Friday, September 20, 2013

New York Day 4 & 5

Why yes, my birthday trip to New York was over 2 months ago & I'm finally finishing blogging about it.  That's the way I roll.  Again, I'm just proud that I'm documenting it all.  If this is your first read of our trip- Lantz surprised me with a trip to New York for my birthday.  Hit the "travel" label over on the bottom right of the blog to read about all our adventures & the way Lantz surprised me.  Day 4 & 5 we still did a ton, but we didn't take as many pictures as the other days-- just an FYI.

So we decided to start our day off at the Today Show.  We thought we'd go & experience not just the show itself, but also their Friday Summer Concert Series-- John Mayer.  {Bad idea.}  We knew we needed to get there earlier than the show started if we wanted some standing room, but apparently you need to just camp out the night before.  We showed up at 6:30am and it was way too late.  We ended up standing in a baracade for like 3 hours only to hear ONE John Mayer song (and one warm-up song).  We did see him {from the back}, but it so wasn't worth it.  We left.  We were hungry.  We really aren't John Mayer fans-- just there to check it all out.  NOT.WORTH.IT.

So, like I said.... we were pretty hungry by this point.  We decided we definitely needed to hit up a New York bagel store.  We ended up at Ess-a-Bagels, which were super yummy!  We both got coffee & Lantz got a cinnamon raisin bagel & I got an 'everything' bagel.

From Ess-a-Bagel we decided to walk up to Grand Central Station & check it out.  It was HUGE & way fun to people watch.  We walked around for awhile and checked things out downstairs.  Kinda like a mini-mall.

Ummm... thanks lady who took our picture.... it was so nice, but next time will you focus us please? 

From Grand Central Station we caught our first subway to SoHo.  We walked around there a bit, and then started making our way to Little Italy & Chinatown.  On our way we stopped at a little taco stand that my friend Trae and his wife (who live in NY) recommended to us.  It was called La Esquina.  It was super good!  I got fish tacos & Lantz got a steak taco & a Mexican corn on the cobb.  This place was a perfect quick stop-- cheap & yummy.  Lantz got a cannoli in Little Italy-- it was yummy too!

We walked through Little Italy & Chinatown for a bit & did a little "window" shopping.  It took us a while to figure out how the whole thing worked, but we finally learned that you had to ask if you were looking for something specific.  People would run off somewhere & bring something back to you in a secretive way for you to look at.  Kinda shady.  Lantz got some "Oakleys."  :)

You know- found a sign with our name on it & had to take a picture. :) Just being tourists. 
We then took the subway back up to the NBC studio.  We went to reserve our tickets for a tour the next day.  We then made a pit stop at Magnolia's Bakery for some banana pudding (which someone who lived there said was amazing), but it wasn't that great.  I have a really fantastic banana pudding recipe {Thanks to Paula Deen-- try it out -- you won't be disappointed I promise!!! Here is the LINK-- I mean if the name doesn't do it for you, I don't know what will-- "Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding"."}, so Magnolia's really didn't stand a chance.  We should have tried something else from there. 

We then headed back to our hotel to clean up for a nice dinner at Campagnola.  Some sweet friends recommended this place to us & treated us for my birthday.  To say it was AMAZING would be an understatement.  So non-touristy, & very much old-school.  We LOVED it!  We ordered the T-bone steak, broccoli/spinach saute with roasted garlic, & arugula salad.  Our meal also came with an appetizer tray of anti-pasta, some bread, and some little cookies at the end.  It was so delicious!  My mouth is watering just typing and thinking about it!  Thanks Jim & Amy!

When then when on a nice walk up to Central Park & through one of the "fancy" neighborhoods.

We then took the subway back up to Times Square and ended up at a Crumbs Bakery for some more dessert.  I got a milkshake cupcake (marble cake with cookies & cream filling, vanilla frosting with chocolate sauce and cookie crumbs), and Lantz got a coffee-toffee cupcake (vanilla cake, mocha icing with toffee pieces).  To be honest they sound much better than they tasted.  The cake was pretty dry.  Plus we are spoiled with amazing cupcakes by my friend Andrea-- she makes incredible gourmet cupcakes!  If you are local, contact me & I can get you her info. if you are interested.  We ended the night by walking through H&M & Urban Outfitters for some window shopping.  Then back to the hotel to eat our cupcakes there.  We only ate a few bites (since they were not that great) and packed them to take back for the girls.

Last night in hotel view from room:


This was our last day in New York.  We got up early and checked out of our hotel & had them store our bags.  We got a coffee from Starbucks & bought a souvenir mug for our collection.  (We collect Starbucks mugs from all the major cities that we travel to {except for our Europe trip-- we couldn't backpack with like 8 mugs so we only got one from our last stop in Paris}).

Last day pic in hotel:

We decided that we would hit up a donut store that had been recommended to us.  We hoped on the subway and unfortunately got off at the wrong stop.  We decided to walk and check out the scenery.  We finally ended up at Donut Plant.  Let me tell you... if you want the most amazing donut you will ever eat in your whole life you must go here.  It was super sweet & more along the lines of dessert, but you can't wait too long in the day to go by because they totally sell out.  We were there super early and they had already sold out some of their more popular flavors.  We got a coconut cream and a coconut lime--- we like coconut.  Both were AMAZING!  The shop itself was really cool too.  We would highly recommend this place.

Loved this wall of pillows.  They are all handmade especially for this store & each one represents one of their donut flavors. 


We walked over to the original C.O. Bigalow Pharmacy and got Lantz's mom some soap and lotion for watching the girls for us.  

We decided we walk down to Chinatown again to do some more "shopping."  On the way we stopped at a Papaya store to get a large Pina-Colada flavored drink (coconut & pineapple) and we ended up walking through a Saturday market & checking out some of the things for sale.  We walked through Chinatown again for about an hour looking for something for me to buy.  I thought I should at least get something from New York.  But I couldn't find anything I liked & I didn't really care for a knock-off of some name-brand something or other.

We took the subway back up to Rockefeller Plaza for our tour of the NBC studio.  We got to see where Brian Williams films, Saturday Night Live stage, and also the Jimmy Falon show.  I also got volunteered to pretend to do be a news anchor.  It was fun.  You couldn't take pictures once the tour started, so here is our ticket & Lantz waiting for the tour to start:

After the tour we headed over to a sandwich place called Lenny's.  We both had a sandwich with corned beef, pastrami, coleslaw & Russian dressing.  We've had a sandwich like this in the past, so we were expecting it to be as good, but it was just okay.  Nothing to write home about.

We then headed back to our hotel to grab our bags.  We had a bit of a mishap because we thought we left Lantz's phone charger in the room but they would let us go in and see since someone else had already checked into the room.  It was kinda a huge ordeal, but it actually was a big misunderstanding.  And it all worked out because Lantz actually had it in his bag... he just checked the wrong place. Ha!

We took the bus back to the airport.  At the airport we had a free pass to the United Club, so we hung out in there for about an hour.  We snacked on some cheese & crackers, trail mix, nuts, chocolate covered raisins, carrots and some fruit tea to drink.

Last view of the city:

All in all it was a super trip & I have the most incredible husband ever!

We were sad to leave New York:

But we were so excited to get home to see out girls:

Thanks Lantz for an amazing 30th birthday surprise trip!!!  I'm one lucky lady!!

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