Wednesday, March 16, 2011

2011 Big East Tournament Trip - Day 1

This is somewhat of a shot in the dark. Obviously Pun City didn't publicize this trip too well, no preview or really a whole lot of lead time informing Pun City's friends either. But yes, this blog did go to a tournament this year, and it was the Big East, and it was awesome.

Monday, March 7th, flying from Milwaukee to Baltimore, then a 2.5 hour layover, then in to LaGuardia. At that point, this blog needed to take a bus across town to a hostel that this blog had reserved in advance.

Relatively uneventful day, with the exception of being this blog's first venture to a hostel. Pun City chose the hostel for several reasons. First off, you can't beat the cost. It was roughly $50.00 a night, which in New York is about rock bottom. This blog had reserved a 4-6 guy room (they require the same-gender room assignments), and for the first 4 nights, there were 6 bunks in the room. It's possible one of those remained unoccupied, or at least didn't have anyone there simultaneously to Pun City, but the room was pretty well-occupied.

This blog's roommates were from New Zealand, Japan, Spain, and France. This blog only talked to the New Zealander, which was somewhat surprising since you don't usually end up in the room at the same time while awake, much less while everyone else was awake. The other countries were derived from hearing introductions while trying to sleep.

Another sleep deterrant was that the room light was on when this blog got back for the night. Pun City at first assumed it was locked in that position for certain hours, but this was proven incorrect later in the trip. Each bed had an individual night light, so those really should have been used when moving about the room at night, not the overhead room light. (Eventually I think a few roommates caught the drift).

Upon further review, there was another event this evening. Pun City had asked the hostel security/concierge where the nearest sports bar was. The guy directed me to Amsterdam 106, a bar without signage on the corner of, you guessed it, Amsterdam and 106th. They have about 5 screens, but all 5 of them were tuned in to the Knicks game at the time. Pun City, not knowing any other venue, just went with it, figuring it could get those switched shortly. After walking in and seeing practically every seat filled, this blog asked a waitress if there was anywhere it could sit. She said yes, right on this barstool that already had a jacket on it.

Pun City was a little wary of the arrangement, but hey, she said it was alright. (It turned out that the jacket was the bar owners'). The waitress took this blog's order, and this blog then focused on getting the game switched over. The frazzled, weary bartender set Pun City up with a soda, and this blog asked her if she could switch one of the channels over to a college game. She said, "You'll have to wait for Paul, he knows how to do it. He's a regular, the remote is here, but it switches all the channels unless you do it right, and he's the only one that knows." Well, Paul ended up venturing in, and he obliged with the switch. One important part of the switch was that Pun City knew the DirecTV channel for ESPN, which this blog hadn't known until very recently, so that was a huge boost. Iona vs. Saint Peter's, the Metro Atlantic championship game, was on, and this blog was pleased to be able to watch it.

Paul asked this blog, "Is that THE Iona?" This question, in just about any other city, would seem very unusual, but Pun City remembered where this blog was sitting, and said, "Yeah, it is." Paul said, "How about that! I'm a Gael. I went to their middle school and high school." That was kinda cool. Shortly thereafter, Paul left. This was important, because Pun City thinks that he was the owner, or at least knew the owner enough to have some sway.

This blog's foreign waitress, who had a light grasp of the English language, was discussing something with the bartender soon after Paul left. It turned out that the short-order cook had cooked this blog's burger well done, and not medium as ordered. This blog wasn't too worried about it, but yes, would have preferred a medium, so this blog asked to have it redone. Well, apparently the order had either been entered incorrectly by the waitress, or put in the wrong order by the bartender, or just messed up inexplicably by the cook. Well, the cook seemed pissed when he noticed the issue. So much to the point that he stormed out of the building, seemingly for good. This pissed off the bartender to no end, as she was arguably the next in line to cook. Pun City didn't really mind waiting, since the hostel didn't have any TVs, so this blog figured that it would wait around and see what happened. After about 15 minutes, the cook walked back in and prepared the burger correctly. After some broken English apologies from the waitress, and an apology that doubled as a diatribe against the cook from the bartender, this blog got its food, assuring everyone that it really was no big deal.

The bartender ended up giving this blog the meal for free, and this blog believes that she did so at her own expense, forgoing her one free meal from the restaurant for the night. This blog had said they didn't have to do it, so Pun City gave a tip roughly the same as the cost of the burger and was on its way. After that, some sleep and preparation for a full slate of 4 games the next day.

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