As promised, I’m writing about my time in NYC for Tartan Week. First, let me set the stage…….
My siblings are the type of folks who can manage to find the humor in any situation. Inappropriate laughter is kind of our stock in trade. I’m proud to say that the next generation seems to be embracing our Joie de vivre ! For example, my nephew had a very long battle with an infection that resulted in the loss of his leg above the knee. He spent months in the hospital and faced pain and disappointment over and over again. When he was finally released, the family went to Olive Garden to celebrate. During dinner, someone dropped and broke a glass. When the waiter came to clean away the broken glass my nephew said, in an OBVIOUSLY relieved tone of voice, “Thank God you’re here! Someone could have lost a leg!”
So, when I made plans to attend Tartan Week in NYC, I considered the value (and risk) of the familial “laughing inappropriately factor” and then asked my nieces to come with me anyway. It was an excellent decision. They were the best traveling companions an obsessed with all things Scottish Aunt could have. Their ability to roll with the punches, lack of agenda (except wanting me to have a good time), general friendliness, and an apparent inability to be embarrassed enabled us to have the best time ever!
My Traveling Companions
Nicole: My sister’s oldest. Keeping Austin weird and teeny tiny babies well as a NICU nurse!
Krissy: My brother’s oldest. Keeping Western Tennessee as cool as Elvis and its citizens relaxed as a massage therapist!
Jenna: One half of my sister’s twins. Keeping company with black bears in Maine and wickedly close to getting her nursing degree.
Me: Oldest of five and Auntie to these lovelies. Keeping the Buckeye State nutty teaching teens and writing about all things Outlander!
Friday Day one
We arrive in La Guardia from literally all over the country. After our first awkward hug, (I think we were all feeling a bit nervous as sometimes it is years between when we actually see each other) we took a deep breath grabbed our luggage and arranged for our first of many rides on shuttles and Ubers. On our ride into the Big Apple, we were all craning our necks to look at the tall buildings, squealing out in delight when we recognized landmarks, and were boggled by how people drove.
“No turn signals…just horns.” I said.
“The little traffic people look angry.” observed Krissy.
“You mean the cops? Little traffic people.” I snorted. Despite the crazy scary traffic, I was already laughing and having fun.
When we arrived at the hotel and checked our bags the first thing we did was, of course, go to see Terry Dresbach’s costumes. I’ve learned over the years that it is best not to over plan vacations. Having too many expectations is a sure way to experience stress and disappointment. I was relieved to hear the girls express very few expectations. They each picked out one thing they wanted to do and one thing they wanted to eat ! My one thing was to go see the costumes!
For over the past two years, a lot of us have been talking to and learning from Terry Dresbach, Outlander’s costume designer. I wasn’t going to get to meet Terry like some of the other lucky folks, but seeing her creations felt like the next best thing. So, we started walking… the long way. Thanks Siri. By the time we got there my feet felt like bloody stumps, but my pain was soon forgotten when I turned that corner and saw the Sak’s window display. May I just say…wow. Several thoughts rapidly raced across my dazzled mind. “Oh.. they are just lovely, the detail and boy is Cait tiny! ” It felt surreal to realize these were costumes Terry had designed, Liz Bolton had embroidered, and Sam and Cait had worn!
I’m sure you have all seen the pictures, but up close and personal they were a joy to behold!
By this time, we were ready for lunch and decided to head up to St. Andrews http://standrewsnyc.com/ which I was told was the place to be. We ordered some Belhaven beer and Laphroaig whisky!
There was some discussion over our choices. “Smells like a funeral home and tastes like a nightmare” were some of the colorful similies used, but I quite liked both… after I stopped breathing through my nose! While we were swaying to our phones’ ringtone version of The Skye Boat Song, the youngest of our group spotted our first kilt. It was Howie Nicholsby of 21st Century Kilts! http://21stcenturykilts.com/ He was TartanWeek parade marshal a couple of years ago and made the kilt Sam was going to wear in the parade. So, I jumped up to say hi!
If all Scots are as charming and friendly as Howie it is no wonder folks want to go to Scotland. He spoke to me about how proud he was of Sam Heughan and what a great guy he was and how because they were friends he found it difficult to suspend his disbelief when watching the series. (He was an extra on the show BTW!)
We did a little sightseeing and learned that crossing streets in NYC takes commitment. If you decide to cross there is no going back! We took to yelling “commit” to remind ourselves it was cross or die!
We then went to get ready for the Ceilidh!
In modern usage, a céilidh or ceilidh /ˈkeɪli/ is a traditional Gaelic social gathering, which usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing. It originated from Ireland and Scotland, but is now common throughout the Scottish and Irish diasporas, as well as throughout England in a fusion with English country dance. In Scottish Gaelic it is spelled cèilidh, and in Irish it is spelled céilí.
The ceilidh hosted by the NYC Caledonia Club http://nycaledonian.org/ was our first Scottish event and my first opportunity to meet up with friends I had yet to meet in person! What a wonderful time full of music, dance, Scottish food and comradery. I loved it when they “piped in the haggis”.
It was rumored that Sam Heughan would make an appearance as Parade Marshall, but he wasn’t there. It didn’t stop us from having a great time! I enjoyed the whiskey and the haggis! Laphroaig made a special drink in honor of all us Outlanders called the Craigh na Duin! Sorry bout your luck Sam, you missed a great time!
Time to leave the old woman at home
The nieces were not ready to call it a night, but Good Lort, I was. I BEGGED off of taking a trip to the top of the Empire State building. I needed sleep and to be off my feet! They went and had a great time! They said they couldn’t seem to find a way into the building (I have no idea, I wasn’t there) , but Jenna wisely felt they could figure it out because the building only had at most four sides! (snort)
They not only had trouble getting into the building, but also got a wee bit lost trying to find their way back to the hotel. On 34th street,they met some nice young men who pointed them in the direction of “five ave” and told them not to talk to anymore strangers! Yes, it was literally the miracle on 34th street.
I’m sure it was the stress of getting lost that made them decide to stop back in St. Andrews for a dram, where they then saw this…
Krissy woke up the next morning remarking that she felt like she had climbed the Empire State building with her arms! LOL!
Saturday is Going to be a Big Day!
It took us a little while to get going the next morning, but hey we didn’t have anything to do until the parade at two. In the spirit of making sure everybody got to do one thing they really wanted to do, we headed out to find Tiffanys! No, they don’t serve breakfast there, but they do have cool atmosphere to spare and many beautiful items that come wrapped in an iconic blue box. I got a kick out of watching the salesgirl treat my niece as if she was the most important customer she had that morning.
After Tiffanys my feet were ready for a break and the girls began to look for a place to sit down and have a drink. I heard Nicole chuckle and say, “oh, we are so going here”. We all turned around to see Nicole looking up at the Trump tower.
For some reason, going to the Trump Bar in the Trump Tower struck us all as terribly funny. We pushed past the men in business suits standing at the bar and moved into a little elevated room with leather chairs and God Bless America… a hassock for my tired feet. We all ordered a drink called the boardroom made with gin and cucumber and sat around sipping our $16 dollar drinks and telling each other we were fired. I went to cross my ankles and my shoe fell off. They wouldn’t let me put it back on until they got a picture.
“You must be a Republican to be getting this comfortable in Donald’s place.”
I think my favorite moment of this little jaunt was when I realized Nicole really had asked for a spoon to get her gin soaked “veggies” out of the bottom of the glass…they WERE good…okay…I borrowed her spoon…
The Subway and the Tartan Week Parade
Next on the agenda was getting our Tartan on and heading out for the parade! And, this totally happened.
It wasn’t planned. One lives in Texas the other Tennessee. Cousins…identical cousins.
Sufficiently plaid clad, we headed out to experience something new! None of us had ever ridden the subway before, but we were feeling pretty cocky cuz so far, we were “nailing New York”. We decided to head over to Grand Central Station. It really is as busy as …Grand Central…I know…I know…couldn’t help myself. I was about to take a step that only Outlander could make me take.
I know you have seen all the great pictures of the Outlander subway car to Times Square. We wanted to ride that car! We followed the signs to the platform we needed, but the elevator was out and only an escalator was available. I don’t do escalators. In fact, I have a phobia. I had an incident once where I had started to fall down an escalator and ever since then I haven’t been able to make myself lift my foot to step on. It has caused no little inconvenience over the years. People were rushing in behind me and I panicked and ran the other direction! The girls thought it was hilarious and kept trying to convince me I could do it.
“Think of the Outlander train…do it for Outlander!”, cheered Krissy who couldn’t stop laughing at me. It wasn’t funny! At least that’s what I kept telling her while she continued to chortle.
Now, I love Outlander, but a phobia is a phobia. It took four attempts and a niece in front of me and a niece behind me, but I did it! I shook for an hour after, but I did it! My husband who has had to find me elevators for the last ten years thought it was complete bullshit! LOL! I’m so glad I did it! It was the best three dollars I ever spent! We rode the train back and forth six times taking pictures, giggling, and recruiting New Yorkers to watch the show!
We got lunch and planned our strategy for parade watching while we ate. This trip has been a big deal for me because last year I wouldn’t have been physically able to have walked anywhere. I still need to take breaks and sit a lot and the girls were so great about making sure I was okay. I can’t stand for a long time, so I bought this little fold up stool to sit on during the parade. We found a spot near the beginning and I think I will always tearfully smile when I picture Krissy standing guard over my spot making sure no one stood in front of me…my lioness. Everything was going well until…Sam got out of his car. People bummed rushed the street in front of me and I couldn’t see a thing! I saw his profile for a split second. The girls said “It’s the beginning of the parade! We can catch him!” I told them to go for it! They did! Krissy and Nicole climbed a pole to see better and Jenna our youngest got a smile and a wave.
The parade was a blast! Loved the pipes and seeing Outlanders United represent! When the girls made it back to the hotel room after the parade they all proclaimed this to be the best vacation EVER!
The Belhaven After Party and the Screening
Next up on the agenda was the after party at the Papillion! Nicole had made us matching shirts for the occasion that said Lalleybroch or bust!
Okay, hands down this was the best time I’ve had at a party in years! Free beer and whiskey and fantastic music! We were barely in the door when one of the vikings put his helmet on Nicole and proceeded to explain about drying and fluffing his feathers. This was all happening while they were trying to get a picture with Howie.
Andrew Forbes and Elias Alexander, the guys that played the pipes for Outlanders United marchers and Kayleigh Boardman the dancer from Scotland were there. Andrew’s band Scottish Octopus had the place absolutely rockin. Here’s a link to a video of them performing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJ9SnwgrizQ Amazing!
I had a chance to meet all kinds of folks I’ve only talked to on Social Media. I met Dave and the drivers, other bloggers and special friends. My twitter friend from California Cynthia was there with her daughter Hollie who lives in NYC. Cynthia was just as warm and lovely in person as she was on the internet. In fact, so was her daughter who hit it off with the nieces right away, ” Your nieces are awesome!” They are!
While Cynthia and I talked they went out to the dance floor and started some real shenanigans. The last thing we heard before they left was the word shots. By the time we made it out to the dance floor the girls were all wearing the plaid bow ties they were giving out at the bar and had taken to calling themselves the bow tie mafia.
They were inducting members into their gang. Like these guys;
Everyone had been renamed based on a kind of combination, of appearance, job title or quirk. I was introduced to Drummer John, His Royal Highness Prince Jim, FP Anne Marie, Asshole Chuck, and Sweet-Ass Mustache Dave. Dave closed his eyes for the picture because Krissy told him she only wanted a picture of his mustache. Too soon the party was over for us because we needed to get to the screening of Outlander 2.1 at the Director’s Guild theater! Cynthia arranged for an Uber ride for us all and what a ride that was!
If you look closely you can see KoKo Pipkin and Erin Conrad in there somewhere!
We found our seats and were entertained by the Fraser Pipe band and Elias, Andrew, and Kayleigh before the show. Elias sang a great song about Outlanders that I can’t get out of my head. https://youtu.be/mTcFSeGITZY Take a listen you won’t regret it!
The episode was wonderful and we left the theater feeling excited about the new season! We went back to the hotel and despite feeling like we should squeeze in a little more fun we settled for a slice of NYC pizza and some well deserved sleep.
We woke up the next morning looking at all of our pictures and reliving all the fun. They were a bit disappointed that they didn’t meet Sam, but I told them, “Hey, you partied with Howie and he was with Sam before the parade so…it’s kinda like partying with Sam.” They pulled up Sam’s instagram photo of his pre-parade drink with Howie and friends. Suddenly, I heard them yell, “Hey! That’s tall Scottish guy! We inducted him into the bow tie mafia!”
They so totally sorta kinda partied with Sam!
We took a cab to Central Park and just sort of soaked up the atmosphere. And, they did this to Alice in Wonderland!
They laughed because of all the things they did this was the thing that embarrassed me! LOL!
We headed back to St. Andrews one last time for brunch. I got my first Scottish fry up and totally grossed the girls out eating black pudding! I liked it!
We giggled and laughed about everything, especially Elias’s lyrics about Lalleybroch from the night before. Totally inappropriate laughter ensued just like I knew it would. Way to keep the tradition going girls!
Lots of Love,