Christmas in Vancouver, a stop in Seattle and arriving in New York City

This post will hopefully go some way to communicating how much fun I had in this week!

Christmas Eve in Vancouver had a great vibe, with many people busy doing their last-minute preparations. In the morning we went to the historic distinct of Gastown to wander around and see the stream clock. We came across another nice brewery, so of course we thought it would be rude not to sample it. It is so nice to be able to have a casual drink in a pub environment again! After this, a few of us went up to the observation tower. The day was a bit cloudy, but nonetheless the views were great. I can’t really explain why I love tall towers so much, but I find them fulfilling. As dusk rapidly approached, we went to Stanley Park and walked home from there. Great area, and I can only imagine what the beaches must be like in the summer! On our way back, we went to the supermarket and stocked up for our christmas meals over the next few days. In the evening, and after avoiding the debacle of having 2 turkeys (James had already got one but we managed to return one!) we cooked a christmas dinner as Kayleigh, Mathilde and Saori were leaving at 5am on christmas morning. The meal was a huge success, and the rest of the night was spent casually drinking and watching Finding Nemo. The 3 girls left at 4.30am and the rest of us (James, Liam and myself) finally went to sleep.

This late night meant that we did not wake up to 11am, which must be a record for a christmas morning. After having some pancakes for breakfast, we got into some swimming gear and headed down to the English Bay Beach to have a christmas day swim. Despite the rain and cold temperatures many people were out on the promenade, so when we rapidly undressed to make the plunge, we managed to gather quite a crowd of onlookers. After running up and down the beach to get warm, we all ran and dived in. To say it was cold would be an understatement! For some reason, We all enjoyed it so much that we went in several more times, before quickly drying and then running back through downtown Vancouver in wet swimming gear. Upon arriving back at the apartment, we were grateful for the heat and subsequently warmed up enough to cook some bacon sandwiches. After this, we ventured down to Robson Square to do a bit of ice skating. It was funny how the skaters consisted of young families and couples, and then were us three…. When we got back we cooked up the turkey and had a splendid christmas dinner, whilst enjoying some fine beers. Life doesn’t get much better than that really!

By the time we got to Boxing day, the lack of recent sleep had hit us so we didn’t wake up for a while. After we eventually got going, we went on a walk past the Science museum, BC Stadium and Athletes Village from the 2010 Winter olympics. When we got back, we cooked up the remaining food, and honestly it was enough for a good dozen people!! Our effort was valiant, but alas to no avail. Feeling thoroughly bloated we walked to the brewery in Gastown to have some farewell beers. It’s really strange to think the next time I see James and Liam, we are likely to be in Lancaster!

The next day (27th) we went our separate ways. I caught a bus to seattle where I would be flying from the next morning. Unfortunately, the bus was delayed somewhat, so I didn’t arrive until 6pm. With little time, I made my way to the space needle. A great structure and the views weren’t bad either! I then headed back to downtown, killed some time watching a film in the cinema and then made my way to Seattle Tacoma airport. Seattle was a really nice city, and one I wish I had more time in!

Sleeping in the airport was challenging. Arm-rests on benches are not your friend when you are trying to sleep! Slightly dazed, I caught my flight to New York at 7.15am. The flight across was spectacular, especially sunrise. Eventually, I made it into JFK at 3pm, but didn’t get to my accommodation until 5pm. Fortunately, I was staying with a friend from back home (Jamie) and his Aunt and Uncle, who lived close to Columbia University. The hospitality they showed us was nothing short of outstanding.

The next day, we stared to explore New York City in earnest. We started with the World Trade centre, which was a very eerie experience. Images of that fateful day kept flashing in my head, and I could only begin to imagine the horrors. After this we took a cruise out to the statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Unfortunately, we could not go on the islands due to damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. Conditions were harsh, with a combination of snow, sleet and rain which made going outside the boat interesting! Getting off the boat, and feeling frozen, we walked to Chinatown to get some lunch, and luckily we found a really nice restaurant with nice warm soup. After regaining some feelings back, we explored the rest of Chinatown, Little Italy and Grand Central Station before heading back to the apartment. In the evening, we walked around the north end of Central park, which had just received a beautiful layer of snow.

On sunday, we were blessed with a perfectly clear day, so we decided to make our way towards heaven. In the morning we (Jamie and Myself) went up the Rockefeller Center. Breathtaking views from the Atlantic to New Jersey. After this venture we explored Central Park further, then grabbed some lunch before heading to east village. With sunset approaching, the decision was taken to walk over Manhattan Bridge and back over Brooklyn Bridge. To get there we inadvertently walked through some sketchy ghetto areas, but it was good to see another side of New York. Despite the freezing temperatures, the whole experience was totally worth it. After our return to Manhattan Island, we made our way to the Empire State Building for our Evening entertainment. A bit of confusion meant that we queued for an hour for the Empire state before abandoning our place and meeting with Woosin and Saori. We went to a Korean restaurant (a first for me I have to say), which was really nice. The food was so good, but it was extremely spicy, which was probably exasperated by our cracked lips. Nevertheless it was brilliant, and seeing Jamie using chopsticks for the first time provided some entertainment. Finally, after this meal, we all went up to the Empire State Building. An absolutely unbelievable experience. The lights across the city at night was simply divine and definitely worth the wait!!

That’s all for this week, but the next post will address New Year’s Eve at Time square amongst other things, so check back soon!

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