New York City:: Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A trip without kids. Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling with my kids BUT, NYC without kids is quite different than with. We went to New York City in 2009 with my parents and Abby and Cade when they were 3 and 1. This time, we left the three kids with my parents at their house and Derek and I flew off to NYC, just the 2 of us.

Derek and I left out of Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Airport and flew into LaGuardia Airport. We flew on a tiny Delta plane and landed with some queasiness, but hey, we landed. We had decided ahead of time to take a taxi to our hotel and so we did. It cost $20 to get to Long Island City in Queens to the Verve Hotel. I had read many reviews about the hotel and they were all great, so I had high expectations. The front desk staff was very friendly and the hotel lobby was clean. If you stay there, just request an upper floor room. We were on the first floor near the breakfast room. It was a bit noisy and the view out our window was of a fence which was a few feet outside the window. Other than that, the room was clean and spacious. There was a hot drink machine and water available all day outside the breakfast room, along with a microwave. The room had a fridge too. Another nice thing about the hotel, which is one reason I chose it is the proximity to the subway. Overall, for the price, the hotel was worth it. We paid just $125/night through That is my favorite place to look for hotels. If you travel or use hotels quite a bit, it is even nicer because once you complete 10 nights, you get one free (or at least a credit towards a night, depending on how expensive it is.)

Once we settled in, got unpacked, checked the map for directions, and packed a day pack, we headed toward the subway. Being from a small town, I am always intimidated by the subway at first. I am used to stepping into my garage, hopping in my van, and driving to where ever I want to go. And, when I get there, having no trouble finding a parking place. This is not the case in NYC. We decided to buy the 7 day unlimited pass for $31/person even though we would only be there for 4 days. That way if we messed up we didn’t have to feel bad like we wasted the money. We would just reswipe the card and be on our way. The first obstacle came just minutes after buying the cards. The line we wanted to get on wasn’t running. I think it had to do with it being a weekday morning. So, we first had to travel in the opposite direction to the end of the line (about 4 stops) and then get off and come back the other way. It took awhile but wasn’t difficult. We made our way to the 9/11 Memorial area. We stopped for a panini, chips, and a Coke at Panini & Company Bread and ordered our 9/11 Memorial tickets online. I had read on a few different sites that we had to have them ahead of time so we messed with the website, which took forever and paid the $4 handling fee for the free tickets. Because we didn’t have a printer with us, we then had to go the the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site on Vesey Street. It turns out that we could have gotten tickets there although we would have had to wait an extra 1/2 hour. It would have been worth it though because I would rather donate the $4 handling fee to the Memorial and not have to mess with it online. We had enough time to look around at St. Paul’s Church and saw some headstones from the early 1800’s. Many of the headstones were so worn that they could not even be read anymore. After that, we walked to the 9/11 Memorial and got in line to get in. It turns out we could have gotten tickets there as well, although we would have had to stand in line. We still stood in line with our tickets but not for nearly as long as those who didn’t already have tickets. After making our way though airport-type security (minus having to take off shoes), we walked to the view the pools. The South Pool’s waterfall was on and it was amazing. It was moving to see all the names and to think about the impact that day had on so many lives. Then we went through the gift shop and saw Paul Jr.’s tribute bike. Derek really liked watching American Chopper and Sr. vs. Jr., so he enjoyed seeing the bike. The 9/11 is a must see in NYC.

After the Memorial, we got back on the subway and headed toward Times Square. When we went to NYC in 2009, we only saw Times Square during the day and I really wanted to see it at night with all the lights and excitement. When we got off the subway at Times Square, it was a little after 6:00 and it was starting to get darker. I could already tell how amazing it was going to be. We ate at Hard Rock Cafe, which was right near the subway when we got off. We shared the nachos and a salad. When we came out from the restaurant, which is in the basement, it was dark out and the lights were amazing! We walked around, did a little shopping, and just took in the sights.

Then we took the subway back to the Verve in Long Island City. We had to walk about 3 blocks back to the hotel. I’m not sure I’d have wanted to walk it by myself, but I felt fairly safe walking with Derek.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wow! What an awesome, busy day in New York City. I thought going in that I would like the city, but I figured once I saw I’d feel like I would never need to see it again…wrong. It is amazing and I already want to go back (when the kids are a little older). We took the train from the North Elizabeth Station and got out at New York’s Penn Station by mid morning. We took the subway up to Times Square and made our way to street level. The lights were amazing even during the day and that is one reason I want to go back. I want to see it all at night. We walked around and looked like tourists, which obviously we were, with our necks craned up to see everything. It was a slightly overcast, but very bright. It was hard to open our eyes for pictures.

We walked around Times Square and went into the Hershey Candy store and then we walked a few blocks to the Rockefeller Center. We went to the Top of the Rock. The elevator on the way up was pretty cool. The ceiling was glass and it showed little movie clips of the Rockefeller Center and we could see the lights from the elevator shaft as we flew to the top. We got out and looked around. There was an amazing view of Central Park, the Empire State Building, and the whole city. When we came out, we saw a McDonald’s sign a few blocks away. So, we walked down there and had some lunch. We then made our way to a subway station and came out about a block from Central Park.

There were horse carriages all lined up along the street. We went to the first one and told him we wanted a ride. He could only take 3 adults and the kids. Dad gladly sat out and kept the strollers for us. Mom, Derek, Abby, Cade and I piled in, took some pictures and we were on our way. It was such a relaxing, fun time. We rode past the sights of the lower, east side of Central Park, including a park, the carousel, and the zoo. It was so relaxing, in fact, that Cade fell asleep less than 5 minutes into the ride. Our horse Billy, and the driver led us through the park and we made a circle back to where we started. We found Dad relaxing on a bench in the shade and we got Cade transferred to a stroller. Then we made the same route walking. Instead of playing at the park, Abby decided to climb on the large rocks with Derek. Cade started waking up just in time for the carousel ride. He and Abby were so cute waiting for the ride together. She was hugging him and telling him what they were doing. It was a very fast carousel and difficult to get a picture of them on it, even with the new camera. We finished the walk around the park and looked for FAO Schwarz toy store. In Abby’s defense, she has an amazing sense of smell, which I used to have up until last October, so she held her nose for most of the ride because of the smelly horse. Notice Cade awake and then Cade sleeping.
FAO Schwarz was pretty amazing. It was fun just to look at the different toys and to see the giant Legos guys, like Batman and Chewbacca. Abby took a long time to choose a toy that she wanted. Most of the things she went for (fancy dolls) cost almost $100. I told her to keep looking. She almost got a stuffed Spot dog, from the books, but she lost interest in it before we were even ready to check out. Derek, Abby, and Cade played on the “Big” big piano. In the movie, Big, Tom Hanks plays on the same piano. In the end, Abby chose a little pink blanket baby and Cade got a little boy stuffed doll dressed in an elephant costume. They were both happy. So was I because we got both for less than $25.
After a long, wonderful day in NYC, we got back on the subway, then on the train and made it back to the North Elizabeth station. We ordered Perkins again for supper and Abby, Derek and Cade swam. We played more cards after the kids were sleeping and it was the perfect ending to a perfect day.