The thought of this blog post has intimidated me so I have been putting it off - plus, it's taken a few days to get back to normal life. But, as Rafiki would say, it is time.
Overall the trip was fantastic. So many memories. So many sights seen and things done. It went by in a blur. This is the first trip we went on as parents, and it was a little weird. I felt guilty having fun. I cried when talked on the phone. I definitely enjoyed my trip but there was always a part of me wanting to be at home with my girl. It wasn't a relaxing vacation, and we knew it wouldn't be going in. We had to modify our schedules a bit and adapt since we were kind of going a bit crazy with a long to-do list. I guess we'll just have to go back someday. :) So without further ado, part one of our trip.
Last Wednesday night, we put Joci to bed, said goodbye to my parents who were staying in our home, and drove to Salt Lake City, Utah. We arrived around midnight and spent the night at my sister's house. She drove us to the airport the next morning. We left a little late. That is the story of my life. I am never on time for anything. It's in my blood, I swear. We bit our nails through security. And of course...I had a suspicious item in my bag so it had to be hand searched. Ah...a toothbrush in a plastic case was the culprit. So they took that out and x-rayed the bag again. Well, I had two toothbrushes in there so we had to do that all again. Seriously...how many times a day does TSA see a toothbrush in a plastic case in a carry on bag? Every other bag at least? Time was really running out. So while my bag was undergoing the second search, I sent Justin on ahead to the gate. Then I ran through the airport and made it to the plane (why is the gate always the last one in the terminal???) huffing and puffing. We were the last people on the plane, but we were on. And flights charge for EVERYTHING these days. Sheesh! I remember when flying used to be so luxurious. I had my first taste of caviar on a flight. Oh well.
Three and a half hours later, we landed at JFK. I was really impressed with the airport. The terminals/gates are set up in a way that you feel like each gate is its own airport. Very convenient for one of the biggest airports in the world. We claimed our bags easily, watched a lost pigeon fly and roam around the airport, and got on a transfer bus to the hotel. The transfer bus driver was abrupt and kinda rude (not to us - to others) and we were like, "Yeah, this is New York." It took almost two hours to get from the air port to our hotel. Our room was on the 27th floor and we could see the Empire State Building from our window.
view from our room
We headed out to find a place to eat. We stayed away from the chain restaurants on Times Square that we can find anywhere and found a great Mexican place. Then we bravely walked about eight blocks to the Empire State Building.
Justin on Broadway
Lara praying for a miracle on 34th Street
It was close to midnight and we had the place to ourselves. Well, there were maybe 30 other tourists there, but we didn't have to wait in a single line nor did we have to elbow our way to get a view from the top. It was very romantic and exciting.
Top of the Empire State Building. You can kind of see the Chrysler building to the right of me.
The next day was my birthday. We bravely made our way to the subway - and it wasn't nearly as scary or as confusing as I anticipated. We went to Max Brenner for an early lunch. It's a restaurant featuring a lot of amazing chocolate dishes. Justin got a shake and I got hot chocolate...so amazing. I cannot describe it, but I have never had chocolate that tasted like that before. If you get the chance to go to a Max Brenner, do it!
Hot cocoa on the left, a milkshake on the right...I still dream about this place.
Did some shopping. Justin had better luck than me, but it was fun. Then we went downtown to the financial district to visit the two month old 9-11 Memorial. It was a sobering and sacred experience. I noticed a tree that looked a little...special, I guess, and I asked a guide about it. It is dubbed the "Survivor Tree" and was found in the rubble after the attacks, "decapitated" and charred. With some TLC, it blossomed and grew. Hurricane Irene knocked it over, but it still survived. The guide talked to us about it for almost an hour, so I am writing the Cliff's notes version here. :) I asked about the white roses around it. The Scandinavian royal families had been there that morning and left the roses to pay their respects.
In the not-so-scary subway
St. Peter's Church
Protests on Wall Street
The new Freedom Tower under construction
The Survivor Tree
Flowers from the Scandinavian royal court
We scrapped our original evening plans. Instead we took the Subway a few blocks north and then walked FOREVER to find Katz's Deli. This is the deli in When Harry Met Sally where Meg Ryan demonstrates how women can fake...stuff...you know. The pastrami was unlike anything I had ever had in my life. And since each sandwich cost $15, it made sense. Wow. So good. I wished I were a cow and had seven stomachs, I got too full too fast.
And then we went back to the hotel and called it a night.