We took the kids into the city today. Yeah, I know, if you don’t live
in NY you think that calling NYC “the city” is obnoxious. It is what it is. I
went to the city with my friend Chrissie and her daughter, my friend Joe and my
son. Chrissie and Joe operate on different time space continuums so sometimes
getting everyone to a happy place regarding the “when” is problematic. Chrissie
would have had us leaving at the crack of dawn but generally speaking, Joe’s
not down with that. We met in the middle and ended up not being able to catch
the train out of Ronkonkoma. We tried to beat the train up island and catch it
in Hicksville (yes, that seriously is a town on Long Island) but we had some
parking issues and aborted this attempt when it looked as if we wouldn’t make
it to the platform in time. We were then back on the road in Chrissie’s
large-ish sedan all the way into midtown Manhattan.
You really have to have some balls to drive in the city. It is every
man for himself with rules being adhered to by the slimmest of margins. You
can’t expect to be driving all prim and proper through the city. You will be
eaten up and spit out. I give Chrissie credit. She is a badass and got us to a
parking garage (with Joe as navigator) as smoothly as could be. My son loved
the trip through the Queens Midtown Tunnel and had a hard time with the fact
that the tunnel was actually underwater. He couldn’t understand where the water
was when we emerged in Manhattan.
Our first stop was the Empire State Building. My son was jazzed to do
some serious tourism spots. We found out that you can’t get tickets to the
Statute of Liberty till like October 2012 so that was out. The Empire State Building
on the other hand, you buy the tickets online and they are good any day and any
time for a year. We opted for going to the 86th floor observatory
(did you know that the observation deck is open till 2:00 a.m. every day? The last
elevator up is at 1:15 a.m. Very romantic, in case you were looking for
somewhere to go.) The weather was beautiful today so although it was cold it
wasn’t freezing up there. The view does not disappoint. My son is not a
daredevil type. He was nervous even getting close to the edge despite the fact
that I don’t think that you could fall off unless you were a contortionist. I
love that about him. I love that I don’t have to worry about him trying to
scale the fencing or otherwise doing dangerous things (yet, he is only six. I
am hoping this is his personality and not just his age.)
After seeing the city from all sides, we hit Eataly. I am in love with
this place. It is this giant sprawling Italian market with affiliations with
Mario Batali & Lidia Bastianich. They sell everything Italian and have a
cheese and wine bar, a beer garden on the roof, a restaurant, a bakery to die
for and fresh pasta aplenty (we saw people pushing a shopping cart around with
glasses of wine!). We began at the beer garden since we had to wait for a table.
It was really pleasant but the menu is limited up there and very meaty, not
good for vegetarians. We got a table about a half an hour later in the
restaurant. The service was not fabulous but the food was outstanding. Everyone’s
favorite was this penne pasta in a red sauce with eggplant and ricotta salata (pressed, salted, dried and aged variety of ricotta cheese). So simple, yet so divine. We all loved it the most, including the kids. We also had tiny meaty ravioli; they were so small you could fit
maybe a kernel of corn in one. Tiny meaty pillows swimming in butter; another
kid favorite. We also had a calzone (the dough was magnificent), a pizza and
some butternut squash ravioli. We ate family style and there was nothing left.
Next we headed out to Times Square. I got on the Toys R Us ferris wheel with the kids which was sort of disastrous as my six year old (the one who rode space mountain at Disney) freaked out when we were stopped at the top. It was the most benign ride ever. I thought maybe his fright had to do with the last time we were on a ferris wheel at California Adventure (the sun wheel – google it, there are all these clips of people
freaking out on it). We got on it and chose the swinging gondolas (OK, I chose-
now I swear I told Keanu it was the swinging ones but he said that there was no
way he would go on those so he felt like I had duped him in some way). Don’t
ever get on this ride. It is so scary. You are in this big caged in gondola but
it seriously feels like it is going to swing off. It was horrifying. Forget
about the roller coaster, beware the sun wheel. So maybe that was his problem.
Anyway, it was kind of downhill after that. Times Square and all the stores in
it were a giant crowded mess. My son had my hand in a vice grip so we wouldn’t
get separated. We managed the Disney store and that was it for us. We trekked
back to the car but not before stopping at the iconic sewing machine guy
statue, prominently featured in Project Runway intros and across from Parsons.
Unfortunately, there were no Tim Gunn sightings.
We trudged back a few blocks to the parking garage to fetch the car. My son was asleep before we hit the tunnel. We blocked the box a little bit in one intersection as we tried to
leave the city but Chrissie expertly maneuvered the car with Joe’s assistance.
We made really good time once we got out of the tunnel. We are all home now; none
the worse for wear. Two weeks tomorrow, to the day, we head out of NY. So
strange and so quick despite the fact that it felt so long in the coming; back
to our real lives; leaving our tourist selves behind.