Saturday, January 3, 2015

Saturday Thoughts: NYC Edition Part II

It's been a week since I got back from New York City and I'm finally catching up on sleep.  I really enjoyed my time there and I wish I could live there.  Maybe someday.  Anyway, here is what we did on the second day of our trip!

The main goal for Saturday was to go to the American Museum of Natural History.  We considered going to a Broadway show for our main "thing," but they are expensive and there wasn't anything I was dying to see, but I definitely wanted to see the museum.  It's located in Central Park West and was only about a 10 minute train ride from our hotel.

As soon as we walked in I was in awe of how big it was.  I knew it was a giant museum, but I'd never been to one as large as this one.  The line for tickets was surprisingly short, considering the crowd inside of the lobby.  The museum has "suggested" admission prices and we paid the full $27 suggested price for adults (it's normally $22, but we also opted to see one of the special exhibits) because it must cost a ton to keep a museum like this running.

I feel like I need to reiterate how enormous this museum is for anyone who has never been!  There are four floors and tons of different wings.  The first one we walked through was the Akeley Hall of African Mammals, which seemed to the first one everyone walked through because it was closest to the admission gates.  It was incredibly warm inside, so we walked through quickly and went to the upper level, which was a bit less crowded.  Two of the animals were donated by George Eastman, who lived here in Rochester and started the Kodak company.

Here's a photo of Eastman's donated Klipspringers.  He was a big game hunter, so I wouldn't be surprised if he killed these himself (not that they're big game, but he did go to Africa on hunting trips).  He also donated a Water Buffalo.

I loved looking through all of the animal exhibits because they were all put together really nicely.  Each animal was set in their natural habitat and there were tons of little details included to make it just right.  We also walked through the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals, the Hall of Asian Mammals, the Hall of New York State Mammals, the Hall of Primates, and the Hall of Small Mammals.

We paid $5 extra each to see the Nature's Fury: The Science of Natural Disasters exhibition.  It was really interesting and I liked it because it's not a topic I know a lot about.  They had displays for hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes.  The photo above is of real wreckage from the first-ever recorded EF5 tornado that ripped through Greensburg, Kansas in 2007.  The whole town was leveled, and it was kind of eerie to see the items from the wreckage.

One of my favorite exhibits was the Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples.  We only ended up walking through this and the Hall of Eastern Woodland Indians from the "Human Origins and Culture Halls" collection because after three hours of walking around we were tired!  This hall was so cool, though, and I loved seeing all of the masks and other cultural artifacts from these peoples.

Then, of course, we had to see the dinosaurs!  There are two dinosaur halls: the Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs, and the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs.  We almost missed the Saurischian ones!  These were two of the busiest halls, as you can imagine, but it was well worth battling the crowds.  I also liked that the rooms were well-lit with natural light, since the animal exhibits were all dark.

We also walked through the Paul and Irma Milstein Hall of Advanced Mammals and the Hall of Primitive Mammals.  These were interesting, but not as exciting to me as the dinosaurs.  Since all of the displays are fossils and skeletons, it was hard for me to imagine what the animals looked like (even though they had drawings of them near the displays).  I preferred seeing the taxidermy animals in the other halls.

The other halls we looked at were the Hall of Birds of the World, Leonard C. Sanford Hall of North American Birds, Hall of Reptiles and Amphibians, David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth, Harriet and Robert Helibrunn Cosmic Pathway, and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Hall of the Universe.  Pete really enjoyed the space parts because he's into physics and astronomy.  I wanted to see the Hall of North American Forests and the Irma and Paul Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life, but there was a huge line for the ocean life room and we didn't feel like walking to the forests one.  You can learn about all of the permanent halls here.

After being on our feet for three hours we were tired and hungry!  There were a few food carts lined up outside of the museum, but we weren't in the mood for fried food.  We walked a few feet into Central Park to explore that but then we realized we didn't want to walk anymore, either, so we took the train to one of the places I really wanted to try: Momofuku Milk Bar!  We went to their Upper West Side location and got some cookies and cookie mix.  I had gotten their Cornflake-Chocolate Chip-Marshmallow Cookie Mix in my Home Sweet Homespun Birchbox and they were so good that I wanted to visit the shop in person and get more.  They actually had only one tin of the Cornflake mix left (thankfully!), and I also picked up a Confetti Cookie Mix.  The shop itself was small, but they had a bunch of desserts in the window for you to choose from.

I considered trying the B'Day Truffle, and the Birthday Cake in the upper-right hand corner of the photo was calling my name, too.  Their cakes cost something like $40 though (I think), so we decided on some cookies instead.

Pete got a Chocolate Chocolate Cookie and I wanted to try their Compost Cookie; it has tons of stuff in it like potato chips and pretzels and butterscotch chips.  The woman at the counter told us that it would be a better deal if we got three, so I got a Cornflake-Chocolate Chip-Marshmallow one as well.  All three were really delicious, but I preferred the Cornflake over the Compost.

I know this is a long post, but we managed to pack a lot of things into our second day!  Thanks for bearing with me.  After the museum and Milk Bar we headed back to the hotel to get off of our feet and to just relax.  ABC Family was showing the Harry Potter movies so I watched one of those while Pete took a nap.  After relaxing for a while, we headed out to The Smith for dinner.  You can find a restaurant on every corner in New York, but I had a specific type in mind.  I wanted something that wasn't too fancy but that was still nice and had delicious comfort food.  I stumbled upon The Smith while doing some online research before the trip, and I'm so glad I found it!  The food was fantastic and the ambiance was nice but relaxed.  We ordered the mac and cheese for an appetizer, but it very well could have just been an entree on its own.  As you can see from the photo above, it was so cheesy and delicious!  I also ordered the Cavatelli, which came in a 10-hour short rib ragu sauce with mascarpone cheese, and Pete ordered a steak.  Both of us were very pleased with our dishes.

Can you tell that we love food?  I knew going into the trip that I would be spending most of my money on meals and snacks.  My friend Linze told me that I had to try pinkberry, and there was one a few blocks from The Smith so we walked down to it.  There are plenty of frozen yogurt places here in Rochester, too, but I know pinkberry is very famous for their yogurt.

I got the Salted Caramel and Pete got Cookies and Cream and both were fantastic.  I loved how full of flavor mine was, and the toppings were perfect.  I'm glad we got to try it!

Since this was our last night in the city, we really wanted to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center lit up.  It was about a 15 minute walk, but it made more sense to just walk than to get on the subway again.  I loved seeing all of the buildings lit up.  Unfortunately, once we got to Fifth Ave it was crazy busy.  I guess I should have assumed it would be, but I was taken aback by how many people there were.  We had to just hold hands so we didn't lose each other and push through the crowds!

A lot of people were lined up to see the light show at Saks Fifth Ave.  I had known about it but forgot that it existed until we got here and I realized what was going on.  It was cute and fun, but not worth almost getting trampled for.  In the photo above the show isn't playing yet, but you can see it in this YouTube video.

Finally, the tree!  It really is a huge tree, and it looked so cool in front of the Rockefeller Center building.  We weren't able to get super close to it, but considering the crowds I wasn't that interested in pushing through people just to get that close.  We were able to admire it from a decent distance.  After we saw it I wanted to go inside of Saks, knowing full well I was just browsing.  They had 60% off sales going on, but even with the discount it was way more expensive than anything I could afford.  It was fun looking through, though.

Originally we had planned on heading back to the hotel after seeing the tree, but Pete looked up FAO Schwarz and it was just a little bit further down Fifth Ave, so we decided to go.  I liked it a lot better than the Toys R Us!  They had a huge floor of candy so I filled up a Chinese take-out style container for $20, and Pete got giant Reese's Cups for his friend.  All together the candy cost us $58 (I know, we are ridiculous!).  But hey, it's New York!

There was a really cute Bunnies By the Bay display, which is a brand I know of through social media.  I don't have any kids so I don't have a reason to buy anything from their line, but if I have the need in the future I'll definitely be getting some things from their online store!

There was also this enormous Pinkie Pie My Little Pony.  It didn't have a price tag on it, but I'm guessing it cost at least $200.

Oy, so that's pretty much everything we did during our second day and night in NYC.  Our flight left at noon the next day, so we were up and out and at LaGuardia at around 9:30 the next morning.  I'm kind of tired all over again just thinking about everything we crammed into those two days, but I'm glad we did it.  It was a ton of fun and I got to see pretty much everything I had wanted to see.  The next time we go I think I want to hit up some of the more "tourist-y" places, like Central Park.  I had wanted to see the High Line and the World Trade Center memorial, but we just didn't have time.  But there will be a next time!  Thanks for reading!

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