Monday, June 13, 2011

Empire State of Mind

Writing a blog about a long weekend in NYC is almost as intimidating as the city itself...
My first trip to New York was in 1998 for a high school band trip. The Marching Rebels were selected to be the lead band for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade that year. Every detail of our trip was pre-planned and pre-paid.

I had the amazing opportunity to march my way down the center of Times Square, see Les Mis on Broadway, run around F.A.O. Schwartz, snapped pictures of the Twin Towers and saw The Statue of Liberty herself...but for some reason I've always felt cheated out of a legitimate trip to the Big Apple.

I never say the subway, no slice of greasy pizza, no night life...Perhaps part of my problem is that there's no way truly experience the city in one short visit. That, and the fact that I was too young to appreciate what I was seeing while I was there.

Here we are, thirteen years later, and I'm older, wiser and most importantly, legal. It was time to go back to (as Jay Z puts it) the concrete jungle where dreams are made of.
Now that my sister and I live in different cities, we came up with the idea for an annual meet-up between our birthdays (hers in April and mine in May). Only one condition: we must know someone who lives in the city so we can crash for free. NYC was chosen for the first annual sisters weekend because of Sister's college roomie. We were so lucky that Anna agreed to let us stay, AND that she helped us get acclimated to the city. phew! big help.
Three nights in NYC for $924.77, and this is the breakdown:
- $283.90 Direct flight from BNA to LaGuardia (would've been $20 cheaper, but I paid for Southwest's automatic check-in to ensure A Boarding)
- $14.10 Airport lunch. A veggie wrap and a water. seriously!?!?
- FREE! Getting lost at LaGuardia and unable to locate sister for 1 solid hour. Who knew the terminals were completely separated? Not us...
- FREE! lots of frustration because no one in the city explains anything or gives directions. UGH!!!
- $2.00 bus ride from LaGuardia to the Upper West Side
- $5.00 (about) dirty Chinese food dinner, General Tso's chicken
- FREE! THREE nights in a cute apartment at 102nd and Broadway, one block from the 1 Line
- $24.10 Breakfast food for the weekend and poster supplies for the Today Show
- $29.00 7 day unlimited metro pass. Probably overkill, but more convenient that buying a pass each day
- FREE! Standing in line on a sidewalk at 5:30 a.m., getting my poster on TODAY and seeing Matt Lauer and Al Roker
Walking The Mall of Central Park and enjoying beautiful weather on a Spring morning

- FREE ! Walking tour of Upper East Side ***included 5th Ave, Madison Ave, wealthy Carrie Bradshaw-like ladies with the own drivers and a slew of private school students with mannies. Totally. Surreal. I ain't never seen nothin' like that whur I come from.
- $11.88 lunch at Rockefeller Center's 'Whichcraft. Spicy Pork Sandwich with a side of marinated chick peas - so yum!!
- $36.00 Experience New York - access to Top of the Rock (priceless views!) and the NBC studio tour. ***Included watching a live rehearsal of SNL, host Ed Helmes of The Office and The Hangover, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, and passing Seth Meyers in the Hallway

- $72.45 a little shopping detour to H& what? we don't have one at home!
- FREE! Naptime at Anna's cozy apartment because we only got 4 hours of sleep the night before
- FREE! Private tour of QPrime's NY management office in Midtown near Time's Square plus dinner recommendation from a QPrime executive
-$169.13 a delicious meal for sister and me at Trattoria Dell'arte @ 7th and W. 57th - breads, pastas, veal piccata, wine, tiramisu, and excellent service! Our server tossed us sweet chocolate to munch on and made suggestions on which bars to visit after our show. He was really surprised that we were tourists because this restaurant is typically for locals. At least that's what he said...
- $170 Excellent seats for the hit Broadway musical Wicked
- $11.76 two drinks during the show. AND  we got to keep the Wicked-themed travel mugs
- $6.05 an everything bagel with lox spread and coffee at Absolute Bagels
- FREE! unable to interpret anything the locals said
- FREE! Walking tour of Upper West Side and Riverside Park (where some of You've Got Mail was filmed)
- FREE! Central Park's Strawberry Fields and Belvedere Castle
- $15.41 awesome burger, fries and giant milkshake at Shake Shack on Upper East Side (86th Street)
- FREE! using the bathroom at The Met and realizing we never made a donation at the entrance oops!
- FREE! Alexander McQueen exhibit at The Met. Y'all, this is the most amazing exhibit I've ever seen in my entire life. I wish I could share it with all of you. The collections were inspiring and the exhibit was breathtaking. It's all sister and I could talk about for days!
- $48.99 giant coffee table book of the Alexander McQueen Exhibit so I can re-live the experience over and over
- FREE! walking tour of Chelsea ***included cobblestone streets, Chelsea Market, quick detour to Anthropologie, and Chelsea's beautifully renovated High Line Park.
I could've spent hours up there, but we had places to go, people to see...
- FREE! Dinner with friends at Eatery NYC (sister owed me one)
- FREE! Walking tour of Times Square - photo op!
- $20.00 Drinks and laughs with friends at McGee's pub, which happens to be the bar that inspired the writers of How I Met Your Mother. Big pours from the bartender upstairs!

- $5.00 at 1,2,3 burger shot beer
-FREE! Singing country music while walking the streets of NYC
- FREE! shouting expletives at the locals for stealing our table

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