NEW YORK CITY FEBRUARY 2022 TRIP DAY 1: START SPREADING THE NEWS, WE’RE LEAVING TODAY

Well hey everyone! Man oh man oh man has it been a while. How are you? How is the family? How have you been navigating your little corner of this whole hellish dreamscape?

I bet you thought with that last insanely long and taxing series I did on our 2-week trip to Walt Disney World that I had hit some sort of proverbial wall and have just been sitting in some corner in a fetal position mumbling over and over, “Drey-C beef fat candle Ross face” trying to make sense of it all.

Well, jokes on you. I finished doing that like a week ago.

I have another trip report for you all!!

Yeah, it IS exciting. And this one is actually not about a Disney trip.

No, come on. Hear me out. This one is about a super fun weekend excursion we took to New York City. And just for being great sports good sports here, I am going to be throwing in some Disney-ish goodness along the way, ok?

Whatever. Let’s just get on with it.

New York City February 2022 Trip – the details

Right so – why were we taking this trip in the first place?

Well, Mister Nosy.

Myles was turning 18! And we thought what better way to celebrate this milestone birthday than by taking him to New York City, spending very little time with him and then going off to have an adventure in the city without him.

OK fine. Not exactly that. You see, Myles’s girlfriend, Hannah, lives in New Jersey and he really wanted to see her for his birthday weekend. On account of he inherited his parent’s sense of romance.

Nickie’s. He inherited Nickie’s sense of romance.

So we made the plan to travel with him into New York by train and meet up with Hannah for the night before her parents picked them up the next morning.

But I mean, since we were in New York City anyways, Nickie, Owen, and I decided to make a weekend out of it. And we were joined by the Falzones (Tony, Larissa, and Mia)!!!

And we still got a little bit of Myles and Hannah. Plus, we threw Myles a really nice brunch the weekend before to celebrate him so we had that going for us. Which was nice.

And yeah, before we move on, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how INSANE it is that Myles is 18. Like, I have an adult child. It’s a weird feeling because at the same time, 18 years ago feels like a very long time ago but it all also feels like it went by much too fast. To put it in a perspective that affects you (since I know you all don’t care otherwise), Myles had just turned 12 when I first started this blog.

Yeah, now you get it.

But it’s been pretty awesome being his dad for the past 18 years and I love the person he’s become. It’s gonna be so exciting seeing where his life takes him. Love you, Myles. Happy Birthday.

OK, now let’s get back to the trip.

Here are the details at a glance:

What: It’s a vacation.

Where: To New York City

When: 3 nights, 4 days from February 18th, 2022 to February 21st, 2022

Who: Us (Me, Nickie, Myles, Owen, and Hannah) and the Falzones (Tony, Larissa, and Mia)

How: Well, we will get into it but we took a train there and back and stayed at Embassy Suites by Hilton New York Times Square.

Why: To haz fun. A doy. But like I said, we were also celebrating Myles’s birthday AND BIRTHDAY BONUS TIME!!! We were also celebrating Larissa’s birthday.

Alright, fine. Let’s get on with the trip.

Oof, that was A LOT of gifs.

February 2022 New York trip Day 1 – Myles’s actual birthday!!
Day 1 was a Friday. But it was a special super cool Friday on account of Nickie and I took the day off from work and the kids were being kept out of school.

And this meant no having to finish up any work before we left. No waiting for the kids to get home. We could get an early start on vacationing. And in no way did we do any wor…

Oh wait. Nevermind. We both did have to do a little bit of work on the train today. But I mean, we all know there is no line anymore and work is life. Work is breath. Work is lover.

Eh, honestly, it wasn’t all that much. I just like complaining. It’s why my friends call me Whiskers.

And as mentioned, Day 1 was Myles’s birthday! Unfortunately, we had already given him his cake and all his presents when we had his party so all we had to give him was a card. And I mean, it was a nice card and all but it did feel a tad anticlimactic. But eh, Myles seems to have liked it. He even smiled.

I also should note today was Stitch’s birthday….

And, I mean…for his birthday, we were leaving him. All of a sudden, Myles’s card seems pretty good no?

But no worries on that front. Our friends Renee and John were staying at our house and watching him and Lilo . And they threw him a 1st birthday party!

I know, they are pretty awesome friends for sure.

I mean, to Stitch at least.

OK fine – to us too.

So yeah, we had to say goodbye to Stitch and to this cutie pie.

Aw, look at our Lilo.

But we knew they were both in super good hands and hey, it was only a weekend right? I can’t imagine we would miss them all that muc…

OK. You got me. We missed them all that much.

But let’s see if we can distract ourselves with some New York-ness.

Our train for New York was leaving Boston’s South Station at around 9:20 and we still wanted time to grab something to eat so we ordered our Uber to pick us up at around 8AM. And pick us up at around 8AM it did.

And usually, pictures of our Uber situation may be seen as kind of lame.

But pictures of this Uber? They were seen as kind of llama.

On account of our Uber driver had a stuffed llama in the front seat, you see.

I know. Trust me, the jokes don’t get much better from here.

We got to South Station at a little before 8:30AM and Owen was ready. As evidenced by the thumb in the “up” position.

While there are a few choices in the South Station terminal for breakfast, we landed on Au Bon Pain.

Nickie and Myles each got a chocolate croissant and Owen went in for the non-chocolate variety.

Nickie also paired hers with a decaf coffee.

I ordered a latte and an egg white, cheddar, and avocado sandwich on a skinny wheat bagel.

I know. Choosing such a healthy breakfast before what was sure to be a gluttonous, disgusting parade of calories and alcohol seems an exercise in futility. But every little bit counts, no?

We ate our breakfast anxiously watching the door and waited with anticipation for our train to arrive.

And at 9:10, it did.

Arrive.

We boarded and found two sets of four seats facing each other near the café car.

And I know you must be thinking, “Eight seats? But you’re only four people. Have you all gone COMPLETELY MAD?”

To which I would respond, “Calm down.”

The Falzones were going to be hopping on our train in Providence, RI and we wanted to make sure we could all sit together. So that meant having to save seats for them for nearly an hour. On a regional Friday morning train.

That’s a tallllllll order my friends.

Lots of dirty looks, lots of heads hung in shame. Lots of this….

But hey, worth it. Because look – friends!!

This felt like the beginning of something special. Something grand. Something…

…dangerous.

Speaking of, now that the Falzones were here, we could finally hit the café car. I mean, I had been in the café car earlier for a brief moment but that was only to check if they could, in fact, make a Bloody Mary at this time of the morning.

I am nothing if not prepared.

It turned out that yes, they certainly could make one and I vowed to the bartender I would return. And it was time to make good on that promise.

And you know what? She made some very good Bloody Marys.

And yeah, it wasn’t quite noon, but whatever you guys. We were on vacation and these were breakfast drinks.

It’s not like we ordered wine or anythi…

Oh right. The girls. The girls actually did order wine. The train sold full splits so they got a bottle of Pinot Grigio.

The kids also got some snacks – M&M’s and pretzels. And yeah, it was a good time. We were all drinking and eating and you could just kind of tell there was a serious amount of excitement in the air. I mean we were heading to the concrete jungle.

Where dreams are made of.

Wait. Concrete jungle where dreams are made of?

What the hell does that even mean? Where dreams are made of what?

Wait is it “Where dreams are Madoff?”

Now THAT was a timely joke.

After Tony and I finished our fantastic Bloody Marys, it was time for another drink – this time around, we went for Rum and Diet Cokes.

It was a great train ride. Lots of laughs and what not. But eventually it did come to an end and we pulled into Moynihan Train Hall at around 1:30PM.

And we had a big decision to make – do we cab it, order an Uber, or walk to our hotel. The walk was around 15 minutes or so, which didn’t seem too long. So out into the concrete jungle we went.

And yeah, the walk wasn’t the worst. I mean we did have a bunch of luggage to contend with and crowds of people to navigate. But we made it in one piece, luggage and all, to our home for the next few days – The Embassy Suites by Hilton New York Manhattan Times Square.

I know. Fancy, right? The Embassy Suites? Who do we think we are? Some sort of royalty or something? It’s like now if someone says they’ll be at the embassy, I can say, “oh but are they suites?” And if someone says they’ve booked a suite for the night, I can come back with,” pfft, but are they at the embassy?” 

I am better than you. Is what I am saying right now.

I mean look at this lobby. There are plants in places no one would expect plants to be.

You know a place is luxury when they are just like, “just put the plants up in the air.”

We all checked in and they put us and the Falzones both on the 6th floor so we made our way up to our rooms. And if you thought the lobby was luxurious.

This couch not only folds out into a bed, it also has a WALL.

And look at this desk. It also has a LAMP.

And look at this TV. It also has STEVE CARELL.

So many things in this room that also have other things.

And yeah, it was a tad small especially given there would be five of us that night with Hannah but given that we were in New York where some rooms are the size of a milk carton, this felt comparatively spacious.

And we did have A view. Sort of.

The room was fine all in all. I mean a lot of New York rooms are like the size of a shoebox so it was nice to have a room the size of a, um, boot box?

I will say though. One weird thing was that the room was like, not stocked. No pillows for the pull-out. There was shampoo. No conditioner. No extra toilet paper. There were no towels, man. Like, not a one. And you know what that means? A whole weekend of not showering.

You’re welcome, kids.

Nah, kidding. We did eventually call down for everything we needed. Like adults and everything.

Pretty much immediately after we checked in, Myles got the call that Hannah’s bus had,um. What is that busses do? Landed? Did her bus land? Docked?

I have literally no idea what busses do. But her bus did it and she was in town.

So Myles and I headed out to meet her.

And while we were out wandering the streets and wondering what it is busses do…park? Like do I say her bus “parked?…Tony and Larissa took Mia to the American Girl Store, which sounds like some sort of nightmare I once had. Oh, a place where we pretend dolls are real girls and alive and getting haircuts and eating scones or whatever?

Yeah, that doesn’t sound murdery at all.

We met up with Hannah at around 2:45. And she brought Myles birthday presents. And look how happy and cute they are!

And being that I don’t think I can count Bloody Mary olives as lunch, we decided to grab some on the way back to the hotel.

Time for a New York slice.

But eh, being that there were no Sbarros around, we settled for 2 Bros. Pizza.

Dollar slices. One of the best inventions since pizza cost 50 cents.

We got a few dollar slices, a couple slices of pepperoni, buffalo chicken, and a slice of margherita.

So how was it? I mean, it wasn’t bad. Definitely good for the price. But I dunno. The crust was very Greek-like. Which is fine. Again, not a terrible slice of pizza. But I would have liked a little more grease on it. I expected more grease. Because it’s the word. Grease is the word.

We sat in the room, ate some pizza, and hung out for a little while in the room. Myles opened his presents from Hannah and so did we. She brought some homemade chocolate-covered pretzels.

So.

We also all got ready for the evening. Which meant a complete outfit change. Yeah, man…New York is a trip made up of multiple multiple-outfit days. We only were there for three days and I think I maybe packed like 8 shirts.

I am pretty sure Larissa had like 5 coats.

At around 4ish, we made the decision to head out into the city. We got our stuff together, grabbed the elevator, walked out the door and onto the street. We got almost to the end of the street when Nickie got a text that the Falzones were heading back.

So erm. To the room we returned.

When the Falzones got back, we went over to their room and met our newest travel companion.

That there is a picture of Mia and her new doll.

Mia is the taller one.

And as you can see, they were wearing the same clothes. And had the same hair. And they look a lot alike.

And it was NOTHING like the Shining. Please just let me believe that.

At this point, she didn’t have a name for her. Which was fine, because I had the perfect name.

Wayne.

We could call her Lil’ Wayne.

Mia didn’t seem like she was a big fan but the rest of the crew seemed to take to it.

I think eventually Mia named her May. Which is the month I was born. So I get it, Mia. Nice little Easter egg there.

As I mentioned, we were also celebrating Larissa’s birthday this weekend so while we were in her room, we gave her our present – a new scarf and gloves, some personalized towels for their outside kitchen, and this baby.

Alcohol presents are the best presents to give because you know the gifter can end up enjoying some of it alongside the giftee. Which would work out, since all we had at the hotel was a few bottles of wine, another bottle of champagne, and a full unopened bottle of Basil Hayden.

For three days.

That champagne is gonna come in handy.

At around 5:30, it was time to head out for dinner.

Dinner tonight was a few blocks over on 44th Street at Virgil’s Real Barbecue, which was Myles’s choice for his birthday dinner.

When we got there, they had an outdoor seating situation in like this little curbside house with heaters. And yeah, it was cold out. But it was cozy under there.

And it allowed for some fun people watching. So outdoor dining in February it is!

And I mean, this should help warm things up.

That there is a Virgil’s Templeton Rye Old-Fashioned (infused with dried cherries, vanilla bean, cinnamon, and brown sugar.) And it was yumtown.

To start on the food side of things, we ordered some barbecue nachos (made with barbecued pulled chicken, Carolina pulled pork, and Texas beef brisket.)

SO good. Not like a HUGE amount of meat in there, but enough for sure. And a good sized portion overall.

We also got some of the crispy hush puppies with maple syrup butter.

Which were…fine. Nothing spectacular or anything and the butter was all kinds of hard and not spreadable. But I mean, I ate them. So.

And in the midst of all that appetizering, I finished my old-fashioned so I moved onto a beer. And they had a Virgil’s Ale. So I mean, I HAD to get it. It would have been rude not to.

For dinner, Tony and I were both having a hard time deciding on what to get. Ribs. Chicken sandwich. Chicken sandwich. Ribs. What to do. What to do.

And then, an epiphany.

We decided on a whole splitsies situation. I would order the Crispy Fried Chicken Sandwich (with chipotle mayo, lettuce, tomato, and pickles on a potato bun), he would order the Memphis-style ribs with sides of mac and cheese and beans. And then we do the old swaperoo.

The chicken sandwich was kinda of merp. Not a ton of flavor. The bread kept falling apart. The fries were tasty though.

The ribs, however, were delicious. The meat was fall-off-the-bone good and had a nice bit of smoke to it.

The mac and cheese and beans were both good as well.

Dinner overall was super tasty. I know people don’t normally go to New York for barbecue but this was very good barbecue.

The move tonight was to skip dessert because we had some kind of epic dessert plans for later and we had another destination to get to.

Back into the mean streets.

And this is something I really liked about this trip. We walked around a lot after our meals this weekend. Well, “walk” is a stretch. Waddle? Roll?

So yeah, our next destination though.

We were going skating at Rockefeller Center!

Yup. Lil Wayne came too.

Now when I say “we,” I more mean “they.” They went skating at Rockefeller Center. And the they I am referring to? Myles, Hannah, Owen, Tony, and Mia.

I had little interest in actually skating. Ice skating to me feels like a bit of a scam. You pay the money, you rent the skates. You’re cold. Your ankles hurt. And all so you can just go round and round in a circle.

I dunno. I don’t get it.

But I was happy to hang out and watch everyone else having a good time.

And I know what you guys are thinking. You’re all thinking, “what mistakes have I made in my life that have lead me to this blog?”

Well, first off. That’s super rude man. I put a lot into this.

And secondly, you should have been thinking, “Wait, where are Nickie and Larissa?”

So I mean. Glad you finally remembered them.

Anyways, they went off to grab us some dessert for the night. But not just any old dessert. Oh no. Dessert tonight was from Magnolia Bakery!

They picked up some of their legendary cupcakes and banana pudding for us all to enjoy back at the hotel. But since I wasn’t there to be annoying take the necessary pictures, this was all I got of the experience.

However, I did get a picture of the banana pudding I enjoyed back at the hotel later.

And that pudding? Life changing. Life changing pudding right there.

But for the record, I didn’t actually try that pudding until like midnight on Day 1.

Oh yeah, night is 100% NOT over.

We got back to the hotel from skating at around 9PM and the adults had to take part in yet another outfit change. Yup. We were all kinds of Madonna-ing up in this piece.

And right, just the adults. The kids were going to hang back at the hotel while the four of us headed out to one last destination. And their plan was to eat some cupcakes, banana pudding, and watch Hamilton in the room.

Which, like, Mia was totally on a crazy Hamilton kick this entire weekend. It was like non-stop Lin-Manuel. And I kind of can’t get it out my head since. I literally just find myself walking around the house mumbling, “the ship is in the harbor now.”

Now I know what the slow descent into insanity feels like.

Us adults though. Nickie and I had a little surprise planned for Tony and Larissa tonight. They had no idea where we were heading next, which was great. Because it meant we could pick up the Uber.

Our destination tonight was on the Upper East Side. And as we drove there, we tried to get them to guess where we were heading. Guesses ran the gamut from a champagne bar to meeting Jay-Z.

After a 15-20 minute Uber ride, at 9:55, we had arrived. At an ice cream shoppe.

Surprise!

OK well, it’s not really just an ice cream shoppe. I mean, no knock at ice cream shoppes. Ice cream. Youce cream. We allce cream for ice cream. And all that.

But this specific ice cream shoppe was UES. Which had a little hidden secret inside it.

That Larissa immediately figured out and ruined. Oh Larissa.

But to her credit, they didn’t do a great job of hiding it. That front window is very large.

But for those of you that haven’t figured out the surprise, come with me.

We walked inside the front door of UES and up to the register.

So far, nothing out of the ordinary. Multiple flavors of ice cream ready to be scooped out of the glass case up front. Cute little ice cream knick-knacks all around.

I walked up to the guy manning the register and said, “we’d like to see the storage room.”

And voila.

Yeah, nothing yet. He told us we had a little bit of a wait in front of us.

Which, honestly, I mean I know that’s inevitable. But ugh, that took a little bit away from the experience, having to wait up against the wall. The wait was only ten minutes but if we were still trying to maintain an element of surprise, this definitely would have crushed all that.

But, after that ten minutes was up?

Voila…

Actually, wait. Not yet.The guy at the register came over and told me I needed to find the switch before we could proceed. Which, eh, wasn’t that hard to find. And then though.

Then…

Voila….

That unassuming wall of ice cream containers swung open to reveal…a hidden, bustling speakeasy behind it.

So cool, right?

They sat us in a booth up against the back wall, which was a great vantage point to take everything in.

And well, old-people-out-of-their-element alert. This place was loud. Like, real loud. And I think my inability to handle loud bars is without a doubt the clearest sign time has caught up with me. I just don’t understand why I liked loud bars at some point in my life. What was the allure of such a thing?

But you know what I haven’t outgrown? Overpriced drinks. Here we go…

For his drink, Tony ordered the UES is Happy to Serve you (made with four roses bourbon, chocolate lab chocolate wine, luxardo maraschino liqueur, campari, orange bitters topped with a warm coconut crema and beet root powder.)

Hella-insta-worthy, served in one of those traditional New York coffee cups.

I had a sip of it and it was pretty good. The foam on top was warm while the drink underneath was cold. So it was definitely a unique one. But good stuff.

Nickie got her usual standby Cosmo and Larissa got a….um….a vodka and cranberry maybe?

I went for the 1040 5th Avenue, named for the address whose 15th floor Jackie Onassis called home for 30 years.

Thing was made with heat activated black adzuki bean Ragtime Rye, smoked antica sweet vermouth, Italicus, angostura bitters, orange bitters, absinthe, and maple syrup, topped with rye bread, balsamic glaze, and cherry cola granita.

Yeah, lots going on there. But man, this was a yummy drink. I can always get behind a little maple with my rye but the addition of the absinthe brought a little bit of edge to it. The rye bread was actually pretty good as well.

I did have a little bit of buyer’s remorse knowing there were so many more inventive drinks on the menu. But eh. This thing was right in my wheelhouse.

But still, another drink was served in a cigar box with a chocolate cigar and there was one vodka drink that came with candy cigarettes and condoms.

Whatever you guys. Moving on. It was good. Let’s just leave it at that.

We ended up getting used to the noise and actually were able to have a conversation, which was nice. And yeah, maybe we’re old but look at us going to bars at 10PM. Who do we think we are? Brian Austin Green or something?

Wait. Crap. Did that reference make me seem old again?

But guys, look at us. Being fun.

By 11PM, our waiter came over to take our drink orders and I went with something a little less flashy but nonetheless awesome – a Lagavulin on the rocks.

And I mean, of course that was good. Doy.

And as I sat there drinking one of my favorite scotches approaching midnight, at the end of a pretty incredible first day in New York City, surrounded by people I love, and knowing we were soon heading back to more people I love, I mean….it felt pretty overwhelming. I know I say it a lot on this blog but I have been absolutely blessed to have the means to experience so much and the people with whom anyone would be lucky to experience such things. And I remember thinking in that moment – I was tired, but I was happy.

I was just feeling all sorts of wistful I guess. Maybe it was the scotch. Or the fact that my oldest had just become an adult. Either way, my life is good.

We left soon after the scotch was finished. We ordered up an Uber and had some banana pudding when we got back as we listened to the kids tell us about their night. Oh and if you were wondering, Mia was extremely awake. Lol.

So yeah, a great first day in New York for sure. And just think, that was only the beginning.

See you all on Day 2.

Next post – Day 2

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