New York Trip 2019

Wayne Lapasa with Kelly Kelly
With social media influencer Barbie Blank fka WWE’s Kelly Kelly

Every April, I schedule the first week off from work. The reason being is because WrestleMania hosts their biggest wrestling card of the year. I’ve always left a vacation week open just in case I decide to attend. Ask me how many times I ended up travelling to wherever the town was hosting the event. My answer? Zero times 😂.

It has been a while since I last attended a WrestleMania event, my last time being in 2004. Over the years I’ve kept an eye on the product from a distance. So here we are 15 years later, I felt now was the time to once again check out the grandeur and spectacle that the event has to offer.

And just by coincidence, the 35th edition of WrestleMania was being held in the New York area, which is one of my all-time favourite destinations to visit. I know what your thinking…you were just there eight months ago and you’re back again? Yeppp!

Getting into town

I flew out of Toronto on a dirt cheap Porter Airlines flight ($256 CDN) on a Thursday afternoon and arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport. After I cleared all of the security checks, I was wondering what would be the most cost-efficient way to get into Manhattan since I was travelling solo.

I started Googling on my phone different options and one of them was a van shuttle service that charged only $18 USD to do. They would literally drop you off to the doorstep of your destination. This route made the most sense and was much cheaper than taking a $30+ USD Uber.

An impromptu tour of NYC? 🤭
An impromptu tour of NYC? 🤭

Originally what I thought it would be a 45-minute drive into the city, turned into a two-hour ride. The catch for this shuttle service was that they would drop you off based on proximity, but there were 10 of us. In my case, my drop off point took a little longer as my Airbnb was in the Flatiron District.

Anyways, you live and learn. To be honest I wasn’t upset at all. I got to see different areas of the city in a non planned sight seeing tour of NYC, which is always cool to take in. And this was WrestleMania weekend, I had a full itinerary of festivities to look forward to.

WaleMania V
April 4 – WaleMania V

WaleMania V

The first night in New York I took in the event known as WaleMania, which comprised of both hip-hop music and pro wrestling communities merged all under one roof – Sony Hall. Believe it or not, the two genres are big fans of one another. It is a classic parallel of the artists wanting to be like the athletes and vice versa.

Enter rap personality Wale, the man behind the marquee. The D.C. native is one of professional wrestling’s biggest supporters. He originally burst onto the music scene in 2009 and is still maintaining his relevancy today. The past four WaleMania’s, have grown into one of the best lead-in events during WrestleMania weekend.

WaleMania V
WaleMania V – the union between hip-hop and pro wrestling

Sony Hall was jammed packed and sold out. WaleMania featured a who’s who of the top titans in the industry. There was an urban vibe throughout the whole evening which included wrestler Q+A sessions, rap performances and more. It was great to see many wrestling personalities all over the venue, on stage, by the bar, in the lobby, etc. And all of them were very approachable and down to earth.

I’m glad I was able to take this in, as I had read about it for years. WaleMania delivered and set the tone for WrestleMania weekend. If you like wrestling and hip-hop music, I highly recommend you check out next year’s installment in Tampa Bay, Florida.

WrestleMania Axxess
April 5 – WrestleMania Axxess

WrestleMania Axxess

The next day I met up with my friend Donovan who recently moved from Toronto and now resided in Queens, New York. We headed over to the borough of Brooklyn to check out WrestleMania Axxess, a five-day festival featuring all things WWE.

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Dear Summer ’18 Part 2

Old Port Crew
Old Port Crew

The second half of my summer adventures picked up pretty quickly from the previous blog post.   Now in the month of August, I continued to travel and took a few more trips to some familiar places.

Montreal – August 10-12

One of my all time favourite cities to visit is Montreal, Quebec.  It is roughly a six hour drive and me and my friends make the trek for a number of reasons.  Primarily we love to go for the food, the fashion and all the cultural elements that make the 514 unique.   It was my 11th time visiting and it never disappoints.

Basilique Notre-Dame
Basilique Notre-Dame

We rented this Airbnb loft that could sleep our crew of 11 in Old Port.   It was a very nice place, formerly situated in a business building with very modern touches inside the unit.  What was pretty cool about the location was that it was within walking distance of the historic Notre-Dame Basilica.  This cathedral has been around since the 17th century!  I was able to wake up early on the Sunday morning and attend 8 am mass.

The architecture inside is immaculate, so well crafted and visually astonishing.  Heck, I only knew the place because Celine Dion famously wed there in 1994 lol.  It was my first time going there and even if you are not roman catholic, I recommend you stop by and explore this magnificent church.

Le Bremner Chef Sample Dinner
One of the main dishes served at the Le Bremner chef sample dinner, mango with steak

I also had a chance to take in the fine dining that Old Port has to offer.   The first night we dined at the Vieux-Port Steakhouse and surprisingly to my friends, I elected not to order a steak (you’ll find out why later in the blog post).  Instead I had lobster linguine and it was alright, nothing special but nothing bad either.

The next night, four of us attended a chef sampler dinner at Le Bremner, operated by chef, TV personality and restaurateur Chuck Hughes.  It was my first time experiencing a chef sampler dinner and it was nothing short of amazing.   All of the food presented to our table was fresh with the menu being unique for that particular day.

The size portions were not grand, but there was more than enough food to feed our group.   After attending this dinner, you learn to have a greater appreciation for culinary chefs and the reasons why they use certain spices and ingredients in their cooking.  You can literally taste it in your mouth!  Click here to view my Montreal gallery.

MTL Boyz
MTL Boyz

Continue reading “Dear Summer ’18 Part 2”

Dear Summer ’18 Part 1

This past summer, I made it an effort to travel and enjoy life.  A lot of times…we just work, work and work.  I’m no different myself, having worked an average of 64 hours a week for the past year and a half.  I wanted to recap and share some of my travels this past summer, which I haven’t done in a while.  Let’s take a look.

Monday Night RAW (07-16-18)
Monday Night RAW

July 16 – WWE Monday Night RAW in Buffalo, New York

For those who know me,  I am a long time wrestling fan.  I don’t get out that much to watch the product in person, instead I follow online and catch up with the recaps through news boards.   An old friend of mine from my early dairy industry days, invited me for a one day mini road trip to Buffalo, New York.  I agreed and told Eddie that we were due for a reunion,so we caught a Monday Night RAW show.

So I went on Stub Hub, bought some tickets for us (he has no idea I paid above market value for them lol) and got us ninth row ringside.   I figured if we were going to travel for an hour and a half across the border, we better have some decent seats!

Overall it was fun night, watching the current roster of wrestling superstars do their thing on RAW.   We both agreed that Buffalo was our least favourite town for multiple reasons.  But at the end of the day it was about reconnecting, sharing some old stories and catching up on life.

Probably the biggest disappointment for me was the WiFi inside the arena, it was terrible!  It kept kicking you out after you logged in.  How am I supposed to share social media content with my audience?  I’m not using my own data in this town! Lol.  Check out some pictures and videos below.

Wayne Lapasa
Outside the arena, standing next to production trucks waiting for the show to start
With my friend Eddie, 21 years of friendship and counting
With my good friend Eddie, 21 years of friendship and counting

Trying to find our way into backstage catering lol

Seth Rollins has one of the most energetic ring entrances in pro wrestling today

Continue reading “Dear Summer ’18 Part 1”