Bucketlisting – New York for New Year’s Eve

At 16, I decided traveling was going to be something I made a priority as I grew up. At 18, I had a jam-packed bucket list consisting of doing things in over ten different countries. I knew I had to get busy soon if I wanted any shot at doing everything on it. Even though I had already decided these things, I had absolutely no idea that 2014 was going to be such a year of impulsive, last-minute, traveling adventures. In April, I embarked on a trip all around Ireland with a little less than a month’s notice. In July, I got to see all of Honolulu, Hawaii. In August, I got to travel up north with friends and see a side of California I hadn’t before, and finally, in December, I crossed off an item on the bucket list by traveling to New York City to ring in the new year in the infamous Times Square.

The idea to spend New Years in New York came about over the summer. Zack and I were both going to be turning 21 towards the end of the year and celebrating four years together so we wanted to go somewhere big for 2014’s end. When we found friends to go with, the pieces of the trip fell together perfectly. And before we knew it, at 6 AM on December 30th, we were sitting on a plane, bound for NYC with one of the most incredible adventures awaiting us.

We landed at JFK mid-afternoon and were welcomed with chilly weather. Once we had all made it to the hotel, we walked down to dinner and then down to Times Square. Can I just say, that sight is something that will never get old, no matter how many times you go to New York? The lights… the structures … and all of the people.. it’s just fascinating.

The next day was New Year’s Eve — the entire reason we had traveled to New York in the first place. We had heard a wide range of things about spending NYE at the ball drop. Most of the people that lived there said things like, “waste of your time. You’ll be miserable” or “you couldn’t pay me enough to do it!”, so needless to say, these kind of comments brought about some hesitations. But this was something everyone on the trip knew they wanted to do. We knew it would be hard, cold, and not fun at some points.. But for the sake of bucket-listing, we proceeded!

There were over a million people in New York that had come to ring in the New Year in Times Square. Some, more dedicated than others. There were people that started lining up/claiming their spots under the ball as early as 9 AM. These people were the extremists — as in, starved themselves for the entire day, deprived themselves of any kind of drink (since you can’t leave your spot at ANY time for a restroom break), and even resorted to wearing adult diapers just in case… yeah, seriously. The lengths some people will go to….
We however, weren’t quite as extreme. We had a big lunch and then headed out around 3 to grab a spot for the ball drop, fully aware and fine with being a little ways back. We found a street that led to pretty good spot in Times Square and had cops blocking it off  until a certain time when they would open it and let people (literally) run to a spot. So, we stood and waited for a few minutes and before we knew it, we were in a flood of human people running down 54th avenue to get to Times Square. We somehow ended up in the most perfect spot — not too far back, great view of the ball, a spot that allowed us to leave and use the restroom, right in front of a Walgreens that had essentials we would need throughout the night, and a yummy little restaurant that was selling the warmest soup to people standing outside (another thing that would save our lives that night). We were lined up at 3:30, and so the long eight and a half hours of waiting began. It was 34 degrees when we first got there. By 5, the sun had set and the temperature had dropped to a below-freezing 24 degrees. Even with three pairs of pants, five sweaters and a snow jacket, a beanie, heavy scarf, four pairs of socks and two pairs of gloves on, we were cold. And not just a little cold, but a shivering, sitting on the ground in a group huddle, questioning life kind-of-cold.

Sometime around 9, we met people standing next to us who had traveled all the way from Australia to be in NYC for the ball drop. Their names are Rhyees and Natalie, and meeting them was by far one of the best parts of this trip. For the next three hours we talked like we had known each other for years, asking one another about what life was like in our different countries, what brought us to NYC, etc. Once we started talking, the hours started flying by faster than they had all day. We were hardly thinking about how cold we were anymore, and the night just got a lot better. Looking back, I do not know if we would have made it through that night had we not made friends to converse with! Finally, after so many hours in the freezing cold, it was 11:50, the final ten minutes of 2014 were passing and the energy of one million people’s anticipation for the ball drop was so thick, you could physically feel the excitement! The minute before New Years, I pulled myself out of the moment and just looked around. I couldn’t believe this was where I was!! “This cannot be my life,” I kept telling myself. But it was, and another year of life was now just seconds away. The last minute of the New Year, all 1.2 million people started yelling the seconds going by, we were laughing, screaming, almost crying tears of joy at this point, and finally, the ball we had been watching for 8 and half hours dropped, and…

 

 

It is so hard to capture in a video, the pure joy and energy that was in Times Square that night. I have never heard the amount of noise I did that night. The ball dropped and the excitement exploded. There were balloons released from every angle, confetti falling from every roof top, and fireworks being lit off the top of the ball. We all just kept hugging each other saying “WE DID IT!”.  
 
 
It was the most magical night filled with friends that we will always keep in touch with and moments we will never ever forget.

Above: My handsome New Years kiss! 

Below: The people that got us through the night!



 

The next few days we traveled throughout the city, seeing all the spots one must see while in the Big Apple: Radio City Music Hall, Empire State Building, 9/11, Serendipity, Rockefeller Plaza and more.. Here’s just a few highlights.

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral

 

My love. And Zack. 😉

 

 

Central park with Em’s!

 

Freeeeeeezing @ the Top of the Empire State Building!

 

 

The incredible  9/11 memorial and the Freedom Tower. A must, must, MUST see if you are ever in NY.
Makes you 10,000 X more proud to be an American than ever before.

 

 

We got to meet up with our Australian friends, Rhyees and Natalie, for dinner, drinks, some exploring,
and then NYC’s number one dessert spot. Serendipity!

 

 

Serendipity’s Famous Frozen Hot Chocolate — after a 3 hour wait!

 

 

Grand Central Station
Rockefeller Plaza

 

Strawberry Fields / John Lennon Memorial in Central Park

 

 

 

 

Bike Riding through the ENTIRE park. A workout to say the least.

Did I just write that? Is that really my life we are talking about here? New York was such an experience. There are so, so, so many things about this trip that I could write about, but I just can’t condense it all into one blog post. I am utterly in love with this city, and being able to cross off a bucket list item by spending NYE in Times Square was truly a dream come true. In fact, this past year seriously did not even feel like real life. I got to do way more traveling than I ever planned or imagined… and I am so incredibly grateful to have seen so much of this world at such a young age.  All I’ve seen makes me crave to see even more. Europe, Australia, Africa.. I’m coming for ya, sooner or later. Until then.. Here’s to another year of unexpected, impulsive adventures. Good luck 2015, you’ve got a tough act to follow.

 

xo,
Toni

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