San Francisco – the end of our West to East Coast holiday <3

Newly engaged and with frozen ears, noses and toes it was time to say goodbye to beautiful New York City and head back to San Francisco. We had a further two nights booked back in the Golden City, before we were to start our long journey back to Brisbane.

With only two nights left and after a day of travel flying from NYC to SanFran, we made our way to our hotel in the longest possible way. Accidentally I had misread the map on my phone. We had caught a public bus towards our accomodation but got off the bus far too early. I then thought it was only a few minutes to our hotel, walking. We took the opportunity to stretch our legs after the flight…but we forgot about the hills (how could anyone forget about SanFran’s beautiful hills?!). Poor G ended up pushing our suitcases up over hills until we found our hotel. Anyway…

Rather than stay downtown, we decided to stay in the Mirena District and booked the relatively inexpensive Marina Inn. With only 7 minutes to walk to Fisherman’s Wharf, free Wi-Fi, free continental breakfast and cute rooms, at $250 for two nights, it was the perfect space. It is listed as only 2/3-stars, so I am convinced the hotel ratings in USA are less generous than here in Australia, because the hotel was clean, comfortable and nice!

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Like with all holidays, by the time you get to the last few days you are exhausted and going home is bittersweet. We managed to find some delicious sandwiches, snacks and a few drinks and had them back in our hotel room and I somehow roped G into watching KUWTK with me.

The most noticeable thing was the temperature difference! I was laughing at the fact that only one week before, I had been head to toe in winter woolies and then after NYC, we were in singlets and thongs (flip-flops, not knickers).

On our last full day in SanFran, we decided to head back to Fisherman’s Wharf. We wanted to go back to Ghirardelli and buy some chocolates for our parents (yum!). We also decided to hunt down Lombard St and it was so worth the beautiful walk. The weather was gorgeous! We even finished our day with Clam Chowder at and also had a wander through Boudin’s Bakery. Boudin’s Bakery is a must-see, and their delicious traditional New-England style clam chowder served in a sourdough bowl – yum! DSC03191We made it back down to Pier 39, had ice-cream, bought a tonne of lollies to take home and bought gifts for our loved ones. Our last day was very relaxing, we were soaking up the newly-engaged bliss and walking around San-Fran’s beautiful streets and enjoying the weather.

Soon enough, our journey was over. It was time to head home. We had shared such an amazing holiday. We had planned this trip with one another for around a year, had worked really hard, saving every dollar we had for our experience. It was so worth it, and then some. SanFran & NYC will always be two of my favourite American cities and was so magical being able to experience it with the love of my life and to come home even more committed to one another!

It was time to go home and start saving for the next adventure, and to start Wedding planning!

Thank you for reading!

x C x

 

MEET ME IN NEW YORK <3 (NYC, PART 3)

 

With only five days in New York, over the New Years period during winter, it is not possible to see as much as you would like. However, our last couple of days in New York, were…magical! This post is a little bit longer, but I promise it’s worth a read til the end 🙂 <3.

We made sure to check out the Rockefeller Centre, to visit the large Christmas tree and also watch tourists on the beautiful ice rink at Rockefeller Centre. This gorgeous ice rink, formally known as a ‘skating pond’ came to creation in 1936 and can take up to 150 people at a time. We were happy just watching the skaters and enjoying our Starbucks creations and looking at the tree!

Speaking of Starbucks, now I know it’s commercial, however you have to forgive me. I am an Australian, Starbucks has always seemed like this iconic American thing – also there seems to be one on every block?! I was a big fan of the Pumpkin Spice (G HATED it) and the Peppermint Mocha and G liked the Gingerbread Latte.

After the tree and our caffeine injection, we decided to make our way down to catch the subway from Rockefeller Centre down to Brooklyn Bridge, we didn’t have enough time to walk across the entire bridge, but did walk about a third of the way out! What a view! So beautiful and so many people, thankfully we are quite tall so were always able to get photos without too many people in the background (where we could). I also twisted (kidding!) G’s arm into eating a cheesy, delicious street vendor while we were there.

After Brooklyn Bridge, we explored the Trinity Church, which is amazing – did you know the oldest grave there dates back to 1681 (a child, Richard Churcher whose gravestone is the oldest carved gravestone in New York City)? Also, it was the tallest structure in the United States until 1869, can you believe that?! As a comparison, our country first had colonies established in 1788. Trinity Church has these beautiful big bronze doors dating back to 1893. I recommend having a walk around the graveyard, see the dates on them and the craftsmanship on this hand-carved headstones.

We had a quick look around Wall Street, tried to get a decent photo with the Bull (fail), saw another Christmas tree (win!) and made our way back uptown to Times Square. We did stop at a coffee shop which had an amazing selection of goodies. I had a delicious red velvet cupcake (my favourite) and G had a cannoli.

We had bought tickets to Lion King on Broadway and it was honestly the best $300 we could have spent. We were seated up in the Mezzanine of the Minskoff Theatre. The show is unforgettable, visually stunning and I could feel the beat of the drums up from my heels, through to my chest. Such beautiful performances and powerful voices! The set design, costume design, orchestrations and music director are to be applauded.

On our second last day in NYC, we decided to try out the Staten Island Ferry, so we could see the lady in the water herself. It was very cold and very windy and fortunately as we came out of the subway and made our way to the ferry terminal – it SNOWED!!!!  Visibility was poor but the ferry ride was fun and we were just able to make our the Statue of Liberty. Who cares, we had been snowed on! (mass excitement ensued).

One of my girlfriends from high school, had been living in Connecticut when we went on our trip and she drove in to take us to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Brooklyn. Oh my goodness- American’s know how to BBQ, well done you guys! I think G had an out of body experience with the food. It was amazing! My friend also spoiled us with a bag filled with American treats, who knew chocolate covered potato chips existed?!

Although we were sad our amazing time in NYC was coming to an end, our very last day in New York, was very special indeed!

G and I had planned to go to Serendipity 3 on 225 E 60th Street – we had both heard all about the frozen hot chocolates at this old-school and movie famous dessert destination. Serendipity looks like the inside of something out of Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree lands – colourful, sparkly, and jam-packed with pretty artefacts and the smell of delicious food. We actually made our way there relatively early, as we had heard about the lines. we both ordered burgers and fries and we both ordered frozen hot chocolates – I had wanted to split mine with G – he had told me to bugger off :).

This amazing drink/meal/chocolate dream has been a favourite for over 50 years. It has 3 ounces of chocolate (milk or dark), hot chocolate mix, sugar, milk, and ice, whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Delicious! Far too much food for one morning, but delicious. In our sugar high, we wandered back towards Central Park for a wander, to try and walk off the sugar!

G wanted to go back to the little hut we had been in a couple of days before hand, overlooking the lake and Bow Bridge. As it was our last day and there was still so much to see, I was a little frustrated about going somewhere we had already seen. Still, G was persistent. So we went back to the little shack and sat down and after looking across at Bow Bridge and turning back around, I found my wonderful boyfriend, on one knee and a gorgeous diamond ring in hand! How he managed to keep this a secret for our entire trip is beyond me!

The proposal was only slightly interrupted by the Russian woman near us screaming abuse into her mobile phone, which I happen to think added to the experience :).

We went and ordered a celebratory margherita pizza and a bottle of champagne from John’s of Times Square, a cute little 1929 village pizzeria in midtown at 260 W 44th Street.

It was overwhelmingly romantic, super cute, very us and a really nice moment between the two of us. Proposed to in Central Park, on our amazing holiday – what more could a girl want?

New York, you are beautiful and I am so blessed to have had so many amazing experiences with you there by my side!

Thanks for reading!

x

Meet me in New York <3 (NYC, Part 2)

Our first day in New York started with an express trip to the Empire State Building – absolutely freezing, but the view was incredible. They were banning selfie sticks (imagine the velocity they call fall from the top down onto some unsuspecting pedestrian?!) and I awkwardly took one out of G’s backpack (which he didn’t know I had packed – cue a lecture on what I am, and am NOT to pack in HIS bag 😉 ). I think the tickets start from around $49 per adult – we would have been up the top before 9am and there was already a pretty big line!We could only be out on the platform for maybe a maximum 2 minutes, I thought my ears were going to freeze right off! I am always completely amazed at how quickly those elevators get to the top.

A dream of mine since I was as young as I can remember, was to see the Radio City Rockette’s, in particular the Christmas Spectacular – I think I had first seen it on tv when I was around 8 or 9 years old. The show itself has been running since around 1933 and has developed many times over the years. It is a NYC Christmas tradition, but I didn’t want to miss out on the show just because Christmas had passed, so we saw one of the last shows. Tickets start from around $60 and it is so worth it – you will not see form like this anywhere else, the Rockette’s were not so much as a nano-second out of time with one another!

Each year, over five million people visit St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, with more than one million prayer candles lit each year. The doors of this absolutely breathtaking cathedral opened in 1879 and breathtaking is truly, the most apt description for it. G is Catholic, I am Anglican and I never went through communion, so whenever I have gone into a church, I have just walked straight in. G on the other hand has a little more class (and training thanks to Catholic Schooling and Faith) so he knows to bless himself, it was new to me and I apologised to him. Is it technically blasphemy to stroll on into a church taking photos if you don’t know the rules?!

The Grand Central Terminal had managed to evade me on my previous few trips to NYC (that seems ridiculous I know that I could not find it) – this time however, G managed to hunt it down and we were absolutely blown away. We even caught a train from the lower concourse. It is at 42nd Street and Park Avenue and is one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions with close to 22 million visitors alone in 2013. Grand Central has 44 platforms, however the number of tracks along the platforms is over 100, not all still in use. Built in 1903, this AMAZING landmark designed in the Beaux-Arts style is a must-see when you are in New York! It is beautiful and absolutely easy to get swept up in the romance of it all!

Being late December/early January the hours of daylight were very short, so we really did not have too much time out and about before it was dark in the afternoons/evenings pretty quickly and freezing!

We woke up on one of our mornings and decided it was the perfect day to go on an adventure to the American Museum of Natural History, so woke up and went and found a coffee shop, ate our eggs and toast and black coffee (my poor boyfriend aka ‘now Husband’) was really struggling with black coffee – saturating each steaming hot mug with creamer and sugar any chance he got it. I am convinced he does not actually like the taste of coffee itself.

Two tickets to the Museum would typically cost around $50USD for the both of us, luckily we had purchased the New York Pass and the museum was included in on this. We caught the subway to 81st Street as this has a direct subway entrance to the museum – which is a saving grace when the temperature is sitting around -7 °C – 1 °C! We spent a few hours at the Museum, let’s be honest – how can anyone spend less than an hour in the dinosaur hall? When you are up close and personal with the T-Rex – it is breathtaking! I can only think of one dinosaur found in Australia (only because the name is amazing) – the Muttaburrasaurus – and it hardly invokes fear like the T-Rex does!

The AMNH was founded in 1869 and is renowned for its exhibitions and scientific collections (Night at the Museum, anyone?). There are so many different wonderful exhibitions with the birds and reptiles, amphibians, earth and planetary sciences, fossil, human origins and cultural and mammal halls all permanent fixtures.

Thanks for reading – to be continued!

x

New York, New York <3 (Part 1)

NYC

Oh New York – you will always have a piece of my heart. With a population of over 8.5 million people alone, the 5 boroughs of New York City is the most populous city in the United States. Fun fact – Brisbane has 2.3 million people and we account for 19% of our entire countries population. So, that’s a fun little comparison for you!

We made our way to New York after our San Fran stay – getting there 30 December 2014, enough time to settle-in for our New Years Eve. Our journey from the West Coast to the East Coast ate up most of the day, the time difference is a killer, especially in winter since the hours of daylight are decreased.

We landed in the evening and had booked a shuttle service to our hotel (great on price but really, if yours is the last hotel on the trip can take you an hour and a half to get to your destination). Once we got to our hotel and checked in, we went for a very quick walk outside just to see where we were staying and its location to Times Square and it was -5 (23 Fahrenheit) degrees. We are from Queensland. We had come from 35+ (95 Fahrenheit) degrees back home!

central parkMy boyfriend (now Husband) realised our holiday had taken a different turn when I refused to every take off my thermals and gloves, at one point my feet were so cold and sore from my fashionable (but not comfortable) boots, so on one of our days he leant me his sneakers for the day just so we could get around.

Our hotel booked for the week was Row NYC which is on 8th avenue, I think we stayed in a superior room – we could oversee West 45th street and the Lion King sign from our room. The bed was comfy, the bathroom a good size and you couldn’t beat the location. Considering the time of year we were there, I think we had a really good price for 7 nights – it was around $2,000 if I remember correctly – we did book out well in advance though. Our first day in NYC, we did an express whip-around the city, trying to see as much as we could given it was the day before New Years Eve. We made it up the Empire State Building, absolutely nearly lost my face it was so cold! Such a fantastic view though, you really cannot go past it.

rockefellerOn our second day it was New Years Eve, we headed off bright and early and made our way to the Rockefeller Centre (my favourite building in NYC), to see the gorgeous Christmas tree and the view from the top. If you only had time to visit either Empire State or Rockefeller, I think I would choose Rockefeller every time. I think the view is better and you can see the Empire State building – if you can do both though, definitely do!

We also did a quick visit to Central Park and walked the avenue (so pretty), saw Strawberry Fields and also sat in a little cute shack along West Drive, across from Bow Bridge in the park – the lake had frozen over in parts and it was so pretty. I had been to NYC twice before, once in Spring and once in Autumn, seeing it in winter was completely different and offered its own kind of beauty.

We had booked our New Years Eve with the Beer Authority in Times Square – we had a pretty good 5 hour package with food and drink and close enough to the action that we would not feel as though we had missed out. The five hour admission was open-bar and the food was excellent. The music was brilliant as were the decorations and the midnight toast and watching a live feed of the ball-drop was half the excitement! The only difficulty we had was actually getting to that side of Times Square, we had been in the city and started heading back to our hotel room around lunchtime and the crowds in Times Square already were INSANE! When we were ready to head to our party venue, my Husband had to grab onto both my hands and drag me through the crowds.

alice in the parkAt the end of the night and after countless champagne’s, navigating back through the crowds of a million people and the left-overs of the 1 tonne of confetti which was thrown out at midnight – it was hilarious. There were so many people, neither of us have ever seen that many people in one location. It must have taken us over an hour to get from the reception area of our hotel back up to our room. It was worth every $, every sub-0 temperature and every trodden-on toe. What a fantastic night, crossed off the bucket-list. New Years Eve in New York City.

The next day we had planned on exploring the upper-east side of New York but thanks to our champagne hangovers, we slept in well past lunchtime and then we only had a couple of hours of sunlight to get around. So we chose wisely and went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (just for the stairs from Gossip Girl – so I could get a photo for my best friend 🙂 ). We then ducked back through Central Park, visited Alice in the Park and then made our way back to the hotel.

x

Muir Woods & the Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco

muir 2The Muir Woods National Monument is a 554 acre unit of national parks and is one of the last remaining areas in San Francisco Bay area where redwoods remain. Interestingly, it is also an area of San Francisco which has Australian gumtrees!

We were on our coach tour, heading towards the national monument when I said to my boyfriend I was sure I could see gumtrees? Then the tour guide confirmed our suspicion, it was a nice touch of home! Our coach travelled over the Golden Gate Bridge and thanks to the SanFran fog, visibility was next to nothing (it made us a little worried we were not going to see the bridge on our visit).

cold muirWe knew we wanted to see the redwoods, given how old they are and how tall some of them are in the national monument. We started our tour super-early, and headed out on our toasty warm coach to the Muir Woods. It was so beautiful and peaceful when we got there – the air was clear, it was just magical. I am a forest over the beach kind of girl and so is my Husband so we were in our absolute element!

Something which I thought was amazing, was that the Muir Woods National Monument is considered one of the most popular tourist attractions in the SanFran Bay area and that it only exists really because of Congressman William Kent and his Wife buying 611 acres of redwoods and mountains to protect the forest in 1907. They did end up having to relinquish 295 acres to the government to avoid a court battle with a water company wanting the area.

Thankfully President Teddy Roosevelt created the first national monument from donated land and was really the brains behind conservation and creating national monuments in the States., Well done, Teddy!

muir woodsWhen we had finished our tour of the monument we warmed up with bowls of soup and I ended up with mine and my Husband’s jacket (I swear he spend most of the trip making sure I was warm).

Our coach then dropped in at Sausalito for a lunch break. Grant and I chose to visit a pub and have some holiday drinks, we aren’t really shoppers and to be honest we wanted to have a break from our tour group and relax for a while.

golden gateWe then headed to the Golden Gate Bridge for our photo opportunities with the group and it was amazing as the fog had all cleared up and the view was fantastic! Such a clear day and so nice to be able to see something from our bucket list. It really takes your breath away on a clear day!

SanFran had only been a short-stop on our way to NYC but it had been absolutely beautiful and a wonderful start to our trip!

x