✈ New York, NY - Friday

✈ New York, NY - Friday

After a couple of winter visits to New York City, Willow and I have settled on doing a summertime visit this time around, making use of the extended weekend between Canada Day and Independence Day - Friday through Monday, inclusively.

To our surprise, the queues for getting through the airport's security checks and then the USA's border controls were ultra long, frequently grinding to a halt for 15-30 minutes at a time. Somehow, despite extremely foreseeable "high demand", nobody deigned it worthwhile to staff-up either of those services. There were only around 6 out of 20 or so border control booths staffed and actively working, for instance. How crazy is that?

The Maple Leaf Lounge in Montreal was thankfully quiet and spacious. Unfortunately, its breakfast offering was a very poor showing. Just batches of mini muffins, mini croissants, mini chocolate croissants, mainly. Chopped fruits and yoghourt were available, too. No eggs, no sausages, no bacon. Not even any maple syrup!

Due to making use of airline rewards points, only one of our seats was a premium-type. A super generous stranger, however, volunteered to swap seats with me so that I could be sitting with Willow for the 1.5 hour flight to New York. Free upgrade! Thank you, kind stranger.

We got to our hotel and were luckily able to check-in early in a spacious (by New York standards) room. Very modern, clean, and with good furniture!

On this trip, we didn't get equipped with any mobile phone Internet services. Our journeys all over time relied mainly on old-school pre-planning, map-making with offline maps, and, at least the modern miracle of GPS.

The first bit of business in New York: lunch. The Katagiri Grocery store provided tasty onigiri, snacks, and even ramen! From there, we walked through the core of Manhattan, through sweltering summertime heat. The next stop was the magical Apple Store on 5th Ave — the one that basically feels like an underground bunker. Jumping into extra shops along our shopping route helped to beat the heat. Our first batch of visits included: Uniqlo, Ferragamo, Anthropologie, and Banana Republic. After these shops, the heat exhaustion had started to kick in pretty hard while we were on route to the next set of target shops.

I spotted a Barnes and Nobles, and we were able to take refuge there, recharging on iced drinks. I remembered that the author of the Final Fantasy XIV cookbook recommended looking for the book in Barnes and Nobles shops. Tragically, my one shot at getting a peek at the book failed because it was sold out! I haven't played FF14 enough to be familiar with most of the dishes. My history was mainly from Final Fantasy XI. I was pleased that Mithkabobs and Fishkabobs were included items, per the book's table of contents that was shared with me by the author herself, but, I really needed to get a sense of FF14's cuisine in more depth before deciding whether the recipe book was something I wanted strongly enough.

Shopping continued with the traditional visits to BOOKOFF and Kinokuniya, the shops loaded with all kinds of otaku goodies. We reached Kinokuniya, around 5pm, and, I only noticed around then that the New York Public Library main branch building closes at 5pm and so we had to drop that landmark visit from our day's plans. We continued to CVS (a pharmacy chain) and spend a 25$ gift card that we've held onto for around 5 years, especially buying up loads of 1$ Arizona Iced Tea cans so that we'd better be able to survive the summer heatwave.

On advice of some YouTuber, we tried Ten Thousand Coffee as a little break. Willow really liked her sweet, iced latte drink and I had a neat time with my iced pour-over coffee. For our dinner plans, we were close to Empanada Mama, so that's what we went with. It was a great success with very tasty empanadas! I'm impressed that they are listed to stay open until 2am, too.

After all that travel and shopping adventure, we returned to the hotel to rest and recover from a very strenuous summer adventure day.