Monday, March 22, 2010

Weekend in NYC-Sunday

I am doing this a little backwards, I am recapping our visit to NYC this past weekend with Sunday first as that is freshest in my mind. Please feel free to ask any questions.

As is usual with our family...we struggle with organisation especially for a trip on the spur of the moment, as we two adults are always extremely tired. And then we have the twins, Boo and Yum Yum, who alternate between having broken legs or being able to scale tall sidewalks in a single bound. We stupidly thought we could manage with just one stroller. I had packed both but we had second thoughts. My back wishes we had third thoughts. So, most of the day we had one being pushed and the other being carried...and intermittently both were skipping along. They were the ones running UP the Subway Stairs. I just wish they could pace themselves.

I should explain, for fellow twin parents, that we don't have a side by side umbrella stroller. Generally we always go out together and we prefer to have the two smaller Maclaren strollers so we can split up and take one twin each if necessary. We also take up less room on the frequently busy sidewalks of NYC. If we are spending all of our time in Central Park on a day trip, we sometimes take the larger, more comfortable double urban terrain Tike Tech stroller which takes up the entire trunk of our Town & Country van. This bigger stroller reclines each side individually fully flat and that was great for when afternoon naps were a daily occurence.

The combination of strollers worked for us because the bigger stroller is mostly for at home where there are no sidewalks. In hindsight (not much help to us now of course) an additional umbrella fold side by side would have been useful for days like this and for travel overseas. I understand now why some families end up with a fleet of strollers.

The girls are about to turn 4, theoretically they shouldn't need strollers for much longer. However Boo suffers from anxiety in new environments, NYC can be a very intense experience with it's crowds, noises, smells and traffic. When distressed she needs the security of being carried or feeling the protective cocoon of the stroller (she will pull the hood down over her entire upper body). Yum Yum is so fearless that it is pure luck that we haven't lost her altogether but of the two she is more likely to need a nap in the afternoon. Whilst I think the girls weigh close to 300 pounds each when I have to carry one, the reality is that they are not Sherman tanks, they are still on the petite side, and walking all day is, for the time being, still an unrealistic expectation.

10 year old Bear LOVES NYC, and she carried her life savings of $5 and looked for opportunities to spend it (or lose it).. the $5 simply can't be kept in the purse but must be admired, fondled, folded and flaunted. Her sole agenda is to find something to spend it on, eat sushi, dumplings and to divert us to the Nintendo store at Rockafellar plaza.

On Sunday morning all the girls woke up to play with their Barbies/Nintendo and have a bowl of special occassion Fruit Loops; they were happy. This was a good thing as we didn't get up until close to 9am. By 10am we were showered and dressed and had settled on Bubby's in Tribeca for brunch. There is no booking a table at Bubby's so our plan was to catch a taxi and suck up the wait. We have eaten several times at the DUMBO branch, the food is always good.

Downstairs we emerged into a strangely quiet sunny morning to discover that 56th St and 7th Ave were closed. The police, the barricades, the alarming number of green paper cups strewn across the empty roads? Was there an explosion at Starbucks? No, closer inspection revealed the sponsor of the cups to be Gatorade. Ahhhh, a herd of runners doing a half marathon had recently passed through leaving police, film crew, communications, transport and sanitation workers in their wake.
The closed streets were causing much angst in the taxi department. I felt especially bad for those toting luggage clearly intent on a trip to Penn Station or the airport, and particularly for those who hadn't clued in that the street was closed but still stood there in hope.
We walked a few blocks (Boo on shoulders) to find that the problem was quite extensive so once again we ended up on the subway. Having just the one umbrella stroller is a blessing when it comes to navigating the subway unless you are doggedly determined to make use of all disabled entry ways and elevators. Emerging in Tribeca we were in need of some help to get our bearings. Coming out of the Subway is often a disorienting experience. One of New York's finest pointed us in the general direction and off we traipsed with visions of pancakes dancing before our eyes. Along our path was Hook & Ladder No8. In the fresh morning light Ladder No 8 emerged along with the crew. Had we had a little boy among our group THIS would have been THE BEST THING EVER. A sparkling red fire engine and big burly firemen. We even got a wave. My girls? mostly oblivious ( I googled it later to find that it is the Ghostbusters/Seinfield Firehouse !)

The Fruit Loop euphoria was starting to fade and our mission to find brunch was now a little more urgent.

We marched west along North Moore St passing groups of people milling around the doorways of other eateries. Some looked as if they could have been out running that morning. Some had foil heat blankets draped around their shoulders and medals hanging from blue ribbons. Awww crikey..we must have been seeking brunch at the finish line...yep just several blocks away. The crowd around Bubby's was so big it wasn't even a matter of crossing the street to enquire as to waiting times. We turned around and rocked back along the street. We passed Walkers which also looked packed to the gills. Mental note- that looks like a seriously good place to try at a less crowded time.

At this point Yum Yum announced her dire need to pee NOW!

So we headed directly to what looked like a promising cafe , Cercle Rouge Brassierie at the end of the street in the hopes of at least finding a loo if not breakfast. There were people seated outside as I hightailed it in with Yum Yum. My eyes noted at that same time that not a single person had any food in front of them. When Yum Yum and I returned from the first of four trips I made to their basement loo, the Breadwinner had scored a table inside. YAY!

And then the waiting began........there was whingeing from the Breadwinner, whining from the Bear...and my persistent attempts to keep Bear and Yum Yum occupied by drawing pictures of pancakes for them and playing eye spy.
The staff were clearly unprepared for the throng that had descended upon their restaurant before they had even heated the coffee. The manager/owner wandered around and offered explanations and apologies. A full house the minute they opened.

Hey, just an idea for the manager of that place...put a note in the diary for next year...1/2 marathon, finish line nearby?= loads of hungry people times 100 if a sunny day...and get your staff in early! Those tables should have done two seatings, possibly three in the time we sat there.

It took a long time for a drink order to be taken. An even longer time for the coffee and juice to arrive. The staff were looking a little stressed. Fortunately, just when we were all about to pass out from hunger, a small tin bucket of sliced baguette was given to our table with a slab of nice cold butter. And another. That kept us all busy for 3 minutes. The sight of a funny yellow hat gave us hope that there might at least be entertainment. Finally our orders were taken and after another 45 minute wait, we had our meals. Until then "The Great Ragidy Supreme" Magician (and apparently a hip hop artist) enthralled the girls with some simple magic tricks and balloon animals. As far as our family was concerned, his efforts single handedly saved us from a potentially very nasty low- blood- sugar toddler (and adult) meltdown.

When our brunch did arrive, it was delicious. Maybe we were just ridiculously hungry? But I did notice that every plate in that restaurant was "licked clean". Seriously , not a shred of endive left on a plate. I had a wholewheat crepe stuffed with shrimp and asparagus. It came with a pile of greens topped with a huge slice of beef tomato. I joined the clean plate club. I'd love to go another time for a meal. Brunch was $20 each and it included fresh baguettes, freshly squeezed orange and good coffee, and of course a choice of several tempting brunch dishes. We managed with 4 brunch dishes between 5. We didn't need lunch...and in any case it was close on 1pm when we left and moseyed up the street.

We quickly came upon a small park. Tribeca's Beach Street park. There our girls got some exercise chasing each other, the pigeons, greeting numerous cute little dogs out for their walkies and being caught and squished by their daddy. There was sunshine and daffodils in this wee park...and what seemed like fresh air.

We had tickets for a children's show at 3pm. It was advertised as being 2 blocks from Bryant Park so we headed there. Bryant Park is generally known as being the venue for NY Fashion Week. This past Fashion week will be the last in Bryant Park. I understand the very large lawn is curently being re-turfed. It does indeed feel as if you are in Paris. The sweet Le Carrousel plays French music which supports the pretty illusion. After playing with the water in the Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial fountain (and Yum Yum giving it a dramatic bruising head butt-ouch) there was a few turns on Le Carrousel ($2 a turn).

Across the road we spied Le Pain Quotidien (The Daily Bread). We love LPQ ever since our first visited their restaurant in Brussels. The breads are delicious, the chocolate hazlenut and jams are yummy...and the pastries! We looked forward to seeing the day when LPQ would be available in Australia (we even daydreamed about taking up the franchise but of course time has past and someone else has taken up the challenge). There are several outlets in NYC but when Boo and Yum Yum were babies we had to give up going as the spaces are generally cosy (not always stroller friendly). Now that the girls are older and this outlet of LPQ is HUGE we celebrated with lemon tarts. MMMMMMM Delicious. It is a great spot for breakfast, lunch or coffee. One of the features of LPQ is the huge communal table and the table here was ginormous! We didn't subject other grown ups to the antics of our tribe, we sat at our own table. In hindsight (hindsight is such an amazing thing) we should have ordered take out drinks and pastries to eat in the Park although the restroom was a vital element to our stop there.

NYC is always full of sights to delight and amaze youngsters. For example the tattoo art on the lady seated nearby was extensive and colourful... but not only that, on her arm was a large illustration from Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit! Turn head to right.

We walked the two blocks and found the Galli Theatre without much trouble. It is a very low key, low budget, small affair. The girls were happy with their pink princess seats,and rearranged themselves several times. They perform interactive kid friendly versions of Fairytales, sometimes with a strong accent...Russian?. They also do workshops afterwards and on this Sunday most of the audience were set to celebrate a birthday after the show. The show, Sleeping Beauty, was certainly amusing for the parents because of the over the top performances, but the Breadwinner and Bear will beg off future visits. It was perfect for Boo and Yum Yum, they really enjoyed themselves and we got loads of pleasure from their reaction. There are several other theatre experiences (eg Pinkalicious) that I would like to see with the girls but they were sold out. We won't be paying for a Broadway show until they are at least 5, probably The Lion King late next year.

Here the girls in black are the thorns surrounding the castle where Rose (under the cloth) sits sleeping. A number of hapless Princes come along to try and pass the thorns but of course only the right Prince succeeds. You can see below that Rose was definitely a beautiful Princess.
A workshop is available after the show and we may try this on our next visit. The girls ears pricked up when they heard the next show would be Snow White. I will be happy to bring them back to this small theatre... mainly because of it's location! We walked right by M&J Trimming. I think I can convince Boo and Yum Yum to do some button shopping next time.

We decided to head back to the hotel, the Breadwinner (in charge of the map) decided it wasn't too far to walk..and we were only a few blocks from Rockefellar Center so Bear got her wish after all, a stop at The Nintendo Store. By the time we arrived Yum Yum had nodded off. But once in the store she woke suddenly and exclaimed I HAVE TO PEE NOW!

So I dashed downstairs with Yum Yum to the Plaza below and took care of that. The Breadwinner treated the twins to some candy (in the cutest Mario mushroom tins) and Bear scored the freebie Pokemon drawstring bag. They were all happy campers .
We stopped briefly to watch the ice skaters...there were some seriously good skaters doing jumps alongside some small kids...there were a few collisions!
Along the way back we went past my favourite store Anthropologie to admire the windows. They were festooned with flowers made from plastic bottles. I can't upload the photos into the right spots- haven't figured that trick out just yet, so I will post some more photos of the windows amongst other things, in a separate post. We also found some other things to look at on the way back.
Yum Yum is our star! Life is wonderous and strange, perhaps in the future she will indeed have a star of her own.

After a rest in the hotel we headed by taxi to an Italian Restaurant called Patsy's Pizzeria on 60th. The simple pizza, salad and the cabonara were really delicious and the chianti went down easy. We will be going back. It was busy, efficient and well priced.

But the REALLY BIG DEAL was that this restaurant, by HAPpY HAPpY HApPY co-incidence was opposite DYLAN"S CANDY BAR! I had decided not to bring the camera to dinner, that was dumb, sorry no photos. The building looks awesome in the evening. I have had Dylan's on my wishlist for a while and had already checked out the offerings online. Had we not been so full of delicious pizza it would have made a perfect dessert stop (there's a cafe on the top floor). I wasn't after candy so much ...the lord knows my girls have way too much candy. But candy covered nighties...YES. My little ones have been asking for nighties and these were very special. The little girls were happy with $1.50 ring pops as a treat and skipped happily back out of the store. The Breadwinner and Bear filled some bags with their candy choices. I didn't have any. I don't think I would make that trip JUST for Dylan's but combined with a decent meal at Patsy's Pizzeria, it qualifies as a PLAN your kids will be extremely impressed with .

We went back, loaded up the car by 8.30pm and then sat in the traffic....for what was a long time. It is what it is. The yellow M&M looked as dismayed as the Breadwinner was.
But once through the Lincoln Tunnel the drive home was speedy enough...the dirty sticky children were transferred from the car to their own beds by 10pm. We were also tired but pretty happy with our weekend in the city.

1 comment:

  1. I love a family weekend in NYC!! Looks like you had fun.