Happy Tuesday! So sorry for the lack of post yesterday. I got home super late Sunday night and honestly just didn’t feel like sitting down to type this up. But I’m here and I’m back and I cannot wait to tell you all about the amazing weekend I just had! This post will be rather long and full of photos so bear with me. There are lots to show and tell!
As you all know, my dad and his girlfriend planned out a weekend trip to New York City for us girls as our big Christmas present this year. It was our first combined trip as a family so we were all really looking forward to it. If you’ve never been to New York City around Christmastime then you need to add it to your bucket list RIGHT NOW. The city is so beautiful and magical this time of year. Everything is decorated and there’s much going on. There’s something fun to do for everyone in the family and we had an amazing time there this past weekend.
Thursday, I was able to sleep in a little and then had a bunch of things to get done and last-minute packing to do before we left town. Zack’s mom and brother were super awesome and took Jack for the weekend so that I could go on this trip with everyone. Jack is horrible with people and other pets and mom and Mitchell are legit the ONLY two people aside from me and Zack who can be around him without getting bitten or barked at. It’s bad. But I’m so fortunate that they offered to watch him for me.
We started our journey once Alex and Hannah got out of school. I dropped Jack off with mom and Mitchell and then met up with dad, Jenna, Hannah, and Alex. We decided to take two cars. One for us girls and then the second one for dad and Jenna. It worked out great because we could listen to our own music and have a good time without having to listen to the Beatles or anything else that the parents wanted to listen to. Kendal goes to school in New Hampshire so on the way through, we made a pit stop to pick her up and grab something for dinner.
Dinner was interesting to say the least. We made friends with our waiter, Chris who actually goes by Asian Chris. We’re not sure why, but I’m guessing there’s probably another Chris at that Applebee’s location and it just makes it easier for everyone to differentiate between the two. He was AWESOME. We took selfies with him, followed him on Instagram, and Jenna even added him on Facebook. It was a great start to our trip.
After dinner, we grabbed some Starbucks for the road and finished the drive to New York. We don’t typically stay inside the city when we visit. We stay about 20-30 min outside the city and take the train in and out. It makes life so much easier and I love being able to get a good night’s sleep without having to listen to all the cars and people outside. We had hoped to arrive early enough to go in the pool, but we were all in bed and fast asleep by 11pm!
Friday was a HUGE day. This was our sightseeing day. Hannah had never been to New York before so we has a lot of things we wanted to show her throughout the day. We got up super early, had breakfast at the hotel, and then made our way to the train station. It was only about a 25 minute train ride into the city so it wasn’t a bad commute at all.
We arrived in Grand Central Station which can be super cool to see. This was the first stop on our NYC tour for Hannah. She was pretty amazed at how big and pretty the station was (upstairs anyways!). Surprisingly, it wasn’t as busy as I had anticipated. We consulted the maps to figure out which subways we needed to get to all of our destinations, purchased our tickets, and was then back on a train!
On this train, I witnessed something absolutely amazing. A homeless man was walking around with a grocery bag of snacks, handing them out to other homeless people on the train. It’s so incredible to see someone who has so little, giving back to others who also have nothing. He could have kept those snacks for himself and yet he was giving them out to others. We need more people like him in this world.
After about 15 minutes on the train, we arrived at our first stop: the World Trade Centers Memorial. I’ve been wanting to visit for a while now and luckily Jenna wanted to visit as well so this was at the top of our list. It was way more emotional than I had anticipated it being. 9/11 is the first big event that I can remember experiencing in my lifetime. I remember exactly where I was when we got the news and I remember coming home from school early and seeing it all over the news. I remember it like it was yesterday.
It’s crazy to think that my sister, Alex was only two years old at the time and Hannah hadn’t even been born yet! They thought it was neat to see the memorial, but they definitely didn’t have the same reactions that the rest of us had. The memorial was absolutely beautiful, but it felt strange to stand in a place where so many people lost their lives. Those people had families and friends. They were husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends. They just went into work one morning and never came home. I couldn’t imagine kissing Zack goodbye one morning only for it to be the very last time I kissed him or saw his face and heard his voice. Although it was incredibly emotional to visit, I’m so glad we did. It really makes you love and appreciate your loved ones a bit more.
After our emotional trip to the World Trade Centers, we hopped back on the subway and headed towards some more exciting attractions. We grabbed some Starbucks (of course) and visited the Empire State Building. It wasn’t nearly as crowded as I thought it would be. We purchased the tickets ahead of time so there were zero lines for us to wait in aside from going through security. It was perfect!
We got to the top rather quickly and spent a good 30 minutes at the top, just staring out over the city. It’s so crazy view the city from up there. On a clear day, you can see just about everything. You won’t see many photos of my dad at this stop because he’s deathly afraid of heights. He wouldn’t step away from the side of the buildings he entire time we were up there. He was a good sport though and still went all the way to the top and let us hang out as long as we wanted to.
After the Empire State Building, we decided to check out Macy’s. This is a must every single time we visit New York. There’s just something about visiting Macy’s at Christmastime that is just magical. Plus Hannah had never been to this Macy’s either so we had to show her how huge it was and all the decorations. We made it a rather quick stop because one, we didn’t have plans to go shopping there and two, we were all ready for lunch. So we showed her each floor and then headed back out into the city to find a nice restaurant to eat at. I don’t remember where we ate lunch, but it was delicious. We all had burgers and sandwiches and the wait staff were great. If I could remember the name of it, I’d totally recommend it to you!
After lunch, we started walking towards Times Square. On the way, we made a pit stop at Bryant Park. There were so many cute little shops there for us to explore so we spent a good hour going in and out of them all. The homes and buildings surrounding Bryant Park were absolutely gorgeous. I’d kill to live in one of them. It was a really pretty neighborhood. They even have ice skating there as well. I cannot skate for the life of me so this wasn’t something we thought to add to our list of things to do. The weather was wonderful though! It was sunny and in the high 50’s/low 60’s all weekend. We never had to wear a jacket the entire time we were there which is a bit strange for mid-December in New York City, but I’m definitely not complaining!
Next, we FINALLY made it to Times Square! It wasn’t quite dark enough yet to get the full effect of it, but it’s still super cool to see no matter what time of day it is. We spent some time taking photos and looking at all the ads and billboards. This was the busiest place we had been all day so we didn’t feel it was necessary to try squeezing into some stores to do some shopping. None of us are huge fans of super crowded areas so we took our photos, saw what we wanted to see and continued on!
Another stop that Jenna wanted to make was at St. Patrick’s Cathedral which, conveniently, was on our way to Rockefeller Center. The cathedral was shut down for renovations the last time we were in the city, so this was a new experience for all of us. I’m not religious by any means, but the cathedral was pretty amazing and beautiful. The architecture is incredible. I couldn’t even imagine designing something as complex as a cathedral. It’s a must see if you’re every in New York!
The last stop for the night was the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. My dad works for Marriott so we’re always checking out these locations when we’re in the area. The hotel was absolutely gorgeous. We rode in the glass elevators and had drinks in the hotel bar. Jenna, Kendal, and I all tried out their margarita and all I can say is thank God, none of us had to drive. That margarita was worth every penny. It tasted like it was mostly tequila. You could smell the alcohol before you even got close enough to take a sip. Let’s just say, it was a fun walk back to the train station.
So let’s recap: In the first day, we visited Rockefeller Center, Times Square, the Marriott Marquis, the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center Memorial, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Macy’s, Grand Central Station, Central Park, Columbus Circle, and Bryant Park all in one day. I’d say it was a pretty successful first day in the city.
Saturday, we got to sleep in a little bit. The only plans we had for Saturday was seeing the Nutcracker ballet. Since we planned on dressing up for it, we didn’t want to add sightseeing to our day since us girls would all be in high heels. So the ballet was our main event for the day.
We woke around 9, had breakfast, got dressed, and were on the train by 10:30. Of course our first stop once we got into the city was Starbucks (is anyone else counting how many times we had Starbucks on this trip??). Hotel coffee just isn’t the same as my caramel brûlée latte. We then caught a couple of taxis and headed to Lincoln Center to find a place to eat lunch before the show.
I swear guys, I seriously thought we’d die in that taxi. I’ve been in taxis many times in the city, but it’s clearly been a while. It’s so crazy to me how people drive there, yet there are zero dents or scratches on any of the taxis. Does anyone else find this strange? Do they just hide the accidents from the news or are they actually professional drivers? And do they have to take a road test to make sure they can navigate like that before getting offered the job? I have so many questions about NYC taxi drivers. I’m thankful that we arrived safe and sound!
On the bright side, our driver was super awesome. She was an older woman (70’s or 80’s?) and in between yelling at other drivers and pedestrians, she told us about her children and gave us recommendations on places to visit and eat at in New York. We told her about the adventures we’d already had in the city and gave her recommendations on other places to visit outside of New York. She was great!
When we arrived at Lincoln Center, we had lunch at this cute little seafood/Italian restaurant across the street from the theater. No one was too hungry since we had just eaten breakfast and gulped down Starbucks, but a few of us had clam chowder and salads while the others had burgers. Our meal was incredible. I have zero complaints on any of the restaurants we ate at on this trip. Again, if I could remember the name of the restaurant, I’d recommend it to you! (I think I’ll have to go do some research after I finish this post so I can link these places for you all).
After lunch, we walked across the street to the theater. The show was wonderful. A little slow at times, but still so much fun. Jenna is a ballet teacher and Hannah is a ballerina so for them, seeing the NYC Ballet was a very big deal. They loved seeing the show and seeing all the display cases of older ballet costumes in the lobby. Everyone had a great time! I think next year, we plan to see the Radio City Rockettes.
After the show, we all dispersed a bit to do miscellaneous things like going to the bathroom and making purchases at the souvenir stand in the main lobby. While us girls did our thing, my dad was on the balcony of the theater, asking Jenna a rather important question. We all regrouped outside to find a shiny diamond engagement ring on her finger! We were completely shocked. I’m still a bit in shock, actually. They had only been dating for about five or six months so none of us saw it coming. Their announcement led to an hour’s worth of pictures and tears (happy ones of course). I couldn’t be happier for my dad and Jenna and I’m so excited to be gaining a new stepmom and stepsister. The two of them are absolutely amazing.
After spending a couple of hours in the city, taking photos and getting over the initial shock of the news, we finally hopped on a train back to the hotel. My dad made dinner reservations closer to the hotel so we recharged our phones, touched up our makeup and went out for a late dinner to have a few drinks and celebrate. It was a late night, but I couldn’t have asked for a better final night in the city.
Sunday morning, we woke up bright and early so that we could make a stop at my grandparents house in Upstate New York to have lunch with them and visit for a few hours. Alex clearly didn’t like our wake up call. Kendal and I crawled into bed with them and she wasn’t a fan of it. Teenagers are so much fun.
Once we were finally packed up, we headed to the nearest Starbucks and were off to our grandparent’s house. It was only a two-hour drive so it wasn’t too bad. We arrived around noon and stayed for about four hours. They had never met Hannah before so they were super excited to finally meet their newest granddaughter. Luckily everyone loved each other! We talked for a while, had some champagne, and ate a late lunch/early dinner. After saying our goodbyes, we got back on the road and headed home to Maine (with a pit stop in New Hampshire to drop Kendal back off at school). It was a very long afternoon of traveling and I was so glad to finally climb into bed with my puppy.
This was probably one of the best family vacations we’ve ever been on. I’m so happy to be adding to our family next year and to see what the future has in store for all of us. Now we’re all so excited to start the wedding planning process!
How was your weekend?