Saturday, July 27, 2013

NYC with my sister

Oh my word.  As I write this post title I still can't believe it happened. This is going to be an extra long post.  So many pictures.  What an absolutely amazing time.  It all began when Mal had plans to go to Uganda for the summer and they fell through at the last minute.  She was bummed and wanted something fun to look forward to instead.  She proposed a sister's trip to NYC.  We started dreaming and I talked to Glenn.  Even if we did things pretty cheaply, it's still a pretty expensive trip to get out there, but I woke up on Mother's day and Glenn handed me an itinerary and hotel reservation!  Oh dear me. 
Mal and I started planning.  Calling Jimmy Fallon every day trying to get tickets (turns out that he was not filming the week we were there.  Bummer.)  Researching restaurants, planning tourist attractions, which shows we couldn't miss.  We found out that Tom Hanks was in "Lucky Guy" and we just couldn't miss seeing him even though the reviews weren't spectacular.  And the other tickets we bought in advance were for Cinderella, because it's a musical that is dear to my heart.  I love the music and just had to see it.  It was a great couple of months of dreaming.  Finally we nailed down our must-do list including a bunch of restaurants in each area we'd be touring so we'd have some fun places to eat wherever we were at the time.  It was bliss.  
Glenn took off work for a couple of days and Mal and I were able to travel Thursday, spend the whole weekend in the city and leave Monday.  Do I have the most wonderful and supportive husband in the world?  Why yes, I do.  Not only did he take work off to watch the kids, but he played with them.  Really played with them every day.  He took them swimming, to parks and splash pads, and even to a little water park, twice.  Oh yeah, and he took them to a Rockies game.  By himself.  I would never do that.  Oh and one more thing, he had the entire house and garage cleaned when I got back.  I'm pretty sure he's a better stay-at-home mom than I am.  And because he's such a wonderful man and father, I really let go and didn't worry about them at all because I knew he completely had everything taken care of.  
Mal and I both arrived at the hotel on Thursday afternoon.  After unpacking and an appropriate amount of hugging and squealing, we hit the street.  We decided to hit up a couple of fun shops near our hotel first and then head to Times Square to see if there were any cheap tickets for that evening.  First we went to Serendipity to see if we could get a table.  The wait would be too long to down to Times Square in time for a show lottery so we bailed and found a yummy place to share a salad and quiche.  It was really yummy and really inexpensive.  Then we walked down the block to Dylan's Candy Bar.  Basically because we are children and love candy and toy stores...and also because we love the movie "Arthur" and had to see the store because it's in the movie.  
It was a pretty cool candy land.  One of our favorite parts was a wall where celebrities filled containers with their favorite candies.  It was interesting and funny.  Mallory said, "Oh look, there's Ashley Olson's and it's empty.  Sad."  It really wasn't, but that would have been much more funny.
Here is Richard Simmons container.  His was filled with jelly beans and said, "Eat Slowly, Love Richard Simmons".  So funny.
 And here's Hugh Jackmans' full of gummy teeth?  Bizarre.
 Mal and I on the candy staircase that Arthur falls down in the movie.
 After playing in the store for a while we ran down to Times Square to make it to a Lottery for Newsies tickets.  We arrived very sweaty and realized that they don't have a show on Thursday evening and therefore, there is no lottery that night.  Bummer.  Who's the dummy now?  That would be me.  So we went to the TKTS booth and found good tickets for Peter and the Starcatcher, which I saw with Glenn last year and loved it.  It moved Off Broadway so the tickets were a bit cheaper.
We spent the time before the show wandering through stores in Times Square.  In the M&M's store we found M&M's bathrobes.  Well of course we tried them on.
 Of course we did.
 Here we are waiting for Peter and the Starcatcher.
 It was a different cast from last year, but they were awesome and hilarious.  What a great, imaginative, fun show.  Mal and I spent the rest of the trip quoting it to each other.
After the show we decided to see if the line would be decent at the Empire State Building.  It was, but the visibility was zero so we decided we'd take the trip up another day.
 We hit up Serendipity on our way home for some delicious frozen hot chocolate.  Wow was it good.  Mal and I found it fascinating how this teensy, oddly decorated spot became such a big deal.  Probably because of tourists like us who just have to go because we've heard about it.
 Friday morning we woke up early and went for a jog in Central Park.  I would be so much more motivated to go running every day if I could do so in Central Park and with Mallory.  It was so great.
After that we walked literally across the street from our hotel (great location selection Glenn, dear) to wait in line at the Museum of Modern Art to get into the Rain Room.  It's a new exhibit that is only there for one more month.  It's a huge room that is raining and has sensors above so that it stops the rain wherever you are.  As you walk through the room, the rain stops around you and you don't get wet.  Pretty cool, we thought.  We got in line very close to the front, but the member's only line was huge and they get let in first.  We waited for two hours and moved very little.  We took turns running to the restroom and grabbing breakfast sandwiches for us to eat on the sidewalk.  Here we are in line, with the annoyed lady behind us.  Gotta love her face.
 After 2 hours we asked a worker about how much longer it would be.  She said it would be at least 5 hours but she would bet closer to 7.  Yikes.  We're out.
But since we had already bought tickets, hoping to save some time in line or something, we decided we should hit up the art museum.  So we did, and let me tell you, there is probably not a more fun person to wander through a Modern Art Museum with than my sister Mallory.  It was a blast.  We took turns guessing what each piece of art meant.  Got in trouble once for standing on a square of bricks on the ground that was art, and laughed an awful lot.  What does this mean, for instance?
 Or this?
 Here was a wall that said in big letters at the top, "A wall, dimpled by a single gunshot" of course we tried to find the one hole in the wall...we didn't.
 Dust bunnies of the world unite?  To make an arm chair?
 Did one thousand people just empty their lint traps in the hallway?  Oh wait, no.  This is a work of art.
 We got to see the famous Warhol soup cans.  That was cool.
 Then we thought, "we're about done here.  Might as well wander into this one last room."  We turned the corner and ....  AAAAAAAHHHHHH
 Are you kidding me?  We just happened upon "Starry Night"?!  Yep.  We did.  And then we stared at it for a while.  Amazing.  So amazing in person.  In that room (which we obviously should have browsed first) were Picassos, Van Goghs, Klimts, it was amazing and really unexpected after the random stuff we pass on the first two floors.  So glad we didn't bail before we wandered through there!
On our way out we decided to go through the "viewing only" line of the rain room.  We walked through the room in a roped off area and got to see it but not play in it.  That was enough.  It was cool but not  worth 7 hours of my NYC vacation with my sister.
 Then we wandered down to Rockefeller Center.  The NBC store was the highlight.
 I guess I didn't realize how many of my favorite shows were all NBC.
Dinner was some crazy awesome food trucks on the street next to our hotel.  I had gourmet empenadas and Mal got a crepe.  So good, and once again, not over priced.  We were thrilled.
We went back to our hotel and got dressed up and took ourselves to the Manhattan Temple.  We did some sealings and met the most hilarious sealer who was just full of fun stories.  We chatted with him for a while, then went back to the hotel to change.
Then we decided to hit up FAO Schwartz.  Because we're children and thrilled with the idea of an enormous toy store.  I bought some things for my little boys and of course there was the obligatory trip up to the big piano where this strange and very friendly fellow jumped right into our pictures.
 Then we hustled down to our theatre for the night where we saw "Lucky Guy".  It was cool to see Tom Hanks.  He did a great job but the reviews about the show were right.  It was just okay.
Afterwards we joined most of the world outside the theatre to see if we could sneak a peak at Tom Hanks.  It was very crowded, and the policemen next to the barricade where we were squished kept talking on their walkies about a pick pocket in the crowd and staring at someone very near to us.  We held our purses tight and were childishly excited about being in the middle of something scandalous. We're such children.  Afterwards we watched them catch a guy who was right next to us and take him away in handcuffs in a black jeep that drove up really quickly.  It was pretty crazy.
 Saturday morning we woke up, got ready, and took off to the "Once" theatre to wait in line for rush tickets.  Some shows sell rush tickets for shows the same day at a huge discount but they don't have very many.  We were about 30 people back in line and we got there about 2 hours early.  Mal got a smoothie that we shared while we waited in line.  We got the very last two rush tickets for the matinee. The very last two that were sitting together.  They were partial view, which meant on the very end of the row, but they were 8th row orchestra for $50.  Um, yes please.  We were so lucky and so excited to see the show!
We had a few hours before the show so we took off to see the World Trade Center Memorial.  I saw it last year with Glenn, but it was cool to go with Mal.  It's overwhelming, and really powerful to see how enormous those building footprints are.  And to realize how huge the buildings were that fell.  And to see how many names, how many people fell with them.  Such a tragedy.
 We wandered down to Battery Park to get a glimpse at the liberty lady.
 And the picture next to the charging bull of wall street.  Another "Arthur" moment.
After that we ran to a gluten free bakery we'd heard about because we just had to try it and then caught a cab back to our theatre so we could make it in time for our show.  We really squeezed every last drop out of every single day of our trip.  We are so good at traveling!
"Once" was...oh man, I don't even have the right word.  Incredible comes close but is not quite enough.  It was moving and beautiful and the perfect show to see with my sister.  My mandolin-playing, music enthusiast sister.  About half of the cast was different from the original that I saw last year with Glenn and I was prepared to not like them as much, but oooo I really did.  They were great in really different ways.  What a cool show.  I may have cried a bit.  Nope, I'll admit it.  It did cry a bit.  It was one of those moments that was so perfect.  I felt so unbelievably lucky that I got to see that show two years in a row.  To go to NYC two years in a row, and that I got to be sitting there seeing this show with my sister with $50 tickets in the 8th row.  Seriously, incredible doesn't cut it.
 The rest of our evening was spent wandering in some down town areas.  Could Mallory and I go to New York City and not go to Little Italy? Well, of course we couldn't.  It was fun watching Mallory's face as she listened to the Italians, saw the flags, looked at the menus.  We wandered up and down the street talking and flirting (Mallory is a flirting master, I am married) with all of the guys trying to talk you into eating at their restaurant.  We finally settled on one (could it have been because the host was the handsomest?  Possibly.) and had the best pasta of my life.
 One of the many many benefits of traveling with Mallory is that we have very similar tastes in food.  We shared a meal almost every day and when we wanted to try more than one thing, we always wanted to try the same two things so we both ordered one and then shared.  We had an amazing house pasta with prosciutto, peas, and cheese, and a gnocchi with pesto.  It was ridiculously delicious.  At one point I said, "We are so good at ordering!"  And the waiter laughed at me, but seriously, we are.
 Little Italy was so picturesque.  I have a thing for fire escapes.  Especially when they are turquoise.

 We wandered around China Town for a bit, then SOHO, but most of the stores were closed so we headed to the Empire State Building again.  It was a gorgeous view of course.
 The next day was Sunday.  We slept in a bit then got in our Sunday clothes and went up to Lincoln Center to find some breakfast before church.  Sunday was basically a gastronomical masterpiece. Crepes for breakfast at Viva la Crepe.  Then we found a bomboloni place, which are apparently Italian donuts.  Really really yummy Italian donuts.  Mallory was super excited.  So we bought a couple and we decided we should probably sample their Italian ice while we were there.  I decided I would probably gain a thousand pounds if I ever lived in Italy.
 And since we were in the neighborhood we hunted down Levain Bakery, a recommendation from my cousin Lindsay.  We would never ever have found it or even looked for it without her recommendation.  It was a teensy hole in the wall basement bakery, but apparently it's a big deal because it was very busy and smelled like bakery heaven.  We got enormous cookies and a slice of banana bread to save for later.  And when we enjoyed them later we were not disappointed even a bit.  They made me forget every Mrs. Fields cookie I've ever eaten.
We went back to the hotel to change and went to our afternoon show, "Cinderella".  It was good, but not great.  Mallory and I both left feeling a bit let down.  The voices were spectacular and the music as delightful as always and the Cinderella's costume changes were pure magic.  They re-wrote a lot of the script.  The changes were not good, in our opinion.  They added a few small side stories about kindness versus ridicule, and a bit of politics but the dialogue and the changes seemed kind of childish and out of place.  I was bummed.  Mallory and I found it interesting that the two shows that we had to see and bought tickets ahead of time to make sure we didn't miss them were our two least favorites.  We'll have to remember that for next time and plan accordingly.  Oh I hope there's a next time.
The rest of our day was spent wandering a few more places we wanted to see.  We tried to find Mood fabrics.  I watch project runway and have a fabric addiction so I really wanted to see it but it was closed.  Then we wandered in a few stores on our way to Grand Central Station.  It was beautiful.  So glad we went.  We hit up the whispering hall which was really cool.
Next we wandered back to Times Square for one last wandering farewell.  We shared a shake from shake shack and were not disappointed in the least and headed back to our hotel.
Our last morning in the city we woke up and wandered through central park.
It was humid and muggy but that didn't stop us.  Then it started pouring rain.  That still didn't stop us.  We looked like drowned rats.  That didn't stop us.  We wandered through a few stores, found some lunch and went back to pack up.  Then we had to part ways again.  I miss Mal.  I wish she didn't live so far away.  We have way too much fun together.  It shouldn't be legal.
We talked all weekend about how perfect everything worked out.  The weather cooperated nicely.  Except for that last day it only rained a few times and always when we were in a show.  We travel so well together.  Everything that was on my list was on her list too so neither of us ever felt like we had to compromise at all.  We ate amazing food and didn't spend too much.  We shared food a lot because the portions were big, we weren't super hungry, and we really wanted to eat the same thing anyway¸.  It worked out perfectly.  We walked until we were exhausted and then we rode the subway.  We talked and talked without any interruptions for a whole weekend.  It was truly the perfect sister's trip.  It feels weird to be this grown up.  To be traveling to a big city alone with my sister.
We should probably write a book.  "How to travel with your sister" is what it would be called and everyone would buy it because everyone  should have a perfect trip like ours.  We travel well.  We travel very well.
Thanks honey for taking such great care of absolutely everything while I was away so I could relax and have a wonderful time with my sister.  Oh dear me.  Where should we go next year??