Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hello, New York City! First days before BEA 2012.

Happy Saturday!

The BookExpoAmerica 2012 is over…

It was overwhelming, interesting, fun, exhausting! I loved it and I think it is one of the greatest experiences in my entire life. If you add the fact, that I also get to see New York City, it’s still beyond my comprehension. But let’s start from the very beginning!

Friday, 1st of June

I arrived to JFK airport Friday evening and met my friend Maria in the airport. Since I arrived quite late, then we took a cab to the Best Western Convention Center Hotel and settled in at the room, which as going to be our home for the coming 14 days.

We did walk around the few blocks from the hotel to get something to eat and that was pretty much my evening.

Saturday, 2nd of June

Saturday morning after the breakfast I was so excited to see the Big Apple and the first thing I wanted to see Times Square. I got the map from the hotel and since the hotel was very close to the Times Square we decided to walk. First stop we made was a T-Mobile shop, because both I and Maria wanted to have a temporary US phone number, because it is much cheaper compared to roaming from Estonia to US. I got a US phone number with unlimited access to mobile internet, emails and texting. It was quite expensive, but at the very end still much cheaper than to use Estonian phone number in US. With that done, we continued our walk.

Suddenly I realized that we are on Broadway! You have no idea, what it did for me – I felt like a kid on the Christmas Eve! I could not believe that me, a very big fan of musicals and shows, was in the middle of my very own Mecca! Maria took some pictures of me looking very very happy! We had coffee at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s and headed for Times Square.

Times Square was crowded, you could hear a diversity of languages and colors – it was beautiful. I was just standing there, trying to suck it all in – the billboards, the people, the buildings, the smells, and the buzz. I literally enjoyed the moment and was consumed by Times Square. I took a lot of pictures, because pictures tell more than thousands of words.

I saw Winnie the Pooh, Muppets, Edward the Scissorhand, a beggar who asked a $ for a hooker and lot of other weird things on Times Square and I think it’s just normal here. People put on their costumes and go to work, just like other people. The only difference is that they are earning their money through the tourists taking pictures together with them.

We visited a theater to check for the prices for the show The Lion King, but the tickets for the night were sold out and we decided to wait with making any decisions. On the other side of the road, there was a shop for the Broadway shows where I did my first purchases in NYC.

We had lunch at the Hard Rock Café. There were not any seats available at the tables, so we got our seats at the ar. And that was fun! To see the bartenders working and interacting with the customers was an experience itself! I got myself chicken tenders and some water to start with. We stayed in the Hard Rock Café for few hours, just talking, watching and experiencing it. I have always been a fan of Hard Rock Cafés and whenever I am travelling, I am trying to visit it.

I did some shopping in their shop too, love their designs.

It was already evening and we walked back to the hotel to get some sleep.

Sunday, 3rd of June

After breakfast we took a cab to the financial area of NY to see Ground Zero. Before we entered the memorial, it was already close to lunch time and we had a lunch on the other side of the street. It was a nice little grill restaurant with good food and very cool interior.

When we wanted to go to Ground Zero, we were told, that we needed a visitor’s pass at a specific time, which we did not have. We had to walk few blocks to the Memorial Preview Site to get the passes. So we walked.. and got little lost. :) We did not mind, because we knew that we were on the Trinity Street and that could not be far from our destination.

We enjoyed the Zuccotti Park and finally asked a police officer where we should go to reach the Memorial Preview Site. He gave us directions and approximately 10 minutes later we were near the Hilton Millennium Hotel and from there we could already see it.

We got our passes for 4 PM and that left us with 2 more hours of free time. First we had a coffee at the Starbucks next to the Millennium Hotel and from there we headed to Century 21 to do some shopping. I loved the place! After some ins-and-outs from and to the fitting room, I picked 3 shirts for me. I have lost some weight and that is the excuse I am using for doing some heavy shopping here in NY – I need a new wardrobe. The prices were very good by the way; Century 21 is outlet for many famous brands.

When we came out from Century 21 to have a cigarette and then started talking to a very nice New Yorker. She knew Estonia and even some Estonians. She gave us some very useful tips about shopping in New York and what to see on the financial area. She was sweet and kind and helpful. With that knowledge we walked back to Ground Zero and arrived there right on time.

Ground Zero was overwhelming in many different levels for me. First thought was how could this ever happen, that WTC buildings once were there and now they are not? How could it be, that the whole place seemed so empty, surrounded by other buildings? Then I felt horror because it hit me, how many people actually died there. When you see it with your own eyes, it is definitely different experience than from TV.

The memorial was beautiful and peaceful. I think the solution how the memorial is designed, is very nice and humbling – two pools with water dropping like waterfalls. It’s symbolic. It’s pure. It’s simple. It’s powerful. There were few flowers and flags put next to the names; people who died were remembered, and that is what counts today, I think. That people need to remember what happened.

One more thing which I want to mentioned about the Ground Zero. The falling water created rainbows at the bottom of the pools and that made me think of following: As long as there are rainbows, there is hope. That thought gave me comfort. I am not an American and yet this place left a very deep impression on me, impression which is unforgettable.

After leaving the Ground Zero, it started raining and it as impossible to get a cab nearby; there were simply too many tourists there. We were trying to catch a cab for more than 10 minutes when a limousine suddenly stopped. Driver asked us if we needed a cab and Maria replied, yes, but not a limousine. This guy suggested that he can drive us to Rockefeller Center which was our next planned stop. He agreed to take us there for x amount of dollars and before we knew, we were sitting on the back seat of a huge and luxurious limo.

We found out that he is from Georgia, his parents moved when he was 4. His name was Mike and while driving he told us about what we were passing, so besides the drive we also got a guided tour from Ground Zero to Rockefeller.

When we arrived to Rockefeller Center, funny thing happened. When Mike stopped to let us out, few people stormed to the limo asking him: Anybody famous there? I replied: Of course, 2 most famous Estonians in New York City!

Rockefeller Plaza was impressive and surrounded by beautiful area. First thing I really saw there were the flags of the countries and of course I simply had to find the Estonian flag. I did, it was there amongst all the other flags. I was proud to see our blue-and-black-and-white flag in Rockefeller Center. There was also a small and cute park for National Historic Landmark at Rockefeller Center.

After spending half an hour to look around we walked to the entrance to Top of the Rock which is basically an observatory on the top of Rockefeller Center. When we entered the elevator we were told that the lights in the elevator will be turned off while we are “flown” to the 65th floor. When the elevator started to move, it went dark and you could see through the glass roof of the elevator how we ascended upwards. I could feel it in my ears, too and my legs got little shaky when we came out of the elevator. I am not afraid of heights, but the tour in elevator affected me.

The view from Rock of the Top is stunning; you can see the whole NYC like on your hand. You can see Central Park, The Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Hudson River and so many other famous spots in NYC.

After the visit to Rockefeller Center we walked back to our hotel. We wanted to have some rest before the BEA12 started and that was a smart decision.

You can find the whole album from the day 1 here:!/media/set/?set=a.4166629810528.174950.1427650801&type=3
You can find the whole album from the day 2 here:!/media/set/?set=a.4173457101206.175095.1427650801&type=3

More to come soon from the BEA Blogger Conference and from the BEA 2012!

Happy reading!


  1. you seems to have enjoyed your stay. i'm really happy for you

    thanks for sharing it with us

    1. You are welcome! Thanks for coming by!

  2. Wow! You did so much! I've been to New York more times than I can count, and I haven't even visited as much as you have. It seems like you really enjoyed your stay :D

    It was so nice meeting you! (I was the fellow smoker staying at the Best Western.)

    1. It was nice meeting you, Bekka!
      I am still in NY and still enjoying it! I wish the internet was better in the hotel, then I could post some more.

  3. What a wonderful post! I love reading about your adventures in NY. I'm also very curious how BEA went for you, but even just the weekend's adventures are wonderful to read about.

    1. I loved BEA2012, but since the internet here in the hotel literally sucks, I haven't been able to post that much. I am preparing next posts, so they will definitely be up soon.

  4. So cool! Thank you so much for sharing your day tours.

  5. I'm glad you enjoyed yourself! And I'm quite jealous as well. :D Thanks for sharing your experiences.