So if you’ve been following me for sometime, you know that I have had major anxiety around this pandemic. My husband did all the grocery shopping for the past 4 months; I just started to leave the house a few weeks ago. And forget about being around people, I didn’t even let my own parents into the house. Social distancing was an understatement for me, I was socially absent. My sister calls me the Covid sheriff. Needless to say, I am slowly becoming comfortable and trying to return to some type of normalcy. So when hubby suggested a quick trip to New York for some much needed rest and relaxation, I was still a bit apprehensive. This was our first “vacay” since the pandemic and I thought, he wants me to travel to what was once the US epicenter of Covid? Well I must say, it wasn’t too bad. I’m sharing everything from how I packed, safety measures and what I did for two days in New York!
Packing: I plan to do a more detailed post on this later, but packing was a breeze. I packed all neutral colors of black, tan and white; this way I could mix and match. I also included one pair of jeans, a going out dress and one pair of neutral heels. Since it was a last minute trip, I wasn’t quite sure what I would need. This keeps you from overpacking and stretching your wardrobe to create multiple outfits. I also made sure to pack lots of hand sanitizer and wipes. Even with this planning, I still managed to pack like I was traveling for two days instead of two weeks.
Travel: One factor that put me a little more at ease was the fact that we did not need to fly. Living in Philadelphia, New York is only about a 2 hour drive. We drove down Friday afternoon, and there wasn’t much traffic. I believe many are still working from home, so we never saw the normal incoming traffic from New Jersey into NYC. Driving made it super simple, which is more than I can say about parking.
We were within walking distance from most places we wanted to go. There was a Chick Fil A right across the street, so I mean where else did we need to go. Some locations a little further out, we did take a Lyft. I was a little uneasy at first, but felt more comfortable after the first time. The drivers wear masks of course and one even had a whole plexiglass screen dividing the front from the back seat.
Where We Stayed: Hubby did the dirty work on finding a place to stay. He found our hotel shopping on Priceline. We rely heavily on reviews and the Embassy Suites had 4.5 stars. Plus it was in the heart of the city, within short walking or driving distance to everything so that was perfect for us. Our hotel was spacious enough, and the staff very friendly. Housekeeping was limited because of Covid. You had to request it a day in advance if you wanted them to come and clean your room. We didn’t since we only stayed for two days; plus I wanted to limit the exposure to people. Breakfast was also altered. Instead of an open buffet, they provided on the go breakfast in a paper bag with packaged danishes, fruit cups and orange juice. Of course you had to wear a mask in the lobby as expected, and elevator capacity was limited to two persons. Overall, our stay was rather seamless and enjoyable.
What We Ate: So because it was more of a relaxing stay, we slept in and only ate really once a day. Friday night we hoped on Yelp and found a local American cuisine nearby called the Ragtrader. We both got burgers which were so good. Cheeseburgers are one of my favorite things to eat, so I consider myself a connoisseur. Definitely a great burger. And the outdoor ambience was great. They had live karaoke singers, where strangers from the street had no problem joining in. One guy even walked up and started playing his harmonica.
Now as much as I love to sing, Covid was not letting your girl get that close to sharing a microphone with a stranger. But what I appreciate was that because seating is limited to outdoors, restaurants are really taking it up a notch. They don’t just sit a table on the sidewalk. Many have created a little oasis with fresh flower centerpieces, pretty tents, candlelight, etc. I really enjoyed this aspect of outdoor dining.
STK: Hubby again took the lead and booked this place. I love steakhouses, steak being my other favorite food to eat. Every time we visit a place, we always plan for a nice steak dinner night. This particular one had rave views and since there is no location in Philly; it was a must.
My honest opinion, the food was good but not overwhelming. Having tried many steakhouses, I’ve had better, but overall still good. I thought the sides were super expensive, but I guess we were paying for that New York retail space. I mean an appetizer salad was $19, thats $40 just for salads for the both of us. Outside ambiance was again nice, with music playing on speakers. I got a peak at the inside during my trip to the restroom; which was exquisite. It would have been nice to sit inside to enjoy the beautiful interior, or even the rooftop area.
Little Italy Pizza: New York is definitely a good place for pizza so we definitely wanted to try it. After our astronomical bill from STK we both were okay with something less fancy and economical. Pizza was the perfect option. Even with inflated New York prices, our slices and drinks only came up to about $18. We passed Little Italy the previous day on our way to Neiman’s and decided to try it before leaving the city. The pizza had really great flavor and was fresh. They were making fresh pies, which I love; I hate having to select from pizza that has been sitting out all day.
Lesson learned from the trip so far is to definitely plan your vacay in advance. Because of Covid, many establishment and restaurants have limited capacity so you have to make a reservation. Luckily we made a reservation for STK once we decided to come to NYC. But we should have thought about this when trying to enjoy other festivities, as I will explain next.
What We Did: As I mentioned above, planning and reserving goes a long way theses days. Places have limited capacity and some you have to wait in lines. For this reason, we weren’t able to do some things we had planned on. Sterling wanted to go Sojo Spa, a beautiful spa that looks so inviting from the website pics. Well they were completely booked for massages, which is what hubby wanted. Facials were cancelled and several other amenities for safety precautions. Because of this we opted not to make a special trip; the spa is in Edgewater new jersey; if we couldn’t enjoy what we wanted.
We did visit a less extravagant spa in the city. This was my first mani and pedi sice the shutdown, so mama was way overdue. I must say, cleanliness practices were ensured. They wiped down after each client, used new mani pedi kits for each client,and covered all shared apparatus with plastic. The staff also wore masks and gloves. I thoroughly enjoyed my covid mani/pedi experience and definitely would not feel apprehensive about returning for my 2 week refill.
Times Square: Like I mentioned, this was more of a relaxation type of trip, so we didn’t visit many places. We did venture into Times Square after dinner at STK. But for some reason, it just didn’t have the same vivacious effect as years before. I’m not sure why, maybe the crowds of people during a pandemic. Anywho, we only managed to walk around a few minutes, long enough for me to switch into my flat shoes on deck, and took a lyft home.
Where Did I Shop: Okay so its nearly impossible to come to New York and not do a little shopping. I mean you’re in the city of Bryant Park and Sex and the City. But since this trip wasn’t about me, I had to be mindful of my husbands patience. We stopped at Zara of course only to look for hubby, but of course I picked up an oversized black belt and this new eggplant color in my favorite bodysuit. (Shop both in feature picture)
Neiman Marcus: I had heard through the grapevine of bloggers that Neiman Marcus Hudson Yards was going out of business so I had to at least stop in. Everything was an additional 60 percent off the lowest marked price, a steal. The best part is they are the latest season designs, most still marked at current prices online and at other Neiman Marcus Stores. That being said, you really could score some great deals. Needless to say I racked up. Check out my haul over on IG to see everything I purchased.
Overall, I would say that this was a successful first trip. Minimal anxiety, quality with the hubby and bonus shopping equals a homerun for me. The city did lack its normal upbeat, fast paced spark, but this was totally fine for me. Covid-19 has definitely affected the life of the city with several business and establishments still vacant, but we were still able to bring our own light.
So if you are thinking of traveling soon, to New York or another fun destination, here are a few tips. Make reservations far in advance for anywhere you want to visit like museums, restaurants, etc. Try to get out and about during non peak times to avoid large crowds. Most importantly, try not to dwell on things not being normal and create your new normal. Enjoy festivities and the location to the fullest, just be sure to do it safely. Happy travelling!