DAY 4 | NYC

Day four was our last and final day of vacation. It can also be said that day four was the main reason why we were even here in the first place – for the NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic. It was decided some months ago that this trip to NYC for the Winter Classic would be a Christmas gift for me and my brother. He came up with the idea and I totally agreed, as neither of us need anything so, why not? So, thanks to having season tickets for the Buffalo Sabres we were able to snag some seats and, a few months later, we were on our merry way.

That morning, we woke up, packed our things into our suitcases, loaded up the car, bundled up and set out for Citi Field. Now, when I tell you bundled up, I do not mean we zipped up our coats and put on a hat and a scarf. I mean, we put on our three pairs of pants, six shirts, four pairs of socks, two pairs of gloves, a scarf, a hat, our snow pants, and our winter coat, and hoped that these intense layers would be enough to keep us warm for the 3+ hours we were going to be outside. While we escaped well-beyond-freezing temperatures, it just so happened that the day of the game, the wind chill was going to be, again, well-beyond-freezing. About -6 degrees below zero to be exact. Was the sun out? Yes. Was the wind whipping faster than a speeding bullet? Hell yes. And this, this made a recipe for a freezing, but good, time.

I was at the very first Winter Classic in Buffalo ten years ago, so being at the 10th anniversary game and seeing the Sabres play again was pretty amazing. Seeing how much this event has improved in ten years was incredible to see in person. It was truly a whole new experience from the first time! And, added Buffalo bonus, we got a mini-concert at the first intermission thanks to our hometown band, the Goo Goo Dolls.

While this was the Sabres’ “home game,” the venue was filled with about 80% New York Rangers fans. No surprise since, you know, we were on Long Island. If you follow the NHL, you know that the Buffalo Sabres are not doing so hot this year [and if you don’t follow, well now you know]. Sounds familiar, right? So it wouldn’t seem so shocking to you that they did not win this game against the Rangers. In fact, they lost the game in extra time, just like the Winter Classic ten years ago against Pittsburgh. Overall, though, it was an exciting game and a memory that I will cherish with me forever.

Due to having a flight home to catch, mixed a little bit with the cold weather, we left with about 8 minutes remaining in the game to beat the crowd and avoid any traffic to JFK Airport from Citi Field. After turning in our rental car, getting through security, and grabbing a bite to eat, my long weekend came to an end around 9:00 in the evening when our flight home landed in Buffalo.

There is not one thing that I would change about my most recent trip to New York. And, I already can’t wait to go back! xoxo.

 

Day 3 | NYC

New Years Eve.

When we made the initial plan to come to New York City, we all immediately agreed that going to Times Square on New Years Eve would totally not be a part of our game plan. With that being said, we made reservations at Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain for around 5:30 in the evening, so the morning leading up to dinner was pretty relaxed.

After two 9-hour+ days in the city, we decided to take this day to sleep in a bit and start our day off at a slower pace. Instead of heading into the city immediately in the morning and spending the entire day, we decided to spend the morning and afternoon in Long Island, and venture into the city later in the day. We booked seats on the Long Island Railroad to Penn Station so that we wouldn’t have to worry about the drive in or parking, and headed over to the Roosevelt Field Mall for lunch and to do some shopping. This was one of the nicer malls I have ever been in. The array of stores was quite impressive and the food court was nicer than more restaurants can even say for themselves. There is nothing much more to say about the morning, as talking about shopping can get quite boring and repetitive after a while. Around 1:30ish we headed back to the hotel to change, drive over to the railroad station and catch the train into the city. Upon entering Penn Station, we transferred to our destination via subway so we could use up the remaining balance on our MetroPass.

If there is one thing that needs to be highlighted the most during this post, it without a doubt is the stellar job done by the New York Police Department throughout the entirety of this weekend. It is no surprise that the world we live in right now is insane and that you really can’t take anything for granted. With New Years Eve celebrations being a major celebration in Manhattan, to some, it would seem as if this would be a major tipoff or target. However, I have never felt as secure in any city, not even my own, as I did throughout this entire trip. From having vehicle checks [for large trucks, etc.] before entering tunnels into the city, to the presence of [armed] police on every major corner or subway station, it was incredible. The standout, though, was the security on the night of New Years Eve.

Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain is on W 52nd in Manhattan, not too far away from Times Square; it’s about a half a mile. Our reservation was at 5:30 which is not too close to midnight, and the process to get to our restaurant was something like out of a movie set. Each and every block surrounding Times Square had police checkpoints filled with [what seemed like] hundreds of cops; was barricaded by garbage trucks, dump trucks, and plows; and had lines and lines of people waiting to pass through. To get through to our restaurant, we had to first prove with a printout that we, indeed, had reservations at a restaurant down the street, because once you went in, you weren’t allowed out without this piece of paper. We then had to go through 3 security checkpoints and get a police escort to our restaurant. While, at the time, it seemed like a hassle, it was reassuring knowing that the top priority was to keep the endless amounts of people safe.

For dinner, I enjoyed fresh penne pasta – a perfect blend of eggplant, piquillo pesto, and ricotta – with a glass of chardonnay. For someone who is decently picky with eating pasta out at a restaurant [thanks to being Italian], I was left wanting more. It was absolutely delicious. As mentioned before, on day one of the trip, my family loves to eat and loves exploring the menu so, a couple sides and a couple desserts later, we were full, yet extremely satisfied. The service was exceptional, the time spent with family was priceless, and the Buffalo Bills sealing their first playoff appearance in 17 years mid-dinner? Can’t go wrong! [Boy, did we get a lot of stares constantly refreshing our phones waiting for the scores in those last few minutes].

After dinner, we headed back to Long Island, again via subway to Penn Station [and a pit stop checking out Madison Square Garden] and then Long Island Railroad, and watched the ball drop from the warmth and comfort of our hotel room. Half because we wanted to get out of the madness of the city, half because we wanted to stay warm for as long as we possibly could before our adventure the following day.

Stay tuned for day four, coming soon. xoxo.

Day 2 | NYC

The second day of our trip to NYC began bright and early in the morning. We woke up and headed to the city first thing, as we had tickets to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at 11:00 in the morning. The doors to the event opened at 10:30, and by the time we got into the city it was around 9:30 in the morning, so we had some time to walk around before it was our call time.

We first went into the iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a stop we always make when we go to the city, to light a candle and say a prayer. After that, we went to check out the storefront of Saks on 5th Avenue. This storefront was pretty popular on social media for the extravagant display with lights and decorations set to music, so I was pretty excited to see it in person. The windows were styled as an ode to Snow White, as the movie is celebrating its’ 80th anniversary. They had some iconic scenes from the movie along the front of the store, and on either side, the windows were filled with designer pieces, some custom and others available in store, that had the Snow White vibe. It was absolutely breathtaking! We then stopped back to see the tree at Rockefeller Center.

By the time we walked around, it was time for us to enter Radio City Music Hall for our call time. I had seen the Rockettes many years ago when they came to Buffalo, but I was very young and didn’t remember much of it, so I was super excited to see this show again. We sat atop the second mezzanine, which I totally prefer to sitting on the first level, because you can see everything so much better! The show, in total, lasted about an hour and a half. It included some iconic numbers and was a perfect mix of old and new. My dad and my brother even loved it! This is something I would recommend to anyone visiting New York during Christmastime [or a little after, for that matter]. And with multiple shows a day, there is no excuse not to go!

After the show, we headed over to Times Square to check out the New Years Eve preparations. This was my first time being in the city for New Years Eve, so I had never seen the major production in person. Knowing that we wouldn’t be in Times Square the following day [aka New Years Eve], we decided that this was the perfect day to head over, grab a slice at Ray’s and do some shopping before total madness ensued. It was incredible to see the process that goes into setting up for New Years Eve – the multiple stage sets, the barricades, the sectioned off areas – all of this being done in the midst of tourists, like myself, walking around and trying to catch a glimpse. It was quite impressive.

We then headed over to Bryant Park, another first for my family. My dad had read something online about Bryant Park so we decided to give it a try and, I must say, it was a highlight of the trip! Bryant Park is a privately managed public park located between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and between 40th and 42nd Streets in Midtown Manhattan – so, essentially, smack dab in the city! For the Christmas holiday, there was a beautiful Christmas tree located next to an ice skating rink that was filled with skaters. When we were there, the fountain at Bryant Park was frozen [after the fact, this ended up being all over the news – who knew!]. The park was filled with little “huts,” these containing locally owned crafters, food stands, and more! They even have an outdoor patio/bar that had fire pits, perfect for the cold weather. This was a place that I never knew I needed in my life, but is now a staple that I will visit every time I go to the city going forward.

After Bryant Park came a trip to the iconic Macy’s, something that we always do every time we visit the city. We ventured the store top to bottom then headed to Niketown inside Trump Tower, followed by a trip inside Saks, which we didn’t get to do earlier due to going to the Rockettes. Our second trip to Saks for the day is when we were able to see the aforementioned light show in person. They had the street in front of the store blocked off due to the insane crowds of people stopping to watch the show – it was madness! I had never been in Saks before this trip and, after going through, I might have to go as far as say that I like it better than Macy’s!

Because we were parked close to Saks [hence, backtracking our steps from the morning], we headed back to Long Island to grab a bite to eat for dinner and head back to the hotel for the remainder of the night. After 9+ hours in the city, everyone was starving and we landed on Shake Shack for dinner, a restaurant that we don’t have at home. Again, a first for all of us, and a unanimous winner.

Stay tuned for day three. xoxo.

Day 1 | NYC

DISCLAIMER: If you don’t like New York City or, quite frankly, don’t care to hear about my most recent trip, the next few days of reading definitely won’t be for you!

I, for one, love New York City. I have always dreamt of living there and am still not totally opposed to the idea at some point in my lifetime [enter heaps of money. .  now]. So, it was no surprise that I was extremely excited to board a plane at 4:25am on the 29th of December. We landed in the city that never sleeps just past 6:00 in the morning. Once we landed, we did the typical “I just landed at the airport” things. Because it was not even 6:30 in the morning by the time we were done, and we obviously couldn’t check into our hotel, we headed right into the city.

The first thing we did was visit the tree at Rockefeller Center. My brother had never seen the tree in person before, so it didn’t come as much of a surprise that this would be one of the first things we would do. If you have never had the opportunity to see the tree in person, I highly suggest that you do. TV and pictures really do not do this thing justice. You don’t realize quite how big it actually is until you are standing underneath it looking as if you are the size of an ant.

The tree is ever so conveniently located across the street from where the Today Show was filmed and, because it was a Friday morning, filming was in progress. If you know me, you know how much I am in love with the Today Show. I am self-proclaimed obsessed and I am totally okay with that. I watch every single morning, and actually look forward to the days that I don’t have to work so that I can watch the show in its entirety, up until its’ final hour. Being right at the front of the barricade, a short distance away from Dylan Dreyer and Carson Daly was a dream come true. And if you’re wondering, I absolutely fangirled.

Because it was pretty cold outside, we then went into the basement of Rockefeller Center, also known as The Concourse at Rockefeller Center. If you haven’t been, it is filled with little shops and restaurants, basically all of which we do not have at home [minus Starbucks]. After grabbing a bite to eat for breakfast and watching people pile onto the iconic ice rink, we decided plan out the remainder of the day. Because it was just shy of 9:30am, planning out the remainder of our day was the best thing we could have done, as there were so many hours left ahead of us.

Our next venture of the day was going atop the Top of the Rock observatory. Personally, I enjoy Top of the Rock so much more than the Empire State Building observatory, as the lines are much shorter, the view is better, there is more room on the observation deck once you reach the top, and tickets are substantially cheaper. My mom had never been up before, so she was pretty excited over the fact that you can actually see the Empire State Building as opposed to actually being on it. It was extremely windy and decently cold, but the view made it all totally worth it.

After this venture, we took the subway to Katz’s Delicatessen for some lunch. Upon emerging from the subway, we found the line outside of the building, almost halfway down the block. Although it was cold, we stuck it out and waited for our turn [although we were inside much faster than we anticipated]. Going out to eat with my family, you must know that there will always be too much food that is being ordered. While I would have been completely content with my matzo ball soup and half of a salami sandwich, when all was said and done, I had also consumed some of a chocolate egg cream and part of a piece of cheesecake [it must be known, though, that this was the best piece of cheesecake I have ever eaten]. So, we left full, and totally satisfied. We then headed back to Manhattan for some shopping, and then headed back toward our hotel to finally check in.

We stayed in a hotel on Long Island, outside of the city, due to convenience to the airport and Citi Field. Another perk was the fact that it was exceptionally cheaper than staying directly in the city due to it being New Years Eve weekend. After a much needed nap, thanks to having to be at the airport at 3:00 in the morning, we headed to Target to pick up a few things [yes, I went to Target, even while on vacation], and over to the Majestic Diner for dinner. After being still somewhat full from lunch, apple pancakes and a cup of coffee is exactly what I needed.

We capped the night playing a game of Uno and turning in early, getting refreshed for the next day ahead.

Stay tuned for day two adventures tomorrow. xoxo.

Fly away with me?!

Truth be told, I didn’t know what the heck to title this post, so you’ll have to settle with the corny one liner that I landed upon.

However, by the time you are reading this I will have already been onto and off of a plane and landed in New York City for a few hours now! I have never spent New Years Eve in New York City, so I am excited to be here with my family for this new adventure! I am closing off my 24th year of life at the Winter Classic on January 1st, followed by a flight home a few hours later, only to wake up the following day to begin my 25th year of life and the second half of the school year for my kiddos.

I can’t wait to share this trip with you all when I come back! xoxo.

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of!?

Next Friday, I am traveling to New York City for New Years Eve and the Winter Classic. It was my brother and my Christmas present from our parents, combined with a birthday gift for me, as my birthday is on January 2nd, aka the morning after we fly back home to Western New York.

I am absolutely no stranger to the city. I’ve been there more times than I can count, and it’s one of my favorite places to be. I have only been in NYC once during the holiday season; it was two years ago on the first weekend of December. However, I have never been to NYC for New Years!

So, what I am asking you on this fine Tuesday is this: What do you recommend I do on my trip to New York City?

I am open to any and every suggestion you throw my way. I can’t wait to hear from you. xoxo.