New York – May 2017

After cancelling our big Spain/Portugal trip, I still wanted to do something quick.  Being late May, our options were pretty open.  That is a good time to go many places.  I looked at several choices, but New York just made the most sense because we already had flights booked there (they would have been the first leg of our flights to Spain…we had to book the connecting flights to New York for Iberia).  Also, Alyce had two free nights to any Hyatt that were expiring soon, and the New York Park Hyatt is as good as any to use them.

We had been to New York once before (see the 2010 retro review).  That trip was mostly focused on fancy dining and more traditional New York tourist stuff – see a couple shows, go to the top of a tall building, museums, etc.

This trip was more about relaxing, hanging out, walking around, and doing whatever we felt like.  Part of that was that we really only finalized the trip about a week or two out.  So, most of the fine dining places were out even if we had wanted to do one, as I doubt we could get a reservation.  Also, the whole saving money thing with the renovation project, two mortgages…

As a result, we decided where we’d eat dinner the day most days – and it worked out just fine.  I had done some minimal research into ideas, but we were mainly winging it based on how we felt.  Same thing for where to walk/what to see.

We settled on a duration of 4 nights.  That’s my preferred length for a quick domestic trip.  While not Spain and Portugal, New York was still a very welcomed trip.  We hadn’t been anywhere since our 2016 Spain/France trip and were anxious to get back on the road.  Plus, being that it was just Alyce and I on the trip, it gave us a nice break from day to day family living.

Day 1

Our flight to New York (JFK) left late morning/early afternoon and was booked with Delta miles.  As mentioned, the original plan was to connect on an Iberia flight to Spain.  It was a completely uneventful flight.  I barely remember it writing this a couple months later.  We were in economy and mostly watched TV shows the whole flight.

The arrival at JFK was smooth, and we were out in a no time as we didn’t check any bags.  I decided to Uber, which was an uncomplicated/smooth process.  The actual ride itself…not so much.

We left the airport around 3:30, and things were moving quickly for the first 20 minutes.  However, we were about to hit some rough traffic.  I knew it was bad when my phone said we had 45 minutes left, then 15 minutes later said we had 50 minutes left.  Overall it took us over an hour and 45 minutes to get to the Park Hyatt.  Neither one of us were really feeling the car ride and were thrilled to get out when we finally made it.

So back to the hotel…We had two free nights from Alyce’s Chase Hyatt sign up bonus.  That meant we still needed to pay or use points for the other two nights.  And with rates over $1000 a night, paying cash was not an option.  Points it is.

I’ve emailed back and forth with an online friend who is a Hyatt “Globalist” (aka the artist formerly known as Hyatt diamond…lame name – I know), and he had offered to book a guest of honor reservation for us if it was worthwhile.  So we did it for the first two nights and hoped the benefits would apply for the whole stay.

At check in…Jackpot!  We were upgraded to a suite for the whole stay, and we received free breakfast for all 4 nights.  It worked out great for our 4 night stay.

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The hotel itself was very nice, as would be expected for a brand new luxury hotel in New York.  We liked the location being close to Central Park and multiple subway lines.  The suite was modern and spacious.


Breakfast was very good.  That said, I don’t know that I’d ever pay cash for it.  We averaged probably $110 a day.  I think (don’t quote me on it) $100 was comped, so we had to pay the minimal overages.  Really the coffee did quite a number on the bills at about $10 a cup – no free refills.

Back to the trip…We checked in and got settled for a little bit then set out walking.  We were both getting hungry by this point and could use a drink after the trip from the airport.  I had a couple places on my radar and figured we’d play it by ear.

We passed through the Plaza Food Hall (which was too crowded) and then walked down 8th avenue, where apparently some ethnic food fair was just wrapping up.  It looked interesting.  After passing a couple options, we ended up at Casellula.

Casellula is a restaurant that focuses on cheese.  They have plenty of cheese for cheese plates and the like, but there were also a bunch of small plates with cheese focused items…grilled cheese, mac and cheese, etc. and just some other yummy options.

We split a bottle of wine and had a really good meal.  We could have easily ended up eating here a second night if we were looking for a place close to the hotel.

We called it a night back at the hotel and caught up on some TV shows.

Day 2

One of us slept in…the other – not so much.  But we still made it down for breakfast with plenty of time to spare.  As previously mentioned the breakfast was good and served in an upscale setting.  Much appreciated when gratis, but I wouldn’t pay for it.

Rain was forecast for the next day, so I wanted to get a good bit of walking/site seeing in today.  We walked down 7th ave. to from Central Park to just about all the way to the 9/11 memorial.

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It was a lot of walking, but  I enjoyed passing through all the different Manhattan neighborhoods on a Sunday morning/afternoon.  Just walking through really is the best way to get a feel for the different areas.  We both liked “the Village” the best, but I have since been told that it is very expensive – even by Manhattan standards.

This was the first time either of us had been to the 9/11 Memorial.  It was not finished the last time we were in New York.  I had been in the twin towers with my family in the Summer of 2001.

The two fountains are massive and very impressive.  It is really a well done area.  We didn’t go into the museum, but I’m sure it is first class.

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A good friend of Alyce and I worked at the 9/11 memorial, so I asked her for some suggestions – both in that area and overall.  She suggested O’Hara’s Pub as a fun place to go grab a drink nearby, so we decided to go give it a shot.  However, we wanted to pass by the Eataly first – since it was right there.

Eataly is like a big food court/market focused on Italian eats and produce.  There was plenty to choose from, but we weren’t quite ready to eat yet after a decent sized breakfast.  Alyce did pick up a juice, which somehow ended up costing something like $8…


After walking through Eataly, we made our way to O’Hara’s.  It is exactly what you think of when you picture a classic New York pub – to me at least.  There were a ton of firefighter stuff all over and a big, classic looking bar.  I had a couple beers.  Alyce had a “rose” which ended up being pink zinfandel.  After that she had a Sauvignon Blanc, which was much better.  Sometimes you get a miss when you order wine at a beer pub.  Tired of walking, we just caught the subway back to the hotel.

For dinner, we picked a nice Italian restaurant – Uva.  It was easy to catch the subway to and from the hotel.  Dinner, was very good.  We both really enjoyed our meals.  Also, we sat out in a courtyard, which was great given the pleasant weather.

Day 3

Today, a lot of rain was in the forecast.  We ate breakfast then went back to our room and waited to see if the rain would die down.

It did not.

So after a TV show or two, we grabbed some umbrellas and went out.  We walked down 5th avenue and stopped in a store or two and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  We did buy some champagne truffles at the recommendation of Alyce’s coworker from a candy shop.  They were good, but I don’t know that I was as excited about them at something like $5 a pop.  We trudged back through the rain and then hung out in the hotel room for a little bit.

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I figured we could try some Happy Hour drinks at a place called DiWine in Astoria.  We caught the subway there at about 4:30.  It was not too crowded – which is unsurprising given that it was 4:30 on a rainy Monday.  The crowd picked up over the next two hours.    We had a couple cocktails and some bites to eat.  It was enjoyable, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get there.

A BBQ joint called Butcher Bar was just a couple blocks away, so we walked there for dinner.  It was good, but nothing special.  Also service was pretty slow.  We didn’t say a word, but they sent out a drink on their own to say sorry for the delay.  That move is always appreciated.  Catching the subway back to the hotel was no trouble, and we called it a night.

Day 4

The weather was cooperating again today, so we were back out at it after hotel breakfast.

Today’s plan was to walk the Highline.  The Highline is an old elevated train track that was reconditioned into an elevated park after being abandoned for many years.  It is a neat vantage point to see many things in the city.  We both enjoyed the walk from one end to the other.

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It ended near the village, and we were ready to sit down for a quick bite and drink.  Our friend Sarah (from the 9/11 memorial) had suggested Keste Pizza.  It sounded good, so we decided to pop in…and order a pizza.  The pizza was good with lots of fresh ingredients.  Definitely filled the pizza void for the trip.  And the Rose was enjoyable as wel

We caught the subway back to the hotel following a morning of walking.  After a little relaxing, we were back at it walking through Central Park.

Central Park really is an awesome, gigantic park in the middle of NYC.  It was winter the last time we were in New York, so we didn’t really get to enjoy it.  But the weather today was nice, and there were plenty of people out and about – including a bunch of graduates.

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From Central Park, we walked over to the Upper East Side and walked through all the fancy apartment buildings.  We decided on Up Thai for dinner because it was something different and it had been a while since we had Thai food.

Up Thai was good Thai food and hit the spot.  I wouldn’t compare it to eating in Thailand, but we enjoyed a lot on this night.

Finally, we caught the subway back and called it a trip.

Trip Home

Our flight home left in the early afternoon, so we were not in a huge rush to eat breakfast and check out.  We were flying business back on Delta.  At the time, you could book business class points for 2 cents a piece with Membership Rewards.  The business class fares were about $300 one way, so it was definitely worth it at 15,000 points for the flight.

Like the flight there, the flight home was uneventful – which is exactly what I want in a flight.  While Delta may frustrate me with some of the things they do when it comes to miles, they are usually very good from an operations stand point.

Concluding Thoughts

I’d be lying if I said I still didn’t wish we had gone on the trip to Spain and Portugal, but it was just not in the cards given our other life events.  But, this quick trip to New York was a nice consolation.

We enjoyed it thoroughly, ate great casual food, and really appreciated the time for just the two of us.  I don’t think either one of us would call New York our favorite city to travel to, but it is always reliable with a ton of different options at all price points for dining, activities, etc.  Plus, it is an easy city to get to and has a million hotels.

I guess I could summarize NYC by saying it is not a place I am counting down the days until we can return to it, but I’ll always be happy to go.  You’ll never run short of things to do, places to eat, etc.  Like an old faithful destination, it will always be there with a bunch of things to see and do.


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