Saturday, June 25, 2011

New York City: The Final Day!

Today was our last day of our little getaway, and it was so bittersweet waking up in the morning. We were sad to end our vacation, but happy to be flying back home to Am today! We missed him so, so much while we were away.

We packed up the rest of our stuff, trying to find a place for all our souvenirs we had purchased, and we each took a few minutes to look out the window and take in the sights one last time. I'll never forget our time with our oldest boy.  I hope he remembers the special alone time he had with us, and the experience of taking in the city at nearly 10 years old.

We had to leave for the airport around 9:30am but first we had a little reunion! Stephen's brother, Calhoun, lives in the area;  so he drove up to have breakfast with us at the hotel restaurant. It was so nice to chat with him over eggs, fruit and pastries. I think A misses him more than any of us (He'll always be Uncle Racoon to the boys). It was sad to say goodbye, but we will see him again hopefully in December!

Before we left the W, we hung out in The Living Room of the lobby for a few minutes to take some pictures. Isn't it pretty?

Earlier in our stay, I had consulted with the concierge and they booked us on a return trip to JFK using their car service. He was right on time, picking us up in a "luxury SUV". We hit a few traffic jams, but our driver was great about finding some side street in Manhattan, and then again in the outer boroughs, to get us to the airport on time.

Check in was surprisingly easy at JFK. Jetblue has it's own security line and terminal so there was absolutely NO ONE at check in or security. We breezed through and immediately grabbed some drinks and snacks at the food court. We browsed in Borders and the airport store, and A picked up a few small trinkets for everyone back home. Oh, and he bought himself ANOTHER souvenir. LOL
A Jetblue plane. :)

We had nearly two hours to kill, so A played on the netbook while Stephen and I took turns walking around the terminal a little bit.

Notice the Jamba Juice next to him? Yup, that's mine. I have an addiction!

Our flight home was rather uneventful. We watched a lot of TV (LOVE Jetblue's seat back TV consoles), took a few pictures and tried to take a nap.

Yes, my lips are chapped. I'm not used to the cold!!!!! What?!

The best part of the day? Walking into our home and seeing our favorite little toddler!! Am was so excited we were home as well, but I think he was most excited about seeing his big brother. We gave him all our gifts, talked to my parents about our wonderful trip and looked through all the pictures using the Wii. New York City: we miss you, but Orlando: it's good to be home!

Final Thoughts:
1.Staying in Hoboken was definitely the right choice for us. We felt safe and secure in our rooms, the views were amazing and it was just as convenient as staying in Manhattan. The rooms were quite large (hard to find in the city) and the staff was fantastic!

2.Eat at Shake Shack. Period

3.A day in Central Park is one of the best days I've ever had in the city. Take the time to really explore the park and all it has to offer. I wish we would have had even more time to do more exploring! Next time we'll be sure to take the boys to the zoo (I've been, but the boys haven't).

4.My love for Jetblue was reaffirmed on these flights. Wish I could take them everywhere!

5.You'll never be able to see and do everything, no matter how much you plan.

6. I'd pick Top of the Rock over the Empire State Building again, no contest. Lines are shorter and the views are better.

7.The American Museum of Natural History is BIG. Instead of spending our entire day here, we took the time to research beforehand what we really wanted to see and did those areas first. Also, the admission is pay what you wish. You don't have to pay the suggested what you are comfortable paying. We used the subway entrance, and there were no lines.

8.Next time, I won't rush A quite as much as I did this time. What I mean is, New Yorkers are statistically the fastest walkers in the US. I was constantly telling A to walk faster (except in Central Park, we were slow pokes here). I regret that now. I wish I would have slowed down and just let people complain that I was walking too slow.

9.I wish we would have had time for the Roosevelt Island Tram, Serendipity 3, South Street Seaport, Gray's Papaya, the High Line and more street food!! Next time!!!

10.New York City is kid friendly!!!! I promise! Enjoy!

Monday, June 13, 2011

New York City Trip Report: Day 3, Part 3

After our delicious dinner at Shake Shack, we walked a few blocks to the Path Station and we were off for Hoboken in no time. The train was crowded, but we snagged a few seats in the front car.
Back in Hoboken, it was still pretty early in the evening so we decided to take a stroll up to Carlo's Bakery. The boys had no interest in the TV show, but I had seen it a few times in the past. I figured while we were here, we might as well walk by the bakery from the show.

Downtown Hoboken is a really lovely town..if you are ever in the area, you should certainly stop by and see it for yourself! I wish we had more time to do some shopping or get a dessert at one of the little cafes, but we were just so tired from all the walking in the city. We headed a few short blocks back to our hotel, but decided to take a walk down to the pier to see the lights go on in the city. The views were spectacular...I'm so glad we took the time to walk down there.

We had a lot of fun out on the pier and took a lot of silly shots of either other with the camera.

When the sun had finally set and it was dark, we walked back to the hotel to pack up our stuff and watch a little TV before bed. I think we all pretty much fell asleep seconds after our heads hit the pillow!

Next up: Saying hello and goodbye to an Uncle, a happy reunion, and final thoughts!

Friday, June 10, 2011

New York City Trip Report: Day 3, Part 2

Stephen and I had seen the Statue of Liberty, up close and personal, on our honeymoon. It was a fantastic experience, but not something I was in a rush to do again. The lines are long;  it can take alllll day just to see her up close on the island.  We just didn't have that kind of time on this trip, but A still wanted to see the statue. We decided the easiest way to see Lady Liberty and have a little fun at the same time was by taking the Staten Island Ferry to Staten Island and back. The ferry gets very close to Liberty and it's FREE. Let me say it again. FREE. IN NEW YORK CITY. So, yeah, that's what we were going to do!

On our short walk from the subway to the ferry, we walked around Battery Park a little bit and checked out all the different artwork and statues. It was a really beautiful day...not too chilly, just a light wind. I could have spent all day people watching here. But, we finally made our way over the terminal and waited for the ferry. There is no security to wait through, no lines or anything like that. The ferry is so large, I would doubt it would ever get extremely full (maybe at rush hour). We waited for the masses to board the boat and then we climbed aboard. We found a whole bunch of seats on the lower level and sat next to an open window. The views were amazing.

We were asked to deboard at the terminal in Staten Island, and along with almost the ENTIRE group who travelled there, we exited and made our way back around to reenter the boat. It was quick and painless, and before long, we were headed back to Manhattan. We passed by Lady Liberty again, but A was more interested in playing his DSi. Apparently, it's enough to see her need to see her twice. LOL

Back on dry land, we took a quick restroom break (take advantage of the public restrooms when you see 'em in NYC...they are hard to come by) at the terminal and then found our subway back uptown. It was just outside the terminal, and no one was underground. Within minutes we were seated on a train to Madison Square.

Our destination: SHAKE SHACK. I've heard so much about this place, we just had to go on this vacation! It seemed like every celeb I follow on Twitter has tweeted about the place, and I read tons of good reviews about it. Shake Shack is located inside Madison Square park. It's an outdoor, permanent booth that sells burgers, shakes, fries, etc all year long, rain or shine...sunshine or snow. I've heard about the extremely long lines, so we were pretty prepared for a wait. A spotted a an outdoor table under a heat lamp (the sun was setting and it was getting chilly), so we snagged it quickly while Stephen waited in line. I'd say he was only in the line about 30 minutes....from start to finish.

I should have taken a pic of the was LOOOOOOONG.

We chatted a little bit with the family next to us while we waited. Turns out, they were from NJ but came into the city for their son's birthday. All he wanted was a Shake Shack burger and fries for his birthday! LOL

Our order was finally up and we chowed down!!!! A had the cheese fries and a chocolate shake. Stephen and I both ordered the Concrete Jungle (vanilla frozen custard, hot fudge, bananas, and peanut butter blended together..YUM) and a Shack Stack (crisp fried portobello mushroom burger on top of a muenster and cheddar cheese burger topped with lettuce, tomato and Shack Sauce). Let me just tell you what it was like biting into this burger. PURE HEAVEN. HEAVEN, I TELL YOU!!!

I'm so, so, so thankful we decided to make this our last dinner in NYC. It was delicious and certainly worth the price and time. After our yummy dinner, we walked around the park and the Flatiron District for awhile.

Recognize it??

Next up: A Cake Boss and a walk in the park.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

New York City Trip Report, Day 3 Part 1

I woke up super, super early this morning. The sun was just barely rising over the city and as I checked out the view from bed, I noticed a gigantic cruise ship was about to pass by on the river. It was pretty neat, and made me realize just how wide the river is and how humongous downtown Manhattan truly was!

Just as I was about to jump back into bed for a few more zzz's, I heard a faint noise out in the hallway. A quick check through the peephole revealed a young woman, dressed in a formal gown and no shoes. She was yelling on her cell phone, obviously crying and very angry about something! I listened for a few minutes (yes, I'm nosy) and I realized she was talking to her mother. The night before had been this woman's bachelorette party, and her sister had done something really, really bad. I have no idea what, but clearly the mother was taking the side of the sister. All of a sudden, the girl screams a bunch of obscenities into the phone and kinda goes a little nuts. I was torn between opening the door and a)Asking her to shut was only about 6am.  b)Asking her if she needed help or c)Telling her to be quiet and then calling security. It was a very bizarre scene. By this time, Stephen had also woken up and I filled him in on the "excitement" in the hallway. Just as I was about to phone down to the lobby, the girl's friend appeared in the hallway and took her back to her room. Thank goodness. I have no idea if the girl was having a mental breakdown or if she was just crazy.

We decided to let A sleep in a little this morning. Poor kid was exhausted and was sleeping through all the commotion. In the meantime, I did a little packing and watched some morning news. Once again, it was going to be sunny and pleasant...good thing because we once again had a lot of walking to do!

After a couple of hours, we finally got A up and around and we headed out the door to the Path station. We took our time today, and walked to the station via the waterfront park in front of our hotel. The train was pretty full this morning, but we only had a few stops on the train to go. At the 23rd St. station we disembarked and started walking towards Washington Square Park.

There were a few musicians in the park that morning, including a man playing a piano he wheeled into the Square. It was pretty cool, and we had a good time taking in the sights and sounds of the city. We exited the park and started walking towards Broadway, taking left or right detours to see some shops and NYU. We walked the streets of the Village and Soho for awhile, and this worked up a pretty good appetite. We hadn't had a street hot dog yet, so Stephen and I grabbed one each (with the "special sauce" of course) at a nearby cart. A, once again, opted for a giant soft pretzel instead. We sat on a stoop in Soho and ate our little lunch in the warm sun. My hot dog was super yummy, and as soon as we got home in Florida I ended up buying the "special sauce" at Publix (Sabratt Onion Sauce). haha

All along Broadway there are a ton of shops and restaurants to check out while you are in the city. We only went to a few, as A isn't quite into shopping yet (unless it's toys for him). We did spend a few minutes in the Scholastic Store where we purchased more Lego mini figures for A, a wooden subway train for Am and Blueberries for Sal for both kids. Am is a blueberry fiend so I just had to get it, plus the story and illustrations make it a must-have for any home library.  After leaving the store, we stopped in Pearl River Mart to browse through all the wonderful Asian goods. I believe we only purchased candy, but it was fun looking at all the cool fabrics, toys, housewares and clothing. A was especially intrigued with the swords.

By the time we hit Chinatown, A was super,duper crabby. I think all the walking was finally starting to get to him. I have no pictures of Chinatown for various reasons. One being no one was in the mood for pictures. Two, it was so incredibly crowded I would no way risk taking out my camera at this point. And three, unless you wanted to see wall to wall people, it wasn't very photo worthy. I would have loved to take some pictures of some of the storefronts, etc but A was not about to venture down some of the side streets. All he wanted to do was sit down, and to be honest, I didn't blame him. Luckily there is a McDonalds on just about every corner in NYC, so we spotted the one on Canal Street near where we were and headed in. Unfortunately, it was also incredibly crowded in here as well. Stephen bought some chicken nuggets and fries for everybody, while A and I found a quiet table on the top floor. It was a much needed break for all of us. I don't think I would have picked McDonalds, but it's A's favorite and he was so cranky, we decided it was better to make him happy than deal with the nastiness the rest of the day. It did do the trick (for the most part), so it was worth it in the end!

After our little pit stop, we quickly found the subway station and zoomed down to the southern tip of the island. We had a date to see the Statue of Liberty! This is a picture of of our subway station exit/entrance in Battery Park.

Next up, Lady Liberty and the best burger EVER.