In case you’ve never heard me say it, I’ll repeat myself: we love New York. Even after all the places we have been in the world, Brennan and I always feel this tug back to New York. It’s our favorite city and we love any chance we have to visit.
We set out from Bangkok on November 8. Our hotel was already decorated for Christmas, so I made sure to snap a photo before we left. We made it to the airport, and saw these statues as we were checking in. I thought it was very funny how they looked with the giant masks on their faces. This statue has smaller faces on the back of the head and even the little faces had masks! At some point in the far future, I know it will be hard to believe how prevalent masks were everywhere, so I think it’s interesting to document things like this.
We flew on Thai Airways from Bangkok to London. Because that day was the celebration of loi krathong (the celebration with the floating wreaths we made in Phuket), there was a special dessert as part of the meal. Honestly, it didn’t taste great, but it was beautiful to look at! Our 12 hour flight felt long, but we landed safely in London and made our way to the hotel for the night. Because our time zones and body were so messed up at this point, we both fell asleep by 8:30 and slept all night.
We woke up the next morning to a bright, London day! While we didn’t actually go into the city, we did get to have a little bit of London culture by flying out of the Queen’s Terminal at London Heathrow. It took awhile to get through security, but then we enjoyed a little while in the fancy United lounge before heading to our plane.
I was very excited for this flight because of our seats! We were very lucky and able to fly United Polaris (which is United’s business class). We had never done this before, but had heard it was amazing. I really enjoyed the whole experience, as well as this adorable amenity kit! This tiny Away bag is the mini version of our suitcases, so it’s fun to have them in all different sizes now!
There was a beautiful sunset as we were landing, which I was able to see out the window of my seat. The sun set so early compared to what we were used to from Southeast Asia, along with the cold weather. It was a little shocking! We landed in Newark and got to our hotel in Jersey City easily.
In less than 48 hours, we crossed 12 time zones. This led to our bodies being very confused about what time we should be waking up and going to sleep. One positive of this was that we were able to get up and go for a walk early on Thursday morning and see the sunrise over Lower Manhattan. It was beautiful and definitely not something we would usually get to experience!
Brennan had an appointment early that afternoon, so we met for pizza at Bleeker Street Pizza when he was finished. This is my favorite pizza slice shop and it was just as good as I remembered. We spent a bit of time walking around in Manhattan before heading back to our hotel.
Our main event on Friday didn’t come until the evening. We made our way from the hotel in Jersey City through the Oculus at World Trade Center and found this light display for Veteran’s Day. It was very beautiful and a perfect tribute in this unique building.
Mike Birbiglia is one of our favorite stand up comedians and he has a one man show at Lincoln Center right now. It was so good. Watching people do things they are excellent at is such a powerful experience and this was a great way to spend our evening.
On Saturday, the weather was amazing. It was in the 70s and sunny, so we decided to make the most of it. We went to a bagel shop on the Upper West Side and ordered brunch. We sat on a bench by the Natural History Museum and watched people walk by while we were eating. It felt like a quintessential New York activity.
After finishing our bagels, we walked around Central Park. I was pleased to see there were still some leaves in the trees-we didn’t miss all of fall! The paths were covered in leaves too. It was so nice to wander around outside for awhile.
We tried something we have never done before this afternoon. Brennan wanted to walk around Central Park more and I wanted to go to the Met. So, we split up and spent a few hours on our own doing our own thing.
He walked 8 miles all around Central Park and listened to some podcasts. He said he had a great time.
I went into the Met and sat in the Ancient Egypt section (formerly known as the Sackler Wing). I was able to finish listening to Empire of Pain, a book all about The Sackler Family (who owns Perdue Pharma) in the wing of the Met they paid for and have since had their name removed from. This was an 18 hour audiobook I had been working on for a long time. It felt like quite an accomplishment to finish it! I also really enjoyed people watching in the museum and doing some wandering. I was there to listen to my book-it was a bonus to be surrounded by such impressive art!
That evening, once we met back up, we decided to go to a museum I had seen advertised on Instagram. RiseNY tells the story of New York and why it is such an important city in US history and culture. The museum was really well done and there were lots of areas with unique exhibits. I especially liked the part about television (where I was able to sit on the Friends couch) and the fashion section. What had originally drew us in was their advertisement of a "Soarin" (at Disney) type ride that flies over New York. Both parts of the museum were great and if you're looking for something different to do in NYC, this is a great option. We were there for about an hour and a half before heading out to get dinner and go back to the hotel.
We tried something different on Sunday! We found tickets to a show in Brooklyn and went to the most unique play we've ever seen. The show had a cast of 8 actors and it was in a theater with seats on either side of the "stage"-really just a blank area in the middle. We were given laser pointers when we walked in and throughout the show, there would be times where we had to point to help make a decision about where the story would go next. It was very creative, but also kind of a strange experience.
Afterward, we got a late lunch at a Canadian/Jewish deli. It was so, so good. We shared a pastrami and cheese sandwich and poutine fries. This warmed us up from the cold air outside!
On Monday, Brennan took a drop in improv class! He has talked about doing this for a long time and really enjoyed the experience! I'm so proud of him for trying new things and branching out, especially in New York.
We met up after his class finished at the Neue Gallery, right near Central Park. This small museum was basically one family's art collection, placed in a museum and opened to the public. The building was very beautiful, but they were very strict about not taking any photos inside. We were in and out of the museum in less than 30 minutes, so I'm glad we were able to access it for free with my Cultivist pass!
Tuesday morning was dominated by trying to get Taylor Swift tickets. It was quite a stressful experience and I spent a long time staring at an unmoving queue. I had to get ready to leave and my sister saved the day by logging in and getting us tickets!
Brennan and I made our way up to Midtown and into Rockefeller Center. We had requested and been granted Late Night with Seth Myers tickets, but I misread the time and we were very late joining the line. I was so frustrated and we almost didn’t go inside, but Brennan suggested we just go in and check to see if it was still available. It was and we were in the last 10 people who were able to join the live studio audience!
Once you are in the studio, you are not allowed to have your phone on, so I don’t have any pictures, but it was a very cool experience. We saw Quentin Tarantino, Emily Ratajkowski, and the writers of The Menu interviewed for that night’s show. There was an extra interview at the end with Bruce Springsteen that was an unannounced surprise! It was interesting to watch the behind the scenes production of the show, how professional everyone was, and notice in person who is a good interview and who isn’t. Brennan and I agreed that it was fun to see the show taped and we will do it again, hopefully with other shows!
After we left Rockefeller Center, it was raining/snowing and we walked to a restaurant we had found called Molyvos. It was a Greek place and we never would have found it without a deal Brennan had. The food was very good, as was the service. We enjoyed everything we ate (the hummus, tirokafteri, and tzatziki were especially good!) and it was a great spot to dodge the rain and eat dinner before heading back to the hotel to pack and get ready to leave the next day.
On Wednesday morning, I experienced my first New York City laundromat. I was nervous about going and figuring it out on my own, but felt very proud of myself once I had the laundry done and was headed back to the hotel. While I was doing our laundry, Brennan had to ship a box of things we didn't need back to Ohio (summer clothes weren't helpful anymore!). We packed up everything we had left in our backpacks and carry on bags and headed to the airport.
Europe and Christmas Markets, here we go!
We're Brennan & Megan
Since June 2022, we have been traveling to learn more about ourselves and the world around us.