I feel like it has been a minute since I've put together a travel post! We hadn't gone on a trip since October, and it was so nice to get out and go somewhere different! Brandon left late Monday night to go to California for work, and...Read More
Day 6 was another rough one. It seemed like we could only feel 100% every other day! We woke up early to go to the Museum of Natural History when it first opened, thinking we could avoid crowds, but we were wrong. Again. But I was so excited to be at the museum, since that is where Ben Stiller works in the movie Night at the Museum. That movie was a big deal at my house for a while! So we got in and started walking around, and my stomach was just hurting so bad. I don't know what was going on, but I was dying. Our tickets got us into one of the planetarium shows, so we went and watched a show about deep space, which was super cool, but also kind of blew our minds because space just goes on forever and ever and ever.
It felt better on my stomach to sit, so we'd walk around for a bit, then sit, then walk, then sit, but after being there for about an hour and a half, I couldn't do it anymore. So we ubered back to the hotel (because walking for 30 minutes probably would have killed me) and I fell asleep for about an hour. I felt a little better after we woke up, I actually was hungry instead of in pain, so we hurried and got on the subway to High Line Park, an old railroad that has been converted into a nice walking path with benches and plants all along it. We got a hot dog from a street cart on our way to the park, because it was something we had decided we had to do while we were there, and honestly it was so good haha. I don't know if we were starving or what, but it hit the spot. The park was really pretty! It is about a mile and a half long, and we just walked the whole thing through a few different neighborhoods. It's kind of strange, because the rail runs right in between apartment buildings, so we basically could see into people's windows, but the concept itself is really neat. And I think it's great that, rather than just letting the rail rot or tearing it down, they turned it into something useful!
After the park we went to meet up with a friend of mine that is living in New York while he trains for work. We have been friends for fifteen years, which is so crazy to think about! I love his wife, who sadly wasn't there, but he and Brandon get along really well too, so it's a great friendship! We were there for about two hours, then left to go watch the Yankees play the Red Sox! We got there in time for the game to start, but there was a huge line to get in (out of the ordinary according to everyone there) so by the time we actually got to our seats (with hot dogs, of course) it was halfway through the third inning! It was a fun game, but the Yankees were getting there butts kicked until the sixth inning when some magic happened and they finally scored. They got three runs, and then that was it. So we left halfway through the eighth inning so we could beat the rush, got some soft serve on our way out, and then went back to the hotel to pack up so we'd be ready in the morning!
Our flight home left at 6:55 am, which meant that we had to get up at 3:30 in order to catch the subway around four. And our plane actually left on time! No delays or cancellations or anything! I tried sleeping on the plane, but could never stay asleep for very long, so it was kind of a long flight. Once we landed in Salt Lake, we caught an uber home, then stopped at Walmart for some food (because i hadn't bought groceries since before Brandon went to California) then went to go pick up the cats from his uncle's house. They were so happy to see us! Sophie just sat on Brandon's shoulders and kept meowing, and Milo just wanted to be held. I love when they are happy to see us haha.
After we unpacked and had lunch, we laid down for a two hour nap, then woke up for a little bit, had dinner, and fell back asleep from eight until ten, then just went upstairs to bed and slept until eight the next morning. When we woke up at ten, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York was on TV, which was kind of fun, and then it actually was on again the next day, so we watched it and reminisced about all the things we had seen and done while we were there. I'm glad we went when it wasn't freezing cold, but I think I would really love to go in the winter; there's something so magical and romantic about it.
The whole vacation was so fun, but I have to say, it's nice to be home. While in DC we hit week 23 of our pregnancy! Which means, that between the time we found out were were pregnant around week 6, and baby's due date, we were officially halfway. And I have to say that I am pretty impressed at my body for putting up with everything I put it through that week in DC! We walked so much, didn't sleep super well, and were eating out two of our three meals a day (thankfully the idea of ice cream hasn't appealed to me at all in the last 20 weeks or else that's all I would have eaten there), but somehow I had enough energy to make it through the week! I figure, when you're on vacation, or at least when I'm on vacation, I want to do and see as much as possible, so rest and relaxation have to take a backseat! Brandon told his mom that as long as I was still going, he had no excuse to be tired and complaining, so we crushed that week in DC and did as much as we could!
And then came New York.
When we were originally planning the trip, we had thought about coming home on Thursday, but then decided to come home Saturday instead, giving us essentially two extra days there, and I'm so glad we did! It allowed us time to go to bed early, go back to the hotel and rest if necessary (which it was, for some reason), and not feel rushed to get through everything. I felt so good after the week in DC, but for some reason in New York, my body just quit on me and we had spent a lot more time sitting than we had in DC. I'm sure Brandon was grateful for it, in a way, because it allowed him some time to rest too. We still had so much fun, in fact, I would say we probably enjoyed New York more than DC, but it was nice to be able to relax a little more.
Moral of the story: next time I'm five months pregnant and decide to take a two week vacation, someone remind me to go to the beach.
Needless to say, we were feeling pretty lame after our lazy day before, but we woke up on day five feeling rested and ready to go! The first thing on our list was to go walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. We thought that by leaving around ten in the morning that we would beat some of the heat, but the lesson we learned most on this trip is that you never beat the heat and humidity. It always beats you. So yeah, it was super hot and muggy while we walked across the bridge, but we did it! And there weren't many people, so that was nice. We learned on our bus tour that one time, someone started a rumor that the bridge was going to collapse, so everyone on the bridge was panicking trying to run/drive off. Barnham circus was in town, so the mayor of New York had Barnham bring his elephants across the bridge to show people how sturdy it was. That's all I thought about the whole time we were crossing the brige!
Once we were in Brooklyn, we hopped on the subway to Coney Island. I was really glad that we had enough time to go out there, because I feel like it's kind of a big deal. It was a longish ride out there, but totally worth it. First thing we did was get a hot dog from Nathan's Original Hot Dog stand. They were so good. I don't know why hot dogs are so good, honestly, but they are. Then we walked down to the beach, along the pier, and even rode the ferris wheel! One of our most favorite vacations we have ever taken was when we drove through Charleston and Myrtle Beach and Southport/Wilmington, so I think being back at the beach made us both very happy. After the ferris wheel, we got some gelato and ate it on the boardwalk while Thomas Rhett's Die a Happy Man played in the background and I think that was probably my favorite moment of the whole trip. Being by the beach with Brandon is my favorite place to be. Also Disney World.
Anyway. We weren't at Coney Island for very long, but without swim attire, there wasn't much else to do after walking around and eating, so we got back on the subway and headed to Hoboken, New Jersey, home of Carlos' Bakery, the focal point of the show Cake Boss on TLC. We watched Cake Boss all the time when we were dating, so it was pretty much required that we go. Even though it was a Thursday afternoon, I honestly thought there would be a line of people waiting to go in, but it must have been our lucky day, because it took us longer to decide what we wanted than it did to be helped. Brandon got a cannoli, and I got an eclair and a chocolate covered strawberry. And they all were so good. We were walking back toward the water and passed a pizza joint, so we obviously had to stop for a giant slice. Day five was obviously our food tour day. I liked the pizza we'd had in New York, but that piece from Jersey was definitely my favorite. Also it was as big as my head, so that's fun.
We took our pizza down to a little park on the water and sat there enjoying the quiet. Compared to the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, the area we were in was practically dead, so it was actually really nice. After we finished our pizza and walked around for a bit, we went back to the hotel. We were going to a nicer restaurant for dinner, and after walking across the bridge and being at Coney Island, I wanted to shower before we went. When we got off the train from Jersey, we had to go up from the subway station and down the street to a different station, and while we were walking it just starting dumping rain. We stood underneath some covered scaffolding for a minute, thinking it would pass somewhat quickly, but it didn't. So we pulled out our umbrellas and walked quickly, but the umbrellas didn't stop the rain from soaking us! Our shoes, shirts, the backpack, everything was soaking went. But the rain had come on so quickly, it was actually sort of cool. By the time we got off the subway near our hotel, the rain had stopped and the blue skies were back!
The restaurant we ate at is called Max Brenner, yet another great suggestion by Alycia. The restaurant has real food, but essentially it's focus is chocolate. We were able to get right in, even though we showed up before our reservation, and holy crap I could eat there every single day of my life. We had what was called Really-Cheesy Really-Crunchy Mac & Cheese, and it was indeed both of those things. We also ordered a Pina Chocolada to share, pineapple, white chocolate, coconut, and orange juice. My favorite part though was the dessert. We had fondue with milk and dark chocolate, and caramel. Actually, my favorite part was probably when Brandon told me that he is starting to like dark chocolate more, and then he actually dipped his fruit in the dark chocolate right in front of my face. I have never been so proud. The entire meal was so good. I felt so fat and happy afterward!
From there, we went to the Empire State Building. Each time we were in the elevator, I just kept thinking about the part on Elf when we presses all the buttons and says "It's like a Christmas tree." I wanted to do it so badly. We tried to make it to the observation deck in time to watch the sunset, but we had the same idea as about a hundred other people, so we had to wait in line for just a little bit and missed the actual sunset. There was still a fair amount of light when we got out there, though, so we were able to see everything in the light, and then we stayed until it was dark. It was pretty cool! I enjoyed top of the rock more though, for the view, and also for the fact that there were so many people at the top of the Empire State Building that it was hard to move around and get a good view. It was a nice, romantic way to top off our day though! Day five is tied with day three as my favorite.
ps. if you click on the pictures, they get bigger! worth it for the panoramas.
Day 4 was a little rough after all the business the day before. We woke up early to make our way to Battery Park so we could catch the ferry out to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (also included on our CityPass, so that was nice). It was so much more humid that day than it had been the few days before, so even though we were down there around ten, it was already so hot. Then we got on the ferry to go to the Statue of Liberty, and I don't know if it's because I'm pregnant or what, but the rocking of the boat made me so sick. That usually doesn't bother me, but for some reason it did this time. So that combined with the heat just made for a not so fun fifteen minute boat ride out to the statue. Then, once we got out there, there were just so many people. I think we were both a little tired of constantly being surrounded by people, so we kind of just walked around the statue, took some pictures, then got on the ferry to go to Ellis Island.
After another sickly boat ride, though this one wasn't quite as bad as the first, we got to Ellis Island. It was cool to see where the immigrants went when they first got to America, but a lot of the main building was a museum, and we were still museumed out at this point. So we walked through everything really quickly, at some food while we were there, and then got back on the ferry to go to Battery Park.
I felt bad that we weren't able to fully enjoy/appreciate both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, but we were now twelve days into vacationing, and I think we were both just exhausted. We tried to figure out what to do next, because I had originally put the Brooklyn Bridge and Coney Island on our itinerary for that same day, but it was so humid and hot and I still didn't feel well from the boat ride, so we just decided to go back to the hotel for a bit and get out of the heat.
We got to the subway station and waited for a while, and then got told that there were delays on the line we were waiting for. We thought, well that's okay, we can wait a little longer. So we waited some more. The weirdest thing to me about the subway in New York is that all the stations are blistering hot. In DC, they were air conditioned, and we were in Paris and Boston in the winter, so who knows about them, but the stations in New York were kind of killer. Like, so much that it was refreshing to walk up the stairs and outside into the heat and humidity. We carried two 24 oz water bottles with us every day on the trip, but our hotel in New York wasn't like a standard hotel, so there was no ice maker on our floor; we didn't know if there was one for public use, so we had just been filling up the bottles with tap water and hoping it would stay relatively cold. Which it didn't. Anyway, so we waited down in the subway station and drank our warm water, trying to cool down, but then they announced again that there was a delay, and that we all would be better off catching a different line and connecting elsewhere.
At this point, I was dying from heat and sick, and Brandon was roasting too, so we decided to go to a different station. Even though it was so hot outside, it felt so much better than being down in the subway station! We stopped at a Starbucks on our way and Brandon got a frappacino and I just got a big ice water. I don't know if it was just because I hadn't had legitimately cold water in four days or what, but the ice water shocked my system and I felt so much better! I really had been trying so hard to drink enough water, because the doctor stressed before we let how important it was to keep up with it on vacation, but there's a chance I was slightly dehydrated, because warm water just never sounded appealing haha.
We still went back to the hotel, but we had decided that we wanted to go to the Met for a couple hours before it closed. With all the train delays, we got back to the hotel with thirty minutes to spare before we had to leave to walk to the museum, but we both fell asleep for about twenty minutes, and I think it was just enough of a nap to give us the boost we needed for the evening!
Two hours was definitely not enough time at the Met. I guess neither of us thought we would want to spend more time than that there, because of all the other museums we had been to, but there were so many different exhibits to see! I really enjoyed the Manus X Machina costume exhibit, but the Egyptian artifact exhibit was probably the coolest. There was just seriously so much in each exhibit, and the exhibits were all so different from what we had seen at the museums in DC. We definitely should have allowed for more time there.
After the Met, we went to Serendipity 3 for dinner. Serendipity 3 is the restaurant that is in the movie Serendipity, and also they have amazing frozen hot chocolate, so Brandon was sweet enough to take me there for dinner. By the time we finished there, it was around 8:00, and we were both still tired from that day, so we went back to the hotel for another early night.
My original version of this post got killed when chrome crashed for about half a second, so I'm hoping this round does the day justice still.
Day 3 was easily one of my top two favorite days of our whole trip. After a long, good night of sleep the night before, we woke up ready to take on the city! First, we headed to Rockefeller Center. We had purchased the CityPass, which included admission to the Top of the Rock. I was probably more excited about going to the top of the Rock than I was going to the top of the Empire State Building, because the view you get from the top of the rock is the view they show at the beginning of all the movies that are set in New York. It's kind of iconic, so I was pretty excited about it! Up there, you can see all of Central Park and downtown, but the Central Park view is the view I loved the most. I could have stayed up there forever. From there, we decided to go to the 9/11 Memorial, first stopping at Magnolia Bakery for some treats (a scone for me, muffin for Brandon).
Our CityPass also included admission to the 9/11 Museum, and I am so grateful that we had decided to go. The first thing we did when we went inside was head upstairs to watch two videos. The first video talked about the impact that 9/11 had on the U.S., the UK, and Pakistan. The second was a video of the events of 9/11, and George W. Bush and Condaleezza Rice's memories from the day. The videos were a good way to start of the tour; they really set the tone for what we were about to see. I was also glad that I had remembered to pack tissues.
Walking through the museum, I had a lot of the same feelings that I'd had at the Holocaust Museum, only stronger. I think it was because I remember that day in pretty vivid detail, which is interesting, because I don't remember much else about the fifth grade besides that day. I also have been alive to witness the after effects of that day, which makes my feelings about it that much stronger. We saw pieces of the twin towers that had been shred by the airplanes. We read names of those who lost their lives. We saw pictures of faces that were last seen that day. It was all just really heavy.
I know I wrote a lot about this in my DC posts, but walking through the museum and remembering 9/11 just made me so sad for how much hate there is in the world. In one of the videos, George W. Bush talked about how after the event, there was such strong unity among the people in our nation that it was both incredible and sad at the same time. It's sad to watch a nation crumble and struggle to keep each other up, but it's incredible to see what we can do for each other if we have enough love in our hearts. He also spoke about how after the event, New York asked New Jersey for anyone with a boat to come help evacuate people. They evacuate 500,000 people in nine hours, solely by boat. That's roughly 55,500 people per hour. I wrote this the first time I wrote the post and I'm writing it again now, but it makes me cry to think of the people that dropped everything to go help those in need. How selfless it was of them to go help thousands upon thousands of people in a time of crisis. The unity and compassion we felt across the country is something we should feel every day. We do feel it, every time a tragedy happens somewhere in our country or somewhere else in the world. We feel it each year on the anniversary of 9/11, as we recall and rewatch footage of the buildings burning and falling to the ground. I remember after 9/11 how high and proudly the American flag was flown from every house, every building, even cars. Everyone was a little nicer, a little more considerate, and a little more patriotic. A sad and incredible outcome from such an awful tragedy.
After our time in the museum, we went out to the reflecting pools that are the footprints of where the two buildings used to be. The memorial is so perfect; I can't describe the level of solemnity and peace that could be felt there. Reading the names around the pools, I couldn't imagine being outside the buildings, watching debris and people and then the buildings themselves fall onto the very places we stood, let alone being inside the building. Someone told me that the volunteers that work at the museum are family members of those that lost their lives on 9/11. The museum and the memorial are such a beautiful tribute to the those people; I like to think that the family volunteers feel a special, personal meaning when they are there, thinking about the loved one they lost.
I bought a magnet of the Survivor Tree, the one tree on the grounds that survived the damage. The tree is beautiful, but I bought the magnet because I think the tree represents so much more than just itself. Like the tree, our country survived the damage. We had to be well cared for and nursed back to health, but we're strong today. We grew stronger from the ashes. They can fly planes into our buildings. They can't commit act after act of terror and violence. But they can't break us. We're strong, and we're even stronger when we need to be, when we band together as not just individuals with differences, but individuals that understand what it means to be an American, and just how much that one similarity can strengthen us in the face of adversity.
Our visit to the museum and memorial set a sort of solemn undertone for the rest of the day, but I am so glad we decided to go on this day. I'm happy that I get to lump it in with all the other things we did on my favorite day.
After the museum, we went back to Times Square for lunch. Alycia goes to New York frequently, so she recommended that we go to Ellen's Stardust Diner. All the waiters and waitresses there are aspiring Broadway actors, so while they are working, they take turns singing, as they are doing their job! Our waitress sang Defying Gravity from Wicked, and it almost made me cry! It was super fun. The picture of me at the restaurant shows the booth behind me, that's where the waiters would stand and sing a lot of the time! And the food was incredible too. Brandon had mac and cheese, his choice food for the trip, and I had a huge burger, and we shared a chocolate milkshake that had fudge, brownie pieces, and Count Chocula cereal in it. It was incredible.
We had some time before our show that night, so we first went to Grand Central Station, just to see it (and it is indeed grand) and then to Washington Square park to see the mini Arc de Triomphe and just to relax for a bit. It was another not so humid day, so we found a bench in the shade and hung out until it was time to go back to Times Square for The Lion King! It was so so so good! Even though we already knew the story, the music, choreography, acting, and costumes (especially the costumes) made it that much better. The puppetry effects on the costumes were amazing. So much that during intermission, Brandon actually googled information about the costumes.
It was dark after the show, so on our way to the subway, we got to walk through a brightly lit, crowded Times Square. It was like the ultimate touristy end to a fantastic day.
Our second day in New York was sort of spontaneous, but not as busy as the day before. After we went back to our hotel the night before, we decided that a bus tour would be a great way to see more of New York in a shorter amount of time. So we bought tickets, and the next morning, headed to catch the bus at a decently early time.
Our hotel is just three blocks from the Met, one of the many places the bus stops, so we walked there, took the obligatory Gossip Girl on the steps of the Met picture, then got on the bus for the next few hours. The first bus we were on was a bus that toured the uptown area, so we saw more of Central Park, and just a bit more of the Upper East Side before the bus headed back to Times Square to it's first stop. We thought we were going to have to transfer busses in order to take the downtown tour, but there was so much traffic and nowhere for the bus to park, so the driver just kept going through the downtown loop! It was nice we didn't have to get off and switch. On the downtown loop, we saw Times Square, Madison Square Garden, Korea Town, Battery Park, the Financial District, SoHo, NoHo, Greenwich Village...basically, you name it, we saw it. It was a really good way to see everything! Honestly, I kept expecting each area to look different than the last, but most of the neighborhoods looked the same to me. The buildings all looked the same, with lots of stores and restaurants, so we wondered what exactly made each area different. Our tour guide kept pointing out where celebrities lived, so mostly we were wondering what made them choose one area over another.
We got our answer a little later, after we got off the bus back in Times Square and had some New York style pizza for lunch. When we went back to go catch the uptown bus so we could finish our tour, our tour guide from earlier was waiting in line to get on the next bus as a guide. We asked him our question about the neighborhoods, and his answer was basically, if you lived there, you'd be able to tell a difference, but pretty much the level of snootiness is what makes the neighborhoods different. So that was interesting.
We finished the uptown tour around 6:00 that evening, then walked back to the hotel to try and figure out what to do next. I think we both were still recovering from the week in DC, so we kind of just laid on the bed for a while trying to decide what to do for dinner, until finally around seven we decided to just go get Subway and bring it back to the hotel and watch The Bachelorette. I felt bad, wanting to just stay in for the night, but I was wiped out. We had hit it so hard in DC that I think it finally caught up to my five months pregnant self, and all I wanted to do was lay down for a few hours and not have to move. So that's what we did. Subway for dinner, and a treat from Dunkin Donuts for dessert, and I was asleep before the final rose ceremony. The show was on from 8-10, if that makes it any better...
We were both so excited to be in New York!! It felt like it had been forever since we went on a vacation by ourselves, but really it has only been since November. Still, we were excited to have some time to ourselves and explore a new city! We did ourselves the courtesy of sleeping in pretty much as late as we wanted to. We had a pedicab tour through Central Park scheduled for 11:30, so we didn't need to rush to be there. After breakfast, we walked the three blocks to Central Park, and explored before going to meet our tour guide. We found the famous Love Sculpture a few blocks away from where we were meeting our guide, so it was fun to see that as the official start to what we deemed our babymoon!
The pedicab tour was so awesome! After so much walking the week before, it was nice to be able to sit and still see everything. Our guide was hilarious, but took us to see all the best parts of the park. I feel like I have said this about everything on the trip so far, but the park is huge!! I knew it was big, but I didn't expect it to be that big! I felt like we got to see a ton of the park, and that, even though we had dedicated that entire first day to Central Park, we wouldn't have to do much walking later when we wanted to go back and see more.
I was wrong.
Our first stop after the tour were the rowboats. I was honestly probably looking forward to the rowboats more than I was any other part of our New York itinerary. I just think it is so romantic. And we would have found out right then, if we'd had enough cash. They don't take card, and while we had enough cash for the actual ride, we were like five bucks short of the deposit you have to put down before you go out on the boat. So we walked from the boathouse to the Plaza Hotel, because when you are sad about not being able to do something right when you had planned to do it, the best cure is food, obviously. We ate lunch at the Plaza Hall, and, I don't know, maybe I was starving, but all the things we ate were so good! And yes, all the things. We had this super thin crust pizza that you are supposed to roll up to eat, then we had eclairs, and then we each got our own crepe. And each thing was better than the previous.
We found an ATM in the food hall before leaving, so we snagged some cash and then made our way back to Central Park. We stopped at Central Park Zoo first, because it was on our way back to the boats. I was so excited, because I love the Madagascar movies and the animals are from Central Park Zoo, but guess what? They didn't have a lion, a zebra, a giraffe, or a hippo. The whole movie is a lie!! I was so disappointed. I mean, the zoo was still great, but without Alex and Marty there, it just seemed empty. Talk about crushing a childhood dream. Or a teenagehood dream. Whatever.
Central Park redeemed itself with those rowboats though, let me tell you. We had an hour out on the lake, and the view of the park around us and the city behind the trees was amazing, but the guy rowing the boat was the best view of all. Not to get mushy, maybe it's the hormones from the baby, but man did he look hunky rowing the boat. It made having to walk all the way to the Plaza for cash totally worth it. And also he put up with me spontaneously singing "How Does She Know" from Enchanted, because they sing that song around the fountain we were next to while on the lake.
Our hour was up all too soon, so we made our way to the pond where you can rent tiny sail boats and watch them float around the water. If you have seen Stuart Little 2, then you'll maybe know the pond! Then we walked through what is called The Mall (just a cute little avenue of trees in the park), and that concluded our time in Central Park! It was perfect. It was a warm day, but not quite as humid as DC had been, so it was really nice!
We walked to the Hell's Kitchen area to find a place to eat, and found a place with some delicious sweet potato fries (my favorite thing as of the last few months). Then we walked to Holey Cream, a suggestion given to us by a family friend. They make donut ice cream sandwiches. DONUT ICE CREAM SANDWICHES, PEOPLE. We got to choose what kind of ice cream we wanted, what flavor of sauce for the top of the donut, and then what topping we wanted on top of the donut too. In order to eat the whole thing I would have had to starve myself for four days beforehand, but we ate as much as we could! It was delicious.
When we got back to the hotel, Brandon told me that we had walked eight and a half miles that day. For some reason, I thought that being in Central Park all day would have limited our walking, but it didn't. Needless to say, we slept very well that night.