Basically, that was my way of telling you that this post might be a doozy. I hope you're comfortable :)
Here's how it all went down:
Day 1 (Highlight: We flew in at night, so we could see a great view of the city and all of its lights)
We got in just in time for dinner. (But here's a story first: our first dinner in NYC when we were honeymooning was NOT good. The concierge sent us to Smith & Wollensky and we didn't know that it was the most overpriced, crowded and unfriendly steakhouse with the world's biggest spears of broccoli. When we didn't order wine, we were snubbed. And because we were so tired, we didn't say anything through the whole meal. That may have been the most expensive and the least enjoyable meal we've ever shared. Bummer. So we wanted to keep it simple this time around.)
By the time we got to our hotel and checked in, I was slipping into a catatonic state due to my lack of sustenance. We walked until we found something that looked good from the outside and ended up at Sara Beth's on Central Park Avenue. She quickly became our very best friend - with her zebra-striped chairs and hideaway garden in the back. So charming and exactly what we needed at that moment. Andrew ordered chicken pot pie (comfort food, yessss) and I ordered a burger (comfort food, yessss) and we almost fell asleep before the check came.
Day 2 (Highlight: The b-e-a-utiful ring that my sweet love bought me because "it's been a big year")
We had breakfast at a place that didn't have a name. I think the sign said "diner" or "eat" or something vague like that. Andrew had a spinach and feta omelette and I went for a bagel with bacon. We spent most of the day (ok, all of the day) wandering up and down 5th avenue. We did FAO Schwarz (which I was a little disappointed with, although that may be due to the kid invasion), Tiffany (ooohhh, aahhhh), Bergdorf-Goodman and many others that I don't recall. We also did a lot of stopping to drool over the lights and window displays. Maybe that was just me, but that boy humored me. We also spent a good bit of time at the Rockefeller Plaza, taking in all the Christmasy sights. It was magical.
For dinner, we asked the concierge to recommend a good Thai restaurant and he didn't disappoint. We ended up in a teeny place called Topaz Thai, with waiters who just wanted to take our order and get on to the next table. But the food? Oh.My.Word. Andrew asked for the best thing on the menu and ended up with "Drunken Noodle" and I ordered the Pad Rainbow with beef. I think I want to eat there every day for the rest of my life.
After dinner, we stopped for a drink at Connolly's, an Irish pub next to our hotel, where we witnessed a lovers quarrel. All I know is that he did a shot before she got there and she said something like "why did you put that on facebook?" and it was not pretty. I contemplated trying to break the ice by putting on my most touristy grin and asking if they'd take my picture, but I refrained. We didn't stick around for the ending.
Day 3 (Highlight: Central Park Hotdog)
Don't judge me for loving the hotdog - I'd been looking forward to it for months. We grabbed a quick breakfast/coffee charge at Starbucks and headed to The Met, via Central Park. We saw a lot of ice skaters, a saxophone player, Big Bird (awkward) and a good amount of carriages. We got to The Met and wished that it wasn't so labyrinth-like. We picked a few exhibits from the map and hit the highlights. On the way back, while admiring the fancy apartments along 5th avenue and dreaming about our hotdogs, we decided that we wanted to take a nap. And it's our vacation, so we do what we want.
Before dinner, we wandered through Saks, because it's pretty and it was warm. Then we ended up at Rosa Mexicano for amazing food (crabmeat enchiladas, mmmm) and the best guacamole I've ever had. Ever. Because my shoes had failed me and it was freeeezing, I was whisked away in a cab (I know, I know. Rookie). But it was the best $10 I've ever spent if it meant keeping my feet from revolting any more than they already had.
Day 4 (Highlight[s]: 9/11 Tribute Center and Wicked)
We had (organic! local!) breakfast at some place near our hotel before taking the subway down to the financial district to see the 9/11 Tribute Center. I'm so, so glad we decided to do that because it was absolutely amazing. It was incredible to see that perspective - one that wasn't CNN or 20/20. It was moving to see quotes from family members of the missing, firemen and survivors. It was breath-taking to hear how the country - and the world - rallied around New York. I was young enough to miss all of that when it happened, so I feel blessed to have had the experience there.
We then hopped on the Subway for a few more stops until we ended up at Lombardi's in Little Italy. It came recommended by a co-worker and we weren't disappointed. It has a reputation - at 2pm, we had to wait 30 minutes for a table. We took the subway into Grand Central Station and remarked at how people really are blurry in New York (no wonder they hate how slow we are in the South). We weren't hungry for dinner so we took another nap and then got ready for Wicked! THAT was amazing.
When the show was over, we meandered through Times Square. At 11pm, it's the most I'm-in-New-York-and-I-can't-stop-smiling feeling a tourist can have. I loved it. By 11:30pm we realized we hadn't had dinner, but we were too tired for anything that required effort, so we had quesadillas at the hotel bar. Downer, I know. But you do what you have to do.
Day 5 (Highlight: NOT missing our flight)
We had breakfast at Diner again and then got in the death cab, headed to the airport. We were both dressed in wedding clothes (Congratulations, Aunt Shelly!) and the first thing the driver told us was how he'd been hit twice and almost hit a third time. At this point, I was triple-checking my seatbelt, keeping my fingers crossed, singing songs of peace and tranquility and praying hard. He definitely took us through the getto and I'm pretty sure he cursed at someone who had the right of way and he sure did drive up on the curb to get around traffic, but we made it. In our wedding clothes. And the lines at security were long but we're
VIP military so we got moved to the front. We ran to the gate (think Run, Run Rudolf a la Home Alone) only to take off late because a lady grabbed the flight attendant and entered the cockpit (really?) and was subsequently removed from the aircraft. But since my dad is kind of like a mob boss (because of his connections, not a propensity toward organized crime) we got to Charlotte 15 minutes early. And made it to the church on time.
Fa la la la la
la la la la
I loved everything about our trip. Christmas was everywhere, in every imaginable way and that's exactly what I got fluttery about when I daydreamed about it. It was so awesome to have that time with Andrew, after all the months of Power School. And it was a blessing that we're in a position to even take a trip like that. In a nutshell, here's how I feel about our trip: it was exciting and beautiful and romantic and cold and yummy and eye-opening and exhausting and fast and Christmasy and just perfect.
PS: You are a SAINT if you're still reading this.
PPS: I apologize now for typos. I don't feel like proofreading :)