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New York City: Day 1, Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street, and BBQ

June 28th, 2013

It’s been over a month now, and I haven’t written up our NYC trip reports. I’m glad that I take good notes (and have plenty of pictures!). As usual, we listed our favorites at the end of each day. As I did with the Disney trip, I’ll start by listing our favorites first. The “top top top favorites” are starred.

Maddie’s Favorites

  • riding in the airplane

  • seeing Grand Central
  • riding the subway
  • **drinking chocolate milk and eating a brownie**
  • **writing in her journal**

Cullen’s Favorites

  • riding in the airplane

  • seeing the Brooklyn Bridge
  • seeing the Statue of Liberty
  • seeing Grand Central
  • **riding the subway**
  • going back to the hotel
  • seeing the bull

Gabe’s Favorites

  • walking on the Brooklyn Bridge

  • seeing the bull
  • seeing the new WTC building
  • **Cullen’s dancing at dinner**

Kerry’s Favorite

  • seeing Bridget’s building

  • **being in NYC again**
  • the views from the Brooklyn Bridge
  • seeing the sites that the kids recognize from their books
  • **Cullen’s dance moves at dinner**
  • Cullen “helping” others with maps, pointing out the Statue of Liberty, telling people about how strollers need to go on the elevators, etc (he was very “helpful” throughout the city)

Melissa’s Favorites

  • the pretty walk on Brooklyn Bridge

  • **Cullen’s dance**
  • Her naughty picture with the bull
  • our nice, big hotel room

Jason’s Favorites

  • the walk on Brooklyn Bridge

  • **Cullen’s dance (crack ‘n’ cheese)**
  • our hotel room
  • seeing Bridget’s building

Summary and Photos from Day 1

We had been talking about taking the kids to NYC some day, and when flights were low earlier in the year we decided it was time. Melissa and Jason joined us for 5 fun days in the city. The kids were very excited and had a few storybooks featuring NYC to prepare them for the various landmarks and sights.

We flew JetBlue into JFK. We had a good experience with JetBlue in the past and we liked the idea of not needing to get a cab from the airport. I didn’t want to put the kids in cars without car seats, and we wanted to leave those at home. We took the AirTrain and subway to the hotel. Right away, we were a little worried that we had made a mistake. We were very grateful for help from Melissa and Jason in getting the kids, strollers, and luggage to the hotel!

Melissa was able to get us a fantastic discount at the Best Western Plus Hospitality House. The reviews looked great, but we didn’t associate the “Best Western” name with high quality, so we were skeptical. Thankfully, the place was perfect! We basically had a fairly good sized 1-bedroom apartment for our stay. We had a master bedroom, full bath (of course), living room, dining area, and a small kitchen. The kids slept on the pull-out couch, and they didn’t seem to mind the uncomfortable mattress. I wouldn’t have been comfortable, but that is my only complaint about the hotel. We appreciated the free continental breakfast each morning, too. It was perfect with the kids and would be great for longer stays as well. Considering that the prices are comparable with many regular hotel rooms in NYC, it’s a great deal. The location was nice for us as we were only a few blocks away from Grand Central.

We dropped off our luggage and headed to Grand Central to catch the train downtown. The kids were excited to see Grand Central as it is featured in both of their NYC books. Maddie wanted to see the clock. They both enjoyed their first glimpses of Grand Central!

We navigated the subway and headed to Brooklyn Bridge. We decided at the last minute to start on the Manhattan side and walk part of the way across the bridge. Once we arrived, we realized that it was going to be far too busy to get some of the photos that we had hoped to get! We had originally hoped to replicate a few photos from our honeymoon. The crowds were one problem, but the scaffolding surrounding the pedestrian part of the bridge was another issue. Cullen fell asleep on the subway on the way to the bridge, so he missed getting the first of many soft pretzels from a street vendor. I was afraid that he was going to completely miss the bridge. He would have been disappointed about that! Cullen woke up while we were taking photos in the middle of the bridge.

The kids didn’t want to get out of their strollers. They were a little freaked out by the bridge and didn’t want to get close to any edges (and getting out of the stroller was out of the question).

They weren’t all that comfortable with where we had them parked.

And they weren’t all that thrilled about our request for a family photo in front of the skyline.

I wonder how many self-portraits Melissa and I have taken over the years. We had quite a series of those before we even graduated from college.

After walking the bridge, we headed to Wall Street and the Battery Park area before dinner. We got a good look at the One World Trade Center which Jason’s sister, Bridget, was the project manager for the beacon installed at the top of the building. We were all very impressed, and we called the building “Bridget’s building” throughout our trip. We even spent a little time with Bridget while we were visiting.

The kids were not terribly excited about Wall Street, but they did want to see the Wall Street Bull. I think with all of my trips to NYC, this was the first time that I had explored the Wall Street area.

We knew we had to find the bull for the kids, since it was featured in their books. The kids were very excited about the bull and wanted to touch it. Since there was a long line for the front of the bull, we approached the rear end. We took a series of questionably appropriate photos of the kids (and Melissa) from the butt side. I will refrain from posting them here. The kids thought that the bull was pooping. Yes, kids, those are giant brass spheres of poop. We ended up standing in line to get photos at the front of the bull as well. Maddie thought it was hilarious that she had one hand in the bull’s nostril and the other in his mouth.

We walked down to the water front “on the way” to dinner and spotted the Statue of Liberty for the second time that day (the first time was from Brooklyn Bridge). The kids loved seeing it, too, even if it was quite a ways away.

We headed to Blue Smoke which we saw described as a “gem” for small children. We were a bit skeptical of a BBQ place in NYC. It turns out that we had good reason to be concerned. The sides were good enough, but the BBQ just wasn’t great. I will say that they went above and beyond with the kids. The menu had a pretty good selection (though iffy for our picky eater), and they had nice bonuses. They brought each kid a pig sugar cookie to decorate with sprinkles and had wiki sticks before the meal. Maddie loved the brownie dessert. Cullen rather enjoyed the music and did some crazy dancing which amused all of us. We wondered what they had put in their mac ‘n’ cheese (and Jason called it “crack ‘n’ cheese”). The waiter agreed that wasn’t their usual response to the mac ‘n’ cheese. The meal was a great experience, but we were definitely disappointed by the food.

Bridget met us after our meal, and Jason snapped some photos of her with her building. Melissa and Jason spent some time around Union Square with Bridget while we headed back to the hotel to put the kids in bed.

The kids enjoyed riding the subway, though Maddie thought that the subway and the elevators were quite stinky. She often held her nose in these places. We walked quite a bit that day, and when I got back I said, “That’s a lot of walkin’ for the grown ups!” Cullen replied, “Whew, that’s a lot of strollin’ for a little boy!”

We got back to the room quite late, and the kids didn’t have much trouble getting to sleep! This was the first trip that we had the kids sleep in the same bed, so we were glad it was off to a good start.

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