Saturday, March 23, 2013

NYC: Day 1

Our trip to New York City with X-man was a success. He's a kid who thrives on constant stimulation, so being in the city that never sleeps was definitely exciting for him. It was non-stop adventure. We purchased our tickets, so we drove to Chicago to fly out, because they were cheaper than other areas. But we did get our hotel using MacTroll's travel points.

We arrived on Tuesday night and took the cab from LaGuardia Airport to the Westin at Grand Central Terminal. They surprised X-man with a Westin Kids Club bag that contained colored pencils, stencils, a sunhat and a postcard coloring set. We got a suite on the 41st floor, so it had a fold out couch for X-man to sleep on. We unloaded our stuff and looked out the window. We had a perfect view of the Empire State Building from our room. We pointed it out to X-man and then we walked over to it. Luckily for us, the line was minimal. The one thing X-man really hates is line waiting. It's hard for him. He can focus on a game on a phone for little while, but often times his body just turns to goo and he sits on the floor and crawls along. Sigh. It was the same at Disney World almost a year ago.

We had purchased a Citypass for New York when it was on sale in February. So we paid $89 for each adult (usually $106) and $64 for child admission (usually $79). It covered admission to the Empire State Building, the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the only one we didn't use), The Top of the Rock (NBC) or the Guggenheim, a circle line boat tour of the Statue of Liberty and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). If we had paid for these out of pocket, it would have cost us $179 for each adult and $135 for our child. So, it was a good bargain.

We checked in at the Empire State Building cashier and picked up our Citypass booklet. (You pick them up at the first attraction you go to, and then they're good for 9 days.) Then we got a free audio tour speaker and went up to the 86th floor. There were huge chunks of white stuff falling from the sky. Like as big as my palm. I then identified that "stuff" as snow. It was in the cloud that was pretty much right on top of the building. We were inside staring out, but the audio tour instructs you to go around to numbers that are posted on the outside railing so that it can tell you what part of the city you're looking at. X-man wanted to go out and do this, but the only outdoor portion that was open at dusk was the West End. We waded our way through a lot of people and went out on the deck. I had to grab onto X-man's coat to keep him from blowing away. It was cold, windy and snowing. We were outside for exactly one recording from the audio tour before I hauled him back inside. We had gone during dinner time, hoping for a low attendance night. And it wasn't bad when we got there, but about 30 minutes later, people were pouring into the building. And others were waiting and waiting for elevators to go down.  You're required to go to the 80th floor (which is another waiting area) before transferring to a second elevator up to the 86th floor. In a stroke of sanity, the guards opened the stairs. We were allowed to walk down from 86 to 80 to get on a elevator faster. This worked great.

When we got down on the street, X-man looked up and was very impressed. He expressed his sadness that our Citypass did not allow us to use the "express" line to go up, or go to the "premium viewing floor" (102), but we had read the book "Sky Boys" from his school library and the amount of work and how high those guys were walking on top of iron totally impressed him.

On our way back to the hotel, we decided to pick up dinner, because we were wiped. The real challenge of our family vacations these days is trying to find some place where we can all eat. My child, who used to eat everything turned 4, three years ago, and has been a finger food kind of guy since. I don't eat meat. And I can't eat dairy without being sick. 

But in a city as large as New York, you can find places that serve to all. So we settled on picking up dinner at Bareburger. It's not at all healthy, but it did have stuff X-man would eat and stuff that I could eat. So we took it back to the hotel, turned on the TV and reminded ourselves why we haven't had cable since 2004. There was nothing on worth watching. But X-man focused on Chopped! and Tanked! (I made him turn off Swamp People.) 

Then we all curled up in our beds to get ready for our week of city life. 

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