I was greeted warmly at the reception of my new hotel and told it was $14.95 a day for Wi- fi. Despite my usually keen negotiation skills they were not prepared to negotiate on terms. I was given room number 1115 and proceeded to the lift which wasn't your usual 'press button and wait' you had type in you floor level to call it. Well what floor is 1115? How tall is this hotel? Is it the Empire State building?!! Back to reception I trotted to ask which floor it was. Apparently it was obviously floor 11. Duh, silly me. I forgot that over here you say numbers in pairs and we say them as a whole. Back to the lift where I typed in my floor level and it told me which lift to proceed to. How efficient. As I walked through the endless corridor the place reminded me of a rather scary episode of 'Supernatural' where the hotel was dim, shabby and awash with demons. Got to my room to be greeted by a super small room and not even as good as a Travelodge! There was a very old decrepit wardrobe- the sort your mum gives you when you move into your first home or the type that charity shops would say "No thanks love". Old pre- flat screen TV from the 1970's, a regular double bed ( hey, hey what happened to American king?) curtains that didn't close (useful) and no tea and coffee making facilities! Outrageous! Oh well, guess I'll just have to make the best of a bad job. The location was great as it was just around the corner from Times Square so I was happy to stay put for that reason. Unpacked my case before it split in two and tried to make the place look a bit more homely. Decided I should try and venture out so went to make friends with the doorman 'Ed' who found my enthusiasm a little alarming. He directed me to Times Square and off I trotted in the humid temperatures with map in hand. Seriously, even I couldn't get lost here as the place works in a grid fashion from east to west and in number sequence. A very sensible construction. Times Square was great. A world of pictures, advertising and bright lights and a throng of people. Walked around taking the usual touristy pictures and then proceeded back towards the hotel. Needed to stay awake to get into NY time zone so found a bar called 'Smiths Bar' ( how appropriate, it's clearly a sign) across the road from my hotel and ventured in there alone. Sat at the bar and ordered a large orange and soda ( you thought I was going to say vodka didn't you!) as I was so thirsty. What I want to know is why do Americans put so much ice in their drinks? Way too much! It causes serious tooth sensitivity and numbness of hand if holding for too long. Ordered a bacon and avocado sandwich with a side salad ( trying to maintain a level of healthiness) on wheat. When my dish arrived I wondered if I'd mistakenly ordered a platter to share. There was enough salad to feed a party at a BBQ . Still, it was very tasty and I managed to leave at least half of my salad as I didn't want to get fat. When I got the bill it had added the gratuity on and also gave you options of paying extra if you were happy with the service. For example $2 for ok or $5 for exceptional. But hold on, you've already added it on! Am I missing something? Obviously I felt obliged to leave another $3 incase they spat in my food next time I came in. It is rather convenient so wouldn't want to rock the boat plus they were very attentive.
Went back to the hotel and asked reception if there was anywhere I could get a nice cup of tea since there were no facilities in my chamber of horrors.
"Over there at the gift shop Ma'am"
So I went to the gift shop and this is where I met my new Turkish friend Borat. Yes.
Anyway Borat was very friendly and interested in English culture, Robin Hood whom he referred to as ' The ghost of the Forest' and for some reason ( known only to Borat) the sword of excalibur and King Arthur. I told Borat that I wanted a cup of tea. He told me to get a paper cup on display and to fill it with hot water from the flask. I explained to Borat that one needed the tea bag first in order to get a proper brew. He found this hilarious. He then got out his tea selection which was a myriad of flavoured, oriental and other. Not a whiff or tetley, PG tips or English breakfast. See! This is what happens when you throw a strop and throw away your tea at Boston tea parties! You have rubbish tea and no idea how to make it! Granted your coffee houses are great, I can't go one second without passing a Starbucks it's like perpetual deja vu! But tea...well I'll have to let you know if I come across a good one on my trip. Anyway, I asked Borat if he had any milk. No, he didn't but he did have cream. I told him he needs to get milk as you can NOT put cream in tea but he insisted the creamer would be ok. Not wanting to hurt his feelings I obliged and winced as I poured a fraction of the creamer into my luke warm ( oh yes I forgot to mention, the water from the flask was not very hot which is essential for proper tea) earl grey tea which I had decided was the nearest I was going to get flavour wise and said my goodbyes to Borat. I went outside, took one sip of my tea and threw it away before I vomited over Ed the doorman. I think it's going to be coffee from this point on but I am on a mission now to find a decent cuppa! Roll on day two.