Gamiila (gamiila) wrote,

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New York, Day 1 and 2

The Customs Officer looks dubiously at me and my carefully filled out (because mistakes, corrections and crossed out sections are emphatically not allowed and reason for immediate refusal of entry into the United States) Immigration form and asks "Rego Park, New York, NY -- where is that?" "In New York", I say, "though I don't know where exactly." "Oh no", says he, "It may be in New York, but not in New York, New York -- you know, like Albany, or Niagara...You ever been to Niagara?", and without further ado, he takes a big black felt-tipped pen and crosses out the relevant section on my Immigration form and writes "Rego Par [sic], NY" in bold lettering across it. That's it, I think, I'm not going to be allowed entrance now because he's ruined my green entry form, while poor Jules has been waiting in Arrivals for me for 5 hours, and now it's all been for nothing! He goes on to tell me about Niagara and how the best way to see it is by going across to the Canadian side, then waves me through. Relieved, if slightly bewildered, I realise I'm not to be ignominiously deported, after all. I swear, of all the countries in the world (except Israel), crossing as a tourist into the US is more of an ordeal than a mere formality. Still, at least this time, he cracked a smile at the end, whereas I'd gotten used to a surly, dour-faced, and unnecessarily rude reception on my previous visits, so maybe the recent survey that said 70% of tourists rate US Customs to be the most unpleasant of Customs in the world has had some effect.

Rego Park, it turns out, is in the borough of Queens, New York, NY. It's the home of freakspawn's sister, who had offered to put us up in her new apartment there. When we got there, she had just nipped out down the road to get us some keys cut, but we didn't have to wait long before she arrived back. As she had recently moved in, the place was big, light, airy and fairly bare, and both anonypooh and I immediately fell in love with it. We went to the local supermarket to stock up on fruit and breakfast food, then after a while ventured out into a light drizzle (the only rain we were to encounter in our week-long stay) at the Pio-Pio Peruvian restaurant which is tiny but immensely popular, and if you've ever tasted their chicken, you'll know why.

In the middle of the night, Jules got a call from her husband telling her to ring in to a UK radio station right that very minute, to claim the £1000 she'd won in one of their competitions. If that wasn't a lucky omen for the rest of our holiday...

Lisa left for work early the next morning, but Julia and I took our time getting ready and deciding on what to do first, then took a leisurely stroll to Queens Center Mall where we had coffee and cheesecake and a look around the shops. I'd decided that while I was in New York, I would get a new pair of trainers as my 2001 souvenir Nikes could definitely do with being replaced, they're so old and tattered now; but I didn't see any I liked and I ended up buying a Hawaiian Slipper ring instead. After a restorative cup of tea and a change of clothes back at the flat, we took the R into town and wandered around the Theatre District to check out the available shows, as the plan was to go see one later in the week. Or go see a film...By the time we got back to Times Square, my ankle was giving me real problems, as I had optimistically, but as it turned out rather stupidly, elected to wear some modest heels for the evening. So while Jules went to intercept Lisa as she came out of work, I popped into the Skechers and got myself a pair of comfortable, casual, champagne with little pink flowers embroidered on them, sporty sneaker-type-but-not-quite, shoes. I had to fight another woman for them, as they were the only pair in my size, and she was convinced in hers too; but luckily when she tried them on, she found they were too small for her and she beat an embarrassed retreat.

Under Lisa's guidance, we made it to a Moroccan restaurant with live rai music and a belly dancer, where the food was delicious even if my portion was woefully small, consisting of only 4 (four!) jumbo shrimp. However, since my starter, of beef and runny egg in a spicy tomato sauce, had been more substantial, it didn't really matter, and we had a fantastic time, soon to be eclipsed by our next stop: Mo Pitkins, the venue for Corn Mo and Hair Supply.

Tags: new york, shopping, travel

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