We arrived in marvellous New York at 11pm and even though the city never sleeps, we needed to! But not before we ordered food to be delivered to our hotel room (HUGE burgers mmmm)! And then, as everyone going to sleep around 1am would want to, we were up, decked out in all the warm clothes we could muster and waiting outside our hotel at 4am for the airport shuttle, so we could fly to Buffalo to start our tour of the Niagara Falls!!!
We were the only two people on the tour, so our lovely guide took us to a few places on the way, just suburban streets and malls, but it was great, as it's so different to home! Also we saw lots of squirrels, which I was REALLY excited about!! The Falls were amazing! We were able to see them first from the USA side...
And then get a little stamp in our passport and head over to Canada to see them from their side!
We then had an amazing buffet lunch in a restaurant overlooking the falls - beautiful! It was unfortunately too cold for the boat tour, but we were able to go in to the tunnels which run behind the falls and open up right underneath the torrents! It was amazing, but alas all the photos just look white...
We travelled back through Buffalo, looked at beautiful big manor houses, bought cheap makeup at a local mall (and then nearly had to leave it at the airport because we didn't think about taking liquids on the plane! The lovely airport staff found us an old box and let us check it in though)By the time we got home we were so tired, that not even the night lights of New York could entice us out of our hotel, it was time for a good sleep so we could set off refreshed the next morning!
We awoke to a cold, drizzly day, which wasn't ideal for walking around the city, but that wasn't going to stop us! First up was a trip to The Cathedral of Saint John The Divine (after much confusion as to how to get on the subway) in the now pouring rain. We were cold, tired and felt a bit ill, but none of that mattered when we saw this amazing building. It was huge and just so very beautiful and detailed. Inside was humbling and awe-inspiring. I feel like we could have stayed in there for hours without realising, it was so peaceful and warm yet somehow foreboding at the same time.
I knew that I wanted to see The Fountain of Peace out in the courtyard, but we found it to be heavily raining when we came out. Kirsty decided she'd stay in the shelter while I ran to see the statue, and run I did. It was sort of perfect really, I was nearly completely drenched in the minute it took to run to the statue but I spotted a tiny little sheltered alcove, all covered in ivy that I huddled in to so I could just stare at the Fountain of Peace. It's really beautiful...but weird...I was so confused to see giraffes for some reason haha. But the craftsmanship is extraordinary.
Next up was the American Museum of Natural History - which I was absolutely psyched about, because I knew they had HEAPS of dinosaur skeletons. It certainly didn't disappoint, in fact it exceeded expectations, as I would have been happy just with dinosaurs, but there was so much to see!
The animal exhibits were beautifully realistic...
All the historical relics were amazing, the minerals and gems entranced me way more than I thought...but the dinosaurs were the greatest.
I reverted back to being an overly excitable 8 year old, dragging Kirsty along to all the skeletons and continuously shrieking things like...
'Kirsty it's a Pachycephalosaurus skull aaiiiieeee'
And then I was rendered silent for a moment and just stared hopelessly like a toddler eyeing off a lollipop, because I'd found my love...
After I'd gotten over my dinosaur hysteria and bought way too many things at the store, we made our way, finally, to Times Square. Oh how we love thee.
It was time to start organising our tickets for musicals every night! After a bit of running around we decided to see The Lion King that night! I had a bit of a weird history with the musical, as when I first heard about it, I wanted nothing to do with it. The Lion King is my very favourite movie of all time ever and I thought they'd ruin it as a stage show. But after years of everyone saying how good it was, I was really excited to be seeing it!
And, it was wonderful, it was beautiful to look at and the actors were amazing, but it didn't hook me in as much as I'd thought it would. Possibly because I hold the movie on such a pedestal, a different version of it was never going to have the same effect on me. However, it was a BROADWAY MUSICAL so it was AMAZING!
Oh also, you should know, we'd already bought our tickets for How To Succeed, because as wonderful, amazing timing would have it, Darren Criss was the lead while we were there. And we sort of love him. Just a little. Just enough that whenever we saw a poster we were sort of like this....
I'm just going to start off with saying our hotel - The Comfort Inn Central Park West - was amazing. It was in the beautiful Upper West Side which made me feel like I was in You've Got Mail every time we stepped out the door, and it had continental breakfast. Now not just cereal and toast continental breakfast like we usually get at home. This hotel had a big ol' machine full of waffle batter and a waffle iron ready to make amazing fresh blueberry waffles every morning. It made me SO happy!
Now, on to the day - we jumped on to one of the all day tour buses and were on our way to see the Statue of Liberty. Neither of us were particularly desperate to see her, but it's a must do when in New York! It was another squally day, making the ferry ride fairly unpleasant, but we were in that 'holiday mode' of travellers so it wasn't all that much of a worry. The wind on Liberty Island however, was hilariously strong and cold. It made it impossible to get a normal photo haha.
We then visited the Museum of Jewish Heritage, which I walked through close to tears the entire time. I don't think anyone could go there and not be heartbroken. It was a beautiful memorial and the walk through ended full of hope and a positive outlook on the future, but it was something that stayed with us for the rest of the trip.
Next the bus took us to the Rockefeller Centre so we could go to the Top of the Rock. It was an amazing view, but again was super cold and windy, so we didn't manage to stay out very long! Long enough for Kirsty to realise I was calling the Chrysler Building the Empire State....like a fool! I then made sure to get a photo with the ACTUAL Empire State Building....
I was way ridiculously excited to go to the NBC Store, I needed to make up for all those years of trying to buy Office and Community paraphernalia online and it not being available internationally! I stocked up on a lot of stuff, plus bought loads of presents (Greendale Human Being Keyrings, Senor Chang Magnets, Office Desk Calendar, Office Board Game etc)
Next was a visit to Madame Tussauds, which was soooooooooo much fun! I made googoo eyes at Leonardo, hugged Harrison Ford, glared at Angelina Jolie, tried to copy Britney's pose (I failed), sat with The Beatles and squealed over Iron Man. It was all fantastic and silly and grand!
And then dear people, after dinner, we sat ourselves down at the Al Hirschfield Theatre and soaked in the gloriousness of Darren Criss and the wonderful, fun musical that is How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. Argh, it was just SO. GOOD. It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip, not just because we were a bit obsessed with him, but also because neither of us knew anything about the musical and it turned out to be so funny with great songs and a clever story and a fantastic ensemble cast and just all round awesome!
We started the day (after amazing waffles of course) by going Behind The Emerald Curtain. It was a fantastic tour, hearing about all the behind the scenes happenings of Wicked and seeing some of the amazing props and costumes up close.
The main event of today was doing a Cake Decorating Class at the Cake Boss' Carlos BakeryWarehouse in New Jersey. But it was only going to take about 10 minutes to get a taxi there so after the Emerald Curtain we had a nice leisurely lunch of ribs at TGIF. Little did we know that because New Jersey is a different state, the taxi fare was going to be insanely high! But of course we'd left it too late to organise a bus or subway, so we had no choice but to pay $100 to get over there, and we were still a little late.
But as it seemed to be whenever something bad happened, within a few minutes it didn't matter at all.
Because we were making these babies! At the Carlos Bakery Factory!!!
Ahhhhhh! I was crazy excited....Kirsty was about four times so.
After the class we headed over to the bakery and stood in line for about an hour (again, it didn't matter because we were HERE!)
We got some delicious goodies and headed back to NYC to drop our cakes off to the hotel before seeing Memphis - this time on the subway! We had to switch trains at one point, and as we were waiting at the station we befriended a lovely elderly couple...and this is when the night turned bad (though again, by the next day it was fine and had just become a good story)
I was sitting while Kirsty stood at the station, and the couple sat down next to me but kept insisting Kirsty take one of their sports. She was standing by choice and so insisted they sit, but the old man was such a gentleman and insisted he at least hold her bags for her (as we had cakes plus bags). Eventually our train came, we picked up our bags, double checked we had everything and bid them farewell. It was only two stops later that Kirsty realised she'd accidentally left the whole bag of Carlos' treats with the couple! She was devastated! (I was pretty upset too, but poor Kirsty felt so terrible that I wasn't about to make it worse for her!)
We raced on foot back to the station in hope that we would find them, but they'd obviously left by the time we got there.
We then had to high tail it to see Memphis with our cakes in tow. Luckily we were allowed to take them in, store them under the seats and eventually calm down and just let the musical soothe us - it was fantastic by the way!
Once we got home I did some research and moving around of our schedule so we could get back to Carlos' later on and get new treats!
We went on a Gospel Tour of Harlem in the morning. Harlem was really pretty in parts, and going to a local church for their gospel service was AMAZING! So very different from church back home but all with the same heart, it was really fun and refreshing.
We got back at lunchtime, so we tried out the Hard Rock Cafe. I'd been to the Hard Rock on the Gold Coast, but of course NYC's one was soooooooooo much better! I had delicious fajitas and was so excited by all the awesome memorabilia around! I wish that my Dad could have been there, everything I saw made me want to take photos to show him.
After this we did some shopping, mainly for presents (and M&M's).
And then it was WICKED TIME WOOOOOO!
We'd both seen it numerous times, but seeing it on Broadway in Gershwin Theatre was just.....so.......so.....excellent.
Our final day was started early, we caught a bus to New Jersey for Carlos' and we realised just how much cheaper and easier it would have been to do that last time! It hardly took any time at all and only cost $4 compared to the $100 for our taxi trip! Oh well, it was fine, because once we got there we didn't have to line up and everything was super fresh.
So we grabbed our bag, made our way to the subway, waited for our train and got on. And then I realised I was supposed to have a separate bag, though I thought everything had been put in Kirsty's! Our train hadn't left yet, and I really wanted my black and white cookie, so we jumped off the train and headed back. The ladies at the counter didn't really believe that I hadn't picked up my bag, but once i started just offering to pay again I think it was obvious I wasn't trying to rip them off. So finally, we both had delicious treats from Carlos' and we could be on our merry way!
Next stop was the Freedom Tower, (with a quick stop off at an awesome little diner where they were throwing bagels to each other....it was awesome) which is still under construction, but the Memorials of those killed on September 11 were beautiful, though obviously, heartbreaking.
Afterwards we headed to Madison Square Garden, to watch a real live NBA game! I wasn't really that excited, but Kirsty sure was! I was mainly excited about eating this cookie...
However, the game ended up being awesome! And there was always something happening to keep me entertained - the best was when a totally rad hip hop/marching band group of kids performed!
We had a few hours before our final musical (Phantom of the Opera haaaaaaawwwwww) so we FINALLY wandered around Central Park. We'd wanted to make plenty of time for it but 1) It was sooooo cold and 2) We just ran out of time every day so we only got to see a small portion of it. But I know that when I eventually go back to the USA, I'm going to give myself at least an entire day to spend there!
As we were walking we kept seeing horse and carriages, and we had no idea where they were coming from. So we did what any tourist would do...we followed one of the horses until we finally came to where they were all set up. It was pricey, but being driven around with blankets in Central Park seemed like the perfect thing to do on our last night! Our horse was beautiful - and no Kirsty is not punching it....
Phantom of the Opera was SO AMAZING! There's a reason it's one of the longest running shows ever! I knew the soundtrack fairly well, but being in a theatre complete with the dropping chandelier and amazingly detailed stage was just breathtaking. And all the actors, phwoar......it was just so perfect and lavish and romantic and dark and powerful and just AMAZING! Definitely one of my favourite musicals ever (it's getting harder and harder to choose though!)
With the closing of the curtains, it was time to face cleaning up, packing (trying to fit everything wasn't as hard as trying to make sure our suitcases weren't too heavy. My carry on ended up being just full of candy pretty much) and leaving not only this amazing city, but this fantastic country. I was very apprehensive about the trip home, as the flight there had felt like torture, but coming home, though long was a lot more manageable.
It was nice to come home, but it didn't take long before we were missing it all terribly. I'm still constantly getting 'I miss Disneyland' pangs (nearly every week) and i want to be back in New York when it's warmer and Central Park is green! It was a fantastic holiday and there's no doubt in my mind that we'll be going back one day!