There was a really good deal on Acela tickets back in early spring, and they were even good for a holiday weekend? Fantastic: it was a sign from the universe that we needed a long weekend in New York for Indigenous People's Day. We took the train down Friday night, with burgers before, and then hopped on the N straight to Long Island City for a cute little two-bedroom apartment/AirBnB at Sonder right across the street from the station.
On Saturday morning we walked over to a Jian Bing foodtruck a couple blocks away and also admired some neat public art in the rain, before heading into the city.
Our first stop was La Churreria downtown, where the churros were great, the dips were better (mmmm, matcha custard), and the churro breakfast sandwich with ham and manchego was strangely compelling.
A short walk away was the Tenement Museum, where we did the 1904 Women's Work tour, and I got all choked up thinking of my grandparents and my great grandparents living, basically, right there at the exact same time. It was a wonderful museum. At the end of the tour, when we were on the sidewalk looking at the site of an old courthouse, the UPS woman across the street stopped delivering packages to listen along, and applauded when our tour guide finished.
From there we split up for the afternoon--Robert took Helen and Marcus into Brooklyn to meet up with Ben and Lise for Thai food and ice cream, and I took Samantha uptown for a bowl of udon bigger than her head and to see Josh Groban in Sweeney Todd. We had amazing seats, right on the aisle in the orchestra, with a clear view, and the show was fabulous.
Clearly the visit with Ben was formative for Helen, too--it made it into her journal for the day!
For dinner we met up with Cori in Koreatown, having modern Korean bbq and happy hour discount appetizers at Barn Joo, and then a really cool shaved ice and fun drinks and waffles around the corner, at a two-story dessert extravaganza place. They were slow, but there was comfy seating and we were not in any rush, so we hung out with Cori and enjoyed ourselves.
On Sunday morning we got out the door at 9:00 and this time took the 7 train (my train growing up) to corona plaza, a heavily Ecuadorian, Guatemalan, and Mexican area.
There are tons of food trucks and unlicensed vendors using shopping carts clustered right at the foot of the train station, so we walked around and got a champurrado, an Oaxacan tamal, a cheese tamal, a mole tamal, 5 carnitas soft tacos for $5, a chicken shish kebab Ecuadorian style with big slabs of roast potato thrown in , a pork shish kebab, all from 5 different carts, and then also some things from a Mexican bakery. I made Marcus order a tamal in Spanish, and while I know the plaza isn't as vibrant as it was before the crackdowns on unlicensed vendors in the summer, it was still a pretty great destination.
We ate on a table outside with Guatemalan music playing and then hopped back on the train to continue the last 3 stops to Main Street flushing, where we walked around and went into the biggest Chinese mall in New York, with a custom cotton candy machine in the food court. You choose the design and the colors and then it makes it while you watch through glass, and then a door opens and it hands it to you. Helen was wowed, and all three kids enjoyed it. It’s a little hard to see in the picture, but it’s a flower with three different shades of pink. At $7, it’s not even dramatically more expensive than most normal cotton candy at a circus or something.
On the second floor of the mall is a really good dumpling house and we got three orders of shao lung bao, an order of pantried shao lung bao, and an order of steam-fried pork buns. Then we split up and explored different parts—I got Marcus and Helen some of the tanghulu strawberries, and then some spicy skewers of rice cakes and of fish balls. I sent Robert and Helen to get gelato that you could order by choosing the flavor and then by choosing the animal (happy cat, worried cat, sleepy bear, happy bear, scared bunny, happy bunny, etc). She loved thst. Robert also got some spicy skewers of chicken gizzards and lamb.
From there we took the 7 train back to Long Island city and got out near our Airbnb. Marcus ran the leftover Mexican pasties upstairs and came down with his sweatshirt, which he hadn’t brought, and we went to a free modern sculpture gallery a few blocks away.
The exhibits were really neat, very abstract, very interesting, and also played with sound, so there was drumming playing constantly and a whooshing designed to mimic sounds a baby hears in the womb, and provocative quotes on the wall, and also the building itself was old and cool. As we snaked up and down the basement corridors, Marcus observed that he couldn't tell the difference between the art and the building. Yes, Marcus. Yes.
From there we walked to the Long Island city waterfront and got a mango slushee at one boba place (which specialized in mangoes and had mango decor, including a giant hanging swing shaped like a mango) and also a funny bear boba tea in a different place, where the bear was made of tea frozen into a bear mold, and then you pour milk and brown sugar syrup over the bear and basically…drown the bear? And as he melts the drink gets better. Macabre, a bit messy, but adorable and delicious and a hit. Robert was also thrilled that the bear was only 70 cents extra. All that fun for 70 cents!
Then we walked the rest of the way to the waterfront and walked through a new park, and took the ferry to Wall Street. These ferries didn’t used to be there—they started in 2017, running half a dozen routes around the east River, and they seem great. We ran into a friend of Helen’s from soccer on the ferry—her family was also in nyc for the weekend, so we sat with them and I chatted a little. The rain (constant on Saturday) had cleared up, but the clouds were dramatic, and the views from the ferry were wonderful.
When the ferry docked in lower Manhattan we separated from Helen’s friend and her family, and we walked up to the South Street Seaport. That was somewhere we went almost every year as a kid, and always to the Fulton fish market too (which is no longer there now). We walked around and listened to a jazz quartet playing, and went into the south street seaport museum (one of the last donation-only museums in New York, it seems like)—it’s small, but there was a good exhibit about the importance of the early port to New York’s later financial dominance, and there was also an exhibit about marine life in the NY harbor, including a bunch of Eric Carle things because he has a book about a hermit crab. They had a family craft activity we did while we were waiting to tour one of their tall ships, so we spent half an hour doing tissue paper mosaics and talking to a docent.
The ship tour was great. In case it's not obvious, I love tall ship tours. The kids were able to contrast this one—a massive 1885 cargo ship—with the USS Constitution and with the famine ship we toured in Dublin
Then we ran the two blocks back downtown to make the next ferry back to Queens, and walked about 10 minutes from the ferry terminal to an all you can eat hotpot restaurant (Joypot) that happened to be around the corner from our Airbnb and which we’d noted on our first night here. Everyone loved dinner, and Marcus and Robert ate significantly more than their money's worth.
On Monday morning we stopped for fancy Japanese pastries (that's a pandan gelatin custard inside that "bao" Helen is grinning at, there) and counter-service dim sum in midtown, and then rainbow bagels for the train home. Penn Station to Back Bay in under four hours, and we were home by mid-afternoon. It was a great weekend!
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Created: 11/1/23. Last Modified: 11/1/23.