A Weekend in NYC as Tourists, June 2014

With my parents no longer living in NY, when Robert's sister Amanda announced her wedding, we jumped at the chance to go to NY to celebrate her and Andre--and to stay in NY, for once in our lives, as actual tourists! We took the shuttle down on Friday afternoon: I picked up Marcus early at school and we went straight to the airport, actually getting on an earlier flight than we'd planned because we got there so quickly. From the airport we took a cab right to our hotel, the Sheraton LaGuardia East, a block off Main Street, Flushing (where we'd spent our wedding night, actually). From the time when I was standing in the office at Marcus's school having him paged to when we walked into our hotel room was exactly two hours--freakishly smooth connections that started off a lovely weekend.

Though it had been drizzling when I left the house that morning, it was a gloriously sunny afternoon in NYC. We put down our things and then walked around Main Street a little, getting a mango sliced with lemon juice and salt in a baggie, and then a wonderful $0.75 big bao, and then going to the Main Street library, where I used to go for story hours with my mother when I was three years old.

Marcus had a great time looking at books and playing on the computer like the big kids were doing, and we killed a bit of time before the wedding. From there we walked back up Main Street, getting some cookies from a Malay dessert stand, and quickly changed in our hotel room.

We walked a couple blocks to the Sky Mall, where the Zipcars were, and though we fumbled around locating the car and exiting the garage, we had no traffic and still ended up at the restaurant (on Union Turnpike, in Jericho) half an hour early, walking in just as dark clouds gathered in the sky and thunder rumbled. The wedding was lovely--Marcus adored the crossword puzzle with clues about the bride and groom, and turned it into a bit of a scavenger hunt by asking nearly every person in the room at least one question. We'd help to the extent we could, but then found ourselves saying, "Uh, I have no idea where Amanda liked to hang out in high school. But I think that table over there are Amanda's friends from high school--go ask those big girls to help you with Four Down." It was really nice to see all the friends and relatives who clearly love Amanda and Andre and baby Katie, and we were happy to be there.

Samantha ate nearly all the fried calamari from the family-style (read: large) platter we had at our table, and then sobbed when there was no more squid left, so she and Robert went in search of unwanted squid from other tables. Robert had one of the largest and thickest pork chops I'd ever seen, and I had fat and juicy grilled shrimp. Marcus fell asleep on a few chairs, with his head on my lap, but Samantha made it through to eat cake, and we took our leave a little after 11:00.

The next morning, we went to Ihawan in Woodside for a Filipino breakfast. Both kids loved the grilled meats (tocino and others), the fried fish, and the garlic rice, but turned up their nose at the avocado con hielo--which was fine with me, as it was (as always) delicious.

From breakfast we continued on the 7 into Manhattan and changed for the uptown train to 86th, meeting Cori at Central Park and 85th to hang out in the park and get in some quality playground time. We hit the playgrounds at 85th, 77th, and 72nd, walking in between, and also watched the remote-controlled sailboats along the way. We wished we had more time to spend in the park, maybe taking Marcus into the Met, actually using one of the sailboats, and checking out the food trucks at Central Park South, but we had to say goodbye to Cori (who was on her way to the library) and head back into Queens.

We made a stop at 74th Street and walked around the block soaking up the Nepalese and Indian neighborhood. We got the kids kulfi pops, mango for Marcus and plain/almond (?) for Samantha.

These were delightful, if drippy, and we snuck in all the licks we could get. Robert went into a long food-court-like place for momos, where he was laughed at for not knowing Nepalese (being, you know, the only person so impaired in the place), and I took the kids down the block to a chaat store, where the woman who made our pani poori chaat was so pleased by Marcus's rapt attention that she handed him every component to taste, plain, and demonstrated in slow-motion how to add the hot sauce, crack the poori, and stuff it. We sat at a table in the middle of the street to eat, and then hurried back on the 7 to Willet's Point for the 4:10 Mets vs. Padres game.

Somehow we never did get our bobbleheads, sadly--apparently you had to scan your tickets at a special kiosk, and we never quite figured that out--but we had a great time at the game anyway. Pictured is the bush under which we had to hide the kids' water bottles during the game, because apparently metal sippy cups are a safety hazard. Other than that hiccup (and it was just a hiccup, as the cups were there when we returned, and with soap and hot water in the hotel sink, appear to be as good as ever), I was really impressed with the stadium. I was ready to hate it, frankly, simply because it wasn't Shea (and I did appreciate the tee-shirt I saw on a man saying "I still call it Shea"), but it was really thoughtfully laid out, the seats were very comfortable, the food choices excellent, the bathrooms convenient and well-appointed, and generally, just an all-around great stadium.

Samantha slept for much of the (losing, sigh) game, and Marcus was antsy, so we walked around a lot of the time, ending up at the bullpen, where there were special tables you could sit at to watch the pitchers waming up.

Pitching coach Ricky Bones threw a baseball over the fence to Marcus, who was thrilled, and we decided to leave the game early (missing the final 1.5 innings and also the free 50 Cent concert that apparently was going to take place immediately after the game) and head back to the hotel. We took the train one stop because the kids were tired, and everyone got washed up in the hotel room. I let Marcus watch an hour of "101 Dalmatians" and rest in the air conditioning before we headed out to dinner.

We went to Imperial Palace on 37th Avenue, just a couple blocks from our hotel, meeting Robert's father and friend, Christine ("Aunt Cat" to Marcus) and Mike, Amanda, Andre, and baby Katie, Amanda's aunt, and Amanda's niece and friend.

We were a huge group with diverse tastes, therefore, but it somehow all worked out really well--we had a nice large round table near the fish tanks, and the food was fabulous: excellent Peking ducks, good Peking-style pork chops, two (signals got crossed, but no matter) eggplant hot pots (one spicy with seafood, one savory with chicken), crab with sticky rice, noodles and rice, a spicy beef dish, a fried fish dish that was some of the crispest, lightest fried fish I've ever had, and amazing savory lamb chops. Marcus did mazes and read books at the table, in between eating crab and lamb chops and duck, and Samantha had a long conversation with baby Katie, reading her books, mimicking her happy pterosaur baby screeches, and then saying, "What does that mean, baby Katie?" all to Katie's delight. It was a late night, and Marcus was asleep the second his head hit the pillow when we finally got back to the hotel, but it was worth it.

On Sunday, Father's Day, we met Robert's father and friend, Christine and Mike, and Amanda and Andre at Asian Jewels Seafood Restaurant (just a single block from our hotel this time) for dim sum. Everyone ate their fill, and Marcus passed the time he wasn't devouring everything in sight playing hangman with Amanda and Andre.

After brunch we went back to our hotel to pick up our stuff and took a car service to the Lemon Ice King, meeting Robert's father and friend and Christine and Mike there. Not everyone wanted ice (though the kids sure did--chocolate chip for Samantha and orange for Marcus), but everyone was happy to sit in the sun, watch the bocce game, and chat a little. Marcus had never seen bocce before, and while Samantha was thrilled to shriek, "Oooh! Look at the tiny little baby ball!" he clearly got a little bit more into the game, and was loping down to the other side of the court to check how close the balls were along with the players themselves.

We walked the four or so blocks over to the Hall of Science, then, and checked our suitcase and bags there.

We didn't have a ton of time at the museum before our plane, but we did get to briefly go to the amazing playground, which we'd somehow never been to before, and the mini golf course. A car service took us to LaGuardia and we got on our plane and back home with no delays at all.

It was a wonderful weekend from start to finish--our only regret is that we didn't have more time to wander and eat! Central Park, the playground in LIC near the Pepsi sign, a Turkish pide place, more Indian/Tibetan/Nepalese delights, some Korean, some Central American street food, an Argentian steak place. . . . we had a lot more on our list, and we'll have to go back another weekend to play the tourist again. Congratulations, Amanda and Andre, and happy father's day, Robert!


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Created: 6/16/14. Last Modified: 6/16/14.