Tuesday, January 1, 2013

BlogHer12 in the Big Apple -

When it was announced last year that this year's BlogHer Conference would be held in New York City I have to admit I was at first dismayed. I didn't think I could pull off a trip that had a huge travel expense price tag. Well, I was wrong.

AND I'm so glad I was wrong!

I had conversations with people that really left me eager to connect MORE, to get more committed to my blog, to learn more about the other conferences out there and of course prepare for BlogHer13 next year. Here's my list of what to do before a BlogHer Conference (some of which I may or may not have followed) just in case you need it.

I waited until just a month out to schedule my plane ticket... this worked out in my benefit though... it meant I had to take off on Tuesday for a conference that didn't really get going until Thursday night. That meant I had some built in sightseeing time! Something I would not have gotten to do if I had just stuck to the conference schedule. I booked a first class ticket, cuz that was all that was left... fortunately I had the miles for it! So, the biggest part of the conference expense was using my airline miles that I'd saved for many years. I guess when you get committed to something nothing says it better than redeeming 64,000 miles!

When you wait until the last minute, it can be a little challenging to find roommates, but I did! AND they were great! I know not everyone has that experience so I want to give them a shout out and say I'm really glad that the stars aligned for us to meet one another and experience NYC together! Life with four boys and The adventures of Faith are both bloggers and then Colleen wants to start a blog. I hope she does!

Some of the fun stuff we did together as roommates touring the Big Apple:

1. Went to Macy's on 34th street - I was laughing when I asked the cab driver where Macy's was and he told me 34th street - DUH! Miracle on 34th street! I never had both such horrible customer service and wonderful customer service in the exact same shopping trip. I think that might just be a parrallel for NYC though. You can read about my shoe shopping here.

2. Stumbled upon Times Square - really - we weren't planning to even go there but we were looking for a place to eat and got awe struck by all the lights (basically advertisements) just like everyone else. I managed to get my picture with Elmo and saw Naked Cowboy.

3. Rode around Central Park in a horse drawn carriage and got all the good historic landmarks pointed out - but don't quiz me cuz I won't remember any of them! That is the best way to see Central Park, I've done the walking through it thing and trying to figure out where we were and what was worth seeing was too much trouble.

4. Checked out Rockefeller Center - there was a farmers market there which I LOVED and even bought some fresh lavendar. I got to see Rockefeller Center a second time on Sunday and get a better idea of its importance via the awesome tour guide that Stumble Upon provided.

5. Ate at one of Gordon Ramsey's restaurants over at The London Hotel and can honestly say it is possible to turn a cobb salad into a fine dining experience. The chocolate martini though, hmmmm, that was really amazing! I scoffed at the $19 price tag, but I guess the high drink prices are just another New York thing.

6. Ate at Carmines - I guess this is not a unique to NYC experience but it sure was gooooooood! Sadly, it put Buca di Beppo to shame. I will now look for this place in any major city we visit from now on. I met three pretty cool Latina sisters sitting at the bar next to us - all with grown children and somehow I felt connected to their sisterhood.

Now, I want to tell you about the very unique experience of riding the bus, yes, the bus, not the subway, in NYC. Somehow with a delayed flight coming to the conference I met a New Yorker and we agreed to share a cab from the airport. The line for taxis was LONG. There were NO TAXIS anywere in sight. We decided to then take the bus. The M 60 to be precise. It was a reminder to me that there are people working hard to make ends meet, that people have more in common than they do differences, that kindness travels even in the darkest of nights in Harlem, that we get a chance to connect with human beings in all kinds of ways and a smile goes a long way. I sat next to a gentleman who didn't entirely want to make room for me when I had my bulky luggage to slide under the seat. My New Yorker acquintance who is maybe in her 50's was ever so sweet in flashing him a smile and saying "surely you can make room for her." Charm. It works. That gentleman and I ended up talking about Obama and the political nonsense on CNN where people who are clearly intelligent do not check their remarks before speaking. He helped another woman figure out which stop she needed to get off at to make her bus connection. This woman, Joyce, had also come from the airport and later she took in a bit of a conversation about being young and reading people. We'd just witnessed a young woman, probably college aged, get on the bus in complete disarray and travel all of 3 or 4 blocks, then get off. Apparently she'd been kicked out of her place, that's what 3 of us concluded, while one was fascinated by her attire. Turns out that Joyce 78 years young - I'm not even kidding you. She grows most of her own food, that's what she credits for her youthful appearance and energy. I'm glad I met her. She said she's from San Diego! Small world. I met some other characters on that bus too. Conversations that happen past midnight are foggy, especially after a travel day... but I recall thinking that there was some reason I had this experience of riding the bus, late at night, through NYC on my way to a hoyty toyty conference where Katie Couric would be talking about her new show. If Katie Couric had been in my seat on that bus she would have pulled about half a dozen different topics to run with - all topics that are what we all care about, but are probably most important to those people riding the bus, after midnight, on a week night, trying to make ends meet.

I had a typical New York cab ride back to the airport - except we were supposed to have car service and we waited and waited and finally decided a cab was the way to go. I know I could never drive in NYC, not even attempt it. You have to be able to manuever like a tango dancer, only it doesn't look that graceful.

There's only so much you can do and see in a few days time, especially when a majority of that time is supposed to be spent at a conference, so I'm making a little list of NYC Bucket List so I can be inspired to come back to the Big Apple with hubby and the kids one day.