Monday, October 29, 2012

New York...Day 3

At the end of Day 2 the 4th member of our girls trip arrived around 10 pm.  I knew all their husbands were fraternity brothers, but for some reason I had been thinking all these girls were friends in college too.  While on the trip I discovered none of them attended college together, but became friends through their husbands keeping in touch with each other after graduation.  Ashley and Dianna's husbands have a bet of a "bro-mance" that goes back to high school, but there is a fairly large group of guys from their fraternity that still stay in touch...I didn't do the Greek thing in college, but this makes me a bit of an advocate for Greek life...I love keeping in touch with my friends and it makes me happy that these guys are still friends years after graduating and living in states up and down the East coast!

Anyway, Dianna was excited to join us and we were excited to have her.  We got up bright and early once more to head down to Battery Park to hop on the ferry to meet Lady Liberty and then tour Ellis island...but this time we decided to navigate our way to Battery Park via the subway.  Brantley had been to New York several times before so thankfully she arrived having a good understanding of how the subways run.  After a day or so I felt like I had it figured out too and I found to be like solving a logic problem to figure out how to get from point A to point B in the fastest way possible via the subways.  If I lived in NYC I would totally be a subway rider!

We arrived at Battery Park thinking we had a jump on the crowds getting onto the ferry...we were wrong...

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When we got in the end of the line that seemed to have no end we were told the wait time would be 1 hour...however, they are not nearly as accurate at predicting wait times as Disney the time I took these pictures we had been in line for 2 hours. We discovered around this same point in line that you can purchase tickets in advance through I highly recommend. The people in front of us also discovered around this point that they had purchased advance tickets and had waited in line for nothing...oh well, at least I learned something from their mistake. We were finally on board and headed over to see the big lady herself...the ferry ride over also offers great views of NYC...


I love pictures that offer perspective...the tiny little people along the ground are standing maybe a hundred feet from the base of the statue...


 Here's our party of four...


Brantley, Dianna, Ashley & me


A audio tour via a headset is part of the ticket price. We all picked one up but I don't think anyone listened from start to finish. We were all enjoying each others company and the headset just got in the way. We did listen to a few minutes and here are some things I learned... Because I knew you could go up into the statue in the past, I knew it wasn't a solid statue...but did you know the thickness of the metal you are seeing is equal to the thickness of two pennies stacked on top of each other??


 The metal is draped over metal scaffolding that was designed by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel...the same person responsible for the design of a certain tower in Paris. Because the statue would be in the harbor it had to be static to withstand the wind. The metal used on the statue is copper and due to exposure to natural elements has taken on the green patina appearance it has today. Standing next to the statue and looking up is really a neat experience. My grandmother's mother immigrated to the US during the days when Ellis Island was in operation so she would have been greeted by this I was, 3 generations later, standing there in the harbor.


 The Barbie collector in me found a great souvenir in the gift shop...


 But priced at nearly $50, it was more than I wanted to spend on a Barbie doll.

 We had planned on getting back on the ferry to then tour Ellis island, but decided instead to stay on the ferry and just view Ellis island from the boat...


Time was slipping away and we were some hungry girls...its was 2ish by this point. On the bus tour the previous day we saw Katz Deli...where Meg Ryan had a very loud reaction to a sandwich in a scene of "When Harry Met Sally". We weren't very far away, so again, we hopped on the subway and navigated our way there...

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For anyone who has ever shared a meal with me you know I love a pickle and am known to ask for extra pickles...I was so happy to see these beauties waiting to be piled on my plate...


Ordering took some getting use was kinda chaotic in here, but once you got to the counter to order, your food was prepared in front of you and while you waited you got a little sampling of the meat...yum!


There were 3 pieces there, but I had already helped myself to 2 of them before I thought to take a picture!


Brantley and I split a Reuben add pastrami...


 Do you think I enjoyed it??


Of all the places we ate, this may have been my favorite...I plan on taking my mom here when we go in the Spring...she enjoys a Reuben and this is like no other sandwich I've had...kinda pricey for a sandwich, but when you read about how they cook the meat...the time and effort makes up for the cost!


When then got back on the subway to return to our hotel to get ready for another requesting planned outing. Brantley had read about a bar called the Mason Jar where fans of USC go to watch the Gamecocks play on Saturday night. On this particular Saturday USC was playing LSU at was a highly anticipated game so we knew this would be a great place to show our support of the Gamecocks...Brantley is an alum, the rest of us are all married to alums.


I'll stop here to say that 99% of the people we encountered in NYC were nothing like the stereotype I had in my head...which was negative. They were all friendly and helpful at every turn...however, the 1% that lived up to my stereotype was hanging out in this bar.

Having attended a school, Auburn, that has a tradition of embracing each other...when we find ourselves on foreign soil far away from our beloved "Plains of Dixie" we enjoy greeting each other with a heart felt "WAR EAGLE"...I kinda expected we would have the same reaction to a bar filled with Carolina fans since I live 20 minutes from the campus. Brantley knew the bar filled up quickly from her research...but it was more crowded than expected a full hour before kick off. I wanted to take a picture to show my husband, the USC alum, and after taking the picture a j***a$$ 3 feet from me started making fun of me and referring to me as a Japanese tourist. I was mad...I walked into his little group of guys and told him that actually we were from Columbia and wanted to show our friends back home how neat it was to see all these people supporting the Gamecocks. He responded by telling me to "Just relax." which made me want to in turn respond by living up to a few Southern redneck stereotypes by punching him in the teeth...allow me now to insert one of my favorite quotes from Brantley's husband, Graem, "It felt like good fightin' weather."...but I held back and just called him an ugly name from a distance where he could easily hear me.

We headed up stairs, away from the b-hole, found a table and discovered much nicer people there.


My husband loves a cooler & he's known to love an occasional I had to get a picture of the portable cooler keg-a-rator...


Although it was a close game and enjoyable to didn't go Carolina's way. We left and got back on the subway and managed to fit in one more requested stop on our way back to the hotel...Grand Central Station. It was kinda neat being there at night because it wasn't crowded at all...


Yes, the time on the clock is correct, it was 12:20am...and we had to leave the hotel at 8am to make our flights home...I was thankful to have taken Monday off after I got home...that was all that was getting me through the wee hours of the morning! Ticket windows...


Wouldn't it have been nice if this passage way was a quicker way home??


We made it home and to bed...after a lengthy political discussion lasting until 3:30ish..Then I channeled the Granny within me and told the girls it was time to be quite and go to sleep...the next day, when we were all exhausted, Brantley told me she wished I had channeled Granny earlier, but she just didn't want the weekend to end by going to sleep!

It was a really fun weekend...and although I was glad to be heading home to my family, I've been missing the big city ever since we left. Going back posting these pictures has made me miss that weekend even more. Although I wasn't nervous about this girl's weekend because I knew 2 of the 3 girls I would be spending it with and I was confident we would travel well can be scary traveling with people for the first time...but we had the best little group! The key to traveling with anyone in my opinion is to plan ahead, but to be flexible if plans change. I'm known to be an anal planner...but there is just so much to do in NYC, you have to pick a few highlights and then look forward to future trips! I appreciated that we all had one or two things we wanted to do and we all tried to make each of those happen...but when it didn't work out for one day, we made it work the next day. You can't find that in all your friends, but I we definitely had that in our group and now I'm looking forward to many more trips in the future. Thanks for the invite ladies! And thanks to Brantley for being so calm and relaxed as I was driving like a mad woman towards Charlotte and getting a speeding ticket in Rock Hill. She admitted later she didn't think we would make our flight, but she never let me know that...she remained calm and that helped me focus on getting us there ASAP!  We were meant to enjoy a fun filled weekend...and we did just that!

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

New York...Day 2

We set out on our trip determined to make the most of our 2 1/2 days in the city. As Brantley and I were flying towards New York we browsed through some of her tour guides she had from previous visits. One thing we read suggested a bus tour of the city. My best friend, Andrea, had recommended the same so we wanted to try to get on a tour Thursday afternoon to get an idea of where we wanted to head out for the remainder of the trip. The tour company we used had 3 routes; Uptown, Downtown, and Brooklyn. Fortunately for us the starting point for the Uptown and Downtown tour was just a few blocks from our hotel...unfortunately we couldn't get a tour in before dark...but fortunately they sold us a ticket for 2 1/2 days for the price of just 1 day! We decided to get up bright and early Friday morning to do the Downtown tour which included a stop at the World Trade Center Memorial.


(Me, Ashley & Brantley)

The bus tour was great and I, like Andrea, also highly recommend it. You sit on top of the bus so you can look up and around all during the can also get off at any stop and then hop on another bus following the same route when you are ready to finish the trip. I had my camera up and shooting for the majority of the ride...

Time Square


I didn't realize the ball stayed up all year long...but now I know...


The Garment District


Parson's was another highlight on my tour of all things "Project Runway"


These are the office buildings in the Garment District where, as our tour guide pointed out, shirts are designed and made for $5 and sold up the street for $100. If you look in the second to last window in the bottom left corner you can see one of those shirts hanging in the window.


More designer clothes hanging in office windows. This clothes eventually end up here...


Former co-owner, Isidor Straus, and his wife, Ida, both died in the sinking of the Titanic. This monument outside of Macy's is in their honor and the clock stays at the time the Titanic went down.


Macy's original founder, R.H. Macy, had a star tattoo from his previous employment on a whaling ship. The iconic Macy's star is from R.H. Macy's tattoo...


Try not to think about that the next time you see the Macy's a brief aside I just have to point out what a great example this is of free enterprise which our country was founded on...a former seaman on a whaling ship started Macy's department store! (I've watched my fair share of fishing shows thanks to my husband's love of reality TV so I know this was pretty hard work and also had to be very nasty job).

Here's the first location of Macy's in New York...there have been 7 locations...



I got pretty obsessed with taking pictures of the Empire State building. Did you know this building was at one point owned by a dog after the owner died leaving her entire estate to her dog?  Lawyers stepped in and that all changed, but it shows the super rich can be super crazy! However, being the iconic New York building that it is, I took tons of pictures...but I'll only post a few of my favorites.

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This the Flat Iron building...named because of the shape of the building if you were looking down at it from the the distance you can see the construction at Ground Zero.


Two buildings with gold plated tops...bucks deluxe...I think Donald Trump owns one of these buildings...

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As we rode through SOHO and NOHO we learned why these different areas of Manhattan were given these names. One of the major streets is Houston Street...not pronounced like the city in's a Dutch name, so the pronunciation is different. At one point SOHO (before it was given this name) was a run down and crime filled neighborhood...but there where lots of cheap lofts that artists began moving into because of the spacious high ceilings. Then the rich customers had to travel to these lofts and realtors saw an opportunity...but in order to get the rich to consider moving to this area they need to rename it...SOHO stands for SOuth of HOuston & NOHO stands for NOrth of HOuston...creative. Now celebs like Kelly Ripa & Jennifer Anniston call SOHO home...neither of which we saw on our ride through their hood! What we did see a lot of and what I was impressed with, was the the details in all the buildings. Some even had decorative iron facings...

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These buildings are so beautiful...and not like the boring building you see in downtown Columbia...craftsmen took time making these unique and took pride in making them timeless and beautiful.

We got off the tour at Ground Zero, which I want to do a separate post about, but while were were off the bus we wandered down to the ferry pick up for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We had hoped to do that tour on Friday, but we thought the line was too long on Friday...little did we know what the line was going to be like on Saturday...but we still took a few pictures with the crazy dressed up person out front. We learned a lesson, these pictures are NOT FREE! After you start taking pictures with them they whisper in your ear "These pictures are $5."...even though your taking the pictures with your own camera. Luckily, these pictures turned out great...and were worth the $5!


Then we hopped back on the bus to finish our tour of downtown. We drove by the Brooklyn bridge and got a great view of Brooklyn...


My maternal grandmother, Ruth...who Ruth Ann is named after, lived in Brooklyn. I don't remember her talking a lot about growing up here, I just remember knowing this was where she was from. I do know that my grandmother was a working woman before it was the popular thing for woman and I have some really great framed pictures of her in her best clothes ready to head into the city. She was the secretary for the Vice President of Chase Manhattan bank...and commuted from Brooklyn. My grandmother passed away 5 years ago and I miss her all the time...but never more so as I was looking across the river at the city where she lived and wishing I had made this trip with her so she could tell me about and show me her city. My mom and I are going back to NYC in the Spring and I plan on exploring Brooklyn with my mom and remembering the grandmother I love.

Here's the Manhattan Bridge...


And continuing my theme of reality TV hot spots, Zarin in Jill Zarin from the Real Housewives of NYC...


I would have loved to stop and shop here, but thanks to my speeding ticket on the way to the airport I had to be more fiscally responsible...which is never fun...


Then we got of the bus close to our hotel to explore Rockefeller Center...

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And inside the NBC store they had a whole section of tshirts with Friends quotes...this was my favorite...


Then we headed back to our hotel to get ready for dinner and show...we ate dinner at Sardis and then went to Mary Poppins...

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Such a fun day...and we still had one more day ahead of us!

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