Our "Royal Wedding Trip" Travel Diary 2018 | New York City
On May 13th, 2018, we set off on our biggest adventure yet: our family's month-long European vacation! Flying from Los Angeles, layover in the Midwest, and onto New York City! It just happened to be Mother's Day and I couldn't have asked for a happier day than to be with my two best boys, flying above the clouds, off to see the world. It's a bit random, but the words and old familiar Audrey Hepburn melody sang through my mind as we soared in the air:
"Two (three!) drifters off to see the world
there's such a lot of world to see."
I'll never forget our excitement that day. How Weston, in the last weeks of being "one year old", half baby - half toddler, smiled and giggled and clapped his chubby little hands and copied all the words we said ("Fly!" "France!" "Yay!")
Looking back now, a few months later, at all the goodness we didn't know we'd see, feel, taste, touch and experience... the dream-moments and breakthroughs, the smiles and bonding experiences. Little did we know how wonderful it really would be!
It just all means so much.
Weston absolutely adores "trash trucks" and he was on Cloud Nine pointing and smiling as he spotted them (and all kinds of trucks and cars) all over the city!
After settling into our hotel, we hopped in an Uber and drove to our favorite pizza place in all the world: John's on Bleeker! If you've read our love story in my book, At Long Last, you'll remember the significance of this place in our life together. Ever since we'd met in early 2014, Daniel mentioned to me several times how someday he would take me to New York and how he had something there to show me. I never quite knew what he meant by that. You see, the week we started talking on Instagram, Daniel took a trip to NYC with his family and as they ate dinner at John's on Bleeker, his mom suggested that he should carve his name and mine in the benches of the seat... just in case, "you never know!" And so, he did.
His mom, Cindy, took this picture of him that January 2014 day! I remember seeing it as she posted it on Instagram and swooning because he looked so cute! ;)
Later that year, a few weeks after we got engaged, we visited NYC for the day, in early October of 2014: (excerpt from At Long Last book)
"It was a perfectly crisp, fall day, and being a true California girl, I had never really experienced "autumn." He took me to all the major spots in New York City. We rode the subway, watched yellow taxis fly by, and walked through the tree-lined streets.
For lunch, he insisted we go to his family's very favorite pizza place in the city: John's on Bleeker. I wondered why he requested a specific booth by the wall when we asked the maître de,
'How long is the wait?'
'It's okay, we can sit anywhere!' I assured him.
But, no. He was determined to sit at that table.
I wondered why.
While we waited, we visited Carrie Bradshaw's apartment, just a block down the street.
Back at John's, seated in Daniel's requested booth, I looked at the menu.
"Everything looks so good!" I smiled.
Daniel's eyes shined.
'I want to show you something,' he whispered.
Picking up a butter knife, he asked me to lean over and showed me a little carving in the side of our bench.
"D A N + E R I N "
And half a heart.
What? I thought.
He told me the story. Of how he came here back when we started talking, almost a year before. And how today, he brought me here, on purpose, to show me.
To complete the heart.
My jaw, on the floor.
I felt like the most loved girl in all the world."
He filled in that half-heart that day and it's been full these past almost-four years since October 2014.
October 2014, filling in the heart.
This trip, we added our boy's name below. When we arrived at John's that first evening of our trip, the line for pizza was abnormally long -- we realized they were in the midst of a huge dining room remodel so half of it was shut down and the other half (the tiny part full of all the wood-carving names) remained open, but full to the brim with costumers! The likelihood of getting "our table" became even slimmer than normal, and so we decided to just wait in line with our hungry little toddler and get whatever table randomly opened when our time in line came. We waited about an hour and a half outside, taking turns walking Weston round the neighborhood. As we stood, exhausted from flying across the country all day, Daniel slipped out of line with Weston and told me, "We'll be right back -- I've got a Mother's Day surprise for you.. " as I stayed in line. He noticed a flower shop called "Bleeker Farm" on the corner by the pizza place and took Weston down to pick out roses for Mama.
He later told me how thrilled West was when he showed him the roses and told him to point at the ones he wanted to give Mama! He excitedly chose the pink and white ones (how did he know those would be my favorite!!! #tears) and the bought them.
Next thing I knew, my two guys found me in line again and Weston, the sweetest nervous-smile on his face, handed them to me proclaiming, "Mama! Mama! Mama!!" as loudly as he could!
The sweetest ever!
Shortly after, I carried my roses into John's as the waiter seated us. Our jaws both dropped -- we just HAPPENED to be seated on the bench connected to our "name carving" bench!! Of all the tables in the dining room!! It was perfect and the Lord couldn't have orchestrated it more beautifully. As we ordered and waited for our pizza, Daniel took a butter knife, just as he has twice before, and added our boy's name below ours and the heart, onto our carving.
We were all getting tired and hangry and the restaurant was getting more and more crowded, and so we decided to just go with "West" -- it takes longer than you'd think to carve letters into wood with a butte knife haha!
That night, Daniel gave me a hand-written love letter. My favorite gift from him.
I couldn't have asked for a sweeter Mother's Day gift than that day with them.
Central Park in the spring. Magical!
Even though we've been to NYC together a handful of times, we'd never visited Central Park until this trip. I loved it. The perfect place for a toddler to run and play! Weston especially loved the musicians who play in the park and all the trees and pointing out all the flowers.
I'll never forget how our boy sat perched on the very edge of his stroller all morning, arms folded on the stroller tray, wide-eyed, looking out with wonder at the big wide world, taking it all in.
Some of our NYC Favorites:
- John's on Bleeker -- our fav pizza and so many memories!
- Serendipity -- amazing atmosphere and frozen hot chocolate
- 5th Avenue -- I love seeing the style and pretending to be Audrey Hepburn ;)
- Ess-a-Bagel -- When I met them, Daniel and his east-coast family told me about this one; hands-down the best bagels we've ever tasted. (My order: Salt Bagel BLT with Jalepeno Cream Cheese)
- Times Square at Night (a few days after we "met" on Instagram, Daniel attended the New Year's Eve ball-drop here. Memories!)
- The View Lounge -- an amazing lounge 48 stories above NYC, it is revolving and makes a 360 turn each hour. Such epic views!
- 9/11 Memorial -- one of the most moving, important, memory-evoking places we've ever experienced.
- Central Park Carousel
- Ralph's on 5th -- I LOVED this coffee shop in the Fifth Avenue Ralph Lauren shop. I haven't been in over two years and heard it closed? I'm not 100% sure, but loved it so much!
There's so much more on my bucket-list and we've really only spent 24 hours in NYC at the most, so I'm sure you all have lots more suggestions, so share them below! One of our someday dreams is to take our family there for a week and just explore the city thoroughly!
We only stayed in NYC overnight -- we flew in the evening of May 13th and flew out the evening of May 14th; the perfect amount of time to break up the long trip from LA to London, and gave all of us, especially Little Guy, a chance to rest, play and get adjusted to the travel and time change. We took a red-eye flight that night to London and landed the next morning. The boys slept (I couldnt!) but the whole treck wasn't terrible at all!
Next up: Our arrival and days in Cotswolds, England. Stay tuned!