Looking back: NYC, Part II.

Howdy! Okay, I’ve still got so much to tell you about my NYC trip – I hope you are enjoying the recap.

On Thursday morning, I’ll admit I was feeling REALLY sore from all of the walking I’d done already in the city. Between Tuesday and Wednesday, I’d walked 15 miles (according to my phone), which is much more than I would have walked on a normal few days.

I grabbed a quick breakfast and needed to get to Central Park – I was going to walk around for a little bit and then I had reservations for Afternoon Tea at The Palm Court inside the Plaza Hotel.

However, tea required a dress code, which had me in heeled booties in Central Park. I took a Lyft the two miles to get there – which took an hour – and I only walked around a little bit (just enough to get a feel for the Park) before getting to my reservation.

I have always dreamed of having Tea at the Plaza, and this was sort of the big treat to myself. Well, really the entire trip was a treat to myself, but, this was the big ta-da.

I went for the Holiday Champagne Tea, which included a glass of Veuve Clicquot Brut, a pot of tea (I got to choose the tea and I went with an Earl Grey), and all the treats you could imagine: from caviar and lobster to smoked salmon and prime rib! There were scones, cakes, and a macaron with gold leaf. It was delish!

I was sitting next to two ladies who seemed to be lifelong friends. I took their picture for them, and they took one of me. Coincidentally, one of the ladies had a child that graduated from the University of Texas at Austin!

I’m certain that nothing I say can do this experience justice – the inside of The Plaza and The Palm Court is so beautiful. The service was also impeccable! They do a really great job of keeping things classy, but not being pretentious, and they certainly didn’t rush me out. I stayed until I ate EVERYTHING on my treat tower, and they even offered to give me more hot water for my tea after I drank the entire pot!

From there, I walked the two miles back to my hotel and got to see several of the holiday windows along the way. When I got back, I took a short nap, changed my shoes, and then I headed out to find the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, where I had a ticket to see “The Book of Mormon”!

I was early, so I stopped in a bodega for a snack and a seat (I know I sound incredibly out-of-shape, but my feet and knees were really sore).

Next, I headed to the show. I knew the overall plot of “The Book of Mormon”, but wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Given that it’s written by the same folks who write “South Park”, I knew it would be funny.

It was really funny – the sort of funny where you feel sort of guilty for laughing about it!

After the show, I went in search of some proper Ramen noodles. I ended on 2nd avenue, at Totto Ramen, which is essentially underground. I’m marking this as my “Anthony Bourdain” moment of the trip. It was cash only, and it was so small, everyone had to wait outside and write their orders on a paper list.

Once I got inside, it was really just counter seating, very loud trap music, and the chefs doing their thing. They asked no questions and simply placed my order in front of me when it was ready. I got the spicy veggie ramen with a boiled egg and fried garlic. Yummmmm….

Another great day in the city!

Friday was my last FULL day and I had a packed schedule. I wanted to take the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. The ferry doesn’t go to Liberty Island, but it’s one of the best views of the statue you can get – plus, the ferry is free!

The subway goes right to Whitehall Ferry Station and I’m 99% sure I’ve never taken a ferry because I was shocked to see how big it was! I believe I grabbed the 8:30 am Ferry and it was a smooth 25 minute ride – and it really is a great view of Lady Liberty. I still don’t think I can fully fathom how tall the statue is.

I basically walked off the ferry and then right back on for the 9 am ride. I got right back on the subway and headed to Union Square Park to see it, and I wanted to check out the Union Square Holiday Market, but it didn’t open until 11.

So, I stopped into Max Brenner – a renowned chocolatier – and enjoyed a very rich, thick peanut butter hot chocolate and an omelette! Afterward, I wandered into the market and got some cute goodies – including a felt slice of pizza filled with organic catnip for Blanche!

Once I was done there, I headed to the Brooklyn Bridge. I was still very sore, but I HAD to walk across it! It’s only a little more than a mile long, and although I was hobbling along the way, I made it! I took a million photos, and I’m really glad I got to see this part of the city.

Once I got to Brooklyn, I was cold and tired, and I saw tons of people waiting in line at Grimaldi’s. It said it was “World Famous” for its pizza, and although it sounded slightly familiar… I dunno. But, I stood in line anyway, and after at least 30 minutes, I got a seat, and that pizza was REALLY GOOD. It was the second-best pizza I’ve ever had (first place goes to Pint House here in Austin)!

My original plan was to stay in Brooklyn for a while and then skip over to Chinatown, but I was really just too exhausted. At this point, I was almost a little bit worried because my legs had never felt this much pain before. So, I went back to my hotel room and slept for what seemed like forever!

I finally got up and ventured out for dinner around 8, and I got a lobster roll from Luke’s (yum!), then I walked to Grand Central Station and got a glimpse of their famous zodiac ceiling. I also walked through Bryant Park, where they had a red, white, and blue Christmas tree, an ice skating rink, and lots of shops!

On Saturday, I was flying back to Austin, but not until 6 pm, so I still had a few things planned. I actually saved something really special for my last meal in the city: Brunch at Prune, owned by Michelin-star chef Gabrielle Hamilton.

Prune is on the lower east side, not far from Nolita. It was busy, but since it was just me, there was actually an empty seat at the bar! This is one of the best parts of traveling solo.

I ordered coffee and the Dutch-style pancake, which is made with pears baked in – yesss! It was so delicious and huge; I wish I could have eaten more and/or taken some to go.

I have to be honest here – by this point I was so ready to go home. It was a weird feeling because I’ve wanted to go to New York City for as long as I can remember! But, I was tired of getting bumped into, all of the honking horns, and mostly, hearing people yell at each other (and me) on the subway.

On my ride to brunch, someone was yelling at someone else that they were going to pull out a gun and shoot them, and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I nearly had a meltdown out of sheer fear for my life.

I was ready to get back to my life in Austin.

While I ate, I tried to think if there was anything left that I needed to see. What would I regret if I left New York right now? I decided I needed to find the Puck Building and the New York Times building.

Luckily, the Puck Building was just down the street from Prune. This building is known (to me, at least) as the fictional home of Grace Adler Designs, from “Will & Grace”.

Then, I headed back to Times Square and found the New York Times Building! It was much bigger than I imagined and I’m so glad I got to see it.

Lastly, I hit up the first-ever brick-and-mortar Cover Girl shop! I kept seeing signs for it in the subway. It was pretty cool and they had lots of fun merchandise.

After that, I caught the subway back to JFK and started the trek home a little early. I loved New York, but I was done with it!

After a 4-hour flight, I was back in Texas and sitting on the shuttle to the parking lot, when the women in the seat ahead of me struck up a conversation.

“Were you in New York?” she asked.

I nodded. I told her I had a great time, but perhaps I could have shaved off a day of my trip.

“How long were you there?” she asked.

“Five days,” I said.

“Oh yeah, I was there for three and I was still ready to come back,” she said.

She eventually asked me if I’d traveled alone. I told her yes.

“You didn’t even meet up with anyone there??” she asked.

“No,” I said. “I’ve traveled alone many times,” I told her.

We sat in silence for a few moments, before she finally spoke.

“I’ve never done that. I’ve never gone to a new city by myself. I’m going to put that on my bucket list.”

I smiled.

I am constantly searching for my purpose; what is my ultimate passion; what was I put here to do? This year has had so many ups and downs, but I’ve learned so much about who I am.

And in that moment, I wondered if maybe that’s part of it. Maybe I’m here to show others that your life doesn’t have to be expected. It doesn’t have to be a series of events you think you “should” do. You don’t have to go along with the plan.

You make your own plan. You go your own way.

Physically, yes, I do so many things alone. But I’m not alone. And I’m so thankful that I have people to listen to and to read my stories.

So, thank you! Cheers to this life & TGIF 🙂


  1. Virginia Phillips

    Dear Holly Lemon Drop , I am so glad you got to see NY ! What fun and very interesting ! Mostly, I am glad you are home safely ! Thank you Lord ! : Love to you, Grandma

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