Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Highline and Brooklyn

We have less than two weeks left here which is hard to believe. Time has gone by so quickly! We had another memorable weekend complete with a walk on the Highline and the Brooklyn Bridge. So, I'm new to the blog-world and admittedly not the most techno savvy person, so the pictures here are in no particular order because I can't figure out how to move them.

The Highline is a really cool new park in Manhattan. They converted an old train line that went above ground into a neat walkway with flowers and awesome views of the city. On our way to see it, we stumbled on the Chelsea Market, which was an exciting find. We walked in this sort of dark doorway and there was a fun bunch of shops and places to eat inside that looked like an alley between two warehouses or something. We ate some unbelievable food and then realized that the whole place is downstairs from the Food Network, so that probably had something to do with it. After we walked through it, we made our way to the Highline and got some great pictures.

After that, we took the subway to the Brooklyn Bridge and walked over it into Brooklyn. We had heard that some of the best views of the city are from the bridge and it didn't disappoint us. There are cars below you when you're walking, but I realized halfway through that they are actually on either side of you and the only thing below the wooden boards you're walking on is the river hundreds of feet below. It made us both pretty nervous. We made it over the bridge and into Brooklyn and walked around a fun part of the city the rest of the afternoon.
This is a view from The Promenade in Brooklyn Heights. Mark said he thought it was where Will Smith sits when he's contemplating joining the Men In Black or not. It was an amazing view of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

This is us in the middle of the bridge. You can see the Manhattan Bridge in the background.

One of my favorite sights of the day. Pigeons sharing an ice cream cone! How nice. And patriotic. They were pecking at it, so it was flying everywhere and getting all over them.

Starting the treck across the bridge. We had to stop and think about how amazing the construction of a bridge is. There are so many people and cars that cross it each day!

One of the views from the Highline. You could sit down there and there was a window overlooking the street so you could see the cars going right under you.

Lots of pretty flowers on the Highline!

Amazing looking cupcakes at the Chelsea Market from some well known bakery called Eleni's.

The fruits and vegetables were all so fresh and pretty. Lots of homegrown and organic stuff.

Another really fun day. I think we're going to live life a little differently when we get back to Dallas. We've grown to love walking around and appreciating what is around us. You see so much when you aren't always driving. I'm getting excited because my friend Kaitlyn is coming in town today for a visit, so I'm sure I'll have some more fun things to write about soon!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Yankee Game!

Last week, Mark and I went to see the Yankees play! It was one of our favorite nights in New York. For those of you who didn't know (like me), the Yankees have a brand new stadium this year and it is really fancy. We sat in the bleachers and had a great view of the game. I don't know why the bleachers are the cheapest seats because they are my favorite place to sit. I guess you are a little far from the pitcher, but you have a great view of home runs. We sat next to this older couple who had apparently given tickets to a young mom and son outside the game. The little boy was hilarious and he'd get really into the game and yell at the umpire. The old man would explain some of the finer details of baseball to him and it was really cute. They were even nice enough to take a picture of us!
It was a really good game. The Yankees beat the Orioles 2-1 on a home run in the 9th by "Godzilla" - his real name escapes me. They pied him in the face during the interviews after the game. Mark wants to go see the Yankees play the Red Sox next week, which is known to be a pretty heated game among the fans. After a semi-questionable call during our game, a guy in our section stood up and said it was a bad call and the entire section booed him for a while. Lesson learned, don't mess with New Yorkers. When the Yankees win, they play Frank Sinatra's, "New York, New York" and Mark and I definitely felt like we were "a part of it."

Monday, July 20, 2009

NYC Volume 3: The Entertainment

We have had a lot of fun these past few days going to different events around the city. The first was last Wednesday when we went to Brooklyn for the Philharmonic in the Park! I particularly enjoyed it because when we went into the park, it felt like we had completely left the city. You couldn't see any buildings, just trees and fields and it was really pretty. Actually, Mark and I both agreed that it reminded us of Barton Springs in Austin, a park we've gone to a few times together. It was refreshing to sort of get away from the city, especially for me because I do a lot of walking around Manhattan while Mark is at work. We got to the concert pretty early to get a good spot, set our blanket out on the grass and started to get our picnic out, when we saw some people we knew! Remember, there were thousands of people already there and Mark and I know about 6 people in the entire city, so this was quite a coincidence. It was a couple from our small group, so we went to say hi and ended up sitting with them and a big group they were with. Mark signed us up for a small group through the church we're going to here, Redeemer Presbyterian, before we got married and we really love it. We have met some wonderful people and it has been such a blessing to us! The Philharmonic was incredible, it was such beautiful music and it was a perfect night outside.

One of the downsides to these free concerts and stuff we've been going to is that they always seem to have a major shortage of bathrooms, and at intermission, I really had to go. So, Mark came with me to find about 50 people waiting in line for 3 bathrooms. Yikes! After seriously contemplating going in the woods, we decided to stick it out and wait in the line. We ended up standing behind these three women that Mark so perfectly described as "Marge Simpson's sisters." They had thick New York accents and deep, raspy voices and were pretty hilarious to listen to. It definitely made waiting in line a little easier. At the end of the concert, there were fireworks which were awesome and made a great ending to a fun evening!
The next night, we saw a band that was the complete opposite of the Philharmonic. The band was called "Man Man" and the description we came up with for the concert was a "Rock Circus." Mark said it was like they were playing 5 different songs at the same time. I don't think I've been to a concert that made me laugh like that. It was chaos, but a planned chaos where they all stopped and started at the same time. They were yelling and jumping and throwing feathers and I really don't know how to put it all into words. The picture above really doesn't do it justice. It was something fun and out of the ordinary for us, and Mark said a lot of people in his field listen to that type of thing, so it was fun for him to get to know it a little better.

On Friday, we met a friend from our church for dinner at a delicious sushi place and then went to the Morgan Museum which was free that night. The museum is made up of JP Morgan's collection of famous art and other amazing things like Beethoven and Mozart manuscripts and an original Gutenberg Bible. It was pretty crazy how much stuff Morgan had acquired over his lifetime, he had the biggest personal library I've ever seen! It reminded me of Beauty and the Beast, complete with different levels of books that you'd have to use a ladder to get to. Plus, the security guy told us that one of the shelves was a secret passageway, which completed the whole "Batcave" effect. It was a pretty fascinating sight.

On Saturday, Mark and I walked through Morningside Park, a beautiful park just north of Central Park to "Miss Mamie's Spoonbread Too," one of the best soulfood places I've ever been. Then, we went down to lower Manhattan and walked around the Fulton Fish Market which felt more like Seattle than New York. We visited the TKTS booth, which is where you get discount tickets for shows in the city and got tickets to "Stomp" for that night. It was such an amazing show! They went for almost 2 hours straight, playing everything from toilet plungers to matchbooks and inner-tubes. They swung from the ceilings and beat on trashcan lids and pots, and even just made rhythms with their hands and feet. We liked it a lot!

By Sunday, we were pretty exhausted, so we just walked around the city after church for a while and ate at a fun diner on the East Side. We did make a stop into the Apple Store though, which is constantly packed with people. That's all for now!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

NYC Volume 2: The Food

One of the best things New York has to offer is amazing food. We have had some seriously delicious meals and have yet to be disappointed with any place we’ve gone! Here are our favorites…kind of embarrassing how long this list is…

The Food:

La Esquina – This was one of the first places we went and it was AMAZING. It is pretty small and serves real Mexican food, not the Tex-Mex we are so used to. So many places in the city are unique in what they serve. We decided that Mark’s Nana could open up her own restaurant here and even if she only served tortillas, it would be wildly successful.

Rice to Riches – This place looks like a trendy ice cream shop, but instead of selling ice cream, they sell rice pudding! I’m fairly certain it’s in the movie “Hitch”. It was delicious and we got to keep the cool bowl and spoon.

Magnolia Bakery – You may or may not know this about me, but I’m a big sweets person. It is a major weakness of mine. One of my favorite sweets is cupcakes and we had some of the best cupcakes EVER at the Magnolia Bakery. We took them to Rockefeller Center to sit and eat them, and they didn’t last long!

La Taza de Oro – This little place serves Puerto Rican food and it was very authentic inside. We liked it a lot!

Andy's Deli – This is the deli right by Mark’s work, so we’ve gone here a few times. I think this is exactly the type of place that makes New York famous for its deli’s. I don’t know why their versions of sandwiches are better than other places, but they are. It’s a mystery.

Celeste – We went here one of the first few days we were in New York and it is authentic Italian food. It’s a tiny little place and you sit elbow to elbow with strangers. It reminds me of the Italian atmosphere I’ve experienced where everyone is like a big family. It was so fun and our pastas were great!

Billy's Bakery – Mark thinks their cupcakes are better than Magnolia’s, but it’s a tough choice. They were pretty delightful though.

Shake Shack – This place amazed me. It’s this little building in Madison Square Park and the line to get food is at least a half-hour long at any time of day. We got hamburgers and a custard concrete and I then understood why the line was so long.

Mr. Softee – There must be about 800 of these trucks around town, because you can see them on most streets. It is soft-serve ice cream that has been around for years (my dad said he grew up with it) and it is really good. And, they give you free sprinkles.

Jackson Hole – This place is famous for their hamburgers, so that’s what we got. It was by far the largest hamburger I’ve ever seen. Mark and I shared one with nothing on the side and both of us left full!

Kefi – We tried to go to this place once and the wait was forever, so we made reservations for the next night. It is Greek food, which I’m not ordinarily super excited about, but it was SO good. It was super cool inside, we ate downstairs and it looked sort of like the living room of a nice home in Greece.

Adrienne's Pizza Bar – We walked a lot on Sunday and we made our way down to Stone Street in lower Manhattan. Stone Street is this narrow, cobblestone street that has about 8 restaraunts on either side and the tables are all out in the street. The night was beautiful and we ate an amazing salad and shared one of the best pizzas I’ve had.

Bouchon Bakery – This little bakery is in the Time Warner center, so we got sandwiches and took them to Central Park last Sunday. They were such simple sandwiches, but so good!

Murray's Bagels – New York is famous for their bagels, and this is known to be one of the best places to get them. They have so many choices, including a lot of options with fish which I find an interesting choice for breakfast. I guess a lot of people eat them for lunch too. Our bagels were fantastic, so soft!

Those were our favorites, which is everything we’ve eaten so far. I’m cooking more now that we’ve figured out the grocery store situation, which I’ll probably detail more later!

NYC Volume 1: The Sights

Mark and I have done a lot in just the past week and a half. There are so many fun (and free!) things to do here over the summer, so I'll try to hit the high points of what we've experienced so far.

The Sights:
Rockefeller Center - This is one of my favorite places. Maybe because of my love for 30 Rock, but mostly because it is just a really cool place to sit and people watch. Something I didn't know before is that during the warmer months, instead of an ice rink they have a fancy outdoor restaurant and bar in the middle. Mark and I came here one night with cupcakes from the Magnolia Bakery and sat for a while.
Columbus Circle - We take the subway here everyday and we usually make a transfer underground to get to Mark's work, but its another great place to sit. We came here after the fireworks on the 4th and sat by the fountain while thousands of people walked by.
The Metropolitan Museam of Art - I went with my friend Bethany (from Camp John Marc) last week. Even just the building itself is incredible, and it is filled with so many different types of art. Some beautiful, some thought provoking, and some really creepy. I really liked the sculptures and the European paintings.
The Museum of Natural History - Mark and I went here this past weekend. It was interesting because most of the museum is scenes of stuffed creatures behind glass. We could only go to one "special" exhibit (kind of disappointing because it is pretty expensive in my opinion), so we picked the Planetarium which I haven't been to since junior high and it was really cool.
The Hudson River - We have been here a few times, once for the 4th of July fireworks and twice to see different shows on a pier. Both shows were pretty overcrowded though so we didn't end up staying. Thats the tricky thing about fun events here, sometimes you have to show up about 4 hours early or you can't see much.
Columbia University - I went here with Bethany because she's applying to a program here and it was beautiful!! It made me excited to start learning again.

Battery Park - This is where you get on a ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, so we had a great view of it. We are planning on going sometime soon to see the statue. They had a big metal sculpture there that looked pretty beat up, so we read the plaque for it and it was a sculpture that used to be in front of the World Trade Center that stood for World Peace.
Ground Zero - We went to a small church called St. Paul in front of the site that did a lot to help during 9/11. They had an exhibit up with pictures and writings about what it was all like. It was great to read about how the church represented Christ through their tremendous acts of service and love.
Wall Street - We went on Sunday, so there was no action, maybe for the best.
Times Square - A little too busy for me most of the time, but its still fun to see it. Did you know there is an area in the middle where people just set up lawn chairs to sit and watch? I didn't believe Mark at first when he told me they weren't waiting to see something in particular, just lounging in Time Square.
Central Park - Mark and I spent a lot of time in Central Park on Sunday and it was wonderful. We brought lunch and watched a few baseball games, saw people playing cricket and tennis, musicians, boat riders, fountains, baby ducks, what more could you ask for?
Greenwich Village/The Meatpacking District - One of the more expensive parts of town, so not my favorite place, but we went to a cool glass art exhibit there.
The Flatiron District - This is where Mark works, so we spend most of our time around there. Its pretty typical, shops and deli's and restaraunts. There are some fun parks around it and I like walking here.
Chinatown - Pretty much exactly what you are picturing right now. Flags with Chinese lettering and shop after shop with a lot of Chinese food places. Bethany and I went here and she got ginger-flavored ice cream which was very surprisingly delicious.
Union Square - I sit here quite a bit, its pretty close to where Mark works and a subway that goes pretty much anywhere. Lots of musicians and artists usually, and a Farmer's Market on Fridays & Saturdays that I'm planning on visiting this week.
Stay tuned for volume II, our personal favorite....the food!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lopez 4 Life!

We've finally decided to take the plunge...and start a blog. I don't know how good this is going to be seeing as I typed and erased about 2o sentences just to get this thing started, but my hope is that we can share more of our life with our friends and family. So, here it goes!

We are newlyweds!! Mark and I got married on June 27, 2009 and I know it sounds cliche, but I'm not lying when I say it was a dream come true. I could never have imagined how wonderful it would feel to be surrounded by our incredible family and friends to celebrate the joining of our lives. It was such a display of how much the Lord has blessed us through the people He has put in our lives. I loved every minute of it! I will post some pictures once we get them.

After the best party of our lives, we were off to Turks & Caicos for our honeymoon!

Or so we thought...

We were dropped off at the airport and we started to check in and I'm scanning my passport but it isn't working. A guy from the airline walks over and tries to scan it too, and then he looks at it and casually says "Oh, you can't use this." He opens to the first page and at some point, someone had punched holes in it and there was a red stamp that said "Cancelled". WHAT?? A lady named Ms. Bonita walks over because she sees that there is an issue and starts asking me if I had another one. Of course, I did not, and she says we can't go. I look at her with tears in my eyes and say "But, its our honeymoon..." and her face drops. I can tell that she feels so bad for us, and she's trying to tell us how we can fly to Houston and get a passport the next day, etc etc. I'd mostly given up hope that this trip was going to happen at this point. I call my brother to see what he thinks, he is pretty much a travel guru, and he finds another passport at my parents house that I didn't know about. They start the 30 minute drive to the airport, and Ms. Bonita tells us that we have 25 minutes before we won't be able to board. Meanwhile, she is doing everything she can to check our bags through and get everything ready so we can just scan my passport and go once it got there. She was amazing. My dad and my brother somehow (I didn't want to know how fast they were going), made it to the airport in under 20 minutes, and we flew through security and got on our plane. It was unbelievable. When it was all over, we laughed about it a lot. I am so thankful for BJ, my dad, and Ms. Bonita, without them we wouldn't have gone on the best trip of our lives!

We spent a week on a 20 mile island that seemed to have about 20 other people on it, at the most beautiful resort called the Windsong. It was small enough to where we got to know most of the workers at the resort. They had a delicious continental breakfast in the morning and Anthony, the guy who served, would give us all of the leftover fruit if we came at the end. We had a lot of relaxing time on the beach, delicious dinners, and even made some of our own food in the amazing kitchen of our condo-style room. We went on a snorkel trip one day where we went to an iguana island, snorkeled on a reef, went conch-diving (yes, we have a giant shell in our home now), and spent an afternoon on a beautiful beach. The captain of the boat was named "Pringles" and he was the entertainment for the afternoon. While we were on the beach, Pringles took the conch that people (including Mark) got from the bottom of the ocean, and made a 'conch-ceviche' that we ate. It was actually pretty good, but I had a hard time eating something that was alive at the bottom of the ocean 5 minutes before. Kinda weird.

We left Turks & Caicos on the 4th of July and the only consolation to the end of our trip was that we were making our way to New York! We are living in the Big City for the rest of the summer while Mark works for Blue Room, a motion graphics company. We got here just in time to see some incredible fireworks in a crowd of a million people. The picture really doesn't do it justice, there were people as far as we could see! We sat on the Hudson River Highway and had a great view.

So far, we've had a lot of memorable events in NYC, and I'll give some of the highlights soon. Thanks for visiting our blog!