It all started during the first year that Justin and I were dating. One day Justin mentioned to me how much he’d love to go to New York City someday. He’d never been, but he’d seen just about every documentary that exists on 9/11 and the NYFD’s response team on that fateful morning. As a firefighter himself, Justin felt a connection with his fellow brothers and always wanted to make the trip to the city to pay his respect. On a lighter note, I’d always wanted to go to New York City as Christmastime to see what we see in the movies: the window displays teeming with cotton snow, string lights, and bows of holly; the giant Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza; and the ice skating rink and holiday market in Central Park. Three years ago when trying to come up with a surprise for Justin for our “1 Year Anniversary” (sounds SO crazy to say that now because I thought one year was sooo long!!), I thought of New York.
My dad and sisters jumped on board and we decided to head up as a family two days before Christmas on December 23rd, 2010. Justin had NO idea where we were going! All I told him was to dress warm and be ready to leave the house by 4:00am!! Long story short, we had such an amazing time that first year that this NYC trip has turned into an annual Marcus family Christmas tradition. We’ve now started using a couch surfing site to book apartments in the city for one night so that we don’t have to rush around as much while we’re there to try and hit everything we want to see. Every year we always make sure to hit a few of our favorite spots as well as do at least one brand new thing. I took TONS of pictures earlier this week during our trip and I’ve been so excited to share them!! And I’ve saved some just exclusively for Facebook in an attempt to make myself upload an album there, too… because I only uploaded TWO albums from all of 2013 even though I took over 100,000 pictures! One of my goals in 2014 is to share my images a little differently and actually get some printed!! But I’ll stop rambling now and get to our pictures from this year’s New York City trip… our family’s fourth time going and a celebration of mine and Justin’s four year anniversary!
First stop when we get into the city… our favorite spot for a slice of authentic New York style thin crust pizza!
Pizza Suprema is just around the corner from Penn Station. A few years ago some guy actually spent a year eating at EVERY single last pizza spot in New York City, and Pizza Suprema was the only one with a perfect score! We picked our spot good!!
Then we wandered around Times Square while waiting to check into our Upper East Side apartment… notice that none of us are wearing peacoats/scarves/gloves… it was so WARM!!! Complete 180 from years past when we’re freezing our butts off! Justin may have been just a little upset about not being able to sip hot chocolate in his new peacoat and scarf he got for Christmas….
We met Ronnie right in the middle of Times Square. He works for HTC but he’s trying to make it in the entertainment industry. After taking our picture, he hopped in one with us… and then was so excited when he saw it because it had a “blurry background!” Haha!!
And then our picture was up in lights in Times Square. :)
The first day we didn’t do much this year. Our apartment was a little more out of the way than it has been in the past, so once we checked in, we kinda stuck around the Upper East Side area… we found an awesome burger place and called an early night (I know… how boring!). We were all just so tired from getting up so early, and half of us were sick with a cold :( Good thing we had this cozy little studio apartment to crash in!
The most awesome thing about this apartment spot was the dozens of really, really good places to eat all around it… the next morning we got up around 7am and ate breakfast at a wonderful little French cafe!
Upper East Side also has some REALLY cool looking apartment buildings!!
And here it is… our annual anniversary “kiss” picture ;) I love it!! Huge shout out to Justin’s cousin David for capturing it!
Then it was off to the nearest subway stop (four blocks away… a pretty good workout after that breakfast!) to head downtown to the World Trade Center memorial site.
I usually have our days planned down to the MINUTE. This year was a little different. We didn’t know we were for sure coming until about two weeks before, when finals were still going on and I was busy trying to scrape together Christmas gifts for everyone and make sure the tree was all decorated and the stockings were hung, etc. etc. So it turned out that we just had a lot of free time for the city this year, which didn’t really bother people! It was a very relaxing two days and Justin finally got to see the new WTC memorial, which was honestly a really touching sight to see.
St. Paul’s cathedral is right across the street from where the towers once stood. It now houses hundreds of pieces of memorabalia in remembrance of 9/11 and the weeks and months that followed. It’s also just a really beautiful historic church! I have to say, it was so crazy seeing all of the names and pictures of the people that lost their lives that day. It was so sad and it just made it all feel so much more real. While waiting in line for our tickets into the memorial site, the man in front of us turned around and asked where we were from. With tears in his eyes, he told us how he had been in the North Tower the night before the attacks but hadn’t gone into work the next morning. This tragedy, however controversial it is, affected so many people and wrecked havoc on so many lives. This world we live in is filled with so much evil. But we have to remember that there’s goodness, too… there were hundreds of people waiting in long lines to pay their respects at this memorial site. Rather than finishing last minute Christmas shopping or doing anything more cheerful, they were here, and it was really quite a touching experience.
Afterwards we headed back uptown to meet at the Rockefeller Center where every year we ride an elevator 67 stories up above the city to watch the skyline light up as the sun sets. It’s one of the highlights of every trip for me, and this year it was really warm!! We are usually crying from the cold wind stinging our eyes and have to push and shove through the crowds to get a good picture, but there was NO one up there this year…!! Must have been the rain showers we’d had off and on all day. But there wasn’t a single drop once we got to the top.
I’m breaking a minor blog rule here because these next two pictures are from my little digital camera :)
And then we got to eat really, really good sushi at Natsumi in Times Square thanks to a recommendation by one of my awesome clients!
And then…. even with our sore feet and tired muslces from running around the city all day… we stopped for a moment in Times Square to just take it all in. I could spend hours sitting in the middle of this intersection filled with flashing lights and bright, neon, LED screens and all the hustle and bustle of New York City…
And here’s a picture of clumsy Justin getting hurt because this blog post just wouldn’t be historically accurate without it. Also, David really wanted a picture in the middle of Times Square. I don’t blame him! ;)
Our last stop on the way back to the parking garage was Grand Central Station! We’d never stopped here and the movies just don’t do it justice… it’s so big and grandiose and the light is so warm! I loved it!!
Here’s to another memorable trip into the city… another year living and loving life with my best friend… and to many more NYC trips and anniversary celebrations to come!!