August 5, 2018

2018 Summer Vacation to New York City

2018 Summer Vacation to New York City
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 23, 2018

It was vacation time!  So we woke up at 4am, headed to the airport, and were on a morning flight to the Big Apple.

We thought it was pretty nice of the President to meet us at the airport to welcome us to the city.  Turns out he just parks his plane there.  Who knew?

A quick Uber ride from the airport to the Upper East Side and we arrived at our first hotel.  Looking out the window, I realized we weren't in Minnesota any more.

Another Uber ride to the Shake Shack and we connected with my sister, Tracy, and her family who came in town from Dallas to meet us for the vacation,  We were ready to get wild and crazy.

Eventually we wandered over to Times Square and I was just shocked at how many people there were in this city.  Most of my knowledge of NYC came from the Will Smith movie "I Am Legend" and in that the streets were really empty.

It's amazing how many songs there are about New York City that play through your mind when you are there.  Start Spreading the News...

My brother-in-law, Dave Mohar, has always wanted to be a street performer.  So when he was recruited by a group of them to be part of their show, he was more than happy to oblige.

We were excited to see Rockefeller Plaza, but I was very disappointed to discover that they don't keep the Christmas Tree up there year round.  I'm sure it's some kind of politically correct thing and I'm not sure if I agree with it.

Speaking of politically correct, we found out that we were in the same neighborhood as Trump Tower so we just had to stop in for a visit.  I was hoping there'd be some Russians there I could talk to and get in to some kind of controversy.

Unfortunately, we didn't see anyone we recognized in Trump Tower so instead we had one very expensive drink and left.  Just doesn't seem to be nearly as dramatic of a place as it is when I hear about it on the news.

It started raining, so we cut through Central Park to get to the restaurant where we were going.  It was a very pretty park and not at all like I was expecting it to be.  I would have had to have been immediately stabbed in the belly for it to be like what I was expecting it to be.

We ate dinner that night at Lady Gaga's restaurant, Joanne Trattoria's.  I was a bit disappointed when we arrived and our waitress was NOT Lady Gaga.  As a matter of fact, it was just an expensive Italian restaurant.  I don't know why we were all so excited to go to Lady Gaga's restaurant if she wasn't even going to be there.  They weren't even playing her music.  What a crock.

The next morning we woke up bright and early to get to the Subway.  Turns out, someone got sick on the subway so there was about a half hour delay.  Then we all had to squish into the car together because there were so many people.  I felt like a real New Yorker!

Eventually we arrived at One World Trade Center.  We were excited to go up the Skypod Elevator to the Observatory.

When we first arrived it was so cloudy, you couldn't see the top of the building and they wouldn't let us go up to the observatory because there was no visibility, thus nothing to observe.  So we went and had some New York style pizza and the sky cleared quite a bit so we could head on up.

The elevator ride up was amazing.  It showed videos on the screen with an animated New York City being built up through history.  Then when you get to the top, there are windows all around you where you can see the actual city.  It was pretty impressive.

Seeing the World Trade Central Memorial was pretty surreal.  I kept looking at the wave pools and then up to the massive building and imagining what it must have been like to be at this spot back in 2001 during that tragic event.  It still just blows my mind.

After we left One World Trade Center we headed to the boardwalk near the harbor.  According to my phone, we walked more than 11 miles on this day which probably explains why my back was killing me.  I'd be in such good shape if I lived in this city!

We debated going to the island to see the Statue of Liberty, but since we had limited time we thought it would just as fun to ride the Staten Island Ferry to see the statue and the city from the harbor.  I think it was a good call.

This was my first time seeing the Statue of Liberty in person.  Surprisingly, it looked a lot like the million pictures I've seen of it since birth.  I really thought it would look different in real life.  Like she'd be red or purple or something.

Eventually we found ourselves back on the Subway.  We wanted to go see Chinatown, Little Italy, and Soho next.

I probably should have asked more questions of what we were going to do in Chinatown.  Turns out, I'm not a big fan of the place.  If I ever find myself needing counterfeit handbags, wallets, and sunglasses, though, I know exactly where I will go!

The next day we went to see the Today Show being filmed and an NBC Studios Tour which I'm covering in a separate post.  Afterwards, we stopped at St. Patrick's Cathedral which was breath-taking.  

  We wanted to see The Plaza and ended up having lunch while we were there.  And that's all I have to say about that.

That night, we headed to Broadway to see Tina Fey's new play, Mean Girls.

It was a bunch of fun.  There were a lot more teen-age girls in the audience than I was expecting, but I guess that's my fault.  In hindsight, I really should have expected to see a lot of teen-age girls in the audience.  Those were probably the same people who loved the movie, Mean Girls.  Then again, I loved the movie Mean Girls and I'm not a teen-age girl, so I guess in the end it's all just really confusing.

After the show, we took another walk through Times Square and it was still really, really busy.  I'm wondering if it ever ends up as empty as it was in I Am Legend or if that movie was just full of lies.

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