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Whirlwind Weekend East Coast Tour

When Kara and I make plans, it’s all or nothing.  When we were in college, the Maryland men’s basketball team beat UMass to advance to their first Sweet 16.  The second the game was over, we looked at each other and said “we have to go”.  I don’t even think the internet had been invented yet (yes, we are that old), so we spent hours upon hours on the phone making travel arrangements…well, Kara spent most of the hours doing that. We slept on the floor of her boss’ hotel room, and didn’t even have a flight booked to get back home, but that didn’t deter us.  We had an amazing time.

Kara also has this insane ability to find long-lost friends and coaches randomly on Facebook.  About a month ago she found Coach White, who had coached at Maryland for a year back in the mid-90’s.  He’s now coaching at Fordham, and we decided that she would fly up to Maryland, and then we would drive up to visit him. That then evolved into continuing on to NYC afterwards for the rest of the weekend.

Kara flew into town last Thursday evening, and then Friday morning we headed out bright and early. Our first stop was in Baltimore for breakfast at Miss Shirley’s Cafe. Then we headed to Cape May, NJ to meet Coach White and his family, as they were there on vacation. Cape May is awesome.  It’s just like a lot of other beach towns, but it still has that great old-town feel, and isn’t run down and run over with crazy tourists.  It was super hot though, so after lunch we just walked around for a little bit and realized we needed to head north.

Whirlwind East Coast Tour - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

I hate driving in New York.  The traffic is miserable, drivers have never heard of a turn signal, and I always feel like I’m taking my life into my hands. We reached the sign for the Lincoln Tunnel at about 4:45, and it took us almost 2 hours to get all the way through.  Note to self:  don’t show up at the tunnel at 5pm on a Friday.  And then I still had to navigate/fight traffic to get to our hotel in Times Square.

Parking in NYC is probably more of a nightmare than driving. Thankfully, Kara had found a parking deal so that we wouldn’t have to move the car until we were ready to leave. I always wondered how they can park so many cars in such a tight space, and then I found out

Whirlwind East Coast Tour - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

We stayed the first night at the Paramount Hotel, which happens to be right next to the Church of Scientology.  Sadly though, no Tom Cruise sightings.  It’s a cute boutique hotel, with “cozy” rooms.  I think the room measured about 200 square feet.  You really couldn’t walk more than 10 steps to get from one end of the room to the other.

Whirlwind East Coast Tour - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

Once we parked and checked into the hotel, our next move was food. We grabbed a quick bite at Patzeria’s Perfect Pizza, because Kara had raved about it.

Kara had gotten coupons for a couple of free drinks at the Library Bar, right on the 2nd floor of the hotel.  So of course, we had to go and use those…then went to Tonic Lounge, where I spent every evening during my work conference 2 years ago.  Then we went to Latitude Bar & Grill.  We had planned to go to the rooftop bar, but settled for the main floor instead.  And of course, at the end of the night, hit up a food truck for pretzels.

Saturday morning we got up bright and early, ready to tackle the day.  We moved to the Marriott Marquis, just one block over, and our room there was like the penthouse suite compared to the Paramount. And it had a fantastic view of Times Square

Whirlwind East Coast Tour - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

First stop was a subway ride to Ground Zero.  If you haven’t been to the World Trade Center site, you need to go.  It’s an amazing memorial.  Very moving, and very beautifully done.  You can get free tickets online.  I strongly suggest going at 10am, which is the first group.  We made it through the lines and into the memorial area really quickly.  By the time we were leaving, the lines were a lot longer.  As we walked out of the memorial area, we saw a smaller plane flying pretty low.  I was very surprised someone would do that, especially in that area.  I’m pretty sure the police & military have the authority to shoot first, and ask questions later.  Even the 2 cops right near us were watching the plane.

Whirlwind East Coast Tour - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

Next stop, Wall Street.  It would have been cool to see it on a weekday with all the chaos, and possibly even go into the stock exchange, but I’m glad we went on Saturday.  There were tons of tourists, but I still think that was a lot better than fighting 2 sets of crowds.

Whirlwind East Coast Tour - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

Next, South Street Seaport.  We had to laugh when we saw the “no swimming” sign at the East River.  Seriously…who in their right mind is gonna jump in that water to swim??

Whirlwind East Coast Tour - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

Next, the charging bull.  I thought it was right at Wall Street, but it’s about a mile away.  Of course I had to take pictures with the 8 million other tourists posing in front of the bull, but it was still pretty cool.

Whirlwind East Coast Tour - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

Next, a little shopping.  We had heard from several people that we just “had” to go to Century 21.  It’s kind of like Loehmanns/Ross/Marshalls on steroids.  We probably should have gone when they opened, because by the time we got there it was jam-packed, and the dressing room line was at least 30 minutes long. I got yelled at by a worker for trying on a dress over my clothes, and Kara got yelled at for trying to pick up a piece of clothing from a rack they had just brought out to the floor.  So we quickly paid for the items we needed, and split.

Next, Rockefeller Center.  We thought of going to Top of the Rock for the amazing views of the city. But we were starving by that point, so just did lunch.

Next, St. Patrick’s Cathedral. There was a wedding going on at the same time.  I can’t decide if that’s a cool idea or not.  I guess it’s really cool to get married there, but I’m just not sure I would want random tourists traipsing through the church while I’m trying to say my vows.  They did block off the middle section of the church for just the wedding guests.  But still.  I also lit a prayer candle.

Whirlwind East Coast Tour - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

Next, we walked up 5th Avenue and did a little shopping.  Clearly we didn’t do too much, because neither of us can afford very much on 5th Avenue. But it was fun to look.

By this point we were starving, and our next move was dinner at Serendipity 3.

After dinner we went to La Piscene, this great rooftop bar at Hotel Americano in Brooklyn for a couple of drinks.  Then we headed back towards Times Square.  We tried to go to Rudy’s Bar & Grill, another place I went to during the ALSD conference, but it was beyond packed.  So we went to Mercury Bar, just a block away, and hung out there for a while.  We walked around Times Square for a little bit, and then made a pit-stop at the food truck on our way back to the hotel.

Sunday morning our legs were definitely feeling all the walking from Saturday.  I figure we walked about 15 miles in all.  We met a friend for a quick breakfast at Rock Center, and stopped by the NBC lot. Next was Sunday mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  Pretty sure I’m covered for church for 2 years now 🙂

On the way back to Maryland, we made a pit stop in Philadelphia to meet our friend Nadine for lunch at Sabrina’s Cafe. Once we got home, we took a power nap, and finished up the trip by meeting Mikki and Michele for dinner at GrillMarx in Maryland.

Our weekend in NYC was over.  I really kind of wish we had another full day, so we could hit all the spots we missed on Saturday.  We’ll have to wait until next time.  All in all it was a fantastic trip. We saw several friends, went to many of the “must-see” spots in NYC, and had an amazing time.

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