Sunday, July 19, 2015

new york city trip 2015, day 1.

 Welcome to New York!

Our trip could not have come at a better time. After being unemployed for 4 months, I had finally landed a job and would be starting in a little over a week. Mere had also just received a new opportunity at work, so you can say our spirits were high while boarding the plane to NYC. Mere had never been before so this was another high priority trip for us. I was excited too, because it had been about 12 years since my first visit and I was ready for more exploring. We took an early flight on a Thursday morning to get there with plenty of time to hit the ground running. The weather was not looking too promising for Friday and Saturday, so we wanted to quickly cover as much as possible.

On the way to our hotel
So many good noms

After checking in to the hotel, we were starving. Guess what…there was a Shake Shack connected to our building!! Happy dance time! We had to try it and it was well worth the wait. My God, so tasty and amazing on an empty stomach. First item crossed off our list and on to the next, biking around Central Park.

Word of warning. We rented bikes from Central Park Bike Rentals, which has one confusing process. There are some dudes that do not look like they even work there, but get commission to set you up with bikes. They seemed to all be pissed at one another for stealing customers, or cutting in line. At least everything worked out, but it just seemed shady. Oh, and by the way, some of the bikes are just plain crap. Central Park is not flat, so it would be nice to have a bike that could actually change gears when shifting. I’m not asking for a race bike here, but some semi-frequent maintenance would have made my experience much much better. The park was amazing. Renting the bikes for one hour would be enough for most people to do the full loop and get an idea of the layout. If I did it again, I would probably rent them for two hours or more, to give enough time to check out some of the spots in further detail. 

After returning the bike, we headed down 5th Avenue on foot towards the
Empire State Building. Being a Thursday afternoon, I was hopeful that the line would not take the typical 3 hour, and luckily I was right. Mere was not thrilled to check it out, due to the horror stories she heard about the adventure taking up a good chunk of the day. It might have taken us all of 45 minutes of constant moving to make it to the 86th floor observation deck. I would recommend this to anyone to do at least once. It is magical to be outside looking down on such a magnificent city. The scale is just amazing, and almost impossible to comprehend through just pictures.  We also got tickets to go up to the tiny enclosed observation deck up in the spire on the 102nd floor. While it was cool, I’m not sure we would have done it again. The windows were pretty dirty from people pressing their face up against it, and it didn’t add much from the 82nd floor. 

St. Patrick's Cathedral
Rockefeller Center

82nd floor of the Empire State Building

After that experience, it was time for a break and a beer. There was a
Gingerman nearby, so we figured that would be a safe place to go park it for a bit. We had already walked and ridden countless miles and we didn’t want to completely kill our feet on the first day. It’s too bad we picked probably the worst time to hit the bars, being early Thursday evening just when everyone is out for happy hour. We got drinks, but had no place to sit. Since that got old real quick, we decided to head for dinner. Mere picked Vezzo in the nearby Kipp’s Bay neighborhood. It promised good pizza, and did not disappoint. We were seated pretty quickly, the service was good, and the Parma pizza was really tasty. Spoiler alert, it ended up being our favorite pizza of the trip. 

After dinner, we walked the two miles back to our hotel, but made a quick stop in Times Square to see it all lit up. As touristy as it is, it is still fun to see the colors and the energy. It had been one amazing day, but my God we were happy to get to the hotel room. It was one long day (with three more to come), and we both slept like babies. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

europe trip 2014, day 11.

The Marais: 1
The Krauses: 1

We are back to conquer the Marais! This is our last full day and we wanted to get as much done before our departure. First, we went to the Carnavalet Museum, and it was just amazing. This museum was free, there were no lines to fight, the collection was entertaining, and the museum itself was beautiful. For those not wanting to spend a day or two at the Louvre just trying to stick your head through the crowd to get a peek at a painting, check this one out.

“Behind this somewhat mysterious name is hidden one of the capital’s most genuinely Parisian museums. The oldest of the municipal museums tells the story of Paris from a bygone era (a prehistoric dugout canoe dating from 4600 BC) to the present day, in all its immense variety. Although it is essentially a history museum, the musée Carnavalet is nevertheless an art gallery exhibiting mostly original works in keeping with the spirit of the genius of Paris.”

We also lucked out and caught the Paris Freed, Paris Photographed, Paris Exhibited” exhibition, which documented the Paris resistance and liberation by the French armored division and Allies.  It might sound odd, but it is actually an exhibit celebrating an exhibit that was commissioned just a couple of months after the liberation of Paris. The goal was to assemble as much information as possible regarding the liberation, and the emotions surrounding the event. There were pictures and videos that ripped our hearts out, but also showed us the spirit of the Parisians through an extremely difficult time.   Mere hung in there like a champ, and even enjoyed the temporary exhibit. 

Notre-Dame de Paris Model

If I ever have to get a wheelchair...this is it.

After such an emotional couple of hours, it was time for Les Café des Chats. How could your spirits not be lifted with baguettes, cheese, and furballs? While a café with a bunch of cats hanging out might freak some people out, cat lovers think it is awesome. The staff was friendly, the cats were cute, and we even had one beggar watch us eat our meal…just like our cats would do. 

Our lunch surveyor

Next, we hiked it from the Marais all the way to the Musee d’Orsay. By the time we got there, it was already started to get close to closing time, so we had to make it quick. We saw the Monets, the Van Goghs, the Renoirs, and some really cool Art Nouveau furniture. It was worth the visit, but I wish we had more time to take it all in. 

More Invader sightings

The real Notre-Dame on our walk to Musee d"Orsay
We left the museum as it was closing and headed back towards Saint Germain to find a drink (of few) before dinner. While doing some people watching at a sidewalk bar, we decided our dinner plans. Being our last night in Paris, we picked up some sandwiches at Cosi and walked to the Eiffel. Eating dinner on the lawn was perfect. It doesn't get more romantic being there at night with the tower lit up, and the sparkling each hour. 

Shout out to my brother in law, Hank!

Views from our dinner spot.

Friday, May 8, 2015

europe trip 2014, day 10.

The Marais: 1
The Krauses: 0

Enter the Marais Death March

This is the story of our lost day in Paris. We took it slow this morning, partly because I was pretty beat from all the travel, but probably more due to our stubbornness about walking everywhere so far in Paris. Meredith went off and had her Carrie Bradshaw moment on the Champs-Elysees, while I was doing some research on our plan for the day. Being a Monday, I figured everything would be open. That turned out to be a silly mistake. We finally took a subway to the Marais. As we rose from the dark depths onto the sunny street, I was turned around. First, I head us in the wrong direction (which never happens no matter what Mere says). We get back on track, but I got my museums mixed up and took us to the one I didn't want to see. That one is on me. Then, I decided to take her by Pretty Box, which is a cool store I thought she would love. It was cool for sure, but small and over priced for our taste. Next, I head us to the Carnavalet museum. This was my crown jewel. It's free, and it promised many paintings and antiques that sparked my interest. We arrive at the destination, me beaming, and Mere not looking forward to being in another museum. Bad news, it's closed on Monday. Son of a Marais! Aha, the day is not all lost. There is the cat cafe just down the block. How could we sweat a waste of 4 hours while hanging out with cats and drinking coffee? Not this couple. Somehow, I managed to probably triple the distance of our walk. I am blaming this on the Bermuda Triangle that is the Marais....definitely not my fault. We arrive, ready to pet as many cats as they will let us. Bad news strikes us down, and we basically cry in the streets. In a scheme with the museum, they are also closed on Mondays. At this point, I park Meredith at a cafe to take a break from my failures, and I check out the Centre George Pompidou. I dared not to go in for fear that I would get stuck (or lost) and leave Meredith much longer than anticipated. I took a bunch of pictures, and hung out for a bit by the Fountaine Stravinsky checking out the street art. Not appreciated by all, I still think the Pompidou is a fascinating building.

Kate Moss sighting

We decided to go back to Saint Germain, the savior of our day. We found a nice little side walk cafe and had a few drinks to drown our sorrows. I even let Mere purchase some cigarettes so that we could fight fire with fire coming from the surrounding tables. Neither of us are smokers, but when in Paris! That might be a true saying. We probably spent a few hours at that table, just people watching and talking about our trip. It ended up turning into a fun night, and that was much needed. We vowed to scrap our next day plans and battle the Marais again. We will win next time.  At least we were rewarded with this view on our walk back to the hotel.