Well it was a fantastic trip and one I will always remember. The city was nothing like I had imagined and that city truly "never sleeps."
The "red-eye" was a real killer. Sleeping on a plane is almost impossible!! Thanks to Nancy though, I had a neck pillow that eased some of the discomfort. I was only able to sleep for about 2 of the 4 1/2 hours we were up in the air, but some was better than none!! Once we landed (6am ET) we boarded our tour bus and drove into Manhattan. (We flew into JFK, which is in Queens and with awesome rush hour traffic we got an unplanned tour of Queens as well.)
Day 1 - Walking tour. Our first spot was Battery Park where we got pictures of the Statue of Liberty. We opted not to take the 4 hour tour out to Ellis Island and the statue, so we appreciated that marvel from afar. Then we walked over to Wall Street and the Financial District. We joined MANY tourists who were also visiting that area. There were hundreds of people walking around the Stock Exchange courtyard! We also saw the St Paul Cathedral where the 9/11 rescuers and crew members would come and sleep. Nancy said that 2 years ago there were still cots laid out everywhere. It was clear of those this time around, but there were many memorials and wall hangings dedicated to the lives lost and all the rescuers. We didn't go to actual "Ground Zero" because they are currently building the replacement tower, but we did go to the 9/11 Memorial which had a great display of what they are currently building and pictures/movies of the actual incident.
We then headed off to Canal Street/Chinatown where we were allowed about an hour to shop. Not much time AT ALL!!! But after bartering and bickering I was able to pick up a few souvenirs. After that we were finally able to head to our hotel for check-in. Of course out of the 20-something rooms our group had, 4 weren't cleaned yet....ours was 1 of the 4. So we hung out in the lobby for a 30 minutes before we headed up to our room. We were all so tired by this point, we couldn't wait to get in a shower or a quick nap before we headed to Wicked.
Of course after we were all cleaned up we headed to Wicked on Broadway. Everything was in walking distance to our hotel, so we got lots of exercise!!! The play was amazing; I enjoyed to music more than the storyline. Then we were finally able to head back and SLEEP!!!!!!!!! It was the best night of my life!
Day 2 - We got up early and headed to Rockefeller Center for "On Top of the Rock." I got many photos from the 2nd of 3 scenic levels. I'm deathly afraid of heights, so I was very comforted to have 7 foot glass windows surrounding the edges of the building!! Then we headed to Radio City Music Hall for a tour and a "Meet & Greet" with a Rockette. The theater was amazing and the extensive tour was well worth it. We got to go under the stage and see some of the original furniture and bathrooms. It was an all access backstage tour and it truly was amazing!
We stopped for lunch then headed to Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Definitely interesting!!! Modern art is a favorite of mine, but there were some pieces and "exhibitions" that I could have done without seeing. It was called "Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present" -(look it up if your curious!) The entire top floor was an exhibition of naked people (REAL naked people) standing around and posing. Plus there were several videos playing in each room...all x-rated, almost pornographic. The "artist" was quite interesting to learn about, but I would have rather read a book about the "art pieces" than experience it with my own eyes. However, I did get to see "A Starry Night" by Vincent Van Gogh - the actual painting!!! HIGHLIGHT!!!!!
Then it was off to dinner at the Ellen Stardust Diner where the food was lousy but the waiters/entertainers were awesome! All the servers are broadway-actor-wannabe's. Their trying to get "discovered" so the entire staff sings while serving. They had a jukebox and sang some popular songs that got the crowd on their feet. Too bad the food sucked. But then it was off to MOMMA MIA!!!! My favorite of the 2 we saw. I love all the songs and the story. The woman who played Donna Sheridan wasn't the best singer, but as long as they sang the songs correctly, I didn't care! I love the music!!!!
Day 3 - Competition ALL DAY! The Charlonians did amazing and walked away "National Grand Champions." Taking home 24 trophies in all (including the "high-point" trophy, Jessica's 5th place Senior solo trophy, the Officer Line Grand Champ AND National Grand Champs - the last 2 trophies were almost 6 feet tall!!!)
After competition, all the girls were wired with adrenaline, having swept the competition, so we played in Time Square until wee hours of the morning! There is a lot of "free" entertainment on Time Square. People watching HAS to be the greatest!
Day 4 - Our last day. We walked over to Central Park and Nancy paid for a "Pedi-cab" tour of CP. Expensive, but WELL worth it. CP is HUGE!!!! It would have taken us all day to walk around, but we got to see all the hot spots in 45 minutes! Plus the main pedi-cab rider was an excellent tour guide!!! After that we took a taxi back to Canal Street to do last minute shopping - we got to take the subway back!! (my first subway experience!!!)
Once we got our luggage together, we headed down to load the bus and head to the airport. Slight delay...we got stuck in the elevator!!!! How ironic for me to get stuck...when my husband is an elevator technician! Luckily no one was in a panic - we propped open the doors for fresh air and air conditioning! After 45 minutes of being stuck we were released!!! We all had cell phone service, so we all Facebooked and called family members and took pictures. It was interesting.
Of course it made us late to the airport and we almost missed our flight - eek! But thankfully our plane was delayed anyway, so we were all able to hop on and head home. We got back to SLC around 12am Sunday night/Monday morning. I had Joe pick me up at the airport. Its real close to our house and I was very anxious to sleep in my own bed. I, unfortunately, caught a cold while we were there. It didn't effect me too much until the flight home. Nothing like sinus pressure + cabin pressure. My ears never popped and I thought my head was going to explode. No sleeping for me and I was miserable the whole 4 1/2 hours...I couldn't wait to take some NyQuil and actually SLEEP!!
It was an exhausting weekend, but so worth it!! Definitely a once in a lifetime experience for me and I enjoyed EVERY minute!! I know this blog is long - but I completely summarized!!! So many experiences to blog about, but I just wanted to get our day-to-day activities out there. Pictures/Slideshow to come.
New York was incredible - I still can't believe I GOT TO SEE IT!