New York, I love you.

The Big Apple.

Empire City.

Concrete jungle.

The city that never sleeps.

Gotham.

New York City is something else—and if you never go, you’ll never know. Alicia Keys and Jay Z have it down pat… it’s inspiring, loud and “there ain’t never a curfew.” And for those reasons (and many more) it’s one of my favorite places on this planet.

Lucky for me, I got to spend a lot of time out there as a teenager visiting my dad who had a contract job at JFK Airport. With each trip, I got to know the city better… I could navigate the trains, the subways and the streets all by myself. By the time I graduated high school, I’d spent time there during all four seasons, and I loved them all the same.

My husband just so happens to have a soft spot (a pretty big one, I might add) for New York too, and we’ve been fortunate to make three trips out there together: the first was our honeymoon in September 2014, the second was to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2016 and we spent this past Memorial Day weekend out there.

Our recent trip was—as expected—relaxing and exhausting all at once. We walked miles and miles, long blocks and short blocks; we took the subway to Queens, Brooklyn, Downtown and everywhere in between; we basked in the sun, we got a little damp in the rain, we sweated and we shivered. In between all the getting to and from places, we sipped good coffee, indulged in tasty donuts, drank good beer and had excellent dinners (and desserts).

But—and I know this might shock some of you—the highlight for me came Monday afternoon when we got to photograph planes out at JFK DESPITE having flown into and out of LaGuardia (thank you Scott!). While my new hometown airport (O’Hare) is incredibly diverse in airlines and aircraft, and it’s technically a larger airport than Kennedy, I was completely taken aback by all the things I saw at JFK that I had never seen before.

While I’m obviously partial to Boeing planes, out at JFK I saw THREE Airbus A380s depart: Korean Air, Asiana and Etihad (my first time seeing the Abu Dhabi-based carrier). If you love aviation and flying, don’t even try to tell me that you’re not in some way, shape or form impressed by this whale-of-a-plane. How the serious heck does it fly!? It’s simply remarkable. I even saw another two of the double-decker supers come in: Air France and a second Etihad plane (this one in the special “Year of Zayed” livery—how cool!).

I saw Boeing planes too (of course). I caught a lot of 777s, all departing: Aeroflot to Moscow, Air India to New Delhi and Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong. Just before leaving the airport, I caught an ANA 777 floating in too.

And I can’t leave out the sleek, curvy, sexy, flexy Dreamliner: I caught Xiamen Air headed to Fuzhou and Aeromexico headed to Mexico City. Boy, I’d give anything to fly on that plane.

And, while it’s not Boeing, I did catch one aircraft departing that holds a particularly special place in my heart and an even more special place in my mom’s heart: the Air Serbia A330 heading to Belgrade. I snapped several photos to send to her, in honor of her heritage.

That afternoon, I also had the pleasure of meeting several plane spotters with whom I’ve connected on Instagram… some JFK-based, others from out of town like me. And even though, on average, I’m twice the age of them, it’s really special to meet up with others who share that passion. We’re one big family.

It certainly was a treat to spend a few days out east, and I’m already looking forward to the next time we’re able to make it out to that concrete jungle. But for now, I’m focused on the near future… see ya soon, New Orleans.

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