Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Toblerone Debacle & New York City

It's Amazing by Jem on Grooveshark

I'm here!

The flight back to the U.S. was...interesting.

It started off well.  Charles de Gaulle airport is rated the "Best Airport for Duty-Free Shopping" with Hermes, Gucci, Burberry, Yves Saint Laurent, Prada stores, so much more...the country wants to bleed you dry right up until the very end!

Unsurprisingly, the luxury stores were crammed full of...Asian shoppers, primarily Chinese.  There is so much money in China right now.  Every luxury store I went to in Paris was packed with Chinese millionaires.  


You can literally save hundreds of dollars shopping here.  As a Korean woman, my eyes start spinning at the chance to buy luxury at a "discount" - I know it's not really a discount per se, you're just not paying the VAT/tax on it, but to the shopping obsessed, we still justify duty-free purchases as SAVING money!  However, coming to the tail end of my French walkabout, I am woefully aware of my finances.  While I longingly looked at the Hermes silk scarves ($1,200 for one freakin' scarf?!) I girded my resolve and resisted the temptations. I deserve many pats on the back. 

I did, however, succumb to buying a ginormous Toblerone bar as a consolation prize.  

I don't know why, but Toblerone bars are a fixture in every international duty free store.  Right next to huge tumblers of Johnny Walker and mega-cartons of Marlboro Reds, you always see the massive chocolate pyramids of Toblerone.  And since I was a kid, I have LOVED Toblerone bars but my parents would only let me have some once in a while in super small portions.  The huge bars at duty-free stores would always seem mythical and out of reach for me - my parents would never EVER buy me one.  So seeing them again and feeling sore about not being able to indulge my shopping mania at significant "discounts", I bought myself a white chocolate mega-Toblerone...over 14 ounces of sweet, sweet love.  

Here it is sitting on my lap on the plane: 

It's the size of a small baby.  I feel no shame looking at this photo, only pride and longing to do it again on a non-empty stomach.
I peeled that sucker open and commenced eating it, holding it vertically in both hands like a burrito.  The guy sitting next to me was transfixed.  I was 10 minutes into it when he queried, "how do you do that?  Are you going to eat all of it?  Seriously, you should be on TV."  I looked at him askance...his disruptive questions were breaking my eating rhythm but I deigned to reply, "don't worry, I'm going to go throw it all up after I'm done."  I said it deadpan and he looked horrified and went back to his Skymall magazine.  I was in heaven - I was fulfilling a childhood dream and the sugar surging through my blood gave me a double-dose of euphoria.  

I hadn't eaten anything all day and skipped the on-board meal in favor of the chocolate Godzilla and so I quickly went through it; I got HALFWAY through it folks in one sitting.  All of a sudden...I felt nauseous.  

Hey, you know how when we were kids our parents didn't let us eat candy on an empty stomach and certainly not pounds of it in one shot?  NOW I know why.  To make matters worse, I usually eat a very clean diet, no refined sugars, and so my body was especially not happy.  In fact, it declared mutiny and revolted, as in, it sent it back up in a rush of rage and hate.  I tapped the guy next to me and said, oh my gosh, I have to go the bathroom RIGHT NOW.  He looked at me incredulously while he fumbled in haste with his seatbelt.  I ran to the bathroom...my stupid joke came true and I tossed my cookies.  I felt instantaneously better and in 5 minutes was fine again.  I went back to my seat, looked at the remaining Toblerone - I won't lie...I debated nibbling on it - and instead took a photo of it on my lap (above). Unbelievably, the guy next to me?  ASKED ME FOR MY PHONE NUMBER.  There's no end to weirdos in this world folks.  

Then, going through customs at La Guardia...I was so happy to be back in the land of English-speakers, finally I was not a traveling foreigner with communication problems!! And I was in NEW YORK CITY!!!  

I went to law school here but hadn't been back even once since then.  I am so happy to be in this city and every fibre in my body tells me I made the right decision to return even though I feel a little lost and forlorn sometimes.  Mentally, I have committed to six months here - it takes at least six months to come close to settling into a new place, to get over homesickness, create a new network of friends and colleagues and a routine. When I was a kid we moved around a lot and each time I started a new school, my mom always told me to give it six months and things will feel right and she was always correct.

***

I have been staying in the Financial District (south end of Manhattan) since I arrived.  It is gorgeous:

A photo of the Financial District.  I've been staying in one of the apartments you can see on the left-side of the photo.  A gorgeous jogging/bike path winds all the way around from the ferry up to Battery Park City and Tribeca with numerous esplanades on the way.  It is amazing, the perfect mix of business and residential living.  There's been a huge push since 9/11 to revitalize the lower part of Manhattan and this area is clean, safe, financially important (Wall Street, the Stock Exchange and federal buildings such as the federal courthouses are all located here) and trying its best to attract residents with open park spaces, art exhibits, festivals and planned shopping spaces. 
Aerial shot of Financial District.
View from the apartment: 
Terrible shot.  iPhone fail.
Views on the jogging/bike path:
Across the Hudson River looking at Jersey City and the Goldman Sachs Tower.   
To the left side of Jersey City = Statue of Liberty
Ferry to Jersey. 
Same view at night. 
The World Trade Financial Tower buildings.  There's too many of them to capture here but each time I look at up them, I feel a thrill. 
And here I start the first six months of the New York City part of my journey. 

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