Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Our trip started out with a very late arrival at Newark airport. The gate agent in Phoenix made me check my bag because it was a half-inch over their height limit, so we were further delayed waiting for my bag to come out on the baggage claim carousel. (It took FOREVER at nearly midnight.)

Bags finally in hand, we had to take the air train to the rail station and then the rail into Manhattan to Penn Station. From Penn Station, we took a cab to our hotel on the upper west side. Needless to say, it was quite late by the time we reached the hotel. MM didn't eat on the plane--didn't like their (limited) options--so we hit an all-night diner which was actually super cute and quite yummy.

Despite our late arrival, we were up bright and early on Thursday for our tour of Manhattan. MM booked a 5+ hour tour for us because it was his first-ever visit to NYC, and he didn't want to miss any of the highlights.

The tour was fun for me, too. Even though I've visited NYC lots of times, I hadn't done many of the typical tourist things there. My parents met and married in NYC and were living in Queens when I was born. Over the years after we moved to the Southwest, when we went back to visit NYC, it was generally to visit friends and family, not to sightsee. My sister and I paid Manhattan a long weekend visit in the fall of '99 and saw Les Miserables on Broadway, shopped on Fifth Avenue, walked through Central Park and around Rockefeller Plaza, and visited Chinatown and Little Italy. . . but aside from that, I'd never really played tourist there.

Our tour really give us a quick and fairly comprehensive overview of Manhattan. Our guide was very knowledgeable and pleasant; he'd lived his whole life in Queens. MM's favorite stop on the trip was Rockefeller Plaza:

The only slight downside of the tour was that it was overcast throughout and rained some during the day. Oh well; you can't control the weather. It didn't interfere with our enjoyment but did make it harder for me to get good photos of what we saw.

As luck would have it, we finished with our tour right before my sister V and company arrived at the condo in Hoboken. My BIL works for a large luxury home builder who routinely retains ownership of a unit (be it house or condo) in the communities it builds for use by its employees. For a nominal fee, my BIL can rent one of these "guesthouses" in any city where his employer has built a development.

The unit we stayed in was on the 10th floor of the building. We learned during our stay that NY Giants quarterback Eli Manning owns a 3000-square-foot unit on the top (12th) floor.

MM and I took the ferry from Pier 79 in Manhattan (just up the street from the famous Chelsea Piers) and then walked the three short blocks to the condo. The views from the waterfront windows--which basically took up an entire wall of the unit--were spectacular!

My nephew Rowan had no clue who we were at first but was happy to see us nonetheless. He had changed SO much since we saw him just before Thanksgiving! He recently got his first big boy haircut and is a couple of inches taller. . . . but the real changes were in his language skills and his attitude. He is now talking in complete sentences and is a typical two-year-old in that he wants to do anything you don't want him to do and nothing that you do want him to do.

V was apologetic that the second bedroom ended up having two twin beds instead of a queen. Little did she know that this would be a major plus to MM: there are few things he likes better than having the bed all to himself. The only thing that could've been better would have been a full-sized bed all to himself.

I awoke Friday to snow flurries! I couldn't remember the last time I'd actually seen snow falling. The flurries were so thick that the view of the Manhattan skyline was obscured. The snow didn't stick, though, and stopped completely before 11:00 a.m. MM slept in on Friday (he'd only slept about an hour the first night) and later we took the ferry back into the city and met V and family at the Top of the Rock observatory deck. The views from there were simply spectacular. A sample:

When Rowan had a meltdown, my BIL decided that he needed to go back to the condo for the afternoon. (I'm not entirely sure that this wasn't a convenient excuse for BIL to watch the NCAA basketball tournament in comfort. . . ) MM and I then spent the rest of the afternoon/evening walking around Times Square, save for an hour or so spent in the ESPN Zone. (A mecca for MM at any time, and particularly so during "the Big Dance.") Everywhere we went was packed with people, as might be expected.

I took the following photo because MM is a HUGE Will Farrell fan:

This fellow would allow you to pose with him for a photo if you gave him a couple of bucks; I took his photo for free. Note the animal-print fedora and sequined man-bag. I dubbed him "Pimp Elmo."

Friday night we had dinner and drinks in Hoboken with a (very entertaining) college friend of V's. MM didn't mind because both the establishments we visited had TV sets featuring NCAA basketball games.

The five of us got up early-ish again on Saturday to visit Ellis Island. Rowan graced us with this wonderful pose shortly after our arrival there:

Visiting a museum with a two-year-old was a challenge. Rowan thought that the rails around the exhibits were provided as handholds to aid his climbing onto the exhibit platforms. Needless to say, he spent a lot of time with his daddy and/or in the stroller.

V and family headed home for naptime after Ellis Island, and MM and I continued on to Liberty Island to see the statue. We both feel it is a total rip-off that you can no longer go up into the crown.

After taking the wrong ferry from Liberty Island and ending up in Battery Park (rather than in NJ, where we started), MM took a cab to Pier 79 and another ferry back to NJ to rest for a few hours and spend time with the family. We returned to Manhattan in the evening for a New York Rangers hockey game at "the famous" Madison Square Garden:

The game was fun: the fans got really into the game, our seats were excellent, and the Rangers won, 5-3.

Sunday we just relaxed and hung out with the family until it was time to go to the airport.

We packed a lot into just three days! One small regret of MM's was that we didn't get to spend more time in Central Park; we briefly visited Strawberry Fields and rode through the park on our tour, but didn't have time to wander through the park or take a horse-drawn carriage ride. I wished I could have seen more of V and Rowan, but my BIL's decision to return to the condo in the early afternoon on both Friday and Saturday--ostensibly so that Rowan could nap--limited my time with both of them. Also, I would've liked to have eaten at some awesome NYC restaurants. Most of our meals were quick, on-the-run affairs.

But that's OK. We still had a great time, and we certainly did a lot more than we missed!


TUWABVB said...

WOW...that was just three days! I'm totally impressed. I lived in the NYC area for 30 years and NEVER went to the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island.

Honestly, it's so hard to see everyhing in NYC at once - you have to do it in multiple trips. And when family is near there (as is mine) it's almost impossible. Allen and I toyed with the idea of sneaking into the city some weekend and not telling anyone. But I don't have the guts.

Land family said...

Glad you had such an awesome trip! I was in NJ that same week and went to see my really good friend on Long Island on Weds. We saw the Statue of Liberty out of the car window on the way. She was about 3 mm high. :( Definitely want to make the trip out to see her a leeeetle bit closer.