I have a Big Post to match the Big Apple. So hang in there. Or just quickly scroll through to see all the pictures, it’s ok 🙂
At the end of last week on vacation I received an unexpected call from work asking me to attend a brainstorming session in New York. I considered it an honor to be asked to attend and whatever this "gamification" word meant, I was in. I flew out Monday afternoon and was in by dinner time.
At arrival, I was hit with a major case of the nerves. Although it was my 3rd time to New York and I’m normally quite independent, I felt scared to death of traveling alone around the Big Apple. Since I hadn’t had time to plan my trip, I hadn’t researched any restaurants around me so I wasn’t sure what was good, what was near me and exploring by myself just sounded dangerous (I know. Silly). I ended up hitting up a steakhouse I’d visited before, but only after paying taxi fare there and back. Fear can be costly. So can steak. But it was every bit as good as I remember and I was happy to get back to my room to plop in front of The Bachelorette for the evening (who do you want to win? I love Jef and Sean).
I still had some anxiety about taking the subway on my own to the meeting Tuesday morning–I know, it’s safe and it’s silly to worry–and my friend Liz convinced me (thank you, Liz) that my 15 block walk to the office was doable so I walked to work. I don’t get to say that very often. In fact, I think it was the first time in my life I’ve ever walked to work.
It was a beautiful, bright, breezy, cool New York morning.
I passed Bryant Park where a large group was doing yoga. I stopped and watched for a few minutes and sipped my coffee.
The best commute ever.
The business portion was done by 3:30 so a coworker and I hit Times Square. With a travel buddy, I was excited to explore and all my anxiety was completely gone. Can you tell I’m happy to be there?
Is anyone else excited Emily from The Bachelorette and I are in the same picture? Two Carolina girls in Times Square! Because, you know, it COUNTS even though she’s on a billboard.
We hit up the Barbie house in Toys R Us to get the girls two Barbies.
We kept exploring and ended up a grabbing a shake at Shake Shack. I see now why everyone raves on Foursquare about it. One of the best milkshakes I’ve had. Go for chocolate peanut butter. It’s a winner. We checked out some more stores around Times Square. Forever21 had this cool camera that filmed folks on the street. See if you can spot me 🙂
I’m standing between the 2 and 1 on the bottom and have my Toys R Us bag on my arm and my camera up taking the picture.
We then headed out towards Central Park with the last few minutes before our dinner. Just for the record, I didn’t know we were going to be walking so much so I had my heels on and I was developing a nice blister by this point.
Central Park is pretty much nothing like I imagined.
I had no idea it was hilly with huge boulders and a waterfall and amusement rides and all sorts of things to enjoy. Who knew?
Dinner was at China Grill where they thankfully had a gluten-free menu. I enjoyed steak again as well as this crispy spinach that melted in your mouth. The guys at dinner were fawning over Isaiah Thomas seated a few tables away. I had no clue who he was but they seemed pretty excited. After dinner we all headed back out towards Times Square to pick up some cheesecake at Junior’s.
It was every bit as good as I recall. They had these little slices that had no crust which means no gluten which means happy Amy. While we were there, Ricky Martin was across the street leaving from his Broadway play Evita.
I caught just a glimpse of him over the crowd in his SUV. It was enough to satisfy my celebrity appetite. He’s no Justin Bieber, who was in town the whole time I was, but you know, he was a few steps above the Naked Cowboy.
After cheesecake the guys decided to walk me back partway to my hotel and after seeing the Empire State Building lit up on our way, we decided to go (nevermind that it was like 10:30, they’re open until 2am).
I visited back in 2001 but during the day. It’s a whole other beast at night.
All the lights over the city were just gorgeous and it’s so overwhelming looking down and seeing all the buildings, knowing all the work went into them and also knowing all the LIFE (and DEATH, literally and figuratively) that is going on below.
At this point, we’d walked miles. I’d been carrying my laptop bag and the two Barbies in a separate bag and my feet were cramping up in my flip flops I’d changed into. As I told my family, my flips wouldn’t even flop at this point. I was never so glad to be just a few blocks from my hotel where I passed out right after I got my feet to stop cramping. I was up just 5 hours later for my flight. I was so tired and sore but there’s nothing like looking through an airplane window and spying Manhattan that makes you realize it was all worth it.