Trip Recaps and Highlights: Part 1

It's been over a week since I returned from my NYC-Toronto trip. And, I know that I promised to do a recap of some sort, so here 'ya go. Long overdue, I know.

Adelaide-Sydney-LA-NYC Journey

  • Started off with a weepy morning, saying goodbye to the family. But, my 3-year-old was just excited to know that I was going overseas on a Qantas aeroplane (he's nuts about planes). Heh.
  • Bad start to the trip when I found out that my credit card wasn't working (only got re-activated 24 hours later, just as I landed in the U.S.). And, I didn't have any U.S. currency with me.
  • Flight from Sydney to L.A. was delayed because of 'bad weather'. Some scary turbulence along the way.
  • LAX was hectic and crazy. Missed my connecting flight to NYC due to the earlier delay. Ended up with 3 hours delay. Was taken to 'second interview' at immigration, but thankfully, it didn't take too long. A customs/immigration guy came up to me with the line: "Wherever you're going, please, please take me with you." Huh?
  • Arrived in NYC almost midnight. JFK airport was nice, but was surprised to be greeted by masses of 'unofficial cabbies' offering a taxi ride. Yikes. I decided to go to the official cab queue instead, and ended up with a nice cabbie who said he was a nursing student, originally from Cameroon. Briefly saw the entrance to the Grand Central Station.
  • After 30+ hours of travelling, I was finally in North America. After 10 years of not travelling to that side of the world, my return trip to America began...

A Glimpse of New York 2007

New York City Highlights

  • Stayed at Hudson Hotel (58th St). Modern hotel with an obviously popular bar, that's why it was always very loud and busy at the reception/entrance area every single night that I was there. The room I stayed in was small, with an en suite without a bath (Somehow, I always look for bath tubs in hotel rooms). Loved the complimentary toiletries that came with the room. Other room facilities were underwheming. Reasonably priced. reliable WiFi from the room. Generally good service. Overall, not bad - but probably would prefer to stay somewhere else, preferably nearer the Times Square area, if I'd ever find myself back in NYC.
  • Attended the Future of Online Advertising conference. Held at a really fancy, impressive venue: Gotham Hall (loved the quotes on the walls). I was only there for part of Day Two, though. Free WiFi, but kept dropping. Some really interesting presentations, but there's room for improvement. Oh, and it was at the conference when I met b5 co-founder/partner Darren Rowse for the very first time, after working together online for nearly two years. Imagine having to meet on the other side of the planet when we're living in neighbouring states here in Oz. Incredible, huh? And yes, I also met b5 colleague Chad Randall (Director of Sales) for the first time. Anyway, I wrote about FOOA at Just Make Money Online here and here.
  • Enjoyed the after-conference get-together at Sortie. Some folks I met then include: Rachel Clarke (a b5 blogger, who took me to my first ever NYC subway ride at peak hour and kept me company; Still owe you a drink, Rachel!) and Nick O'Neill (a young, passionate web entrepreneur). Also had fun meeting some of the folk from Carson Systems (FOOA organisers). They seem like really nice people. Unfortunately, I didn't get to chat extensively with most of them. But, I did have the great opportunity to spend some time talking to Andrew Calvo (VP, Sales), who ended up treating us to a gorgeous Italian dinner. I was going to join Andrew and company for an extended evening of fun at a Jazz bar, since I was told that it was "The NY thing to do." Unfortunately, I got too tired and got anxious when we couldn't hail a cab quickly. Ended up hanging out with Chad and Kiwi entrepreneur Jon Beattie (of Marker Studio) walking along Times Square (can't beat seeing this part of New York City at night!), ending with drinks at TGIF. And, Jon didn't really need to pay for my strawberry drink (yes, I chickened out and didn't go for the Mojitos like the boys did) - I would've still thought that he was a really nice bloke (thanks again, Jon).
  • Loved the Quick Tour of NYC, courtesy of the wonderful Lara Kulpa. Started off with me being late to the appointment. Yikes. Anyway, Lara, Darren and I shared a fantastic 'family style' lunch at Carmine's (Darren's treat), which was near Broadway. The penne pasta with vodka sauce was really good, but the salad was just the best I've ever had. After lunch, we took the subway to Battery Park. We had to get off the subway at some point and had to take the bus the rest of the way. Saw Wall St. in passing. Viewed the Statue of Liberty from afar (the one NYC landmark that I really wanted to see during my brief trip). Explored Battery Park a little, and really enjoyed the 'street show' by a group called The NYC Tumblers (that's what I remember them calling their group anyway). I even took some video footage of the act, but will have to find the time to edit that before I post it. Also saw some really cool statues/sculptures, including one that was from the World Trade Center. And yeah, I did a very cheesy, touristy thing by actually posing with a busker who was meant to be Lady Liberty. Heh.
  • The Problogger Meet-up at the Speakeasy. After the quick tour, Darren had a quick stop at his hotel and Lara and I had a drink while waiting for him. Then, we went straight to the venue, where I ended up meeting another b5 colleague for the first time - Aaron Brazell (Technology Director). It was an interesting evening (though a tad bit awkward for a couple of reasons) that really stretched my networking muscles. Some folks I met include: Valeria Maltoni, John Keegan (of Blog Harbor, probably the only non-b5 person in the meet-up that I've 'known' online for a while; thanks again for the photos!), Paull Young (a fellow Aussie who now lives in NY), Derek Halpern, Jonathan Dingman (from TLA), and Marshall Sponder (who was the 'big winner' of the evening), among a few others. And, yes, one of the most enlightening conversations of the evening that I had was with Liz Strauss (b5 blogger at Successful Blog). That talk certainly deserves a blog entry of its own. Anyway, I didn't really stay too late at the party. I left just after 10.30pm, I think. I had to go, especially since I was flying to Toronto the next day.

About the Author Shai Coggins (MTeach, MSoc Sci App Psych)

Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.

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