New York, New York!

For each anniversary, rather than get each other presents, we plan a special experience together in order to celebrate.  It's been fun over the last 5 years to make those special memories together!  We also always go through the highlights of the year, remembering our life together and marriage over the last year.  Since it was our 5th anniversary, we wanted to do something extra special!  of course, our anniversary was actually in December, and on the actual day we were snowed into my parents time-share in Colorado.  We knew we wanted to take a trip somewhere but weren't sure where…. 

we started looking around and found some absolutely AMAZING deals to NYC. and you know how I am with a good deal… With the state of the economy, prices were slashed to encourage tourism, I guess!  our airfare was $300 for BOTH of us together, roundtrip, and I was able to priceline a 4-star hotel in the heart of midtown (near GrandCentral station) and pay just 10$ more a night than we had paid a few years earlier for a hostel in Chelsea that had a community bath and Brian could touch both sides of the room with by stretching out his arms…so you could say that this was definitely an improvement!

One thing we really wanted to do this trip was attend a taping of a TV show – something neither of us had ever done.  Our golden calf was "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart, but after looking daily for a couple of months and even trying to find backdoor ways of getting tickets, nuthin'.  Extremely rarely, tickets are opened up the day of a taping and so we checked during our layover in an airport in North Carolina…and THERE WERE TICKETS!!!!!!!! I can't even describe our excitement!!  So we snatched them FAST!  We were going to be cutting it very close timing-wise between when our plan landed and we needed to be in line (they give out more tickets than there are seats so they recommend getting there several hours early to get in line) so we got to have our wild taxi ride through NYC experience.  We quickly disembarked the plane (and watch an old man attacking a woman trying to get past him, but that's another story), quickly dropped off our bags at our hotel, grabbed another taxi and finally got in line – WOOHOO!  Brian then ran and got us some lunch…NY pizza….ahhhhhh, it felt like coming home :)  We could definitely live here.  Several hours later, we were sitting in a tiny studio listening to Jon Stewart himself.  He came out before the taping and just talked to audience and we were laughing SO FREAKIN' HARD…he is so funny and quick.  he was just answering questions from the audience and it was unreal.  seriously, heaven is going to have some element of this!  Then the taping started and it went SO FAST!  We were amazed at how well-oiled of a machine they have going on (once taping begins, that is.  the whole "line experience" leaves a LOT to be desired).  I was expecting several takes or stopping to adjust this or that but nope…it went straight through and then poof it was done!  tom hanks was the guest and it was so surreal for him to be real… 


Outside the studio afterward –


Walking to our next destination we passed a film crew filming what looked to be like an "escape" out of the building – there was a dummy they kept throwing out.  too cool!


We walked over to Rockefeller Center and went to the "Top of the Rock" at sunset.  It was absolutely magical to see the sun set over the city and then all of the lights start coming on!  What a gorgeous view. 




we continued to walk around the Rockefeller Center area, grabbed some dinner (sushi in Grand Central Station), and then hit the hay – we were TIRED!



The next morning we grabbed some bagels and then rented some bikes to ride around Central Park.  It was a beautiful morning and it felt good to be out in it!  We had a little breakfast picnic by Belvedere Fountain and then continued our exploring.


Strawberry Fields…


Literary Walk


Hanging out reading


We went from one end of the park to another over several hours, stopping off just to sit in and enjoy throughout.  Afterwards, we picked up lunch at a deli and ate in Bryant Park, the site of Fashion Week each year.  We're HUGE Project Runway fans so this was exciting!  Kristin Chenoweth was doing a reading in the park that day so hearing her was a special treat!


That afternoon we had tickets to the taping of Late Show with David Letterman.  Seeing him in real life was also very surreal and fun (though I must say not NEAR as great as Jon Stewart ;)).  the guest was Robin Williams and good grief is that man funny. 


Between checking in for the late show and the taping, we had a little

afternoon snack nearby…


We also went and saw St. Patrick's Cathedral nearby…beautiful.


Brian especially enjoyed it:


That night was….


WICKED!!!!!!!!  It was truly spectacular in every single way…the story, the message, the singing, the costumes, the staging, the choreography–for a couple of hours we were completely enraptured and swept up into this wonderful story and world!  We spent hours talking about it later.  The only thing more "wicked" than wicked was the WICKED, EXCRUCIATING, HORRIFIC PAIN in my legs.  Yes, that is right…the bicycling (particularly the bicycling for several hours after many sedentary months of no exercise) caught up with me…to the point that I was fighting tears in intermission.  Yes, folks, it was that pathetic.  We totally hit a CVS for Icy Hot on the way back to the hotel! 

The next day we spent at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Incredible! 


The Van Gogh lover…



They had several pieces from Picasso's blue period that I thought were absolutely mesmerizing…


I'm so glad I have Brian with me in art museums – he helps me appreciate and understand so much more! 

speaking of – here is a cool modern piece:


that night – oh yeah, baby…that's right:  the Comedy Cellar!!!!  We laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed!  There were 5 different comedians, including Pete Correale, who we had actually seen the last time we were in NYC and had a special on Comedy Central coming up.  HILARIOUS!  This pic shows how close were to the stage…always dangerous (I was terrified) in a comedy club, but the venue is TEENY and fortunately it didn't backfire on us! :)



We took the subway back from Greenwich Village to Times Square (our hotel was a few blocks from there) and got to see all the life, energy and action there – exhilarating!



we spent the next day at the Museum of Modern Art, catching an awesome docent led tour.  One of my life dreams/goals is to take an Art History class.  One day…



Did you have any idea this actual painting was so small?!  I didn't!!




That night was the Broadway show Brian was really looking forward to…The Lion King!!  It really was amazing to see the creativity and artistry of this show – there were several times I gasped out loud. 


We walked by the Chrysler building on our way to and from our hotel each day.


Ghandi statue in Union Square.  Brian got up early one morning and just sat and wrote in this park – I slept in! :) 


On Saturday we headed into Brooklyn (a first!) and discovered a SUPER cool burough as well as a SUPER cool local brewery – Brooklyn Brewery.  We toured the brewery, which was especially neat for Brian who has been brewing his own beer at home, got to sample some of their different beers (my favorite was the Pennant Ale, Brian's was ____), and got to know a group of public school teachers and coaches from Long Island. 


there were lots of locals there just hanging out, so there was a really cool vibe…


plotting his next brew…





random door (on our way back to subway)…


After lunch in a local pasta/pizzaria, we headed back into the city…I wanted to see if we could win the lottery (they give out the front row tickets for cheap in a drawing an hour before the show) for West Side Story – one of my favorite musicals!  We didn't win the lottery BUT since it was sold out, they were selling standing room only tickets (really cheap)- woohoo! and when we got in there, there were actually some empty seats, so we got to sit afterall.  Having grown up on that soundtrack and seeing local productions of WSS, it was so neat to see it on Broadway.  I LOVED it!


We spent the next day walking around Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village, SoHo, Lower East Side, etc.  A nice day out walking NYC and just taking in the people and feel…

Brian is ready to take on someone at the chess tables…




Lower Eastside/Alphabet City … great street "art"



old Tenement Museum from immigrant days…I love this kind of history…


lunch in Little Italy


That night we were just exhausted and wanted a quiet evening in our hotel room watching movies and reading- it was vacation, afterall, and time for some relaxing!  We picked up some groceries at a nearby Amish market – really yummy cheeses, breads, and fruit.  We also had to pack….booo hoooo :( 




The New York Helmsley


The next day, after storing our luggage and checking out, we were off on the subway again!


This time for a food and history walking tour through Greenwich Village.  (have you noticed that food is important to us throughout this?!)  This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip!  It was several hours of eating the most amazing things at about 12 stops along the way, and hearing about and seeing some really neat history in that neighborhood.

In front of Murray's cheese shop waiting for it to begin…I mean, a whole shop dedicated to CHEESE – how can you go wrong?!?!



love these little streets…



facade of "Friends" apartment building!!!


mmmmm….saved the best for last….



After that we walked around some more neighborhoods…  Look what we stumbled across!  Nerd-fantasy come true…the offices of WNYC, the NPR branch in NYC.  They put out some of our favorite shows, like RadioLab and Intelligence Squared!  You'll notice we also went down to Canal Street (where all the cheap knock-offs of stuff is sold) to get me a sweatshirt (don't you just love my bright purple?! Brian LOVED being seen with me in it) – it was getting COLD and we hadn't brought anything heavy enough…and we were going to be outside that night at a Yankees game, freezing our buns off. 


so that is where we headed next, into the Bronx to boo (very, VERY quietly) the Yankees! 


their new stadium…blech.





This was definitely a new baseball experience and a VERY exciting one (though not near as family-friendly :P).  We sat in the bleacher section, and I do believe the term "bleacher creature" had to have been coined here.  I was absolutely incredulous at the yankees fans around us. 

Their fans take it to a whole new level.  They peppered the
centerfielder (and his mother) with a barrage of insults (and that is
putting it VERY G-rated) the entire game that NY comics themselves
would probably shy away from.  Also in the bleachers was either a very
brave or a very insane man who wore a Twins jersey.  After being
heckled in unison by our whole section, he was literally escorted out
by armed guards for his own safety after a yankee fan grabbed his hat to the
cheers of our section, shouting in his face.  this yankee was a 27
year-old female!  all in all, a very entertaining time!


IT WAS FREEZING!!!  I don't know how many hot chocolates I went through…


It was an AMAZING game!!  The Twins mounted an incredible comeback and it was SO exciting but those dadgum Yankees still won.  As much as we dislike the Yankees, we will begrudgingly admit it is a dislike that comes out of a respect for how intimidating and dominating they are, and how loyal and passionate their fans.

After that, we went back to the city and found a cool Irish pub for some late dinner and warming up.  Brian even tried the beer sampler!


It was about midnight now and time to pick up our bags and head to the airport.  Good bye, NY Helmsley! 


We had a super early flight – 6 a.m.- and we had decided to just spend the night in the airport rather than pay for a hotel for just 3 or 4 hours.  Great plan, right?  In the sense that it meant we could stay an extra day in NY, then Yes!  in the sense that it turns out the airport isn't open at night, and there is no heat, and the crazy taxi man hands us a bag of a french magazines right before we get out, and the only people that are there are, well, NO ONE, then NO it isn't a great plan!  oh, but an adventure – yes, it was… 


We did make it out ok the next day and happily home.  Clara spent the week between our parents and had a blast but it was too long for us…never again can we leave her that long.  Even with getting to videochat with her at night we realized we just miss our baby girl way too much and a huge part of us was missing.  We were EXTREMELY thankful to our parents for taking such good care of her, though, so we could enjoy our 5th anniversary! 

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