12.11.2012

New York City: Day 1

First a little background. . . actually, I'm going to go with the long version.

Last month, I opened my Travelzoo Weekly Top20 email and found roundtrip tickets from Denver to NYC for $122. Roundtrip for $122? You can't pass up on a deal like that. At least I couldn't. I pulled up my calendar and found this perfect week between Thanksgiving and December with relatively few activities. It also happened to be the week after Steve's Mexico trip. That meant Steve would have a hard time disputing my plan, and I would certainly be ready for a break of my own. 

I immediately called my friend, Heidi, and asked her if she was up for being tour guide. (She took Angela and some other friends on a NYC trip last year, but the timing wasn't right for me to go with them.) Heidi is completely smitten by New York City and gets a twinkle in her eye whenever she talks about it. And she loved the idea of seeing the lights and Christmas decorations. As soon as I got the go-ahead from her, I texted all of our Learning Circle friends to see who could pull it off. 

And so began a whole flurry of text messages that went back and forth amongst everyone: 

Janelle: Last time I was in New York I was a very conservative 18 year old that broke out of her shell and got a belly button ring. Would hate to see what would happen at 30. 
Janelle: One of you can get a belly button ring in my memory.
Sherry: Not it :)
Me: Not it. . . HEIDI!
Heidi: If I could find my belly button I might consider it. . . 

I called Steve and told him I was planning a trip to New York City. 
"When?" he asked. 
"The last week in November." 
"I can't go that week," he responded. 
"Yeah, I know." I told him, "You aren't really invited." 

And that was that. I didn't talk to him again until later that night. He walked in our bedroom right as I was booking my ticket. "You seem kind of disinterested in what I'm doing here. Aren't you going to say anything?" I questioned. 
"No, I just think you're crazy." 

(Steve took Derrick on a trip to New York City after he graduated from high school, so Steve had already been to NYC without me.)

That night, three of us (me, Heidi, and Sherry, our only taker to join us for the trip) went online to book our tickets. Heidi decided she couldn't leave on Monday to drive to Denver and purchased a different flight out of Salt Lake City on Tuesday. Sherry and I tried over and over again to get those $122 tickets, but kept striking out. After going through the whole checkout process with Spirit Airlines, Kayak.com, and Travelocity.com, all three sites told us that discounted price was no longer available. 

By then, we had already made significant arrangements to be able to go. Sherry's good husband had agreed to take three days off work to watch their kids. And Sherry had already found subs for all eight of her classes at Gold's Gym. The real miracle was finding a week where three moms could get away with leaving their twelve kids. So we coughed up the extra hundred and fifty bucks and bought regular-priced tickets out of Salt Lake City. 

Heidi started the painstakingly difficult task of finding a good hotel. And then began another string of text messages and emails back and forth between the three of us to plan our trip. Double decker bus? Where to eat in China Town? Mary Poppins or Newsies? What about the Rockettes Christmas show? I told them I loved the idea of not being the one to plan this trip. My only request was to go see the Jimmy Fallon Show

Heidi did some serious map plotting and subway route planning on a laminated map. She booked tickets for the 9/11 Memorial and made an extensive list of places we were going to visit. 

The Sunday before our trip, I came down with the pukes and was confined to my bedroom and bathroom. On Monday, I was still throwing up. Walking downstairs just about wiped me out. I was nervous about being too sick for NYC and asked Steve if I was going to be able to handle it. He looked around the kitchen table at the loud kids surrounding me. "You're better off going and sitting in a hotel room than staying here with these kids!" 

Heidi told me she wasn't fully excited about our trip until we were driving to the airport because she was worried I was going to bail. I never seriously considered canceling, but I certainly didn't get everything done before my trip that I intended to. I didn't even pack my bags until Tuesday morning. And then I took a lot of medicine and crossed my fingers that I was going to survive. 

At the airport, we saw a whole crowd of green, green missionaries straight from the MTC. Heidi thought it was great that they were on our flight, surely we could count on arriving safely. But her excitement dissipated as soon as we realized that she was the lucky winner, seated right next to the singing missionary. I tried to slide some headphones across the aisle to her, but it was too late. (And Heidi is too kind.) She endured 20 (actually more like 320) questions on the plane. Seriously. I learned more about her by eavesdropping on their conversation than I have in the last five years. I think Heidi answered every single one of his questions, except for when that Elder asked her how much she weighed. She later decided she probably should have explained to him that's not an appropriate question to ask a woman. I suppose he'll learn a few things on his mission. . . 

We landed in Dallas and walked to our gate, where we were told that our connecting flight had already been delayed and was likely to be delayed again. The woman told us to hurry over to another gate and try to get on an earlier flight. We were on a tight schedule and needed (in a first world problem sort of way) to get to New York City to eat dinner at Grimaldi's and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge at night. It was important enough that Sherry and Heidi were willing to take the earlier flight, without their checked luggage. 

So we ran across the airport to the other gate. The woman at the counter immediately told us no way was she fitting all three of us on that flight. But Sherry's persistence paid off, and we all got on.  

No singing missionaries or eavesdropping entertainment on this flight. Just a young 18-year old girl sitting in the window seat, who seemed to be laughing at the book I was reading. And a cowboy from Texas in the aisle seat who told me there's nothing like driving a big Ford F-350 truck down the streets of Manhattan. 

We landed in New York City at 9:00 pm and took our first cab ride. 


We were riding in the taxi and I was looking at the map on my phone thinking, I can't believe I'm in New York City! 


Thanks to Sherry's ability to decipher maps and translate to our cab driver who barely spoke English, we made it to Grimaldi's. Heidi was slightly confused by the directions because the old Grimaldi's had closed and 1 Front Street is a new location. 


The Antipasto:


I had never been more excited to eat a plate of salami, green olives, and roasted peppers. It tasted better than it looks: 


The pizza was every bit as good as it looks: 


And then we just walked over to the Brooklyn Bridge. No big deal. . . 


This picture fairly accurately depicts Sherry, who mostly skipped across the bridge: 


It really was an incredible introduction to New York City.


Such an amazing view of Manhattan's skyline: 


I kept stopping to take another picture because each view seemed to be more amazing than the last: 


The pictures don't show how cold it was: 


But at least this one shows me dragging my wheeled suitcase. (Remember, we still hadn't been to our hotel.)


Not a lot of foot traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge at 11:30 pm: 


But there are a whole lot of locks. This is a horrible picture and you can barely tell what it is, but it's the only one we got of the hundreds and hundreds of locks that are on the Brooklyn Bridge. Sherry is so cosmopolitan; she knew exactly what the locks signified


What a cool experience. If you go to NYC, definitely walk across the Brooklyn Bridge at night. Preferably without any luggage. Oh yeah, and watch out for those bikers. If you get in their way, they will run you right over.


We took another cab to The Box House Hotel:


The paintings in the lobby look a whole lot like the Victorian houses on Jefferson Avenue: 


And this piano looks a whole lot like the one in my living room:


We were almost giddy as we walked down the hall: 


And then we all breathed a sigh of relief when we saw our loft suite. It was so nice!


The bathroom was perfectly clean: 


The bedding was good: 


The suite was nicely decorated:


With lots of artwork: 


If someone would have been spying on us, I'm sure they would have been amused by watching us taking pictures of everything.


And it wasn't just me. Because I wasn't the one who took this picture of the shampoo and conditioner dispensers in the shower :) We were all just so relieved to have a clean hotel room.


It's not like we ended up needing to do any additional walking while we were in New York City, but look at their cute exercise room: 


I think the framed mirrors are such a great idea for a home gym. 

I missed out on one of the most exciting excursions of the trip. . . a midnight stroll down the streets of Brooklyn in search of a "bodega". You can ask Sherry or Heidi about it, but they will just erupt in laughter. 

And that was just Day 1. . . I'm worried it's going to take me a month to cover everything we crammed into that week!

3 comments:

i'm h.mac said...

i kind of feel like we had a journalist on the trip with us. you may have missed your professional calling in life - katie couric watch out! this is exceptional detail, feeling the city fever today. waffles and dumplings please.

Natalie B. said...

Um, I am kind of wishing I had tagged along. Except A. Not in my budget this moment B. Ryan was out of town that week. C. I am not in the Book Club But, seriously, HOW FUN! And what a great hotel too. Can't wait to see the rest!

Courtney said...

A girls trip to NYC sounds awesome! And are you ever home? It seems like you guys are always SOMEWHERE! Lucky-dogs!