Well HELLO THERE, friends! Although now that I am an experienced city dweller, I greet you in the tongue of my people, "EFF YOU". In addition to an array of cultural experiences, the children were also exposed to the use of the F word as just about every part of speech you can think of. We also had some really wonderful pizza, braved the subway, made local friends, and nearly perished from heat exhaustion in the Dante's subway car. But let's start from the beginning. A lifetime ago on Saturday, we woke the kids up at three o'clock in the morning and headed to the airport. They were SUPER EXCITED about the trip so this was not really an issue. Also, we dressed them in regular clothes the night before so all we had to do was plunk them in the car and go.
Knowing we would be traveling via public transit for our NYC visit, we packed everything we needed in backpacks. We also sent carseats ahead to the northeast with my parents who drove up earlier. This made for an amazingly easy airport check in--NO CHECKED BAGS. We looked like vagrants, especially when we were leaving the city yesterday and all of our dirty clothes were tied up in grocery bags hanging from the strollers, but it sure was convenient for getting on and off of subways.
Anticipation was high.
The flight was OK, big kids watched TV and Mary squirmed and tried to escape. When I took her for a walk to distract her, she begged to go in the airplane bathroom, then begged to sit on it, then got up on the potty and PEED. When she had washed her hands she went out in the aisle, told a flight attendant "POTTY!" and clapped for herself. Later, James spilled two water bottles all over my seat and I had to steal two inches of paper towels from the bathroom. Also, James wouldn't stop mauling the seat in front of him no matter what I did.
Once we landed, our first gauntlet was to get from the airport to the subway via the connector, which was fairly straightforward. And after that we jumped on the subway from Queens to Manhattan, where we would have to change trains in what turned out to be the hugest, hottest subway station ever constructed. Seriously, you guys, it was like walking from A to C in Houston Intercontinental except underground and ninety degrees. The elevators were impossible to use and Ryan and James got separated from me and the others. Finally, I carried the stroller down a flight of stairs and we were on the right platform but Ryan was nowhere to be found. Until a trained pulled away from the station and I could see Ryan on the OTHER SIDE. He carried James and the other stroller up the stairs, down the hot hallway, and back down the stairs to the uptown platform and finally we were together and headed in the right direction.
The ride was really, REALLY long. So long that our airbnb host expressed surprise that we had attempted the subway from the airport. "I don't know many locals who would have done that" were her exact words. BUT HEY IT WAS SUPER DUPER CHEAPER THAN THE SUPER SHUTTLE!
And Wes got a nap in.
Just when we thought we were all going to die without ever seeing the sun again, the train blew right past our stop on 110th Street and didn't stop until we got to Harlem, several MILES away from where we needed to be. We followed some locals across the street and into the station on the other side and rode several stops back south back to our place. It was a happy happy moment when we finally reached the stoop of our place two blocks later.
The host gave us a tour of our sweet little apartment (two bedroom and two bath, it was GLORIOUS) and when she asked if I had any questions I said "Where is a good place to get lunch and a beer?"
We took her suggestion for a nearby brewpub that turned out to be PERFECT.
And by perfect I mean this. Yes. Best beer of my LIFE.
For reference, here is the before picture.
I loved this place. So fun.
Good eggs benedict.
We took a leisurely walk back to our apartment after that. Our place was in Morningside Heights, which was lovely.
This reminded all of us of Curious George and Charley was so excited to pick out some apples to buy.
And then my insane husband decided that after getting up at 3:30 in the morning and traveling all day, WALKING ACROSS THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE would be JUST THE THING. So we got BACK on the subway, this time learning that the stroller etiquette for subway entrance was to swipe Ryan in twice, then for him to go through the turnstyle and open the door marked "EMERGENCY EXIT ONLY" from the other side to let me in with both strollers. We learned this by watching the locals and also by getting yelled at.
The bridge was worth the extremely long subway ride.
Blocked some serious traffic to get a good picture.
We had to put Mary in the Ergo and rotate the other kids through the two strollers, including Charley. This was also the first place someone screamed the F word at someone else two inches away from us, but not the last!!
Walk walk walk walk walkwalkwalkwalk. Also, WOW does James look tired in this picture. Not me, though! Feeling fresh as a daisy! Did I mention that this was the hottest weekend NYC has had in a while? DUDE, it was HOT.
Then we got to the other side and this happened:
And also we couldn't find any good subway stops and everyone was completely DONE. Ryan and I slumped on a bench in defeat, staring at the subway app on his phone and wishing an air conditioned minivan would just drop out of the sky because we were fifteen miles from our apartment with no car and no clue how to get around. And so the decision was made to hail a cab, which James thought was the most hilarious thing he'd ever seen, for the world's longest cab ride tour of the entire length of Manhattan, with all six of us packed into the back seat.
One exciting moment was when our driver bought something out the window from a street vendor and we were then chased on foot by an elderly woman yelling in Chinese. Then he completely missed a green light because he was configuring his new selfie stick to his phone.
We were very happy to get home. Very very happy.
Day two we went to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We got back on the train, slightly more experienced this time, which was helpful. We had one transfer which involved running from one train, directly across the platform into another train's open doors, DIDN'T LOSE ANYONE, SCORE. And then we had to take a bus the rest of the way to Battery Park to catch the ferry. James, Charley, and Wes clamored aboard and ran up the stairs to the third deck before I could catch up with them so then I had to run after them too, with Mary. We stood near a metal gate and near the end of the ride James tried to climb it but fell down screaming and when I asked him what hurt he screamed loudly "MY PENIS!" much to the delight of everyone around us.
It was incredible to be so close.
We got off the boat and sat under a tree eating apples while we waited out a Wes tantrum over nothing in particular. He laid on the ground and sulked for nearly twenty minutes before he finally got up and begrudgingly walked with us into the pedestal tour.
I was so glad Ryan had added the pedestal tour to our trip because not only do you get to go up in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, you get access to the museum, air conditioning, and convenient bathrooms as well. I mean, without having visited the museum very VERY briefly at the end of our visit, we would never have memories like these!
Mary learned a thing or two about posing for pictures from the brothers.
The view was spectacular, the walkway narrow and terrifying.
Can you find tantrum Wes in this picture?
We ate a picnic lunch on the island and then the ferry took us to Ellis Island, where we tried to impart a sense of history on the kids and they tried to kill us with whining. The Great Hall, where much of the immigration inspection and evaluation took place, was absolutely incredible.
We could have spent hours there, but the clock was ticking and we were relying on everyone's good attitudes to avoid another forty-five dollar cab ride uptown, so after exploring much of the second floor (including the Great Hall and lots of information about immigration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) we got back on the ferry to Manhattan.
Because we are insane, we followed up this wonderful but exhausting day with a trip to Central Park for some ice cream, rock climbing, and playgrounding. Ryan's camera was out of space by this point, so you'll have to trust me when I say the coolest playground in the world is in Central Park. Huge slides, water everywhere, tunnels, rocks. It was awesome. And just the thing for a pack of kids who had just been forced into appreciating America's immigration peak at the turn of the century. IT was a hit. Once we tore ourselves away from the playground (by this time learning that you have to reserve some energy for getting home, rather than just running until you/they drop then shoving everyone in the minivan you actually have to all walk together back home, which means no one can be actively freaking out or sleeping, SIMPLE BUT IMPORTANT FACT) and trudged the (HOT, did I mention how HOT it was?) half mile to the subway, we were all BEAT. And then because we took a new way home, we actually had to walk four of the LONG HOT east-west blocks uphill back to our place. We were half a block away and DRAGGING (it was nearly seven by that point and all we had eaten since our picnic lunch was an ice cream cone), when we stumbled upon the New York City version of our family-- sitting on the stoop with the neighbors while the kids played on the sidewalk. More importantly, they were playing on the sidewalk with THIS.
Charley made friends with a local boy a little older with him. The two of them worked together to fill a huge bucket with water then they would throw it at each other. They asked a guy walking by "Do you want to get drenched?" and when he said "How can I say no to that?!" they threw a bucket of water at him and soaked him from the head down. The girl who he was with laughed and said "I thought we were going to dinner! Oh, nevermind, come give me a hug, it is SO HOT out here!" Commuters skipped through the water too. James and Wes took turns running at full speed down the street through the water. Mary splashed in the puddles. SUCH FUN. We were sad to leave around eight o'clock, but it was time to feed the kids and get them in BED. Charley's new friend shook his hand and said "Peace, man" as we left. Amazing.
We went home and ordered Bento boxes for everyone then fired up the Netflix while Ryan ran out for a six pack because DANG.
And now it is my bedtime, so I will leave the rest of the story (including the restaurant from Seinfeld, St. John the Divine cathedral, the High Line, Brooklyn tantrums, the water taxi, the World Trade Center, and the EPIC ACCOUNTING of our EPICALLY LONG train ride to Maine).