A Bite of the Big Apple

Weeks before our big New York weekend, I began checking the weather forecast…religiously. The results? Rain. Rain. Rain. And more RAIN. I couldn’t believe it! I mean, we had only been planning this trip since April when I gave my husband, Eric, tickets to the Yankees v. Red Sox game. (If any of you have seen his left calf tattoo, you know how big of a Yankees fan he is. He calls it “committed”. I call it completely, and unmistakeably insane!)  At any rate, I was hoping for a rain-free weekend.  Apparently, mother nature had other plans.

Friday evening around four o’clock, seven (yes, SEVEN) hours into our drive, it was still raining.  And we could almost see the Manhattan skyline.  I say almost, because our car was stuck in stand-still traffic, in the rain, on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel, trapped between three 18-wheelers.  Did I mention it was still RAINING at this point?  Or that I was (and maybe still am) a bit bitter about it?  Anyway, we were almost there, and we were elated.  The City was just across the river, the hotel was about 5 miles away, and our scheduled tour didn’t start until 6pm.  We were golden! After all, how long could it possibly take to go five miles, right?!?!  Ha!  At 5:25, once we had moved…ohhhh, about 5 YARDS, panic set in.  Calls were made to the Gray Line Tours office to determine whether or not we would be able to pick the the Night On The Town Tour up at a different point a little later in the evening. “No,” they said.  Ok, well, “Is there parking nearby?” thinking we would change plans and not go to the hotel first, surrendering to the idea of wearing what we had on for the rest of this rainy evening.  Again, “No.”  “Can we use the tickets on the following night?”… “No.”  Can we be reimbursed for the tickets if we are unable to use them?”… “No.” Well, my friends, welcome to New York City!…where no one hesitates to tell you how it is, all in one single word. “NO.”  After about 30 seconds of discussion, and sharing with my husband exactly why it was not an option to skip the tour, also having to confess the $150 per couple cost of the tour, the race to the finish line ensued….the finish line being the ever-blessed Gray Line Tours location on 8th Avenue.

Here was the plan:  I would pull up to 777 8th Avenue.  Becca would jump out. Becca would get the tickets from the office.  While waiting for Becca, I would call the hotel and have a concierge flag a taxi and have it waiting for us.  Becca would get back in the car. I would drive at the speed of light (or more closely at the speed of a quarter block per minute) to our hotel, Le Parker Meridien on W. 56th Street.  Becca, Ryan, and Eric would check in and drop off the luggage.  I would valet park our car.  We would meet out front and jump in our already-waiting cab.  At that point, we would cross our fingers, pray to God, and hope we made it back to 8th Avenue by the 6pm deadline.  Sounds pretty perfect, huh?  Maybe a little too perfect?  Yeah.  Well, we got to the part where Becca goes in for the tickets while I was calling the concierge to hail a cab.  From there, the plan went to pot.  Becca returned from the office and informed us that the tour started at 6:00, but we needed to arrive “no later than 5:45.”  Seeing as it was already that time, we had no choice but to change plans.  Becca and Ryan would stay with the tour bus, while Eric and I parked the car and returned to meet the tour group as quickly as possible.  Here, I’ll take a breath and say a quick thank you prayer to the Good Lord above for giving me some darn good eye sight.  Up ahead, like a light in the rainy darkness, was a sign that said, “Parking.”  It couldn’t be more than two blocks away, and we were headed for it like a moth to a flame…only much more slowly in the Manhattan traffic.  As we pulled away from Ryan and Becca, I heard Becca shout to not forget her “purse, socks, and sneakers!”  And, in my head, all I was thinking was DON’T FORGET THE PONCHOS. Eric and I made it to the parking deck moments later (surprisingly), and we dug in Becca’s luggage for her “don’t-forget” items like we were digging for gold.  I grabbed her shoes and her purse, but her socks were missing.  As in, NOWHERE TO BE FOUND.  I was thinking that two-out-of-three ain’t bad…Let’s get out of here! …Buuuut, I didn’t think Becca would appreciate walking around the city for the next 5 hours in the RAIN without socks.  So, I did the next best thing. I threw Becca’s purse and shoes into Eric’s arms, opened my suitcase, and grabbed a pair of my socks.  This would just have to do.  I glanced at my phone for a split second, checking the time.  5:57.  The race against time was on, and Eric and I were determined to win this race.

Two blocks couldn’t have felt longer.  I dodged pedestrians and street vendors left and right.  The rain beat my face.  My clothes were getting drenched.  (See, I remembered the ponchos, but evidently they don’t work very well when they are folded up in a plastic case in my pocketbook.)  And my big ‘ol, pregnant belly did not contribute positively to this experience.  AT.  ALL.  But, we WERE going to get there.  …And this tour better be good.  

Hale-stinkin’-lujah!  We made it.  In fact, Eric and I were so serious about making this tour that we ran right past the office location and headed straight for the bus parked in front.  That only makes sense, right?  That the only bus parked in front of the building would be the one for tour starting RIGHT NOW?  We thought so too….until I heard Becca yell, “Where are you going!?!?” from the Gray Line office door.  “This isn’t our bus!?!?”, I yelled back.  “Nope.  They are gonna call us when they are ready.”, she responded.  WHAT?!?!?  ALL THAT AND THEY AREN’T EVEN READY FOR US?!?!?  Nope.  Not ready for us at all.  Tickets still had to be taken, the tour guide had extra ponchos to give out, and the bus in front was not. even. ours.  Oh well.  At least we were there.  We were going to be able to take the tour.  And, it wasn’t until that moment that I realized just how heavily my uterus had been sitting on my bladder, and I was more than thankful for the short bathroom break.  It wasn’t long until we boarded the bus and we were well on our way.

Our long-anticipated New York weekend had begun, and the evening, as well as the rest of the weekend, was worth every minute of the craziness we went through to get there.  To spare you every detail of every day, I’ll hit the highlights.

Friday night:  The High Line Walking Tour in the Meatpacking District, including a visit to Chelsea Market; New York Water Taxi to Ellis Island and a nighttime view of Lady Liberty; Little Italy for Dinner at Grotta Azzura; and Top of the Rock Observatory. (We ended up saving our tickets for Top of the Rock until Saturday due to low visibility.); Time Square for some unstructured fun and some scrumptious NY style pizza!

Saturday:  Breakfast at a little NY cafe where we could eat some seriously delicious french toast on the street; Top of the Rock; FAO Schwarz; the Bronx for the Yankees v. Red Sox game; UFC fight at Hooters in Manhattan with a total stranger who turned out to be a US Marshall; back to Midtown for some sightseeing before bed

Sunday:  Locate a gas station….much more difficult than in good ‘ol RVA; Headed home.

Due to the weather, I didn’t take my DSLR out until Saturday.  And, dear friends, if you were one of the people who prayed for it to stop raining as I had requested through my Facebook post….THANK YOU to the ends of the earth and back.  Late Friday evening, albeit after the tour, it stopped raining, and the rest of the weekend’s weather was fabulous!  Don’t ever underestimate the power of prayer, peeps!  All that to say…there aren’t any photos of our Friday night adventures in this post, but hopefully you will enjoy this small glimpse into our day Saturday, and into the special memories that were made during our New York weekend! Press PLAY below and enjoy the photos!

Time Square billboard letting everyone know that the Jones v. Rampage fight would be that night!…and did you know it costs approximately $175,000 or more per month to have a lighted billboard in Time Square?!?!?  (Thank you, Gray Line Tours, for imparting that bit of wisdom on me!) 

More Time Square and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which I find absolutely stunning.

Views of Central Park, the Empire State Building, and the Statue of Liberty (in the far distance) from Top of the Rock Observatory.

On a clear day, you can see for over 40 miles from this location…so says the Gray Line Tour guide.  Good thing we made it on that tour…. What would I have to say otherwise?!?!

Nope.  We don’t look like tourists at all.  But I do have on a cool “We Are Fans” Yankees shirt from Destination Maternity.

It’s what we were waiting for…the first view of Yankee Stadium after getting off the Subway.  I think Eric was hearing angels singing at this point.

Just inside the stadium, flags were flying….Go Yankees!Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio graced us with their presence on game day.  Does this guy not look just like Joe?

What an awesome experience to be in Yankee Stadium with my husband…the biggest Yankees fan I know.

The Bronx as a backdrop.

As the sun sets in the Bronx.

The skies continued to be more and more beautiful as the evening progressed.

A final view of the field just before the game ended.  Magnificent!  And the Yankees win made the night even that much better.

Happy Wednesday, friends!

-M xoxo

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