Scrolling through old emails, I was aghast to find a perfectly prepared blog I never submitted from April. For a moment, I thought ‘Nah, no one will want to read this now.’ But it’s New York…with a kid… Back when I was looking for things to do, there wasn’t enough interesting literature out there that inspired interesting itineraries. And so, this blog has escaped the chopping block and become a diary entry of sorts.
April 1, 2011
I always imagined I would be learning to change a diaper and trouble shoot night screams before I would be traveling with a ten-year-old. Life’s funny like that, throwing you scenarios out of expected order. These past five days in my favorite city in the world made me look at New York in a completely different light. I saw it through his eyes. It wasn’t about crossing off restaurants and wine bars on my tick list this time. Rather, it was about keeping the energy and enthusiasm level up so that my boyfriend’s kiddo will be inclined to return to this magical concrete playground in the future.
March 28, 2011
It was the ideal place to meet my guy, since he’s been working in Europe the past month. We’d fly a few hours, and so would he. I did my research and armored myself with a limitless list of things to do, hoping just a few would appeal to this modern day ‘tween–a child of the ipod generation who naturally thinks of skiing as a wii game (did I mention we live in Colorado). But I wasn’t altogether unrealistic. You can’t fight the inevitable. The carry on was loaded with movies (Ghostbusters and Big, of course), a mini-dvd player, 3 books: Calvin & Hobbes, Garfield and Captain Underpants, emergency snacks (and sugar), Juicy Fruit and he brought an ipod touch from his mom’s house. I learned all about the ever-addicting Angry Birds this country is obsessed with playing (I had no idea!).
The flight was a breeze with our bag of goodies, and we flagged down a cab to get into the city. We pulled up to the Gansevoort Hotel in the meatpacking district to check into our lodgings. This was one of a few hotels with an all-season swimming pool. Unfortunately… it was in wide open air on the windy rooftop. ‘Heated’ meant not freezing. Lukewarm to the touch, it was hardly appealing in the 35 degree weather. Next time, when spending that kind of money for a pool, we may as well just do the Trump Tower. Or, save money and say screw the pool.
What follows is a sketch of what we did each day, followed by a list of great activities I wish we would have done. But kids (and adults) get worn out quicker than they’d like, so I’ll just keep’m on the NYC list for next time…
Day 1, still March 28th:
After a long travel morning, we got in around 2p. Once we settled in, we walked up the block for a slice. Something about NY pizza. Why is it so good? They say it’s the water that makes the crust so perfectly crisp. But I have never quite figured it out. We then hopped in a cab and headed to Central park. We walk from the west side to the east along the bottom, read sculpture signs, checked out the ponds and stared up at the trees. I learned a bit about the history beforehand so I could teach him a bit about its personality. He really loved this quiet space, already a bit overwhelmed by the pulsating beat that surrounded us. When we poked our heads out, we were a few steps from the famous FAO Schwarz. He was impressed for sure, but alas, they had no Wii games, so we had to move on to the Rockefeller Plaza for Nintendo World. While we were there, we checked out a figure skating competition as well as the Lego store where we finally invested in a few Ninjago pieces–a really fun, interactive new Lego series.
After a dreadful dinner (for the kid, not us) at Pastis across from our hotel, we treated him to what became the highlight of his trip: the $19 dessert buffet at the Marriott Marquis lounge in Times Square. High above the city, we slowly turned 360 degrees over the course of an hour and pointed out all the classic skyscrapers of NYC. I actually saw a memory being formed as I watched his curious eyes. I related to the impression that was being etched into his senses. I remember the first moment I understood the magic of this place. It was actually in a borough: Brooklyn. I was trotting back from the subway in Williamsburg to my little shack of a room in the Greenpoint YMCA. There were blankets strewn about the park, and people of all shapes, sizes, colors and accents watching Independence Day–even outdated four years ago. I plopped down with my Thai food and ‘3 Buck Chuck’ (note: I was a grad student living at the YMCA, thank you very much), and took it all in knowing I would remember it forever.
Day 2, March 29th:
Jetlag was kicking in as we dragged ourselves out of bed at 9:30a (7:30 Denver). We had some room service, because it’s so fun, and set out to see the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum at Pier 86.
It took a few hours, and we needed something light and fun to follow. We broke down and agreed to Dave & Busters. One less than gourmet–I mean, scrumptious, perfectly circular– Sysco burger with fries later, we were racing cars and shooting down aliens. My epicurean boyfriend was a less than thrilled, but I didn’t care. It was even difficult for him not to get on board with Busters by the end of the games. His kid wore a big old smile. Chain establishment or not, D&B was familiar to him in a land of strange new places and faces.
That evening was a comfortable Italian dinner at Gennaro‘s on the Upper West at Amsterdam. A little warning and a couple things to keep a boy occupied allowed for an awesome night with old friends. The ride home, however, was a little unsettling, as the driver seemed to be the long lost twin of Bin Laden in child’s eyes. NYC only made it more unnerving. We did not cut the cab ride short, however. It became instead the source of an important conversation regarding diversity, assumptions and living in a world that for children his age has never been without a very real trace of terror. He was a perfectly kind driver (who even stopped the meter a few blocks early!). We could only imagine what it felt like to be him in the shadows of a broken city, misunderstood and alienated.
Day 3, March 30th:
The next day was the Guggenheim and a tour of the Wall Street Journal offices. The former had a superb display of cubism on exhibition–a great introduction to Picasso, Gauguin and Mondrian to name a few that were featured. As for the Wall Street Journal, it was really something to see how modern technology has changed the world of print.
Day 4/5, March 31-April 1
Day four and five really threw a wrench in the plans. It was rainy, cold and hard to motivate. But we pulled it together and trekked out to Queens to see the Museum of the Moving Image–the perfect kind of museum for today’s kid. There were interactive stop-motion video stations, make your own flip book, audio ad-lib tutorials with clips from the Simpsons and an old school arcade with Frogger, Pac Man and Space Invaders. I even found myself hooked once again to my old Sega favorite: Sonic the Hedgehog.
We spent a lazy afternoon near the hotel before heading back uptown to catch the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie followed by the ever-famous Shake Shack for a burger and malt. The down time and mellow pace of the day was what we needed after a week of nonstop stimulus.
On the final day, before the plane home, we squeezed in a couple more visits to the Mac and Lego store. I needed one more slice as well. Before we knew it, we were standing in line at security, eyes glazed and thinking about our trip.
What would I have done differently? Nothing. But I would like to think I could have squeezed in a few more activities, such as the following:
-Rent bikes and ride around Central Park–visit ponds, the Castle, the boathouse…
-The actual Ghostbuster tour, not just randomly spotting them in a cab. The 1 Train will get you to just about every spot, give or take a couple blocks, such as Columbia University, their work station, Public Library, Central Park West apartment building, Tavern on the Green, etc.
-Egyptian stuff at the Met.
-Restaurants: Peanut Butter & Co., Max Brenner, Serendipity, Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, Rice to Riches, Dim Sum in Chinatown
-Wall Street/World Trade Center Memorial
-St. Johns Cathedral