Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Final Details About What We Did in NYC

The first thing that grabbed me as we drove into the city, of course, was the architecture. I'm a sucker for a photo of interesting buildings, and I took a few hundred. Here is a sampling:
Trump Empire

Part of Trump's Empire.

I love the colorful apartments with the fire escapes.

fire escapes

colorful fire escapes

And I love the water towers that sit atop many of the buildings.

water towers

We checked into our hotel Friday afternoon. We were treated to a very fancy hotel in which we had 2 adjoining rooms. Mark's brother had free vouchers and was going to join us but at the last minute couldn't make it. Someone had to use the vouchers, and though it was a tough call, we volunteered to be that someone.

Parking cost a fortune at the hotel, but we turned the keys over to the valet anyway because we didn't know any better. Later we saw other parking options that were cheaper, but the penalty for taking the car out of valet parking and moving it elsewhere would have been greater than just leaving it there, so we just chalked it up to Lesson Learned for Next Time. Because I witnessed this kind of parking option in action on The Amazing Race a couple weeks ago, I was fascinated to see the real thing.

After we got settled in our room, we decided to head out into the frigid, gusty wind. We fought our way through it to Times Square.
family in Times Square

On the agenda for Times Square: ToysRUs on steroids.

An enormous ferris wheel sits just inside the revolving doors.
ToysRUs ferris wheel

And there is a section called Candyland which hocks, you guessed it, candy.
ToysRUs Candyland Audrey

Having grown up in a third world country, I always experience a mixture of emotions when I observe overdone things like this ToysRUs. There is always still just a tinge of amazement, almost like a little culture shock to see so much. There is also disgust at the indulgence of Americans, the way everything must be over-the-top and way more than necessary. Last, there is just a little bit of amusement as I imagine the reaction of any African over such, well, what can only be tagged absurdity.

Following Times Square, we walked further to Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller flags

where the kids visited the Lego store, and I enjoyed the tranquility of St. Patrick's Cathedral.
US Flags

And following our long walk back, we searched for a place to have dinner. Clearly New York City is not made for families our size because there seemed to be few eating establishments that would accommodate us. We finally settled on a place that looked larger than the others and that offered some familiarity for us as well. It was called Southern Hospitality, and it served BBQ. Not the best BBQ in the world, but we did remind ourselves that we were in NYC, not Atlanta, plus we got to enjoy fresh brewed sweet tea with our meal.

The next day, we spent the morning at The Sea, Air, and Space Museum followed by our taxi drive to 59th and 3rd where we visited Dylan's Candy Bar.
Dylans stairs

Dylans lollipops

Dylans gumballs

The kids were permitted to pick out one item. With so many choices, it was a tough decision to make.
Dylans decisions

After our subway trip back to Times Square, a walk back to the hotel, and a few moments to catch our breath, our tummies were growling. Time for the dinner hunt again. Around the corner from our hotel is the Hell's Kitchen area, so there were a lot of choices, but again, such tiny little restaurants. We noticed driving in 3 Thai restaurants, all with the same name but with 2-4 storefronts separating them. We found that odd but later heard from our concierge that they are indeed the same restaurant and probably share a kitchen underground or in back somewhere, but they just couldn't get enough property all clumped together. So we went into one, made reservations for another, and then went back to the hotel to wait for our reservation time. It was worth the wait - the best Thai food we've ever had! A great way to end the evening...

...and to end our trip. Because when we woke up leisurely the next morning, it was time to head back home to the country. By contrast anyway.
bright blue sky

Good to Wow: Green Edition, Edited

My SOOC of the missile on board the Growler Submarine:

And my edit:

6 - Missile

I didn't do a whole lot to this. Pulled the exposure up a bit, increased the saturation a bit. Then I ran Coffeeshop's Urban Grit and brushed it on to the blades at 65%.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

I was doubtful that I would have the opportunity to visit St. Patrick's Cathedral because, well, there's just something about saying, "OK, kids, let's go visit that church so Mom can take pictures" that elicits much eye rolling and sarcastic remarks like, "Wow, Mom, that sounds like a lot of fun." But...when I saw that the Lego store was but a half a block from this beautiful cathedral, I seized the opportunity. I sent Mark in to the loud, crowded Lego store with four children while I spent several quiet, remarkable moments in a stunningly gorgeous place.

St. Patrick's Cathedral opened its doors in 1879.

St Patricks3

St Patricks5

(from St. Patrick's Cathedral New York website): "As Brendan Gill wrote in his introduction to St. Patrick’s Cathedral: A Centennial History, 'In the Old World, for well over a thousand years the center of a city was thought to be wherever its Cathedral stood…

St Patricks2

We are a city that, even within its comparatively narrow confines, has always tended to spin apart. To speak only of Manhattan (the original New York City of Hughes’ day), we have Wall Street and Greenwich Village and Chinatown and Chelsea and Times Square and the Upper East Side and Riverside Drive and Harlem and Washington Heights and scores of other districts and neighborhoods; yet we have few places that convey an authentic sense of being at the very heart of things. St. Patrick’s is such a place.

St Patricks6

Aided by the graceful presence of its neighbor, Rockefeller Center …, the Cathedral dominates Fifth Avenue as easily today as it has ever done…

St Patricks1

the long road

Thanks to the program of preservation carried out under the watchful eye…, the building has never looked more beautiful.

St Patricks4

There it stands for our delight and, if necessary, for our consolation.

St Patricks8

Its front steps are a parvis, if not a Paradise, and young and old take the sun upon their faces there as a sort of benediction, while the scattered benedictions of a thousand rosy candles wink and twinkle within.'"

St Patricks7

St Patricks9

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

NYC Transportation

(Linking up with Sweet Shot, You Capture (theme - Vibrant), and Live Every Moment (theme - A Different View) and Communal Global .)

In a city as crowded as the Big Apple, there is certainly nothing as important as getting around. Of course, the most old-fashioned way to get around is to walk to your destination.
cute old lady

Sweet Shot Day

We did a lot of walking.

It didn't go unnoticed that there is a subway entrance on every corner...if you can figure out the system. I had to ask the advice of a couple of people, but we did eventually figure it out.
Subway sign


If the subway is not the best option, there is always the iconic New York City yellow cab.

I love the vibrant color of the taxis.


Although we saw a few minivan taxis that would accommodate the six of us, there was not one of those available when we walked out of the Intrepid. And we knew the Princess's little legs were not about to make it all the way from Pier 86 to 59th and 3rd. 59th and 3rd of course is where Bloomingdales is, but who cares about Bloomingdales when Dylan's Candy Bar is right across the street? But that is a story for another day.

Anyway, as luck would have it, a limo driver approached us as we stood there freezing our butts off outside the museum. He offered to take us to our destination for a reasonable rate. Obviously, the kids were THRILLED to be riding in a limo. What is more, our driver was from Cote d'Ivoire, West Africa, which is the country where my husband was born and the country where we spent the first 18 years of our lives. It was fun chatting with him.
taxi us

taxi Jacob & Alex

taxi Audrey

Funny thing about New York transportation and traffic. It. Never. Stops.
taxis at night

And you can still hear it...even from a 23rd floor hotel room!
nighttime traffic

Monday, March 28, 2011

The USS Intrepid (also Good to Wow: Green Edition, SOOC)

Note: If you're here from Jill's blog and don't want to see a million pictures, scroll down to photo #5.

We spent this past weekend in New York City, and one of the fun things we did was visit The Sea, Air, and Space Museum, which houses the Growler Submarine, the USS Intrepid, and a British Airways Concorde.

Our tour into the belly of the Growler Submarine was very interesting.
2 - Submarine

The control panels were fascinating to see, especially considering what these types of panels might look like on a modern submarine.
4 - Controls

3 - Sub Control Room

Here is the submarine mess hall:
5 - Sub Mess Hall

And what good is a submarine without weapons? The missile was pretty impressive.
(Good to Wow photo):

Our next stop was the USS Intrepid.
1 - USS Intrepid

It has an impressive history. Commissioned in 1943, it saw 2 wars as an aircraft carrier, held up under the attack of two suicidal kamikaze airplanes,
13 - Gun

16 - Michael on cannon

14 - Planes

15 - Planes with skyline backdrop

served as a recovery vessel for a space mission,
8 - Space Capsule

and filled in as the temporary FBI headquarters following 9/11.
7 - US Flag

It is as impressive in stature as in history.

We ate in the main Mess Hall
12 - Mess Hall

and also got to see the Officers' Mess Hall.
9 - Officers Mess

10 - Coffee

We also saw some of the living quarters.
12a - Bunks

12 - Sink

11 - Red Pipe

Following our time visiting the Intrepid, we boarded a British Airways Concorde.
17 - Concorde

Nothing particularly impressive except possibly the bragging rights I now have to say I've been on one. The one interesting fact that stayed with me is the fact that a flight on the Concorde was very quiet because it flew faster than the sound of its engines.

Definitely more impressive was the short movie we saw about the Intrepid. It presented a history of the ship and included interviews with a couple of POWs like John McCain. I was struck by this quote from Commander Paul Galanti: "There's no such thing as a bad day when you have a doorknob on the inside of the door." Now there's perspective.

18 - Control Tower