Sunday, July 23, 2017

Days 1 & 2: New York and the Statue of Liberty

I'd really hoped to keep a day-by-day account of our travels with the kids to New York and beyond, but a combination of the heat and the small living quarters didn't lend itself to leisurely blogging in New York, so it never really came together. But, now that we've made it to our second destination, Lisbon, we are hoping things decompress a little bit, so -with Sarah and the kids sleeping off their jet-lag- I thought I'd get caught up on our adventures in the Big Apple.

But, first, a little context. It was 10 years ago that Sarah and I did our big Round the World Trip (and started this blog!), so we thought it was time for another, more ambitious trip. Now, obviously, between the kids school and our work, it wasn't going to be possible to wrangle another 7 months, but after making some arrangements, we were able to secure a month free from work, during the kids Summer break, to do at least a slightly longer than normal adventure.

Initially, our plan was to take the kids to Southeast Asia, a part of the world both Sarah and I really enjoy and have been wanting to return to, but since Summer in Southeast Asia is hot and monsoon-y, that didn't seem like a good option for this trip. Next we considered Portugal and Morocco, but -again- July and August in North African deserts seemed oppressive. So, we replaced that leg with the Azores, a Portuguese island chain in the Atlantic. New York was then added when Sarah had a work meeting she wasn't able to shift. She's been to New York dozens of times (mainly for work), but I've only been once before and it would be the kids first trip.

So, the plan was set: 1 week in New York. 2 weeks in Lisbon. 1 week in the Azores. And, we were off!

Day 1
Getting up at 4 in the morning is always awesome. As is getting two small kids up by 5 am. But, my memories of that morning, while blurry were more ones of muted excitement. Likewise, while it has gotten better with each year, flying with kids is never a relaxing affair, and ends up being more about micromanaging them then anything else. Still we arrived in New York in one piece, and made it to our hotel, despite the  best attempts of a cab drive who seemed to be trying to recreate one of our cab experiences from Egypt years ago.

Still it was fun to both see the New York streets again, and watch the kids responses to them (or, rather, Stella's, since Otto fell asleep as soon as we climbed into the cab).

After checking in to our room, we grabbed dinner at what turned out to likely be the fanciest restaurant the kids had ever eaten at, a tiny Italian place with good food and a homemade grappa bar(!). Otto, still disoriented from the flight, initially was Fighting the Power™, but a little food later, he was running around the restaurant like a crazy man.

Homemade grappa!

After dinner, we took a quick walk over to the library, where we spent most of our time looking for a public restroom, because Otto had drank about six cups of water during dinner ("I am winning the Most Water Drank Race!"), and also buying him a pretzel. Before leaving on our trip, the kids and I had watched a "50 Things to Do in New York" video on YouTube, and there were only two things that Otto seems to have taken away from it: 1) "the beach" (read: Coney Island, more on that later) and 2) "big pretzels."

A happy boy, with his giant pretzel. Otto would average a pretzel a day for the duration of our NY stay.

Anyhow, with a giant pretzel happily in hand, Otto and the rest of us made our way back to the room, calling it a night.

Day 2
Aside from Sarah's work responsibilities, the only thing we had scheduled for the week was a trip to see the Statue of Liberty. With the kids in tow, it seemed like a good excuse to do some of the more touristy things that we'd probably otherwise avoid in our attempts to seem like more sophisticated travelers. So, we woke up early the next morning, bought week-long metro passes (Stella was chagrined to discover she didn't get a pass, and would have to -literally- stoop to slipping under the turnstiles like other kids), and headed down to Battery Park to catch our boat out to Liberty Island.

First subway ride! The kids had ridden the metro, back in Paris, year ago, but neither remembers it. The subway would go from "super cool" to "super boring" in both their opinions, in about 2 days time.

Before climbing onto the boat, we go we had to queue up to get on the boat. And, before queuing up to get on the boat, we had to queue up to get through security. And, before queueing up to get through security, we had to queue up to, well, get into the queue for security. The National Queue Museum.

The boat ride across was quick, and surprisingly uncrowded given the lines we'd just navigated, and soon enough we were standing at the feet (or, rather pedestal) of the statue. The Statue of Liberty is one of those monuments, like the Eiffel Tower or Pyramids, that is so universally known, and so well documented that -when there- you both have trouble getting your head around the fact that you are actually there, but -at the same time- you sort of feel like you've been there before. A sort of socialized deja vu. Her scale is truly monumental, and if you can mentally push past the crowds and their cameras and selfie sticks, it's inspiring to stand in its presence.

 Stella, in front of the Manhattan skyline. 

Kids of Liberty! ...with some random statue in the background.

After circling around her base, it was time to go inside. The tickets we had didn't allow us to make the long hike up to her crown (which certainly would have been amazing), but it did allow us to climb high up into her pedestal, for a view of the island around, the city skyline and a view up into the statues interior. The break from the crowds (and the air conditioning) were also both appreciated.

Probably the most representative photo of our day: The kids play fighting... or maybe just fighting... while on the viewing platform of the pedestal.

After a snack break, and a couple of large lemonades, it was time to get back in the boat to the mainland. We were sorely tempted to also check out Ellis Island, but the kids were running thin, and we were afraid that while Stella might be able to grock the historical importance, that Otto would find it boring. So, it was back to Manhattan, and back on the subway to our hotel.

Ice cream cone of liberty!

Back at base camp, we regrouped and took the rest of the evening off, venturing out only for large bowls of udon noodles (and large beers), then a leisurely evening stroll down passed the UN Headquarters and home.

1 comment:

Susan Hill said...

I would give anything to go to the Statue of Liberty.... and be well again.