Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Ever onward

June 15, 2014

On our last day in New York City, we packed our bags in the morning and took ourselves down to Penn Station where we left them with Amtrak while we went wandering until our mid-afternoon train.

A short time after that, The Dad suddenly asked, “Fainjin, where are your glasses?”

Da-da-da-DUM.

Fainjin is not very good at wearing his glasses, and is forever leaving them at home.  “I don’t know,” he replied.  We sent a text to our accommodation, asking them to look out for a child’s glasses.  They replied that they had found his swimming bag & goggles (facepalm!) but no glasses.  I have been scouring our photos of NYC since, trying to figure out the last time we had them for certain.  I now have a terrible feeling that he put them in his raincoat pocket on the Highline, and they fell out somewhere after that.

It is possible that the glasses are lurking in one of the bigger backpacks (we’ve thoroughly searched the smaller ones), so we will have to sort through them carefully.

Meanwhile, Fainjin tends to fall up stairs and bump into things every so often.  We have a spare pair of glasses back in NZ so he can have those to go back to school when we get home.

We walked around the Empire State Building area for a while, its top as ever lost in the mist, so we didn’t go up.  Eventually we got sick of touts asking whether we wanted to go up, so we moved further away and went souvenir shopping.  We found an actual coffee shop and had refreshments – The Dad was so grateful to have a non-burned, non-overheated, non-watery latte that he went up and thanked the barista afterward. But the place was no refuge from the noise and bustle outside, with loud music blaring and people rushing in and out relentlessly.  We ended up out on the street again before we got to discuss what to do next.

What to do next turned out to be “explore the area some more while looking for lunch”.  We found ourselves in Greeley Square, which has lots of food stalls which looked very interesting to the grownups but not so much to the kids.  Then The Dad had an idea that he might remember a place in 34th Street, so we headed along there.  The place he was thinking of was no longer there (or perhaps it was somewhere else to begin with), but it was fortuitous because we wound up outside Mendy’s Deli, which was an excellent place to stop for lunch.  I tried Matzoh Ball Soup for the first time in my life, and it was delicious.

From there it was back to Penn Station to wait for our train, then a couple of hours or so to Baltimore to pick up a rental car.  We were incredibly glad and relieved to arrive at our friends’ house, be fed, and crawl into our beds!

We'll take home misty memories of skyscrapers

We’ll take home misty memories of skyscrapers

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

 

MoMA Mia!

June 14, 2014

The weather in New York wasn’t great during our stay. We didn’t go up the Empire State Building because whenever we looked up at it with the idea we might, we saw this:

Still there were touts at the bottom asking "You going to go up today?"

Still there were touts at the bottom asking “You going to go up today?”

So when an indoor day was called for, we decided to head for MoMA.

You can get a free audio guide from a desk at the museum, and it’s like a mini iPad. You can dial up the artwork you’re looking at (they have numbers next to them for reference) and hear about its history – many of them have special audio for kids as well.  You can take photos, and you can search for particular artworks and find them on a museum map. Then at the end of your visit it can email you all your photographs and a summary of your visit – which galleries you visited, what you saw and so on.  It’s great!

Of course, the children were far more interested in having an audio guide than in actually looking up to see the art on the walls.  I kept begging them to “just look!”.  There are also Art Cards you can collect from the Family Desk which highlight a single piece of art each, with an activity to do either at the museum or at home.  This is great for a big museum; it’s much easier to have a purpose and things to do, than just to walk around aimlessly trying to soak in everything.

We spent a long time on the 5th floor looking at the classics – van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, Rousseau…

Babess absorbed in Rousseau's "The Dream"

Babess absorbed in Rousseau’s “The Dream”

… a woman stopped and spoke to me about how amazing it was to see a young child so absorbed in the art, as Babess listened to the kids’ audio.  Then Babess finished listening and carefully explained the artwork to me.  Even more adorable.

Fainjin & Babess work on an Art Card activity & look at the audio guide in MoMA

Fainjin & Babess work on an Art Card activity & look at the audio guide in MoMA

The kids weren’t so interested in the 4th floor of American art, although Fainjin thought the Jackson Pollock works were pretty cool.  We saw the Bell Helicopter on the third floor, then the kids discovered a display on Minecraft and we nearly lost them altogether despite us pointing out that they can watch Minecraft almost anywhere.

So we headed down to the Art Lab, next to the Sculpture Garden.  I would happily pay admission to the museum in future just to go to the Art Lab. It is a bright, welcoming space full of amazing things to do, with quiet places to sit and read and loads of opportunity for creative endeavour. I said, “I’m so glad we have kids with us so we can come here!” and the assistant laughed and assured me there’s no age limit – you don’t need a child with you to go into the Art Lab (although it is very well set up for children).

Pearl spent her whole time making a stop-motion film, which we were then able to share on YouTube (if you know us in real life & want to see, let me know – it’s under her real name).  Fainjin & Babess enjoyed making films too but also explored the rest of the lab, reading books, making mini-sculptures and playing with the toys and activities.  We were in the lab for over an hour and would have stayed longer except it was after 3pm and we hadn’t had lunch!

Babess works on a movie

Babess works on a movie

Film-maker Fainjin

Film-maker Fainjin

Pearl hard at work animating

Pearl hard at work animating

From there it was a short walk to Times Square where we secured tickets to Matilda The Musical for that night.  Then we went for an early dinner at a nearby restaurant and wandered for bit before the show. We ended up having a great chat with a mounted officer of the NYPD, who was very friendly.  He and his partner were clearly on PR duty, chatting with tourists and posing for photos.

Our NYPD friends

Our NYPD friends

The show was great, a very enjoyable performance from a mostly very-young cast.  Babess appears to have learned a couple of the songs just from watching the show, so we have been listening to them over and over…

It was a very late night, but on the way home, we saw not one but two Empire State Buildings…

Empire State Building & reflected glory

Empire State Building & reflected glory

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

Dinosaurs to butterflies

June 11, 2014

Today we spent most of our time at the American Museum of Natural History.

To me, it’s the museum where Ross from Friends worked. My children gave me blank stares when I said that, though – to them, it’s the museum which comes alives in Night At The Museum.  Either way, it’s an exciting place to visit.

First, of course, you have to get there…

We are staying near the UN, and were awake reasonably early so wandered over to Rockefeller Plaza to see the Today Show being filmed. It seemed like they had finished all the outdoor segments when we got there, so there wasn’t all that much to see.  We found the metro station and hopped on a train going towards the museum. It promptly sped right past the museum and another 40-odd blocks! A kind New Yorker sitting across from us laughed and said “You need a local train! Everybody does this – it’s a New York ritual.” He helped us find a local train going back in the other direction, and so finally we found the museum.

We decided to get some morning tea before going in, and found some nice cafes in Amsterdam Ave a little north of the museum, before wandering back.

We were exceedingly fortunate to be gifted passes to the museum which allowed us into the exhibitions as well.  We had a very full day indeed!

Look at all those teeth!

Look at all those teeth!

First stop had to be the Dinosaur halls.  It was very exciting to see all the dinosaur bones, but the halls were very very noisy and Babess began to get quite upset.  Fortunately, it was soon time for us to see the Pterosaurs exhibition, which was much quieter.  This was a fascinating exhibition for all ages.  The children particularly enjoyed the interactive stations where they could “fly like a pterosaur”.

Pearl glides like a pterosaur over rivers looking for fish

Pearl glides like a pterosaur over rivers looking for fish.

Fainjin did very well, even managing to catch a fish!

Fainjin did very well, even managing to catch a fish!

 

 

 

 

We had lunch in the museum foodcourt, which we won’t say too much about.  Then we had tickets to the IMAX show, “Mysteries of the Unseen World“.  It was my first ever IMAX show, and I really enjoyed it, although I had my usual trouble with 3D films and occasionally had to look away or take off the glasses to rest my eyes.  The kids were fascinated and repulsed by turns.  We all agreed the scene where the owl approaches on the hunt was one of the best – we all leaned back in our seats to avoid its talons!  Pearl was especially disgusted to learn of all the “things” floating about in the air we breathe, though – particularly “insect parts” which were graphically illustrated and massively magnified.

In between exhibitions we enjoyed viewing some of the museum’s permanent displays, particularly the dioramas of the larger mammals.

We also went to the planetarium show, but by this stage Babess & Fainjin were tired and they didn’t like the dark theatre and the scary noises & music as the narrator talked about dark energy & dark matter.

For “something completely different” we went to the Butterfly Conservatory and watched beautiful creatures flit around (and on) us.

This one picked The Dad's orange shirt as camouflage!

This one picked The Dad’s orange shirt as camouflage!

Immediately outside the butterfly enclosure, we spotted some familiar shapes… a moa! and a kiwi! and tui! kereru! ruru! piwakawaka! It was a diorama of NZ birds including all our favourites and several we see at home (although not the moa so much, of course).  It was quite cheering to see a piece of home represented in this huge museum nearly halfway across the world.

After a compulsory stop at the museum shop (I think the children believe the sole purpose of this whole trip is for them to buy soft toys, and that my sole job is to thwart them in their desire to bring back several cubic metres each of plush), we headed out into the warm New York afternoon and made our way south through Central Park.

We paused at Strawberry Fields, which is always busy and always has buskers playing Beatles songs.  I tried to get a photo of the kids all together, but Fainjin has decided that he won’t be in any family photos and that he will scowl in any photos I do get of him (unless he forgets, which fortunately is fairly often).  It is most frustrating and disappointing, and I think he will regret it in years to come.  Any time I get a shot lined up, he runs out of it.

Fainjin & Babess run for joy in Central Park

Fainjin & Babess run for joy in Central Park

Another pause came a little later, this one accompanied by icecreams and the chance to watch a man make GIANT bubbles.  When we reached the end of the park, we went into FAO Schwarz (of course) – just looking, you understand… and it was really so overwhelming that the children just wanted everything they could see and decided on nothing, which was fine.

We had considered going to a Broadway show tonight, but we were all worn out from our big day, so we walked down 5th Avenue instead, goggling at Tiffany & Co, Trump Tower et al, and came home for dinner, baths and bed.

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

New York, New York

June 10, 2014

We left Iceland sadly yesterday, determined to return.  We arrived in New York as dark fell – something we hadn’t seen for a week! – tired and hungry.  We were grateful to be in a city that famously never sleeps, as it made getting dinner for the family at 10pm very easy – there’s a 24-hour supermarket just around the corner.

Our apartment here is teeny-tiny.  The children are all sleeping on two fold-out couches which take up the entire “lounge”, and front door opens right into our “bedroom”, which isn’t really a room so much as an alcove.  But it sleeps 5 and is in a good area and there’s enough kitchen to make cups of tea and breakfast and heat up supermarket dinners, so it will do.

This morning it was pouring with rain.  The Dad and I thanked our lucky stars it hadn’t been like that last night when we were carrying our heavy backpacks through the city, and also that the weather would be cooler than the 31ºC earlier predicted!

The children, spoilt by a few wonderful Icelandic summer days, were very reluctant to budge from the apartment.  We dragged them out anyway.

It’s an easy walk to Times Square, and the big Toys R Us store was a dry refuge from the storm.  Of course the ferris wheel inside (!) was a must-do, and we had great fun exploring everything else in there too.

On the ferris wheel!

On the ferris wheel!

We had an early lunch at a nearby deli, then went to M&Ms world (against The Dad’s better judgement).  I let the kids spend some of their pocket money on the “candy wall” – a rather expensive way to buy M&Ms but they loved being able to choose their own flavour & colour combinations.

Next stop was the Discovery Museum‘s exhibition “The Art of the Brick”, which was amazing.  We hadn’t known about it until we saw a flyer at the information centre in the morning.  Fainjin particularly liked the full-sized dinosaur skeleton, and I suspect he’s itching to get home to his big box of bricks!

Lego sculpture

Lego sculpture

Flash photography was not allowed, so this is blurry

Flash photography was not allowed, so this is blurry

lego mosaic of The Great Wave off Kanagawa

lego mosaic of The Great Wave off Kanagawa

From there we wandered down to the Highline, which was a little further than we had thought but we found it nonetheless.  We climbed up the stairs and ended up walking about half the length of this charming park.  What an inspiration, to take an old elevated railway and turn it into park space!

The Highline

The Highline

We took the subway back up to 42nd St, and walked to Grand Central Station to admire its sheer grandiosity and gorgeous ceiling.  Then we headed to the Rockefeller Center and Fainjin had his first Lego Store experience.  It was very very busy, but we still had fun.  There’s a big Lego model of the Rockefeller Plaza right in the window, and next to it there are about 10 questions – if you can answer them all you can claim a prize, it says.  So we spent quite a long time counting various things and looking for features and hidden items.  Eventually we thought between us we had got them all – some were pretty tricky! – so we summoned a staff member and gave our answers.  He was very generous and told us we didn’t need all the answers, and gave us a “close enough!” on some of them anyway.  Then he said for our prize we could each make a free minifigure!  So of course we spent even longer searching out just the right head, torso, legs, hair/hat and accessory each.  It was great fun.

Checking out the mini-scene in the Lego Store window

Checking out the mini-scene in the Lego Store window

And then it was time to come home for dinner & bed.  The children admitted that it might have been worth leaving the apartment in the morning, after all.

© UpsideBackwards 2014.


%d bloggers like this: