Thursday, September 10, 2015

Start Spreading the News!

Alert! Alert!!! Something terrible has happened! I've fallen in love... With New York City!
Never in a million years would I have thought this could be possible. The mass of humanity, living upon eachother and breathing in filth- who would want that? Well, this girl I guess!
To be honest, I fell for the quiet neighborhoods and rich history of the city. This past weekend I met up with a friend and we explored the city in a wandering, stroll of two friends who are more interested in spending time together than seeing the sights. For me, it was the first time back in NYC since I was a child so there were too many tourist traps to check off in just 4 days. We didn't even attempt things like The Empire State Building or Statue of Liberty.
No, instead we both made a short list of Must Do's and tried to cross off as many of them as we could. Below is out lists and our actual itinerary. It was such a great weekend and I can't wait to see my Kiwi again soon. NYC treated is right and I know I'll be back.
Tracy's List:
New York Pizza
Central Park
Broadway Show
Walking tour
Roof Top Bar at Sunset

Nicki's List:
Coney Island
Central Park
Dinner with friend Grace
Time Square shopping

Day 1: Friday, Sept. 4th
I landed crazy early and thought I would check my bag into a 24/7 locker place in Manhattan, but turns out their hours had changed for the holiday weekend. My next thought was to go to our hotel and store it with their bell services. That way I could go explore and get some great pre-dawn pictures. Well much to my delight, they had a clean and ready room at 6:30am and let me check-in! Marrakech Hotel was delightful and so convenient next to the 103 Subway stop on the 1 line. The only downside was that  it was a 5 floor walk up to our room- No Elevator! Still it was a lovely room and staff went above and beyond to make our stay enjoyable.
Once I was checked in all thought of photography fled my mind. I crashed for a few hours and then rushe out the door to meet Nicki, who was coming into town with her Contiki Tour. I got there a little early so I grabbed a bite to eat in Chealsea at this hip burger joint: Black Iron Burger. I followe the advice of the waitstaff and ordered a Hashbrown Burger with Aoli fries. I also had a local beer: Coney Island Mermaid Pislner 
It was as good as it looks!
Once I had met up with Nicki and we dropped off her bag. We took the metro down to Time Square and strolled around for a bit. It was getting close to dinner when we stumbled upon this great Cuban place, so we stopped for dinner and drinks! Havana Central, I highly recommend the Paelle- but split it! It's so much food!!!! 

Day 2: Saturday, September 5th
Slept in. #noregrets But once we were up and going we head to Brunch, my favorite meal. Yelp directed me to Crepes On Columbus and while the wait was little long and the service was SLOW, the food was divine! We each ordered a savory crepe and then we split a sweet one.
In the afternoon we met our Sandeman's New Europe walking tour of Midtown at Grand Central Station and enjoyed hearing the histories of the train station, the Chrysler Building, New York Public Library, 5th Ave, Bryant Park, Time Square, Broadway and Shubert Alley,  and Rockefeller. It was very educational and Jesse was a great guide.
That evening we went to dinner with Nicki's friend, Grace at The Smith just across from Lincoln Center. The food was excellent and I recommend a cocktail. I had the gnocchi, so rich and creamy!
After dinner we decided to have a drink at a little Irish pub near Columbus Cirlce. It was pretty low key, perfect for Nicki and I to plan out our next day ad have some girl talk.

Day 3: Sunday, Sept. 6th
Coney Island in the morning. It's a long train ride, but with my first Pumpkin Spiced Latte of the season in hand i didn't seem to mind. Plus it was a nice quiet ride and I chatted with a local family who was heading to the beach. It was nice to get a local's view of Manhattan living. Their kids were both under the age of 5 and handled the metro like pros. I was impressed.
The visit for Coney Island was a must for both Nicki and I since we became friends while working for Disney's Boardwalk Resort. So much of that hotel was inspired by places like Coney Island, we just had to visit! 
Plus! I got my New York Hot Dog and Nicki tried a lobster roll for the first time. 
Once we spent a little money on merch, we took the train back into town to buy some Broadway tickets! We ended up getting great seats for Les Mis at 50% off. We were thrilled! 
We headed back to the hotel to get gussied up and then rushed back to the show. 
After many tears and awed silences of the musical, we met up with some of Nicki's tour mates who were celebrating birthdays. They were at this pub with live music called The Mean Fiddler. We had a blast with the music, dancing and good drinks. 

Day 4: Monday, Sept. 7th- Labor Day
This was the longest day, but worth every step! We took 2 walking tours and threw a museum into the mix. By the time we had to climb up to the hotel room we were both nursing swollen feet!
It started with a 10am tour of Central Park from this great tour company that our previous guide Jesse had recommended: Free Tours by Foot. They were so cool and offer several off-the-beaten-path tours that we decided that we'd also take their tour of the High Line Park as well! If we could have, I'd have like to take their Bushwick Graffiti tour too, but it wasn't offered that day!
Our tour of Central Park started at The Pullitzer Foutain and included the Plaza Hotel, the South End- the kids section, the ice rink, zoo, the poet's walk, Betheda fountain, boathouse and lake, and Strawberry Fields with The Dakota.
We stopped at the boathouse for lunch, then heade to the Met! 
 The Met was a lot to take in, but we had a blast. It started with goofy snapchats in the Greek area- tons of Disney's Hercules references. Then we branched out to modern art and the armory, to name a few. There was also this big exhibit in the Costume department, but it was the last day and was crazy packed. We had a hard time experiencing it. So we went to grab a coffee and have a much needed sitdown.
After the Met we grabbed the subway down to Grenwich to meet our High Line tour. It was spectacular. It's this old elevated railway that was converted into a park. It's breathtaking. A view of the city most people have never seen before! It's very industrial meets organic and the art installations are swapped out annually. This year's theme was Visualize. It was designed to make you see something in a different way. My favorite piece was this huge bronze telescope, but did doesn't work. It's suppose to get you to think about what you SHOULD see and BOOM! There's Lady Liberty across the river. So cool. 
After the tour, our guide Dante suggested a little pizza joint down the street. "It's not 'New York' pizza, but it's pretty good even by New Yorkers' standards." It was called Artichoke Basille's Pizza & Bar. They have this great deal where you can try 3 different slices for just $17, so Nicki and I each tried 3 different options and cut them in half! So we basically had one of everything. #noregrets.
Then it was back to the hotel to pack and head to the airport bright and early the next morning. 

Overall, a great time. And I was so happy to spend it with an old friend. New York, thanks for the memories!

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