Monday, December 18, 2023

2023 New York City Christmas Trip - Days 3 & 4

On day three of our trip, we got up at 6:30 AM again, and while we were getting ready, the hotel fire alarms started going off.  Thankfully, it was a false alarm, but it was a little unnerving being on the 21st floor of a building in New York City with the fire alarms going off.  I kept thinking about the cluster that is the elevator system and how we’d probably all die in the fire before we could get an elevator or make it down 21 flights of stairs.  Haha.

We headed down for breakfast in the hotel lobby yet again, and then we grabbed an Uber to lower Manhattan to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.  First up, we spent some time by the reflecting pools.  It was crazy foggy that morning, so we could only see the base of One World Trade Center.  I was so bummed that Momma couldn’t see the whole thing since it’s the tallest building in New York City now, but thankfully, the fog cleared later in the day.

After the reflecting pools, we walked to St. Paul’s Chapel so Momma could see it.  St. Paul’s is the little church that sits just down the street from One World Trade and it’s the church where first responders rested while working around the clock after the towers fell back in 2001.  It’s also famous because George Washington worshipped there on his Inauguration Day back in 1789. 

There’s a cemetery out front, and some of the gravestones are hundreds of years old.  We spent some time reading the gravestones that were legible (many of them are so old they’re no longer legible, and some are unmarked altogether), and then we headed over to the 9/11 Museum. 

We spent a couple of hours walking through the museum after that.  Unfortunately, it was PACKED that day, so we didn’t get to see quite as much as we wanted (it would have taken forever to get through the throngs of people to see some of the displays), and towards the end, I started feeling really woozy… my vertigo started kicking in and I started feeling like I was on a boat.  I also started feeling like I was bobbing up and down a little bit and it was an awful feeling.  (That was a new feeling… I’ve never had the bobbing up and down sensation and I didn’t like that at all.)  My neck had started feeling tense about halfway through our tour (maybe from the anxiety of it all… 9/11 stuff gets me every single time), and I’m pretty sure the neck tension is what set off all of the dizziness. 

Thankfully, we were able to get upstairs to the concession area and after I chugged some water and got away from all of the people my neck muscles started to relax and I started to feel a bit better.  We were all starving by then, so we walked up the street to a Chick-Fil-A to have a taste of home right there in lower Manhattan, and after eating, I felt totally normal again, thankfully.  And the fog had cleared by the time we finished up at the museum!

On the way to Chick-Fil-A, we had to walk past St. Paul’s Chapel again, and we saw a bunch of stuff lined up along the sidewalk outside.  We were trying to figure out what was going on when we realized that it looked like a TV or movie set.  We asked somebody if they knew what was going on, and they said that they were filming an episode of the show FBI on CBS.  Sure enough, I Googled it, and there were three of the main actors/actresses sitting right in front of us!  Ha! 

I had never even heard of that show, but I did recognize the actress on the right after my cousin reminded me that she was in that movie Stick It!  Haha.

We didn’t stick around long because we were hungry, so it was onward to Chick-Fil-A.  It’s funny, because at the time that we were there, we only sought it out because we love Chick-Fil-A (we are from the home of Chick-Fil-A, after all) and we were wanting something fast and close by, but now that I’m typing this post, I went to Google it to find out which street it was on, and I just found out that the one we went to is the world’s largest Chick-Fil-A!  Ha!  So, we ate at the world’s largest Chick-Fil-A without even knowing it.

We did know it was five stories at the time we were there, but as I’m typing this and researching it, I also just found out that it has an open air rooftop deck with unimpeded views of One World Trade Center!  DANG!  I wish I’d known that at the time so we could have gone to the rooftop!!!!    

At Chick-Fil-A, I snuck in a quick FaceTime with the kids, and then it was off to explore some more.  Since we were in lower Manhattan, we decided to walk to Battery Park so Momma could sneak a peek at The Statue of Liberty, and on the way, we also got to see Trinity Church which is the church where they filmed part of National Treasure.  We didn’t go inside, though.

When we got to Battery Park, a lot of the entrance was under construction and there were tons of people outside trying to sell everyone tours.  One guy straight up lied to us and told us you could no longer see The Statue of Liberty from the park and that we had to pay to take a tour to see it, but we ignored him and went on in the park anyway.  Sure enough, there she was!  So, beware of the scammers in NYC, y’all!

After that, we needed to take a potty break, so we asked a guy nearby who worked at Battery Park, and he told us that the best place to go was across the street to The Smithsonian.  I thought for sure that you had to pay to get in because all of the museums in NYC cost money, but nope, he was right – The Smithsonian is free!!  We did have to go through security, but it was quick, and it was worth it because they had clean bathrooms!

After we were done there, we took an Uber to Bryant Park to walk around (and spotted the Brooklyn Bridge on the way!), and OMG it was just PACKED.  It was hard to get around in there, so we didn’t linger long.  Momma wanted to get a Christmas ornament to commemorate her first trip to NYC, and she found the cutest Rockettes ornament.  Once she had purchased that, we were out of there!

Next up, we walked to Macy’s.  I hadn’t been to Macy’s since our Christmas trip in 2012, and the last time I saw it at Christmas in 2012, it was nighttime, so it was fun to see it during the day.  Their store windows were really great – I hated that we didn’t take the kids when we went last year – and the outside of the building was stunning.  I had to snap pictures of the Lego window and the Barbie window for the kids.  :o)

After we were done at Macy’s it was nearing 3 o’clock, and we had plans to meet some of my cousin’s friends at the University of Georgia themed bar in Manhattan to watch the SEC Championship game so we made our way there.

If you’re a Georgia fan and you’re ever in Manhattan, there’s a bar there called American Whiskey and it’s where all of the Georgia fans gather.  Sure enough, we walked in, and there was Georgia stuff EVERYWHERE and hundreds of people wearing Georgia stuff right there in the middle of Manhattan.  It was wild to see.  We’d found hundreds (probably over a thousand) of our people, right in there in the middle of New York City.  Who knew?


The place was packed, but thankfully, my cousin’s friend was kind enough to let us sit at their table that she’d reserved upstairs.  The upstairs area was full of people as well and it was so hot, but thankfully, our table was off in a corner by a balcony, and we had an air vent blowing right there.  We also had our own TV over the table.

Before the game, they played all of the UGA hype songs that are played in the stadium before the games, and everyone was going crazy.  By the time the game had started, it was even more packed in there (thankfully we had seats at our little table in the corner, though), but it was insanely loud in there – and HOT AS HELL – so Momma and I decided to leave at halftime and watch the rest in the hotel room.

Aunt Joy and Shelby decided to come with us because they didn’t want to be walking back alone after the game, and it would have been impossible to get an Uber, so we all made our way back to the hotel to finish the game.  On the way out of the bar, HOLY HELL, was it packed on the ground floor.  We literally couldn’t move, and when I say literally, I mean literally.  We literally had to make a train and push our way out of there… like actually push every single person we encountered to get out.  I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would have wanted to be down there in that bar on the ground floor.  There was no way to even get to the bar to get a drink.  Or get to the bathroom.  Or even move.  It was insane.

We finally made our way out into the cold night air, and then we made the walk back to the hotel.  On the way, we had to walk through Times Square, and we encountered some protestors, but I never felt unsafe.  That was one of the things that several of our family members had been worried about when we told everyone we were going… they didn’t want us to be in the wrong place at the wrong time in the midst of a protest gone bad.

The game was a big bummer (we ended up losing by 3 points), and we will in fact, not have the chance to have a Threepeat as we’d hoped, but I’m still so proud of our guys for winning back-to-back Natties and beating the all-time SEC record of games won in a row.  Before our loss to Bama in the SEC Championship game, we won 29 games in. a. row.  Kirby is fire, y’all, and I’m hoping we’ll be making it back to the Natty again sooner than later.  In the meantime, I will be pulling for the SEC to win out from here.

Saturday was Maui's 14th birthday, so I FaceTimed with Brian and the kids after the game to sing happy birthday to her and give her her birthday cheese.  ;o)

By the time the game was over, it was nearing 8 PM and we hadn’t eaten in forever – there was no way to even get food at the bar since it was so packed – so we were hungry.  We walked across the street to the Hard Rock Hotel because they have a beautiful restaurant and bar area upstairs in the foyer (it’s not a Hardrock Café, to be clear), and unfortunately, all of the tables were occupied or reserved.  The hostess told us we could eat at the bar, but there were no seats, but we lucked out because right when we walked up, four people got up and left.  There was a jazz band playing Christmas music when we arrived, and it was just a really fun and festive atmosphere.

Momma and I wanted to eat light since we had to fly the next day, so we split the grilled cheese sandwich and house made chips, and it was all so delicious.  It was definitely one of the bougiest grilled cheeses I’ve ever had and the house made chips were probably some of the best chips I’ve ever put in my mouth.  SO. GOOD. 

Once we were done at dinner, we headed back to our room to pack as much as we could, and then it was off to bed since we had to get up early for our flight.

Sunday morning, we woke up at 6:30 yet again, and we grabbed an Uber to the airport.  We flew out of Newark, and it was so nice!  It wasn’t very busy at all, and everything looked all shiny and new. 

Once we were checked in and waiting at our gate, we went in search of food, and I grabbed a blueberry muffin from one of the little coffee shops.  While we were waiting for our flight, the alarms went off in the airport not once, but TWICE, and they came on over the intercom to tell everyone that there was an emergency situation in the building and for everyone to stay where they are.  Not exactly what you want to hear while you’re in an airport.  Haha.  Thankfully, the alarms were cleared both times.

We also saw one of the airport employees start sobbing and collapse while we were waiting, and they eventually put her in a wheelchair and wheeled her out.  We have no idea what happened, but we think she had received some bad news or something like that.  I felt terrible for her. 

In addition to all of that, I saw my first crazy person in an airport ever.  I always hear nightmare stories about people going crazy on planes and in airports, but I’ve never seen it firsthand until that day.  There was some girl at the gate next to ours who apparently didn’t get there in time before they closed the door to the plane, and she went NUTS on the airport employee because they wouldn’t reopen the door for her.  She was pacing back-and-forth and yelling at him and tearing at her hair and just acting CRAZY.  She even went so far as to walk behind the counter and get up in the guy’s face.  It went on for, probably, 20 minutes and I couldn’t believe the guy didn’t have her hauled out of there sooner than that.  You just cannot behave that way at an airport, y’all.  Or anywhere for that matter.  Haha. 

I have no clue what ended up happening to her, but eventually she was gone.  She did NOT get on the plane, though.  Haha.

Despite all of those things AND the fact that it was a super rainy, foggy day, our flight departed on time, and we had minimal turbulence on the way home.  We ended up arriving back in Atlanta on time, we made our way back to the car, and then had a smooth drive home!  

It was definitely a trip for the books, and I’m so grateful that I got to experience so many of my Momma’s bucket list items and firsts with her (first flight, first time in NYC, seeing the tree in Rockefeller Center, seeing The Rockettes, etc.) and I’m just so grateful for all of the quality time I was able to spend with some of my favorite people.

Where we going next year, ladies?!                                 

Happy Monday, y’all!


  1. Sounds like another great day. I hate crowded places so I would have cried trying to get out of that bar!

  2. LOVE that you found a UGA bar in the middle of the city <3

  3. I'd love to see NYC during the winter with all the holiday lights/trees! What a special trip! I saw the 9/11 memorial area when we were there and it was so moving. I would have panicked too if the fire alarms would have gone off, we were very high up when we stayed there too! Yikes! Glad it was all ok.


  4. How cool you found a Georgia Bar. So happy your mama crossed NYC things off her bucket list.

  5. Those crowded places would have had me near to hyperventilating. As soon as you mentioned the hotel fire alarms going off I thought "well, they'll never get an elevator out of there!" I was telling my husband about that crazy system. It sounds like you had another eventful day though and crossed so much off your lists!

    1. Yes, if you don't like crowds, definitely don't go at Christmastime, because it is NUTS! We did have a blast, though!


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