i heart new york

tom-ritson-388066-unsplash

Photo by Tom Ritson on Unsplash

No other place has quite pulled at my heart like New York. My love for the sprawling, impossible city started with a key chain. 

Dad had just returned from a business trip; it was lucky, really, because I was still at that age where I selfishly expected gifts from my parents when they traveled without us. When we arrived at the airport, Dad handed me a keychain shaped like the Manhattan skyline. It was just for me, and I proudly clipped the tiny golden city to my backpack. Like so many other dreamers, I made myself a promise: one day, I would see New York City.

The keychain is long gone, but I kept my promise. I visited New York for the first time when I was fifteen, and have been fortunate enough to see it again. In 2017, I was in New York twice for work; last week, though, I took a trip just for fun.

Our good friend R.T. invited Drew and I to come to New York with him and his wife, Holly. Drew had never been to New York, and I’m never going to turn down a travel opportunity–so we accepted the invite and booked our flights a few weeks later.

tenor

We stayed in an Airbnb in Bushwick, a neighborhood in Brooklyn that is famous for its community of artists. On every corner, we saw beautiful and delightfully quirky street art.

We made ourselves at home in Brooklyn, but our first order of business was Broadway.

We all attended the matinee showing of Mean Girls–and it was a dream come true. As a die-hard fan of the film (I mean, who isn’t?), I had extremely high expectations. The musical captured the original story’s hilarity as well as its heart, and the audience cheered during some of the most iconic lines.

Drew also ordered us cocktails: “Burn Book” and “Is Butter A Carb?” We even got to keep the cups!

And yes, we wore pink. I mean, come on. It was a Wednesday, and we had to look fetch.

After dinner (and, let’s be honest, a few beers), it was time for our second musical: Avenue Q! The show is off-Broadway now, but that shouldn’t stop you. It’s freakin’ hilarious and probably one of the best commentaries on adulthood that I have ever seen. Don’t bring your kids, though. It will be really, really awkward. Trust me.

The next day, we had one goal: food. R.T. was determined to get some Joe’s Pizza.

While we were eating, a local New Yorker overheard us discussing pizza. You know. Like you do in New York. He recommended several places, including one down the street, and as soon as we finished Joe’s, we headed down Bleecker St. to Fiore’s. This was my favorite of the pizzas, but Drew and R.T. remain loyal to Joe’s.

But it was all delicious. So much pizza. So much happiness.

anigif_sub-buzz-2459-1486678128-6

Then, something truly magical happened. “Don’t freak out,” R.T. said, “But there’s a cookie dough place across the street.”

Well, we freaked out, and had to grab some cookie dough soon as we finished our pizza. World’s Best Cookie Dough offers freshly baked cookies, raw cookie dough, and milkshakes. We became BFFs with one of the employees and Drew discovered his new favorite cookie. The only downside is now every kind of cookie dough is slightly disappointing. And I’ll never have a milkshake that good ever again.

Even though we decided to skip a few classic tourist spots, like the Empire State Building, we had fun exploring Times Square (The Disney Store is top-notch!) and Central Park. We also made a day trip to see Statue of Liberty! I had never seen it up close, and the trip was definitely worth it. If you decide to visit Liberty Island, beware of scammers–there is only one official ticket vendor.

statueofliberty

Later that night, we decided to have dinner at Lips. This was by far one of my favorite parts of the whole trip: drag queens put on a show while you eat and enjoy cocktails. We probably enjoyed too many cocktails–if there is such a thing at a drag show.

rings

Our bank accounts say there is such a thing. WHATEVER, BANKS. We got these cool rings with our drinks. So who’s laughing now?!

We were there for diva night, which meant the queens performed as Cher, Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, Joan Rivers, Lady Gaga, and Madonna. They were all incredible. If you’re jealous, don’t worry–there are several locations throughout the US. Just don’t forget to make reservations, and bring cash so you can give the queens tips. Performing is still work!

lady gaga

On our last day, we headed for Coney Island. Holly and I had both been dying to go, and we weren’t disappointed. It’s so delightfully weird, with just enough circus creepiness to make the whole park an adventure.

IMG_1088.JPG

IMG_1091

IMG_1103

The subway ride to Coney Island is no joke, so we were starving by the time we arrived. Drew and I ate more pizza, and then we stood in line at the famous Nathan’s Hot Dogs. As the sole vegetarian of the group, I skipped the hot dog and got a beer instead. I know. Poor me (#sarcasm). We also rode the legendary Wheel of Wonder and their roller coaster, the Cyclone. If you love theme park rides, they’re both worth the cost ($8 and $10, respectively). Drew and Holly weren’t fans of the Wheel of Wonder, but we all agreed the Cyclone was a blast.

Coney Island is definitely one of my new favorite places, and I hope that one day I get to go for the Mermaid Parade!

drewfaceny

He was helping me with the picture. Apparently. 

As always, New York was absolutely wonderful. No trip is ever the same, and I’m already looking forward to seeing it again. There are still a lot of pizza places and cookie dough flavors to try. ❤️

Advertisements

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

2016-09-10-14-06-55

San Francisco is my kind of place. When Drew and I decided to head to San Francisco for vacation, I had no idea what to expect–other than what friends had recommended (and Full House).

And it was absolutely wonderful.

img_6359

Since Drew was going to a work conference, we were able to stay in a hotel for the first two nights. After checking in, we decided to wander around the city and found our way to SF’s Chinatown!

While I have visited neighborhoods like Little Italy and Chinatown in New York City, there was something especially charming about San Francisco’s Chinatown. I loveloveloved it. There are tea houses and shops everywhere–and of course, the buildings are absolutely gorgeous.

img_6131

img_6121

When we walked past this musician, he asked Drew to sit down and promptly handed him an instrument. He insisted that we take a picture. Done and done!

The next few days, I had some time to explore on my own while Drew was working. I visited a ton of local coffee shops, which is always ridiculously fun–but one of my favorite places was Yerba Buena Gardens; it’s the perfect place to take pictures and enjoy the SF weather.

Once Drew’s conference had ended, we left the hotel and headed for the Mission District  to stay at our Airbnb (right across from Dolores Park!). This was also my very first Airbnb experience–in fact, I had never even heard of Airbnb until Drew suggested it. So much for being travel-savvy.

While hotels come with mind-blowing views or perks like free breakfast, Airbnb will probably be my first pick for my future travels. Not only was Airbnb more affordable than finding another hotel, but we got to stay with a local San Franciscan. She was a wonderful host…she even had an extra-cuddly cat to keep us company. If you ask me, feline friends are way better than anything hotels could ever offer.

Speaking of which, we had the chance to visit the KitTea Cat Café. Cat cafés partner with local animal shelters so that adoptable cats can find loving homes. I’ve always been passionate about animal rescue, and I am thrilled that cat cafés are popping up all over the US.

 

 

Nameowste.

 

Then, we got to go to our temporary SF home and cuddle with ANOTHER cat. We were missing our own cat, so being able to love on other kittens definitely filled the Constable Chubs-shaped hole in our hearts.

The next day, we decided to make the journey to the Golden Gate Bridge. Of course, we made a few stops along the way, including Golden Gate Park and the Japanese Tea Garden.

One Uber ride later, we were at the Golden Gate Bridge. Drew convinced me to make the trek across and back…

img_6356

…and to take a selfie with Alcatraz in the background (I couldn’t stop laughing, because we could barely see it!).

And yes, our legs were killing us the next day.

We were also planning on visiting Fisherman’s Wharf, but a few locals convinced us that it was horrible. After returning home, a few friends told me that they loved Fisherman’s Wharf…and Xan told me that there are seals! Take this as a lesson, my friends: never let anyone tell you how to travel.

We did, however, visit the Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)–one of the largest modern art museums in the world. Drew and I had highly intellectual conversations about art and culture.

By that, of course, I mean we kept pointing at exhibits and whispering, “Art!”

(In all seriousness, the museum reminded me that it’s okay if we don’t “get”certain pieces of art…but that’s a rambling for another day.)

img_6377

I make Drew take a lot of selfies. #sorrynotsorry

The food in San Francisco is also incredible. Some of our favorite treats were  Delfina pizza;  raspberry hot chocolate at the Bread and Cocoa ; and Dirty South ice cream at Little Giant Ice Cream. Little Giant has a TON of flavors–if you are feeling adventurous, try the asparagus ice cream!

My favorite dinner–hands-down–was at Hawker Fare. I ordered the Homemade Penang Tofu Curry, and OH. MY. GOD. I wish I could have ordered more for the trip home.

They also have an impressive drink selection. We both ordered the Montego’s Bay, which was probably a mistake…I’m more of a wine/beer kind of gal, so it was pretty strong for my tastes–but they came in super cute tiki cups!

I’ve always found it painful to say goodbye to my favorite cities, and San Francisco was no different. My travel wish list is miles long, but I’m already dreaming of our next visit to the Golden State–whenever that may be.

img_6200