September 2010 – For Mother’s Day, Adam wanted to take me to New York City for the first time, but we had a brand new baby at that time, so we decided on mid-September. I was excited but reluctant. I had never been away from my kids except to go to the hospital to have more babies. Adam ended up being in Philadelphia the three days before our trip, so he just caught a short connection to NYC the night before, and I was supposed to fly up early the next morning.
My trip started out with all kinds of excitement. My alarm didn’t go off. MY ALARM DIDN’T GO OFF. Someone woke me up 10 minutes after I should have left. I got out the door in five minutes. 5 MINUTES. I got to the airport 20 minutes before my flight took off. A lot of times they won’t even let you in, but I had checked in online and printed my boarding pass the night before, and I had no bag to check. I ran, and I mean RAN, down the full concourse. Have you ever been in the Atlanta airport? Those concourses are about 10 miles long. My flight was at the very last gate in the longest terminal. The gate agent saw me running from 10 miles away. He would occasionally stick his head out in the concourse to check my progress, and bless him, he waited for me. I was wearing flip flops and kicked them off to run FASTER. If me running a 4-minute mile BAREFOOT down the concourse will make you hold that plane for me, then I will run. I. WILL. RUN. I was pretty much the only person in the concourse at 6:25 am, so he knew I was running for him. Even still, they called my name over the speakers, and he leaned out to see as I shouted, “THAT’S ME!!!” I will love that gate agent forever. He didn’t have to wait, but he did. That’s the farthest I’ve run since middle school gym class. My heart didn’t stop pounding all the way to New York. And I left my phone in the car, so I was sans cell phone. The snotty girl in the seat next to me let me use her cell to call Adam and let him know he would just have to come find me at LaGuardia because I wouldn’t be answering my phone. I did my make up on the plane. So that was fun. And that was a lot of CAPS in one paragraph, but that was so traumatizing it warrants caps.
I got there and still felt nauseated from the near-miss. Adam took me back to the hotel to unload my bag and feed my empty tummy. I had a fabulous bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese with chives. I ate my way through NYC, just as I do every trip. For me the food is part of the experience.
From there we went to the Rockefeller Center to catch the view from the top. It was very windy, but a great view. Nothing like looking out over the top of a ridiculously tall building to calm a troubled stomach.
Good thing I brought my parachute.
We had lunch at Carnegie Deli. Adam had brought me a cheesecake (a whole cheesecake!!) from there on a previous trip. Too bad the food is gross. I foolishly assumed that amazing cheesecake = reasonably delicious sandwiches. Between two sandwiches, 5 refills (oh, yes, they charge for each tiny refill of your beverage), and two slices of cheesecake, lunch cost $70! I wish I had known all of that. I would have eaten elsewhere. Don’t think of trying to share one of those monstrous sandwiches that could feed a small family, unless you are prepared to pay a plate-sharing fee. It’s only $3, but so ridiculous. Eat there for dessert, but have your lunch elsewhere.
We also toured NBC, which was fascinating. When we got to the part where they asked for 2 volunteers, I raised my hand. Adam got to read the news, and I was the weather girl. Of course we paid the $30 to take home a 10 cent DVD of our 2-minute clip. I’m actually half off the screen most of the time, but that’s the kind of souvenir you just have to take home, right? Pictures are forbidden there, but I’ll always have my DVD. Plus, the kids love to watch it over and over. They think it is right up there with our wedding video and Thomas the Tank Engine. That’s big time.
That night we caught a quick slice of pizza on our way to see Wicked. I loved it. That was such a fantastic show. I hope to see it again when it comes to town. We had great seats, and I enjoyed every second of it.
Friday, we took the ferry over to see the Statue of Liberty. I decided that my claustrophobia couldn’t handle climbing up inside. I enjoyed the view from outside in the wide open space.
This pigeon caught the ferry back with us.
We also saw Ground Zero. I saw it all on TV, but I just didn’t comprehend how big it is. It made me sad and just have a better understanding of how many people lost their lives and the impact it had on the city.
The King Tut exhibit was really amazing. We spent a few hours there. The artifacts are incredible. It’s on loan from Cairo. No pictures allowed. Adam has been to Egypt (twice?) and seen lots of the real thing. I’ve always been fascinated with Egyptian history, so I loved this stop.
We had dinner at Buddakan that night and it was very good. It has a very quiet, intimate atmosphere that was very romantic. We came straight from all of our sightseeing, so we were just wearing what we were wearing in these pictures. Under other circumstances it would have been fun to get dressed up for dinner, but that would have meant skipping some sightseeing, and for my first trip to New York, I just wasn’t willing to do that. Sorry fancy people all around us.
Saturday morning we went to Balthazar’s for brunch in SoHo. It was delicious, very casual. It was perfect for a Saturday morning. Say it with me, folks: eggs benedict and hot chocolate.
After that we went to Little Italy and there was a street fair. I bought a couple of things. And no, that scarf wasn’t one of them. That one was a gift from a friend who went to Paris.
We had lunch at Lombardi’s. It’s supposed to be the world’s greatest pizza. I have a newsflash for you: it’s not. Mine is better. As a pizza lover I had to try it, and as a pizza lover, I was disappointed. The slice we had by Wicked was better than this.
After lunch we took a ride on a sailboat around the harbor. It was very nice and relaxing. It was a beautiful day, and we got to see the city from a different view.
Near the launching point is the Irish Hunger Memorial Garden. It is so beautiful and peaceful there.
This is the backside of it. It just goes up to nowhere, but it’s stunning.
We also walked around a few of the neighborhoods. It was fascinating to see how each neighborhood had such a different feel and atmosphere. We went to a huge farmer’s market in Greenwich Village. I also ate a Gray’s Papaya hot dog. I’ve had better, but I tried it, right? I ate a lot of street vendor food, just because you have to. I tried one of everything. I did the hot dog, the pretzel, the pizza. It tastes like it does in all other large cities, which is not surprising.
At one point when we were waiting on a train in the subway, I nearly sat in a seat full of urine, but this nice lady stopped me. Thanks nice lady. You will never know how much I appreciated that!
We stayed at the W on Times Square, so I got to see that a few times a day.
That night we had dinner at Robert overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park. That’s the view from our table. The food was also good. Once again we were in our street clothes, but going back to the hotel to change would have meant missing something else.
Sunday morning we hit the Met. We only had an hour and a half, but I could have stayed all day. I bought a beautiful oil painting (not from the Met) outside that someday will get framed. Art students sit out there and sell their paintings to make some money. I chose a Central Park in the fall scene. Most of them were in the spring, but I went there in the fall, so that is what I wanted.
We went to a local market and bought some gourmet picnic lunch items for Central Park. This is Belvedere castle where they do the weather readings.
Adam was going to row me in a boat on the lake, but the line was really long, they only take cash, and we didn’t have time to go get cash, get back in line, and row. We had a plane to catch.
We picked a grassy spot and had a leisurely picnic. I could have stayed there all day too. It’s the thing that probably made me miss the kids the most. They would have loved running around and seeing everything at the park.
I wanted to eat soup from the Soup Nazi, but he was closed on Sunday.
We also went to Tiffany. We walked around, looked at what the was in the cases, and left. It’s just one of those places you have to go. I’m sure the moment I walked in the door they spotted me (and most of the people in there) as a tacky tourist who was there to have “The Experience,” but I didn’t want to look like a tacky tourist, so I didn’t take a picture out front.
We happened upon another street fair (we saw a ton of them) on our way back to the hotel, so we stopped for a crepe and some browsing. Look at all those people!
On our way out of town we hit the Shake Shack in Times Square and had a decent burger as our parting meal.
One thing I noticed immediately is that NYC smells like all other large cities around the world. There is food, car exhaust, urine and filth. That underlying stench of dirty streets is unmistakable, and universal. I smelled it in Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Athens, Rio and New York City.
We had a wonderful trip, and packed a lot into 4 days. I think I walked every inch of that city. We saw the best of people there. I know people talk about how rude New Yorkers are, but everyone I talked to was very nice. We had several people who went out of their way to be helpful and friendly. We’ll go back (well, Adam goes there frequently for work), and someday we’ll take the kids.