We had planned for this weekend for MONTHS. I’d be rooming with 2 of my co-workers. I had roomed with both of them on work related trips before, but never at the same time. This weekend would prove to be a very memorable weekend for all of us!
Although I have been waking up semi regularly at 5 am with the husband to enjoy a quiet hour at the gym before starting our day, I still am not prepared for the scream of my alarm at at any point before daybreak. (We are planning to hike the wonderland trail on Mount Rainier this summer… I do NOT want to be THAT girl from the Midwest who gets in way over her head and has to rescued so I’ll gladly trade 5 am wake ups for a successful 90 mile backpacking trip any-day.)
5 am comes crazy fast when you’re a 30 something working wife and mom of 3 girls. Like, turbo early. Like, FML! Why did I do this to myself!? , early.
The morning of a NYC girls weekend with my favorite coworkers would prove different.
The alarm came super fast as it always does. This time, I was instantly awake and rolled out of bed with a bounce in my step.
Today was going to be the beginning of a whole new adventure. A whole new set of cherished memories and fun tales. Shenanigans and malarkey in the big apple with my most favorite co-workers.
I started my coffee, gathered a few last minute necessities and hung out with my kids before school.
An hour later I kissed my children and my sleeping husband goodbye and headed out the door with Lisa and Cara in Cara’s little fuel efficient Honda Fit.
We had received a fair amount of snow fall the night before, which hadn’t really happened this winter for us. The snow was enough to coat the ground and trees, and I was instantly invigorated. The backdrop for the beginning of an eight hour road trip was absolutely stunning and we all agreed that we couldn’t ask for better.
We drove. We drove. And we drove some more. We made it a point to stop for a big breakfast before we got too close to the city, and I’m thankful we did. It definitely fueled us up for what was about to come.
An hour later and the highway opened up to our first glimpses of NYC. The car filled with “Oh My Gosh Look!” and “YAY!” And “We Made it!” We were instantly excited and impressed. I navigated through the traffic, transitioning smoothly into the Lincoln tunnel.
Once inside the city it didn’t take long to get honked at as we navigated towards our hotel. This is a true right of passage for any tourist coming into the greater city areas. We were staying less than a mile from the tunnel, at the Yotel, which would prove super convenient for our exit strategy. This hotel was only a couple of blocks from the Javits center, where the international beauty show was being held. It is a few blocks from Times Square, and right in the heart of the theater district. I will surely come back with my children in the future.
After a few failed attempts we found the garage that was located under our hotel we finally pulled in. It didn’t take long to find that we had a language barrier with the garage attendant, so he called a coworker who directed us into the elevator and up to the lobby to check in and grab a cart.
A few moments later we were back in the basement in loading our luggage onto the cart. It didn’t take long for a bell boy to approach us and help us through the check in process, which we over-complicated with the need to split our payment three ways. Even with our self inflicted complications, everyone on the staff was super friendly and helpful and it didn’t take long before we were tucked safely into our room, with all of our baggage.
After calling our beds and unpacking the necessities we got ready for the night ahead.
We met up with our co-worker Linda and her husband, Dave for a quick beer before heading to the tour meet up spot.
Hitting the streets was invigorating. Loud noises, people everywhere. STIMULATION OVERLOAD.
We navigated several blocks to the pick up point for the tour we had prearranged through Viator.com. We opted for the NYC night on the town tour, a 5 hour long tour that gives a glimpse into some of the most iconic spots, takes a ferry cruise around the lovely Ms. Liberty, and ends up on top of the Rockefeller center. (Find more information by clicking here)
We were greeted by our tour guide, a charming and charismatic gentleman with a thick accent named Noreddine Matloub. With his quick stride and subtle sense of excited urgency, he ushered the three of us out to our private bus. “You three are the only three on my tour tonight, so I will take you to a few extra sites” he explained. He exchanged some quick directions with the bus driver and off we went! The excitement mounted as we drove off into the chaotic traffic, headed straight towards the beautiful sunset.
This was my first time out of town with my brand new Nikon D5600. Naturally, I was only half listening as I was adjusting different settings on my camera and snapping photos like a crazy person at all of the interesting stuff we got to see along the way.
Our first actual stop would be the Chelsea Market. This is a place I hope to soon return to and check out at a much slower pace. It is an enclosed food market in Manhattan that stretches a city block in each direction and is super cozy inside with a rustic – urban atmosphere. I could spend all day admiring the fine details!
After quickly walking through and admiring some of the vendors, we exited and took a stroll down the Highline park.
From there, we drove to Battery park and took a quick walk, ending up at the Brookfield Place, which is a neat mall located inside of the world financial center. It was here that I was almost taken out by a park bench, as I was admiring the beautiful palm trees that were imported straight from the Mojave desert.
Here’s the shot that caused my near accident:
Once we finished up we were put back in the bus and ushered to the waterfront. On the way, we made a brief stop at this Taco place… It looked cool on the outside. I would not recommend using their restroom if you wish to maintain and appetite. I’ll leave it at that.
After grabbing a quick bite from a less than enthusiastic staff, we ran across the street to board our ferry.
The ferry ride was pleasant enough, for it being a mere 30 degrees outside with an icy wind that forces tears from the corners of your eyes and causes every muscle to contract wickedly in your body. Winter on the Hudson and East Rivers… the bar on the inside was definitely a lifesaver and helped to keep us alive, as we all enjoyed a nice and strong cocktail followed by a champagne toast.
The ferry provided with us with breathtaking views of the Brooklyn bridge, the Manhattan bridge, Ellis Island, The Statue of Liberty, and the entire NYC skyline.
As I stated earlier, this was my first time out with the new Nikon. My nighttime photography is in need of some serious work. These are some of my best shots, taken on a tumultuous ferry in freezing temperatures without a tripod. (Lady liberty was super bright!)
After we finished up on the ferry we found our patient and friendly guide waiting for us on the pier. He walked us back to the bus and we drove to Grand Central Station. Along the way we caught some super cool views.
Grand Central station was one of the places I’ve always wanted to see, and it did not disappoint.
Once we finished up here Noreddine escorted us to the Rockefeller center, where we parted ways once we were safely tucked inside with ticket in hand.
The girls and I made our way to the top of the building and stepped outside for some unforgettable views. It was FREEZING cold up here and smelled heavily of garbage. We wandered around on the different terraces, taking photos and letting it all soak in for a while before heading out.
On our way out we were treated to a musical light room which would prove exciting to our semi intoxicated and completely exhausted brains.
On our walk back to the Yotel we spotted a giant M&M store in Times Square and HAD to stop. It was SO COOL! 2 Floors of M&M themed gear. This place was SO M&M that the floor had M&M’s in it. I wandered around taking pictures while the girls shopped. After we finished up, we walked the walk back to our hotel.
Exhausted, we happily settled in for the night.