This is the second attempt at the second half of the boys’ 16th birthday trip.
Our second try at getting to New York started off pretty uneventfully. That’s good, considering how unbelievably early we had to get up for our flight. I should clarify that “uneventful” does not mean “unusual”. When I went to check us in yesterday for our electronic passes it wouldn’t send Zak’s passes, saying only that he had to present himself at the airport check in counter. I’m thinking, What? Why? Should I be concerned? I called Westjet and she said not to worry, that Zak had been randomly selected to go through more security clearance. He was checked in, but needed to show his passport to get his boarding passes and had to get a more thorough pat down at security. Which also meant we had to show up half an hour earlier than we were planning to. Needless to say, all except Jarod slept on the first leg of the trip.
While waiting to board we were joking around and somehow the subject of what happened if we couldn’t land in Calgary came up. Holding patterns and Die Hard were discussed. Sure enough, on approach to Calgary we ended up in a holding pattern for a little bit waiting for other flights to clear due to fog.
So, since the last time we went through Toronto Pearson they have mostly completed the US departures area. A year and a half ago everyone travelling to the US was corralled in one end of the main check in area and then each flight was escorted in a line through the terminal through US Customs. Now we go through three stages to get to the gates. No problem there, all electronic, even with Zak’s So-So-So-Special status.
We had supper at a restaurant called Nobel Burger Bar, which actually has tablets on pretty much all the tables in the area that you order your meal from, pay at the debit/machine at the table, and they deliver your order to your table. It was pretty neat, but really busy. The whole area is really busy. Even the bathrooms. Then we had some fun getting moved around between gates (they couldn’t seem to make up their mind) and our flight was delayed about an hour. Ah, well. As long as we get there.
We got there; an hour and a half late, but we got there. Not complaining though. Better to arrive late than not at all, especially since they had to switch planes due to mechanical failure. And they warned us and apologized as we were leaving and throughout the flight that turbulence was expected, but the pilots did a fantastic job avoiding it because I didn’t feel a thing.
Our driver was awesome. He picked us up in this fancy SUV. Our hotel is great so far; the front staff are really friendly. It is becoming ever more common for people to react to my name, and the staff here didn’t fail me. I’ve learned to play along and enjoy the ride. Apparently we’re likely to see celebrities here, so I’ll have to pay attention.
It’s raining. Not heavy, but still… Unfortunately I brought Jessica’s rain jacket instead of mine. Seriously does not fit.
The complimentary breakfast consists of cereal boxes, fruit, packaged pastry, granola bars, coffee, tea, and flavoured water. I’m not complaining. It was nice to have cereal and an apple for breakfast.
Turns out I unconsciously booked our hotel right around the corner from where the girls and I stayed. And literally next to the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market, where the girls and I saw a mangy stuffed rat. It took seeing several super heroes walk by for me to remember that the New York Comic Con was this weekend, and what I didn’t know is that it’s taking place just down the block from where we’re staying. Too bad I’ve already booked a walking tour of the financial district this afternoon or we might have been able to go see the Rooster Teeth panel this afternoon. And maybe I could have gotten a couple of my fave sci-fi authors’ autographs. Sigh.
It’s 10:30 am and the boys are just getting up. Dan and I have already gone for a walk around the block. I’m thinking cronuts are not going to happen.
Cronuts did not happen. Didn’t even try. We did stop at Carlo’s Bakery on the way to the subway, though. The treats were fantastic, but it took a long time to wait.
Then the adventure on the subway began. We took the train we thought would get us where we needed to be. If we’d stuck with that we would have been correct. But then I looked at the map and thought we had to switch trains. So we did. Only to find out that due to construction that train would take longer to get to our destination. We finally got to the meeting point for our walking tour with minutes to spare, without the planned time to have a bite of Mexican food for lunch.
In the meantime, it had been raining and grey all morning and for the first little bit of the walk. We were booked to go on a tall ship sailing this evening. We did speculate whether or not the sailing would be cancelled because of the rain, but thought maybe not because it really wasn’t very windy. Sigh, we were right to speculate, but wrong to think it would go ahead. Sure enough, not even half way through our walk we got a text advising that the captain and owner were cancelling the sailing due to the weather for safety reasons. And we can’t even take advantage of their offer of another sailing because we leave before the next ones are available. And then to top it off, within a couple hours of the email the weather cleared up really nice with clear blue skies.
We followed the walk with lunch at the Eataly at the World Trade Centre. Soooo good. The place is an Italian market with five different restaurants. Jessica and I could live there. Anyway…
Next is the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Really well done facility. Very sobering. Worth seeing.
Then our day continued pretty much on par. We walked to the Hook and Ladder No. 8 building to see the Ghostbusters garage only to find it under renovations and completely covered by scaffolding. Yeah.
Onward and our day improved. Lombardi’s pizza was awesome. The wait to get in wasn’t even bad. The cab ride was remarkably inexpensive. The Empire State Building was cool, but three quarters of the time we were there was in lines getting in and out. Fun though. Now we’re just chilling in our room.
A mid-morning breakfast at Westway Diner was very well received by all concerned. Yeah, it was really good, especially since it was a spontaneous choice I made while the boys were still waking up. Convenient that it was on the way to the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.
A 15 minute walk got us to the pier, which is a lovely area. The Intrepid is a decommissioned aircraft carrier that’s been converted into a museum. You can walk pretty much all over the ship. They have a cafeteria set up in the galley. And there have to be at least 20 aircraft parked in and on the ship.
The Growler is a military submarine that we also got to take a tour of. We all agreed if we had to serve we’d rather do it on the aircraft carrier. Those subs are really tight!
There was also an exhibit with the Enterprise shuttle. The real thing. Which is actually pretty huge. There were plenty of information panels and several interactive activities. Of course they also had a mock up of the U.S.S. Enterprise’s shuttle Galileo there too. MUCH smaller than the Enterprise Shuttle.
And then of course there was the Star Trek Exhibit. Always cool, but really busy. Each section had interactive quizzes and tests to complete from which they determined the appropriate track for you to follow. They were supposed to have two of each console so people weren’t waiting too long, but some were not working, so that was a little disappointing. The exhibit ends on the Enterprise D bridge where your final test is the Kobayashi Maru. Your task is to save as many people from the Kobayashi Maru as you can before the Klingons destroy everyone. It’s a no-win situation, so you’re going to die anyway, but Dan saved 15, Jarod saved 60, I saved 65, and by some impressive feat that I still cannot explain Zak saved 160. He is the Man! In the end, Dan and Jarod were both assessed for sciences, Zak was assessed for engineering, and I got navigation this time. We’re not sure why Zak didn’t get straight into the command track…
About a half hour break at the hotel to let our feet recover, and then we walked to Madison Square Garden to watch the New York Knicks play the Washington Wizards in a pre-season match. The place is huge, and yet we managed to get seats that had a great centre court view. It was pretty perfect. The seats are a little tight, but manageable. The food was fine. We didn’t get on the big screen. And we didn’t snag any t-shirts, but that wasn’t for Zak and I failing to try. The game itself could really have gone either way from the get go, and wasn’t decided until the last second, literally. I managed to keep the boys smirking at me every time I mixed my terminology up with hockey references. It’s admittedly been quite a while since I’ve watched any basketball.
We took a slightly different route back to the hotel so that we could see some new sights. Glad we did because we found Cupcakes by Melissa, where they sell bite size cupcakes in multiple flavours, and a comic book store that we may try to go back to.
Another not-long-enough day. Finally got out of the hotel for breakfast around 10:30. We went to a little place called Morningstar Restaurant, a diner about halfway between our hotel and our destination for the day. The place was busy, but we got there just after 11:00 when the menu said breakfast was served until. So we thought we had missed our opportunity for breakfast fare, ordered lunch items instead, and then saw that others were still getting breakfast fare. Sigh. The food was fine, but nothing special about it.
We then walked another half hour along Central Park West to the American Museum of Natural History. Once again, in my opinion, we did not get there early enough. We did get to see the Dinosaurs Among Us exhibit (dinosaurs = birds) and the Dark Universe space show (Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about dark energy, dark matter, and the expanding universe), and we saw most of the related areas, but we did not get to adequately explore the anthropological areas. We checked to see if there were any dioramas like those in Night at the Museum, but no luck there. Did a little shopping in the store and then got kicked out.
A conversation earlier in the day about favorite foods revealed Zak’s partiality for noodles, ramen in particular. A quick Google search found a 4.5 star rated place called Jin Ramen about a 10-minute walk from the museum, so we gave that a shot. Turned out to be an excellent choice! The soup was really good, the appie gyoza were wonderful, the service was perfect. That’s Jin Ramen on Amsterdam Avenue and about 83 Street. Highly recommend it.
A cab ride back to the hotel so the boys could do their homework (at the last minute, of course). Dan and I went for a short walk around about 12 square blocks in search of Halls (Dan has a bit of a cold), Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk, and some chips for the boys. No problem with the first and last. Went to an actual Ben and Jerry’s store on 44th and 7th and had zero luck there; although Dan did get some ice cream and I got a B&J glass and a Brookie (chocolate chip cookie on top of a brownie). The lady said the B&J at Rockefeller is likely the only place I might be able to get my ice cream. Well, we’re not going that far tonight, but we’re going by there Thursday, so maybe I’ll get lucky. Did I mention the hotel staff here are pretty awesome? Yeah, I’ve got one or two of them keeping an eye open for my New York Super Fudge Chunk too. For the life of me I cannot figure why that flavour is suddenly so hard to get…
Still no famous people sightings.
Breakfast (yes, we did make it for breakfast this morning) was at Junior’s, which is actually known for its cheesecake. We did not have cheesecake. We did have normal breakfast fare, which was perfectly fine.
We finally got our fill of celebrities today. Too bad they weren’t live. It’s really quite remarkable how good the wax replicas are at Madam Tussaud’s, but even more so when you consider just how good Madam Tussaud herself was for the period and resources she had at her disposal.
We stopped at the HBO store and picked up a few things before going back to the hotel to drop our purchases off. Literally as we were getting off the elevator on our floor the fire alarm went off. Being the well-trained Yellowknifers we are, we immediately diverted to the stairwell and went outside only to discover absolutely nobody else exiting the building. Alarm’s blaring, elevator is locked down, and everybody is still either chilling in the lobby chairs or wanting to check in. It was so weird. After about 20 minutes I finally asked the front desk what was going on. Turns out a pipe had burst in the basement, which had been repaired, but the alarms could not be reset until the engineer inspected the repair. There was no fire and we were allowed to go to our rooms, we just couldn’t use the elevators. By the time we did get upstairs the alarms had finally stopped.
Anyway, our next stop was supposed to be Discovery Times Square, but that ended up being closed. So we made our way to M&M World instead before going to the Hard Rock Cafe for supper. We followed that with going to see The Book of Mormon, which was ridiculously funny if crude. I did try to warn Zak’s parents about that last year…
As the title implies, pretty much everything planned for today did not turnout to be what we expected. We went for breakfast at By Suzette, a crepe place. We did get crepes, but they were different sweet and savoury options served in a small cubby hole of a place. We were expecting a sit-in restaurant with more built-to-order options for the crepes. And the crepes were served like wraps. They were good. Just not what we expected.
Then we took the Big Bus double decker tour to get to our next destination, which was pretty much as expected, so no issues there.
Then we went to the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum. I found it interesting, but the boys thought they it was going to be more about architectural design, as in how they designed the machines to create the architectural features. It wasn’t that kind of design. It was more about art and fashion and function. It really wasn’t for engineers, per se; it was more for artists — interior designers, urban planners, that kind of thing. I enjoyed it more than the boys did.
Our next stop went as expected, but kind of hard not to: Dylan’s Candy Bar. Need I say more?
And finally, Rockefeller Plaza. We took the tour that was part of the New York Pass. The boys were expecting a tour that encompassed not only the Rockefeller Centre itself, but also Radio City Music Hall and NBC. Yeah, that’s not what it was about. It was about the art and architectural history of the buildings that comprise the Rockefeller Centre. I LOVED it!!! The tour guide was fantastic and engaging, and the information was so interesting. Totally worth it!
That was followed by a visit to the top of the Rock, which I actually enjoyed more than the Empire State Building. And we finished off this really long day at Bill’s Burger and Grill before cabbing it back to our hotel.
Our last day in New York was spent exploring the MET and walking through Central Park. Of course it didn’t start out that easy. We still didn’t quite get up as early as we hoped we would. Three out of four of us admitted to fighting a cold. And we ended up accidentally taking the express subway train which skipped right on past the station we wanted to get off at. We had to wait for the local train going in the opposite direction.
The MET was busy, but you only really felt it in the lobby itself. Once you start exploring the different wings or halls it didn’t seem so bad. The place is HUGE, so we knew we weren’t going to get to really see much in one day. Of course, the boys had to challenge that theory by rushing through the whole thing and seeing everything they could without understanding any of it. Dan spent most of his time in the arms and armour exhibit and I spent all of my time trying to absorb as much as I could of the Greek and Roman halls. Dan and I also took the highlights tour, so we got to see a little bit more of the museum.
We then took about half an hour to walk through Central Park, which was lovely, to go for supper at McGee’s Pub. McGee’s Pub is the inspiration for McLaren’s Pub in How I Met Your Mother. Hence the name of today’s blog.
Now we’re back at the hotel, trying to get everything to fit in our bags in preparation for our departure tomorrow. Zak and I also made a point of at least taking a look at the jacuzzi area on the roof of our hotel, which was actually pretty cool. I regret not bringing my swimsuit now.