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[personal profile] sarea
Well, now I'm in New York! Arrived on Friday, so I've somehow already been here a few days. O.o Time flies. I don't know if it's the time zone changes or what, but I have been having a really terrible time with my math while here. More on that in a bit. My body clock is also all screwed up. Going from Seattle to Hannover then to New York, I have no idea what time it's supposed to be! Every time I look at a clock I'm mystified that that's the time.

Apparently I didn't mention in my last post that I ordered a coat from Amazon Germany, lol. It was much colder than I was expecting in Hannover (I didn't check any weather reports), and despite looking a few times, I couldn't find any coats I liked in the shops (they were all stocked for summer/spring weather). So Amazon Germany with 2-day shipping it was! I LOVE the coat. It's a Berydale, which is apparently a UK company. I wanted it to be a German company, since it was likely going to serve as my souvenir for the trip, but at least it wasn't American or Canadian, lol.

On our last full day in Hannover, V. and I went exploring a bit. We went to the Hannover Rathaus, and saw four different models of the city... from the 1600s to 1939 to post war. The devastation on the city from the bombings was quite a terrible thing. We liked Hannover more after seeing it. We also wandered into a local bookstore, which gave me the idea of buying Game of Thrones in German. (I already have it in Korean, so it could be a fun little collection!) They didn't have it in that shop, but we went to a bigger one and I found it there. :D

For breakfast we went to the Kastens, where I stayed last year, because I had talked up their breakfast to V. The funny thing is that with so many people in Hannover for the Messe, and with so many people from the company staying at the Kastens, they thought we were staying there, too, and didn't charge us for the breakfast. I didn't feel bad about it, because I'm sure there were tons of people who didn't take advantage of their free breakfast. It was as good as I remembered though; it's very upscale, whereas the other two hotels have a more budget feel. They have full-size pastries, for example, which for some reason just feels more upscale. (Including a "seed" croissant that was realllllly good!)

We also went to a Thai massage place called Palida. In fact, we went twice while we were there! It seems to be run by a woman and her daughter, both of whom were really sweet. I've also never been to a massage where they actually walked on my back before; it was cool! There's a lot of pressure, but they don't stomp on your spine or anything. It cost 30 Euros for 40 minutes, and they were sooooo grateful for the 5 Euro tip. Germany, unlike other countries, does have tipping, though they usually use a roundup method rather than a percentage. The result is that people are not "insulted" by tips as they are in some countries, and in fact are very grateful for the generous tips we're used to paying as Americans.

We went to Al Dar one night, which was a Syrian place (it wasn't clear to me from the food how it differed from, say, Lebanese cuisine), and very delicious. There was an annoying moment, though. I had called in the afternoon to move our reservations from 7pm to 8pm, because we wanted to get a massage, and the friendly guy on the phone said it was no problem. Except when we showed up, at first they refused to seat us because they had us down for 7pm reservations and we were "late"! When I explained what had happened, they fixed it pretty quickly, but that moment of being refused was still really annoying. For our last night we went back to 6 Sinne. The food was again excellent, though my steak was not as well prepared as it had been that first night.

Then came my flight to New York. Oh god. I'm never flying Air France again if I can help it. It was like I was in the 1980s. The technology was SO old/bad. I worried about the plane actually be able to make it from point A to point B. The TV monitors were so old they were like bricks, and the screen resolution was like a VCR. And they would just go out from time to time and the flight attendant would have to call down somewhere to get them reset or whatever. /shudder The food was also extremely mediocre, even worse than Delta if that's possible. And I don't believe there was wi-fi available; I didn't check, but there was none advertised. I ended up sleeping for a lot of the flight, thank goodness; I'm not sure why, maybe all the old tech stuff was making my brain so nervous it needed to be unconscious.

Global Entry is the BEST THING EVER. Worth every penny. From deplaning to going through customs, it took FIVE MINUTES. (It helped that they let US citizens go first.) I'm always afraid of how long customs will take, but with Global Entry it's a breeze. The fact that it's also the same as TSA Precheck and can be used for domestic flights to skip long security lines, is just frosting. The only problem is that there's a multi-step process to leave the airport, with a different Global Entry line for each, and I don't always remember to find that line (I just assume there isn't one). When I got through the first checkpoint and the customs guy said, "Welcome home," it made me so happy.

Getting my luggage took FOREVER. Way longer than it took me to get through customs. Afterward, we had to go through another line where we turned in our entry slip, and this was the time I didn't realize there was a separate Global Entry line. This is also the time when I rail about French people and how they are THE WORST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. They have a lot of gall to be such snobs about how Americans are rude and boorish, when in fact THEY ARE COMPLETELY RUDE AND BOORISH THEMSELVES. After sitting at CDG listening to French blaring over the speakers for four hours, I have to say that I no longer find the language beautiful. I find it quite grating, in fact. And the people! Ugh! I already knew this from reading David Leibovitz's book, but now I've experienced it for myself: They don't believe in standing in lines, or respecting people's place in them. If they see an inch of space between you and the person in front of you, they'll stand there. Basically, they are ASSHOLES. This happened time and time again, and every time, they were French. It was the last straw when I was looking for my passport in this exit line, and some space between me and the people in front of me formed. The people behind me waited patiently because I was clearly struggling, but this couple from another line just went and cut in front of me. I KNEW, just KNEW, they were fucking French. And because it was the last straw, I got my passport out and shoved in front of them. I then heard them talking, and guess what? THEY WERE SPEAKING IN FRENCH. French, the language of assholes. When I got to the front, the nice customs agent (I don't know why they were all nice that day, either it's because I had gotten used to unfriendly Europeans, or that they really were particularly friendly that day) was like, why are all you Global Entry people skipping your own line today? And I was like, I didn't know there WAS another line! Sigh.

Once at JFK, I decided to take a cab rather than deal with the subway (I hate walking around forever when I have a suitcase and all) or a ride service, because the cabs were RIGHT THERE. Ugh, I should really have learned from my previous experiences coming into JFK, but I always forget. That ride from the airport into Manhattan is really long, and KILLER. It gets me every time. I get totally carsick and nauseated, and the ride is TORTUROUS. It happened again this time. Maybe that's why I couldn't do math. By the time we got to my hotel, I felt so sick. NYC was also having unseasonably warm weather, so it was hot, which only made it worse. I felt better whenever I happened to catch a breeze through the car window, but that was rare. Anyway, the cab fare was like $63 or something, but I tipped him $15. Like, what? I didn't even realize it until yesterday that I'd done that. He was nice, but $15 tip nice? My brain was addled.

That first night I didn't feel like going out, what with having been carsick, so I ordered food from Ray's. Way TOO much food, in fact. And sadly, it was disappointing. The pizza wasn't that good. I've only ever had Ray's in Times Square, and now I'm thinking that's the only Ray's worth going to. I also realized that for the first time ever, I had a TV in my room that wasn't part of an in-wall panel, which meant that its ports were exposed. Which meant that I could actually use a streaming device! But of course, I hadn't brought one this trip. Enter Amazon. Why not, right? I used it in Germany, so no brainer to use it in the US. :P I was going to get a Fire Stick, but apparently they're sold out at the moment. So I got a Roku instead, and got same-day delivery. And it worked!!! I can watch my shows on my hotel TV yayayayay.

(I have totally gotten obsessed with Sneaky Pete. Stars Giovanni Ribisi, Margo Martindale, and Bryan Cranston, who co-created it with David Shore. It's sooooo good! Also, I can't remember if I've talked about this before, but [profile] jade_okelani and I are watching Beautiful Gong Shim and enjoying it.)

On Sat I had Shake Shack for lunch (I still don't see what the big deal about it is), and for dinner I went to my hotel's restaurant, Charlie Palmer Steakhouse. I made the very grave error of not checking the menu (and thus prices) before going. Holllyyyyyyyy cow. I couldn't bring myself to leave, though, so I was like, what the hell, and ordered a full meal. It was all FANTASTIC. I started with their spring salad (arugula, snap peas, English peas, shaved pickle, green goddess dressing that had a hint of anchovy), then the Spanish octopus, a perfectly cooked bone-in rib-eye, and a side of asparagus. I followed it with a custom affogato. I only intended to have ice cream with espresso, but when the server asked me what kind of shot I wanted with it, I felt like I couldn't refuse. That was a huge mistake. I really cannot take alcohol -- my tolerance level for it is the lowest it's ever been. That one shot of Grand Marnier made me feel totally sick, ruining a perfectly wonderful dinner, and made my brain so addled that I mis-tipped AGAIN. Only this time, it was in an even more terrible way; I tipped $15 for a $150 dinner. YIKES. About an hour later, when the alcohol was wearing off, I realized my mistake, and I had to call down to the front desk/restaurant and get it all sorted out so that I tipped 20% instead. OMG, the embarrassment. Plus I only had one shot, so they probably wouldn't even have believed me if I tried to say that I was drunk and couldn't do math. I really, really, REALLY hope they communicated this to the waitstaff, because they were all wonderful. UGH that for however long, they believed that I had been a super lousy tipper. Anyway, so that dinner cost $175 total with the new tip, which... ouch. I'm not sure if my manager is going to say anything about that expense or not. I guess we'll see!

On Sunday I went to Juliana's for lunch. It's right next door to Grimaldi's, and apparently IS the original Grimaldi's before they sold the name. They had a long-ish line, but it was a cold day. The heat wave had snapped, so it was like 65 and windy. They had a table outside, so I figured I would take it rather than continue to wait; what a HUGE MISTAKE that turned out to be! It just got colder and colder, and I didn't have a jacket, and the wind just made it so much worse. I finished my Caesar and a couple slices of pizza, then had to go. It was so miserable. And I didn't even think the pizza was that much better -- or any better -- than Grimaldi's next door. For dinner, K. was in town, so we went to Ilili, a Lebanese place. It was really great! We ordered falafel, octopus (again wonderfully prepared), duck shawarma, tabbouleh, hummus with ramps, and for dessert, knafe (pronounced ca-nah-fe), which was basically a wheel of melted cheese served with "sesame pita pillows" and orange blossom syrup. It was really good, but a little too rich considering how full I was at that point!

Within two blocks of me, there are two bubble tea places. One of them is Gong Cha, which originates from Taiwan, apparently. I really like it because it's very customizable, including sugar level and ice level. Best of all? They have something called "milk foam," which is a topping similar to what I had in Hong Kong, that I was bemoaning wasn't a thing in the States! It's basically a savory milk foam topping, and somehow it's just very delicious with milk tea. Maybe Gong Cha will come to Seattle at some point, or at least the milk foam phenomenon!

I can't remember if I mentioned this in my other post, but on my flight over, I watched a Japanese anime film called "your name" and it was WONDERFUL. I made Jade watch it too, and she also thought it was a beautiful movie. Totally rec it. It had everything you want a good movie to have.

I'm so bummed to be missing two Korean classes, especially during some very difficult lessons. We're on compound vowels now, and I find it so confusing. :/

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