Well, I’ve returned from NYC 😦
Actually, I’m glad we came back yesterday – the area we would need to drive through to get home from my parents flooded today, and I’m glad we didn’t get caught in that mess! Now I’m just hoping that our tornado watch does not spawn anything worse than the storm we had earlier, which dumped a lot of rain but didn’t really hurt anything.
Unfortunately, this means I am stuck with yet another rest day as I had a doctor’s appointment this morning and then it basically started raining. My rest days in New York weren’t really rest days anyway, though – all of that walking around and going up and down and up and down the stairs in and out of the subway was really tiring! Kris and I noticed that a lot of the people in the city were really in good shape and I’m not surprised – we were exhausted every night! It also probably explains why I “only” “gained” 6 lbs. I put those words in quotes because typically I wouldn’t consider a 6 lb gain small enough to say “only,” but I don’t even really consider it a gain because that puts me back at my happy weight of 127.
Anyway, I thought before moving on to my regularly scheduled programming tomorrow (Foods on Fridays) I’d provide a recap of the trip! Hopefully I can refrain from talking about food too much so that I can talk about it tomorrow without being redundant…
This was the “worst” day of the vacation.
We traveled from my parents’ in the morning and ended up at our hotel in Newark around lunch time. The most confusing thing was actually figuring out where to park – we knew our hotel had free parking, but the lot they ended up having us park in seemed like it was for the restaurant, not the hotel…it just seemed too small! The only thing I can think of was that the airport was nearby so perhaps most guests didn’t actually have a car there.
After dropping off the car, we took a train into the city. We accidentally bought too many tickets, and had underestimated the cost of the tickets, so this was kind of stressful (I don’t remember why, but we thought the ticket cost was half of what it was – it was still far cheaper than staying in Manhattan, though). We also had a terrible time figuring out the subway at first – we didn’t find a map that we could carry around until MONDAY, so we were relying on the big maps on the walls in the stations.
We then headed over to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where we at first fell in love with the hipstery nature of the neighborhood, but then quickly realized that we probably were way too cool to be hipsters. We had gone there for a brewery tour, which was more like a 5 minute history lesson about what hops and barley are, and then the line for the beer was way too long to wait in, so we left the brewery empty handed. Next, we had been planning on going to a nearby bar with arcade games at the recommendation of a friend, but the bartender never served us! Therefore, our plans for the whole day were ruined within the first couple hours of our arrival.
We decided that we would instead head back to Manhattan so that we could walk across the Brooklyn Bridge (this was actually easier than starting in Brooklyn). We accidentally found ourselves in Chinatown, where we bought dinner, but picked a terrible place. The food and service were both terrible! We eventually made our way to the bridge, and walking across it, though very touristy, was very fun! Our feet hurt at the end but it let us get in some nice views of the city right away. We then hung out in the park at the end for a bit, and tried to go to a bar there, but once again, we had terrible service – our server, despite having very few tables, was SO slow that we paid with cash because we didn’t want to wait even just a few minutes longer for her to bring back our credit card! You might be starting to see that this was a theme throughout our trip…
On the Brooklyn Bridge!
This day again started out kind of poorly. We knew we were going to see Wicked and then go to a fancy dinner in the afternoon/evening, but making plans for Sunday morning had been difficult – nothing was open! I decided that maybe we could go to Central Park in the morning but then it was like over 80 degrees and we were dressed up so I was fairly certain that was a terrible idea. Kris saw that the American Museum of Natural History was there, but by the time we got there we would only have like 2 hours before we would have to leave for the play, and I didn’t want to spend $20 each for two hours. We reverted to my plan of walking around Central Park – we just went slowly and stopped a couple times to sit and eat hot dogs! This turned out to be really nice, actually.
Then, we finally went to see Wicked – seeing a Broadway musical had been a main reason that we decided to go to New York, and it was so worth it! The whole production was amazing! My only complaint was that they served the wine at the concession stand in coffee tumblers and it looked ridiculous in there. At least we got “free” souvenirs?
The wine filled like 1/4 of this so it just looked silly.
After seeing Wicked, we went to our “fancy” dinner. Unlike our other experiences, the food was great and our server was attentive – it was a Mediterranean restaurant and we both had lamb dishes that tasted way better than similar things we’ve had before. I felt embarrassed by my lack of classiness, though. We ordered a bottle of wine, and I had so little knowledge of wine etiquette that I had NO idea what to do when the server brought it out. We were apparently supposed to know to smell the cork and things of that nature. At least the wine tasted yummy (my extent of wine knowledge is yummy vs. gross).
Also, because the restaurant was in Times Square but we were a little early for our dinner reservation, we got to hang out there a bit. The Toys R Us was rumored to be cool, so we went in there, and they had a ferris wheel! I also went in Sephora, but it didn’t actually have anything that special. I think my favorite was the M&M store, and we almost didn’t go in! I jokingly suggested that we go to Hershey’s Chocolate World (we live like right by the real one, I’ve been there like 100 times), and then Kris noticed that there was a giant M&M store across the street, so we jokingly went in. It turned out that they had a giant wall that dispensed all kinds of M&M’s you could buy!
On Monday morning we had scheduled a harbor cruise so that we could see the Statue of Liberty as closely as possible (the statue is closed right now due to damage from Hurricane Sandy and reopens July 4). This was a great experience! We went down a little early to see the World Trade Center area and the financial district and then headed out on our cruise. It was nice to be out on a boat on such a hot day!
One World Trade Center is really impressive in person!
We had to wait FOREVER to get a picture with the bull. And there were a bunch of people in the back getting pics with his balls.
Too late to Occupy Wall Street 😦
Just a nice picture of us on the boat!
After the cruise, we got lunch in Little Italy. We had planned to go back and have a sit down meal after walking through and just grabbing gelato previously, but when we came back, a lot of places were closed due to work being done on a water main. We were roaming around looking for signs that places were open and about to cross the street towards one that was obviously open (it was super busy) when a doorman from another one practically dragged us in! I was happy with our choice there – we had planned on getting brick oven pizza but ended up getting a pasta lunch special because there was a fee to share a pizza, and the lasagna we had was great! We were able to get pizza later anyway at a place that did not charge us to share.
We also got to a couple of museums this day. First, we went to the National Museum of the American Indian. They had a really interesting display about Native Americans in the music industry, but a lot of things were closed/being redone. Considering it was free, I don’t regret going, but I think in the future I’ll go to the one in DC instead, as I’ve heard it is better. We were also able to go to the aforementioned natural history museum. I was really happy about this because I love history/science museums and HATE art museums and had been sad when I couldn’t find a non-art museum to go to in New York. I’m glad Kris accidentally saw this on the subway map! We still only got to spend about 3 hours there, but saw interesting exhibits on the vastness of space, Asian peoples, African peoples, and, of course, the dinosaurs! Last time I was at a T-Rex display (Sue in Chicago) I learned that T-Rex skulls are so heavy they can’t put them on the skeleton displays, which is why the skulls are in a separate box. At this one, I learned that there are only FIFTEEN complete T-Rex skulls in existence. Kris thinks I should make it a goal to get a picture with every one of them – hopefully that’s possible!
Best part of the museum? Selfie with Teddy Roosevelt!
It may not be one of the 15 real ones, but I had to take a pic with this golden dinosaur in a Louis Vuitton display.
On Tuesday morning, we had a tour of the UN scheduled. We planned on grabbing some bagels and going to Grand Central Station on the way (there was supposedly a free transit museum in there that we never found). We ended up being super early, but it was ok because this allowed us to see some other landmarks (like the Chrysler building, which we accidentally walked past without noticing the first time due to not looking UP) and get through security and buy some souvenirs. I had been looking for a coffee mug or magnet or something all week – yes, there are the street vendors/8 billion shops with them, but every one I went into had such cheap, low quality stuff that I couldn’t even bring myself to spend the $5 they were asking on it. Instead, I got nice mugs at the UN (though I’m starting to regret not buying the UN magnet bottle opener shaped like a beer cap with the UN symbol on it…). The tour of the UN was pretty cool, though I didn’t really learn anything new. I was surprised at how busy it was actually – they were taking like 3 groups of 10-15 people every 15 minutes!
We were pretty tired by this point, so at lunchtime we just got food from a cart and walked past all the fancy stores to see how fancy their windows were (the origin of the fancy dinosaur picture). We also rode down to Coney Island to play skee-ball and eat some chili dogs. I was actually a little disappointed in the chili dogs, as I think I’ve prepared yummier chili dogs of the same brand at my house, but perhaps it was the heat. I was also a little disappointed that I decided against bringing our bathing suits – it was SOOO hot out. At least we had fun playing skee-ball – my machine kept giving me twice as many points as Kris, even though I wasn’t doing any better!
Because we were tired, we went back to the hotel before dinner. Having had a “snack” of chili dogs and french fries, we planned on just getting a small appetizer and a couple drinks at the hotel bar. Here came our final bad service experience. We go down to the hotel bar, which is in a fancy restaurant (but the bar has a less fancy menu), and find that the entire bar area is being taken up by some private event. The host seats us in the “lounge” area as there is no bar to sit at, but our server never realizes we are there. After complaining, we finally end up with a table. The server then brings us dinner menus even though we had at this point asked twice for the bar menu (I know we were taking up a table, but they had no bar to take up instead!). After all this time, I am starving, so I end up ordering a separate appetizer from Kris (instead of just sharing one) and dessert, and with all of this opulence, decide more wine can’t hurt. This mean that our “snack” essentially became a fancy dinner. At least this server didn’t make me sniff the wine! And to be fair to him, he probably wasn’t used to dealing with the bar folk – tons of them were ending up in the restaurant, ordering things like hot wings while wearing t-shirts while sitting next to businessfolk ordering $30 bland fish.
Even our drive back was eventful – our vehicle was attacked by cicadas and we had to experience a full service gas station in Jersey!
Overall I’d say it was a wonderful trip 🙂