It’s official! I am 26! I am the kind of person who does NOT like having birthday parties. Believe it or not, I hate the attention and I always feel awkward. My favorite thing to do on my birthday is TRAVEL. Seeing new places breathes fresh life into me and so when Brandon surprised me in March with HAMILTON TICKETS FOR MY BIRTHDAY, I was SO EXCITED.
In case you weren’t aware, I am a huge Broadway nerd. I have been seeing Broadway shows since I was 5 years old and I would ask every year if we could see a new show. My dream would be to be on Broadway one day. There is something about a Broadway musical that just makes me so HAPPY. I’ve been obsessed with Hamilton (i.e. listening to the soundtrack on a daily basis and watching bootleg clips of it on Instagram) for about a year now. But tickets are still super pricey. But….Brandon, my parents and my sister-in-law and brother went in on tickets for me and Brandon for my birthday and I am not kidding when I tell you it was literally the best birthday present I have ever received.
We drove to NYC Saturday morning. After a Starbucks stop, we parked in Staten Island ($8 a day, people!) and then took the shuttle to the Staten Island ferry which is FREE, and gives you amazing views of the city. We bought our metro card and hopped on the subway and then walked to our hotel, which had the most amazing views (we found our hotel on Groupon!) We stayed at the Bentley Hotel and had a fantastic time.
We were starving so we went to Quantum Leap for lunch, which had the best vegan curry burger. We walked around the neighbor and ended up in a Duane Reed to get snacks and toiletries we forgot. (Anyone else ALWAYS forget something?!) We went back to the hotel to take a quick nap and shower before heading out for the evening.
We got all dressed up and then headed to Lilli + Loo for gluten-free Chinese food. They were so knowledgeable about gluten-free and had an amazing menu. Even though Brandon hates Asian food (and it happens to be my favorite), we both got sushi rolls to start off the birthday celebration (since sushi is my favorite food!)
We then Ubered to Richard Roger Theater and waited in line for Hamilton! I probably looked like a fool because I was literally bouncing up and down, waiting for the doors to open. Once we were in, I kept tearing up because I felt so blessed and lucky to be crossing something like this off my bucket list.
The show was BEYOND INCREDIBLE. I was stunned at the end of each scene. The performance was amazing….and I am getting goose-bumps just thinking about it. Brandon is not as into Broadway as I am, but he was singing along and the first person to jump up and give a standing ovation at the end.
After that, we were NOT ready to head back home and it was only an hour or so until midnight when it would officially be my birthday, so we headed to P.S. Kitchen. It’s an amazing plant-based restaurant and bar and ALL the proceeds go to charity. We got drinks and then we split a gluten-free vegan brownie sundae and it was literally the best way to end the day and ring in my birthday at midnight.
The next day, we woke up and it was my birthday! We went for a run along the East River. The weather was beautiful and it was such a lovely start to the day. After our run, we wanted to head to Quantum Leap for brunch, but they weren’t open yet. So, we decided to just head back to the hotel and shower and get started with our next part of the day.
Within walking distance to our hotel was the Roosevelt Island Tram. I had never seen this in person before but I had seen it on one episode of Impractical Jokers (our fave show to watch together). It’s a cable car that takes you from the East side to Roosevelt Island, which is a tiny island in the East River between Manhattan and Queens. People live and work there and it is the best place to get some peace and quiet in the big city.
We bought our metro card for the tram and off we went. It was such a cool way to see the city. While we were on the tram, we met a family from Dublin. They were so nice and gave us great recommendations for our upcoming trip in August. Once we were on the island, we walked around and found a Starbucks. We wandered to Eleanor’s Pier to soak in the great views.
We then took the subway from Roosevelt Island to Rockefeller Center where we ate lunch at one of our favorite plant-based restaurants, by.Chloe. It’s a vegan “fast food’ joint and it is SO GOOD. I got the vegan BLT with avocado and Brandon got vegan bacon Mac and Cheese. We got two cupcakes to go and headed to Central Park!
We both love Central Park and we wandered around for a while. We stopped to listen to jazz music on a bench. We dog watched (kinda like people watching, except…with dogs). Finally, we made it to the thing I was looking forward to most…. a boat ride in Central Park! I had heard that you could rent a boat in Central Park for $15 and row it anywhere in The Central Park Lake.
There was a line but we waited, even in the high humidity. It went pretty quick…and the guy who helped us with our boat was also from Ireland! He was so nice and gave us lots more suggestions, as well. We had the best time on our boat. We did have faulty oars though, and Brandon and I kept cracking up about how ridiculously hard it was to row. We finally found a spot away from all the other boats and we had the most perfect little cupcake picnic on our boat. It was so magical and the most perfect moment.
After that, we both were exhausted from the heat and walking SO MUCH, so we sat on a bench and listened to the performers in the park. We both began to get hangry and I got so frustrated because our phones didn’t have service and I was trying to look up if there was any gluten-free place nearby. That’s the one thing that is really challenging about having dietary restrictions- when you are traveling, it can get frustrating. Brandon was gracious enough to let us get an Uber back to Lili + Loo for more sushi.
After that, we went back to the hotel to pick up our bags, and then got an Uber back to the Staten Island ferry. We drove home and plopped into bed- tired, sore, but so, so, so happy and grateful for the actual best birthday weekend ever. :)