I’ll always love you though New York…

A week ago tonight, I had a belly full of New York pizza and feet tired from a day spent walking – exploring Central Park, walking miles to and around the park. Exhausted from our full day and an early morning flight, my mom and I were probably hanging out in our hotel room at this time, winding down and preparing to start all over again on Saturday morning.

I have said before how much I love big cities – and NYC is no different. The love I have for New York is similar to the love I have for Chicago is similar to the love I have for San Francisco. All three cities are vibrant and radiate with a lovely chaos. The architecture, the landscape, the motion. But New York is different than Chicago which is different than San Francisco. And those three are probably in many ways similar to other cities across the country, and just as different.

(You with me so far: Things are alike but different)

I could have spent another four, eight, twelve, whatever days in New York and still not finished exploring all I wanted to see. We wandered through the Village, eating brunch in some random restaurant (waffles! yummy!). We found the Washington Square arch, and I took a picture of the Waverly Place sign for my daughter.

I love like a fountain
And it left me with nothing
Just the memories of walking through Washington Square
-Counting Crows

I took far more pictures of the Flatiron Building than seemed reasonable, but the shape and the unexpectedness of it, looming so high above just somehow pleased me and I couldn’t stop with the pictures.

Battery Park looking over the Statue of Liberty as the sunset, the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building lit up like Christmas out my hotel room at night, the crowded heat of a subway station on a Saturday afternoon as trains were cancelled, rerouted and who knows what (probably old hat for the residents of NYC – but all new to the touristy folks trying to get back to Manhattan from Queens when all the trains we were “supposed to” take were cancelled).

For all my fear of flying, I am a surprisingly relaxed traveler. I don’t necessarily always need to know where I’m going. Subway switcheroo? No problem. We’ll get there eventually. My mom, she looked so upset with the uncertainty – but that never hit me that day. Maybe because I just figured, Worst case scenario, we get a cab. No big deal. WE CAN DO THIS. And you know what? We did. Sure, it took a little longer than we’d anticipated but… where else did we have to go? We’d get there when we got there.

The noise – the sirens, the rush of crowds? All of that. I love all. of. that.

And I was sad to leave.

This trip made me realize that I want my children to travel. When I was younger, my family never went on vacations – we just couldn’t afford it. That’s always the way it was and I never really realized I was missing out. Sure, my brother and I would fly to visit our grandparents in the summers but I started to learn the ropes of travel later, after college, during my first job when I would travel often for trade shows. My first trip for work was to Vegas and I arrived hours before my coworkers – I was so freaked out – because now, instead of meeting them all at the airport, I had to pick up the rental car on my own, drive in a strange city, and find the hotel somewhere on the Strip. I was a wreck.

It’s taken awhile to get a bit more at ease with travel. I don’t want it to take my kids that long. While our adventures may not be fully global (alas, that money tree JUST WON’T GROW), I want them to feel at ease traveling and not be intimidated by it.

I don’t want them to be upset by a rerouted subway schedule on a Saturday afternoon.

I was a tourist and I explored and then I put on my fancy dress, went to a wedding in what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse in Queens and I danced until I felt my feet were on fire and the next morning said goodbye to a beautiful city to come back home to Michigan.

But I think I’ll be back.

New York, New York Is Everything They Say…

As you could have probably guessed from my Weekly Winner set that I belatedly posted yesterday, I recently spent some time in NYC. Hubby and I have both always wanted to go and finally decided to put something on the calendar. I’ve been looking forward to this trip for a long time – and, this probably won’t be a surprise, I was looking forward to New York because I knew that not only would there be a lot to do and to see, it would also be an amazing city to photograph.

I wasn’t wrong.

From the moment we drove into the city (yes, we drove – it was about twelve hours by car from Michigan to NYC – not counting the stop in Pennsylvania at 4 a.m. to nap for an hour because BLEH, driving all night suuuuucks), we were overtaken by sights and sounds and, yeah, it’s kind of a sensory overload of sorts.

We managed to park, get semi-settled at the hotel (we were very early for our 3 p.m. check in), grabbed some lunch at Dos Caminos on 3rd Street (BEST CARNITAS EVER), before wandering around the city a little. We visited Dylan’s Candy Bar because The Princess and I had seen it on one of those cake shows and I knew she’d dig a souvenir from there (and uh, so would I… I brought home the Everything but the Kitchen Sink Bar).

And then? Central Park.

I could have spent the whole time in Central Park

I loved Central Park. I kept recognizing spots from movies. It’s amazing – this bit of tranquility in a city so large. I was overwhelmed with calm and happiness being there. I know, I know… CHEESY. But, yes, I loved Central Park.

We took in a lot of sights over the weekend – purchasing weekend passes on one of those double decker tour buses seemed like a kind of corny thing to do, but we used it like a taxi cab. We’d hop on the bus near the hotel, go through some of the tour stops, get off the bus where we wanted to visit more, and jump back on the bus when we were done. Sure, the bus moved A LOT SLOWER than a NYC taxi, but… what’s the hurry?

I wanted to see the site of Ground Zero as well as the new WTC construction. We wanted to go to the Statue of Liberty, but didn’t (a 90 minute wait for tickets, and then a 90 minute wait to get on the boat – we weren’t in a hurry, but we weren’t in the mood to stand around for three hours either). Instead of actually going to the Statue of Liberty, we hopped on the (FREE!) Staten Island Ferry where we got close enough to Miss Liberty that I got some snaps with my lovely zoom lens. She was short. Why did I always think she’d be taller?

Saturday evening, we took in a performance of “Phantom of the Opera”. It was breathtakingly beautiful, but… I don’t love the music of Phantom. While the performers were brilliant and their voices amazing, and the production of the show was unbelievable… I realized that I’m not really a fan of the music (I know, I know… ).

A lot of time was spent wandering aimlessly – to FAO Schwarz, Toys R Us, and other assorted random places. Yes, we spent an awful lot of time in toy stores considering we were travelling sans kids – but holy cow, that huge T Rex at Toys R Us was worth seeing, and it made for a fun picture to send Pumpkin.

I had an UNBELIEVABLE time in New York. Sure, I felt frumpy and midwestern among all the black legging-clad women (it’s the standard uniform, it seems – black leggings or very-skinny jeans, neither of which are very flattering on MY midwestern shape, but OH WELL) — there’s nothing like walking around knowing that everything about you screams “tourist!” (and not ’cause I was holding a map, because I promise there was no holding of maps).

I know things now, like: I need to be careful of who I take restaurant recommendations from because someone’s rave review is my “OH MY GOD THAT IS THE GROSSEST SANDWICH EVER”. Like, the cupcakes at Magnolia aren’t really that fabulous. You only think they are because the FROSTING is phenomenal and you are so goo-goo over that supah-smooth frosting that you maybe don’t notice that the cupcake itself is only mediocre. I learned that walking around New York in high heels is painful, and I am calling shenanigans on Carrie Bradshaw and the rest of her Sex and the City friends. I know that New York bagels really are that good, but that I still am on Team Chicago as far as pizza goes.

And that really, it’s a nice place to visit… but I’m glad to be home.