Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New York City with the In-Laws

The City

The Tourists

The Plan

1. Leave at 8am. Drive in and Park.
2. Get All Day Metro Tickets
3. Bus to Central Park (Strawberry Fields and Carousel)
4. Bus on Broadway to 42nd Street (Times Square) through Theater District
5. Bus or walk to Empire State Building and, depending on time, go up
6. Bus to Greenwich Village and eat the best cupcakes in the world, then walk to John's Pizza for lunch, and visit various other cool things in the village.
7. Bus to Ground Zero and see Trinity Church and Wall Street
8. Bus to Battery Park/Statue of Liberty
9. Bus to the United Nations
10. If there's time, visit Seinfeld Cafe and "You've Got Mail" Cafe on Upper West Side
11. Leave NYC by 6pm

After much research and printing of maps and prior experience in NYC and with the help of the beautiful D'Arcy and her handy guide to NYC, we were SET to enjoy the wonders of the city and enjoy some new and tasty gems, again thanks to D'Arcy. She told us of Magnolia's Bakery, home to the best cupcakes in the world and John's Pizza, home to the best pizza in New York and a favorite dining spot of Johnny Depp and Woody Allen. Huzzah! I love stuff like that!

What Really Happened

1. Drive in and Park Take Ferry from New Jersey.

After a lovely drive around Jersey, looking for the ferry terminal, and after talking to a very nice Ukrainian man whose directions didn't quite work for us, Vivian, Mark, Stacy, Thing 1, and Thing 2 are packed and ready, having prepared the night before, and therefore begin walking to the ferry. Gary returns to car 4 times to get stuff. (He loves me--I can write this stuff).

On the ferry--notice Gary still getting his stuff together as Vivian patiently looks on (she packed the night before, remember?)

2. Get All Day Metro Tickets Get those later.
3. Bus to Central Park Do that later.
4. Bus on Broadway to 42nd Street (Times Square) through Theater District No need. Get off the ferry and be bussed to Times Square by the ferry company. And it's lunch time, so maybe go to Greenwich Village first to eat at John's Pizza. Wait, never mind. Lady on bus says there's one closer, so eat there. And because we took the wrong subway (but we did get those All Day Metro tickets!), bag the original plans and walk to the U.N. first instead of ninth on the list (why did we make a list again?) and take part in skip the tour. Who cares--flexibility and impulsivity is much more fun.

Times Square -- we heard at least 12 languages as we walked around. We mentioned how it's too bad we'd miss it at night since it's really spectacular to see how bright it is when the sun goes down. Oh well. Gary thought it would be cute to take a picture with some NYC cops. They didn't think it was so cute. Welcome to New York.

Times Square -- thanks to the tourists from Kansas that I met on the very hot bus from the ferry, we discovered that there was a John's Pizza in Times Square/Theater District, so there'd be no need to hurry to Greenwich Village. Good, because it was already, amazingly, lunch time and we were hungry!

The boys at John's Pizzeria -- all the wait staff had T-shirts that said, "No Slices" and we're still not sure what that means. We were too hungry to think to ask. It really WAS good pizza! No exact measurements of anything, according to the menu. And it was baked in an old-fashioned wood stove with no set temperature. Delicious!

The girls at John's Pizzeria

Seriously good pizza, Thing 2's favorite!

Resisting urge to caption picture and state the obvious

Walk out of John's and you're in the Theater District and there are LOADS of cool shows playing. Gary and Vivian went from a bit apprehensive about visiting NYC to really enjoying it and wanting to return and see a show! Despite the fact that I looked for a LONG time online to find us decent tickets, I couldn't find any. Turns out Wednesdays are matinee days. Who knew? (Gary knew).

On our walk to the U.N., we passed (surprise to us, too) Grand Central Station, so we stopped in, because why not?

We gave money to the street performer, a violin player!

Check us out! We're in Grand Central Station! And it wasn't even on the list!

I liked Visiting the United Nations -- we walked along U.N. Way and saw cool flags (Portugal, Cabo Verde, Japan, etc.) and we took some cool neighborhood pictures (I love pockets of New York like that). We took some pictures in front of the U.N. and on the grounds. They had the friendliest security (so unlike the scary D.C. security people). They had cool sculptures on the property.

It's so cool to visit the U.N. because you're considered on international soil! So neat! They had a children's international art show about how children view the world and also how they represent their country and of the Olympics. Some of the pictures were so difficult to view--some children in the world have seen very scary, awful things. The kids got to sign the guest book and share their thoughts on it.

A lot of South Korean tourists enjoyed taking their picture with the picture of the current Secretary General. I liked Kofi Annan when he was on Sesame Street. They were hoisting some equestrian statue outside so I took a picture so we can show we saw it being erected in case it's really famous some day. And we took pictures of more flags.

Neat place. We decided to skip the tour so we could get to the other stuff (now badly out of order on our list).

5. Bus or walk Taxi to Empire State Building and, depending on time, go up Don't go up. It's a 2-hour wait, so let's keep seeing the city.

Us, seeing the Empire State Building

Done with that. Moving on.

I have no pictures of what happened next. I'm fairly certain that my father-in-law purchased stolen goods. I don't know details but he went in to a questionable tourist shop
to buy a memory card and walked out with a memory card, rechargeable batteries, and a charger. And a big smile on his face. And a spring in his step. It was the biggest highlight of NYC for him so far.

6. Bus to Greenwich Village and eat the best cupcakes in the world, Do that later then walk to John's Pizza for lunch, did that first instead and visit various other cool things in the village Later. Instead, walk to Penn Station and see Madison Square Garden (surprise again!) and get some water and a snack from some hot dog vendor at some hot dog place.
7. Bus to Ground Zero and see Trinity Church and Wall Street Do that after the Statue of Liberty
8. Bus Subway and then walk to Battery Park/Ferry Miss Ferry to Statue of Liberty

Basically, we were noticing how the day was already flying and we had about 8 more things we wanted to get to and Thing 2 especially wanted to see Lady Liberty, so we cruised on down.

In the subway station, while Gary eavesdropped on a conversation with more NYC cops (I'm not sure if he was really that fascinated with the officers or if he was trying to get arrested--he does this thing sometimes where he thinks he's George Costanza, so anything is possible). None of us knew where we were, so I asked the cops. Gary was impressed. I was sick of trying to figure out maps and getting bad information and taking wrong subways and standing around looking like clueless tourists, so I asked. He calls it "Stacy having a thing for men in uniform." I call it "proactive." Idyllic. Green. Tomato. Tomata.

Papa on the subway with Thing 1 and Thing 2. Check out the graffiti behind them!

So, in keeping with our day . . . you know, not following our list, not doing the tour at the U.N., not going up the Empire State Building . . . we missed the day's last ferry to the Statue of Liberty. ARGH. This was quickly becoming the "Poor Man's Tour of NYC" -- Hey kids, that's the U.N.! No tour though. Hey kids, see that tall building? It's SO neat to go to the top on the super fast elevator and see the city from the top, but not today!! See that statue out there? Well, enjoy the view from Battery Park because we missed the ferry!

I figured we'd go to the cupcake place next and look in the window while drooling over the world's best cupcakes and say, "Don't those look YUMMY? Well, too bad! We're not getting any!"

So, what do you do when you're disappointed about missing the ferry to Lady Liberty? Pout, whine, and cry? Throw a tantrum? Nope, not our kids (thank God!). Chase pigeons! The backdrop for pigeon chasing is Brooklyn, for those interested. :)

7. Bus Walk to Ground Zero and see Trinity Church and Wall Street
8. Bus to Battery Park/Take Ferry to Statue of Liberty Miss Ferry and wave at statue from Battery Park (after talking to men in uniform again)
9. Bus to the United Nations We already did that. Try to keep up.

The bull on Wall Street -- a popular place to take pictures

Wall Street and Broadway--New York is just so cool!!

Trinity Church
Statue of George Washington . . .

. . . on the spot where he became president.

New York Stock Exchange

View of Trinity Church from Wall Street/NYSE

We visited Ground Zero. They are building new buildings and there is no memorial at Ground Zero itself beyond the ones for the firefighters near the fire station that is right next to Ground Zero. It felt somber to visit there. It felt strange that there is no memorial, no wreath of flowers, nothing. It was a HUGE open space where there used to be 2 enormous buildings--buildings Mark and I have seen as newlyweds, buildings we can see on old Friends Episodes (always so surreal to see them), buildings I've entered as a child. What was most poignant/difficult to think about, as we walked around the entire area (it was huge) was how people ran through those streets, running from smoke and dust as fast as they could. How horrible. How scary. And telling your kids about it is awful. We've told Thing 1 the full story. We haven't given quite as many details to Thing 2 yet.

Okay, so moving on . . .

6, 7, 8. 9, 10, 11 on our list became more like 9, 8, 7, 6, don't do 10, moving 3 to 9.5 didn't work, and 11? Yeah right.

6. Bus (Subway) to Greenwich Village and eat the best cupcakes in the world at Magnolia's Bakery, then walk to John's Pizza for lunch (start thinking about dinner), and visit various other cool things in the village sit down with pain and exhasution in every part of our legs and bag the rest of the itinerary.

Okay, so I love Greenwich Village. I love the bohemian feel of it, I love the brownstones, I love the small town feel right in the middle of the city, I love the trees and the parks, I love the brick walkways and black iron gates, I love the little shops, I love the rooftop terrace gardens, I LOVE it! This was, as far as I can remember anyway, my first time to the village. We had spent much of the day in the "big city" parts of New York and I kept thinking, "How could D'Arcy stand this? How could she live like this for college?" And then we got to Greenwich Village. And I understood. And then I wondered how in the world she's not living in NYC anymore! How is she living in Utah instead of this magical place? D'Arcy, it's FABULOUS! I love it--thank you for introducing me to it!!

In the village

quaint city neighborhoods

This one if for D'Arcy--it's me in front of Magnolia's Bakery (under construction apparently)!

You have to see these cupcakes to believe them--they're AMAZING! I don't even like frosting that much and their frosting was OMIGOSH so so so delectable. And the cupckes were dense and fluffy at the same time. I don't know how to describe it. Rich and filling yet not heavy. And oh so delicious. I don't even love cake that much and I can see why people rave about them. It's worth a jaunt to the village just to try them. Plus it's apparently so "Sex and the City" to walk around Greenwich Village (I think they must've filmed part of an episode there or something--it said something on a picture on the wall in there). Simply charming. The bakery is teeming with people and the bakers are busily baking as the cupcakes (a limit of a dozen per person, the sign teases) fly off the shelves. You can box them or grab a plate and put one on. Choose your cupcake and walk across the street to eat in the darling little city park. Yum! I got a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting. Mmmmm. Thing 1 got a pink frosted one with rainbow sprinkles at the suggestion of a little girl at the bakery. So cute. Thing 2 got chocolate--see picture. I don't remember what we all got, but we all liked them!

Oh are you noticing that it's getting dark? Yeah, us, too.


All sugared up!

Isn't this a cute park?!

So where were we? Ah yes.

10. If there's time, visit Seinfeld Cafe and "You've Got Mail" Cafe on Upper West Side
11. Leave NYC by 6pm
Bus from Greenwich Village back to Times Square and find a place for dinner since it's now 9pm.

On the bus--one of many times throughout the day where we enjoyed the people of New York. You feel like everyone's friend there. It's a marvelous place. Gary enjoyed a lively political discussion with a woman on this bus. And we learned a little bit about the cost of living in the city (high). One of my favorite parts of visiting New York is enjoying the people of the city. You can't help but like them.

So, as a reminder:

7. Bus to Ground Zero and see Trinity Church and Wall Street
8. Bus to Battery Park/Statue of Liberty
9. Bus to the United Nations
Did all this earlier and out of order. Bus back to Times Square.
10. If there's time, visit Seinfeld Cafe and "You've Got Mail" Cafe on Upper West Side No Soup For You! We can do that next time.
11. Leave NYC by 6pm (Insert hysterical laughter here) Hope we don't miss the last ferry and pray we get out of the city by 11pm or so.

Well, remember what I said earlier in this post?
We mentioned how it's too bad we'd miss it at night since it's really spectacular to see how bright it is when the sun goes down. Oh well.
Well, never mind! Since it was well past 9pm, we DID get to see how spectacular Times Square is at night! NYC is truly "the city that never sleeps" -- it's amazing! There is ALWAYS something going on. There were a million places open, the whole area is so lit up that it's just NOT dark, and people are bustling everywhere!

We decided on The Hard Rock Cafe--one of Thing 2's very favorite parts of the trip. BOY was it loud in there! The 70s and 80s music and videos was great (weird to the kids, nostalgic to me---ah MTV. Remember when MTV started and people thought it was so evil?). We enjoyed some good food (we were all hungry!) and more of the nightlife of NYC. It was VERY, very fun.

Cool Beatles Memorabilia

So, we ate and then caught our bus to our ferry, leaving NYC after 11, getting to Jersey (the ferry ride is like 8 minutes long, if that), finding our car, and driving back to PA and getting home and right to bed somewhere around 2AM. What a day!!

On the Ferry from NY to NJ

From NJ to PA

Moral of the day: We are nothing, if not flexible and fun! :)

It was a great day--thank you so much to Gary and Vivian for being both willing and fun about it all. They told us they enjoyed it even more than they thought they would and would enjoy going back someday again, so that's good.

Notes for next time: Start with the Statue of Liberty. Do Central Park and Seinfeld and Friends. And maybe don't bother making too specific of a plan. :)


Jill O said...

What a great post! I would love, love, love to go to New YOrk and be an official tourist. Someday....
I commend you on your bravery and adventurous spirit! Maybe if Kent and I ever make it over to that part of the world, you can be our tour guides.

Anonymous said...

I love this post! What fun you had and what great in-laws you have! I have always, always, always wanted to visit NYC and I am super jealous and trying really hard to hold it in. No really, I'm happy for you. It's really great, really. :-)

emily said...

Wow! What a day! I want one of those cupcakes sooo bad. I read a blog of a Mormon girl who lives in Manhattan and is in Grease, and it makes me want to live in NY so bad...before I get married and have kids. Ooh wait.

Dr. Mark said...

NYC is a great place! It's on my short list of "cities I would choose to live if the only choice I had was big cities." You can even see from the pictures how different the various areas of the city are. Simply amazing! Great recap, too, Little Miss!

D'Arcy said...

Yes! I think I should make a living as a tour guide! Don't worry, in October I will take you to cafe Lalo! So beautiful. My second favorite part of the city is the Upper West Side, which it looks like you missed, so I will introduce you to the beauties of it!!!

I know i AM crazy for not living there. The good thing is that I fly back at LEAST four or five times a year for only $12.50 each way! I love my flight benefits!!!

What an awesome day. I will have to read through this in more detail this weekend!

terahreu said...

Thanks for taking me there. I really miss the NY visits when we lived in DE. It was almost like visiting another country. I loved it so much.

Also, Stacy, when are you going to age?

Lena said...

Oh, I want to visit there even more now!!

J Fo said...

What a fun day! I'm exhausted just reading it. You guys are such troopers! Fun fun fun.

bythelbs said...

Wow--looks like quite a day! If I ever get to New York, I'm coming back here to use "the list".

Lindsay said...

I love love love New York! I am almost positive that I went to Johns Pizza when I went last. We were able to get the Discount tickets to Fiddler on the Roof. It was amazing. Tevia was played by the gay brother on Ms Doubtfire and Goldie was played by Rosie O'Donnel. She was not much of a singer. I wanna go back so bad

Swawaeve said...

That looks like sooooo much fun.

Chelle said...

What an awesome day trip! I've only been there once and would love to go back.

I say it helps to have a plan of ideas, but once you get there you have to be flexible. Even though you didn't follow your plan look at all you accomplished! You've really got me wanting one of those cupcakes.

And I don't know Gary, but Gary, you're awesome.

Dad said...

Oh boy! Stacy an AWESOME account of our trip to the City. You really have to see "The Out-of- Towners" with Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis. Their trip to NYC was very different than ours and very hilarious.

You captured all the wonderful things of that day. It's fun to read/hear accounts of shared experiences. There really wasn't anything that day I didn't enjoy doing. I definitely will go back again. Just to set the record straight - I always wanted to go to NY; it was Vivian who was apprehensive about it. Even though we lived in Los Angeles and I grew up there and thought that was a big city, which it is, NYC is so much "bigger" because of it being so dense on a realitvely small island. (Hows that for a run-on sentence). Please, no comments from my English teacher daughter in law.

I loved your format showing our original itinerary and then keeping a running log of what we actually did - complete with pictures.

A great day. And Chelle (or is it Rachelle - I visited your blog) thank you for the compliment; at least I thought it was a compliment.

madhousewife said...

Flexible and fun go together!

I would love to go back to New York someday. Of course, when I went I didn't have children. Just reading this makes me tired. But also to go back to New York. Without the children.

Em said...

I am exhausted just reading about it. Way to go with the flow!

Chelle said...

I forgot to mention that I love the fact that your kids chased pigeons in the face of disappointment!

Yes Gary, that was most definitely a compliment. If I ever get to visit NYC again, I want to go with you and Vivian (Mark and Stacy can come too if they'd like). I'd help you eavesdrop on the law enforcement personnel.

Boquinha said...

Jill, come and visit!

Toni, come and visit! (And I know you're not jealous at all). ;)

Emily, come and visit and we can go get cupcakes!

Sweetie, I totally agree. Plus, the people are awesome.

D'Arcy, THANK YOU again! The Upper West side sounds SO nice--I'm up for it!

Terah, you're welcome. Look closely--there are a lot of gray roots! As for facial aging, I've been hearing for years, "You look so young! You'll love it when you're 40." So there better be some pay off for looking perpetually 12 for 30-something years. :P

Lena, come and visit!

Jessica, thanks!

Bythelbs, yes, use the list. Because, clearly, it's incredibly useful.

Lindsay, come and visit!

Sierra, TOTALLY fun! You guys oughta do that sometime. I know it's not the beach, but . . .

Rachelle, come and visit! The cupcakes ARE good. And NYC with Gary is SO fun!

Gary, thanks so much for the comment and the phone call!! SUCH a fun day! So glad to have you guys here to enjoy it with us! Rachelle and Jared are our very good friends from Medical School (Mark and Jared are in the same class). I'm trying to figure out if you've met them?

Mad! Bring your sister and let's do the city!! Thanks for the comment!

Em, when are you coming back to PA to visit?

Rachelle -- pigeon chasing is SUCH a great stress squelcher. :)

April (Thorup) Oaks said...

I love the t-shirts. Sounds like a GREAT trip. I'm glad you got to spend time with Vivian and Gary. What fun people.