Tuesday, February 6, 2018

New York City Getaway

My husband and I went on a little getaway to New York City right before Christmas! It was our first time being away from the girls for more than a night at the same time. We've really never gone away since we've had kids and the last big trip the 2 of us took was our honeymoon 9 years ago. It was time! I have always wanted to go to NYC. I'm not really sure why, but for as long as I can remember I've wanted to visit. We had talked about going for our honeymoon and spending NYE there, but we were broke college students then and NYE in NYC is insanely expensive. 
We decided this was the year to go. We had a lot to celebrate--my turning 30, and his almost turning 30, adopting 2 kids, buying a new house, a new job, paying off the last of our non-mortgage debt, and our 9 year anniversary. 
We left December 17, Sunday evening, and drove up to Chicago. We grabbed a late night meal at Denny's and headed to our hotel for a few hours of rest before an early wake time to catch our flight! 
Monday, the 18th, we caught an early flight and arrived in New Jersey just before lunch time.

 We grabbed a train into the city and arrived at Penn Station, then took a cab to our hotel from there. The hotel we stayed at was a couple blocks from Central Park, right on Broadway, and just a few blocks away from Times Square. So much was right there within a few block of us! 
We dropped our bags at the hotel and went walking in search of food. We kind of just started walking and finally ended up at Mom's for lunch. It was super yummy, and it felt really good to sit down and savor a meal after a long morning of traveling.

 After lunch, we kept walking and randomly ended up in Times Square. They had some cool stuff set up in prep for New Year's. The giant '18 was set up so they could switch out the '17 that was sitting up by the ball drop, and so we took our picture with that.

One really neat thing they had was this little booth where you can write a wish on a piece of tissue paper. Then on NYE when the ball drops, they drop the confetti with all of the wishes on it! That was fun.
After Times Square, we continued onto Bryant Park. They had the cutest little Christmas village set up, so we checked out some shops and food set ups, etc. We bought a personalized ornament, and grabbed a snack from Doughnuttery.

 We headed back to our hotel to actually check in, and relaxed for several hours. We were pretty spent from traveling and walking around the city. We decided to grab pizza for dinner, and just went to a place a few doors down from the hotel called Angelo's. It ended up being incredible pizza. We got a pizza with white sauce, which was ricotta cheese mixed with some other things-SO good, and sausage and mushroom. The atmosphere in there was so cute and homey-like a little hole in the wall place right in the middle of the city.

 After dinner, we went exploring again and ended up walking through Broadway, Times Square, Bryant Park again and continued onto Grand Central Station. I had hoped it would be all decorated for Christmas, but besides some wreaths hung, there really wasn't much. Still, it was cool to see. We walked the mile or so back to our hotel and crashed. Monday my watch tracked 21,523 steps (10.54 miles). 

Tuesday morning we slept in until about 11:00, which was AMAZING. I can't remember the last time I've slept in, let alone that late! My husband went and grabbed us some juices from a place right on the corner. I tried to find random ways to sneak in some healthy stuff amidst all of the other stuff we were indulging in, and green smoothies/juices were an easy way to do that. 
After we got ready we headed to Central Park for the morning. They also had a Christmas village set up, so we explored that for awhile. Food wise, we really just grazed on a bunch of stuff throughout the morning. In the village we grabbed a chicken waffle cone while we shopped and shared that. It was so good. Just literally chicken in a waffle cone with whatever sauce you choose.

 After the village, we started walking through the park. We got a hot dog to start, because you just have to have a NYC hot dog from a stand at least once. We saw a lot of the iconic Central Park stops and just walked a ton. It was strange to be in so much nature right in the middle of the huge city.

 We stopped and saw some performers for awhile, which was hilarious. Later in the day we got crepes from a crepe stand. I got the nutella coconut crepe and it was incredible.

 We were still feeling pretty tired from such a busy day Monday, and so much walking already Tuesday, so we headed back to our hotel. On the way we saw a restaurant, Brasserie Cognac, and we decided to try it out. It looked really formal and fancy, but the people inside weren't dressed up so we thought it would be ok. It was a really nice meal. We ate around 4:30 and since we had grazed all morning it was really like a late lunch. I loved the atmosphere in there. It was so cozy, dark lighting, nice music playing, and everything was at a slow pace. It was just what we needed after the morning we had. The place started filling up as time went on and it was fun to people watch as well. To start, we had this incredible goat cheese and tomato tarte, and I got the beet salad for my dish.


 I had no idea I liked beets, but it turns out they are delicious! The salad again was SO good. After Cognac, we went back to our hotel and rested for a few hours. We were having quite the dilemma because we were just so exhausted. My legs and feet were so sore from all of the walking, and I just wanted to stay in bed, but felt like that was lame. We were in New York! We should be out exploring! But, ultimately we decided we'd have a way better day Wednesday if we rested up Tuesday night. So, we ordered Shake Shack online, went to pick it up around 8:00, brought it back to the hotel, got in pajamas, and watched Designated Survivor on Hulu while we ate.

 It was actually the best. My husband reminded me that's not something we get to do often at home, and while it's nice to go see all the things, it's also nice just to relax and enjoy a night in :) Love him. Tuesday we did 14,686 steps (7.25 miles).
Wednesday, we got up and grabbed juice from Juice Generation, a couple blocks away. So many good choices.

 We took those back to the hotel and got ready, then my husband grabbed New York bagels from Pick-a-bagel. I pretty much thought a bagel was a bagel...until I had these. They were ENORMOUS, and so soft. And SO much cream cheese. I couldn't finish mine.
After breakfast, we went to the LOVE sculpture. It was our 9 year anniversary, and what better place to get an anniversary picture?!
Wednesday was Chinatown/Little Italy day. We took the Subway for the first time, which was a fun experience. Once we got to Chinatown, my husband really wanted to get some authentic dumplings. He had heard about this great dumpling place, so we walked to it and really got off the beaten path into the heart of Chinatown. It was cool to walk around and see not the touristy stuff, but really where a lot of Chinese people were working and living there. The dumplings were from East Dumplings and they were something like 10 for $3 or so. They were amazing.

 We browsed all around Chinatown for several hours, which was fun. We ended up walking into Little Italy and we both had to use the bathroom so we walked into this little cafe to sit down, grab a drink and snack and use the bathroom.  Well it turns out this little cafe wasn't just any cafe, it was Caffe Palermo-home of the best Cannoli on the planet. I got cheesecake, which they are also famous for and it was excellent. Really rich, of course, but way creamier and thicker than what I'm used to.

 My husband got a panini, and then a cannoli. I don't have a lot of experience with cannolis but it was really good!

After our little pick me up, we walked over to the Brooklyn Bridge.

 We didn't end up walking all the way across, because we had already walked so much that day and the bridge was actually super crowded, but it was a fun experience and we got a lot of cool pictures. The views of the city were amazing.

We headed back to Chinatown to catch the subway home and we rested for a few hours. Around 6 or 7, we took the subway to Chelsea and checked out Chelsea Market. I absolutely LOVED this place. The vibe was so cool. We looked at all the food options and finally settled at The Green Table. Everything was local, organic, etc. I got the chicken pot pie and it was delicious. My husband got a steak which he said was also really good. It was one of our favorite meals. It was such a cozy quaint little restaurant tucked inside the Market. Perfect spot for an anniversary dinner!
We had just a little time to browse the Market, so we did that shortly, then we walked down to the piers to catch a cruise we were taking! We booked this cocoa and carols cruise on Classic Harbor Line cruises. I am so glad we decided to do this! It was so fun and romantic and just something so different than we've done before!

 So the evening was hosted by a little jazz band and they played Christmas carols, we had spiked cocoa and cookies and the captain drove us all around to see the sights, lights, and right up to the Statue of Liberty. It was awesome. We went out and sat outside to see Lady Liberty, and though it was freezing cold and windy being on the water it was romantic and just perfect. So much fun.

 On the way back, they had all of the passengers carol along with them, which was a lot of fun! 
When we got back, we took an Uber back to our hotel. It was so tired from all the walking we did that day, and the Subway was quite a ways away, so we decided to just call an Uber. Well worth it! We logged 24,161 steps that day (12.07 miles)! 
Thursday started off with...you guessed it...juice! Hey, at least we tried different places every day :) Thursday was Joe and the Juice.

 We walked to Times Square after that and got breakfast from Wafles and Dinges. We had seen these stands all over town, and knew we had to indulge at least once. It was ridiculous and delicious and gave me such a stomach ache, but I'd do it again ;) I built my own with something like hot fudge, nutella, walnuts, whipped cream...I can't even remember what else. All I remember is that it was so rich and good, and I was freezing while we ate it.

 Overall, the weather was great while we were there! Mid 40s most days, one day even in the 50s. Sometimes the wind would hit just right that we were chilly, but other than that, we were actually very comfortable the entire trip! After our absurd and amazing breakfast, we headed over to Radio City to get in line to see the Christmas Spectacular!

 Ok, this show blew me away! Of course, I mostly expected lots of dancing from the Rockettes, but holy cow, the technology this show used was insane. I absolutely loved it! It was such an awesome show. If you go around that time of year, be sure you see it! The hall was decorated so beautifully for Christmas, as well! 
After the show, we walked across the street to Rockefeller Center. We had big plans to go ice skating at the Center and spend a lot of time exploring it, but we were totally underwhelmed with it. It was very meh. A glorified shopping mall with a bunch of stores we have at home. And no bathrooms. It really wasn't great, I am not sure what all the hype is about unless we missed something really cool. The rink itself was also pretty meh. It was dropped down a bit, so you didn't even have a view. Nothing like what I've seen on shows or movies. The rink at Bryant Park was way bigger and prettier, as well as Central Park. I kind of wish we would have skated at one of those instead, but at that point we just knew we were ready to leave Rockefeller and kind of forgot about skating. 
We subwayed back to Little Italy and walked to eat at Lombardi's, the first pizza place in the USA. It was cool to be in a landmark place like that, but overall, we both felt like the pizza we had the first night was just as good, if not better. I'm glad we went, though!

 After lunch, we walked around little Italy a little bit more, and stopped at Rice to Riches which is a rice pudding place. Random. The signs on the door were hilarious and drew us in. We got cheesecake pudding to go, and it was actually really good! We walked around the NOHO area for awhile, went in some stores like Adidas and Crate & Barrel and then took the subway home. We relaxed in the hotel for a few hours and then went to grab dinner at Black Tap. We had walked past it before and seen a line pretty far out the door. We looked it up and felt like we should go check it out. When we got there, the line was pretty long and we asked someone about halfway up how long they had waited. They said about 15 minutes, so we decided to stay. Everyone in line around us was also trying to decide if it was worth the wait. We ended up chatting with several people around us which was just fun to hear where other people were from and what they had been doing in the city. We eventually got in after about 45 minutes or so and it was FOR SURE worth the wait. The atmosphere was really cool and the burgers and fries were so good. But the milkshakes. OH THE MILKSHAKES. They had every kind of dessert-y milkshake you could think of. The cake one had a full slice of cake on top. Same with the brownie shake. The M&M one was just completely covered in M&Ms. It was hard to decided which one to get but we went with the cookie shake and it didn't disappoint!

 Every single person was taking pictures of their shakes-it was pretty hilarious. After our late dinner, we went souvenir shopping for the next hour or two and wrapped up our night. Thursday we came in at 12,693 steps (6.08 miles).
Friday we basically woke up, packed up, grabbed breakfast (bagels) and got ready to go. We tried to take a Lyft to Penn Station, and without getting into the dramatic details, we had a driver accept our request, then cancel it on us, another one accept, waited 5+ minutes for the driver when it said he was 1 or 2 minutes away, and then when we could see he was 1 block away he cancelled on us too! So, we missed the train we wanted, hailed a cab and made it to Penn Station about 4 minutes before the next train left for New Jersey, luckily! Took the train back to the airport, then landed in Chicago and made the 4 hour drive home to our babies!! And while we're on the topic of Lyft, they then tried to charge ME for one of the cancelled rides. I was NOT happy and it took forever to get it taken care of, so I am forever team Uber from now on.
One of our kiddos was sick the whole time we were gone and I felt so bad to be away from her. The others started passing it around right as we were getting home and I got it a few days later (flu, I'm pretty sure). They were in such good hands and had such a fun time with Grandma and Gramps and we are so thankful to have been able to get away and spend such quality time together! It is definitely one of my favorite trips and one I will remember forever. 

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