Tuesday, June 27, 2017

NYC Day 2

I love sleep.  I mean, I LOVE sleep.  I covet sleep, I crave sleep, and I sleep as much and as often as I can.  So when it came to busy days in NYC, I vowed to sleep in.  We knew ahead of time we would be exhausted every day, so we decided early morning appointments wouldn't work for us.  #wise

So on Day 2 we eventually (mid to late morning) made our way down to the Chelsea District and jumped on the High Line.  This is a cool deal because #1 it's FREE and #2 it's iconic!  The High Line is an old train track that was converted to a garden sanctuary above the city.  It weaves through Chelsea, near the Hudson River and has some amazing views along the way.  Plus, in parts, you can stare into the windows of crazy awesome apartments that you'll wish you lived in.  I mean, I was ready to sign a lease by the time the High Line came to an end.

This is how they have to park cars in NYC.

This is the end of the line, so to speak.
When you get off the High Line, you're sort of kicked into the Chelsea Market which is in itself an awesome place.  Add it to your list.  It won't disappoint.  We ate lunch there and thoroughly enjoyed Creamline, a farm to table fast food restaurant! GET THE CHICKEN SANDWICH and there will be a party in your mouth.

From there, you're just a hop, skip, and a jump down the block from Greenwich Village.  Toodle around!  You'll love that area too.

At this point, we started walking a crazy amount of miles, making our way to NoLita (which is code for North of Little Italy), Soho (which is short for south of Houston, a street in NYC), and Chinatown.  Be careful in Chinatown.  It's all kinds of shady.  A giant Jamaican and a tiny Chinese woman were grabbing my arms and fighting over me in the street.  Technically in a McDonald's on the street. Either way, it was frightening.  So do Chinatown at your own risk.

One last stop we made was the Flat Iron building which is in the aptly named Flat Iron District. Ha!

Have you ever seen this in photos?  It's trippy to see in person.  There's an actual cell phone store (AT&T? Verizon?) located on the bottom floor and you can stare straight through the building.  Seems to me there would be a better business to lease that space... but I'm clearly not in charge.

Pictures of the building are hard y'all.  Don't judge.
About this time we walked as far south as we could stand and grabbed an UBER for Brooklyn.  We chose Juliana's for dinner, which is next door to the famous Grimaldi's.  I'm sure both are great, but the story goes that after a family fued, Juliana Grimaldi opened her own pizza/pasta shop NEXT DOOR to the original Grimaldi's.  Some reviews on the internet tell you that Grimaldi's is for tourists because it's better known, and Juliana's is for locals.  Hmmm. We chose the locals' side in this fight and didn't regret it one bit.

Now, the benefit of either of these restaurants is what's not even on the menu.  It's the Brooklyn Promenade that lies just past them, by the water.  You can take the MOST STUNNING PHOTOS of the Manhattan skyline at dusk here, and we stuck around til it was dark.  SO AMAZING. Put this adventure on your list RIGHT NOW.  I'll get my hug from you later.

This was right after dinner.  Perfect timing!

This is a picture my husband actually took on his CELL PHONE.  Amazing views are easy to capture, what can he say?

You can even see the Statue of Liberty from here! 
Our day didn't end here, though.  We had switched hotels due to an (ahem!) INCIDENT and ended up in the Fairfield Inn near Madison Square Garden.


 I'm SO GLAD we did.  The rooftop bar had EPIC views as well and it was a great way to end our first full day.

That's Madison Square Garden!

And off to bed we went... to sleep as long as we wanted. Ahhhhh.....

Day 3 Coming soon!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

NYC Day 1

If you read my last post about how to vacation using Post It notes, you know that we recently visited NYC.  Many people ask me: If you could choose your top three favorite things, what are they?  Well that's a very hard question to answer because there are so many categories of favorite in New York City.  So I thought I would map our week out for you, so you'd get a feel for what to do and a couple tips and tricks along the way.  Okay? Okay.

First of  all, when we get to town, we hit the ground running.  No need to waste precious moments in the city that doesn't sleep!  So I call the afternoon we arrived Day 1.  You will be shocked and awed at how much we could do in a late afternoon and evening.

Day 1:  We arrived by plane around 1:30 pm, which by the way, if you're looking for tips, is the best time to arrive in an NYC airport (there are 2).  (Anytime after 3:00 p.m. arrivals lend to increased traffic and a bigger taxi bill to get to your hotel.  So you know.) (Tip #2 while we're at it, we wore cute clothes on the plane so we wouldn't have to change and shower when we got there.)

We checked into our hotel and we were starving.  So once the bags were dropped, we hit the streets to find pizza!  Across the street was Patzeria, a ridiculously yummy pizza place with 6 chairs to seat people against a wall.  Since those chairs were taken, we ate our pizza on the street. Hey, when in Rome!

When our bellies were full, we skipped on over to Times Square to see allthepeople. And the famous red staircase!  Which leads to nowhere.  It's just a staircase. In the middle of Times Square. So, whatever. Take a picture! You've arrived!

Next, we started walking quickly, because appointments. We zipped over to Sugar where the kids ordered a giant fishbowl drink that cost $30.  But it bubbled!  And tasted yummy (allegedly)!  No problem, it wasn't on my tab.  (insert toothy grin here.)

From there we made our way all the way to Central Park on foot and then caught our Pedicabs.  These two guys took us through Central Park and did all the legwork (pun intended).  It was fun! It was glorious!  It was quintessential New York.  A must do and not ridiculously expensive. Check Groupon!

You can see that although we were at Central Park, at one point we had to enter traffic.  AGGHHH!!
Of course we didn't sustain any injuries, and in the end we got a picture for the ages.  If only those cute tourists behind us had been out of the way....

By now you may be wondering who that cute blonde that looks like she could be related to us is. That's Abby's bff and my bonus daughter, Jeni.  She kindly came along for our reindeer games in NYC and never complained once.  I can't say the same for my children.
So the funny Pedicab guys dropped us off near the subway and we hopped on, bound for Harlem.  HARLEM AT NIGHT, you say?  Or is it just my dad who said that?  Either way, yes, we subwayed up and stepped into the light of day in a place not so scary at all.  I loved Harlem!

Amateur Night at the Apollo is AWESOME, y'all.  I highly recommend this fun show!

So to end the day, we UBERed back to Times Square (near our first hotel, but that's another story for another day).  UBER is your friend in NYC.  And to be honest, we were brave enough to take a subway to Harlem in the daytime hours, but not after dark.

We ended the night with Wafels and Dinges (pronounced waffles and deen ges).  If you stumble upon one of these in the city, RUN, do not walk.  You'll never regret it.

This wafel has the following dinges' (toppings): warm nutella and strawberries, sprinkled with powdered sugar.  HEAVEN.
Day 2 coming soon!

Friday, June 23, 2017

How to take a vacation with Post It Notes

We took some epic vacations when I was a kid.  I'm talkin' two week road trips to the east or west coast (equal distances from my landlocked home in Oklahoma). Dad would plan the whole thing without the use of any stinkin' internet to guide him and our meals came mostly from the cooler that took up half the backseat or fast food along the way.  This is how I learned an extreme distaste for anything at McDonald's before 10:30 am. The smell in our Buick Skylark was nauseating. I begged to roll down the windows, but on we rolled to our multiple destinations.  Dad would whip out his trusty map and we would hit the road.

Road trips in the 1970's and 80's were the best.

Today, we take our kids on trips, too.  But ours are different.  While we fly to some locations (Hawaii, New York, Florida), we like to take a good old fashioned road trip too.  We pack snacks but avoid childhood roadtrip foods like soggy pre-made sandwiches and fruit in a cooler.  Instead, we plan to stop and eat.  This is not the most cost efficient, but it allows us to stretch our legs and see what we can see along the way.

This blog post is not about a roadtrip, but it is about an epic adventure.  One that was planned and curated the new-fashioned way... jumping many hours down the internet rabbit hole.  I'd like to say that these things can be easily done in an afternoon. But unless there's an app I've never heard of, this takes time. And paper.  Specifically Post It Note paper.

Behold our trip to New York City.

Isn't it dreamy?? This makes my OCD sooo happy.

Now, let me start with saying this: everyone has different things they want to do and see in NYC.  Some of my friends go purely for the shopping and celebrity sightings.  Some go for the tourist-y stuff.  Others look for places that are off the beaten path.  This itinerary is a mixture of all these things.

Here are my tips for creating your own vacation planning board.

1. Gather your supplies.  Get a poster or paper in close size.  Grab sticky notes of 3 colors and a sharpie. Now you're ready.

*Side note: For NYC, we used two large papers.  The first was to divide the city into districts, the other to divide the days.

2. Discuss your ideas.  We started by sitting down the whole family and asking what they most wanted to see or do.  Each person could add their ideas to a sticky note and put it on the board under the district where it is located.  Ideas that were agreed on by at least 3 of us had a definite place on the board.  If only one person wanted to do something, they were overruled and not placed on the final date map.

These are the remnants of our planning.  They got the boot.

3. Color Code.  Use one color sticky note for restaurants, one for activities, and one for destinations that have a reservation.  The hubs loves food.  Almost more than he loves me. So he spent lots of time just scouring Trip Adviser for recommendations on great restaurants.  I loved seeing destinations: Radio City Music Hall, Central Park, and the Today Show. Those are fun things that don't cost money and can be photographed and left in the rear view mirror.  Activities were my kids' things.  We took a pedicab tour of Central Park that ended up being their favorite thing all week.  We also did a gondola ride from the Loeb Boathouse which was quintessential New York (That was my favorite).

Hubs wanted to sleep so we took an uber at 5:15 am JUST TO SEE Matt Lauer and he wasn't even there that day. :(

Haven't you always thought Al would be a great guy to bring to your party? He was as sweet and jovial as I imagined, even pausing when my finger malfunctioned on the selfie button and it took a few seconds for me to figure that out. Ha!

This was the gondola ride from the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park.  It took planes trains and automobiles to get us there with all our high heels and such.  But it was OH SO WORTH IT.

3. Make a plan.  Once we knew how many ideas were in each area of the city, we started placing them on days together.  We stayed in Midtown so if we were headed to the Financial District, then we might throw in Battery Park while we were down that way.  Maps and Pinterest are your friends!  Click here for my personal NYC board.  Consider leaving the last day open.  #5 will explain this more.

4. Take it with you! Many people ask me how I remembered all of our plans once we got there.  Are you kidding?  I lost too many brain cells having children.  I can't remember anything. So of course we folded that baby up and took her along on our adventure!  In Hawaii we taped it to the wall of our room, but in NYC we simply laid it out on the desk in the room.

5.  Sticky Notes are Moveable.  Every day we looked at what we had accomplished on the list and moved our Post Its around. If we had skipped or missed something, we would move it according to our interest.  Somethings got skipped altogether.  But others got moved to the final day.

6. Keep the mindset- everything is negotiable.  You may not get to go to the Brooklyn Flea.  And it's ok! (I mean, that's what they tried to tell me when they all ix-nayed my plan.)  We walked 50 miles in NYC this last time.  That's a lot of freaking walking!  Some days you may plan it all and need to abort your mission to take a nap in the room.  And that's ok!  You may run out of money at the end of your trip and need to eat pizza instead of steak.  And that's ok too!

Just remember that vacations are meant to be fun.  But if you fail to plan, you'll plan to fail.  We want to see as much as we can when we visit a cool location.  If you'd rather sit in the room and listen to the traffic below, do it!  But if you want to experience all that a new place has to offer, try this technique.  You'll thank me later.

Central Park, I love you in the summer.