NYC ADVENTURE PART VI

DAY FIVE – THE FINAL DAY

Our final day in New York. I don’t think either one of us were in a huge rush to leave. We had done so much, and yet there was so much of New York we never got to see – you could probably live your whole life in the city and still not see everything.

We set about packing up the last few things and checking out of the hotel. Despite it being our last day we still had stuff we wanted to see, so we didn’t want to waste any time. We did the last little bit of souvenir shopping and headed over to Central Park. And did we get a beautiful day for that! It was 60 and sunny. We wandered around the park marveling in the beauty of it all. We ventured out of the park in search of lunch.

One of the places Dakota really wanted to see was the Waldorf Astoria (as she is an aspiring Hospitality Management major) so we decided to take a walk over that way to have a little lunch. I must say, the hotel was gorgeous, and the food was phenomenal. It was the perfect place to have a last lunch.

As we left the Waldorf I thought we were close enough to walk back to the hotel. I’m not sure what I was looking at or what I was thinking… but it ended up being worth it because we got lost over on 5th Avenue – which is not a terrible place to be lost at! After much wandering around we finally found a subway using our metro cards one last time we hopped on getting us back to the hotel. We naturally stopped for one last coffee in Time Square – as it had become one of my favorite traditions – before we got our bags and embarked on, probably, our scariest taxi ride to the airport.  I was definitely holding on for dear life on our final taxi ride – but we made it there in one piece.

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Our final day in New York. Central Park, Waldorf Astoria, and the Airport 18/11/2016

Taking this vacation was amazing and really sparked the bug to travel but, also to better myself. I came back from New York refreshed and ready. I desperately wanted to be back in school so, as soon as I got back and set about emailing advisors; taking placement tests and trying to get everything figured out before the spring semester started in January. As it turns out that’s another story but, the fire had been started – and for that I was grateful.

Traveling is such a wonderful thing and there are so many places within the United States that are worth visiting and experiencing. If you’re able to, plan a trip and explore the world. I truly believe that’s how you find out about who you really are and what you want. This trip really sparked a fire within me to buckle down and get myself into a position where I can start my career and that journey for myself.

It’s truly been a long and hard journey to get myself here but I am so proud and thankful that I’ve been fortunate enough to have all these life experiences.

EXPENSES FOR THE NYC TRIP

  1. Clarion Sleep and Park deal  $128.96
  2. Southwest flight  $319.92
  3. DoubleTree Hilton Suites – Time Square  (Four Nights) $1,653.06
  4. One Day New York Museum Pass  $218 ($89 for one, one day pass)
  5. World One Observatory  $102.88 (for two tickets)
  6. Helicopter Tour  $618 (for two tickets)
  7. Car Service (that picked us up from the airport)  $36 (gratuity not included)
  8. Metro Card  $30 (I can’t remember exact price but it was around 30)
  9. Broadway  $837.72 (a ticket)
  10. Ubers $100 (for all the uber rides we took)
  11. Meals $430 (an estimate per person)
  12. Coffee $50 (an estimate per person)
  13. Shopping $300 (an estimate per person)

I think by the time everything was said and done, I’d spent about $3,000 for the whole trip – which isn’t terrible considering everything we did and how long we stayed. I cannot wait to go back!

 

 

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NYC ADVENTURE PART V

DAY FOUR – HELICOPTER TOUR

 

THURSDAY 17, 2016

As most mornings we started off with coffee in Time Square. Today was much more relaxed than most days we’d spent in the city. We didn’t leave the hotel until 10 not having anywhere to be until 11. We went to Manhattan to meet a friend of who was doing an internship in the city. So naturally we met up for coffee.

We were going to meet at Ludlow Coffee Supply (link to website) a cute amazing little coffee shop. However, we must have walked past the front of the building five times not realizing it was coffee shop. So being fed up we stumbled into a different coffee shop, El Rey Coffee Bar, and it was so cute! So we waited there for our friend to find us. Funny enough she’d been coming to this area for a while now and never knew about the coffee shop we stumbled into it. We had some coffee there and then headed to where she meant to take us, Ludlow. Ludlow coffee shop has the best vanilla bourbon latte (AMAZING!)

We ended up heading over to Urban Outfitters and did some serious shopping. It was really nice to see a familiar face in the city – a little piece of home with us on our trip. After probably too much shopping she took us to a wonderful little cafe for late lunch. Grey Dog was a fun, funky little cafe. We got amazing sandwiches and then headed back to the hotel to get ready for our big adventure that night: The Helicopter Tour.

As we got back to the hotel we needed to be to the Helicopter place at 5:30. So in our GPS it said it took about 20 minutes to get there so we decided to leave at 5. BIG MISTAKE! We did not think clearly about traffic! We called an uber and got in and then was stuck in traffic for nearly 45 minutes. Bless our uber driver; not only was he a good driver but he was so nice and wonderful. He did everything in his power to get us there on time. We called the place and told them we were stuck in traffic but would be there before six. It was the most nerve-racking experience fighting traffic to make it on time. If we didn’t make it there before six, we’d miss our flight and we were pretty sure we wouldn’t get our money back – and that was no cheap experience. We were not going to miss it.

We got to the launch pad with minutes to spare, I don’t think the driver came to a complete stop before we were bolting out the door shouting thank yous back to him. He was so incredibly helpful we never would have made it without him. We came running in with just enough time to get life vests strapped on (in case our flight became a cruise) and then we headed out to the chopper.

There were only six of us in the flight and they seat you according to your weight to balance out the helicopter. I was terrified, I hate heights and I wasn’t next to Dakota. But once we took off everything else seemed to just fall away. It was surreal to see the city at night from that view. Our guide was so knowledgeable and the flight was smooth. We were up in the air for about twenty minutes before we came back down.

Once the craziness died down, of nearly missing our flight and then being up in the air, we headed over to the dock to wait for the boat to come back. However in our haste to leave the hotel, we didn’t grab coats – and it had gotten cold. So in light wimpy sweaters we waited, and waited for the boat to come back to the dock. But once it did we gladly boarded and took seats inside getting our glass of champagne and enjoying the fun informational cruise around the harbor. We even pulled up by the Statue of Liberty and were able to go on the front of the ship and take pictures. After another half an hour we left the ship and called an uber to take us back to the hotel – for once we weren’t in a rush to get anywhere. We changed and washed up a little bit and then decided to just ask the concierge where to eat an amazing last meal.

We wanted steak and were recommended an amazing steak joint called Del Frisco’s Grille. In the way of last meals, it was perfect. We waited for a table at the bar, no more than fifteen minutes, got seated and ordered an amazing meal. We got a starter and then an entree of delicious cooked perfectly, steak. I would go back to Del Frisco’s in a heartbeat! And I’ve heard that there’s one in Chicago – which isn’t too terribly far from where I live.

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An insane day of coffee shops and night time tours 17/11/2016

Neither one of us were in a huge hurry to go back to the hotel so after a very filling dinner we wandered around Time Square and just took in the night life. I think we were both trying not to think about the fact that tomorrow afternoon we’d be heading back to the airport, and going home.

In the way of last nights, it couldn’t have been better.

 

NYC ADVENTURE PART IV

DAY THREE – BROADWAY

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 16, 2016

Wednesday was a much more relaxed day – we didn’t have anything planned besides the musical. This gave us time to sleep in a little (though getting up at 8/830 isn’t really sleeping late) and get going at an easier pace. We had breakfast at Evergreens again – it became an instant favorite. And then we shopped!

Until 1ish we just shopped around Time Square and and drank tons of coffee. It was really nice to not have a plan. We dumped our bags off at the Hotel and headed over to the theater not realizing that if we got there an hour before the show, we’d have to get in line half way around the building. Luckily they kept things moving and we quickly got in and got seated.

In case you aren’t aware of what Hamilton is about, a very quick explanation is; it’s about the life of Alexander Hamilton. How he was an immigrant and our country was built by immigrants. It dives deeper into political issues and the book the musical was inspired by is HERE if you’re interested in learning more (which I recommend checking it out)!

Before we left for New York we had been told to get opera glasses just in case our seats from the mezzanine were a little too far away. We were three rows up from the railing in the middle of the isle. The seats were unreal! We could see the stage and the people perfectly – no need for the glasses at all!

After the opening number I could see what all the fuss was about. The show was unbelievable and all the actors where amazing. The show was more than I could have imagined it to be – and even though the original cast members weren’t in the show anymore it didn’t lessen how wonderful it was. Had I have not known they weren’t in it, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

After the show was over we went to the stage door and waited outside for the cast members to come out. I had wanted to get everyone to sign my playbill but again – we hadn’t eaten since breakfast and there were so many people trying to get autographs. I managed to get one when I decided we should head back and figure out a dinner plan.

Of course, because we can’t decide anything when we’re starving we sat around the hotel complaining about being hungry but unable to decide where we wanted to eat. After almost forty minutes we went to the concierge and said we want dinner. I said I wanted pasta and she recommended an amazing little Italian restaurant called, Azalea (link to website). I had homemade gnocchi in a fresh tomato sauce. Like all our meals it was amazing. After dinner we wandered around the Time Square and did very touristy things.

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Hamilton on Broadway, morning shenanigans around Time Square and dinner at Azalea’s 16/11/2016

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After dinner touristy things 16/11/2016

We went back to the hotel room and ordered a bottle of champagne to the room and played cards not ready to call it quits – but very much looking forward to Thursday’s adventures.

NYC ADVENTURE PART III

DAY TWO – MUSEUM MILE

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 15, 2016

We started our day with breakfast. We’d gotten a local recommendation of a great little diner a block away from our hotel from the bartender. So we had to check it out – since we love diners and breakfast; and there was no way we could get lost with it being so close. It was called Evergreen Diner (link to website) and it did not disappoint. They get you seated you order and before you can even take a sip of your coffee the food is on the table. It was such a fun place we ended up eating there a few times. It was the perfect way to start our second – very busy – day.

We dubbed it our museum day. We were in fact hitting, the 9/11 Memorial, The Met, The Guggenheim and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. We started with the one that was farthest away from our hotel and working backwards. That took us to the 9/11 Memorial, which also gave us the most time there. It was a good thing we did that one first because it took the longest; as we wanted to make sure we got to see everything.

There was a lot about the 9/11 Memorial that you couldn’t photograph but it was such a surreal and chilling experience. Since the day it happened I was in second grade there’s much I remember but there’s a lot I didn’t know (or maybe wasn’t able to comprehend) so it was probably my favorite museum we went to that day.

It’s so very hard to describe what it felt like being there… Never have I been to a museum that was unbelievably quiet. I just remember my heart was pounding the entire time – it was unsettling. The part of the museum that impacted me the most was; we walked into a room where you weren’t allowed to take pictures. And they had all sorts of things in there from pictures and news clippings to projectors with news reels from that day. But as you walked around each nook and cranny there was always something. And I walked into this little nook and there were quotes on the walls that said all different things. But the one I remember most was, “You felt like you owed it to them to just stop and watch.” I remember thinking, ‘watch what?’ And then this black and white clip flashed across the screen of all these different people jumping out of the windows. And like the quote said, I couldn’t look away.

Of all the things I remember about 9/11 I didn’t remember that and it was horribly sad to watch but I couldn’t look away until the clip stopped. If you are ever in New York I would strongly suggest you go and check it out because no words can describe what it was like to walk through there.

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A small glimpse of the 9/11 Memorial 15/11/2016

 
We left after about two hours and the train ride to the Met was pretty silent between us. But as we got off the train headed towards the Met we got off early and headed up walking over two miles just to get to the Met – in the cold, wet rain. Of all the days we were there, the day we picked to do all this walking it was raining. We didn’t let it stop us or dampen our fun. As we got to the Met we decided to pick an era we were most interested in – because you could honestly spend all day in the Met and not see everything. And unfortunately we were pressed for time seeing as we wanted to make it to all the museums on our list.

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The Met 15/11/2016

The Met was wonderful and full of chatter which was a nice change of pace from the Memorial. However the hunger had set in since it was almost three in the afternoon and we hadn’t eaten since the morning so we were a little less than our peppy selves. We decided to leave the Met in search of food. We ended up walking over towards the Guggenheim in hopes of trying to find food along the way. Well according to our trusty little GPS it was only a ten minute walk.. Well that would have been the case if we hadn’t gotten lost walking through Central Park and then having to back track. By the time we actually got over to the Guggenheim I think we were both ready for blood. We made the snap decision to just eat at the museum’s restaurant called The Wright. We weren’t sure what to expect but we decided we didn’t care – food was food at this point.

They had a prefixed lunch menu and at random I ordered my two courses and was thrilled. I’m not sure if it was the hunger or just simply purely amazing food but it was one of the best meals we had in NYC. After an amazing lunch and both of us in better spirits we tackled the Guggenheim. Which was crazy and fun! Just the building itself is a work of art. I’m not one for modern art (it sometimes goes over my head) but the experience was unreal.

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Our day at the Guggenheim and lunch at The Wright Restaurant 15/11/2016

As the day was winding down we hop back on the subway towards Time Square – which is to our hotel and the wax museum. We contemplated going back to the hotel first and then heading to our last museum but we both knew if we went back we weren’t leaving again. So we hopped off the subway and headed towards the last museum. The wax museum was a lot of fun and I think a great way to end such an eventful day.

We ended up walking over 10 miles between getting to the museums and then walking through them. We ended the night with dinner and drinks at the hotel too exhausted to walk anywhere else. With extremely sore and blistered feet. We were looking forward to a much more relaxed day on Wednesday.

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Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum 15/11/2016

This is the one day pass we used to hit all the museums The New York Pass

NYC ADVENTURE PART II

DAY ONE – ARRIVAL 

MONDAY NOVEMBER 14, 2016

If we’re being honest the trip technically started Sunday night around 5ish when we got to the Clarion Hotel in Milwaukee. The Clarion is literally right across the street from the airport and you can park your car there for free during the length of your trip. Once you get back they shuttle you to and from the airport. In the future I’ll probably always stay there because it made things so easy. No hassle with trying to find people to pick us up or pay the airport parking fees.

At the time of booking our flight I had got it in my head that the earlier we landed in New York the longer we could make of our trip – trying to get the most time out of our time there. So our flight left at 6:20am Monday morning – way too early to drive down – which meant that we’d land in New York around 9:30am. This was perfect by the time we’d get to the hotel we could check our bags and explore and wait for check in.

After horrible airport coffee and a quick breakfast we were already boarding the plane. While we’re waiting for everyone to board the plane and get settled I decide it’d be a great idea to book tickets for when we get there to see the World One Observatory. I managed to book the tickets right before we started moving towards the runway.

As much as we wanted to sleep on the flight out there we couldn’t. The excitement of finally being on the trip we’ve been looking forward too for so long was finally here – we weren’t going to waste any time – not even on the plane. As it turns out we were lucky enough to see a beautiful sun rise on our ride to New York so it was worth it.

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Sunrise over Lake Michigan November 14, 2016

We hired a car to pick us up from the airport and drop us off at the hotel. I was very surprised at how quickly we managed to get to our hotel. For all the bad things people say about drivers in New York City our first experience was rather pleasant. Driving into town was like culture overload. We both live in a town that has the population of 967 people so going to New York was culture shock – and I loved it. We stayed at the DoubleTree Hilton Suites and were so lucky to be able to check in right when we arrived. We hadn’t planned on that so it was a wonderful bonus. We dropped our bags and decided to head over to the World One Observatory – and that meant figuring out the subway.

Lucky for us we were showed a wonderful trick using the maps app in our phones.

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Our struggle with the subways, was we’d get off and start walking the wrong way for a block or two before we realized we were heading in the wrong direction! You can’t win ’em all!

We got to the World on Observatory and they have an elevator that takes you up 100 floors in sixty seconds! That was terrifying. But the elevator shows the evolution of the city over the years getting to present day once you reach the top floor. Then the fun began as we wandered down the floors looking at the beautiful views snapping amazing pictures.

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Our day at the World One Observatory 14/11/2016

It was such an amazing experience to see the city from that view it was breathtaking – and we were lucky enough to have such a gorgeous day. We stayed up there and had a wonderful lunch and enjoyed the view. We took our time getting back to the hotel to wash up before dinner. After a few wrong turns and nearly walking past the Beetle House (link to the website) we found it – and soon understood why they strongly suggested you make a reservation. The whole restaurant probably only sat 20 maybe 30 people tops. The atmosphere was fun and funky – playing music only from the soundtracks from Tim Burton’s films with art and decorations coming straight from the movies it was such a unique place to eat dinner. The drinks were delicious and the food was to die for (the whole time we were in New York we never ate at a bad place).

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A glimpse of the Beetle House and my wonderful friend 14/11/2016

Day one ends early. We take a long walk back to the hotel avoiding subways and just getting a better glimpse of the city. And gearing up for day two.

NYC ADVENTURE PART I

PREPARATION

Sometimes after careful planning something wonderful comes from it… However this adventure started out on a wonderful whim. It all started back in April (2016) when no one could shut up about Hamilton. I needed to know what was all the fuss about it. It was winning awards left and right – critics were raving about how brilliant it was. I needed to see it – if it was truly so brilliant.

So my trip to New York City started when I decided I needed to see this musical. I bought two tickets to see Hamilton on November 16 (I picked November because that’s the week before Thanksgiving and we’re usually pretty slow work). Now after I’d spent, more on the tickets than I probably should have, I needed a partner in crime. The logical choice was my boyfriend of three years. So when I mentioned to him we should take a trip he loved the idea and then I suggested New York and he didn’t seem to love it as much as he liked the idea of laying on a beach somewhere. So after I sheepishly told him that I’d already bought tickets to see the musical we scrambled to find someone who could afford to take that kind of a trip.

When I was talking to a girlfriend at work and she said she’d always wanted to go, I turned to her and said, why don’t you come?! And thus started the beginning of an insanely wonderful girl’s trip to the city.

Seeing as how in June I had my sister’s wedding in North Carolina we decided to not plan anything until I got back (mostly because we had a lot of time to figure out our actual plans for the trip and we needed to save up money in the mean time). We put planning the trip on hold until mid-July when I stumbled upon an amazing deal on flights. I was at work, working the morning shift and happened to be price checking flights so we’d have an idea of how much we needed for flights. Thanks to Southwest we were able to find two round trip, nonstop tickets for $319 total. It was such an amazing deal I bought them on the spot. The plane tickets kicked off us starting to plan our trip.

Neither one of us had ever really had to book an entire vacation before so there was a learning curve for both of us, but I think we managed to do a pretty good job. I was in charge of the big stuff, Broadway tickets, plane, hotel and a few other large ticket items. While my girlfriend did some of the smaller stuff like acquiring museum passes.

So before we left for New York we booked:

our hotel (at a DoubleTree Hilton Suites in the middle of Time Square)
Broadway Tickets for Hamlition
A Helicopter Tour of the city followed by a booze cruise around the harbor
Made Dinner reservations at the Beetle House (A Tim Burton themed Bar and Restaurant)
An all day pass to get us into the Met, Guggenheim, 9/11 Memorial and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum

And with that we set about with a vague outline of what our trip would look like.

Sunday – Check into a hotel in Milwaukee (that offers free shuttle service to and from the airport)
Monday – arrive, check in and bum around the city until we had to be at dinner
Tuesday – Museums all day (Despite the rain)
Wednesday – Broadway
Thursday – We met up with a friend and spent the afternoon together and then went on our helicopter tour
Friday – we checked out went to Central Park and then left for the airport

 

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NYC Skyline from Helicopter on November 17, 2016

 

 

Whole30 more like Whole15

Whole30 Fail

 

So at day fifteen of my whole30 challenge – I finally caved and bought some coffee creamer because black coffee is just not the same. And I have learned a few things while doing this challenge that I wanted to share.

First of all; whole30 works. In my short time during whole15, as I’ve started calling it, I lost seven pounds already – so if you committed to the whole thirty days you could probably get more out of your time.

Second; that this is a great tool to help get your on the path to eating healthy, since I’ve been off the challenge for a few days, I haven’t wanted sweets or bread even. And I loved bread – now I find that even half a sandwich at a restaurant is too much bread for me. So it’s really helped curb my appetite and made me want the healthier things. For me that was the main purpose of this challenge, to get on track with eating better.

I have a few things to impart on anyone who wants to try whole30 challenge:
1. FOOD PREP IS SO IMPORTANT! I never thought about it all that much while I was doing it – mostly because I didn’t think it was worth my time but it is! It is so important to prep your food, and I think that’s why I struggled so much with this challenge.

2. I honestly believe that this is something that gets easier the more you do it. And I think it’s okay to say I couldn’t do it this time… but next time (if there is a next time). Because I really had no clue what I was getting myself into – it really is a life style change. Which brings me to Number 3
3. This is not something that you should do longer than a month. It’s really meant to show you how to eat better and prepare for a healthy lifestyle. The whole30 website is right though, you do feel a million times better during the challenge (and after if you continue to eat healthy.

I truly believe you could find the proper balance between whole30 insanity and healthy eating which I think I am getting there. I am very glad I tried the challenge and I think I may try to do it in the future and stick to it – doing the whole thirty days.