Monday, June 13, 2011

A Trip of a Lifetime to New York City

I just returned home from my trip of a lifetime to New York City with my sister, Skye.

We started planning last winter, and I couldn’t believe when June finally arrived and it was time for us to actually visit the Big Apple. We stayed for 5 nights near Times Square. We had a GREAT time!!

The trip was actually in honor of Skye’s 30th birthday which is at the end of June. NYC was somewhere that she’s always wanted to go. Tim and I went a couple of years ago, but there is so much to see and do I had no problem taking the trip again.

Day 1: June 3rd

We flew out at 9am, from Green Bay (15 minutes from my house). We flew from Green Bay to Chicago and then Chicago to Laguardia. We got to NYC 2:04 (eastern time).  IMG_0008Here we are at the airport, desperate to start taking fun vacation pictures, we couldn’t resist it!!

We took a cab to the hotel, which if you’ve ever been to NYC you know that this is an experience in and of itself!!

IMG_0015 After checking into the hotel, we decided to walk around a bit. We had dinner reservations 2.5 miles from the hotel. I conveniently planned the route to pass by the New York Public Library!!  IMG_0025Skye, was not all that excited about our first stop, which I still can’t understand, but she was a good trooper and stood by my side (or slightly behind me) as a drooled over and read all the “rare” book/collections tags and descriptions.IMG_0026 It is a beautiful place, I wish I lived there!! One thing I did not realize though was that the New York Public Library is not actually a circulating library but a resource library meaning you can’t check out books…. who knew? IMG_0040 Our next stop was grand central terminal. I read somewhere that 500,000 commuters travel through the grand central terminal each day. I’m not sure if this is true or not, but it would not surprise me in the least. IMG_0042

The restaurant that we ate at is called Serendipity3. IMG_0048Famous for their Frozen Hot Chocolate, we ordered it first!! It was all it was cracked up to be!! I especially loved the whipped topping – I’ve never had anything like it!!  IMG_0052 On our way back to the hotel we walked through Times Square. A modern marvel for sure. There are always a gajillion people there – it’s intense, overwhelming and somehow you just can’t get enough. IMG_0065 You feel like you could stand there for hours and still not see everything. IMG_0067

Day 2: June 4th

We bought tickets on a hop-on, hop-off bus tour service.

IMG_0072We had a 3 day pass – the first day we decided to do the downtown loop which included the Empire State Building, the Flat Iron Building (below) World Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Plaza and much more. IMG_0080

Because the Empire State Building was only a mile from the hotel we decided to pass it the first time around just in case we ran out of time (which we did). IMG_0075

Our first stop was the World Trade Center, where we took a person-to-person tour through the Tribute WTC. I cannot recommend this tour enough. Tim and I visited the sites 4 years ago, and while it was memorable just taking it all in, we didn’t always know what it was we were looking at – the tour not only changed that but brought 9/11 to light in a way that I didn’t really expect. IMG_0081

Our tour guides were George and Desiree. They not only walked us around the perimeter of the 16 acre lot known as the world trade center, but explained exactly what happened that day (much of which I was surprised I didn’t realize) and shared their own personal stories.

The person-to-person tours have 250 volunteers who lead tours, each one personally affected by the attacks on 9/11.

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Desiree worked in the south tower on the 101st floor. She was there that morning when the north tower was hit, and was in one of the last elevators that came down before the south tower was hit.

George’s brother was a Emergency Service Sergeant  that was last seen on the 20th floor in the South Tower. His brother’s remains were never found. 

If you are ever in NYC, I highly recommend taking the time to take one of these person-to-person tours (or a couple, each tour is unique depending on who your tour guide is). IMG_0104

After the tour we went to the Tribute Museum where we saw a number of humbling and tear-jerking memorabilia from that day. Above you will see a picture of a remaining piece of one of the airplanes, recovered from the rubble.

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This was a steel beam, recovered from the rubble.

IMG_0111This is gallery 4 of the museum and it is a room filled with pictures of those who lost their lives on that day.

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After the tour we got hotdogs from a street vendor. I don’t know if it was because we were hungry or not, but these were the BEST hotdogs I have ever eaten. I ate hotdogs one other time while we were in New York and it wasn’t quite as good, but this particular vendor did something amazing with his hot dogs!! Seriously, they were good.

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After our delicious lunch, we went shopping at Century 21 – a discount department store with all the BIG name designers sold at bottom dollar prices --- and yes folks, it’s the real-stuff! This store was a site to see in and of itself. For how large of a store it was, it was still crowded, the fitting room lines were 50-people long, with a dressing room with at LEAST 40 stalls! Skye and I both got a couple of things.

Our next stop was Battery Park, the southern most tip of Manhattan and where you catch the Ferry to see the Statue  of Liberty.

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This ball was part of a statue which resided in the plaza of the World Trade Center, it was recovered from the pile and moved here to Battery Park – battered and beaten it may be, but a memorial it has become.

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We took the Ferry out to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, but chose to not get off at either place. Still a very neat experience.

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Day 3: June 5th

We actually slept in on Sunday, and didn’t leave the hotel until 10am (or so). IMG_0154 We decided to take the downtown loop again, because there was a chance of rain and we didn’t want to take the chance of it raining while we were in Central Park.

IMG_0156 Our first stop was the Empire State Building. Skye was completely taken by the experience. She didn’t want to leave. I seriously think she could have stayed there all day. :)  IMG_0174 IMG_0176 The view is pretty amazing – this is a picture of Central ParkIMG_0170After the Empire State Building we went to eat lunch in So Ho at this Sushi restaurant that I had heard great reviews about. Maybe the food was a little too authentic for my taste, but I was not overly impressed.

IMG_0197 I was however impressed with some nearby buildings… I love the old feel and the character of the buildings in New York – at least the places where they haven’t modernized too much yet! IMG_0198

After lunch we did some shopping in So Ho, this proved to be the most stressful point of our time in NYC, as the crowds were pretty bad and the street vendors a little strange :)

That night we ate a fancy Italian Dinner at Brasso56, near Central Park – it was SUPER yummy!!! Seriously, worth the 1.5 mile walk from the hotel!!

Day 4: June 6th

Finally Central Park day arrived. Tim and I’s experience did not go well, when we visited 4 years ago, as I was cold and crabby that day and we had no idea where to go once we got there. Central park has over 56 miles worth of trails, so it’s a good idea to have a plan. IMG_0207

(This is a picture of our hotel’s lobby, kind of a neat lobby, so we took a picture).

We started our day taking the Uptown Loop around Central Park and Harlem, near the end of the tour we got off, ate lunch and walked through Central Park for a couple of hours.    IMG_0216 On our tour we passed the Drake Apartments, this is where John Lennon was shot and killed.

IMG_0220 This is one of the many beautiful cathedrals scattered across Manhattan. The name of this one escapes me.

IMG_0227 This is the first lake we saw, after we got into Central Park, we were on the 72nd street trail, but I can’t remember which lake this was.

IMG_0230 Eating a gyro and taking a picture – she’s so talented!

IMG_0238Central Park is beautifully landscaped and there are lots of beautiful places to take pictures…. so we did :)

IMG_0240The Bethesda Fountain – one of the largest in NYC measures 26 feet tall and 96 feet wide. IMG_0243 IMG_0244 

IMG_0245 Bethesda Terrace has two levels, here' we are on the lower level.  IMG_0251The famous “mall” this is what both Skye and I picture when picturing Central Park. Lots os artist willing to draw your picture for $5, performers and walkers. IMG_0252Such a surreal place, your in peaceful, quiet rural trees, with skyscrapers in the background… strange, but neat. 

IMG_0264 More pictures :)

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IMG_0280 All throughout the trip I texted pictures of me back to the kids – Treyton drew me a picture of himself on a rocket (I’m holding it in my hands), which I carried with me everywhere I went. I would take pictures with my rocket-man and send them back to him. Skye took a picture of me after saying “I might as well get a picture of you texting Treyton seeings as how you spend 1/4 of our trip doing it :)”

IMG_0282 Shakespeare Gardens – a floral garden dedicated to Shakespeare on the 300th anniversary of his death.

IMG_0290As you can imagine, we walked ALOT while we were in New York. I thought it would be harder, there were only a few times we needed a break – this was one of those times….

IMG_0300 Belvedere Castle

IMG_0306 Skye and I both really enjoyed our Central Park day, it was the most relaxing of all the days there.

IMG_0310 Skye liked this lightpost… it reminds me of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.IMG_0314

I on the other hand took a more macho approach and really enjoyed this statue – here I am demonstrating my appreciation. IMG_0316

Day 5: June 7th

Our last full day was spent mostly shopping (for souvenirs and clothing). We also stopped at the Rockefeller Plaza (a.k.a 30 rock) we had hoped to tour NBC Studios but didn’t realize we should have bought our tickets ahead of time.

IMG_0320 IMG_0319 Our last night there we saw the Broadway show Wicked based on the Wicked Witch of the east in the Wizard of Oz (before Dorothy came along) – I LOVED IT, as did Skye. It was fun to get dressed up and go. The show was incredible. I highly recommend it.

Day 6: June 8th

Flying home ----- all I can say is UGH!! Thank God our flights there were uneventful, but seriously, airlines stink!!

We flew to Chicago Ohare with no problems, but once we got to Chicago, we sat for an hour waiting for our flight to Green Bay. It was scheduled to depart at 4:52, at 4:45 they told us it was canceled! All of the passengers hustled down to customer service to get a new flight. After the first 3 people made it through the line, there were no other flights available to green bay for that day!! There was no way Skye and I were staying overnight in Chicago! They managed to find us a flight to Appleton (20 minutes from where I live), that night at 8:40. We took it.

We ate dinner at a Chili’s in the airport, read, read, read some more, walked around, read some more – at 7:00 I go to see which gate our flight will be leaving from and see that it was pushed back to 10:15!! A few minutes later it got pushed back to 10:40.

FINALLY, at 10:00, we were sitting waiting for the plane to come in (that we were going to board), and they pushed it back again. We boarded at 11:00pm, BUT we were informed due to some heavy storms they were going to need to reroute us which took some addition paperwork, which the captain stepped out to go take care of. 10 minutes later they inform us our normally 32 minute flight was going to take 1 hour and 38 minutes. They needed to refuel before we took off, because they didn’t have enough fuel to make that long of a flight.

Before we could take off, the pilot came back on and said – they just shut down all flights taking off going west, we are now rerouting going south, and then west….. okay…. At 11:15 we hit the runway, only to coast around, pull over and wait out the storm.

At a little after midnight we finally took off into one of the worst flights of my life. I praise God that they were able to take our original route which meant only 30 minutes or so airborne because I’m not sure my stomach (or Skye’s) could have taken much more than that!! It was the MOST turbulent airplane ride I have ever taken. Frightening to say the least!!

We got to Appleton around 1 in the morning, our men were there to greet us (as well as Skye’s daughter).

I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity, to take a vacation with Skye and to tour NYC again. I loved the entire experience (minus the flight home) and I couldn’t have done it without my man and his mom!! Thank you both for stepping up, watching the kids and taking care of everything back home. I love you both!! Thank you Skye for putting up with me the entire trip and not getting too moody or snappy with me, even when I deserved it :)

I hope to do it again someday!

2 comments:

greeneyedmom said...

Wow, you girls really had a well planned trip! I know my mom wants to go to NY next spring with my sisters and I when she turns 60, so that was really helpful and gave me some ideas. We would probably only do a long-3-day-weekend just.

Milk and Honey Mommy said...

Amber,

You and your sister totally "did NY." I'm sure you were tired by the time you arrived home (and the return flightsssssssssssssss) didn't help, but if you're going to visit anywhere, then you need to get out and see absolutely everything there is to see.

The NY Public Library would have been on my list too. Is that a homeschool thing or just something weird? I enjoyed "visiting" all of the places you went to through your pictures. The person-to-person tours sound so interesting. Even though you didn't make the NBC tour, finishing off the visit w/the play was nice.