Tuesday, March 21
We left our home just before 7am after kissing the kids and having some last minute briefing with my brave parents. Brian drove into the wrong parking lot at the airport and we snuck into the correct one through an exit because we were LATE. Coming up the stairs to the security check we were directed to the back of a very long line. We were certain that we weren't going to catch our plane after seeing that. A guy kept telling us they were getting "the dog" set up and then the line would go quickly. What was that a euphemism for? It wasn't! A real dog showed up and sniffed everyone's bags instead of having a human open them up and dig through everything. We were through security lickety-split.
When we arrived at JFK, we took a taxi to my cousin Allison's place on the Upper West Side. She and her family (husband Noah and two impossibly cute girls, Scout and Fern) live in a small apartment near Central Park, several great restaurants and subway stations. They had said goodbye to their previous house guests earlier that day, I think. So, extremely generous people and very knowledgeable about the city. Perfect hosts. We talked so much that Brian and I decided not to risk trying to find a place to eat near their apartment and we immediately took a subway going the opposite direction from our show on Broadway. Ah! We hurried and got off at the next stop and got on the correct one. I tried to memorize our surroundings when we emerged from an unmarked doorway on 42nd and Broadway and walked to 44th for Hello Dolly!
Brian and I walked right by our subway station coming back (of course) and ended up on an express that took us to a stop 11 blocks from Allison and Noah's when we did find it. I had packed a skirt and tall boots for our theater nights. Like a dummy. I was whimpering in pain by the time we made it to Allison and Noah's. Never have a bunion and be too short for flats walking all over New York City.
Wednesday, March 22
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island! Allison fed us delicious oatmeal first thing in the morning before we got back on the subway and headed south for Battery Park. We had tickets for a Statue Cruise and had to run for it after getting out of the subway. Security is tight when you go to the Statue of Liberty! We went through one security check to get on the boat and another one when we got off at the island. I had tickets to walk up into the pedestal, but not the crown. I thought that would make me sad, but it was COLD and WINDY and not going to the top was fine with us. The museum just under the pedestal was great - they had examples of Lady Liberty's face without the patina on the copper, stories and amazing photos of the process of getting the statue put back together once it was in the United States. One of my favorites was an example of the copper "skin" on the statue. It's something like 3/8" of an inch thick and they pound it out over the statue.
Next we caught the boat to Ellis Island. What an amazing place! I've been reading City of Dreams by Tyler Anbinder and there is a lot about what the travel was like for emigrants on the boats and getting checked out by doctors once they arrived. To be in the very place where they had been and to see that incredible museum was emotional. There were so many different reasons people left their homelands to come to America not knowing what was here, but counting on it being better than where they lived. We have it so easy!
Thursday, March 23
My plan was to go see Teddy Roosevelt's Birthplace at 9:00am, then head to our Brooklyn Food Tour that started on Cornelia Street. Allison and Fern offered to come with us to Roosevelt's and if they hadn't, Brian and I would probably still be wandering the subway right now. Ah! :)
Allison led us to Cornelia Street (which we NEVER would have found) and our bus for our food tour of Brooklyn. We had a small group, more than half of which were Asian students with their teachers from Boston. Our tour guide, Rick, had us introduce ourselves and that's when he discovered that one of the guys in the tour was the librarian at his high school in San Francisco in the late 1960s, early 1970s. "Mr. Rogers?!" Ha! Small world.
Our first food stop was The Meatball Shop in North Williamsburg. Each of us got a meatball in a little bowl. They had a meatball leftover and I claimed it. Yum! Next we went around the corner to a Middle Eastern place called Oasis for a veggie ball with a name I can't remember and a hummus-y sauce.
Our next stop was farther away and we had more time in the bus with Rick telling us about hipsters and underground clubs where famous bands got their start and finding bodies in the canal and... zzzzz. I fell asleep. That's what I do on public transportation. When I woke up we were at Table 87 in Brooklyn Heights for coal-fired Margarita Pizza. I've been craving it ever since. So simple, but so good! Then it was off to Monteleone Bakery for a cannoli. Delicious.
Once we were on the Brooklyn Bridge promenade, the sun was shining and the wind had calmed. Of course I'd read The Great Bridge by David McCullough and it was surreal to be there. I even asked Rick before we were dropped off where Washington Roebling's house was because I knew that he watched the progress of the bridge from his window. (Rick pointed out where the building used to be, by the way.) Brian and I took our time and soaked in the view. It was one of my favorite things we did on our trip.
Friday, March 24
We slept in a little and took our time getting ready Friday morning. Brian didn't think he'd ever need to eat again, but we went to Maison Pickle for brunch anyway. Biscuit French Toast with strawberries and homemade syrup! Duh. That's happening. After brunch we walked across Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Secretly we could have spent 12 hours a day for a week at that museum and still not see everything. Amazing!
After the Met it was time to go to our hotel, Library Hotel, on Madison and 41st near the New York City Library and our second Broadway show of the trip, Anastasia.
Saturday, March 25
We slept in FOR REAL Saturday morning. AAAHHHH! Then we walked to the Library and Brian found the perfect gift for Colin. (I bought Emil's gift at the Met.)
The dining room at Hamilton Grange.
The parlor - there was a card game set up on a table in there. :)
There were a couple of other memorials on the north end of town, but we could only get there by walking and it would have taken way too long to do that, so we headed back to Manhattan. Brian wanted to get the kids Yankees hats, so we went to Times Square to a store we'd passed going to and from the Broadway shows. Guys. If I never see Times Square again it will be too soon. It's an assault on every sense! My eyes! My nose! My ears! Bleh. A guy advertising a comedy show stopped Brian to compliment him on his "girl." Fist bump for the "silver fox." Brian laughed and told him I'm older. Then we found a Japanese Ramen place for lunch.
I'd seen an episode of Chef's Table on Netflix about Japanese Ramen restaurants, then I got the lowdown from my nephew, Taylor (he served his mission in Japan). The moment we walked into this little place I was completely disarmed. It was a U-shaped bar with 11 people sitting down slurping ramen. I've never experienced anything like that at a restaurant - it was a cultural eye-opener. So cool.
From there we took the subway to the Tenement Museum. My Aunt Julie (Allison's Mom) told us about the Tenement Museum a few weeks ago and then every single person on our food tour told us we SHOULD NOT miss it. They are all correct. We went to the Irish Outsiders tour with a genuine Irish Catholic tour guide. The tour started in the basement with the replicated bathroom facilities - wooden outhouses that were for all the residents of the tenement and the customers at the bar on the street level. Never. They took us up the stairs to a room that looks exactly as it did when people lived there. It took my breath away. So small and dark! What would it have been like to try to take care of babies in that place! We learned about the people who actually lived in the apartment we were standing in. Just an amazing museum.
We arranged to meet Allison and Noah at Cheeky's, which was a short walk from the Tenement Museum according to the address they gave us. Brian and I got there and stood in front of a door and window covered in pencil drawings on paper. I called Allison because I assumed we'd walked right by the place or we were on the wrong street or something. She said, "I can see you!" Yikes! And, Hahahahahaha! We opened the door and there they were. We ate fried chicken on biscuits and beignets while Fern danced on the table and Scout slept in the stroller. (That sweet little girl slept in the noisiest, brightest places!) Then we all rode the subway together, Brian and I getting off many stops before Allison and Noah. They are the best! It's a good thing we're related because I'm positive I'm not cool enough to hang out with them. :)
Brian and I went right to Grand Central Station to get some cheesecake from Juniors to enjoy while I listened to Women's Conference at the hotel. Juniors is no longer in Grand Central Station. It's gone. We got cupcakes instead.
Bridget's Statue of Liberty snowglobe cost me $25 more and three trips through the same security line at JFK. Then I left my cell phone in the bathroom at the Salt Lake Airport and we had to go back and find a kind person who would be good enough to find it for me. Anniversary miracle, that. The kids were alive and well when we picked them up and it was all worth it. I'm so glad we did this trip! What an amazing time of life and what a gift that my parents could handle our household so well for almost a week! I'm feeling the love. :)