Our European Trip: New York, New York

Following our visit to ESPN headquarters, we headed to New York City. Since our flight was scheduled for Thursday at 10:30pm, we had some time to catch up with friends and explore new restaurants.

After going through several tolls, navigating our way through the busy streets and somehow driving beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, we finally arrived at our hotel for the evening – the Days Inn Brooklyn. Now, you may be thinking “Days Inn? No, thank you. I only stay at 5 star hotels.”, but this location is definitely worth checking out.

Since our first trip to NYC together in 2008, we have stayed at the Days Inn Brooklyn on all but one occasion. With its close proximity to the subway and diverse neighborhood, renovations & up-to-date amenities, affordable price and views of the Hudson River, we have yet to have a bad experience at the hotel. One of our favorite moments whenever we stay at the Days Inn Brooklyn is watching the fire station across the street. Although that may seem like an odd pastime, it is awe-inspiring to watch their driver maneuver the fire truck on a narrow road into an even narrower garage without much of a disruption to traffic. We were so impressed the first time we witnessed it that always make sure our room faces the front on an upper floor!

Once we checked in to our room and showered off the 2 ½ days of driving, we decided to explore the area near NYU for some local eats. Since I had a taste for lobster – as I always do – we chose a delicious restaurant with locations in New York City, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston and Las Vegas: Luke’s Lobster! On their menu, they offer some delicious seafood fare: lobster rolls (of course), shrimp rolls, crab rolls, crab claws and chowders, all fresh from Maine. Originally, Joel suggested we drive to Maine for dinner, but I wasn’t up for a 10 hour round-trip, so Luke’s Lobster was the next best thing. After we grabbed our dinner of the Luke’s Trio (1/2 lobster roll, 1/2 crab roll, 1/2 shrimp roll), a clam chowder and 2 Ginger Buzz sodas to-go, we headed back to the Days Inn to get some sleep before our Thursday flight.

Following check-out the next morning, we drove to JFK Airport to park the car before heading back into the city. We decided to park the car at JFK Discount Parking since they offered competitive pricing, removed the snow from our vehicle and warmed it up periodically, including upon our return. It was fantastic service, but traveling into Manhattan was a journey in and of itself! First of all, we hopped on the airport tram (AirTrain JFK) to make our way to the MTA trains. What we didn’t know was that you had to pay an additional fee to transfer from the airport to the MTA trains and back (the AirTrain makes stops around the airport terminals, parking lots, rental car facilities and hotel shuttles for free).

However, if you plan on traveling into New York City from JFK Airport, expect to pay at least $7.75 per person each way. That cost includes the $5.00 AirTrain entry/exit fee and the $2.75 MTA subway fare. If you do not already have a MetroCard, add $1.00 to cover the cost of a new card purchase; the $1.00 fee will not apply if you are refilling a valid MetroCard or if the card is bought from the authorized merchants located at the Jamaica and Howard Beach stations.

If you plan on going to Manhattan’s West Side (near Penn Station) and Queens via the Long Island Rail Road at Jamaica Station, your cost increases to $15.00 per person (which includes the $5.00 AirTrain fee and the Long Island Rail Road peak period fare). Make sure to review your route prior to purchase. And remember to hold on to your MetroCard; not only can it be reused, but it makes a great souvenir.

After spending an additional $17.50 we weren’t expecting, we had dinner at Shilla Restaurant in Manhattan with my dear friend/journalistic sister Shaiza & her boyfriend Sem. Shilla was actually a unique experience for Joel & I as it was our first time having Korean barbecue… and we were blown away! The banchan varieties (kimchi [fermented cabbage], bap [cooked rice], guk [soup]) and chadol baki (sliced beef brisket) were the perfect international cuisine to prep our palates for the trip. We were so impressed that we make sure we eat Korean barbecue at least once a month in Atlanta and Shaiza even bought us Korean barbecue grill for our wedding gift!

Once we finally digested the food and caught up on life, we made our way back to JFK to board our flight. Although we arrived at 7:30pm for a 10:30pm flight (as suggested by the TSA for international travel), our check in took less than an hour, so we spent our free time calling my parents, charging our phones (we didn’t know there would be USB charge ports on the plane) and texting Shaiza. Before we knew it, 9:45pm was upon us and it was time to board the plane. Since we only had one duffel bag each, security and check-in was a breeze, so we were able to go directly to our seats.

Following the safety demonstrations and one last call to my parents, we were en route to merry ‘ol England!


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