Yes, I titled my blog with a hashtag. I just can’t quit hashtagging everything.
I even say hashtag when I’m talking.
When bragging to my mom about something I’ll end by saying, “Hashtag humble” and then I’ll crack up.
Life’s too short not to be ridiculous sometimes :)
Also, if you follow me or my sister (@ellebellebeauty) on Instagram, you can see many of our NYC trip photos by searching the hashtag #BecAndElTakeNYC, because you know the minute we took our first selfie we started thinking of a hashtag for our weekend. LOL
Biggest nerds ever…
We hopped in a taxi after landing at LaGuardia and we were on our way into the city. This was the first time I cabbed into the city rather than taking a series of buses to a subway station and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT. There’s no schlepping your bag all around or trying desperately to figure out where you are in relation to where you’re going. It’s about $40+tip but worth every last penny! It’s also significantly faster.
I figured we would have to leave our bags at the hotel desk because we arrived at 11am, well before check-in, but it turns out they had a room ready for us immediately and we were able to unload and freshen up! WOOT!
We stayed at the Hyatt in Times Square and had a very pleasant experience. Thanks to my sister-in-law Melissa for suggesting I use Priceline.com to find a nice hotel at a low price…it worked out perfectly.
MY VERY OWN WHITE FLUFFY BED FOR 3 NIGHTS…IS THIS REAL LIFE??
The weather forecast called for rain much of the weekend, but day one was GORGEOUS!! We practically floated down the street on adrenaline and happiness about the sunshine and blue skies!
First stop was a street hotdog before heading to Battery Park.
She didn’t know I was taking this picture…mwahahahaha!
We made our way down Manhattan to Battery Park without incident. I can be a whiz with the subway system, but I’m always nerve-wrackingly rusty when I first arrive!
Our ferry wasn’t setting sail for about an hour, so we were able to enjoy a drink while we waited.
I kept pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming that I was having a beer in NYC with my best girl on the most gorgeous sunny day !
After a series of annoying lines and security checkpoints, we boarded Miss Liberty and headed over to Liberty Island.
Not without snapping a selfie along the way :)
We were both thrilled when we got our first good look at Lady Liberty!
I’ve been to NYC 4 other times and I saw the statue on 2 of those trips, but she never fails to impress. AND I’d never been on Liberty Island or inside the pedestal before, so that was awesome.
I mean, the first time I saw her, it was from a distance and I was still wearing choker necklaces LOL
Ellen and I took a trip to NYC back in 2005 and we missed our plane home because we decided to race down to Battery Park for Ellen to get a glimpse of the statue. I felt like she couldn’t visit New York without seeing the Statue of Liberty, right?!
See that teeny tiny peak in the background?? Yeah. That’s what Ellen “saw” on her first trip.
We even got an old-school camera selfie! We tried to get the statue in the pic too, but we obviously failed.
And there was no hashtag, so what was even the point? ;)
THIS time it was magnificent!
We had an audio device that allowed us to hear interesting facts about the statue…hence the headphones.
The views of the city skyline were phenomenal.
It’s crazy to me how the Freedom Tower (left center) completely dwarfs the empire state building (far left). I practically had to do the limbo the first time I stood outside the Empire State building and looked up to try to see the top! It’s massive. Just not when compared to the Freedom Tower!
We took an inordinate number of selfies. In fact, we laughed and laughed about how silly we were. I’m so glad we pushed through and did it anyway. I will always treasure these photo memories of that trip :)
It was cool to see the original torch. It was cooler to take a dark and blurry selfie in front of it.
I’m standing next to a life-size bronze cast of her face. It made me feel better about my own nose :o)
A miraculously tourist-free shot of me and the Lady!
Next up was Ellis Island and it turned out to be my favorite part of our whole trip.
We had audio devices again and it was incredible to hear stories told by elderly people who were children when they came through Ellis Island. They described, in detail, what it was like to get their first look at the Statue of Liberty after long and grueling boat rides.
They shared the range of emotions they experienced and how nerve wracking it was to go through the various medical and mental health exams.
Many people spent everything they had for a chance to start a new life in the United States and I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it must have been for those who were turned away during any part of the entry process. During those heavy immigration years, only 2% of the immigrants were turned away, but that still amounted to thousands of people.
The audio tour was very well done. I was moved to tears on several occasions by both the personal testimonies and fascinating history of the facilities. I didn’t realize how large the compound was or the length of time many people stayed on the island before being approved and getting to the mainland.
One person recalled memories of all the children getting a graham cracker and a cup of milk before bed each night :)
We wrapped up our Liberty Island/Ellis Island tours and we were HANGRY. We wanted to indulge in a variety of foods over the weekend and agreed that Mexican and Margaritas sounded the best at the moment. I did a little online search and found a top 10 list of hot Mexican restaurants and we landed on Fonda Comida Mexicana in East Village. It was a bit of a hike to get there from where we were, but we arrived hot, hungry and ready! We sat outside in the glorious weather and had the best margaritas ever! We started with fresh guacamole which was also amazing.
Ellen chose the fish tacos and I had carnitas. Both were awesome and had wonderfully complex flavor profiles! A foodie’s delight for sure :)
We were stuffed and decided to navigate back toward our hotel. A quick stop for some chocolate and wine and we were set for an early night in like a couple of old ladies! Turns out the cheap wine was undrinkable (think sweet, watery Cabernet Sauvignon!) and the chocolate went untouched until I grabbed one a couple nights later just so it wouldn’t go to waste!
We both got a good night’s sleep and were energized for day 2!
We agreed that New York bagels were a breakfast priority, but the bagel place I’d mapped out before our trip was pretty far from our hotel and we didn’t think we’d make it there without getting massively grumpy. I did another search and came across a place nearby that was highly rated. The only problem was it was called “Best Bagel and Coffee” and that made me really skeptical! It just seemed too ironic that the best bagels would be at a place called Best Bagel.
You’d almost miss it if you didn’t know it was there!
But when we got there at 10am there was a line out the door and it was packed like sardines inside.
AND OMG THEY WERE THE BEST BAGELS OF MY LIFE!!!
We chose everything bagels with egg, bacon and cheese on our first visit. We washed them down with hot hazlenut coffees and we could not shut up about how amazing they were. Big, fat, chewy, flavorful, fresh, doughy, delicious! The second time we went we decided to go with plain cream cheese on everything bagels and it was equally amazing. I HIGHLY recommend this place if you’re in NYC!
Next up was biking in Central Park.
I adore Central Park. It’s kind of funny because it’s probably my favorite thing in New York and it’s a PARK. Why would you go to a big city, just to go to a park??
I can’t explain it other than to say, it’s just really special. There’s a cool vibe and incredible people watching and lovely features throughout. I’d really like to carve out half a day to walk through the entire thing sometime.
Before the trip I googled a bike rental shop and we were all set to rent bikes there when we saw a giant lineup of CitiBikes. We’d seen these around town and stopped to take a closer look at the kiosk. It looked like you could get a 24 hour pass for about $20 and that was less than the bike shop listed on their website, so we went for it. A nearby rickshaw operator saw us fumbling to get our bikes out of their docks and he warned us about hidden fees if you don’t check the bikes every 30 minutes.
Ellen thought he was just trying to scare us off from the bikes so we’d pay for a ride from him, but I could tell he was trying to spare two naive tourists from unexpected charges. I set my timer for 30 minutes and we headed toward the park.
Ellen was freaked out about riding on the sidewalk AND the street, so she walked her bike all the way to the edge of the park before getting on it. You should have heard me yelling at her to get on the damn bike already! LOL
We eventually got into the park and onto the bike path and it was fantastic. The weather was cool enough to be comfortable and again the rain was holding out!
I will say Central Park is very hilly! We were huffing and puffing our way up hill after hill. At one point we were being passed by senior citizen runners!! LOL
We stopped a couple times to take in the beautiful scenery and my favorite stop was the pond.
It was there that I decided to google more about the bike rentals and I learned that we did in fact have to dock them every 30 minutes not to incur extra fees, but the first round of fees wasn’t that bad, so we’d be safe to have the bikes for an hour or so before getting into the big penalties. That was both a relief and a stressor. I’m really wishing we would have just rented bikes from the bike shop for a little extra money. That way we wouldn’t have had to be so mindful of our time.
Oh well, you live and learn.
We were following a bike path that was taking us up Manhattan toward the upper East Side. We pulled over to catch our breath again and happened to be right beside the Jaqueline Onassis Reservoir. What better time to take another selfie :)
Time was of the essence at this point, so we figured we better slip out of the park to dock the bikes. I was thinking we could maybe catch our breath for 10 minutes and check out another pair to keep going, but finding docks in the Upper East Side proved to be a nightmare!
To start, the map was telling us there was a docking station on 90th street and that wasn’t as close by as we would have liked. We manned up and navigated city sidewalks in order to get to the dock in good time, but what do you know? It wasn’t there! We rode back and forth looking for the dock that was supposed to be there, but with no luck.
I found another one on the map. It was even farther south, but we persevered!
Turns out this one DID exist, but it was empty. At that point we were OVER the bikes and happily checked them in without caring that we couldn’t check out another pair.
I’m not really sure what the point of the CitiBikes is when the whole process is so restrictive. I would think you should be able to check them out for 24 hours and as long as you return them somewhere on time before the day is up, you’d be fine.
Rent bikes from a shop if you ever want to bike through The Park.
I’ve rambled long enough…stay tuned for Part 2 :)