December 8, 2017 – We woke up at 4:15am to get TV ready for Good Morning America. We had to catch the train in to Manhattan at 5:15am in order to make it to Times Square by 6:15am. It was early, but so worth it.
We were both a little concerned about taking the New York subway at 5:00am. The metro in Paris was SO sketchy at 5:00am. But it was fine. Actually, just to say it, we never felt unsafe on the subway at all. We were still on alert for pickpockets, but I don’t even think that was much of a concern.
We made it to Times Square by 6:00am. It was the perfect introduction to the busiest area in New York City. We saw no one. There were a couple taxis and police cars that passed us, but no people. It was a little eerie. You always hear about the massive crowds in Times Square, but this was like an anomaly. I soaked it all in knowing I probably would never see it this way again!
We found the entrance to the studio where GMA is filmed and then saw a line of people. There was a person directing everyone, so we showed him our tickets, he gave us blue wrist bands, and he had us stand in the line closest to the studio door.
And then we waited.
It seemed like forever, but in reality it was only 30 minutes. It was freezing so that didn’t help. We started to see blacked out SUV’s pull up which turned out to be the anchors arriving. We saw Ginger sneak out because she was headed to the Opry where Luke Bryan was playing that morning. Eric was sad because Ginger is his favorite!
They started letting us in around 6:30am, we all went through security (bag check and metal detector). Then they asked us to line up along a wall. Once we had about 15 people in our group, we were escorted upstairs to check our coats and bags and to use the restroom.
The process was quick and we were ready to be seated a little before 7:00am. They had security guys everywhere, but they were all very nice. Once I got back from the restroom one of the security guys told us to walk out to the stage where someone would seat us. We walked out and a lady with a headset told us to follow her. She sat us right in front.
I mean, RIGHT IN FRONT.
Just as we were seated, the first hour of GMA started. They film that portion downstairs in the studio where people can stand outside and make faces in the window. I don’t remember watching any of it because I was mildly freaking out that we were sitting on the stage where the anchors would be soon.
They had a guy in charge of getting everyone excited and giving us a rundown on how things would work. Basically, we needed to be excessively reactive. If they showed a puppy, we would say “awww”. If they showed someone doing something great, we would clap like crazy and go “woohoo”. Simple.
A little before 8:00am, Lara Spencer walked out on to the stage. She was so sweet and full of energy; exactly how I imagined she would be in real life.
At 8:00am, the anchors in the other studio threw it to Lara where she did her little bit welcoming everyone to the 8:00am hour of GMA and we all clapped and woohoo’ed. The shot immediately transitioned to the Opry where Luke Bryan was playing and then cut to commercial.
During the commercial break, they did a really quick set change and brought out the anchor desk with 4 chairs. Next thing we knew, George, Michael, and Robin were in the studio along with Lara.
Michael Strahan was sitting directly in front of us not even 2 feet away. He sat down and immediately swiveled around to say hello, shake our hands, and welcome us to the show. He was so kind and such a large person.
We were allowed to have our phones with us the entire time. I left my big camera in my purse because it was bulky and hard to hide. The only rule was no pictures while they were live.
At every commercial break, Michael got up and walked around to take pictures with the audience. He took pictures with every single person and even stayed after the show was over to make sure he didn’t miss anyone. 10/10, great guy.
While we were there, Atlanta got one of the biggest snow storms it had seen in years. As a result, no one back home got to watch us because local news had taken over ABC. We were so sad, but luckily my mom recorded it! See clips of our short appearances below.
Overall, I was so surprised at how great of an experience GMA was. I was totally expecting us to be all the way in the back and the anchors to not really give the audience the time of day. I was totally proven wrong and I’m so happy about that! It was 100% worth the early morning and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
We left the studio around 10:15am and made a beeline to get some bagels. We both had a granola bar before heading in to the city, but that was it. We were famished!
We looked up some nearby bagel shops and settled on a place called Browns Bagels. We both got everything bagels with veggie cream cheese. I got a latte as well. It was PACKED in there. I didn’t think places would be that packed since it was after 10:00am on a Friday; Obviously I was wrong. We found a spot to eat at the bar area close to the front. I was glad we didn’t have to attempt to eat and walk, especially with how cold it was outside. Our bagels were incredible and the veggie cream cheese had chunks of veggies in it which was amazing.
After bagels, we really didn’t have a plan. The only thing on the agenda for later in the day would be meeting up with Kinan, (one of my best friends from high school) at some point, but we still had a huge part of the day left.
We decided we would just hit absolutely everything we possibly could in midtown Manhattan until it was time to head towards Bryant Park to meet Kinan.
I’ll show all of this in pictures because we didn’t really “do” anything but visit these places then moved on.
Windows at Saks Fifth Avenue
After all of that, we decided pizza was in order. We found a place near Central Park that had really good reviews. Other than the guy getting our order wrong, it was really good pizza! (And they had nice bathrooms). Also, neither of us can remember what the place was called. Blogger fail!
After lunch, I told Eric I really wanted to go to The Met (The Metropolitan Museum). In 2017, we had already seen some of the most incredible museums in the world, why not end the year with one more? We didn’t have anything left on our list so he obliged.
We walked from the pizza place through Central Park all the way to The Met. It was about a mile.
We arrived and walked inside to get tickets. At the time, you could just pay what you wanted. We decided to pay $15 a piece. Now, they’ve changed this rule to a flat $25 (they were losing a lot of money, obviously).
We checked our coats and then we were off to explore. I loved wandering through the Roman and Greek sculptures knowing we were actually where they came from just a few months earlier. I felt like I could appreciate the distinction of the Roman and Greek sculptors and all the history so much more. The Met reminded me of the Louvre with its vast size and incredible galleries.
What I didn’t realize was that there was a Michelangelo exhibit on display while we were there. I was ecstatic! We had just been in the birthplace of Michelangelo (Florence, Italy) and seen his work at the Vatican in Rome. The exhibit was a collection of Michelangelo’s sketches. We saw sketches of the Sistine Chapel and many other famous works of his that we saw in real life so recently. In addition to being an incredible painter and sculptor, he was also a teacher. We learned that in order to help his students practice, he would have them draw on old sketches of his and use the backs of the paper as well. Little did he know these seemingly useless scratch pieces of paper would some day become priceless artifacts hanging in The Met. Just incredible to think about!
In addition to the Michelangelo exhibit, there was also a small Rodin exhibit. That was beautiful and unexpected to see as well. The exhibit was a celebration of his life, as it was the 100 year anniversary of his death.
We spent a good bit of time at The Met and I’m so happy we decided to go. We were nearing the time we were planning to meet Kinan, so we left and caught the subway to Bryant Park.
At Christmastime, Bryant Park has markets where you can get local art and other products as well as a ton of food stands. We found Kinan and decided to go sit at an outdoor bar (with heaters) to have a drink and wait for Sam, his fiancé (soon to be wife), to get off of work. The bar was lacking; it was like they didn’t know what they were doing. They sat us and no one took our order for the longest time. Then they forgot to bring us drinks. It was a mess. We finally got drinks and then Sam showed up! We had a good chat, finished our drinks, then decided to walk around the different food booths to find something to eat.
We got all sorts of foods including a cupcake in a jar and fries covered in cheese from a stand called Bolivian Llama Party.
At one point I saw a food stand for a place I had been dying to try: DŌ. They sell edible cookie dough and have been all over social media this past year. I didn’t think we would make it to their brick and mortar store, but at least I could try it at Bryant Park!
So how was it? Drum roll… disappointing. I was fully expecting to love it based on all the hype, but it tasted kind of fake to me. Also, it was SO cold outside which made the dough rock hard. It was really hard to eat. I wasn’t impressed.
We walked around Bryant Park a bit more taking in all the Christmas decorations and then we decided it was time to head back to the hotel. We were so exhausted from our day and we had to get up pretty early for the 9/11 museum the next day. So we made our way to the subway for the journey back to New Jersey.
Overall, our first full day in NYC was amazing!