Our family travels through Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City.
  • Day11

    Last Day (pt 2)

    July 11, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    We said goodbye to our guide and made our way to the Bushwick area. This area has given tax breaks to businesses that allow street artists to create a mural on their buildings. These murals are huge, colourful, and pretty incredible to see! We spent some time wandering around and then popped in to The Rookery where they were showing the England vs Croatia game. We drank pints and watched Croatia triumph over England. Brad decided to leave Evan and I (we were playing Connect 4 and eventually checkers) to go see more street art.

    Eventually we had to get going to dinner, so we got an Uber and drove through Brooklyn to Olmsted. I like to describe Olmsted as “hipster-chic” (Evan is not a fan of this expression!) and it was small plate sharing. We started with tempura rabe and whipped shito butter, which was loved by everyone! We then had crab Rangoon wantons, and garden spaetzle cacio e pepe. Evan is a big fan of all things cacio e pepe since our travels in Italy. Next was their signature carrot crepe, which was beautiful and delicious! Our final dish was dry rubbed scallops with corn and blueberry purée. It was all so good! We ended with a strawberry pavlova.

    Our subway ride home took almost an hour, but we finally made it back to Harlem. We packed all our belongings so we could be ready for our 3:30 am wake up call!
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  • Day11

    Last Day

    July 11, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    With our last day at hand, we decided to go to Central Park. The day was hot, but the park provided shade and cool relief in the city. We strolled through the park and saw the fountain, pond, and went through the tunnel. Worrying about getting to Williamsburg in Brooklyn on time, we made our way to the subway and started our journey to the birth place of the hipster.

    We grabbed quick iced lattes at a small cafe and then waited for our tour guide. At 1, he showed up and we found out that, once again, we were the only people on the tour! The tour was a food journey through the Williamsburg neighbourhood of Brooklyn. We began by getting a bit of history about people moving to Brooklyn in the 80s due to crime and overpriced housing in Manhattan. Young people began to move into the borough and started to make it “hip” - hence the hipster being synonymous with the area.

    Our first stop was a Polish bakery where we tried a meat filled perogy and got some sweet treats for later. We wandered over to our next stop which was a BBQ place called Mabel’s that is run by a husband and wife team. There we tried pulled pork, brisket, cornbread, and a bean salad. Evan loved the pulled pork and Brad and I agreed the BBQ sauce was incredible! Next was a stop for pizza. We tried a white slice (no sauce, ricotta, parm, and garlic) and a classic Neapolitan slice. Evan liked the red slice, but Brad and I preferred the white. We walked a little more while our guide told us about how the area has changed and some of the modern dwellings that have been interspersed between old factories.

    A stop at Milk Bar was next and we ate bagels bombs and tried their cereal milk ice cream, which everyone enjoyed. I’d been looking forward to our next stop, which was Mast Brothers. They do artisanal chocolate bars and we got to taste one made with goat milk, one that had been smoked, and one that was made with sheep milk. The goat milk bar was my favourite, it was so tangy! Our final stop was Odd Fellows Ice Cream. We got to choose any flavour (they make them all in house), so I got sesame Nutella, Brad had coffee crunch, and Evan had pb&j! A delicious finish to our tour.
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  • Day10

    Brooklyn Bridge and 9/11

    July 10, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    It was set to be a hot day in the city, so we made our first stop at the Brooklyn Bridge. We walked across the entire bridge (1.83 km) and into Brooklyn. Before leaving on our trip, we watched a documentary about the construction of the bridge, so it was quite fascinating to see it up close!

    Once we were in Brooklyn, we walked over to Juliana’s for their opening time. There was already a line when we arrived, but we still managed the get a table. Juliana’s is owned by the Grimaldi family and they specialize in coal fired pizza. We had a classic with meatballs and ricotta. It was perfect! Chewy crust, lots of ricotta and a lovely tomato sauce. After lunch we passed a Shake Shack, so Evan just had to get a mocha cookies and cream shake. With his beverage in tow, we headed to the waterfront to see the view of Manhattan.

    We made our way back across the bridge and ended up checking out a street performance. Four guys were doing flips and break dancing. For the big finale, they pulled Brad (one guy said, “I’ve got a sexy white dude!” and pointed at Brad) into the trick! They lined up five people and did a flip over them. It was an unexpected fun pit stop on our way to the 9/11 Museum and Memorial.

    We used our Go City card once again to skip the ticket line. After a run through security, we headed down into the museum, which is built below ground level. The main part is more a memorial than a museum. There is an entire room where the names of the dead are read out and you can see their photo as well. There was a few pieces of the twisted metal columns that the plane that hit tower 1 had gone through. But then there was a separate section that chronicled the entire day in great detail. Timelines, photos, videos, and personal effects were all arranged. I didn’t quite expect to get so emotional, but reading some of the voicemails people left for one another or the calls the flight attendants made for help after their planes were hijacked was heartbreaking. The exhibit was totally engrossing and so well put together. We spent over two hours looking, watching, and recalling our own memories of the day. After the museum, we went to the memorial fountains which there are two of - exactly where the towers used to stand.

    Running short on time, we left the area and caught the subway to Greenwich Village. Tonight’s dinner was at Barbuto. We were seated right by the kitchen and I was disappointed when I didn’t see chef Jonathan Waxman there, but five minutes later he showed up! We have seen him on Top Chef so many times that it was pretty neat to see him in person!

    We ordered the famous kale salad to start and it didn’t disappoint! Then we shared two pastas: pappardelle with lamb, and fettuccine with morels and favs beans. Both were surprisingly light! We also shared a half oven roasted chicken with salsa verde. To finish, we shared a cheese plate that came with focaccia and bread sticks.

    Very full, we got on the express train home and tried to cool down for the night. Tomorrow is our last day in NYC!
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  • Day9


    July 9, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Our day started with hustling to Pier 83 in hopes of getting on the 10:30 Liberty Cruise. Luckily, we were able to use our Go Card to get tickets and get right on the boat! The cruise took us out to see the Statue of Liberty, but we also got to see a great view of New York and Jersey! We got up quite close to Lady Liberty, which is a way better view than going up the Statue. It was a quick hour ride, but Evan was pleased to have seen the iconic landmark.

    Once we docked, we took the bus to Grand Central Station to see it and have lunch. Traffic was crazy, so our bus ride was pretty slow, and Evan ended up losing his sunglasses on the bus, but we arrived at the Station in the end. We ate at the Great Northern Food Hall, which was opened by one of the original partners of Noma (the famous Danish restaurant). The theme was decidedly Danish/Nordic food. We had three different smorgesbord (open face sandwiches): egg and shrimp, roast beef and horseradish; chicken salad with celeriac. Evan really wanted the hay-smoked leek and potato soup, so he ate that.

    Bellies full, we walked along 5th Avenue and popped into a few stores before going on to the MoMA. We spent several hours checking out the modern art collection. There were many highlights including seeing Starry Night! We also saw many Picassos, Monets, and Pollocks.

    By this time it was almost 5 and we had to hustle in order to take the subway to our dinner reservation. Luckily we arrived with time to spare and just in time to see the chef, Enrique Olivera, walk by! Cosme was named the 40th best restaurant in the world this year and is known for its Mexican cuisine. We started with cobia al pastor (fish that has been marinated in pineapple) and tamales that came in a red sauce. Then we had a mole with special smoky tortillas, and the showstopper - duck carnitas! It came out as half a boneless, roasted duck with watermelon radishes, onions, and cilantro. It was also accompanied by tortillas and salsas. It was heavenly!

    After supper, we started to make our way to the Brooklyn Bridge, with a quick stop in the East Village at Big Gay Ice Cream. Evan had the Rocky Roadhouse and Brad and I shared Monday Sundae (which came in a Nutella smeared waffle cone). We walked back to the subway only to find out that there were major line delays. It was getting late, so we decided to just catch the express line home and see the bridge tomorrow.
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  • Day8

    Guggenheim, Met, SoHo

    July 8, 2018 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 21 °C

    We began our day with brunch in Harlem at Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster. Evan had French toast, Brad had Nashville honey hot chicken, and I had shrimp and grits. While we ate, a jazz band played and sang gospel music. It was a great start to our Sunday!

    After a quick stop at our apartment, we got on the M1 bus and took it to the Guggenheim. We just wanted to see the building and inside the vestibule, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. We grabbed some lattes at Blueline and then walked over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We all viewed the modern and contemporary art first. There were a few Rothko’s and a couple great Pollock’s as well! Then we split off and the boys went to the see the armour and I went to the special Costume and Christianity exhibit. We met back up at the Egyptian Temple and then scooted out as the Met had become impossibly crowded!

    Our next destination was SoHo (South of Houston) for a bit of shopping. In the end, Evan was the only person that bought anything - sunglasses to replace the pair he lost the night of the fireworks.

    Our dinner reservation was quite early because it was the only time I could book at Carbone. This restaurant is old school Italian and a favourite among celebrities. We were seated by a tuxedo wearing server and serenaded by Frank Sinatra tunes. Before we ordered, we were brought shards of real parmigiana reggiano, salami, pickled vegetables, and a variety of bread. We began with a chopped salad of bitter greens, olives, mushrooms, and tomatoes. This was followed by three pastas: a take on cacio e pepe with crab; tortellini with ragu; and lobster ravioli. We all shared the pastas, but each had our own favourite. Then we shared meatballs, which were incredible! To finish, Brad and I shared tiramisu, while Evan opted to eat some chips at home instead. Go figure.

    The meal was amazing from start to finish and gave us a little taste of Italy again!

    Following dinner, we walked to the subway station abs caught the train back home. We stopped at Whole Foods to grab breakfast provisions and then spent the rest of the evening relaxing.
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  • Day7

    Views and Stews

    July 7, 2018 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

    Everyone takes one elevator to get to the 80th floor where there is an exhibit about the building. Then you board another elevator to get to the 86th floor to see the views!

    It was quite cool and windy at the top, so I think that deterred a number of tourists from hanging around too long. We enjoyed taking our time to see New York, which you could see most of because it was a clear evening. Evan liked stoping at the lookouts and looking through all of them. Eventually, we decided to head back down, but this time we walked the six flights instead of waiting for the elevator. We checked out the gift shop and a Evan bought a NYC Taxi pen and then we took the elevator to the ground level.

    The restaurant we had reservations for wasn’t too far away, so we walked over to Her Name is Han. We were able to get our table right away, which was great because there appeared to be a lot of people waiting outside. The menu was lengthy, but it had pictures of most dishes. This was helpful because we aren’t especially well versed in Korean food.

    We decided to order pork dumplings, potato croquettes, bulgogi, and a soup that had noodles, mussels, clams, rice dumplings, hard boiled eggs, shrimp, and a spicy fish broth. Evan loved the bulgogi! I’m sure he’d have eaten it all if we’d let him. The soup was moderately spicy (enough to make your nose run a little) and so delicious! They served our meal with a variety of accompaniments as well (kimchi, pickled vegetables, etc.). There were so many dishes we wanted to try, so it’s too bad we can’t go back soon!

    After our meal, we walked to Times Square. It was bananas! I guess seeing that it was Saturday night and a nice night at that, everyone was out! As we got closer to the square, the crowd just got thicker and thicker! We all had to stay close while checking out all the action. Next, we made our way to Rockefeller Center. It wasn’t quite as busy so we spent some time looking around and viewing the art installations that’s currently there.

    By this time we were exhausted, so we took the M3 bus back to Harlem and called it a night around midnight.
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  • Day7

    Start Spreading the News!

    July 7, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    We packed our belongings and left our lovely apartment to head to the Amtrak station. It was a cool 21c, which made our walk to the station quite pleasant!

    We boarded our train to NYC at about 11:30 and arrived just before 1 at Penn Station. We made stops in Trenton, NJ and Newark, NJ along the way. Our next task was to get to the subway and then to Harlem where we were staying. It took a bit of time, but we got it figured out and ended up in Harlem where we met Barbara who owns the place. The apartment was big and airy and beautiful, and she even gave us a gift basket!

    After we settled in, we went to Whole Foods to grab a snack before taking the subway to Greenwich. From there we walked to the Chelsea Market. We checked out the shops and grabbed a few bites including a lobster roll and pork tacos. Evan also bought himself some mini doughnuts. Then we walked the high line for awhile since it was such a beautiful day!

    From there we began to head towards the Empire State Building, which was one of Evan’s “must do” items. We had purchased a Go City card, which allowed us to skip the line for tickets. What a lifesaver! The ticket line had to be at least an hour long! We just whizzed on by and made our way to the first elevator.
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  • Day6

    Last of Philly

    July 6, 2018 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 21 °C

    We decided to split up for the rest of the afternoon. Brad was going to see an art gallery that was the private collection of a man named Barnes, and Evan and I were going to explore Eastern State Penitentiary. So we got our Uber driver to drop us off separately.

    Steve Buschemi narrated our audio tour of the penitentiary. It was the world’s first penitentiary and opened in the 19th century. They believed that solitary confinement was perfect for reflection, so cells were individual (even the little outdoor space) and guards wore socks over their boots to maintain a culture of complete silence. When prisoners were moved, they wore bags over their heads so they could not see anyone. It sounded horrendous! They later changed their practice, but this silent treatment went on for decades.

    We also got to see where various movie shoots and music videos were shot once the prison had been decommissioned (1970s) and hear stories from prisoners (some are still imprisoned in Pennsylvania) who were in Eastern State. We also saw a recreation of Al Capone’s cell while he was there. It was pretty swanky!

    I thought the penitentiary was creepy, but Evan didn’t think so! The cells were so small and eerie. Nonetheless, it was a very interesting part of history that we got to explore together.

    We met up with Brad just after 5 and stopped in at Philly Flavors to try water ice, a Philadelphia specialty. We tried one orange cream and one raspberry. They are a mix between a Slurpee and sorbet, and delightfully refreshing! We ate them as we walked to Love City Brewing. This brewery was bumping! We enjoyed a few beers while playing some games.

    Our dinner reservation wasn’t until 8:45, so we decided to walk home. We got to see a lot of Center City on our walk and the rain had cooled the day off nicely, so it was a great evening stroll.

    Friday Saturday Sunday was the neighbourhood restaurant we decided to try for our last meal in Philly. We began with grilled octopus with beans, and sweetbread sandwiches with bone marrow tartar sauce. Then we shared three pastas: potato gnocchi with burnt cream; bucatini with mussels; and gemelli with pork sugo. Everything was excellent! (The lighting was too low for any pictures!)

    After dinner we walked around the block and back to our apartment. I didn’t know what to expect from Philadelphia, but it is a great city to visit!
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  • Day6

    More Philly

    July 6, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    To our surprise (and luck) we were the only people on the tour! Nina was our guide and her son, Kamar, was our driver. She gave us goodie bags to get started and they had a scoring sheet for the five cheesesteaks we were about to try. They also had a bag of Herb’s chips and Tastee Kakes, both Philly products.

    Our first stop was Sonny’s, where they do not use any extra oil when they grill the steaks. They also just use American cheese. Nina had pre-ordered at all our stops, so her son would just run in and grab our order. Seeing the long lines made us really appreciate the tour already!

    Just down the street was Campo’s. They chopped their steaks and used “whiz” instead of American cheese. Although all cheesesteaks are made with bread, cheese and steak, you could start to taste the difference between restaurants.

    Nina took us on a bit of a tour that included a stop at the Rocky statue. She explained that real estate is booming in Philadelphia right now because New Yorkers are moving in and just commuting to NYC for work. She also told us the history of William Penn and his design for Philadelphia, which was completed over the course of almost 200 years!

    Our next stop was in South Philly where Pat’s and Gene’s face off on opposing corners. They both used onions and whiz, and both did the flat steak as opposed to chopped. Brad and I really liked Geno’s! Evan was still rooting for Campo’s.

    Our last stop was Jim’s on South Street. Kamar got some pretty dirty looks from the people standing in line as he went in to grab our sandwich! This place used whiz as well, but their bread was much chewier than the other places. Nina said that their is no “best place” for cheesesteaks in Philly because people who grew up there always think their neighbourhood place is the best. She said she grew up eating Geno’s and nothing else!

    The tour lasted just over two hours and was so great! We saw so much of Philly that we’d never be able to see on our own and trying all the cheesesteaks was a perfect way to understand why people love this sandwich!

    We said goodbye to Nina and Kamar and walked to Second Story Brewing for a quick pint and to game plan.
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  • Day6

    The Liberty Bell Still Has a Crack

    July 6, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    We began our day by doing our laundry and then walked to Independence Hall to see it and the Liberty Bell. There was a fairly long line to get in to see the Bell, but it moved quickly. Before you got to the Bell, there was an exhibit about its history. It was actually really interesting to see all the groups who had used the Bell as a symbol of liberty - the women’s suffrage movement, the civil rights movement, and the LGBTQ equality movement to name a few.

    Then we got to actually see the Bell! It sounds not that exciting, but it was pretty cool to see it up close and to see the famous crack in the Bell. It was a bit smaller than I had imagined, but had a presence nonetheless.

    By this time, it had started to pour, so we threw on our rain coats and made a mad dash for the visitor center across the street. We were soaked! We spent a bit of time in the gift shop and then took pictures with Ben Franklin, the Greetings from Philadelphia sign, and the mascot from the Phillies (Phillie Phanatic). We also looked at options for the afternoon.

    Before we knew it, we had to meet our Philly Cheesesteak Tour, so we went outside where the rain had subsided and met Nina, our guide.
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