Monday, June 15, 2009

New York!!!

I have been procrastinating this post because I know it will be a long one, but I don't want to forget any part of this trip... so here it goes.

We left Edmonton on a 730am flight and since we needed to be there 2 hours early for a international flight, plus 45 minutes to drive to the airport, plus some time to get the last few things together meant getting up at 3am!!! insane.

The first flight to Toronto was great, although I didn't exactly remember how terrible landing was... I survived... but from Toronto to New York was only an hour and a half and I felt SO sick the whole time ( I blame it on the pizza we stuffed down 2 minutes before boarding) anyways you may guess where this is headed... but I puked 3 times on the plane... in the puke bag. It was TERRIBLE.

When we got to New York though I was ready to start the adventure. We had pre-arranged transportation from the airport and even had a nice taxi driver with a little "FIXSEN" sign awaiting our arrival. The only thing that was an adjustment right away was the tipping. Everyone was SO willing to help, but wouldn't let the tip go... they were so forward saying things like "so I'm finished with your bags..." hint hint... what was the most insane was that the norm is to tip 1 dollar per bag... we had about 11 bags with us with stroller and stuff... so to tip 11 dollars for the doorman to bring the bags from the curb, and then ANOTHER bellman to bring them from the lobby to our rooms... it was immediately looking like it was going to be an expensive trip.

We headed out right away which is where the photos begin...

This above is the Ferris wheel INSIDE Toys R Us in Times Square. My niece IF came on the trip with us and she had her own list of important things to do and see in New York... this was one of them. We started off our trip on the right foot finding toys and souvenirs for the kids back home as soon as we arrived in New York.
My sweet niece IF enjoying a New York delicacy Pretzels from the street vendors.
First night at the Empire State building. 85 floors up makes for a pretty incredible 360* view of New York city. The top photo was looking down on the traffic below. The lower photo shows a great shot of Times Square... can you see all the lights shining. It was alot of lines... line to pay, line for the first elevator, second elevator, to see over the edge, to get down both elevators again. It total we were on the top for maybe 15=20 minutes but it was worth it. One of those things you just need to see.

This picture was at the Met. Figure 5 in Gold it was called. One of IF's favorites. HF, IF and I took a short guided tour of some of the items found in the Met. It was insane the amount of things you don't even notice in the art until you hear from the experts. I found the tour much more rewarding than just wandering around myself... I felt as though the pictures were esthetically pleasing, but there is just so much more to each one. I have always wondered though... who decides the symbolism, or what the artist meant by "this" brushstroke? Alot of the art is so old, there must have been someone deciding what meant what... that wasn't necessarily the artist. Any thoughts?
The outside of the MET. JF met a few employees of this museum who had worked there for over 14 years and still hadn't seen everything. You cannot even imagine how HUGE this place was. HF and I needed a GPS to find our way out :)
Wednesday night on our way out to WICKED. It was just the most amazing show. Highly recommend it!!!
Back late from Wicked... HF and I had a room service party. It was the first time I had ever had room service. It was delicious... and just way too much fun.
HF and I took a scary trip to China town... We had heard about these little shops that sold these incredible knock offs... so we had each promised some baggage to people back home so made our own special trip.... luckily (I would have felt guilty my entire life if we had put those two sweet kids in any danger while we were away)

Here's the story... we get off the train and are on the correct street "canal street" and are immediately bombarded by these little Asian ladies standing on the street who whisper the brands of bag they have available. We initially get whisked into this tiny closet of a back room where there are all these coach bags hanging from the ceiling we each buy a bag and are sent back to the street with our black bags carrying our "goods". Every step we are asked about our bag needs. The next lady who catches our attention has a cell phone walkie talkie that she is using to tell someone else about our eminent arrival... we follow this lady about a block then through a back doorway, up a tight steep set of stairs to this stuffy upstairs loft with another large selection of beautiful bags. HF buys a few more and we are off to look for my sister's request Louis Vuitton ...We find a lady offering them, follow her 3 blocks which she is radioing our next contact who takes us down off the busy canal street another 3 blocks to a big white van awaiting our arrival. She opens the back up rushes us in and turns on these dingy fluorescent lights in the back of the van. The pressure was insane... wanting to get out of the van etc. so I pick one out for my sister and the lady asks her husband (the driver) if it is safe for us to exit. He says it a go, she pushes us out of the van and they drive off... I feel terrible that I put HF at risk... what a dumb thing to do... but we are alive to tell the tale... what an adventure. It became super uncomfortable to walk down that canal street after we had a few black bags... we were obviously looking like tourists and every single step someone else was whispering in our ear trying to sell us the next best thing.
While in China town JF had taken the kids to the statue of Liberty. JF was absolutely incredible trekking her two kids in and out of the subway, and around New York by herself every once in a while. It was nice for all of us to be able to do some of the things we had come to New York to see without forcing the same stuff on everyone else. HF and I also made a trip to ground zero before we had to meet up with JF. The families of the victims have set up this beautiful visitors centre... it was sooo sad, but done very tastefully. the above pictures are of the actual location which you can't see much of. It is under construction and blocked off really well... the other picture is one wall in the visitors centre of the hundreds of "missing person" ads. HF and I fought back alot of tears in that place. I just cannot even imagine the horror of being there, being in the subway and having no clue what was going on above you.. or worrying about family that you know is there.
Lombardi's pizza in little Italy. The real deal including a loud table of authentic Italians sitting right next to us. Delicious pizza, perfect atmosphere.
HF and I had the privilege of visiting the Manhattan temple while we were there too. It was just so beautiful, and places on this busy street but once you get inside it was perfectly quiet and just stunning. Definitely a favorite memory of the trip.
HF spent the day in Connecticut with a good friend of hers on Friday and missed out on another favorite memory. JF and IF were just too fun to watch at the American Girl Doll Place. Above is the two girls with their dolls (JF's was 20 years old) standing in the rain in line for the store to open.
The best little traveler in the world. Is he not the cutest kid ever???
Brunch with the dolls. Have you ever seen two happier girls in your life? They just BEAMED the whole time we were there. They had everything for a young girl and her American Girl doll.. matching clothes, pet shop, hair salon, accessories, stories, movies. It was so much fun... made me wish I had a little girl to share the experience with... I honestly almost bought WW a little baby doll there, but I wasn't sure what BJ would think of that.

Natural History Museum- A Night at the Museum, Museum... recognize this dinosaur?
Central Park. There was just something about these lanterns I just loved. They were everywhere along with alot of dogs and alot of runners. It was so beautiful. So green... They actually block off alot of the grass for public use, and the stuff that is open is open limited hours. I'm sure it helps it stay so beautiful.
The architecture was amazing. Every building had very distinct features and none were the same. I loved looking up to see all the beautiful details on the buildings.
This is a famous building but I don't remember what it's called... Iron something? Sorry.
Times Square at midnight after seeing Billy Elliott. It was another amazing show, the little boy that stars in it (there are 3 or 4 of them) was unbelievable!!! The number of people flooding out of the Broadway shows was such a sight. The energy that night in Times Square was electric. HF and I satisfied some pasta cravings after the show and went to the Olive Garden, then walked the 8ish blocks back to our hotel at 1 in the morning. It was another one of my favorite nights in New York.
This above it Bryant park. We walked through it our first night in New York and HF fell in love with it. I think she said she liked it better than Central park. It was this little green piece of park a few blocks from our Hotel, in the middle of the city. Like it's own little Oasis. It also happened have the most beautiful public washroom we had ever seen. Fresh flowers, music, security and a plastic seat cover that rotated around the toilet seat when you pushed a button. Like nothing I had ever seen before.
I couldn't help taking a picture of the food carts. There were like 2 every block, and made New York smell delicious. I am not exaggerating or being sarcastic... as soon as the smell from one was dissapating you were right into the smell zone of the next cart. We never ate from any, they looked a little sketchy with the meat in the hot air and stuff, but they sure did smell great.
Grand Central Station!!! the subway wasn't my favorite part of the trip... I found it very stuffy and a little clausterphobic but it sure was handy. As long as you had ALOT of hand sanitizer!!!
Our last day spent in Central Park. It was a super hot day so I didn't quite last the whole time but it was just beautiful and we only got to see a small portion of what was there.

IF cooling off in the sprinkler.

New York was incredible!!! Will I go back... I hope so. I feel as though I've seen the big sights that New York is famous for (that I was interested in), but there just seemed to be so much more to explore. The cute neighbourhoods and their shops, the shopping, the food! I missed my boys alot, BJ especially because I wanted to share everything with him... but they survived without me, and BJ will have his own special trip to San Fransisco in September with his brothers and his dad. I hope he has as great a time as we did.

There is alot more that I'm realizing I haven't mentioned... like my first ride in a Taxi in my life, crazy/insane driving and pedestrians, the Frick Collection- an art collection like no other in a private mansion residence just down a few blocks from the MET. PAX food store next door to our hotel which fed us breakfast lunch and dinner most days we were there. What a great 6 days away!!!