Four Little Bites of the Big Apple

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Travel buddies

My friends and I took a little trip to a big city last May, and I am finally getting around to blogging about it. What a fun adventure we had! Hope you enjoy reading about it!

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Lady Liberty behind us. One World Trade Center ahead.

What is it with NYC? Several of my Mississippi and Alabama friends and people on my Facebook news feed traveled to this Metropolis in 2018. It was a blast seeing their pictures, knowing that I had visited some of those same places. I thought I would share about my little trip.

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Times Square at Dusk

The Besties and I have been talking about a “big” trip for several years. Since I moved away from the Meridian/Collinsville area in 2006, we have managed to see each other at least once a year. Birmingham was not too far of a jaunt for them to come see me, and we often went back over to Mississippi for weddings or funerals. After we moved to the Midwest in 2013, it was a bit more difficult, but we have made it happen. 2017 seemed like the perfect year to take our Girls’ Trips to the next level.

 

We started planning back in September and got serious when we booked our flights in January. Lahoma used her mad travel skills and did the leg work on the flights from the southern part of the country. Our planning included surveying which activities were highest on the list for each person. Karen researched the Broadway shows, and Sharon searched for hotels. My role was to find food near our places of interest and group activities by day. I also tried to evaluate transportation options: Uber vs taxi vs subways vs hoofing it.

 


Oh, the group texts, y’all. Topics included pictures of good walking shoes, trips to buy shoes, plans to share suitcases, do we check bags or not, should we take boots or sandals, packing cubes, Ziploc space saver bags, restaurant reservations, etc.
Three of us had visited NYC at least once, and one was a first-timer.
My first visit to NYC was in June of 1989, when my adventurous grandfather decided to take all 5 of his grandchildren – aged 5-17 to the city by himself. For some reason, Granny chose not to go.  After it was all said and done, my mom and dad, and my aunt, who was pregnant with the 6th grandchild, also decided to go. Memories from the trip include walking, taking a bus, taking the ferry, walking, taking the subway every day. I remember the large whale that was suspended from the ceiling in the Museum of Natural History- did I tell you that large things frighten me and even make me shudder a little? We ate at the Hard Rock Café and my dad had his picture made with Howie Mandel, who had long, curly hair under a ball cap. We went on top of the World Trade Center and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. We visited Trump Tower, home to some businessman I had only heard of at the time.

 

Since so many people have visited NYC and because many famous sites and landmarks have recently shown up in my social media news feed, I thought I could share the highlights and what made our trip special.

TAXI
We picked the  one of us who is the “Negotiator” (a tough  and successful cookie in the business world) to haggle with the taxi driver from the airport to the hotel to get the best price. We put her in the front seat. In the end, she showed great compassion on the man from India who was working hard to support his kids that she gave him an extra $10 tip. Wasn’t that sweet? We love her. She didn’t get to be the negotiator on the return trip. 🙂

EATS
Some famous, some not.

Shake Shack was our first meal in NYC, and it delivered. Burgers, fries, and shakes, oh my.

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Robert was a fabulous restaurant overlooking Columbus Circle. Reservations required.

 

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Gnocchi that was oh so fine.

Sunday Brunch was at Bryant Park. The bread basket was the best.

Thought about Home Alone and Eloise and High Tea at the Palm Court. Considered the prices and just walked through the Plaza.

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We saved our tea time for  a cute Tea Shop in Greenwich Village that was owned by Brits and frequented by Brits. We sat next to a rumpled, disheveled college professor type who reminded me of Hugh Grant. He encouraged us to get the full afternoon tea, and we did.

 

The Cake Boss had a shop that was just diagonally across the street from the hotel. Had to get some goodies from Carlos’ Bake Shop.

 

CHURCHES
Oh, how I love grand, beautiful, old churches. The stained glass, the wooden pews, the high ceilings, and the ornate architecture. We happened into the ending of afternoon mass at St. Patrick’s cathedral and were able to hear some Gregorian Chants.

 

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As we wandered outside of Trinity church, people kept stopping to take a photo of a tomb in the graveyard.

 

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Who was it, you may ask? Alexander Hamilton.. who is much more famous now than even 5 years ago.IMG_1333.jpg

CENTRAL PARK
We tried to hit all of the famous landmarks and fountains seen in movies and on TV on foot.

 


Walking and walking. Walked to Strawberry Fields and sat on the Imagine mosaic while a dude with a guitar was singing “Imagine”. I don’t particularly like that song, its lyrics or John Lennon, but, when in NYC…

 


Subway- we were semi-bosses by the end of the week. It is funny how intimidating public transportation can be for those of us who drive ourselves everywhere. We researched it and owned it, though. Bought our passes around 9 pm at night at a station while the police were handcuffing some dude. In fact, we saw this happen a few times. Strange goings on underground. We learned to pay attention to the maps, but we still ended up on the wrong side of the street a few times upon exiting the station into the sunlight. For a bonus, we experienced about an hour delay on Friday evening during rush hour.  Loads of fun sitting there waiting as the train played red light/green light. During our time on the subway, It seemed like every time we talked, heads turned. Not sure if our subway etiquette was lacking in talking across the aisle, if our accents sounded foreign, or if we were just loud mouths.

TRUMP TOWER                                                                                                                                        I knew it was near Tiffany’s on 5th avenue because I recalled that fact from 1989. However, as we approached it, there were heavily armored men with machine guns and helmets standing outside the building. There was a line of dump trucks full of sand in front of the building preventing any cars from parking nearby. Protestors for and against were starting to line the street.

 

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Trump was headed to town that day, and people were getting ready. The news cameras were representing.

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TIFFANY’S
Oh, how I have wanted a little blue box for at least 10 years now. We all saved our dimes and dollars for some souvenirs. BG and Sue unexpectedly and kindly contributed to the jewelry cause for their only daughter. They totally rock!

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BROADWAY
Anastasia and A Bronx Tale. Good times. Talent and laughs and a few tears. Catchy tunes.

 


CHINATOWN
Now, I had been informed by friends in Alabama that good knock-off purses could be found here; but they warned me to not climb in the back of a van to shop. Sounded like common sense to me. One of our group had a list of things she wanted to purchase. So about one minute after she asked a local storekeeper where we might buy some purses, a man in a black blazer with a black hat approached her. Before I knew it, we were all following this man down the street. I was hanging back a few steps in case I needed to run for help. The man passed us off to a lady in a black hat. We were then approached by two other women in black and a younger man in a black suit. I pretended to study the menu of a Chinese restaurant behind us. Well, transaction after transaction occurred sunglasses, purses, watches, and “Tiffany” bracelets that looked very similar to the ones we had purchased the day before.

 

I wasn’t interested until the knock-off Tiffany rings were brought out. As I studied and tried on different rings from a stack on a carabiner, all of a sudden all of the salespeople left, like ran off. My friends looked around and saw a policeman approaching. As I was left literally holding the “carabiner full of rings” bag, I was guided by my friend to lower my hand and walk over to the restaurant menu again. After the po-po passed by, the salespeople were back to complete their business. We white girls wrapped it up and were on our way, Googling, “Is buying merchandise in Chinatown a crime?” as we walked.

‘Homa and I took a beverage break and ordered some Bubble Tea. The signs in the shop about how to rescue someone from choking cracked me up. Those tapioca beads are dangerous!

 

LITTLE ITALY
Good food, colorful older Italian men, gelato, and cannoli.IMG_1405.jpg

 

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MOMA
Museum of Modern Art has Free Fridays. I think the whole city was there. Not really- but it was packed. All ages.

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LaHOMA was in MOMA right up in Van Gogh’s business.

 

It was worth it for this photo.

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HILLSONG
Our hotel was only a few blocks from Hillsong Church We had to go through a metal detector and have our bags examined before we entered. The nice security guard kept saying, “you’re doing fine, ma’am” as I opened every zipper and minibag inside my backpack. Worship was wonderful, and we had an opportunity to give to their ministries to the homeless in the city. We were grateful because you see the need everywhere and you could literally give all of your money away if you were so inclined.

 


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It was a dreary, grey day when we toured the museum. So fitting. We all recalled where we were when the events of that terrible morning occurred. Sharon and I were actually working in offices side by side at Anderson’s Rehab in Meridian.

 


If you ever have the opportunity, take the time to visit this museum. We need to remember and honor. I often found myself talking to the Lord and praying as I walked through the exhibits.

 

There was a large police presence all over the city, which was awesome. Experiencing the museum seemed to heighten our awareness of them the remainder of our time there. One of these officers was giving a tour to other officers. We tried to eavesdrop and listen, but we started looking a little “stalky”.

 

 

FLAMINGO
This was the code word we developed so we could subtly alert one another of a celebrity in the vicinity. Originally, it was suggested that we say “Flamingo north” or Flamingo east” to indicate where the famous person was in relation to the speaker. However, the directionally challenged in our group asked that we change it to “Flamingo front, back, left, or right”. This code word was used once, but the targets were unable to be identified. They looked famous- but none of us knew their names. False alarm or not.

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HANGRY
We enjoy each other’s company and usually do very well being together day and night for a few days. We complement each other. There were only a couple of episodes where there was tension- two of us were going to great lengths to find a good Mexican restaurant on Cinco de Mayo and two of us were getting “hangry”. Most of the time we defer to each other unless someone really has a definite opinion or choice. Sharon is always prepared with things like a mini water bottle to use for spraying your clothes when ironing. Lahoma always takes the best pictures- perfect composition. Karen has more energy than the rest of us and is willing to tackle any adventure. They will have to tell you what I bring to the table. ***

 

HOTTY TODDY
Saw two different gentlemen on two different days sporting their Ole Miss embroidered jackets. My “Hotty Toddy” got a 180 and a high-five from one fella and a wave and a yell from the other. So fun.

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STREET CHARACTERS
Lahoma kept trying to get pictures of the people dressed up like cartoon or Disney characters to show her grandchildren. Once you get close, these costumed friends want some tips. We got a few shots but the best show was watching Lahoma try to tell the ones she didn’t’ want to get out of the picture. I think the Transformer guys were greedy- one took all the $ without sharing with his friends.IMG_1383.jpg

Well, that is all I can tell you because, as they say, “What happens in NYC…”. Just kidding. We didn’t do anything of which to be ashamed. By the last night, we had grown accustomed to hearing the traffic and sirens outside of our hotel window most of the night. We stayed near Times Square, and the location was perfect. Lots of action and activity.

So thankful for our opportunity to get away to NYC for a few days with some of my favorite people. I think we are ready to go international next time. After they come see me in the AZ.

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Thanks for hanging around! If you have been to NYC, what were your favorite places to go, foods to eat, things to do?  I am taking notes for next time.

xoxo

Kristi


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