This was my first time traveling to New York, and I’m finally glad I got the chance to go!
I’ve always wanted to travel to New York City–experience the bustling atmosphere, see the infamous landmarks, and eat some dynamite food. (Since when do I use the word ‘dynamite?!’)
Cullen and I ended up being in New York for almost two weeks. We spent the first week in Albany, and then spent our second week in New York City. Both were pretty much what I expected with Albany being a relatively quaint town with rolling hills and gorgeous fall colors. New York City (Manhattan specifically) felt straight out of the movies–a city that never sleeps, cars honking every second, numerous taxis, people on foot, as well as endless food options and things to do.
We spent the first week in Albany with my friend Whitney and her family. We had a lot of low-key days with the three kids as Whitney has two girls of her own. We did go to a park one day to play on the play ground equipment and see the ducks. We were also there for Halloween, which was an epitome night of trick-or-treating: tons of kids were out in her neighborhood, every house had their light on, and it was actually very mild weather! I can’t say I have ever been trick-or-treating when it was 60*F!
The week before the marathon was minimal mileage and only one harder workout before the big day. I usually ran some easy miles from Whitney’s house, but one day I did drive to a trail that used to be the old railroad bed. It was pretty and nice and flat for doing an interval workout of 4 x 0.75 mile at 6:20 pace.
Cullen and I did venture out one afternoon on our own and to check out the museum in downtown Albany. It was free, which was an automatic win in my book, and it was actually pretty nice too! They had old fire trucks, a Sesame Street stage backdrop, a 9-11 memorial, a kids play area, and we even found a stuffed moose!
The day before the NYC Marathon (Saturday), Cullen, Whitney, and I traveled on the Mega Bus down to New York City. It was my first time taking public transportation a longer distance, but it was pretty smooth. The bus was supposed to have WiFi on it, but I couldn’t get connected, which was kind of a bummer because I had work to do. But the three hour trip went by pretty quickly, so it wasn’t terrible.
Once we got to NYC, we went to the convention center, picked up our bibs, and then got settled in at my cousin’s house in Brooklyn for the night.
Sunday was NYC Marathon, then the fiasco of me getting lost for 6 hours, finally making it back to Brooklyn at 6:30 p.m., and then traveling back into Manhattan to check into our hotel for the night. THAT was a whirlwind of a day, so it was nice to be in our own place that night, sleep in, and wake up in our hotel room the next morning.
Cullen and I ended up staying at the Paramount Hotel near Times Square. It wasn’t a terrible hotel room, but it wasn’t anything to rave about. It definitely was a 3.5/5 star hotel. The lobby was really swanky, but the rooms were old with lower-budget upgrades. There was an outlet in the shower, the walls were paper thin, and room service forgot to leave fresh towels one time. On the plus side, the bed was comfortable, the room was clean, and there was a nice big window with a view to the city. We were on the 12th floor and on a side street that wasn’t too busy, so we didn’t get a lot of traffic noise and hear a lot of cars honking. (I also turned the air conditioner fan on every night for some white noise.)
Monday morning it was raining on and off, but I was bound and determined to get out and make the most of my time in NYC, so Cullen and I bundled up and ventured outside. We first stopped at Pret A Manger for breakfast. I spotted this place two store fronts from our hotel when the Uber driver dropped us off Sunday night, and I knew it would be my kind of place. (Come to find out a few of you commented on my Instagram stories about going to this place and how much you love it as well. Apparently they are also popular in Europe!) Cullen wanted hot chocolate, and I got a decaf almond milk latte and a breakfast burrito, which were both very good.
This was my breakfast the second day. (We may have gone here every day for breakfast.)
After eating our food, we walked to Times Square, took some pictures, and marveled at the sights. Times Square might have been the biggest surprise, to me, with how it looked. All of the screens were so fascinating. We walked into the M&M store to warm up a bit and get out of the rain. From there we walked to Central Park. I was thinking we would go to the zoo in Central Park, but once we got there, it started raining even more, and I wasn’t sure how many of the animals were inside versus outside. Plus we were getting hungry and Cullen was getting more cranky as time went on. (He had also been sick for three days now and wasn’t feeling his best.)
I don’t know if the ground was especially uneven when walking around, but Cullen had fallen twice already that afternoon–the first while crossing a busy street, the second on cobblestone in Central Park. Then as we were leaving Central Park, he took his worst fall of the day straight into a large puddle. He fell face first into the puddle, getting the entire front side of his body soaking wet as well as water and dirt all over his face and into his ear. He, of course, started screaming and crying hysterically. (It definitely warranted some good crying , but the sickness made it even worse.) Everyone was looking at us now as I scooped him up and carried him as long as I could. We finally made it inside to eat at Fresh and Co, which came highly recommended and another delicious spot to eat.
After we had warmed up, we were walking back to our hotel, and Cullen fell a 4th time! This time face first into the concrete, hitting his chin and getting a scratch on his face. Poor guy. We got back to our hotel room around 5:00p.m. but then left again around 6:15 p.m. to go to a panel of speakers. Des Linden, Allie Kieffer, and Steph Bruce were speaking on a panel about women runners. Due to my lack of knowledge with the subway system and not being able to read my map well, we arrived about 15 minutes late to the speakers but snuck in quietly and sat in the back row since I had Cullen. I had brought things for him to do while we were there, but he had some difficulty sitting still. About 20 minutes later, the usher came up to me and said someone had complained about Cullen (not sure if it was his cough or his inability to sit still), but we were asked to leave for a few minutes. The usher said we could come back in after a few minutes, so we went into the lobby, got him a glass of water for his cough, and reminded him that he needed to be quiet. We went back in after a few minutes because I really wanted to listen to the speakers, however, as soon as we got back inside, Cullen still wasn’t being super quiet, so I decided I should probably leave. I honestly don’t think it bothered most people, but I felt bad, so I left. There was a TV in the lobby airing the speakers, but it was really hard to hear the audio, so we just headed back to the hotel. I was bummed to miss out on three women I follow on social media and respect, but it was fun to at least see them in person for a little while.
Tuesday was an even rainier day, but so I decided to try a find an indoor activity to do. I was being a cheapskate and didn’t want to pay for anything, so I decided to take Cullen to the library. While it wasn’t that far from our hotel room on the map, it is long walk with a sick child who walks at a snail’s pace. (Although, to give him the benefit of the doubt, I wasn’t able to walk much faster since I was still incredibly sore from the race.)
We made the long/short trek to the library but got caught in a downpour, so we were soaked by the time we got there. Cullen was happy looking through all of the movies though, so it worked out. We stopped at Whole Foods on our way back to get lunch. Cullen wanted to eat our lunch in our hotel room, so we walked back and had a sushi picnic lunch in our room. (He is my son because I will often opt to do the same thing.) We hung out in our hotel room for a couple of hours because Cullen still wasn’t feeling better–him watching Octonauts on the iPad while I worked on blog posts.
That night we met up with a friend of Craig’s from college (who I have also gotten to know over the years). We had dinner at Dig Inn, which was my favorite place I ate at during the entire trip! It was like a Chipotle in that you choose a base, 2 sides, a protein, and then your sauces. But at Dig Inn, everything is local, organic, healthy, and incredibly delicious. I got a brown rice base with brussel sprouts and a cabbage slaw as my sides with Alaskan salmon for my protein. I also opted to add avocado and there was a whole-grain mustard sauce that was amazing!
That night, Cullen’s sickness peaked at its worst. We were laying in bed, going to sleep when he started complaining about his ear hurting. He proceeded to scream in pain about his ear for the next 4 hours. I finally called down to the front desk at 1:00a.m., and they said they had some available for purchase, so I went down there, but when I asked the person working, they said they did not have any children’s Tylenol. Sigh. They said there was a 24 hour convenience store around the corner, so I trekked back upstairs, put some clothes on, and then carried Cullen to the convenience store. We got some Tylenol, and Cullen also picked out some cereal and milk. When we got to the cashier, he said, “Cash only.” I thought to myself, “What is this 1989?” I looked in my wallet, and I had $8.00 in cash. I asked how much the Tylenol was, and he said $7.50. I told Cullen that we wouldn’t be able to get the milk and cereal tonight. Well, if you have kids, you know how much bigger the reaction is when they are tired. Then throw being sick on top of it–you don’t even want to know what the reaction looks like! Of course me telling him that we wouldn’t be able to buy his snacks resulted in him immediately bursting into tears and bawling so loudly the entire store heard him. I gave the cashier an “I’m-sorry-but-I-have-a-sick-and-extremely-tired-child” look, but he just rolled his eyes at me. (Thanks, dude!) I saw there was an ATM in the corner, so we went over there to get some cash and pay for all three items.
Side note: NYC really is the city that doesn’t sleep. TONS of people were out at 1:00a.m. on a Tuesday night/Wednesday morning! Obviously not as many as there was during the day, but more people than I would have expected. There were also people working–taking trash out of businesses and one crew was changing out a store-front because in the morning there was new lettering on the outside of the building.
We got back to the hotel room, I gave Cullen some medicine, and we both conked out. He slept until 9:00 a.m. the next morning thank goodness!
I had only booked a hotel room for three nights because I was thinking we would go back to Albany to stay with Whitney again. This was before I realized how far it was and that the logistics of traveling by bus or train weren’t worth it. Thankfully my cousin had offered up his place for our last two nights in the city, which was perfect because he also has a 4 year old son, so Cullen had a playmate. When we got to their place, Cullen played with his new friend, and we had a low-key night.
Thursday was also a low-key day. We did walk to the library for story time, but apparently story time is a popular event in Brooklyn because we had to put ourselves on a wait list. While we were waiting, Cullen fell asleep on the table, which is so unlike him, but I knew it was because he was sick. In the end, Cullen’s friend got called off the wait list, but Cullen did not, which was fine because Cullen wanted to head back to their house anyhow.
On the way back to my cousin’s house, I stopped at the bakery Four & Twenty Blackbirds. My cousin had raved about it, so I needed to check it out as well. I got the chocolate chip scone, and it was hands-down the best scone I have ever had. The bakery was started two sisters who grew up in a tiny town in South Dakota.
When we got back, we had lunch, and then I made Cullen take a nap. He slept for about 90 minutes and woke up with a happier demeanor but still not 100%. Thursday night was another low-key night watching Incredibles 2 as my cousin’s son was also under the weather.
Friday morning we woke up, packed our bags, and headed to the airport around 1:00 p.m. for our 4:00 p.m. flight. We flew all night, with two layovers (one in Portland, the other in Seattle), before arriving back in Anchorage at 4:00 a.m. (8:00 a.m. East Coast time!).
I do wish I could have seen more, but exploring a new place with a toddler is tricky and exploring with a sick toddler is even harder. While this trip definitely had its challenges, I still had a good time. It was fun to be in a new city, see sights I’ve heard so many people talk about, and spend time with Whitney. Next time I’m bringing Craig along though!