I wanted to do something fun and different to celebrate Gavin's 40th birthday and the idea of hosting a surprise party or hosting anything for that matter didn't sound like fun. I fail miserably at ever being known as the "the hostess with the mostest". So I chose to go with Plan B. A surprise vacation. I started planning it a few months before his birthday and I was sure he was on to me. He still swears he had no idea. I gave him this note 4 days before the trip---destination unknown and the only hint being the weather forecast.
He started asking lots of questions. And caught me off guard a few times. Like when he asked me if we should pack church clothes. I told him I forgot to ask Rae about that. Dead giveaway that we weren't going alone. We were so lucky to have Jeff and Rae along for the celebration!
New York has to be one of my favorite places in the world. We arrived just in time for all of the St. Patrick's Day festivities. Lots of tourists dressed in green, crazy outfits, drunk and stumbling around on the streets. We dropped off our bags at our hotel, The Affinia Shelbourne, and headed out to see the sights. Our hotel was just a few blocks from Grand Central Station.
Grand Central Station. The New Haven Line. I took this train every weekend when I was 18 and a nanny in Larchmont, NY.
We walked to Times Square and went directly to the TKTS booth to see what shows were available for the night. I'm still not sure how we decided on buying tickets to The Addam's Family but buy them we did.
New York is always busy but it was even busier with St. Paddy's celebrations. Police were on every corner and it was hard to walk through the town. We finally found a restaurant with some seating available and had some yummy sushi. Snowy Mountain. Yum!
I love Broadway! It's probably my favorite thing about New York. I really doubted our choice with this show. I've never watched The Addam's Family before and was ready to be disappointed. Sleepy, maybe, but not disappointed. It was really good and probably my favorite show that we saw while we were there.
We ended the night on the roof of our hotel with a an incredible view of the green Empire State Building behind us.
We started off the next day bright and early. That was the plan anyway. I don't think we made it out of our hotel before noon. Took the subway down to lower Manhattan with hopes of getting tickets for the ferry ride to Liberty Island.
This sphere was in the plaza between the WTC towers and was recovered after 9/11. It was moved to Battery Park as a temporary location. It stands there without any repairs and an eternal flame burns in front of it as a memorial to the victims of 9/11. Incredible and moving.
We waited in line for ferry tickets for over an hour and were told our chances of making the last ferry were slim. So we got tickets for another day and did what every tourist does. . . bought tickets for the double decker city bus tour. I have the worst luck with these tours. I seem to always choose the bus line with the fewest buses and bad tour guides. We all ended up with heat stroke after riding around on the bus under the top covered portion. 72 degrees in March! It was a beautiful, warm day! We took the tour around lower Manhattan and jumped off at Rockefeller Plaza.
We walked around the city. Touring Rockefeller plaza. Buying legos. Visiting St. Patrick's Cathedral. Enjoying all of the sights and people watching.
We eventually walked to the Empire State Building but didn't go to the top because that's what everyone does. Instead we just enjoyed the view from the sidewalk looking up.
Jeff and Rae found the view to be incredibly moving.
We did some modeling in front of the busy New York streets.
Looked for the Donald.
And ate some really yucky grass-fed beef hamburgers for dinner. Who knew the beef would taste completely different than typical corn-fed, steroid infested beef?
Serendipity's is a must stop. And stop we did. To take a picture and pretend like we waited 2 1/2 hours to get a frrrrrrrozen hot chocolate.
We got our chocolate fix at Dylan's Candy Bar instead. This candy store is amazing (that's for you Rae and your amazing sister-in-law)! It has everything you can remember from your childhood and more.
The big day. Gavin turned 40 years old and wanted to start off the day with breakfast at Pershing Square Cafe. Unfortunately it was closed. Hoping this wasn't a forecast of a disappointing birthday.
We made our way to Central Park and enjoyed the view. One day we might actually make it inside the park to ride the carousel, rent bikes or go for a horse drawn carriage ride. Not this day though.
We ate an over-priced brunch at Sarabeth's. Be sure to try the apricot sausage links if you make it to this chic restaurant. They taste a lot like grass-fed pork.
We celebrated Gavin's birthday with some more broadway. Spiderman. Turn Off The Dark. This show has had nothing but problems since it started. It was supposed to premiere on March 15th but it was pushed back again to June. They were offering ticket exchanges to come back and see it in June after it premieres but since we didn't think we would be back anytime soon, Rae worked her magic with the box office person and got our seats moved up to the very front of the orchestra. It was a fun show. Crazy stuff that they are trying to pull off. I loved the scenery and how it takes you into a comic strip. Spiderman and the Green Goblin fly all around the theater, right above your heads. Spiderman even got stuck one time and had to hang above our heads, doing some tricks while he waited for them to get him down. The music was different than typical Broadway shows. Very obvious that Bono and The Edge wrote all of the music. It will be good once they figure it all out. My boys would love it!
Everyone always comments that Gavin looks just like Tobey Maguire so it it was only fitting that Spiderman should see this show on his birthday. Gavin didn't know about this show until the morning of his birthday. So we just had to agree with him every time he mentioned Spiderman on Broadway and how it was a huge mess and the one show to avoid in NYC! He laughed so hard when he opened his birthday card from me and saw the tickets inside the card.
Birthday dinner at Bistango. They turned off the lights to bring Gavin his NY cheesecake and candle. My nanny family from New York joined us for Gavin's birthday dinner.
Can you believe the beautiful, tall, blonde girl standing next to me was only two years old when I was her nanny? And she still remembers the Mormon primary songs I used to sing to her? I'm So Glad When Daddy Comes Home and Popcorn Popping. Love this family!!!
I got home from the birthday dinner with just enough energy to drop into bed. The babysitter called while at dinner and Mia was sick and had a fever. She took her to the instacare and found out she had Influenza B. I had been sneezing the whole trip and was hoping I was allergic to the city but turned out I was getting sick, too. I spent the next 2 days in bed with a fever and popping Tamiflu.
I heard this part of the trip was only mildly fun since I was back in the hotel room, miserable and sick. They used the ferry tickets we bought a few days before and made it to Liberty and Ellis island. Then walked around Ground Zero.
Our last day was a cold one with snow and rain. Gavin, Jeff and Rae headed out early to get tickets to David Letterman and do some sight seeing.
This was Gavin's favorite part of the trip. The tour of Radio City Music Hall. He really liked the Rockette's or maybe it was the architecture. Not sure.
I finally made it out of the hotel and felt like such a big city girl. Walking around the streets of NYC by myself and finding my own cab and telling him to take me to the MOMA.
We spent the evening with Dave and his guest, Ben Stiller. Is it just me or is Dave not as funny as he used to be?
And just because we could, we saw one more show before ending our trip. Mamma Mia! If you've seen the movie, you've seen the broadway show. Donna's voice was amazing though and made it worth the money for me. And our usher was quite the little entertainer himself. I think he was flirting with some of the cast members while he danced his little heart out during the finale.
All in all it was an amazing vacation, influenza and all! And I think Gavin enjoyed celebrating his birthday in a surprise city. Happy 40th Birthday Gavin! I love you! xo.