Birthday Bash

littleb has wanted to visit New York City for a long time and so we went over Thanksgiving weekend to celebrate his December birthday. Bill sang New York, New York way too many times on the drive down. He has a nice voice but he’s no Frank Sinatra. Then again, I ate way too many Sour Patch Kids and had a sugar attitude before we even hit the Connecticut state line.

The first day, on the recommendation of a well-traveled friend of a friend, we visited MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village to pick up lunch and then walked down to Washington Square Park to eat. I was interested in the park because I’m currently reading Alice Hoffman’s,Ā The Rules of Magic, which features MacDougal Street, Bleeker Street and the Washington Square Park.

MacDougal_Street_east_side_south_of_Minetta_Lane

I borrowed this picture of MacDougal from Wikipedia. It’s a funky street with a lot of history and many meal options. We ordered lunch at a place called The Creperie NYC. It was good, fast and relatively healthy.

From there, after Bill tried (unsuccessfully) to talk his way out of a parking ticket, we made our way down to the 9/11 monuments. The pictures of the monuments don’t do it justice. There are two man-made waterfalls, one in the former location of each tower, with the names of the fallen inscribed around the borders. The last time I was there was in November 2001. It was moving to see what has been done on the site. One of my favorite moments was seeing, and reading the story of, the Survivor Tree. There is still a lot of construction going on around the site but once you get further in to where the pools and trees are, the bustle falls away and the crowds around the monument seem quiet and contemplative.

9-11 monument-architectural digest

I took photos but couldn’t get one that I was happy with. I borrowed this one from Architectural Digest. This was an experience that is hard to simulate with photos, even great ones like this. Of everything we saw in NYC, this would be the one thing I would say you need to see in person if you can.

 

Next, we stopped by Rockefeller Center. The tree was up but wasn’t yet decorated. It felt odd to see a tree that belongs in a forest overlooking a skating rink in a big city. It made me wonder if any animals had been displaced in the relocation or, perhaps, were there animals still living in the tree? How surreal would it be to wake up in your same old house but in a huge city? There’s a good children’s book in there somewhere. I wonder what happens to the tree after Christmas? I’m not sure how I feel about cutting down a giant tree and relocating it to the city for one month out of the year. It seems like a terrible waste. I guess that makes me a hypocrite. We always have a real tree. Smaller, sure, but it’s really no different. It’s funny how we do what we were raised doing but then seeing it done in a different context can cause us to reconsider. Eating meat is a good example. I was raised eating beef and that seems normal but when I hear about a culture eating dogs or horses, that seems horribly wrong. Kind of a gross example. Let’s move on. So, I might have to rethink the whole Christmas tree thing, right? Maybe it’s time for a faux tree. Maybe I could pot a live one and keep it all year round. That might be cool but is that even possible? I don’t have much of a green thumb. Ferns die in my care. I’m not sure how I’d fare with a whole tree. What do you think? Do you have a real tree for the holidays? Am I over thinking again? Should I become vegan?

IMG_2893

Imagine lights. Lots of lights. And maybe a few chipmunks.

From there, we checked into our hotel where we discovered our room had a view of the Empire State Building.

empirestate

King Kong wannabe

We ate dinner Friday night at Gigino Trattoria, another recommendation from a friend. It had a neighborhood-favorite kind of vibe. The meal was delicious and not too expensive, the service was great but not fussy, and the atmosphere was low key. I wish it was located in my neighborhood so that I could visit more often.

trattoria-entrance-400x287

(Borrowed from their website)

We also visited Bryant Park, which was just up the street from our Times Square hotel. The festive lights draw you into the park but once you are there, you quickly realize it’s more of an open air mall with little pop-up shops and food stands. I was greeted by a friendly, smiling little man in a gold robe who wished me peace several times and quickly slipped black bead bracelets over my and littleb’s wrists before showing me his book where I was to write my name and the amount of money I was giving him. We ran into the monks all over the city, particularly in Central Park. I looked them up when I got home and read that they are not real monks (big surprise) and that they’ve become rather a nuisance at many of the city’s parks and attractions. I feel bad for the real monks, who must be getting a bad reputation. But I digress-back to Bryant Park! The best thing about Bryant Park, besides the festive air and twinkling lights, is that it backs up against the New York Public Library, which, when lit up at night, gives visitors in the park a glimpse of its gorgeous interior. We went to the library the next morning for a closer look.

newyorklibrary

New York Public Library, Bryant Park side

nylibary3

Ceiling on the third floor, NY Public Library

We spent most of the day Saturday, or at least it felt that way, waiting in line to get to Liberty Island. I reserved our tickets online and picked them up on site, which I would definitely recommend as the line for people who bought tickets on-site was about three times as long as ours. First, you get in line to pick up your tickets and then you get in another line for your security screening which, on the day we were there, was about an hour long wait. The screening is exactly what you would find in the airport. I felt pretty safe by the time we finally walked onto the ferry. From there, it was a short, fun trip to Liberty Island. We only had tickets to Liberty and Ellis Islands, not the statue, which is a whole different ball of wax. You have to book long in advance to get access to the pedestal or crown of the statue. Bill and I are not so good at advance planning but were happy to get as close as we did.

statue
littleb and the lady. There was a lot of construction going on.
billymom

lttleb, me, and NY skyline

Saturday night we ate at LegaSea in the new Moxy Hotel. The hotel and the restaurant are trendy and designed to attract more of a millennial crowd, not aging baby boomers like Bill and me, but the owners of my hotel also own this one so I wanted to check it out. There is a rooftop bar on top of the building called the “Magic Hour”. It’s billed as an urban amusement park. We wanted to go up but not all of us were old enough so Bill took a quick walk while littleb and I hung out in the lobby pretending to be trendy (me) and older (littleb). After dinner, we walked around for a bit before returning to our own hotel. On the way, we were stopped by another of the city’s unique panhandlers, the costumed characters. These particular guys were dressed as super heroes. They try to engage your kids in conversation and then encourage you to take a photo with the expectation that you’ll throw them a few bucks. I guess everyone has to make a living and this is one way.

Sunday, we walked to Central Park. It was a beautiful day-sunny and warm for the time of year. Then we headed back to the hotel to pick up the car. It was a fun weekend but we were glad to get home. When people ask me what to see in Rhode Island, I always tell them about Water Fire. What do you recommend in your city or state?

Chicken out

central park

littleb in Central Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  7 comments for “Birthday Bash

  1. November 29, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    A great post! There is more to say than I can remember about. The island, the statue, the memorial are all on my bucket list, but probably won’t happen, so I’m pleased others go, instead. The gentrified restaurants! In my state I would send you to old Cleveland, to Ohio City. I hear the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame is good, too.

    Like

    • November 30, 2017 at 1:54 am

      Hi Joanne-I hope you can go. Never say never! I have a daughter in Dayton so you never know, I just may make it to one of your places.

      Like

  2. Doug in Oakland
    November 29, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    In my state? Yosemite, which I only saw myself for the first time last year. Oh, and the Avenue of the Giants, which is a stretch of old US 101 from before the freeway was built, which winds its way through an old growth redwood forest. Those trees will really give you a sense of perspective to stand next to. And if you know where to go, there’s a place where the Eel river bends hard against a rock cliff with an island in the middle, and you can dive off of the rocks in the afternoon sun and the water is a color of green in the sunlight that is so beautiful that you’ll open your eyes to see it under water despite still having your contact lenses in…
    That’s incredible about the pear tree. Was it originally growing on the grounds of the World Trade Center?
    I guess it is now in competition for the title of most famous East Coast pear tree with the Endicott Pear Tree in Massachusetts, which has been around since the 1600’s and John Adams wrote about liking the pears it grew.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endicott_Pear_Tree

    Like

    • November 30, 2017 at 2:01 am

      Hi Doug, I’ve only been to California once and not to the area with the redwoods but I’ve always wanted to see them. I’d love to see the place on the Eel river, too. I did see La Jolla and the cave that you access via the little store with the dank dark staircase that seems like a good place for spiders to hang out. That was cool. Except for the dank dark spider part. The Pear tree was near enough to the area to be badly damaged but I don’t think it was on the actual grounds. Now, it is and it stands out because all the other trees are the same kind (White elm, I think)and this one is markedly different looking.

      Like

  3. jenny_o
    November 30, 2017 at 1:10 am

    You folks really packed a lot into your time there; all interesting and cool things, and I had no idea there was a place like that in Central Park (last photo). I get your ambivalence about real trees, especially the really big ones. Here the Christmas tree industry is just that – a livelihood for a number of people. Imagine a really big garden, but with trees instead of tomatoes. A renewable resource. But the big ones? Yeah, I don’t know about those. Nova Scotia sends a big tree to Boston every year as a thank you for their assistance during the Halifax Explosion in 1917. It’s considered an honour to have a tree from your land chosen to be sent. I wonder what they do with the big ones after Christmas … nice to see a picture of you, Chicken! Littleb must be a good traveller and explorer to do all those things. He will remember that trip for the rest of his life. Early Happy Birthday to him!

    Around here, I’d send you to one of the many beaches, but only in hot weather. In the winter I’d advise you to stay home where it’s warm šŸ™‚

    Like

    • November 30, 2017 at 2:13 am

      Hi Jenny-thanks, he is a good traveler and always ready to try something new. Now see, you made me feel better about our Christmas tree-it is a renewable resource and I believe it can be recycled although I’m not sure for what. I have this book, though, I haven’t finished it, called “The Secret Life of Trees” and its premise is that trees in the wild of the forest form communities and do communicate with and care for each other. I guess it is not the same with the tree farms. If it’s true-I think that’s possible-then a big tree like that probably left a big hole in its community. I sound crazy even to myself. I have a thing about trees, I guess:-)

      Like

      • jenny_o
        November 30, 2017 at 5:58 am

        Some municipalities collect residents’ trees and turn them into mulch, which I like. Some places have a bonfire which I don’t like. You don’t sound crazy to me because I think about those things too šŸ˜¦

        Liked by 1 person

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