Jul 21, 2014

Last Time In New York City.

The first time I ever saw New York City was in the early 90's. It was not to soon after the murder of that Mormon boy Brian Watkins in New York City Subway. Needless to say I was not sure about New York City. We lived in Princeton at the time and we had a friend who drove us in to the city and basically gave us the driving tour because we had lots of little kids and a new baby.

It was not until we moved to Massachusetts in 2007 that I started to become acquainted with the real New York City. We moved here 6 and a half years ago and I think I have gone into the city at least 3 times each of those years. I have googled top ten things to do in New York City. I have googled not so top ten things to do in new York City. Everytime I go I gain a new appreciation for how much this city truly has to offer. I am always trying to figure out the best way to see New York City. And always trying to find new different things to see.

Madeline got married in March to Carlos and Carlos has never been to the United States let alone to New York City. He really wanted to go. I knew this would most likely be our last time going into the city so I asked everyone what they wanted to see.

Tatiana wanted to go to the Converse store on Broadway. A few years ago Amanda bought her a tiny Converse shoe key chain and she loved it but someone at her school stole it and she has always wanted to replace it. And she needed to buy a Subway sandwich and eat it on the Subway.

Natalie is my sweet tooth she had to go to Magnolia Bakery.

Madeline had never seen the World Trade Center site.

Carlos needed to see Central Park, Times Square, and the Statue of Liberty.

So I carefully plotted out our day. I have done all of these requests many a time with many a guest. I ordered tickets to see the newly opened 9/11 museum. I ordered tickets to get onto Liberty Island. I decided we had to leave by 4 in the morning so we could be to our first stop by nine in the morning. I organized food and made sure we had backpacks and water and directions and tickets.

It takes about 2 and /1/2 hours to drive into the city from our house. I always park by Trump properties off of the Henry Hudson Parkway but this trip I was so sad to discover that the parking lot I always used is gone and Trump is building something there. So we drove to our plan b which is a lot on 42nd street just down from Times Square. This lot is a lot more money but it had to be so I did not even think about it. Visiting New York City just costs money there is no way around it. Parking and Subway and tickets to see things. I can not even fathom how much money changes hands in New York City everyday. when I think about what I pay and then multiply it by the nine million people in line with me for something it is staggering.

We headed down to the 9/11 memorial first. I had tickets to see the newly opened museum at 9 in the morning. It was a beautiful morning and not many people were at the site when we got there. I have seen my share of memorials in my life and I have to tell you this memorial is amazing. I wish you could see it. They did a perfect job. There are two squares just like the one in the picture over there. They are exactly the dimensions of the original twin towers and they are in the exact spots where they stood. Water flows down all four sides and down into that void in the middle. we have been to the world trade center site many times throughout the years and slowly but surely it is being reborn and taking shape into a beautiful area.

The museum was huge and beautiful. So much to see and take in. It was weird to do the math and realize that Natalie was not even alive when 9/11 happened. By the time we got out of the museum the grounds were full of tons of people. I always have to go and look at the Survivor Tree. It is a tree that was found mostly alive on the site in the midst of clean up from 9/11. They carefully dug it up and sent it to a nursery and nursed it back to health and then brought it back to the site. I eat up stories like that :)

After we finished in downtown we jumped on the Subway and headed back uptown to about the middle of Central Park and then worked our way down towards the south corner of central park. We stopped at the Mormon temple. We wandered through Central Park so Natalie could pet one of the horses that pull carriages through Central Park. Madeline had never been in FAO Schwarz so we went in there along with nine million other people and we gawked at all the expensive toys and took our pictures with Lego guys.

Then we had to head back down to the tip of Manhattan to Battery Park to catch our boat to the statue. I have taken the boat to the statue a few times and have even purchased the tickets that allow you to go up inside Lady Liberty's nose. But my kids have only ever been on the free Staten Island Ferry that takes you by the statue. So I thought this would be a treat for them. Never ever think that about kids and things you plan.

See Natalie's "I am done" face :)
I have done New York City with kids so many times and it never ever changes. It is just plain hard for them. All the walking. All the waiting, and all the crowds eventually get to even the best of them. Each of my kids had a melt down moment on the trip. Even my darling 23 year old who is perfect in every way. My job on our New York City trips is to convince people that they really can walk more and to trick them into thinking our destination is just a "few more blocks" away. I also need to help them to see that waiting in line is a fun thing. I have many tactics I use to distract them from their misery. Candy in my backpack always works for awhile. And strategically planned FAO Schwarz visits also help. And the big guns are taking the Subway. I really supported the subway this trip. I think I ended up spending at least $40.00 on subway rides. All totally worth it.

I guess it goes without saying that when I go into the city by myself or with my girlfriends I notice a huge difference in my trip :) But I love for my kids to be familiar with the city and for them to have seen all they have seen so I just keep smiling and being happy no matter how they complain. If the pioneers did it so can I :)

Liberty Island was jam packed with tourists. I usually visit New York City not in the summer so it was crazy even for me. SO MANY PEOPLE. All of them vying for a spot for the perfect photo with the statue or the Manhattan skyline.. Sometimes I can not even wrap my mind around the magnitude of it all. All sorts of languages all around you. Jostling of bodies. At times like this when we are all standing scrunched together in lines I entertain myself by looking at peoples shoes. You are so close to everyone you really can not look anywhere else. I saw a lot of Toms :)

After Liberty Island Carlos wanted to go find a store called Century 21. This was the part of the trip where I had to remind Natalie to be grateful she had two legs and could walk. She was not impressed. When we got to the store we then realized how close we were to the Converse store and decided to save money and walk some more. It never escapes me how much like life my New York City trip with the kids turn out to be. Convincing them they can do hard things. Helping them to see the positive. Reminding them they will always be glad that they did it when it is over. Throwing some food and sugar in to the mix. How happy we are when we get to the end and we made it. Lots of distracting from the hard stuff. Yeah, lots of good times :)

After the cool, with benches, Converse store our next quest was to find some authentic tacos. A few years ago I had found this amazing teeny tiny hole in the wall place that had yummy tacos. It was owned by two guys from Tijuana and it was so good. Of course I did not save the address and no matter what I googled I could not find it again. That is the lesson I need to remember from New York City to save addresses and names of places because you will forget even if you think you won't :)

We found a taco place up by Bleeker Street. It was okay. But not authentic and not perfect but we got to eat and we got to sit.

We got back on the Subway and headed back to Times Square to wrap everything up. Times Square can be busy but it was crazy this particular night and it was almost nine o'clock at night and you could tell everyone was done. To just confirm that there were all these very scantily clad women milling about in times Square offering photo opportunities.....we are talking so scantily clad that some of them had no tops on. I was stunned at felt a little sick at how many people were taking their pictures with them and staring at them. I really did not want that image to be the last one in my mind.

As I walked back to the car it hit me that I have no idea when I will be back to New York City and who I will be with when I go and where my life will be. I have loved living so close to New York City that I can just hop in the car and go when ever I want. It is always weird when I get back to my quiet house in Massachusetts at midnight to think that just two and a half hours away all that noise and all those smells and all that hustling and bustling is going on.

I did not get to choose what I wanted to see for my last trip and I have been sitting here thinking what I would have chosen and I think I would have chosen the Brooklyn Bridge....I do love to walk across it as the lights in Manhattan are coming on for the night. I also love to hang out in Greenwich village and poke in little shops. But I will save it for the next time.....whenever that is :)

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