Last week, my family and I traveled to New York City. It was the first visit for everyone but my dad, and it was, in a word, eye-opening. Prior to our trip, I had some hesitations.
Hesitation #1: I’ve always wanted to visit NYC, but the past few vacations I’ve taken have been to places I’ve visited before (Washington, D.C., Disney World, Minneapolis). I really like traveling to familiar places for exactly that reason – they’re familiar. I have a decent sense of direction and a pretty good memory for locations, so it takes virtually no time at all for me to feel at home there. When going to a new place, I get a little bit nervous. I don’t know my way around.
Hesitation #2: I had very little part in planning this trip. I am the planner in our family. When my husband and I travel, I book everything and plan out what we’ll do each day. The last time we traveled as a family with my parents and siblings, I planned everything as well. This trip, however, was planned by my dad. It was strange to feel so little responsibility, but I embraced it. After all, as a child, my parents planned all of our trips and I loved every one of them. Clearly, they knew what they were doing.
Hesitation #3: My husband is not a people person. I am. He’s a hang-out-with-a-small-group-of-friends kind of guy. I’m a let’s-go-downtown-to-this-big-event kind of girl. It takes him a few interactions with a person before he’s really comfortable. I can talk to new people immediately. He’s the Napa Valley to my San Francisco (the two locations of our honeymoon). He was nervous about New York and honestly, I was nervous for him.
These hesitations disappeared the moment I saw the Statue of Liberty out the window of our plane.
We did some things very well in New York and some things I wish we could have changed. Here’s my assessment of the trip:
Things I Loved:
Central Park – It’s so crazy that such a gorgeous park is nestled in the middle of the “concrete jungle.” If I were a New Yorker, this is the part of town where I would spend most of my time.
Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral – This is a gorgeous church. I always love going to Mass in different cities. No matter how different the city is from my own, the familiarity and beauty of the Mass always makes me feel at home.
New York Water Taxi – Though it was a bit chilly on the water (and I regretted wearing lip gloss each time my hair blew in front of my face), it was beautiful. Seeing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island up close was incredible and such a poignant American experience.
One World Trade Center – A somber experience, but one that I was very glad we had. The 9/11 Memorial is beautiful and heart wrenching. My siblings and I discussed our own memories of September 11 as we walked through the memorial, and strangely, their memories were stories I had never heard. It was a special experience for us.
NEWSIES on Broadway – Anyone who has known me since high school knows that I am a HUGE Newsies fan. I was thrilled to have convinced my family that THIS was the show we needed to see while in New York. It was fun to see the familiar story line and music combined with new songs and amazing (Tony Award-winnning) choreography. Following the show, we waited outside the stage door and we able to meet many of the stars of the show (who were far shorter and far younger than they looked on stage – I felt like an elderly giant standing near them).
Eating – While I was not as amazed but the food as I expected to be, I enjoyed eating in a variety of restaurants. We had the obligatory NY pizza (delicious – thanks to The Famous Famiglia!), ate in an Irish pub (waiter from Dublin), Italian trattoria (waiter from Sicily), and I snagged a piece of Junior’s Cheesecake (not as amazing as I expected, but still very yummy). I was traveling with eaters who are not as daring as I am, so the baby octopus that came with my antipasti was quite the topic of dinner conversation on our last night in the city!
Times Square at night – Walking through Times Square at night was exactly like it seems in the movies. The lights are bright, the people are everywhere, and there is excitement in the air. It was surreal to see the same places I’ve seen over and over in movies and on TV up close and in real life!
Things I Wish We Did Differently and I’ll Have to Do Next Time:
Today Show – I was so disappointed that we didn’t have the chance to go to a taping of the Today Show. I watch it every morning and this was something I really wanted to do. Had our ridiculous shuttle service not picked us up 4 1/2 hours prior to our flight, we would have been able to witness Channing Tatum’s flash mob on the plaza (I cannot BELIEVE we missed this!!!).
Museums – I didn’t get to see any of these (and I desperately wanted to!) due to our day at Ellis Island. Though interesting, Ellis Island was not worth the time commitment. It took so long to wait in line to board the boat, ride to the island, and ride back, that the majority of our day was gone by the time we returned to Battery Park.
Shopping: How is it possible to go to New York and not shop? I have no idea, but this is what happened. When you go somewhere with a group of people who have different interests, it’s hard to make sure everyone gets to do what they want to do. My husband asked me, “What did you want to shop for?” And I told him, “It’s New York! I just want to shop!” Silly man.
Food Vendor: I completely forgot to buy food from a food vendor. I don’t know what I was thinking. I realized it at the airport before we left the city.
Though I did not get to do everything I hoped to experience, and though many of the people who live there refused to smile, I enjoyed my time in New York City. It was a unique and exciting experience. I’m certain I’ll return one day, hopefully so I can meet in person with my future agent or publisher…