Last week we went on a whirlwind of a vacation!
Brian and I spent a week touring all sorts of fun spots up in the Northeast! And yes- that’s us in Times Square, NYC!
Our vacation started with a trip up to Delaware to spend a few days visiting Brian’s grandmother who lives in Dover. We booked a flight through Priceline.com up to Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C., which is just about a 90 minute drive to Dover. I love using Priceline to book our flights. The prices are always a deal!
Once we arrived in DC, we grabbed our rental car (booked through Travelocity.com), then headed toward Brian’s Grandmother’s house. Although we booked a “compact” car, we didn’t realize just how small of a vehicle we would end up with! It was a clown car, to say the least! The plus side? It was fantastic on gas mileage. And with all the driving we’d end up doing over the next week, that feature definitely came in handy. And lucky for me, Brian was a trooper- even though at times he felt like he was driving a skateboard. 😉
We spent the next three days hanging out at Gram’s house. Even though Dover is really, really small, there are a lot of neat little spots to explore, fun antique shops to peruse through, Amish markets to stuff our faces in (hello bacon egg and cheese sandwiches!), unique stores and flea markets to shop at, and beautiful natural spots to admire. What I love the most about being up there is taking in the beauty of the songbirds during the day, and the amazing lightning bugs in the evenings. Gram has a little stream behind her house, and at dusk, the glowbugs start to put on a dazzling show. Sigh- I wish I had these in my backyard! We had a nice time relaxing, watching LOTS of Diagnosis murder, and even celebrating my birthday, again!
On Thursday morning, we woke up bright and early, packed our bags, and bid farewell to Gram as we ventured on the next leg of our vacation!
This was Brian’s first trip to the Big Apple, and my 2nd! I was excited to show him everything I remember doing and seeing back in 2005 when I visited there. NYC is about a 3 hour drive from Dover. And while the first part of the trip was quite easy (NJ Turnpike), once we got near New York, it became a bit hectic- especially with our Micro Machine! We rented an apartment from AirBnb.com in Astoria, just outside of NYC. Getting there from Dover had us going up and around the city, crossing over the George Washington Bridge (pictured below), then through the Bronx, Queens and finally Astoria. Getting lost in NYC is nerve-wracking, and Brian claims he aged 10 years during the drive, but in the end, we arrived safely, ready to explore the city!
Once we got to the apartment, we parked, unpacked and took a little bit of a breather. I couldn’t’ wait to sink my teeth into the city, but I knew Brian would need a break after that stressful commute! While he relaxed a bit, I worked on navigating public transit options, and our plan for the afternoon.
After a much-too-long bus ride (we were a bit rusty in our navigational skills), and an accidental visit to Roosevelt Island, we ended up riding the cable tram over the Hudson towards Manhattan! The views of the Queensboro Bridge and the Hudson were breathtaking! It was definitely a detour that resulted in an unexpected adventure.
Once we made it to Manhattan, we walked over to Times Square and took in the sights!
And noshed on some PIZZA from Patzeria Perfect Pizza in Times Square! (yes that’s broccoli- don’t hate!).
Once our bellies were full, we hopped on the subway and headed towards Lower Manhattan to Chelsea Market. I had never been there and it was on my NYC bucket list! Let me tell you, it was everything I’d hoped for and more.
Farmer’s markets, shops, gelato, cookware, cookbooks- it was a foodie’s DREAM! Get the hazelnut gelato. You won’t regret it. 😉
After Chelsea Market, we ventured back uptown to take in more sights, and get a midnight snack to take back to the apartment with us. We had Carnegie Deli on the brain, but unfortunately, they were closed for renovations! We ended up at a deli right next door (which was delicious!) and Ubered back to the apartment. Using Uber in NYC was our first adventure with the company. We ended up using it quite a bit during the rest of the trip because of its convenience- especially in the evening when we might not feel as confident and comfortable using public transportation to head back to Astoria. And after long days of walking, riding in a comfortable, clean-smelling vehicle was worth every penny!
Our second day of NYC was even more of a whirlwind! We navigated the buses and trains much more successfully the second day and were in the city within 15 minutes. We headed downtown early morning to visit the 911 Memorial and Battery Park before the mid-day crowds. The Memorial was really unbelievably beautiful and moving. You cannot help getting teary-eyed upon seeing it and reading all of the names printed along the perimeter. It is a very overwhelming experience.
Seeing the new World Trade Center building is no less overwhelming. Freedom Tower is unreal. Pictures just cannot truly describe how enormous this building is in person.
We made our way towards Battery Park and caught a glimpse of Lady Liberty, along with an amazing lunch at Mighty Quinn’s BBQ at Hudson Eats. There really are no words to describe this place. If there is one place you eat in NYC, make sure it’s Mighty Quinns. It was, hands down, the most amazing bbq I have ever, EVER had in my life. Amen. Believe the hype on Yelp. It’s all true.
We reluctantly headed back uptown (I really could have just moved in at Mighty Quinn’s and stayed there forever), hit some shops, then made our way to Central Park- another bucket list item of mine! The last time I visited NYC I wasn’t able to make it up to the park, so I knew this time I had to! We ended up renting bikes from Bike and Roll, just outside Tavern on the Green. We were able to rent 2 bikes for 2 hours for $60 (which included $6 bike insurance which they allow you to opt out of if you choose). I’ve got to say, riding the 6 mile path all around the park was the highlight of the trip for me. Central Park is just SO beautiful and diverse. I couldn’t get enough of it!
After our Central Park biking excursion, we hopped on a train and headed to the Bronx! Our boys were in town and we had tickets to see them take on the Yankees at none other than Yankee Stadium- another first for me!
It was so cool watching the Tampa Bay Rays play in NYC. Surprisingly we were sitting near other Rays fans, so we were able to enjoy our hot dogs and beers with only a little bit of heckling. 😉 Brian’s highlight was catching a practice ball!
We caught an Uber ride from the Bronx back to our apartment, exhausted from a tiring day in the city!
The next morning we said our goodbyes to the Big Apple, and headed back down to D.C. to celebrate the 4th of July at our nation’s capital! We purchased round trip tickets from Tampa to D.C., so it worked out perfectly that we would spend the 4th there! It took us about 3 hours to drive from NYC to D.C., giving us time to return our rental car, check into our hotel (booked on Booking.com), grab dinner, and a spot at the National Mall for fireworks that evening!
It was an amazing end to a wonderful summer vacation together!
I’m always thanking my lucky stars for Brian, but after this trip I’m even more grateful for his spontaneity, and love of adventure. I couldn’t ask for a better partner and best friend, and cannot wait to experience more fun moments with him!
Have you traveled this summer? -Steph