Thursday, March 3, 2016

New York, New York

So on the other side of the palm tree from this week's 'Monday's Moment', there is another sign pointing towards New York (though not listed, it is about 12799 km to NYC according to google). That reminded me, before heading south to our home leave locale we took a little trip to the largest city in the United States, good ole New York, New York, and I have yet to blog about it....so here we go!


Given we have taken the kids to places like Istanbul and Rome and we plan to go Sydney and Auckland this tour, it seemed a tad odd we have never taken them to New York. Richard has taken multiple trips and I had been once when we went for our one year anniversary.....


Wow! June 2009....we looked so young back then!

We are big fans of getting rewarded for loyalty...so obviously we all have frequent flyer account numbers (Richard obtained silver status with United last year and got bumped to First class for one flight, Mr. Lucky Duck....kids and I were one segment away and remained back in steerage), Richard and I have a couple of miles earning credit cards, and we each have a hotel club credit card. I have the IHG card (works at InterContinental Hotels, Crowne Plazas, Holiday Inns to name a few) and Richard has the Chase Hyatt card, both of which we annually earn free nights just for having the cards as well as earn additional nights for money spent using the card/special offers. Richard found the Frugal Travel Guy a few years back and he tells you how to maximize the system (and no we don't get anything if you click on those links...I'm just being nice putting them in there). We don't go as extreme as he does/follow all of his tips (and we always pay off our balances). Remember that trip to Garmisch.....didn't pay for airfare......and the point of bringing this all up....we stayed at the Times Square Hyatt for FREE!!


Given NYC is somewhat ginormous and a lot of what the kids wanted to see were places they had seen on TV/in movies, we opted to do the double decker bus tour to see the most (we pre-booked the tickets online to save some more $$). So after flying in, we dropped our luggage at the hotel and grabbed some lunch. Afterwards, we walked down the block to Times Square, picked up our tickets, and hopped on.

We drove by some the giant Macy's (note to self: return to shop with above mentioned credit card and no kids...and probably no Richard). We saw the NY Municipal Building with the golden Civic Fame statue atop it.


Nearby was the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse.


We learned to not give directions by saying turn at the H&M store, they are everywhere! We saw the Empire State Building.


We drove through China Town, the famous NYPD buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, we got stuck in rush hour traffic, and eventually made it back to Times Square. Here's a short video clip of the Helmsley Building with some holiday lighting and a couple impatient taxi drivers honking because our bus was sitting in the intersection.....ahh New York.



The kids were hungry again for some reason, so we walked up to a little pizza place (ironically once we got inside, Richard and I are almost positive it is the same place we ate when we came up here a few years back). It was warm inside, inexpensive, and tasty! (In fact, so tasty we went back there the next night for dinner again!)


Afterwards, Clarissa being Clarissa, she wanted ice cream (actually gelato). So we stopped at Amorino, they had some European hot chocolate (more like the Polish drinking chocolate I had with my dad in Warsaw), so Richard and I partook in that as well. I got mine with hazelnut flavoring...yum!


Being the trip was more about the kids having fun in NYC, we headed over to the M&M store.....it was crowded on a Saturday night before Christmas....let me tell you!!!! There were essentially bouncers at the door regulating the number of people in the store, once in you were like cattle on a conveyor belt moving through the store. You really couldn't look around. Each kid picked out a couple things they could not live without and we headed on our way. We took the obligatory Times Square family selfie (unfortunately, Clarissa is holding Richard's hand and you can not see her...I assure, no child was lost on the trip). After that, we headed back to the hotel with our weary selves.


Richard headed up to the top floor (aka Bar 54....can you guess what floor?!?!). He was able to get a nice view of the city/Chrysler Building from there.


Kids are not allowed in Bar 54 except at precisely 10:30 am! You meet in the lobby and someone from the hotel will escort families to the top floor to enjoy the view. We were in luck the next morning. It was Sunday, most everyone was checking out to get back to work and we were the only ones going up. Clarissa was excited to see the New Year's Eve ball that was so high up in Times Square look pretty tiny from the top of our hotel. I'm guessing Mason thought it was a pea and was trying to start a food fight?


Richard has a cousin (and her family) that live/work in Brooklyn (you may have heard of some of the products they distribute....pretty tasty stuff.....Brooklyn Beer). We were able to coordinate and meet up for brunch on Sunday. The cousins were able to finally meet, quickly dive into typical cousin shenanigans, and were quite upset when we said it was time for more sight seeing on our short little trip.


So Mason has been on a bit of 'awesome movies from our childhood kick' (Back to the Future, Jaws, Ghostbusters, etc). So when in New York.....you have got to go track down the Hook & Ladder 8.....the Ghostbuster Headquarters!!!


Afterwards, we headed down to the port. Our double decker bus ticket included a harbor tour with close up of Lady Liberty! The top sight on both kids 'to see' list. We missed the boat by minutes, as in it was backing away from the pier as we walked up.....so we had to wait for an hour for the last boat of the night. So while waiting we got some good sunset shots, it was quite a bit chillier for our ride.

Panoramic while we wait..


Brooklyn at Sunset.


Brooklyn Bridge at Twilight.


Manhattan at Twilight.


Lady Liberty at Sunset.


Lady Liberty.


I made sure to tell Mason that he had ancestors that came through Ellis Island. How they were on a boat and looked up at this statue as they entered the harbor after a long trip across the Atlantic to start a new life in America!

Once back on land, we stopped in the giant two story Disney store in Times Square....and of course, we found the princess section. Luckily, we came with only two carry ons and a couple back packs.....so that kept purchases to a minimum....


Before heading back to our hotel room, we decided that since it was the holidays and it was Sunday night it might be a little less crowded....we headed to Rockefeller Center to see the little tree they had put up this year.


No, Richard did not get his wallet stolen. If you look at that lady to right of him (who was probably caught mid-blink) it totally looks like she is trying to be swiper the fox. What is that Clarissa is looking at and can not be bothered with to smile for a picture?  There is a light display on the facade of the Saks Fifth Avenue store. So we walked over to get a closer look (it was also less crowded over there). It looked liked this with the 'castle' changing colors/designs constantly.


Which every little girl who loves anything princess will look up in awe at it like this! (Hands down, my favorite picture from the entire trip!).


So that's it....our quick little trip to NYC....the next morning, we got up and headed to the airport to catch our flight out of town. We told the kids we will try to come back again when it is not so cold, maybe go to a Broadway show. It was super neat on New Year's Eve, when Times Square was shown on TV, Clarissa was very matter of fact when she informed my in-laws that "I have been there!"


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