If you're a facebook friend of mine, you probably know that I was in NYC a few weekends (3 to be exact) ago for a surprise trip! I've been keeping this secret for the past 8ish months but now that everyone knows, I'll share- my brother is engaged!!!! I'm going to have a new sister!!!!!!!
My older brother was planning the surprise NYC proposal weekend for MONTHS and my entire family officially were made aware of his plans back in January when he came down to VA/NC for my birthday. He had planned a decoy couples trip with a few of his friends from Detroit and my sister and I, and his (now) fiancée's brother to all flew up to NYC secretly and surprise her at the dinner after the proposal. We all had such a fun weekend exploring NYC and doing new things, visiting museums, eating amazing food in some fabulous restaurants throughout the city, and most of all- celebrating this big step for my brother and his fiancée! The hardest part was not letting Rachna catch on to the fact that we were in NYC as well when she texted and all three of us would get together to get on the same page with whatever story (ahem, lie) we were telling her!
We flew up from CLT on Friday, June 21st and met Rachna's (my bro's fiancée) brother at LaGuardia and then we all caught a cab to our hotel to drop off our luggage and then we were off! We ended up heading to MoMA first! I haven't been here since the early 90s when my family came to NYC for a medical conference with my dad. At that time, I was literally OBSESSED with Starry Night and I was a total fangirl once again when I saw it on this trip. I'll be honest, Alok (Rachna's brother) and I didn't get a lot of the "art" and I did get in trouble for attempting to touch a piece of pink plexiglass that was called "Bubblegum" but I mean, we had fun.
We headed to Little Italy for a late (but oh my gosh delicious) lunch at Caffe Napoli! The food was to die for- Alok and I had the ricotta manicotti and my sister had the fresh gnocci with a pesto cream sauce!
We walked around a bit in the area, and then headed back to our hotel. My sister was meeting up with a friend so Alok and I bonded and had a heart to heart about life, our siblings, family, etc for about 3 hours hah! We eventually realized it was almost 10PM and so we ventured to my favorite- Famous Famiglia for some pizza for dinner! It was just as delicious as I remembered!
I sometimes have dreams about this pizza...
Saturday was a BIG day for everyone! I was keeping in touch with my brother throughout the day via text to make sure our paths never crossed. The ironic thing about the day was that we literally did everything my brother and Rachna had planned but just 4-5 hours earlier than them!! We had such a fun day! We started off on our way to the American Museum of Natural History but got sidetracked with the street fair that was happening on 6th Avenue right outside our hotel so we had a ton of fun walking around and seeing all the different stalls and all food tents!
We eventually made our way to the subway and uptown towards Central Park and the museum! We walked through Central Park a little and eventually made our way to the museum, conscious of the time because my brother had a strict timeline of the afternoon when he was planning on proposing! It was so cute, my brother would text me to inform me of the status of their day and where they were in his plan! We walked through the park, took a snack break (yumm NYC bagels), and I increasingly became jealous of all the runners and women who were running hills with their trainers/coaches! I love Central Park!
We finally made it to the museum and boy did we spend a lot of time in there! Alok has a thing for dinosaurs so we spent some time on that floor and made our way down from the top level! I've never been to this museum in NYC so it was definitely fun seeing new things but I don't think it would be on the top of my favorites list. We were struggling to make it out of here before my brother's 4pm deadline (he was taking Rachna there in the afternoon) so we had to skip some areas on the lower levels but we still saw and learned a TON!
After our museum afternoon, we were desperately hungry so we started walking back towards our hotel (mind you the museum is on 84th street I believe and our hotel was on 35th/36th) in hopes of finding somewhere to have a quick lunch since we were going to have an amazing dinner at Valbella in the Meatpacking District and surprising Rachna post-proposal with the decoy friends/couples there as well! On our walk back towards the hotel, we stopped in a couple cute shops and got some recommendations after a Starbucks stop of course! Everyone kept recommending Italian restaurants but on our walk, we found this amazing cantina-type restaurant with some great vegetarian options and AMAZING margaritas!
After we stuffed our faces, we continued our walk, in hopes of finding a cab since we missed so many subway stations on the walk back and we even stopped by a sample sale but everything cute& attractive was either too small or too big! We walked and walked and walked and eventually made it back to our hotel with maybe 30 minutes for all three of us to get ready before catching a cab to dinner! We were all so gross and sweaty from the 50ish block walk back to the hotel but no one had a chance to shower so we tried our best to look amazing and get the present ready to take with us!
We eventually made it to the restaurant about 30 minutes late but I was keeping in touch with my brother via text and they hadn't left Central Park so I knew we would be fine! We ended up awkwardly making conversation with my brother's friends until he texted to let me know they were on their way to the restaurant and I could not stop staring at the stairs/entrance to the private room to catch Rachna's reaction!!! It was priceless by the way!
We gave them their presents once they sat down and got settled and then we had an amazing dinner! It was so great catching up with Rachna and seeing the ring too!!! After the enormous, rich dinner& dessert, my brother made a table reservation at a lounge near our hotel so we ended up going just for a couple hours and then let my Rachna & my brother hang out with their friends since it seemed more like a friend thing than sibling thing. By 2am, we were back in our hotel and in bed!! What a Saturday we had!
Sunday morning we planned on having a sibling breakfast since we didn't really get any time specifically for all 5 of us to catch up so we planned to head over to the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market before meeting up with my brother and Rachna for breakfast, which turned into brunch, which eventually ended up to be a quick lunch with my brother, Rachna, and 2 of my brother's med school friends who flew up as well.
The super quick lunch (everyone had to catch flights back to Detroit, etc and they were leaving for the airport in a couple hours) was at Cafe Europa near the Westin in Times Square since it was pretty close to where we were as well as my brother & Rachna's hotel. SO good. I love that place- since we usually stay in Times Square when we go with my mom/parents, we always usually hit up Europa for breakfast so I knew this would be a great selection.
After everyone made their way to the airport, my sister and I tried to go to Bloomingdales (let me tell you, NYC shopping is NO FUN when you have virtually zero disposable income) and walk around the Madison Avenue area but I was becoming overheated and was having trouble breathing so I ended up chugging some gatorade from one of those street carts when we walked back down 5th Avenue towards our hotel. We decided to go rest at the hotel for a little since the temperatures were hitting above 90 and then planned to do a sister dinner at an Indian restaurant that one of my sister's friend recommended--Sarvanaa Bhavan! Here is the MENU since their website is a little confusing. It was AMAZING. I love South Indian food (dosas, sambhar, raasam, etc) and this place was perfect! We ended up getting medhu vadas for our appetizer with a bowl of raasam for each of us (um I totally had 2 it was so good!!!) and then I chose the Mysore Masala Dosa and my sister chose the Mixed Vegetable Uthappam. We shared both of our entrees and boy were they delicious!!!
the raasam was delicious!!! so spicy, hot, & sour it was perfect!
the medhu vadas! the light green chutney was my favorite- so spicy but a little sweet!
sister's mixed vegetable uthappam
my mysore masala dosa! I never finish all my food at Indian restuarants because the protions are always so large but you better believe my plate was empty after this meal!
We had a quite Sunday evening and tried to pack as much as possible since we were leaving Monday afternoon for the airport and had to check out in the morning! We ended up exploring some of the stores in the area around our hotel on our way back from the restaurant but most of them were closed so we made mental notes to check them out in the morning! Monday morning we ended up swinging by the Victoria's Secret by our hotel since their big sale was still going on (a 3 story VS- I kid you not!), Zara because I love their dresses, H&M so I could return a dress that didn't look so great on compared to the hanger, and then we made our way into the 34th Street Macy's!
My sister is a big fan in general of Macy's but I love this store hands down! There are so many different floors to explore and they always have a great shoe floor and holiday floor in the winter! We made our way to the shoe floor since my cheap as dirt sandals from Charming Charlie were literally falling apart at the seams and then we made our way throughout the rest of the store! We had a quick, early lunch at Au Bon Pain inside of Macy's and had a little Ben and Jerry's for dessert before heading back to our hotel where we recharged our phones before catching a cab back to the airport! WHAT a time we had at the airport as well! Apparently flights were being cancelled left and right and anyone with a connection out of Charlotte was automatically cancelled and had to be re-booked so when I told the ticketing agent that CLT was our final destination (not to be creepy at all) she let us cut to the front of the line since we were all checked in and paid for our checked bags (thank god I chose to check my bag and only had a tote/purse with me for the ridiculous flight) and we were on our way! Our flight was eventually delayed about 3.5 hours but it didn't get cancelled like so many of the CLT flights before ours and we eventually made it home!
We had a crazy, busy, intense four days in NYC but I am so glad that my brother let us be apart of that special weekend between him and Rachna and I am beyond excited to have another sister!
Congratulations to my big brother & his new fiancée!