travel

Back to the big apple

We were in New York + DC for 10 days to celebrate the husband’s birthday (no kids!) and it was such a treat to have him all to myself for all that time.

This trip was planned this way back in January when I spotted an error fare from Hong Kong to Washington on Air Canada for $170 USD. Where did I spot this magical fare? Ah, let me introduce you to one of my favourite FB pages for travel planning: secret flying. Most of the flight deals posted depart from North America and Europe but once in a while, a gem pops up and one has to act fast.

It was the sort of decision that took us 2 minutes to make. Actually it took us no time at all to decide and the 2 minutes were spent scrambling to secure the booking. It required positioning in Hong Kong (which we redeemed using miles during the Singapore Airlines Spontaneous Escapes promo last month) plus a connecting flight from IAD to JFK on Delta for $68 USD. On the way back, it was an easy drive to DC, where we spent 2 nights before flying home.

The next step was to convince our parents to watch all 5 kids for 10 days. Turns out, it took no convincing at all because we have the best parents in the world.

They were all “go have fun, don’t worry about the kids” and we were like “SAY NO MORE! WE’RE OUTTA HERE!!

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The plan was to do the things we normally wouldn’t be able to do with the kids, like watch all the shows on Broadway and go for concerts and comedy clubs and late night drinks. The only way we could do Broadway during the last trip was to take turns to watch it alone while the other person watched babies.

So this time, we went all the way with Broadway. We went for Mean Girls…

We had a long discussion about whether to schedule a musical on the night of arrival in New York, mistakenly being all gungho like “the adrenaline should keep us awake, we’ll beat the jet lag for sure” but no, the jet lag always wins. After over 20 hours in transit, we were basically dead on arrival. I managed to catch like 65% of the show in my dazed stupor but the parts I was awake for were hilarious.

There was also Frozen…

I know the reviews for Frozen are sort of meh but our experience with Disney musicals have been very positive. Lion King, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast were all very fun productions so Frozen was definitely on the list.

Well, I loved it! They nailed all my favourite songs from the animation and the couple of new songs were great. It’s also very kid friendly so I’m definitely penciling in a revisit with my 2 girls once Hayley gets bigger.

And Dear Evan Hansen…

A story about a kid with social anxiety who writes letters to himself may not seem like the most compelling narrative but as a musical, it was very well done.

We also made it for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child…

This was so. much. fun. The set was incredible, the cast was stellar and it was like watching a live magic show together with the play. We did both parts in a day, which was a long commitment of almost 6 hours but those 6 hours were very well spent indeed.

And the best one of all, Hamilton.

We’ve been waiting to watch Hamilton ever since watching the opening number on youtube. I’ve since rewatched the clip another 40-50 times and listened to the soundtrack on repeat so let’s just say that there was no way we would not be watching Hamilton this trip.

Before the show, we were like “maybe we should manage our expectations for this” because our expectations were about bursting at the seams but I’m very pleased to tell you that you should go in with all of the expectations for this show. You will not be disappointed.

TL;DR: If you only have time for one show, that’s the one you want to watch. Solid 10/10, no question.

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In between all the shows, we switched gears a bit and went for a bike tour around Brooklyn.

We expected it to be a relaxing ride with many breaks for food and stuff but it was hardcore. We covered 15 miles around Brooklyn riding uphill, weaving in and out of traffic, blitzing through Prospect Park, cruising across DUMBO, all the while listening to interesting nuggets of information about these places from our guide. In short, it was fantastic. It was exactly the sort of thing we wouldn’t be able to do with the kids around and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

And you know what’s another really fun activity? Eating. At Smorgasburg.

It’s an open-air food market sort of like artbox, except with a different selection of food. I wouldn’t ever say better food because there is nowhere in the world with food as good as we have back home but Smorgasburg had a few very decent options.

So if you know me, you’ll know that meat makes me happy. I love beef, lamb, pork, venison, chicken, duck, goose, and I eat them in all manner of ways: grilled, smoked, seared, fried, baked, broiled, stewed, all of it. I can satisfy most of my meat cravings back home except for one: smoked short ribs with a beautiful dry rub (if you know of any good places in Singapore, let me know!!). And I found it here at Smorgasburg at a little food stand called Carnal.

I can tell you that this piece of meat made me a very, very happy girl. I still dream of that lovely afternoon by the East River with my fall-off-the-bone-tender short ribs and that delicious dry rub.

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From New York, we rented a Mustang Convertible and took a slow drive to Washington, DC. We only needed the car for a day and it didn’t cost much more than a compact car ($76 USD including the one-way drop off fee) so of course we went for the Mustang.

First stop was some outlet shopping at Jersey Shore Premium Outlets, then lunch at Jersey Shore, where we stopped for the most amazing coffee milkshake in the history of milkshakes. See, this is exactly why I like road trips, because it is on road trips where I’ve discovered unexpected tasty delights that made my mouth and tummy very happy.

We drove past an ice cream shop spelled with an extra “pe” as in “shoppe” and yes, this is one of the things that influence my decision making in life. I told the husband to pull over for a milkshake and tbh, I would have been happy to enjoy a totally average milkshake from a quaint little ice cream shoppe but instead, I had the most delightful coffee milkshake that was rich and subtle and full-flavoured but not too sweet and basically perfect.

After lunch, we wanted to swing by Atlantic City for a stroll on the Boardwalk and then stop in Philly for a cheesesteak but we are Singaporeans after all, so we traded that for more outlet shopping at Arundel Mills in Maryland before getting in to DC. #priorities

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Okay during the planning, DC was a bit of a throwaway stop because of the flight situation. We got in late the first night so all we had was one full day in the city in case all the monument-looking got a bit boring.

Well, I’m a little sad to have scheduled so little time for DC because we really enjoyed that one DC day. We did a segway tour around the National Mall, covering the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the White House, the US Capitol, and the Smithsonian museums. I had just watched Daniel Day Lewis in Spielberg’s Lincoln and it was quite something reading the Gettysburg address at the Lincoln Memorial.

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On this trip, I learnt that 10 days without the kids does crazy things to the brain. By the time we boarded the flight home, I was so happy to see babies on the plane, which for some reason, there were a lot of. There was like a record number of babies on that flight and it felt strangely comforting. I know most people are like “so many babies on the flight? Urgh, kill me now” but I was like “yay babies everywhere!! this feels like home.

I will admit to spending a large portion of that flight ogling at chubby babies and thinking of ways I could attempt to munch on someone else’s baby’s cheeks without being creepy. If you must know, there are none. At the end of the flight, I had munched on zero babies but on the bright side, I was home and free to munch on all the baby cheeks I wanted.

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Also, happy birthday to my favourite person in the world!

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