February 17, 2014

ain't it a fine life.

     We always seem to celebrate Valentine’s Day the date before or after the actual holiday because of our busy schedules, but it never takes away from the fun that we have together. On Saturday we woke up early and headed into New York City and caught brunch at Pershing Square, located just outside Grand Central Station. This restaurant might be shoved under a bridge, but it’s much larger and more beautiful inside than it lets on outside. Not to be cliché or anything, but it was seriously love at first bite. My three egg omelet and Jason’s steak and eggs were absolutely delicious and perfect in everyway. It was fun to sit comfortably in our seats and enjoy our food while the snow started to fall outside. 
Leaving Grand Central
Pershing Square was miraculously outside of Grand Central Station
Best brunch ever
Jason's new favorite spot
The food was so delicious
     After licking our plates clean and sipping the last of our hot chocolate, we walked down 42nd street to the New York Public Library. This is another place we have walked by many times, but never thought to go inside. The New York Public Library is the second largest library in the United States (only behind the Library of Congress) and the third largest in the world. This huge, marble building was like entering Hogwarts. Two marble lions named Patience and Fortitude guard the entrance and walking through the revolving doors you find yourself suddenly standing in the candlelight of Astor Hall. We walked through the quiet rooms of the library and admired the detailed art and architecture. Jason led me to the third floor where we entered the Rose Reading Room with a sky-decorated ceiling. It truly was an amazing sight and pilled high with so many books.
The gorgeous marble facade of the New York Public Library
Jason and Patience the Lion
Astor Hall
Rose Reading Room
Rose Reading Room
The coolest drinking fountain ever
Seroiusly, I don't know how people wouldn't be distracted from such beautiful art and architecture
Rose Reading Room
Rose Reading Room
     After our brief visit to the New York Public Library, we continued to walk through Bryant Park admiring the people ice skating in the snowy weather. We walked pass Time Square to the Nederlander Theatre to go see Newsies! Jason had surprised me with tickets the day before and we were both so excited to see our third musical on Broadway. Jason grew up watching the Disney movie and had all the songs memorized. He had been singing the songs the day since he bought tickets to the musical, and even now, I can’t get him to stop. I was just as excited to see a musical that won Best Score and Best Choreography at the 2012 Tony Awards.
Time Square
Nederlander Theatre
Even this billiboard just makesme want to sing and dance
Nederlander Theatre
     Newsies did not disappoint. Our seats were seven rows from the stage and I felt at times like they were singing to me. Newsies is a musical with a simple storyline and even simpler set design, which involved three sets of scaffolding. The songs were so fun and catchy that it made us want to get up from our seats and sing and strike with them. I loved the almost full cast of boys, and Jason and I were in awe of the dancing. Seriously, I would spend the money again just to see the choreography.
Sneaking a shot of the stage before the show begins
     We left the city just in time to miss a snowstorm. Even though it wasn’t exactly Valentine’s Day, I had the perfect date with my valentine and I’m so happy that he’s mine.
Escaping the snow just in time

February 5, 2014

chilly in philly.

     It’s been so cold and gloomy around here that we decided to drive to Philadelphia to take advantage of a slightly less freezing day. Last year we visited Philadelphia in a whirlwind and jam packed our day walking to the major sights: Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Ben Franklin’s Grave, Reading Terminal, JFK Plaza, Elfreth’s Alley, and the Rocky Statue. This time around we made a much shorter visit and saw the things we didn’t get around to doing last year, which ended up being perfect.

     We spent most of our time at the Eastern State Penitentiary. We arrived just in time to go on an hour tour of the former prison. Eastern State was in operation from 1829 to 1971 and was revolutionary in its emphasis of reform over punishment. Most striking is its radial plan or wagon wheel model of cellblocks that are connected by a single central hub. Eastern State’s design served as an innovative model, at the time, for hundreds of other prisons.

Eastern State Penitentiary
Guard Towers at each corner of the Penitentiary 
Each cell was tiny with only a small bed and a toilet
Down cell block 7; a two-story block
Cell Block 7
The penitentiary was really run down which gave it an even more eery feel
The Operating Room; it was even more creepy in person
Medical Wing
     On the tour, we walked the length of cellblock one and stayed in the central hub, which was thankfully heated. The cold matched the uneasy feeling of walking down a hallway where so many people served out their sentences and lived in these tiny cells. It was fun listening to the tour guide tell us stories of how inmates had escaped. The most famous account was of Willie Sutton and 11 others escaping by digging a tunnel 15-feet deep and 97-feet over. Jason and I have seen so many movies about breaking out of prison, but it never occurred to me that those instances have actually happened. Just listening to the stories made me want to watch the Shawshank Redemption.

     Jason’s favorite part of the tour was seeing Al Capone’s fairly luxurious cell with fine furniture, oriental rugs, and a cabinet radio. In 1929, Capone was arrested traveling back from Atlantic City with a concealed, unlicensed .38 caliber revolver and sentenced to a year at Eastern State. Though he was let out four months early on good behavior, Eastern State was his first visit to prison. Jason and I had an amazing time on our tour of Eastern State and weren’t completely frozen by the weather.
Inside the penitentiary, the only form of security was a guard standing at the center hub and looking down each block
What it is believed Al Capone's cell looked like while he stayed here
Jason outside Al Capone's cell
Trying to climb the 30-foot wall

     We drove to Independence Square and rounded out our visit with some more traditional American history at Franklin Court. Franklin Court is the site of Benjamin Franklin’s home, which was torn down in the early 1800s. It has been memorialized by a steel “ghost structure” outlining the place where Franklin’s house once stood. There were also archeological exhibits that showed the original foundations and walls of the house. It was really insightful in giving us an idea of where Benjamin Franklin lived.

Side note: I found a whole 4 dollars on the sidewalk
The original is always best
Part of the "Ghost Structure" of Franklin's House, it's sad that it's not still standing today

     We also walked along the bridge to Penn’s Landing. Besides the wind coming off of the Delaware River, the waterfront was absolutely gorgeous. A bit of history: after first landing in New Castle, DE—Penn docked alongside the Delaware River in 1682 and later founded the colony of Pennsylvania.

Where William Penn landed and founded "Penn"sylvania

     Before leaving, we stopped at Pat’s King of Steaks, which is supposedly the birthplace of the Philly Cheese Sandwich. We parked our car in a super sketchy neighborhood in South Philadelphia, ordered our sandwiches, and ate them in the car with the heater on. The Philly Cheese Steak is definitely made for a meat eater. I ordered the pizza steak and Jason ordered a traditional  cheese steak. Personally, I thought it was good, but it had way too much meat. In the driver’s seat, Jason devoured his because, well, he’s a carnivore.

Visited the King
Their fries were top notch
Jason approves
     I’m glad that we challenged the cold and snuck in a trip to Philadelphia early in the new year. I’m so excited for new adventures and for whatever lies in store for 2014.