Monday, March 08, 2010

New York New York It's a Wonderful Town....

Warning: this is a VERY long post with pictures so be prepared to be reading for a while. Something like this deserves to be told in great detail.

So this weekend I got to do something that I have been wanting to do my entire life. I've never been to New York. Oh I stopped in JFK airport during a layover to Malaysia but that doesn't count.

My brother in law lives in Brooklyn so this gave us the perfect opportunity to stay for a weekend and visit the city. Plus it would help for me to get a good run through of what's going to happen when I come to NYC in May for BEA. I'm really glad I went to the trip now because if I had gone for the first time by myself in May...well let's just say I might not be around to write a post like this.

For this trip we traveled using the Bolt Bus from Union Station in DC to NYC. We left around 5:30 and got there before 10pm (which according to my BIL is really good time). The bus ride went rather well, there's free wifi and plugs for your laptop. I took a Dramamine so I passed out the entire trip (rather be sleepy than throwing up).

Us on the bus right before I passed out.

Once we got to NYC, we waited for my husband's brother to get us to bring us back to his place in Brooklyn. So I got about 10 minutes to experience NYC for the very first time near Madison Square Garden. Thoughts: 1) Why on earth did I think NYC would be warmer than DC? Hello, NYC is in the NORTH?

Trying to huddle up from the cold. The hat was too small but that was all I had brought in my bag because I wasn't thinking when packing.

2) Also it sure was noisy. And lots of smells in the air, from the street food, to trash to cars. We then met up with my BIL who took us to the subway to Brooklyn. Now comparisons of NYC Subway to DC Metro.

NYC Subway is (sorrier) dirtier than DC Metro.
DC Metro makes me throw up, surprisingly I did not get sick ONCE riding NYC subway.
NYC Subway makes more frequent stops which is nicer for me.

I have no idea how I'm going to remember all these stops, trains, switches when I come back in May by myself but my BIL seems to be a pro at it (he also has a handy subway app on his IPhone). We came into Brooklyn to his place and then decided to go out to dinner. On the way, we stopped by the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and saw a beautiful view of the city. BIL told us that that was where the WTC was and it was very scary as to how close the view would have been on that day.

We went to Grimaldi's Pizza in Brooklyn. I was VERY excited to eat there because I had seen it on TV on one of the shows on the Travel channel. It's one of those places where you have to usually wait in line for 30-45 minutes for a seat and they don't serve slices only the whole pies. We got there at 11:15 so there was no line at all. We ordered a Red Pizza with Pepperoni and Ricotta. I don't normally like red pizza but this was delicious. I ended up eating three slices. Then we walked back home, promptly passed out after a long tiring day.

The next day would be even longer, but well worth it.

I came to NYC with a list of the things I wanted to do while I was there.

1) Go to the Strand Bookstore
2) Visit FAO Schwartz
3) See the Imagine Circle in Central Park
4) Go to Times Square

I didn't want to be TOO touristy but at the same time wanted to go to places I have been wanting to my entire life.

The day started off with a hearty breakfast at Dumbo General Store in Brooklyn. Husband and BIL both got sandwiches while I went with the more traditional meal of pancakes and fruit. Was a bit disappointed that the $2.50 Diet Coke I paid for only gave me one of those small 8oz bottles.

Starting off the morning with a something a little strong...nah they just serve water in old wine glasses. Makes one feel less cheap when they only drink water.

Then we walked around Brooklyn for a bit, looking at the bridges and water area. It's funny, when I think of Brooklyn several things come to mind like 1) Miranda Hobbs lives in Brooklyn or 2) Spot Conlon! But it's really nice. It's a LOT quieter and things seem a bit more slower than in Manhattan. And it's not far away at all from the main part of the city.

Our first stop after getting off the Subway in Manhattan was to Rockefeller 30 Rock! BIL got us tickets to Top of the Rock, which is the observation towers at the top of the building...70 stories high. While we were waiting for our time slot, we walked around Rockefellar Center. I got to see where the Today Show is (the place looks a LOT smaller and not as glamorous as it does on TV) as well as the ice skating rink (again looks a LOT smaller).

Also we went into the NBC Experience store which had all kinds of goodies from NBC shows. My favorite section was The Office section which featured all sorts of stuff from the show including....

If you watch the Office you should recognize what I am holding!

The entire time I was in the complex, I kept having the NBC Nightly News theme song stuck in my head. Did you know that it's written by John Williams (of Star Wars/Indiana Jones/The Olympic Theme fame?) So this is the building we went to top of

Looks rather high doesn't it?

Again I didn't get sick at all while going up. The elevator ride was extremely fast and smooth plus they kept you distracted with a video while going up.

Because I've always wanted to do a picture like that

The view was just spectacular. You could see for miles around. And it was a really good day to go out and see it. Not a cloud in the sky. In case you are wondering, there were three levels to go up on, 2 levels had glass, while the top level did not (it's smaller though, no one can really jump off in case you were wondering)

Alas I am not that tall...just standing on the ledge

After that glorious visit, our next stop was to FAO Schwarz. I have been wanting to go there my entire life! After watching Home Alone 2 and Big and reading about it in books, it was a must see for me, even though I'm in my 20s. We got there and I was a bit (just a tad bit) disappointed at how small the store looked. Maybe because I was smaller it looked huge on TV? Anywho I still had a blast going. I got a bit carried away in the Star Wars and Harry Potter sections...

Jedi Pose

I got sorted into Ravenclaw


Check out my Nimbus 2001

Stuffed Pug!!!
After that we went to the Apple Store which is right out front of FAO Schwarz and is underground under a glass box. Then we went to Central Park. The reason why I wanted to go there was to see the Imagine Circle.

Let me tell you this was a total emotional experience for me. I walked there and literally started sobbing. Just finally seeing it and then knowing what it stood for and everything just brought a rush of emotions. As a huge Beatles fan, it makes me wonder what could have happen if Lennon had not been shot on that day. We just sat there and enjoyed the quiet of the park. After this, BIL took us across the street to the Dakota Building where John and Yoko lived (she still lives there) and we saw the place where he got shot. I got chills. Just a total emotional experience really.

Lunch was next. On the way to lunch apparently husband and BIL saw Richard Belzer from Law and Order: SVU walking in the streets. I missed seeing him because I was looking at (of all things) two bikes that were chained together. I was thinking, why are these bikes just chained to each other and not to a pole or a sign or anything. Someone could totally kick the kickstand and they could fall over and someone could steal them. So instead of seeing a celebrity in NYC, I saw two bikes chained together. Go me.

We went to
Fatty Crab on the Upper West Side. OMG the food was DELICIOUS. It was Malaysian food which was a really nice surprise for me. Between the three of us we split a Green Mango Salad (very spicy, but had a cooling effect), Wonton Soup with pork and wontons and fried noodles (spicy/salty soup) and Char Kway Teow (my absolute favorite Malaysian dish to get - this version had noodles with shrimp, squid, eggs and bean sprouts). I forgot to take pictures of the food but it was FAB.

After properly being stuffed we then headed to the place I had been wanting to visit most of all.....THE STRAND!!!!!!!!!!! Sadly I completely forgot to take any pictures at all but it was everything I wanted and more. Well, I will admit it was quite hot inside the store and a bit stuffy. But I ignored all that and just reveled in the glory of it. The YA section was FABULOUS. SO many books. The fiction section - TBH not so much. But the best part was downstairs on the bottom floor with the review section. These were review books that I think were sent to newspapers and magazines that were given back/not read? (someone please correct me) Anywho they were all 50% off!!!!!! So I got two books from the section: Kitchen Chinese by Ann Mah and One True Love by Lori Copeland for less than $7 each. Totally geeked because I really wanted to read these two and the library didn't even have them yet. THEN I went outside to look at the discount bins and found BUNCHES of ARCs for $1. I found Salty Like Blood by Harry Kraus which was one I have been wanting but hadn't received yet. So it was a GREAT day at the Strand where I got 3 books for just a little over $15.

We stopped in Washington Square for a bit which was nice to look around. BIL attends NYU for grad school which is near here.

After that we decided to walk around for a bit and get a drink and found ourselves at Fish in Greenwich village. BIL and husband had raw oysters and beer while I had myself some yummy lobster bisque.

I was halfway done before I remembered to take a picture (the only meal I took a picture of)

By this point we were starting to get a little tired from all the walking but we had one last stop to go...Times Square! Weirdly on the way, in the subway husband and BIL ran into one of their friends from their hometown that lives in NYC. It was weird because we had been talking about him earlier today and BIL had said he hadn't seen him since moving up here. Plus we missed the original train we were going to take and ended up having to wait for the next one. So it was totally random that we ran into him there.

Finally we reached the ultimate NYC experience..well at least for me. We got to Times Square and my reaction was just...WHOA.

Seriously it was sensory overload. As dorky as this sounds, I totally was reminded of Courscant from Star Wars. All the moving pictures and lights. Just breathtaking.

We went on top of the stairs at the TKTS booth which gives a really good view of the entire Times Square. (picture above). One funny scene I saw were these Fake Mickey and Minnie Mouse that was waving outside of the Olive Garden. All of a sudden the Mickey just throws his arms down and looks utterly exhausted. Then someone walked by and he had to start waving again. Poor Mickey.
I so wanted to do the VJ Kiss in Times Square but I couldn't remember where it was so we just did this.

Believe it or not we still were not done for the night. We still had to eat dinner, although now that I think about it, I'm not sure why we did because we were all pretty much NOT hungry. It was time to go back to Brooklyn to recharge for a bit before going out. I think the three of us dozed off for about half an hour. The original plan was to go to another place we had seen on the Travel Channel, The Chipshop, which specializes in British deep fried food. Sadly though when we got there the wait was extremely long so we walked trying to find another spot.

I can't remember the name of the bar we went to but we stopped there for a while for some drinks. Interestingly there was no food there except for some all you can eat BBQ chicken and onion cheese tater casserole that NO ONE except the bar tender ate. Seriously not a single person ventured towards the heating dish.
By now I'm about to pass out but we still haven't eaten yet.

So we head BACK to the Chipshop and since it's almost 11 they now have room for us! At this point, I'm really not hungry but I still go ahead and order Fish and Chips. Holy Potatoes...the fish was HUGE. I mean it was literally bigger than what my stomach should be. As it stood I could not finish it at all. I ate the chips, which were really good but I could not finish the fish. I was sad because I really wanted to order the Fried Twinkie but I was just stuffed. I'm not sure how I made it back to the apartment. We got back and all three of us promptly passed out.

Sunday morning comes and it's time for us to go. BIL rented a Zipcar so that we could drive through the city in the morning. It was nice as we had traveled the entire weekend by either foot or subway. He showed us the NYC library which got me extremely giddy because we were on the same street from the scene in the Sex and the City movie when Carrie gets married!

Finally it was time to catch the bus and head back to DC.
On the way back home we stopped at this travel center in Maryland that had all these food places inside like Starbucks, Cinnabon, Quiznos, Popeyes. I just want to say Virginia....instead of closing all your rest areas DO THIS INSTEAD! You can make a fortune!!!!!! We both passed out on the way back home. Oh yeah apparently our driver was texting while driving. Some lady called him out on it. We got back earlier than what was planned even with that stop. One more exciting bit before we got home home. We were getting on the metro at Union Station when Husband got caught in the door. He was inside but the bags he had on him were left on the outside when the doors shut. The other passengers had to pry the doors open. My Adidas bag of 11 years got ruined but luckily he was ok. So far NY Subway is getting more points than DC Metro.

If you are still reading at this point - I give you major kudos!

Anywho, that was our trip! My first time in NYC was totally awesome. I'm really glad that we went with my BIL who knows the area as opposed to doing it by ourselves or with a tour group. Hopefully next time we can go to places like The Met. I'm looking forward to going back for BEA now that I know my way around (ok not really). NYC is fun to visit but I'm not sure if I could live there :)
As it stands, DC is busy enough for me!


  1. It looks like you had a blast! You are so cute in all your geekiness in the FAO Schwartz pictures!

  2. Yay for NYC! So glad you had a great trip. I want to go back and see more shows - Broadway & Times Square just blew me away.

  3. What an awesome weekend!!!!

  4. I'm glad you had a good time! See, our city isn't so bad, right? When you come for BEA, maybe I'll make you hang out in Brooklyn more. It's way less stressful and much cooler. :)

  5. Yay! I'm so glad you had a great time! Awesome pictures, too! So are you going to be our official tour guide for BEA?

  6. You're so lucky! I wish I could visit New York someday also. While I was reading your post and looking at the photos, Empire State of Mind is playing in my mind. Haha. Nice post. Thanks for sharing with us the experience.

  7. Nice! It looked like you had lots of fun! It is really nice when you get to visit a family member and visit different places at the same time it really double the fun!

  8. Sounds like you had a great time! I loved the pictures and The Strand has to be one of the best bookstores on the planet. :)

  9. I'm glad you had a great time! Of course I love DC more too because it's home. Sooooo jealous about BEA!!! My son graduates from HS during that time. Do you think he'd be mad?

  10. Sounds like you had a great trip! I love NYC and can't wait to go back in May. And I can't believe you had the patience to write out this entire post - kudos to you!

  11. I really like your blog. The color, the theme and the "Chinese food" part. Keep posting!


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