Monday, August 27, 2012

NYC and a little Ukraine

Early Friday morning, Vladimir and I made the drive up to New York City. Vladimir's parents had been visiting Ukraine for the past month and were flying back in to Newark Airport at 9pm. Since we had to drive up there anyway, we decided to make a day of it in the Big Apple. We got up at 4am, got our things together, and headed out. We arrived in Newark around 11am, hopped on the NJ transit and we were there!

We kept seeing billboards for one of our favorite tv shows Boardwalk Empire
Since we only had less than a day to spend, we made a short list of things we wanted to see. We started out in China town to try this little dumpling place I read about on Yelp. Then we explored Times Square. We began walking over to Central Park, when we were stopped by a charming young man from Instanbul begging us to take a ride in his bicycle carriage on a tour of the famous park. Normally we would politely say no, and keep walking. However, since Vlad had never seen Central Park and it was on our list, we said "Why Not?" After bargaining to get his price down a bit (Vlad's quite the bargainer...), we hopped on and listened for an hour as he showed us the sights. It was a great little ride and we were both happy that we spent the money to see the park that way, it's so big we would have never been able to see it all on our own! Plus, it was just nice to get off our feet for a while. :)

One of the views in Central Park
We, like many other tourists, were tricked into thinking this was the famous fountain from the "Friends" opening scene... I later found out it was night. Cute picture though ;)
Our little stroll through Central Park ending up being one of the best moments of our short trip
We walked around the upper east side for a bit before heading south. We originally thought of checking out Brighton Beach and all of the Russian markets. Instead we headed to the East Village to see Little Ukraine.

A Ukrainian Catholic Church in the East Village
After some shops, we stopped at a Ukrainian Restaurant for dinner. It was SO good. We started off with some Ukrainian Borscht, with a dollop of sour cream of course. 

Vladimir got the Hungarian Letcho, which is stewed peppers, onions, and beef; they served theirs with potato pancakes. 

I got the Ukrainian Platter which came with 4 different perogies (spinach, potato, meat, and cabbage) topped with sauteed onions, kielbasa with sauerkraut, and a stuffed cabbage with a mushroom cream sauce. 

All of the food was excellent, if you're ever in the East Village, definitely stop by. Their aptly named Ukrainian East Village Restaurant, hah!
We both wanted to drop in and surprise our friend Chris who bartends in the East Village. We stopped by his bar Proletariat, which is a great craft beer bar, only to find out he wasn't working that night. The bartender told us to try Amor y Amargo, a small bitters bar where he also works. We walked around the corner and there he was! He crafted us two amazing whiskey cocktails. 

As we sipped on our fancy drinks, we mentioned that we only had an hour left before we needed to head back to Newark and asked what we should see. He told us about the High Line park and we were so glad he did!

We had so much fun walking through High Line Park and looking at the contemporary buildings
One of the best parts of the day was walking through this park. It's a one mile long linear park built on an old high rise railroad track. Walking down the line, you can see all of the beautiful new, modern, contemporary buildings. The sides are filled with different plant life and they left in the original train tracks. It's a beautiful urban park and a definite must if you're visiting New York!
We picked up my in-laws from the airport and made the trek home. We spent the next afternoon at their house hearing stories of their trip and getting spoiled with all of their gifts and souvenirs for us from Ukraine. 
This spread is only a small part of the gifts we received from Ukraine :) 
My Ukrainian matyoshka doll set
I have always loved matryoshka nesting dolls. My mom has a collection and I always played with them growing up. When my mother-in-law asked me what I wanted her to bring back from Ukraine for me, my own Matryoshka set was my answer. She picked out these Ukrainian Matroyshkas. The Ukrainian dolls typically portray a family (father, mother, and children); while the more famous Russian dolls are typically only female.

Ukrainian tea and some beautiful magnets
 The magnets they brought back for us will look great with our collection :) And Vlad always has to get some Ukrainian tea.

Chocolate and Vodka
We got some handmade chocolate and Vodka from his hometown L'vov (not sure if this vodka is related to the Swedish brand haha)
All in all it was a great weekend. We want to visit New York again, hopefully soon and I cannot wait until the day I can visit my husband's hometown in Ukraine. One day... one day...
<3 Lauren