Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New York - Work Hard, Play Harder

New York Round 2
Work Hard, Play Hard

I never dreamed I would get to go back to New York only two months after my first trip! The second visit was even better than the first. Even though both trips were for work, we worked until six with WORK HARD/PLAY HARDER mindsets.

Day 1
After checking in to the Hilton on the Avenue of the Americas, Emily and I went to dinner at Pazza Notte. It is an Italian restaurant and we both ordered fish (salmon and sea bass). Our entrees were delicious and the restaurant’s location is very convenient since it is only a block away from the Hilton. 

 After dinner we went to Times Square and then did some shopping on the Avenue of Americas.

 Ferris Wheel in Toys R Us on Times Square

Day 2
Day two got started with Starbucks. I’d be curious to find out how many Starbucks locations are in New York. We took a break from work and had lunch at Mangia on 57th Street. With lots of pastries and fresh foods, it makes for a great lunch break on a work day. When I think of Gossip Girl, I think of 3 things – New York, macaroons, and fashion. 

Tuesday night was Emily’s pick and she requested a French restaurant. We got reservations at Brasserie on 53rd. 

 We walked through Rockefeller Plaza and this time the ice skating rink was ready and Christmas decorations were already going up!


Day 3
Day three I woke up to another beautiful day in New York!!

 view from my room
 It was back to Starbucks, work, Pret for lunch, and TAO my FAVORITE for dinner. TAO is absolutely amazing. We had reservations at 7:30 but apparently the reservations only get you in the door. After a few drinks at the bar our table was ready. We ordered a variety of sushi (the smoked salmon was hands down the best) and saved room for the MASSIVE fortune cookie for dessert. We asked for three fortunes in our cookie. The fortune cookies are filled with white and dark chocolate mousse and are seriously the size of a dinner plate. 

some of the decor inside of TAO 

 our fortune cookie

Day three was also Wednesday, November 14th which meant it was the day the Christmas tree arrived in Rockefeller Plaza!! This year’s tree weighs 10 tons and although it won’t be lit until the 28th, it was amazing to see in person (scaffolding and all).
  80 feet tall, Norway spruce

watching as they were setting up the Today Show set for Hoda and Kathie Lee

Day 4
After work we grabbed a quick dinner at City Lobster & Steak before entering Radio City Music Hall to see the Christmas Spectacular with The Rockettes! Are there little girls that do not grow up dreaming of being a Rockette? I highly doubt it.
The show was even better than I could have imagined. This is the 85th year and as part of the show some of The Rockettes' outfits from over the years were incorporated. Not sure how they set off fireworks inside, but I promise even fireworks were included in the show. My favorite parts were the toy soldiers falling in slow motion and the WHOLE MANGER SCENE! Too often people take anything related to the Bible out of Christmas shows to prevent offending anyone. I thought so much more of the show after the manger scene with all the wise men and real animals. 
 I could go on and on about how amazing the show was and the inside of Radio City Music Hall, but I do not want to ruin it for anyone. It is something everyone should experience firsthand. I would love to go back and it was the perfect way to end our last night in The Big Apple!
 I do love a good chandelier.

My pictures from the actual show did not turn out very well, but I could not stop watching the show long enough to figure out my camera settings.

Day 5
Day five was all work and travel. I’ll end this post with our view at work. We really have a great view from our Birmingham Office, but it does not compete with the New York Office’s view of Central Park.

Until next time New York...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Charleston - Part 2

…Continued from Part 1

Day 3 – Since Chad and I are both runners, Chris recommended that we run over the Arthur Ravenal Jr. Bridge. Saturday morning we drove over the bridge, parked, ran 2.5 miles down one side, and then ran another 2.5 miles back. The bridge has a concrete wall separating runners and bikers from vehicles.

views on, of, and from the bridge
 I wanted to see one plantation while we were in Charleston. Since Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds recently got married at the Boone Hall Plantation and part of the movie The Notebook was filmed there, it was my first choice! On the way to the plantation, we had to stop and get Chad a "Saban Cake" (oatmeal pie) for his Alabama Game Day Tradition. We couldn't take a chance on Alabama losing due to him not eating an oatmeal pie.

Boone Hall Plantation

Once inside the plantation entrance, Chad and I stopped to take a picture on the Avenue of the Oaks. This is the road from The Notebook that (in the movie) leads to the old house Noah refinished for Allie.

The page of People Magazine showing how Blake and Ryan had the plantation decorated for their Wedding Day.
The Plantation House

Blake and Ryan's Reception Site -- I can definitely see why they wanted to use this venue. Too bad I wasn't invited.

We had a late lunch at Red’s Ice House in Mount Pleasant. This is a great, casual spot for an outside meal and/or place to watch football. We watched part of the Alabama game during lunch and then drove through Isle of the Palms. I enjoyed seeing some of the massive beach houses. I think this one was my favorite.

The back of Red’s Ice House

After taking a small break, we went into some of the local boutiques on King Street and then got ready for our last dinner in Charleston.

some of the King Street Shops
We were still stuffed from lunch and decided on sushi at O-Ku for dinner. We sat at the sushi bar, had Japanese beer, edamame and both smoked and Scottish salmon sashimi. The smoked was my top pick.
Our waitress gave us some recommendations on places nearby to grab a drink. We walked to a bar called Closed for Business. I loved the name and it was a small bar with a relaxed atmosphere but do not attempt to order a girlie drink there. The bar has lots of unique beers on tap and I actually ordered whisky! I tried some fireball whisky and oddly enough, I enjoyed it.

Day 4 – We woke up our last morning to run back through The Battery and along the coast. It was the same run from our first morning but I wanted pictures. It took everything in me to wake up that early, but I promise it was worth it!

The Battery
The sunrise on the coast
Rainbow Row

Five Unique and Random Things I Learned in Charleston:
1.     The difference between a graveyard and a cemetery. If it’s part of a church, then it is a graveyard; if it is out on its own, it is considered a cemetery.
2.     In Charleston, real estate located slightly north of Broad Street is referred to as SNOB and real estate south of broad is referred to as SOB. I believe this makes you a SNOB or a SOB. The houses slightly north of Broad are the houses towards The Battery and on the coast. They are all stunning!!
3.     The front doors on the houses don’t actually open to the inside of the houses. I didn’t even notice until one of our tour guides pointed this out, but the front doors actually open to the porches.
4.     The houses are narrow because the British were used to paying property taxes based on the amount of width their houses took up on the roads. When the British came to Charleston, they built their houses narrow even though they were not being taxed the same way.
5.     Houses built before a certain year cannot be altered without receiving a permit. It takes a long time to receive permission to make any changes and certain things such as the color of the house cannot be altered. You can add on to houses, but you cannot tear down any part of the home. 

In Summary
Our trip was amazing! If you have never been to Charleston then I highly recommend adding it to your list and going with a full appetite.