Whirlwind Weekend East Coast Tour

When Kara and I make plans, it's all or nothing.  Years ago, the Terps beat UMass to advance to their first Sweet 16.  The second the game was over, we looked at each other and said "we have to go".  I don't even think the internet had been invented yet, so we spent hours upon hours on the phone making travel arrangements...well, Kara spent most of the hours doing that. We didn't even have a flight back home, but it really didn't matter.  We went, had an amazing time, and ended up flying back on one of the fan charters.

Kara also has this insane ability to find long-lost friends and coaches randomly on Facebook.  About a month ago she found Coach White, who had coached at Maryland for a year back in the mid-90's.  He's now coaching at Fordham, and we decided that she would fly up to MD, and we would drive up to visit him.  We also decided at that point to keep going to NYC afterwards, to do the tourist thing.  A couple weeks, and many plan changes later, our travel agenda was set. 

Kara flew into town last Thursday evening, and after a quick stop for dinner at Ledo's, we headed to my parents' house to get some sleep before our long weeend.  Friday morning we headed out bright and early for Cape May, NJ to meet Coach White and his family.  They were on vacation on the shore, and so we met them for lunch.  Cape May is awesome.  It's just like a lot of other beach towns, but it still has that great old-town feel, and isn't run down and run over with crazy tourists.  It was super hot though, so after lunch we just walked around for a little bit and realized we needed to head to NYC.

I hate driving in New York.  The traffic is miserable, drivers have never heard of a turn signal, and I always feel like I'm taking my life into my hands.  We reached the sign for the Lincoln Tunnel at about 4:45, and it took us almost 2 hours to get all the way through.  Note to self:  don't show up at the tunnel at 5pm on a Friday.  And then I still had to navigate/fight traffic to get to our hotel in Times Square.

We stayed the first night at the Paramount Hotel, which happens to be right next to the church of Scientology.  No Tom Cruise sightings.  It's a cute boutique hotel, with "cozy" rooms.  I think the room measured about 200 square feet.  You really couldn't walk more than 10 steps to get from one end of the room to the other.

Kara had gotten coupons for a couple of free drinks at the Library Bar, right on the 2nd floor of the hotel.  So of course, we had to go and use those...then went to Tonic Lounge, where I spent every evening during our ALSD conference in NYC 2 years ago.  Then we went to Latitude Bar & Grill.  We had planned to go to the rooftop bar, but settled for the main floor instead.  And of course, at the end of the night, hit up a food truck for pretzels.

Saturday morning we got up bright and early, ready to tackle the day.  We moved to the Marriott Marquis, just one block over, and our room there was like the penthouse suite compared to the Paramount. 

First stop was a subway ride to Ground Zero.  If you haven't been to the World Trade Center site, you need to go.  It's an amazing memorial.  Very moving, and very beautifully done.  You can get free tickets online.  I strongly suggest going at 10am, which is the first group.  We made it through the lines and into the memorial area really quickly.  By the time we were leaving, the lines were a lot longer.  As we walked out of the memorial area, we saw a smaller plane flying pretty low.  I was very surprised someone would do that, especially down there.  I'm pretty sure the police & military have the authority to shoot first, and ask questions later.  Even the 2 cops right near us were watching the plane.

Next stop, Wall Street.  It would have been cool to see it on a weekday with all the chaos, and possibly even go into the stock exchange, but I'm glad we went on Saturday.  There were tons of tourists, but I still think that was a lot better than fighting 2 sets of crowds. 

Next, South Street Seaport.  We had to laugh when we saw the "no swimming" sign at the East River.  Seriously...who in their right mind is gonna jump in that water to swim??  

We checked out the stalls at the Seaport, and then across the street we went to the Fulton Stall Market, run by my friends Amy & Theresa.   It's 10 stalls that sell all kinds of fun and interesting food and drinks, and it's open Saturdays and Sundays, 11-5.  Amy & Teresa also have their own stall, called The Poffertjes Man.  Unfortunately their stall was closed Saturday.  So we had to go with the proscuitto balls at Joe Mozz.  They fry them as you order them, and are basically cheese balls with proscuitto...in a word, AMAZING.  It was just a snack, as we were supposed to be meeting a friend later for lunch.

Next, the charging bull.  I thought it was right at Wall Street, but it's about a mile away.  Of course I had to take pictures with the 8 million other tourists posing in front of the bull, but it was still pretty cool.

Next, a little shopping.  We had heard from several people that we just "had" to go to Century 21.  It's kind of like Loehmanns/Ross/Marshalls on steroids.  We probably should have gone when they opened, because by the time we got there it was jam-packed, and the dressing room line was at least 30 minutes long. I got yelled at by a worker for trying on a dress over my clothes, and Kara got yelled at for trying to pick up a piece of clothing from a rack they had just brought out to the floor.  So we quickly paid for the items we needed, and split.

Next, Rockefeller Center.  We thought of going to Top of the Rock, but we were starving by that point, so just did lunch.

Next, St. Patrick's Cathedral.  There was a wedding going on at the same time.  I can't decide if that's a cool idea or not.  I guess it's really cool to get married there, but I'm just not sure I would want random tourists traipsing through the church while I'm trying to say my vows.  They did block off the middle section of the church for just the wedding guests.  But still.  I also lit a prayer candle.

Next, we walked up 5th Avenue and did a little shopping.  Clearly we didnt' do too much, because neither of us can afford very much on 5th Avenue. But it was fun to look.

Next, Serendipity 3. I had heard about their famous frrrozen hot chocolate on The View, and so we wanted to try it out.  Well, the wait was 2 hours.  The host was a little snippy with Kara, which didn't sit well with her, so we were determined to go there and eat.  So we power walked back to the hotel, changed, and headed back. 

Of course, the Serendipity stop killed our plan to go to Central Park and FAO Schwartz.  But I guess I'll just have to do that next time.

After dinner we went to La Piscene, this great rooftop bar at Hotel Americano in Brooklyn for a couple of drinks.  Then we headed back towards Times Square.  We tried to go to Rudy's Bar & Grill, another place I went to during the ALSD conference, but it was beyond packed.  So we went to Mercury Bar, just a block away, and hung out there for a while.  We walked around Times Square for a little bit, and then made a pit-stop at the food truck on our way back to the hotel.

Sunday morning our legs were definitely feeling all the walking from Saturday.  I figure we walked about 15 miles in all.  We met a friend for a quick breakfast at Rock Center, and then went to Sunday mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral.  Pretty sure I'm covered for church for 2 years now :)

Our weekend in NYC was over.  I really kind of wish we had another full day, so we could hit all the spots we missed on Saturday.  We'll have to wait until next time.  All in all it was a fantastic trip. We saw several friends, went to many of the "must-see" spots in NYC, and had an amazing time.