2009 Vacation Day Six

August 30, 2009. It was Sunday, and my last day in New York City. I awoke just after 8:30am and took in the views and all from my friend’s apartment in Manhattan. It was a beautiful day out I could see, looking out the bedroom window in the room which I had just spent the night. The window had been open just a bit through the night, which allowed breezes of fresh air to enter the apartment. I took in deep breathes of the air, it was unlike what I was used to in Florida, and I loved it.

After relaxing for about an hour and getting ready, I headed out into the city. While the subway station closest to the apartment was down the block and around the corner, I decided to keep strolling along and take in the neighborhood some. There were people lined up down one block with various clothes, electronics and what have you for sale on blankets. Normally, street vendor types in NYC have folding tables, so I figured this was a garage/street type sale going on. Though, later I learned from another friend that this sort of thing is common in the city, so maybe it was typical street sales going on after all.

Spotting a subway station, I decided to head over and take a train to Times Square. Before I knew it, I was walking up the subway stairs and greeting Times Square. There truly isn’t anything like New York’s Times Square. It’s always buzzing with activity and excitement year-round. I took some pictures and then got in line at the first Starbucks I spotted. Yes, a much needed caffeine jolt was in order. Mocha Light Frap in hand, I walked around the Square taking it all in. Then, I headed down the street in search of the NBC Studios store. I wanted to pick up a new Biggest Loser tee shirt, as the one I owned already was very big on me now after my weight loss thus I couldn’t wear it outside of the house.

Spotting the Studios, I entered the building, only to quickly come to the realization that while yes, I was in the NBC Studios building, I had no clue where the store was. Then, I saw a couple of security guards and walked over. One of the guys smiled at me as I asked my touristy question and informed me that I looked like a young Carmella Soprano. This make me smile and laugh. The guard told me he meant it as a compliment and smiled back at me. We chatted for a couple minutes about New York and Florida and then he directed me toward the part of the building where the store was. Inside the store, I was in love. I had found the section just for The Biggest Loser and it was neat. Nearby, there was merchandise for e.r., Law & Order and many other NBC shows. I looked around the store for awhile before finally making a decision on which Biggest Loser t-shirt I wanted (Team Jillian!). Also, I picked up a neat syringe pen from e.r. for my mom who loved that show.

Having had my fill of the Times Square area, I located the subway again and got on. Now, I was headed to the seaport in search of some New York hoodies for myself and mom. Next stop, Fulton Street! Upon arriving at the destination, I got off and headed down the block to the infamous Seaport. The last time I was up this way was a couple years ago with my mom and Aunt Kyle who showed mom and I the neat area. The Seaport was as busy as Times Square was, lots of people, mostly other tourists everywhere. I looked around the shops in search of New York merchandising goodness to take back with me to Florida. Ended up getting a good deal I think on New York embroidered hood jackets, each were $20. Got a grey one for myself and an aqua colored one for mom. Also, I found a neat vintage-looking New York tee for myself. Then, I went outside and shot some great photos of the Brooklyn Bridge before finally heading back to the subway.

I got back to my friend’s apartment almost an hour before I needed to be at the train station. This gave me the opportunity to climb out onto the apartment’s fire escape and shoot a lot of cool pictures of the old buildings in her neighborhood and the great view being at this height gave you. The late afternoon breeze out really made the experience even more memorable and enjoyable.

Robyn accompanied me on the subway through part of the ride to Penn Station. She got off a few stops before me and we said our goodbyes. I thanked her for allowing me to stay with her, as I had a great time in the city. At Penn, I bought my train ticket and then got a smoothie and the day’s New York Post as I awaited the LIRR train that would take me back to Long Island.

Looking back at the weekend I spent in New York City, I have to say it was the best experience of my entire trip up to New York this year. Obviously, I wish I had more time to take in NYC, and plan to give myself another day or two next time to do just that. New York City is definitely one of my most favorite places to be, and already can’t wait for my next visit.

2009 Vacation Day Five

My vacation was closing in on it’s ending at this point, but these were the two days I had been anticipating the most. The weekend was here and that meant it was time to head into the city!

Saturday, August 29th, I got up at 6am to get ready to go. I was taking the 7:40am train into NYC. Once I was ready, my Uncle Bill drove me to the train station which was about 5 minutes away. I bought my ticket from the ticket machine and awaited the arrival of the L.I.R.R. The train pulled into the station right on time and I got on board for the two and a half hour ride into Penn Station. During the long ride in, I kept myself occupied by reading copies of The New York Daily News and The New York Post from the previous day. Yes, it’s quite the trip into NYC, but the time doesn’t seem too drag on too much when you keep yourself busy reading and whatnot.

Before I knew it, I was at Penn Station. Having not gotten much sleep the evening before, I decided my first stop should be a Starbucks one. I wanted to be as awake as possible so as to enjoy the full day I had planned in the city. Mocha Frappe in hand, I found the subway and bought a day pass. Upon locating the number one subway train, I boarded and was on my way toward my friend’s part of Manhattan. My friend, Robyn had invited me to stay with her when I was up visiting New York and I was thrilled, since I had never seen New York City at night. Usually, I go into the city and then have to head on out at the end of the day so I can get back to Long Island. This was a nice change of pace.

It was a wet, rainy morning I quickly discovered when I emerged from the subway underground at my friend’s stop. Which made me all the happier that I had packed an umbrella with me. I popped open the handy dandy covering device and followed the directions Robyn had provided to find her apartment building. After originally heading in the wrong direction, I thankfully quickly did a 360 and arrived a few minutes later at her building. She buzzed me in and I headed up.

After greeting one another and exchanging hugs, I dropped off most of my things and we headed out to enjoy a day in the city. It was still drizzling, but it wouldn’t be for much longer. Within an hour, the rain subsided and it became a beautiful day for walking around NYC. We did some shopping with Robyn in the lead, showing me the best places to go, and then headed to a perfume store. My friend and the lady behind the counter ended up giving me a brief education on perfume. I even ended up buying a bottle.

Next up was the NYC Taco Tweet-up that I had helped plan with a twitter friend who lives in New York. The event was held at the awesome Rosa Mexicano in Union Square. There was a great spread set up for our gathering. They had $2 tacos for us with choice of meat (chicken, steak or pork) as well as an array of toppings. Also, there were chips, peanuts and guacamole to be had. The food was amazing, very delicious. Highly recommend Rosa Mexicano if you are in NYC or near one of their other locations. And, the meet up itself was of course great. It was nice being able to put some faces to the twitters I speak to on a regular basis. Fun was surely had by all who attended I’m sure.

At some point, Robyn and I pulled ourselves away from the fun at Rosa Mexicano and continued our shopping/browsing around in Union Square. We went to Barnes & Noble, where I got to meet one of her roommates who works there. Pam was pretty cool, and we briefly discussed the experience of being a B&N employee since I had previously worked for them. Then, Robyn and I left the bookstore and ended up at Forbidden Planet. Very busy and cool comic book shop. They have lots of indie books which was nice to see, as a lot of shops don’t have such a good selection.

Strand Bookstore was up next, and I wandered around the huge shop for awhile before settling on a Cornell Woolrich book. I have never read his work before and have been wanting to. By this point, Robyn wanted to chill and watch the performers playing in the square. So, I headed into Trader Joe’s by myself. Honestly, the store was so chaotic and busy that it didn’t take me long to turn around and decide to just browse around Whole Foods instead. Whole Foods in Union Square is huge. Unlike the location I’m used to here in Orlando, the NY location had multiple floors. And, yes it was busy as well. I located a few items I wanted and went toward the checkouts. This location has two sides for customers to use to check out. One side is Express, the other is for people who have more than 10 items. I used Express, which in and of itself impressed me. Customers stand in about five different colored coded lines and watch the TV screen above them once they reach the front of their line. Then, a register number appears telling you which one to go to. I was impressed, as this system really kept the lines moving fast. New York knows how to keep lines moving!

Eventually, I met back up with my friend and we headed for pizza. She took me to a great place called, Famous Famiglia. According to the signage, they are the official pizza of the New York Yankees. We each enjoyed a slice and some garlic knots. While the pizza was great, I still think the pizza I had my first day in New York was the best slice I had while up in New York.

Robyn and I both agreed to that even though it was still a bit early, we would head back to her apartment and watch a movie. Twenty minutes later, we were back at the apartment and popping in a DVD. I ended up falling asleep as we enjoyed the movie, Push.

The day was over and I had a great time in the city. 🙂

2009 Vacation: Day Two through Four

August 26th and 27th were fairly uneventful in terms of blogging excitement. That Wednesday, I met my cousin Laurie and her daughter at the shopping outlet. The two of us hadn’t seen each other in like three or four years, so it was great seeing her. We ate a quick late lunch and then wandered around the outlet shopping and talking.

Thursday, I hung out with my Aunt Linda, Uncle Bill and the kids. We went that afternoon post-lunch to the local inlet so the kids could collect snails and shells. This gave me a good opportunity to shoot some photos which was nice (see http://shannonshots.deviantart.com).

That brings us to Friday, August 28th. That morning, my Aunt Kyle and cousin Kim picked me up and we were off to Montauk Lighthouse. It ended up being a drizzly day, but we were determined to enjoy not only our time together, but the lighthouse despite the inclement weather. The drive out to Montauk took longer than per normal due to weekend Hampton traffic. This didn’t bother me though anyway because it gave me time to have a good conversation with my Aunt and cousin. We only see each other about once a year usually, so that was cool.

Once we got to the Lighthouse, my cousin decided she wasn’t interested in climbing it or seeing the sights inside. So, my Aunt and I went in while she wandered around the gift shop and read her book. The bottom portion of the place has a lot of pictures and history information about the lighthouse. The literature talked about erosion of the ground surrounding the lighthouse and how it has held up over the years. After you get through the history part, you can get in line to actually climb to the top of the lighthouse. We waited for about 15-20 minutes and then got our chance to do just that. Only fifteen people can go up at any given time, thus the wait can be long. The stairs up to the top are winding and narrow. With other visitors coming down as you are going up, it can be a little nerving as you make your way to the top of the stairs. Once you get there though, there’s nothing like it. The view was amazing. Very cool indeed.

After we climbed down from the top of the lighthouse, the drizzling rain had subsided, so I had a chance to shoot some photos from the ground of the beauty that surrounds the lighthouse. After popping into the gift shop, we decided our experience at Montauk was complete. A good time was had, but it was time to find someplace to have lunch. It took us just about as long to get back to Riverhead as it did to get there due to heavy traffic, but it gave me another opportunity to see the Hamptons from the car window as we drove.

Upon arriving back in Riverhead, we went for lunch at a Chinese restaurant. Normally, I don’t indulge in this kind of cuisine, but I was on vacation and had been craving some oriental food for awhile. I ordered Pepper Steak (my favorite) and it was delicious. Definitely worth allowing myself this treat while I was on vacation.

It was mid-afternoon once we finished eating lunch, and since I hadn’t been able to really do all the shopping and looking around that I had wanted to do two days before, we headed to the local outlet mall. My aunt was awesome in helping me find some nice pants and tops, which I was in great need of. I ended up finding some nice clothes in Eddie Bauer and the Gap, my favorite of which is the light jacket I bought at Eddie Bauer. I think it’s safe to say that Eddie Bauer is now one of my favorite places to shop. 🙂

We looked around the outlet for a little while longer and then headed to Borders. I have an addiction to bookstores, a love I share with my cousin. At the bookstore, I found a great book, Manhattan Noir 2 (I have the first one already) and got a cookies and cream frap at the coffee bar. My aunt and cousins found a couple of things to purchase, then the three of us headed out.

My aunt then brought me back to my Aunt Linda’s house and we said our good-byes. Fun was definitely had on this day, and I was very happy to have had the chance to spend the time with my Aunt Kyle and cousin Kim.