NYC Part 4: 9/11 Memorial, A Broadway Show, and More!

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I spent a long weekend in NYC. You can read about Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.

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We slept in a bit on Sunday morning, knowing we’d need to be well-rested for another day of trekking around the city. We took the subway from Queens to downtown Manhattan so that we could visit the 9/11 memorial. On the site of the twin towers, there is now a single, functional skyscraper, a memorial museum, and two enormous, sunken waterfall pools. The pools are covered in the names of all of those who lost their lives during the attack in 2001. It wasn’t easy to see those huge memorials completely covered in names. The site is beautiful, but there’s something haunting about it.

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The Grand Central terminal was next on our list, so after a quiet and reflective morning, we headed back up to midtown. Grand Central is one of those very New York things you just have to see when you visit the city. We walked around for awhile, taking in the mural on the ceiling, the huge market downstairs, and of course, taking advantage of free public bathrooms.

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We met my cousin for lunch at a tiny (TINY) little pizza place called Patzeria Perfect Pizza on W 46th. She took the train in from New Haven that morning so we could spend the rest of the day together! The pizza place was so cramped, I’ve been in delivery-only pizza places with no dining room that had more space. But it was warm, cheap, and the pizza was really good. We managed to snag some tight seats on high stools at the table along the wall.

While we ate, we talked about our plans for the day. Holly (my cousin) and I wanted to see a matinee of a Broadway show. David was encouraged to come along, but insisted that he didn’t want to come. Holly and I had hoped to see Come From Away, but it was sold out. We talked about several different shows, but we both love theatre and would really be happy with anything. We settled on Once On This Island.

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After we finished our pizza, we headed back into the cold and over a few blocks to the Circle in the Square theatre, where we got tickets for the 3PM show. Knowing that left us at least an hour to kill, the three of us decided to just walk around. We went to Rockefeller center and watched people ice-skate, passed by the NBC building and Radio City Music Hall, just enjoying being in New York and catching up with Holly. By 2:15 we made our way back to the theatre, knowing the doors would open around 2:30PM.

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Holly and I said goodbye to David (who planned to see the NY Stock Exchange and explore the financial district) and headed into the theatre when the doors opened. Crowds of people swarmed into the warm lobby, showed their tickets, had their bags peeked in, and all headed to the restrooms on the bottom floor, as there’s no intermission. On our way back up, we had our pictures taken at this cheesy but super fun red-carpet style backdrop. We showed our tickets again, found our seats, and waited for the show to begin!

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Read about our experience with the show, fun with the alleged coolest bathrooms in NYC, and more in my next NYC post! Did you enjoy this post? Have you visited New York before? Did you see a show? What is your favorite musical? Tell me about it in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

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NYC Part 3: Evening in Manhattan

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I spent a long weekend in NYC. You can read about Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

After spending most of the day in Brooklyn, we took the Q train back into Manhattan. We had dinner plans with a friend of David’s on the Upper East Side that evening, but knew we had a little time to kill first, so we got off in Midtown Manhattan. I wanted David to see Times Square for the first time.

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We got off the subway at the Times Square station. I looked around the part of the city I was most familiar with and felt that deep, uniquely New York energy. Together with about a billion of our closest friends, we walked around Times Square. On a Saturday evening. Even in March it was ridiculously crowded. David said it reminded him of India, but was not as crowded or as hot (but he was in India in July and New York in March). We stopped into H&M (one of his favorite stores, because it’s Swedish) and looked around for a while.

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We went to the Disney Store which was insanely packed, even for the Disney store. I, of course, wanted to buy every princess item in the store, but walked out empty-handed. Next we visited the M&M store where, again, I wanted to buy everything in sight but, again, restrained myself. It’s like $8 for a magnet and $30 for a T-shirt and I’m not made of money. It’s so tourist-y, but God, I love Midtown. David wasn’t impressed though. He said it was like “any other big city.” Sigh.

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We took the subway uptown to the Upper East Side. We found our way to a little cafe called Alice’s Tea Cup to meet a friend of David’s. It is a cute little Alice In Wonderland themed tea shop, and they also offer sandwiches, soups, and salads. The food was good, but a little on the pricey side. I had a grilled cheese with vegetables on regular pre-sliced loaf bread and it was like $20. There’s no tipping, but still, it was a bit too expensive for what it was. I guess that’s New York for ya.

David and his friend split a pot of chocolate chai tea. I have never liked tea. I’ve tried it hot, I’ve tried it iced, I’ve tried it sweet, I’ve tried it with milk, I just do not like tea. They offered me some, but I had just a sip of David’s. It was pretty good, which is a huge endorsement from me because, as I said, I do not like tea.

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After dinner we headed down to the Village near NYU. We took tourist-y photos in Washington Square Park, then went to a bar called “Fat Black Pussycat” which is above The Comedy Cellar. We showed our ID’s at the door (the only time we were carded in NYC, surprisingly), then stood at the bar with a few beers.

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We chatted and drank for a while before David said “Is that that dude from 30 Rock? Frank?” We looked over to the table he indicated. In the dark bar, we weren’t sure, but it sure looked like him. “The one with the hats?” David’s friend asked. “Yeah, him…Judah Friedlander?” David answered. David’s friend suggested that perhaps he was performing at The Comedy Cellar downstairs. We checked it out, and it was totally him. (Getting excited over seeing a B-list celebrity in “the wild,” check).  Also, they had a Polish Beatles poster!

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We finished our beers, walked around the Village for a while, then headed back towards Queens. David’s friend was very concerned we’d get lost, but we didn’t. We ended up back in our Airbnb without incident.

Read about our adventures at the 9/11 memorial, Broadway, and more in my next NYC post! Did you enjoy this post? Have you visited New York before? Did you have a celebrity sighting? Tell me about it in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

1 Year of Blogging!

Wow. My blogging journey began in April of 2017, 1 year ago. I’ve made about 52 posts since then (1 per week) about everything from traveling to cooking to buying gifts for hard-to-shop-for relatives to science. It has made me realize that my calling is to write. I have a blog full of posts and a journal full of mundane day-to-day activities, poems, short stories, novel ideas; I’ve found my mind to be an endless tap of creativity. I love exercising that creativity and sharing it with all of you!

Moving forward I’m excited to share more personal posts, more travel guides, and some different themes. I won’t say too much here, but some new content will be launching soon, so keep an eye out and look forward to more posts!

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I’ve loved having guest posts from David, who can share so many unique travel experiences and bring diversity to my blog. If anyone else is interested in writing a guest post, please share your ideas with me; I’d love to have you.

My top posts from the past year have been:

  1. Travel Mistakes I Made (So You Don’t Have to)
  2. Destination: Montreal, QB, Canada
  3. 6 Tips for Packing Light
  4. Spontaneous Beach Trip
  5. Vegetarian Mexican Pizza

I will keep trying to bring you content like this, but I’d love to hear your feedback, too. What have you liked so far? What were your favorite specific posts or types of posts? Do you want to see more destination guides? More personal travel journals? Recipes? Science topics? Let me know in the comments, and a million thank yous for sticking with me for a whole year! You’re the best!

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NYC Part 2: Morning in Little Odessa & Afternoon in Coney Island

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I spent a long weekend in NYC. You can read about Day 1 here.

On day 2, Saturday, we were ready to brave the subway. We’ve both traveled to cities with metro systems, together and independently, so despite coming from NC where people will clutch onto their giant pickup trucks in a cloud of smog before they use public transport, we were both familiar with the concept. However, New York City’s subway system is confusing as hell. There are a million lines, some of them are numbered, some lettered, all of them are colored, but there are multiple green lines, for example, so that’s not helpful. Thank God for Google Maps.

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We walked about 15 minutes to the subway station nearest to our Airbnb, then took the R train from Astoria, Queens into Manhattan, and the Q train all the way down through Brooklyn. Our stop was Brighton Beach also known as Little Odessa. Little Odessa is home to many Eastern European immigrants, especially those from Russia and Ukraine.

If someone had said to me “imagine a cross between Eastern Europe and New York City” I would’ve pictured Little Odessa, even before going there. We walked up and down the main street, under the raised train tracks. A variety of Slavic languages swirled around us; I didn’t hear anyone speaking English. There were tons of little convenience stores, delis, and shops. We went into a “department store” that was essentially an Eastern European style Walmart. David observed that it reminded him of similar stores in Serbia. They sold everything from underwear to kitchen appliances to pharmacy items and everything was very cheap by NYC standards.

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Next we stopped in a bookstore. They sold English books in Russian, Russian books in English, kid’s books, romance novels, adventure stories, language books, and Russian cultural books. David definitely enjoyed it more than I did, considering he speaks some Russian.

We left the bookstore in hopes of finding a good lunch spot. Many of the restaurants looked amazing, but were sit down and we didn’t really have the time or money for that. Others had folks lined up down the sidewalk, but didn’t have a dining room. Did I mention it was 40F and windy the entire weekend? We aren’t Russian, and I can’t quite enjoy eating outside in the cold wind. We finally found a little corner restaurant selling 2 slices of pizza and a soda for $5. Sold. The store owners seemed to be Russian, even though the food wasn’t.

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After walking around a bit more, we hopped back on the train to Coney Island (we totally could’ve walked, but woulda coulda shoulda, eh?). Since it was March, none of the rides were operating. Many of the shops and arcades were closed. It was a really cool way to experience an iconic piece of Americana.

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We visited one of the few shops that was open, a candy store. They sold all kinds of novelty candy; giant boxes of cereal marshmallows, giant gummy bears, a huge variety jelly beans and gummies, Harry Potter themed candy, alcohol themed candy, and a bunch more. We had fun looking around before stepping back into the wind. There was a cute cafe/restaurant down the street with great views of the still amusement park rides. David got a macchiato and I had a hot chocolate (I’m a kid at heart, what can I say?). We enjoyed our hot drinks and people-watched for a while.

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We had dinner plans with a friend of David’s in Manhattan that evening, so after finishing our drinks we went back to the train, which we road from Brooklyn back to Midtown Manhattan, so that David could see Times Square for the first time.

Read about our adventures in Times Square, the upper east side, and the village in my next NYC post! (4/22/18 update: see part 4 now!) Did you enjoy this post? Have you visited NYC before? What’s your favorite neighborhood? Did you brave the subway? Tell me about it in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Weekend in NYC! Part 1: Getting There and Day 1 in Queens

This past weekend, my husband and I visited the Big Apple.  NYC.  New York.  THE City.  Is it obvious yet that New York is my absolute favorite city?  I’ve been about 5 times before this trip, and I would go again in a heartbeat. (Anyone want to buy me a plane ticket for next weekend….?)

A few weeks ago I was looking up cheap airline tickets, just for fun.  David and I had been hoping to do something for spring break, but all of our other plans had fallen through, and besides, we had different breaks (mine was last week and his is this week).  I looked just out of boredom, hoping to get an idea of what we could do for our next trip.  The site required me to put in dates, a departing airport, and a destination.  I picked our local airport and NYC, any airport, just to get an idea of the price point.  For 2 people, round trip, 2 weeks in advance it was $420, including fees.  We booked it 2 days later.

We were going to New York!! I was giddy for the two weeks while we last-minute planned our long weekend.  We booked an Airbnb for Friday-Monday, I asked off work for Monday, and we got in touch with friends and family in the area.  We each made a list of things we wanted to do/see and tried to match them up the best we could, knowing we would barely be able to get a taste of NYC in a single weekend, albeit a long one.  Our flights were early Friday morning and late Monday evening, giving us *almost* 4 full days.

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Friday morning we woke up at 3:30AM to get to the airport by 4:30 for our 5:50AM flight with a layover in DC.  Unfortunately, even in the urban areas of central NC there are a grand total of ZERO Ubers or Lyfts at 4AM on a Friday morning.  ZERO.  We scrambled to drive to the airport, knowing we’d have to pay out the ass to park at the airport all weekend, also knowing we had no choice.

So we threw our backpacks in the car and drove to the airport.  We got through the surprisingly long line at security and to our gate, boarding exactly on time.  We then waited in the plane for two hours for American Airlines to get themselves together.  We finally took off, late, and arrived right when our connecting flight was leaving Ronald Reagan for LaGuardia.  Fabulous. 21 people on our flight were supposed to be on that connection and I must say American did nothing to help us other than quietly assign us to a new flight, which no one could access full information on.  The full story is a different story for a different day, but lemme just say #DisappointedAmericanAirlines

We finally got on the right plane, took off, and arrived at LaGuardia.  NEW YORK CITY, BABY!!

NYC at 9AM on a Friday is crawling with Lyfts and Ubers, so we had no problem getting a Lyft from the airport to the Airbnb to drop off our bags.  Then it was on to the adventure.  We weren’t quite ready to brave the NYC subway system, so we took an Uber (Uber has shared rides in NYC, which are cheaper.  Bring that to NC please!) to Jackson Heights, Queens, where there is a South Asian neighborhood and an AMAZING dosa restaurant, Dosa Delight.  I knew about the place because 4 or 5 summers ago I went there with my cousin, Holly.  We walked around the neighborhood for about 30-45 minutes, taking in the atmosphere and the culture.  Different languages swirled around us, and different people surrounded us on the streets.  We visited a couple of shops, just window shopping and killing time until the restaurant opened for lunch.

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We split an order of samosas, followed by different kinds of dosa.  David, of course, ordered like a pro, having spent last summer in India.  I stumbled through ordering something that I hoped wasn’t ridiculously spicy, but would still be authentic.  The samosas and dosa were amazing, and I would absolutely go back a third (and fourth and fifth…) time.

We ubered back to the Airbnb and crashed (we’d been up since 3:30AM!) until dinner time.  We were sick of paying for ubers and lyfts, and weren’t quite ready to brave the subway system at night, so we looked for food near us.  We were in Astoria, Queens, in a mostly residential area, but there were a few restaurants near us.  We found a pub in walking distance that looked reasonably priced and headed out, already starving again.

Dillingers Pub and Grill was about a block away.  It had a nice casual atmosphere, especially at 6PM.  They were playing pop music from about 2000-2010, so I knew basically every song.  It was a nice, nostalgic pick.  The food was great pub food; David had a burger while I enjoyed a buffalo chicken sandwich.  He got a beer and I had their rum punch, which was on special for $5.  The whole experience was very enjoyable, and we went home full and happy, but totally ready to shower and go to bed early.  We knew we had a big day ahead of us in Manhattan and Brooklyn!

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Look out for future posts on the rest of our trip!  I can’t wait to share the full story with you.  (4/22/18 update: see part 2, part 3, and part 4 now!) Have you been to NYC? What were your experiences there?  What’s your favorite city in the US?  The world?  Let me know in the comments below!  Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this.

Photo Dump! Tikal, Guatemala.

Hello, Globetrotters!

My life is still balancing out; we found a car, but I’ve been sick all week, and found myself behind on homework.  I am working hard to bring you all great content in the coming months!

For this post I wanted to share with you photos from my recent trip to the historic site, Tikal, in Guatemala.  Located in a National park, Tikal is the ruins of an ancient Mayan city, thought to have been called Yax Mutal by the Mayan people.   It is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization.  Keep an eye out for a Destination post with cool tips for traveling to Tikal!  For now, enjoy my travel photos.

-The Globetrotting Scientist

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The ancient Mayans studied astronomy.  They calculated the position of the sun based on the time of year.  The celebrated the Fall and Spring Equinox and the Summer and Winter Solstice.

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They built some of their temples and monuments based on the position of the sun at certain times of year.

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They used some structures to observe the stars.

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Today we have an amazing view of the rain forest.

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The entire site made up a large city in ancient Mayan times.  It was abandoned when the Spanish conquistadors began their conquest of Latin America.

20171215_132418 Much of the city hasn’t been excavated, due to the risk of erosion and high cost of maintenance. However, the city center (pictured above and below) has been mostly restored.

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The city was built by hand, on the backs of the lower-class workers.

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They did not use pack animals, so every stone was carried by humans.

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The average life expectancy of a lower class Mayan was 25-30 years, due to the nature of this hard labor.

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Today many Guatemalans have incorporated their historical Mayan culture into Catholicism.  When we visited, many locals were gathering to celebrate.

Did you enjoy this post?  Have you visited Guatemala before?  What about Tikal?  Tell me about it in the comments below!  Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Weekly posts

Hello, Globetrotters!

I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe in the winter weather that hit the southeast this week. I sincerely apologize for not adhering to my usual weekly post on Sundays. Right around the new year I began to have issues with my car and have spent basically every free moment searching for a new one. Hopefully I will find one soon and life will balance out a bit. I look forward to getting back on schedule ASAP.

Have a wonderful weekend!

The Globetrotting Scientist