Monday 10 September 2012

Day 1 NYC

Our first morning in New York City started earlier than most.  I find with the jet lag you might as well rock with it and get started.  No sense trying to hang about in bed when there is a whole city just waiting for you.

We had to go from midtown all the way down to Tribeca for breakfast.  I know, I know, this sounds like lunacy.  Well, yes, it is.  But it is also the place you go for the best meal in town at just about anytime of the day. 

I first discovered Balthazar's way back in 1998.  My friend, Kerry, and I decided to stop off in New York for a long 4 day weekend before I went on to Denver for my sister's baby shower and she went on to Florida for, well, whatever you do in Florida.  Besides, it was my 35th birthday and where else do wild and crazy single girls go to let their hair down and celebrate? 

My birthday dinner started off by us being seated in a corner table right next to the windows with members of the Kennedy family sitting to our left and Cher across the room.  Steven Spielberg was also in the house but he didn't have as good as a table as we did.  I ran into Madonna when I went to use the loo.  But most importantly, and this is an important point, this place introduced me to a life long passion for white burgundy.  I think Kerry and I drank the place dry.

This morning the children were promised the breakfast of a lifetime and no one was disappointed.

The youngens ordered waffles with berries and maple syrup. The husband had a ham and cheese croissant and I had Eggs Florentine made with spinach and artichoke.  Given that it was our first morning of the holiday we decided to start as we meant to go on and ordered a couple mimosas to set the tone for the remainder of the day.

The fly in the ointment was we didn't seem to get our mimosas with our breakfast.  About halfway through I started looking round for my drink and the owner of the restaurant caught my eye.  He rushed over and asked if he could help.  I explained our wee little problem and he immediately delivered the 2 most perfect mimosas ever made,  Even more perfect as he decided they would be on the house.  Now I ask you, could this day get any better?

Suitably carb loaded, we headed further downtown.  A leisurely walk across one of the most under appreciated parks in the city, Battery Park, we headed for the ferry port to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. 

As we rounded a corner, there she stood, so majestic, regal, composed, elegant, and unwavering in the promise she has made to hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of immigrants since 4 July 1876.  Abigail was so excited she was shaking and jumping up and down.  She couldn't speak except to say almost in a whisper, "There she is, Mummy."  I thought, I wonder how many other small children have hung on to their mothers hand with that excitement running through their bodies and said those exact same words.

The queue looked worse than it was although the sun was beating down and we had been warned that it might rain.  There was no sign of rain.  Nor was there any sign of our sunblock.  At the price of the tickets ($18 adult, $12/child), I had hoped they would throw in the sunblock.  But no.  Luckily, the ferry came equipped with just about everything a person could need, including sunblock.

We took up prime position on the bow of the boat and doing our best Titanic impression took endless photos and video.  With all four of us running various devices I reckon there was no angle of Lady Liberty that we didn't capture.  Trust me though, she looks great as a result of exceptional lighting and that bone structure, I say!

The park rangers were running a scavenger hunt which the children participated in and even got a badge to prove it.  We grabbed a cool drink and the requisite souvenirs (T-shirts, mugs, key rings, hats, etc) and headed for the ferry to Ellis Island.

I'd been to Ellis Island the first time I was here and was so impressed with the quality of the museum I could hardly wait to share my enthusiasm with the children.  They were struggling with it.  But we persevered.  I was less impressed with the museum this time.  It seemed difficult to navigate and was not clearly marked.  But standing in the Registry Hall, we all shared a moment.

I asked Sebastian if he could imagine the people that made a decision like those immigrants did; a decision to come to a foreign land with nothing but what they could carry in a trunk, speaking only a foreign language and having very little money.  Never knowing if they would ever see their families again, if they would die on the journey.  He said they must have been brave.  I recalled the words of the Star Bangled Banner:"...home of the brave..." and thought, yep, they must have been.

This was a unique opportunity to teach my English/American children about the history of the United States of America.  Let's face it, they don't learn much of it in the English educational system, not that I'm complaining.  There's a lot of history to learn and America teaches very little English history.

Once we got our feet back on Manhattan we headed for some lunch and picked Adrienne's Pizzabar on the pedestrianised Stone Street.  You gotta try this place, if you haven't before.  Wow, Amazing pizza!

We then headed to Wall Street.  I was thrown for a loop when Sebastian asked me to explain what purpose of the stock exchange.  I mumbled something about gambling and carried on walking.  It was a wholly inadequate answer but I'm not sure I have a better one.

Next, we headed to the 9/11 Memorial.  I knew this was going to be tough.......

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