Journey to Upstate New York

On Sunday we woke up around 10AM for a leisurely breakfast at the hotel by 11AM, and a departure 30 minutes later for upstate New York. While checking out, I made a case to receive 50,000 Hilton points back to compensate for 1 award night I used for the hotel stay due to the leaking air conditioning unit that completely soaked a third of the carpet in our room (3208). The desk receptionist said she could do this for me, so let’s see if that actually happens (Magic 8 Ball says outlook hazy). The journey to Grand Central Station was easy from FiDi. We started on the same 1 line and changed lines at Union (we opted for the route that had us doing the least amount of walking with our luggage outside, since it was sweltering). We arrived with more than an hour to spare, only to find out that they didn’t post the track number until 20 minutes prior to the departure at 115PM. It was a little discombobulated because Amtrak rerouted all their trains that normally would operate out of Penn Station to Grand Central while some lines were under construction, so there wasn’t as much Amtrak….

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World Trade Center NYC

Our final part of rediscovering NYC was a trip to the World Trade Center – the new building as well as the footprints of the old buildings destroyed on 9/11. We decided to save this for before the wedding on Saturday morning since it was so conveniently located near our hotel in FiDi. Prior to heading to the World Trade Center, we decided to grab breakfast out and forego our free breakfast at the hotel. Since we typically were not early risers, it was always slim pickings later in the breakfast buffets. We had a place in mind for brunch called the Stone Street Tavern, which was about 2 blocks away on the same street we were staying on. We found it in a quaint little alley that had been made in to a beer garden for the World Cup, which we forgot was on that morning. We had looked at the menu the night before and it looked really good, but when we arrived and were seated, we were presented with an entirely new menu. The waitress said they had just changed the menu a few days ago. We unfortunately liked nothing on it, so we decided to check….

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Brooklyn wedding

After our Times Square adventure (before our Broadway adventure), we met up with the family for Part 1 of the Brooklyn wedding at Ethiopian restaurant Gheneb. Cousin Kassa, on Aunt Leslie’s (my mom’s sister) side of the family, married Justine González – which was the whole purpose for us coming to NYC to the first place. We were thrilled to be sharing this with them, especially since we never really had a public wedding ourselves. You can check out their story here (especially read the portion on how Kassa wood Justine with fake Spanish). It was a multi-cultural Ethiopian (Habesha)/Hebrew/Puerto Rican/Caucasian celebration which was quintessential of Brooklyn. We got really good at taking the N and R lines from FiDi to Brooklyn over the next few days for wedding activities. Here’s the route. On a good day, this takes about 30 minutes all in. The first day we tried it, it was a good day. We got to Gheneb promptly at 5PM for the commencement of festivities. We met up with a few friends of the bride’s – Javier and Natalio (who she met in Cordoba, Spain in college) –  and had some Ethiopian St. George beer while we waiting for….

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Rediscovering NYC

We decided to slip away for the July 4th weekend to New York, combining a family wedding with rediscovering NYC and a trip to the Adirondacks in upstate. We used United miles and Hilton points to make the most of our time in NYC and give us maximum flexibility for spending money along the way. We designed our itinerary to arrive in to Newark on Thursday night (Jun 28), stay in FiDi (Financial District/Lower Manhattan) for 3 nights, and then take the Amtrak train to Albany where we would pick up a rental car, and continue our adventure for 4 nights  at a B&B in the Lake George/Lake Placid area upstate. Our United flight from Denver to Newark was delayed by about 90 minutes. Our bag arrived quickly and we grabbed a Lyft to our Doubletree Hotel on Hilton points in Lower Manhattan. We chose this location because it was central to everything we needed to do – within a 30 minute subway ride from Brooklyn or mid-town (Times Square). We arrived around 11PM (the Lyft ride took 45 minutes from EWR due to construction on the bridge from NJ to NY), had our warm chocolate chip cookie, and hit….

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Departing Costa Rica

Our final day started with a breakfast at the hotel, a farewell to Dirk, settling of our accounts (hot sauce, dinner, 3 nights) over poor WiFi that took 20 minutes to transact a Paypal transfer, and then finally leaving Nuevo Arenal and departing Costa Rica. Dirk had to kick all other guests off the network and lock it down simply so we would have enough bandwidth to get on. It’s amazing how much we missed fast internet. We took one last pass around the room and were in the car and on the road by 915AM, anticipating a 2 hour or less drive back to Economy Rent A Car in Liberia. The drive back went smoothly except for a weird detour that Google Maps recommended we take to hypotenuse around a section of the 142 road. It took us on a very bumpy and windy dirt road and we ended up behind two slow trucks (we knew we were on the right track, but it was painful going and we wished we hadn’t). Incidentally, this was the first time we experienced a negative outcome from using Google Maps over Waze – which we were warned about by the rental car….

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