Monday, December 17, 2012

New York - you can never see it all - especially at Christmas

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Today we hit the subway and head for Manhattan again.
For Christmas, the weather is almost warm for New York, and the skies are blue.
The Empire State Building viewing area was packed.
We had to fight to get to the edge and there was a lot of pushy tourists.
My son enjoyed popping quarters in here!

 We attempted another go at the bus tour - a waste of time.
So we were dropped off at Chinatown.
There next door is two streets you need to go wandering down at dinnertime.
Little Italy.
We dined outside at Casa Bella.  It was another special time.
The bill wasn't though!  But sometimes you pay for the memories :)

By the following day I can proudly say my son could work the subway without me if he was lost.
We head into Macy's for the Christmas Windows -
and Santa-land. 
The wooden escalators were the biggest hit.

There was a long wait.  We were told 30 minutes,
but it was well over 1 hour.
The good thing is the crowd moves through the displays.
This keeps kids occupied.  Bring food and drink.
Queues are hard as a single Mum.
You have to co-ordinate toilet time before you start.
You end up carrying jackets, and feel like a pack-horse.
For those in Adelaide, enjoy David Jones Magic Cave.
It is comparable I think.

From there we subway it to near Central Park.
F.A.O. Schwartz - a famous toy store well worth the visit.
You have to queue to get inside and it is so packed.
The Lego area is fun!

The Big Piano is another line-up.
You will note in most photos my son may be the oldest.
But keep in mind America is all still in school til the week before Christmas.

Next day, we are off to Central Park.

We have a wonderful Pedi-cab through Central Park.
Negotiate price and tip before you go.
You think you don't want the stops, but for 1 hour this guy went flat out.
He was fantastic with his information.

We still hadn't had enough of all the Christmas street displays.
So we wander down 5th Avenue and other nearby streets.

As my son is collecting photos for his blog of big things,
we enjoy all we find - like these giant Christmas lights.
(Yes his blog needs help - we will catch up when we slow down a bit)
School work has been questioned a lot by my friends.
We do some school work at home, 
but for these couple of weeks I have gone a bit light on being a school-mam,
and I have let New York do the teaching.

We wander back to Time Square.  
I think we end up here every day.
The interactive displays are so fun.
This one lets you put your face in the Statue of Liberty;
on the side of a bus, and driving  car.

Our last days are here in New York.
We have a bit of down time at the Library in Manhattan.
What an amazing building.
They have an interactive exhibition which is free of lunch in New York.
This sounds lame, but there are dispensing machines, free recipes and a lot to learn.
No pictures allowed, so time to just enjoy that one.

Low we did head next door to the library to skate at Bryant Park.
But you need to bring a lock and it didn't have the same feel as Central Park,
which we had seen other days.
So we walked down there and it was more expensive but fun.
Also can save $$ if you bring your own lock.
My son had never ice skated before.  
He was frightened and didn't know if he wanted to do it.

By the end of the time, and I am talking maybe 5 hours, 
and some hot chocolate power, we were still going.
I had sore ankles and had rubbed the back of my heels raw.
He skated on confidently til dusk.
He didn't want to leave and we wanted to try to come back and skate another day.

Next day my feet ache, but on we go.
We are running out of days and so much to see still.
So we hit The Rockefeller Top Of The Rock.
Now this has 3 viewing levels.
Someone had told me it is better than Empire State Building and I have to agree.
We loved it up here.  Way more relaxing and a lesser crowd.
More viewing spots too.
You also get a photo for only $5 and we found this a lot of fun.

As my feet ache, we decide to go for pedal power.
We are approached a couple of blocks from Central Park for bike hire.
Go to Central Park Sightseeing and ask for Matt.
56 W 56th Street, New York, NY
We got a great deal and he was so polite.
We hired this for two hours and it was a blast.

Bikes are limited to a bike lane, but we shot off on a few quiet paths
 to see the sights of Central Park too.

We cycled the complete way around Central Park. 
We took both the inside and outside road 
and this was great as we saw so much of New York.
We wanted to walk back through town and see the lights.
Back to Rockefeller Centre.

Now near the Rockefeller Centre is the Nintendo Store.
Parents, go here.
Free games and you sit and talk to other Moms.
We went here 2 X and it was great.
It also gave my son time to play with other kids.

Next day we have in.  Time for some schooling and catch-up emails.
Time to plan what happens after New York.
This trip is really done on a day to day basis.
There is no point having fun and having to leave.
There is no point staying when it is not fun.
Now we have heard about the supposedly best Pizza in New York - Di Fara.
I read several reviews and there seems to be 5 best places,
but this one is only two subway stops from where we are staying.
It is $30+.  It is good but I think he is too heavy on the olive oil on the top.
Order with no olive oil on top and you might have the best pizza.
Obama has eaten here so it is good.
The guy makes each one fresh. Grates the cheese, cuts the herbs etc.
He is nearly 90 years old!

Here is the pizza pie.  Enough for take home so the value is not that bad
 if you consider you are getting two meals.

Saturday sees us back in Manhattan.
We explore in and around Grand Central Station.
My son learns lots here - loves it!

Off to the opposite end of town.
During our bike ride we had found the Guggenheim Gallery.
It has a Picasso Black and White exhibition.
Also seen in Mr Poppit's Penguins.
Now seriously - we have found kids movies that contain a place as a great inspiration.
We have over 300 movies on the computer, 
so we often watch one before or after we go to a place.
It really makes it come alive.

For a security deposit we decide to use the kids art kits.
This has cards with things to find in the art exhibition.
We also need to make cubism art pieces.
We spent over 3 hours here.
A great un-schooling experience.
And a great time to do things together as learning too.

We enjoyed some of the unusual displays in other parts of the gallery too.

Next we have yet to see the American Museum of Natural History.
This is right across Central Park.
So we have a great walk through.

The Museum is a donation only.  Nice.
We are late in the afternoon when we get here.
we had stopped at a playground.
Boys need to get their energy out to behave right in Galleries and Museums.

This Butterfly room is amazing.
If you know you are going here, wear green.
Also butterflies respond to smell.
Some kids were covered, we only had a few land on us.
Also this room is HOT, so maybe wear a t-shirt.

Night at the Museum is a great movie to watch as it is set here.

We meet a lovely Grandma and her grandson and spend time talking with them.
the boys love Gum Gum, from the movie.
I must say, we have really enjoyed meeting others along the way,
and this boy showed me just how lovely some kids can be.

We ended up in the Learning Centre.
My son knew today was a learning day.
The staff are great and help the kids with the assignment, so it gives me a break.

It is dark and we head home.
Our last day in New York is Sunday.
We so wanted to go to a gospel choir.
We found this great church.
It took us two van rides, a bus, and a long walk over 1.5 hours.
It is so big they have three services.
We managed half of the 2nd one.
Then all of the last one.
Christian Cultural Centre is way at the outskirts of Brooklyn.
Fantastic time!  Do go here if you are coming to New York.
We also were treated so well.
What a great end to our time in New York!

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