Monday, June 24, 2013

NYC 2013-Day Four

I think our pattern on this vacation is that every other day will be great. At least start off great. We started off early to catch an 8:30 double decker tour bus. Yes. We were one of THOSE tourist people. There is too much walking to be done in that city and what better way to see the city than on top of a double decker?

After we got to the bus terminal it was almost comical. The driver was arguing with the tour guide on the whole process of when payment takes place and who takes the payment. It was pretty unprofessional if you ask me. There was a time when I asked Hubby if we should just go get on another bus line. There are plenty of tour companies up there. It rained on us a little, but not enough to get the umbrellas out. Unbelievably, Child One fell asleep during the tour. Oh well. Hubby and I enjoyed it. I didn't worry about taking pictures during the bus tour. I just wanted to sit back and take in everything.

After a couple of hours on the tour bus we got off at Battery Park. We planned on going on a boat to see the Statue of Liberty*. If you could have seen the way the pier was bobbing up and down in the water, you would have run the other way like I did in my head. Small boat on a big body of water = me throwing up off the side of the boat.

We decided to walk to the Staten Island Ferry since that goes by the statue and best of all, it's free. And a big boat with a flat bottom means no rocking. And the bigger the boat the smaller the body of water.  We rode the ferry to Staten Island then back to Manhattan. Then hopped back on the bus to see the rest of the tour of the city. The second part wasn't as good as the first. We didn't have the same tour guide as before. I don't think we had ANY tour guide on the second part. But at least we weren't having to walk.

We got off the bus at Central Park. Hubby wanted to rent some bikes and go through the park. I was torn on this. I wanted to take a horse drawn carriage. But the carriages only take you through a small part of it. So two tandem bikes it was. Good gosh, those things are harder than people think. First Child Two got on with me and Child One was with Hubby. The weather had warmed up quite a bit, so we were shedding our jackets.

Going uphill on a tandem is not fun. Especially with a kid who can't reach the pedals. Hubby had to wait to the side for me a couple of times, so we ended up switching partners. By the time the third hill came up, I'm sure Hubby just thought I was whining about the bike ride, but I swear, my bike chain was slipping. And I had Child One as a witness. So Hubby finally checked it and sure enough it was coming off, which is NOT conducive to a bike ride! 

Did I mention that before he checked the bike chain, he said that I was out of shape and that I needed to get to the gym? Oh. No. He. Didn't. Yes. He went there. It was on. There were so many four letter words going through my brain, but I kept my mouth shut. I think my anger kept the tears from streaming. Did I mention that we were going uphill? With a bike chain that kept slipping.

Then comes a time when Child Two has to go to the bathroom**. We pulled over at a part of the park where she could discreetly go to the bathroom. Right there in nature. I was thankful I had some napkins with me from earlier in the day.

Apparently I have no clue how to get off a tandem bike. Due to the warm weather I have glistened quite a bit and my jeans are a little clingier than normal. I go to swing my leg over the bike to get off. Then I lose my balance and thank goodness for the hard ground that broke my fall. And my hip. Ever fallen on your hip? If only we had been on a horse drawn carriage....

Views from the lake inside Central Park

Obviously, I don't hold my ego in that high of a regard or I wouldn't be sharing some of these things. On we go. Child Two has done her business and we bike and bike. We make it to the lake inside the park. Time for another break.

We finally decided it was time to drop the bikes off, back to their rightful shopkeeper***. I thought Hubby had stopped to wait for me to catch up to him. Nope. He stopped because we were at the street we needed to exit the park. Did he let me know? Nope. Child Two and I kept on biking. My cell phone was buried in the basket under everybody's crap. I kept biking for TWELVE more blocks before stopping to realize Hubby was nowhere to be found.

YEAH! I get to walk the bike back TWELVE blocks to meet up Hubby at the right corner where the bike shop is.

Once we get rid of the bikes we try and find a place for dinner. We stopped at the Brooklyn Diner****. It had wonderful food but no "diner" prices. Child Two got a "15 bite hot dog". It was as long as she was wide. It was one of those places that actually had mouthwash in the restroom. I thought it was soap when I was washing my hands. At least my hands were minty fresh. We enjoyed watching the rain as we ate dinner and thankfully it stopped when we were finishing up.

After dinner it was time to head back to Brooklyn to the hotel. Off we go...

*The Statue of Liberty is closed until 4th of July, due to repairs. Not sure if it's just general maintenance or because of Superstorm Sandy.
**God bless this child on this trip. Whenever she had to go to the bathroom there wasn't one around. Or if there was, they wouldn't let her use it.
***Praise God.
****If I ever see a tandem bike again, it will be too soon!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

NYC 2013-Day Three

I think Hubby won the lottery today as far as woman/girls on the oh so crazy train of hormones. The estrogen card carrying members of the family were not to be reckoned with.

It was pretty much a late starting day. There was no rush out the door for anything. I think that was part of the reason I could have been in a mood.

We were headed to the World Trade Center Memorial. We left early enough to see what else was in the general vicinity.

For a long time it felt like we were walking in circles. It seemed that google maps was playing a cruel joke on us, and people we would ask we couldn't understand.

Security to get to the memorial was serious. They don't play games. Once we went through the maze of fencing, people with serious armory and bullet proof vests, there it was.  It was humbling. It took us back to where we were the moment it happened. I happened to be holding a six week old baby and watching it happen on my favorite twenty four hour news channel. The world saw the face of evil that day. I'm not sure it will be one of those days I'll soon forget.
North Tower Reflecting Pool

The weather was rainy and cold. It never fails that I told the girls three times to pack a light jacket. Did they? Nope. We tried to find a jacket for the girls at Century 21. I hated that store. Six floors of cramped and crowded stuff. The trick to go from the street level to the other floors was a sad, sad joke. Believe it or not, I don't deal well with New York department stores. So we ended up going into one of those places that has NY souvenir stuff. We found everyone a really cute jacket*.

We visited St. Paul's Chapel.  There is still memorabilia from 9/11 everywhere. All at once you feel sadness, yet hope. In the face of tragedy people brought forth compassion, comfort and a message of love. We had taken two umbrellas from our hotel because of the rain**. Once we were done in St. Paul's Chapel we came out to see that our umbrellas that we had left on the front porch were gone. I guess they needed them more than we did. It had stopped raining once we left.
The cemetery right outside the chapel.

Flag of Honor with the names of the victims of 9/11.

 We had made our wall to Wall Street. The buildings alone are amazing. Nevermind the snipers on the roof. You don't mess with them, they won't mess with you! 

 We found our way to Central Park. In the middle of a concrete jungle, how could anyone get tired of this?

 This was just a quick dip into Central Park. There's more to come later. We left the park to try and make it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Fifteen blocks away. By foot. We finally got there. At closing time.

Earlier in the week we walked to the Museum of Modern Art. But that's not our thing.

I think today was the day that we realized we would need a lot longer than a week to see everything we wanted on our list. And we should have stayed in the city. I've mentioned that. Everything you will want to see is in the city. Just stay there. 

I don't think I've walked so much in my life. I thought surely I would lose some weight on this vacay with all the walking we're doing. Nope. But at least I didn't gain any!

*Only to find out that mine wasn't color fast and the red ran on the white and just ruined it the first time I washed it. Of course I noticed the "Made in Pakistan" tag long after we bought them. Now I'm just hoping and praying we didn't contribute to helping fund terrorism.

**We didn't steal them. There was an umbrella stand by the door with several in them. =)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

NYC 2013-Day Two

It's amazing the benefits of a great night sleep. Hubby and I usually hate planning trips for the sole reason of crappy beds. Our hotel room actually had a firm bed. Hallelujah!!

We started off with breakfast in our room. With the groceries we had gotten on Day One, we were good to go.

The only thing on the schedule was Wicked at 2pm*. We set out to see everything in the general vicinity of The Gershwyn Theater.

Hubby navigated the subway like he had been there a hundred times. We came across a Five Guys burger joint and decided to stop for lunch.

We then came across one of the sweetest place on earth. We found the Hershey store in Times Square. The smell was so sweet as if chocolate was oozing from the walls. Of course we filled a bucket with our favorites.

Next we saw the M&M/Mars store and saw M&Ms in every color imaginable.

Finally 2pm was calling and the curtain came up. To everyone's excitement, it fulfilled every expectation we had. We were close enough to see every expression on the actor's faces.

Lauren petting one of NYPD's finest
After Wicked we were able to see Radio City Music Hall, FAO Schwartz and the NYC Apple store**. We came across St. Thomas Episcopal Church, and we were blown away. How could anyone not walk in and not feel reverence for the one, true God? We reached the south end of Central Park before deciding it was time to grab dinner and catch the train back to the hotel. And nothing says dinner like McDonalds***.
At the altar of St. Thomas Episcopal Church

I'm not sure I've ever walked so much in my life. But it sure beat Day One.

*Just thinking about it still, I hear the soundtrack in my head.

**Look who I'm married to. Of course the Apple store. Good grief. There were MILLIONS of people in it.

***I was shocked at how much it cost the four of us to eat in NYC.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

NYC 2013- Day One

It's been a while since my gang and I have planned a vacation. It's a love/hate relationship with vacations. I want to see the great things this world has to offer, but I don't want to leave home*. I may be the only one who feels that way.

One of the places I have always wanted to see is New York City. It's the polar opposite of where I live. I'm going to write a day by day account of our trip, so it's not one of THOSE extremely long posts.

DAY ONE aka 6/11/13:

Our day got started at the butt crack of dawn. The alarm was set for 3am and it didn't disappoint. We were able to infuse caffeine and we got our day started. There was a 6:30am flight to be caught and we didn't disappoint. The kids did awesome! I just let them sleep in the clothes that they wanted to wear the first day of our trip. And we got them up and headed out the door with breakfast in hand.

Our first stop landed in St. Louis. The flight was pretty uneventful. We quickly made our dash to the next gate to fly into Newark. As in Jersey.

On our second flight I was lucky enough to meet the flight attendant from h*ll. She griped at me after assuming that my phone was on. Have you ever had your phone in your hand and the screen lights up? That's what mine did. I'm sure if we had met under different circumstances we might have liked each other. But I'll never know. And I won't spend too much time dwelling on it.

But the fun was just beginning. After we got our luggage we learned all about how to get a cab. Someone told us to look for the yellow cabs. But where we came out of the airport, there were none to be found. We took what was there. Huge mistake.  It didn't take long for Hubby to figure out we were getting fleeced.  On the cabby's direction thing, he didn't choose the first and shortest route. He chose #3. Awesome. There seemed to be some hangup on the highway and we hit a miles long backup. The cabby chose to put his car in park every time we came to a pseudo-stop. That was just odd. And circles. That was another thing that was odd. And infuriating. Even in another state where I've never been things that we would pass were becoming familiar. Yeah.

We finally got to our hotel around 3:00. We hadn't eaten lunch yet either. Awesome. We couldn't decide what to do. Crash. Eat. Eat. Crash. After a lot of hemming and hawing we decided to find our way to Grimaldi's for a very late lunch or early dinner. After Hubby (off of his phone) showed the next cabby how to get there we finally went in.

Our hotel room was like a small apartment. The bathroom is right behind the kitchen. It's furnished completely by IKEA. I looked at the tags.

The master bed is behind that half wall. It has skylights right above the bed. The skylights were great at night. Not so much in the morning. The kids slept on a pull out sofa.

The windows by the bed were not real windows. That was just an odd part of the hotel room.

Grimaldi's was highly recommended by people that we know. We were looking forward to it. It was over-hyped if you ask me. The pizza was good, but the customer service sucked. We waited for 10 minutes for someone to take our drink order. Hubby got tired of waiting and went to ask somebody if they could take our order. The kicker was that it wasn't even that busy inside.

After dinner we went to walk around the hood. That was the redeeming part of the day. We were in the section of town referred to as "Dumbo"**. It looks to be like an up and coming type of neighborhood. We walked along the East River. We were able to see the Statue of Liberty from a distance. 

I stomached the East River Ferry to get back to the hotel. We walked past a grocery store to grab some items for our room and headed about 7 blocks to crash for the night.

Lessons learned from the day:
1. Tell the cabby to take the shortest, most direct route.
2. Stay in Manhattan. Everything you do is in Manhattan, so just fork out the money for a hotel in Manhattan.

*That and hotel beds just suck. They really do. I can't stand mushy beds. I am by some standards, old. And my body needs support. Surprisingly our hotel had a great bed.

**I once saw an episode of Selling New York that featured selling the penthouse apartment of the Dumbo building. Everything about it was exquisite! The views were amazeballs as well.