosses the Verrazano Bridge, goes up through Brooklyn (where we were stationed), through Queens, up into the Bronx, and down onto Manhattan, finishing up in Central Park. Our shift finished up at 10.30 but we hung around a bit to watch the runners come past. There were a LOT of them! As they passed they grabbed these cups we’d prepared, downed them and threw them aside. I’ve never seen such a mess before in my life – the road was absolutely covered in squashed plastic cups! Not envying the clean up crew, we bought a coffee and headed off after an hour or so of watching the runners.
Next up was ice skating at Rockefeller Center’s famous rink. This was something on Tammy’s bucket list and slowly but surely we’ve been trying to tick things off of it. Being here in New York City around Christmas, how could we NOT make the most of this opportunity?! The package she bought included a high tea followed by some time on the rink. For the high tea we ate a selection of small sandwiches, some mini cakes and drank the most delicious hot chocolate I’ve ever had! Once we’d finished our food we headed down to the rink where we were given our skates before we jumped onto the rink. I’m pleased to announce that neither of us fell over, not even once! This isn’t bad considering I’d ice skated twice before and Tammy’d never done it at all! It was a great evening and another tick on Tammy’s bucket list!
November 24th was Thanksgiving, a big holiday in the USA. Everyone tends to get a day or two off work, visit their family and have a big meal. The idea behind the holiday is great and I think it’s a shame the rest of the world don’t celebrate it. It’s a dedicated time to reflect on what you have and all that you’re grateful for. I guess ideally we should do this all the time but the fact is – we don’t. Having a day set aside just for this strongly encourages people to take the time to do so. As we don’t have family out this end of the world, we didn’t do a big feast with lots of people. Instead, we had a lovely homemade roast chicken after returning home from watching the Macy’s thanksgiving parade. Macy’s put on a huge parade every year with lots of giant balloon figures that they march through the streets of Manhattan. It’s a wonderful site to see if you can get close but, as with most things like this in New York it, that would involve arriving many hours before it starts to beat the crowds and get a good spot. We weren’t eager enough to get up at the crack of dawn just for a parade so we casually made our way down around 11am, found a side street and caught a few glimpses of the balloons before heading back home for lunch.
We decided to make the most of the long weekend and so the day after Thanksgiving we caught a bus from New York up to Boston. Neither of us had ever been and so it seemed like as good a place as any. I chose the bus as our way up because I figured we’d get to see some new and interesting things out the window, especially seeing as we were on the upper deck and at the front. However, we stayed on highways the whole way and the scenery never changed at all. Trees on our left. Trees on our right. Great.
We arrived in Boston on Friday morning and left on Sunday evening so we pretty much had the good part of 3 days away. In our usual fashion we spent this time on our feet, pounding the pavements and exploring the area. We had a great weekend; we walked all over downtown Boston, followed the Freedom Trail all over Boston through Italian neighborhoods, Irish neighborhoods, to the USS Constitution, and the Bunker Hill Monument. The Freedom Trail is actually a great activity to do if you’re not looking to spend much money. You simply follow the line of red bricks built into the sidewalk all over Boston and it takes you through many different neighborhoods and past several historical sites. We also caught a train up to have a look around Harvard University. We’d always heard about this school so we were excited to see it in all its glory. On the whole we actually found Boston to be a really nice city. It seemed a lot smaller than New York City and the people were a whole lot friendlier. I know people in New York are well known for being rude but I suppose you get used to it only really notice once you leave and spend time somewhere else. We were quite shocked when people held doors open for us or even greeted us! It was a refreshing change.
So after an enjoyable weekend of walking around a new city, seeing some new sights and eating some tasty meals, we headed to the bus station late on Sunday and caught our ride back to NYC.
Tis the Season
Over the next few weeks we went to look at some houses decorated with fancy Christmas lights, experienced our first bout of snow, and did a little Christmas shopping. The Christmas lights were in a neighborhood called Dyker Heights and every year the area goes all out with their decorations. We went with some local friends we’d made through Tammy’s work and they knew the area so acted as our tour guides. December 17 was a very exciting day for us – IT SNOWED! I hadn’t seen snow in over 10 years, not since England. Tammy’d never seen it before, ever! I absolutely love snow, it’s so quiet, so peaceful. There’s just something about it. Everyone around us here hates the snow, they all moan and groan when they hear it on the forecast. What with all the foot traffic in NYC the snow soon turns to slush and becomes very dirty. This ends up getting messy and awkward to deal with, hence everyone’s hate. We however, can’t get enough of the stuff! So when we woke up on the 17th to a nice blanket of white outside we rushed straight out for a walk! Luckily enough, it didn’t snow for long so we got the experience but it stopped short of causing the mess everyone dreaded. The week before Christmas involved a little shopping for gifts. Tam and I had agreed on a small limit for each other as we’d rather spend our money doing things together than on material possessions, but we were going to stay with a friend’s family for Christmas so had to get them all a lil sumpn sumpn.
Christmas in Maryland
Remember that friend of Tammy’s that lives in Maryland and who we visited earlier in the year? Well her family invited us back to stay for Christmas and we were more than happy to accept! Her friend, Elise, was actually working in New Zealand for the year and so she wasn’t there unfortunately. This was a shame but nevertheless we had the most fantastic time. Her family were absolutely amazing and we felt truly at home. They were so warm and welcoming that they felt as much like family as our own back home. We really appreciated this because not being able to see our family at Christmas was tough and it would’ve been pretty miserable spending it alone in our apartment. We caught the train down on Friday night and spent the Saturday chatting with the family and getting to know each other better, after all we didn’t spend much time with them when we were last down there. Sunday was Christmas day and they had some more family over along with some close friends. We had a good ol’ fashioned Christmas dinner with all the trimmings followed by the unwrapping of the gifts. It was a nice change to spend some time in suburban America as we were always in the thick metropolis of New York city. We happily passed the time on Monday lounging around again before we caught the train home in the evening. It was once again a successful trip to Maryland and I truly can’t explain how wonderful it was to spend some time with a wonderful American Family.
That pretty much rounds off most of the highlights that remained from our 2016 in the USA, at least all that I can think of right now anyway. So, now we can begin to move on to some more current posts! Hopefully from now on the posts won’t seem rushed or laid out in a long list like the last few! I’m gonna aim to cover only one or two things with each in a little more depth to paint a better picture in your mind as you read them!
So, on we go….