Monday, January 16, 2012

New York City: 10-14 December 2011

Last month my friend T. and I traveled to NYC for a little post-semester girl's trip. We had both been to the city before, so this trip was a little different for us in regards to "things to do."

First of all, neither of us felt really pressured to see x-amount of things on each day. The best part for me (and later T. confessed for her) was that she planned most of the trip. If you know me, either personally or just through this blog, you know I am a huge planner. I have been known to plan vacations over six months in advance, however, this one just wasn't the case. I think T. finally came up with our basic itinerary a week before, and let me say -- it was perfect.

We both flew in to JFK on a Saturday and planned to stay at our mutual friend's place in Brooklyn. I took a lengthy cat nap on a futon awaiting T.'s arrival, and once we were all settled at P.'s place, we planned to walk to the city via the Brooklyn Bridge. First, however, we wanted to get some grub from Grimaldi's. Our friend warned us that there would be a huge line, but we refused to believe..until we saw. And it was ridiculous. So a quick search lead us to Front Street.

Some fuel in our body and time to make the crossing. I'm glad for our small food delays, because it really ended up being the perfect time to cross the bridge.

I can only imagine these wedding photos turned out beautifully!

We headed toward the Guggenheim to partake in their pay-what-you-wish Saturdays. I had only been to the Gugg once before and absolutely loved it. T. had a different experience, so I think it really just depends on which artist is on exhibit when you visit. Maurizio Cattelan was featured this time and the way he presented was by showing a cataloged history of his works in mobile fashion hanging by rope, metal wires, pipes and rods from the ceiling. Waiting an hour in line and paying $2 was worth it. T. and I spent quite some time rounding the gallery and looking at each piece of art from a different angle from the one before..sometimes the view of one piece had been obscured until the fourth level! Awesome and a lot of fun.

Our plans afterward were for a dance party at Home Sweet Home, but we arrived a tad (okay, way) too early and instead encountered some strange people and even stranger happenings so we skedaddled back on a train toward Brooklyn for some R&R and to make plans for the night.

One of P.'s roommates recommended Pearl's Social & Billy Club which is walking distance from the apartment we were staying. After exhausting her Yelp searching, T. and I agreed this was the best place for us that night. It had a very relaxed atmosphere, the entire place being lit by twinkle white lights and candles. Oh, and they served their beverages in Mason jars. What more could I hope for?

The next morning we filled our starving stomachs (remember, our only meal was the two slices of pizza from around 2pm the day before) by way of a terrific brunch with P. at Jimmy's Diner. Yummm (and great prices!). As a bonus, homemade apple-cinnamon doughnuts. Yum yum yum. We parted ways with P. and lugged our suitcases and all to our next destination in Park Slope.

Have you heard of It's a great way to find a place to stay in a city. J. and I had been wanting to use it for awhile, so when T. suggested it, I hopped right on board. We found a cute apartment in a trendy part of Brooklyn, owned by a nice lady with a room to spare. Hustling and bustling, we made it to her place just in time (okay, so we were a little late for our appointed arrival time, so what) and got settled in and showered. After shopping at a local bagel shop for the next morning's breakfast, we were set to head into the city.

En route to the library, we stopped in Times Square for people watching and to check out Broadway discount tickets. Not particularly drawn to any of the shows that weren't sold out yet, we took some photos and were on our merry way.

I had never been to the main building of New York Public Library before, so let me say -- it is awe.some.

T. and I were meeting her old college roommate E., who traveled from NJ to spend the day with us!

One of the best things NYPL had going on during our visit was an exhibition called Celebrating 100 Years which showcased inspirational items from the last 100-years. I managed to take a very sneaky photo of the original Winnie the Pooh, etc. stuffed animals owned by Christopher Milne, the boy who inspired his father's stories.

Can you imagine a little boy playing with these toys a century ago? Awesome. Other neat things were the original Audobon drawings, an original Gutenberg Bible, and an original hand-written score by Beethoven. We spent a fair amount of time here and then headed back outside to attend Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. What a gorgeous place to worship!

By this time we were starving, so E. suggested one of her favorites, Cara Mia, which is in the theatre district. MmmMmm! I had some delicious Eggplant Parmesan that really hit the spot.

We walked over to the Rockefeller Center to watch ice skaters and take photos in front of this magnificent tree. I don't know why, but I never thought about whether it was real or fake until I was standing in front of it and was amazed to find out it's real. WHAT! Crazy. While there we witnessed a couple getting engaged (*tear*) and got some crucial info from the Rock people about The Today Show airing the next morning.

Afterward, we spent a good amount of time window shopping. I never realized it could be so fun, but the stores in NYC really put a lot of time/effort/money into creating beautiful displays. So much creativity! Let it be known that this was also the night that I discovered Legoland. Wow. This is one of my favorite displays, made completely from paper, at Bergdorf Goodman:

Eventually we had to part ways with E., so T. and I headed back to Park Slope. We stopped at a Duane Reade to gather important supplies for our next morning. T. and I planned to wake up at 5:00am, posters in tow, to arrive at The Rock before the sun even rose. We stayed up late working on our posters. The next day would be the most tiring...but also one of my personal favorite days we had.

Early morning breakfast

We made it and it's still dark out AND there aren't any people but the two of us!

Still dark out, but on set!

Al, aka Paddington, making his rounds.. and then he made it to us! And stopped. So, basically, T. and I were on the Today Show!!! WHAT!! I know, it was amazing. We were both texting our moms, so T.'s mom was able to record it on DVR while mine just snapped photos of the TV at the time. It was pretty awesome.

Do you see us?

Sigh. (:

We are high from our 15-seconds of fame! (Who said it had to be 15-minutes?)

Beautiful Scarlett being interviewed by Matt Lauer

Our last photos with our signs before they made it to their final destination in the trash can:

Whew, all that fun and it is only 8:30! We refueled with some Starbucks, internetted and people watched, then headed to our favorite hangout spot: the NYPL.

The Reading Room

Apparently one of the most amazing scenes in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Imagine that T. is Audrey Hepburn.

We headed back over to Rockefeller Center so I could play in Legoland. Fun!

I created a college version of my husband and a professional version of me, American Gothic style

T. and I wandered into a store that was having a fur coat sale. Lookee here:

Yup, you read that price tag right. It disgusts me, but I won't get into socioeconomic issues right now.

We also saw Al Roker again! This time he was wearing a red hat and blue coat:

We had plans to meet my friend B. who was also vacationing in NYC as a graduation present. She is now Master B. -- congratulations! Her husband got sick the first night in town, so she joined us for the rest of the day. It was fun to unexpectedly spend time with her in a different city than Tampa!

We went to FAO Schwarz and I was again enamored with Legoland beauty. Not that the builders had to try hard when modeling after such a hardcore hunkorama. Mrow. (Don't worry JP, he kept his Lego hands off of me.)

B. and a quintessential NYC pic:

Next, a stroll through Central Park

T. showed me how to pose correctly:

And we still laughed even after someone dishonestly tried to get us to give him money for a charity:

Later we went to SoHo, but I don't even want to talk about that.


T. and I parted ways with B. with plans to meet in the morning for ice skating. We headed back to Park Slope so we could get ready for Monday night trivia at Alligator Lounge. Another one of T.'s college roommates, R., was going to meet us -- she also drove from NJ!

We had a great time at trivia (free pizza!) even though we played terribly. I am sorry but I really just do not know that much about The Muppet Show. J., a mutual friend of ours that hails originally from Florida, met us at trivia and brought a few of his friends that were helpful but didn't change the end results. (Actually by default I think we came in third because all of the other teams left before collecting the prize.)

When R. left, J. took us all around Brooklyn to several bars so we could dance our hearts out (and stand awkwardly in others). (One of the places happened to be a really indie-hipster bar that P. took JP & I to a few years ago.) These are the awkward (and fun) photos that ensued after our dancing:

At this point, T. and I had been awake for about 18 hours so it was time to make it back to our cozy apartment in Park Slope. I hope we didn't wake our roommate.

The next morning called for ice skating and a plane ride for T. We hurried, packed our things, grabbed a macaron (different from macaroon, I was taught) and made our way to B. & M.'s hotel to drop our stuff. The four of us met Dr. B. (yet another mutual friend originally from the Sunshine State!) at Wollman Rink for some good old fashioned fun. I think it's safe to say we all had a blast!

Always takes some getting used to at first...

T. is cruising around

Dr. B. & T. (:

Dr. B & Me!

Just like old times at 7th grade birthday parties

After ice skating, we headed back to M. & B.'s hotel to collect our luggage. On the way, funny enough, someone I went to college with at USF ran into me! I was walking with the group on the sidewalk, and I saw someone out of the corner of my eye bending over saying, "Amber?" Ha! Apparently he saw a photo of B. and I in Central Park on Facebook from the day before and he recognized B.'s jacket. He works at an architecture firm on the street that we were walking. What are the odds?

Unfortunately, it is at this point in the trip that T. had to jet home. She was my personal travel agent, navigator, and Knower of the Train. Let's all give her a moment of silence.

Happily, though, I got to spend some personal time with Dr. B.! We took a taxi (first NYC cab ride ever!) to lunch ((Dr. B. if you are reading this, will you comment with the name of the restaurant?)). It was a spectacular vegetarian heaven. Afterward, we met up with M. and B. at The Met for some art viewing. This was one of my favorite pieces (of the items we looked at, because of course, there was so much!):

As Yet Untitled -- you can (and should) read more about it by clicking here.

We said our goodbyes and I traveled back to the Upper West Side with Dr. B. I was very excited to see Jack again!

Since I completely lacked to take any more photos past this point, the rest of my visit included the following:

- park walking
- final exam taking
- food coma inducing
- Gossip Girl watching
- early breakfast eating
- Columbia campus touring
- more Gossip Girl watching
- very sadly leaving

What a terrific trip! I had so much fun. I think for my future city-vacationing experiences, I will take note of how T. planned a lot of this trip and I will also make sure to make the visit occur over a maximum of five days (more than that and I start getting antsy wanting to see trees, touch grass, be around less people).

[Thanks to T. for taking a great majority of these photos.. I also took the liberty to share some public FB photos that are originally owned by B. and E.]

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