I'm In a New York State of Mind

While most people were spending their spring breaks working on their tans at the beach, I was battling frigid temperatures in my peacoat and red, flowered ear warmer I found in a random shop in Brooklyn.  Instead of relaxing all day, I was running around until I was worn out.  I wasn't with any of my friends, but I was with my parents and brother.  I wouldn't have traded it for anything, because I got to spend an entire eight days in my favorite city I've visited thus far, New York City.  New York is somewhere I always dreamed about visiting when I was a young girl and got to experience for the first time when I was 13.  It was my favorite vacation I've ever been on, and I've been pining to go back ever since I can remember.  When my mom and I discovered that we had the same spring break, I begged her to plan another family trip to New York.  I fell even more in love with the city than I was before, which I didn't know was possible.  I do love Tennessee and the South with my whole heart, but there's just something about the diversity and rush of the city that entrances me.  I for sure know that I cannot wait another eight years to return, and I would even be thrilled to intern or work there at some point in my life.  This spring break was one I'll never forget, and now I am going to share it with you:

Day 1: Friday, March 22
We decided we wanted to spend as much time in the city as possible, so we chose a 7:35 a.m. flight from Nashville.  I absolutely love flying and was so excited to do it again after five years.


  After we landed at LaGuardia Airport, my godfather, Jim, picked us up.  Jim has been my dad's friend since elementary school and lives in Brooklyn.  He's one of the coolest, funniest people I've ever met, and I'm so glad my parents chose him as my godfather.  We decided to spend the day visiting with my godfather and his wife, Judy, and conserving our energy for the busy week to come.  (The early flight may have also been setting in.) My godfather lives in a cute brownstone, and that was our home for the week.


One of my favorite restaurants that I had remembered from our last trip there is George's, which is just a few blocks away from my godfather's house.  We had lunch there, and I couldn't have asked for a better first meal in NYC.


The restaurant is run by Greeks, and it reminds me so much of the restaurant in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, one of my favorite movies.  I had to take advantage of this and order the moussaka, which was absolutely delicious.


 Day 2: Saturday, March 23
We zipped around a lot of different places in Lower Manhattan on our first day of exploring.  We finally got to do one of my favorite things, which is ride the subway.  No joking, I think the subway system is one of the coolest things ever.  My brother and I downloaded a super handy app that told us which trains to catch based on our starting and ending stations, and we felt like experts knowing our way around.  It was a lot better than using the confusing map and also eliminated yet another hint that we were tourists.


Oh MetroCard, how I miss using you!

We started the day at the 9/11 Memorial.  We visited Ground Zero on our last trip, but it was still a bunch of debris at that point that was gated off.  Now there are some monuments, and a museum is being built.


This was the site of the North Tower, and it has the names of the people who died there engraved in the monument.  You can see a rainbow in the water on the left side of the picture.  My godfather brought up a good point that the monument is all about reflections in both meanings of the word.  It was truly an eerie and emotional feeling to be in that spot.

From there, we walked to Battery Park, which was unfortunately destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.  We could see the Statue of Liberty from where we were.  It has been closed both times I've been to the city, but I rode by it in a boat last time and got my picture taken in front of it this time.


We moved on to Chinatown and Little Italy.  Being Italian, I think Little Italy is the cutest thing ever, and it was particularly adorable to watch my dad get so into everything there.  My mom wants to be called "Nonna", which is Italian for "grandmother", whenever she has grandchildren, and she was this close to buying this bib.


We had to stop and get some pistachio gelato at Caffé Palermo.


From there, we moved on to Soho.  I got to visit one of my requested stops, Dash NYC, the store owned by the Kardashians.


The clothes were pretty expensive, so I moved to the little trinkets stand.  I decided I'd rather have something that had the store's name on it anyway.  I got the little black makeup bag on the bottom left.



We met Jim and Judy at an Italian restaurant called Arturo's for dinner and then headed back to Brooklyn for the night.

Day 3: Sunday, March 24
Sunday was devoted to Dad's choice, The Cloisters, a museum full of European medieval art.  We had a long subway ride all the way to Upper Manhattan (190th St. to be exact).


I was particularly excited about the large amount of quatrefoil spottings.


I made a Pic Stitch of just some of the pieces of art.  The Cloisters is known for its room full of unicorn tapestries.  I got a picture of one of them, which is in the bottom left corner.


Day 4: Monday, March 25
We spent the day at Anthony's choice, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).  


We ate lunch at one of its cafes, and I got this yummy prosciutto cotto panini:


There was such a wide variety of interesting art.  Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night is one of my favorite pieces of art, and I was so moved to be able to see it in person.



As you can see, we also got to see Edvard Munch's The Scream, which was pretty impressive.  What might have been the craziest thing was Tilda Swinton sleeping in a glass box.  Yep, that was her big statement contributed to MoMA.  At least my brother and I can say we were just feet from a celebrity during our time in the city?  Too bad we weren't allowed to take pictures of that.

Day 5: Tuesday, March 26
As a whole, Tuesday might have been my favorite day.  We started the day with doing something I was dying to do.  How I Met Your Mother is my favorite show.  For those of you who watch it, you know the show takes place in New York, and a lot of it takes place in a bar called MacLaren's.  The creators of the show used to live in New York and frequented a bar called McGee's Pub.  MacLaren's is based off this, and they even have How I Met Your Mother cocktails.  The food and service were great, the bar actually did really resemble the bar on the show and I got to enjoy a Robin Sparkles cocktail.



Next, we took a pedicab ride around Central Park, which was really fun.  Our bike riders were really funny and told us lots of interesting facts, including where certain TV and movie scenes were filmed in the park and celebrities who lived in buildings around the park. 

In the following picture, the first one is just a map of the park.  In the next one, I'm sitting on the bench where Maid In Manhattan, one of my favorite movies, was filmed.  The third one is my family in front of the fountain where the opening credits of Friends was filmed.  The final picture is of a mosaic in Strawberry Fields.  Yoko Ono purchased this teardrop shaped part of the park, which is right across from the balcony where John Lennon was killed.  


Random personal highlight?  Seeing the location of the snowball fight scene in Elf:


After that, we visited one of my favorite places, NBC Studios.  We toured the studios during our last trip, but I was plenty excited to do it again.  I've always loved the NBC network and imagined how incredible it would be to work there.

30 Rock, y'all.

Ice skating in Rockefeller Plaza

By the way, I was able to combine my loves of singing and NBC in order to land a pretty sweet job... ;)

Just a final conglomeration from our visit.  The tour is conducted by NBC Pages.  We visited the studios of Dr. Oz and Saturday Night Live.  I love Dr. Oz and was especially psyched to be at the SNL studio where so many legends have been.  It's incredible to see how much they can do in such a small studio, and there were even people there painting props for an upcoming show.  Then we took a look in the SNL makeup room.  It's pretty amazing how much the makeup artists are able to do in just the span of a commercial break.  The tour ended up in a fake newsroom (you can see my family's picture at the desk), where two little girls got to anchor the news and do the weather.

Oh yeah, look at my nerdy, yet totally awesome, coffee mug purchase:

Day 6: Wednesday, March 27
Wednesday was another packed day.  We decided to eat lunch at Serendipity 3, so we could try its famous Frrrozen Hot Chocolate.  The wait was two hours, so we killed some time at Dylan's Candy Bar, which is right down the street.  I'm totally addicted to sweets, so three floors full of sugar was like heaven to me.

The final picture is of the Famous Favorites wall.  There are little glass boxes autographed by celebrities with their favorite candies on the inside.  I once again chose a coffee mug as my souvenir.  Working on that collection!



Serendipity 3 was really cutesy and eclectically decorated.  Most importantly, the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate did not disappoint. 


We moved on to Times Square, and I got a picture incorporating two of my favorite things, Phi Mu and New York City.


I had to stop in the massive Disney store and revisit my four-year-old self who played dress up every day.




That night, we saw Jersey Boys at the August Wilson Theatre.  


The musical is the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.  Mom was super excited to see it, because she loves them and she saw them at her first concert.  I wasn't sure how much I'd love it but knew I'd be alright since I'm a huge musical geek anyway.  Well, let me tell you I was proved wrong.  I knew some of their songs but didn't realize how many well-known songs were performed by them.  The musical itself was funny, and the music was phenomenal.  I've been addicted to the CD ever since.  It's coming to TPAC in Nashville in the fall, and I already want to see it again.  It was awesome to see the original actor to play Frankie Valli, and I might have developed a major crush on the actor who played Bob Gaudio, Drew Gehling.  He has the voice of an angel, is tall and was nice to my dad when he talked to him after the show, so yeah.  Upon researching (or maybe a little creeping), I discovered he's married and expecting a baby with...an actress who has played Christine Daeé in The Phantom of the Opera (my favorite) on Broadway, sooo no big deal (sarcasm).  Sigh.  By the way, I told you I was a huge musical geek.  I just went on a major rant, which I will now conclude.

Day 7: Thursday, March 28
We started our last full day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  We didn't have much time there, and the museum is huge, so I wasn't able to take many pictures.  We spent the majority of our time at the Egyptian exhibit, and I was especially interested in the ancient Egyptian jewelry, which looked particularly like David Yurman, one of my guilty pleasures.


Back in February, I was fortunate to have Tamara Ratliff, a UT graduate who works for Viacom in New York, speak in my PR communication class.  She specifically works for Spike and Comedy Central and told us to let her know if we were ever going to be in New York and interested in getting tickets to either The Daily Show with Jon Stewart or The Colbert Report.  My brother is a huge fan of both shows, so I knew I had to take her up on this offer.  She was so gracious to get my family VIP tickets, and I have truly enjoyed corresponding with her through email and learning about her career.  

Anyway, the point is that we got VIP tickets to The Colbert Report!  



I had watched it a few times but was by no means a regular watcher.  However, that might have changed after being in the studio audience.  His staff was super friendly, and although I wasn't expecting it to be, seeing his show was one of my highlights from the trip.  After being brought into the studio, a comedian came in to warm us up.  We were told a million times to cheer and laugh at all the appropriate times.  As Stephen put it, "There are two characters in this show, me and you guys.  You guys make the show just as much as me."  The comedian was hilarious and picked on people from the audience during his routine.  Finally, Stephen came out as himself, not his character.  He was super down to earth and nice and answered questions from the audience.  He then got into character and did the show.  It's amazing how long he can go without messing up, and he stays in character and does really funny things during the breaks as well.  Before he left, he took a couple more questions and thanked us for being there.  My brother and I both caught wristbands he threw into the audience:

Wriststrong.  C'mon, you know that's funny.

Day 8: Friday, March 29
Our final day in New York was just spent in Brooklyn, packing up and saying our goodbyes.  We ate lunch at a restaurant called Skinflints with Jim and Judy before Jim took us back to LaGuardia.  I made sure to get a picture with my godfather in front of his house before we left.


Usually when I'm headed back home from a vacation, I'm a little sad but feel pretty excited to be going home.  This time, I could not have been sadder to leave New York.  I was honestly having to hold back tears.  There's just something about the city that brings me so much joy.  As I said at the beginning of this post, I love home, but I think it's really good for me to get out of the bubble, partake in new experiences and take in the diversity the city has to offer.  Not only do I love the city, but I so enjoyed spending time with my godfather.  I usually see him once a year for a couple of nights only, and that's not nearly enough.  He is such a great person who always keeps me laughing, and staying with him was one of the best parts of the trip.

I think it's pretty apparent from this post that I had an incredible trip full of wonderful memories, and I cannot wait to return.  As this post title hints, I've been in a New York state of mind ever since returning to Tennessee, and it's been really hard to adjust to being back here and especially getting back in the swing of school.  I am so thankful for the time I had in the city and am already looking forward to the rattle of the subway, opportunistic feeling in the air and diversity of options that I will feel again one day.



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