"Quick" NYC recap:
I was born on Long Island, but we moved to Morrocco when I was six weeks old. Apart from connecting through JFK a couple times, and Warped Tour 2002 on Randall's Island, I've never been to New York City. We've been saying for years that we were going to take a family trip there and scatter our dog's ashes on the beach near where my parents lived, but it never seemed to happen. So after our wedding last year, I insisted that we start planning a trip for this spring, and that maybe if we started early and made everyone commit, it would actually happen. We decided to combine it with my 28th birthday (since I was born there after all), and miraculously, it somehow actually happened!
Took Bolt Bus - had Wifi, comfy seats, and didn't have to personally deal with traffic, or figure out how to navigate NYC streets. Didn't take any longer than driving, and was $65 total round trip for two people, not bad when you consider gas and tolls. Highly reccomended.
Friday afternoon we walked through Central Park up to the Guggenheim. Central Park kicks the National Mall's ass. The shade helps a lot, but so does the water, rocks, and hills that kind of separate everything out so nicely. Guggenheim was somewhat disappointing to me since much of it was closed for a Frank Lloyd Wright installation. But the two open exhibits had a pretty amazing collection, one of the Manet's I actually went through the entire thought process of "if I grabbed this and ran, how far could I actually get before security caught me" before deciding that it would melt in the heat outside anyway. After that, my parents headed back to the hotel, while Emily, Ben, and I strolled down Madison Ave. We hit up a street vendor for pretzels before going back to the hotel for a quick-change (would have used a phone booth, Superman-style, if one had presented itself). Then it was off to the theater for Wicked. I really enjoyed it, maybe because it was all new to me, or maybe because Broadway theater really is that much better. Emily and my mom had some nits to pick comparing the musical to the book, so now I'm anxious to read the book and try to fill in some of the gaps myself. We headed to the Carnegie Deli for dinner after walking past Letterman's studio. My dad got a pastrami sandwich that coudl have fed three people, and Ben and my mom both had desserts that could have done the same. My cholla french toast was awesome, and I'm told Emily's cheese blintzes were equally delicious.
Saturday morning we hit up a local market for coffee and muffins and then began our subway trek down to Battery Park. We took the ferry to Liberty and Ellis Islands. City Pass saved us probably 1-2 hours waiting in lines. My parent's skipped the Status of Liberty because they had to get back uptown for a timeshare presentation. Lady Liberty is kind of puny when you see her from Manhattan, but is much more imposing up close. Ellis Island is an amazing site if you've never been. It's incredible to think about all the people who came through there and how confusing it must have been, not to mention how depressing to be stuck there when your family is just outside the gates, or to be stuck on a ship in the harbor, seeing land, and unable to disembark. We sent Ben back uptown to meet my parents at the Met while Emily and I tried to go to Grimaldi's, and struck out with an hour wait in the oppressive mid-afternoon Brooklyn heat. Instead we had great NY pizza up the street and then walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. We subwayed back to the hotel for another quick change, then it was off to the Empire State Building. City Pass again saved us probably an hour's wait. Views at sunset were spectacular and gave us some good perspective on NY life. Then we walked a couple blocks to Primehouse for dinner (mmmmmm) where we met up with my cousin Sarah (currently a grad student at Columbia). We walked off our meal down towards Union Square where we had Max Brenner for dessert at 1:00 AM
Sunday, Emily and I were up and out the door by 9, we grabbed bagels as a nearby deli and ate them in Central Park on the way to the Natural History Museum. The rest of our party was still in bed when we left, but somehow dragged themselves to MOMA across the street from our hotel. Emily and I took in the various mammals and birds exhibits, saw a show at the Hayden Planetarium (introduced by my boy Neil DeGrasse Tyson), and then toured the dinosaurs and gems and minerals exhibits. My brain was reaching information overload, and we were running low on time, but we passed through the Asian cultures exhibits on the way out, and I wish we could have spent more time there. Several items we saw are also in my dad's basement. One day I fully expect to see "on loan from the Jim Bever collection" next to artifacts in a museum. Grabbed lunch at another deli on the way back to the hotel where we rendezvoused with the rest of the family to head to Long Island. Without a useful map, we eventually made our way there, saw the old house, walked around the old pond, had ice cream at the old ice cream shop, and bought train tickets on the LIRR for the next day. Then it was off to the beach, where we scattered Dadi's ashes at sunset out on a sandbar. We had dinner in Port Jefferson before opening some presents back at the Three Village Inn.
The next morning we had a rushed, but wonderfully tasty breakfast at the Inn, before Emily and I barely caught the LIRR back to Manhattan. We made our way from Penn Station back uptown for lunch at Rouge Tomate with Emily's god-parents. Then it was back downtown to catch the Bolt Bus home.
It was an exhausting, but thrilling, 80 or so hours. Had some delicious food and got a lot of exercise and were really able to enjoy the fabulous weather. I'd say my favorite part is a toss-up between spending time in Central Park and seeing how excited little boys still are about dinosaurs. Photos are posted on Facebook if you haven't seen them yet.