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Belles in the Big Apple

Anna's first NYC taxi ride- "Where's my Zofran?"
This was my third trip to New York, but the first one where I actually had money to do things without worrying about it. And the first where I had a Selfie Stick. {Say what you will, the thing was a hit} Every trip has been a little different and all have been fun! The first two trips, we hit some awesome clubs and saw Broadway plays, even got our hair done thanks to a sales rep on the street. This time was more low key but New York will never disappoint. The first 2 New York visits I made were both in college and the second time we even ate McDonald's to save money (gasp!). I wish I had blogged about those so I could remember all the places we saw and the things we did! This time, I really enjoyed getting to dine at good restaurants and not worrying about how much I was spending. After all, sn't that what vacation                                                                   is all about?

Instead of a full count of everything we did, I thought I would post the highlights of places we visited, but apparently, I talk a lot and totally over-share so my short re-count happens to be a full description. Enjoy this lengthy post, my friends.

















We arrived around 2 p.m. and after checking in, headed to the financial district to see the World Trade Center Memorial and Museum. I had purchased a groupon for 2 tickets to the museum for $16 but after learning entrance was free after 5pm on Tuesdays, I cancelled the groupon. Big mistake (Touche, Jan!). We waited in a freezing cold like for 1.5 hours just to get a ticket to come back at 6:30pm. The museum was totally worth the wait. It was amazing! They built it around the foundation of the original towers and every detail is so intentional, you can't help but stare in awe. You should probably get a ticket ahead of time as to not wait.


Wonton crisps at Spice Kitchen
That night, we had reservations at the Spice Kitchen, a restaurant with an Asian flare in West Village. We successfully navigated the subway and arrived a little early for our reservations so we had a drink at the bar. The vibe was very NYC and the techno music was pumping. We were seated and they brought out some wonton crisps and tomato jam.

 Delish! Anna ordered chicken and I ordered fish. I can't remember exactly what kinds. The food comes as it is prepared so the chicken came and we shared it. Fifteen minutes later, we were full, but then the fish came. So, naturally, we ate it too. We decided it would be really awkward to be on a date and have food arrive 20 minutes apart. Lesson learned- grab an appetizer and one meal to share for the rest of the trip. Finally, a night cap at ARA wine bar and I went with none other than a Manhattan... when in Rome...


Morning run view
Wednesday (New Year's Eve) was the only day we didn't have every minute scheduled. I woke up early for a {very cold} run. I had wonderful visions of me running through Central Park like a local, stopping in for post-run coffee to take to Anna while we got ready for the day, the city buzzing around me. That did not happen. I ran down 5th avenue because it eventually ends in Central Park. I was prepared for a 4 mile run but after stopping and starting at each intersection and constantly checking my iphone GPS to make sure I was on the right track, I decided that, even if I got to Central Park (which at this rate, would be an hour from now), I would probably get lost on a path that isn't on my GPS, so I turned around and headed back to the hotel. I did learn that 5th avenue divides the city so on one side you have the "East" streets and the "West" streets are on the other side of 5th. A realization that truly helped me navigate the city the rest of the trip! It's the little things, people. I had gotten about 2 miles in and was disappointed that my dreams of an early morning run through the city had been shot. I didn't try again the whole week. Exercise-wise, that was fine since we walked so much, but us runners are a crazy bunch and I wanted to see the city to the beat of my feet on the pavement.

The rest of our day started off with a quick glance inside the Plaza hotel where I asked a nanny to take our photo but she defaulted to her boss because she was only there for the children. Ahh, sorry. We found a quick breakfast spot and stopped in to the Green Cafe. I had an omelet, English muffin and coffee for $6-- pretty cheap by NYC standards. Then it was time for the Sex and the City tour of the city. I am not a huge Sex and the City fan...it's a bit...ahem, risque...for me, but the tour was really fun! Not for the meek though since the first stop was "Pleasure Chest." The rest of the tour was great; from Carrie Bradshaw's Brownstone and Magnolia Bakery to Cosmo's at O'neills, I would highly recommend starting any vacation in NYC with a tour! It gives you the chance to bookmark things you may like to come back to later. The first time I was in NYC, our tour was led by Alex's mom and she should probably do that for a living. We literally saw everything; including underground shopping on Canal street. Without a tour, it is just such a big place that it's hard to know where to start.  The Sex and the City tour lasted from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and we enjoyed every minute of it! After the tour, we decided to go to Broadway and get tickets for a show the next day at the discounted TKTS booth. Hopstop, the subway app we had been using, told us to grab a train towards Rockaway Park to Broadway junction. 45 minutes later, we realized we had gone way too far. Thankfully, I spoke Spanish with my new subway friend, Maria and she helped us get back to Time's Square. Te amo, Maria! 

 

Cosmos with Michelle from Australia
and Charlotte from Scotland.

 
We were hungry and tired of the subway, maybe a little scared as well (I was, anyway...Anna handled it quite nicely.) Dinner was a shake shack because it was quick, on the way, and we needed a beer. Kidding, it was actually on Anna's list of to-do's, the beer was just a bonus. Delicious burger! I didn't do Shack-sauce because he said it was mayonnaise-based so I can't vouch for that but you should try it! I really wanted to stand in the cold to see the ball drop but we had a long and busy day and Anna wasn't feeling it so we didn't.  I mean, sure people travel all over the world to see the ball that I was merely 2 blocks away from. No big deal. She was ready for bed and I wasn't so I convinced her to take a cab to Serendipity where we could eat frozen hot chocolate and then call it a night. It was closed, so we walked back home. On the way, I slipped on ice in the middle of an intersection and landed on all fours. I mean, I'm from Alabama, why is there ice on the road? A nice man in a black car that was parked at the intersection, along with many other black cars and cabs, rolled down his window to ask if I was ok. I laughingly said yes and scurried to the sidewalk. Total embarrassment. Then, I was ready for 2015;)

Thursday we ate breakfast at Sarabeth's. There
are a few and we made reservations before we ever got to NYC so we couldn't have known there were 2 closer to us. But closer just means a matter of 2 miles so all in all, it didn't matter. Our 9 am reservation was perfect and we beat the crowd. Anna had eggs Benedict and I had a Spinach and goat cheese omelet with a pumpkin muffin on the side. Both were wonderful choices! Six cups of warm coffee later (for me anyway), we headed to Central Park to stroll our way back into the city.



Without a GPS we likely wouldn't have survived the trip in general. We got to see the boat house and other Central Park landmarks before making it to the Plaza hotel. where we continued to walk around that area and see all the shops NYC has to offer. The window decorations are so impressive! We stood in line for about an hour for Broadway tickets at the TKTS booth and got 2 tickets for Motown the Musical for half price! We had 3rd row seats and only paid $90 each. We had a hard time deciding between Motown and Jersey Boys but, my goodness, I don't know how anything could be more impressive than Motown the Musical! It was great, even down to the 8 year old boy playing Michael Jackson like he was born to do it! The TKTS booth releases names of shows that will be available that night at  3pm. Thanks to the advice of one of the ticket salespersons, I downloaded the app so I could see them ahead of time. (He overheard me talking and offered his advice-who said New Yorkers were rude?!)  After we got tickets,
Sushi Samba
we had a late lunch/early dinner back in West Village at Sushi Samba because it was one of the places listed on the Sex and the City Tour. We shared 2 rolls of sushi and a chicken meal that I can't really remember the name of.

Then, back to Broadway for the show. Seriously, see the show if you can! After the show, we met up with Dan and Gene, one of his roommates, for the last half of the Bama game. Roll Tide anyway.


Friday was an early train to Clinton Street Bakery. They don't take reservations, so you should probably go by, put your name down, then come back later. We waited only an hour but as we were seated, the wait was increasing to 2-3 hours! During our wait, we had coffee at  Wafles and Dinges because it was down the street. Their food looked good too, for a faster, sweeter waffles dipped in chocolate kind of breakfast. We shared an omelette and blueberry pancakes because we both wanted some protein and some pancakes. Good idea too! I never get pancakes at breakfast because it's just too much calorie and sugar wise. I would like to be able to function later in the day. Anyway, these were, hands-down, the BEST pancakes I have ever eaten and I'm willing to bet, they were the best that I will ever eat. So, so, so good!





Hundred Acre
After breakfast, we took a Subway to the Financial District where we bought tickets to see the Statue of Liberty by boat. Apparently, to go to the actual statue, you need to buy tickets a month ahead of time and still wait in a 3 hour line (this time of the year, anyway). So, true to our trip, we got in line with our tickets at 1pm, just as they were announcing that the next tour would be at 2:30pm. So, we waited until we finally got to see Lady Liberty herself. We warmed up at Starbucks and then headed back to the West Village (we liked to eat there apparently) to Hundred Acre. Dan had mentioned a place called the Little Prince, a French restaurant on Prince street, and I initially made reservations there, but after looking around, I found Hundred Acre and opted for that one. It was elegant southern, so I had shrimp and grits and Anna had chicken with corn bread dumplings. Our appetizer was pimento and cheese, which, due to mayonnaise, I typically don't eat. However, they served this with a couple of pieces of bread and then vegetables; it was delicious! We had such wonderful food, the whole time!
Could we get any further away?

We were feeling classy 
until the bag broke...






























Saturday morning we ate more than we had eaten the whole trip. There's something about the city, maybe walking, maybe so much to do, but we rarely felt hungry. We even joked that if we were back at home we would have been so hangry after 6 hours of no food, but for some reason, we didn't feel hungry at all! We walked so much that after being on vacation and eating pancakes, I actually lost weight! {Maybe I should move there, after all}. Saturday started with an orange croissant with pistaccio creme for me and a cream cheese filled one for Anna at the Paris Baguette company; mostly because we saw it and didn't know what else was close. Our hotel graciously held our luggage so we could explore after check out. We walked around and stumbled upon another Magnolia Bakery so we stopped in and decided on a mini blueberry cheesecake to share. Do I even need to tell you that it was amazing? Nah, you get it. Then, we walked (in the SNOW! that kind of turned into rain) to the Sprinkles ATM machine but it wasn't loaded yet so we found a pizza spot that a police officer recommended called Ray's. I had a veggie slice and Anna had a cheese slice. Her's was way better. Don't try to get all fancy with New York pizza, just eat some cheese on that pizza pie! Then, back to the ATM. We decided on strawberry and vanilla. Both were really good, but we agreed the cake part tastes like banana bread and they are really just ok; maybe it's the ATM that keeps people coming back for more. We went back to the hotel to gather our things and catch a cab to the airport. A man in a black car asked if we wanted a cab, we said yes and he ushered us in. Later. we found out "black cars" have a flat rate and for the airport it's $45. No big deal, but when he first told us "flat rate" we kind of panicked; $45 is pretty much what a cab costs too though, and it was actually a lot nicer of a ride! A black car ride and a plane ride later, we were back in the South.

   





                                   
What are your must-dos in New York City?!



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