New York City with the Boys

Since many of you were interested in our last trip to New York, I thought I'd share about our most recent trip.

We are fortunate enough to live five minutes from an airport that has a direct flight to New York City which leaves early in the morning and the returning flight arrives late at night. This means that we get a lot out of a day without paying for an extra night in a hotel. This weekend our flight arrived early Friday morning in New York and we got home right on time Sunday night.  Perfect! This was our youngest son’s second flight in his life so he was due according to today’s standards. I’m pretty sure he enjoyed every minute of it.  It was a nice “You’re… (correction) WE’RE finished with the eleventh grade!” kickoff to the summer. Oh, and he enjoyed every second of the weekend and has been so vocally thankful as was his big brother. Our daughter was so very missed on this trip but is having a great time studying abroad in Spain so we didn’t pity her too badly.

New York is not my type of place in general. Crowds, smells, noise, and endless walking are not my cup of tea, but, as I go repeatedly and have seen the popular sights, I am starting to find that I can tailor the trip to be MY trip.  Having a son who lives in NYC and is so knowledgeable about the subway system and the layout of the city makes it much easier to go.  I am slowly learning it myself and look forward to learning of more of MY spots.  I see future trips being a slower pace of revisiting my favorites and discovering one or two more each time. I believe my cup of (high) tea will be had at the Plaza or the Peninsula Hotels. Window shopping down Madison Avenue on the arm of my handsome man under an umbrella was a bit snuggly and romantic.  One day I will find a shop that has my style and make it part of my routine. Anyone know of a shop that carries ladies’ clothing from the late 1800’s? Oh, I guess I will also have to find an alternate universe in which to wear those clothes. 

For such a short trip, Capers was able to pack in a backpack. My husband packed a carry on and we put our cosmetics in my checked bag.  With more effort, we could have made sure we had the required amount of liquids to take on board in a carry on, but then we couldn’t have brought home our Eiffel Tower souvenir Colton had gotten for us in Paris.  I am learning to take a larger bag than you need so you have room to bring home goodies.  I saw one lady who had a soft carry on—a quilted fabric style bag and I thought that it is probably the best way to do it.  It squishes in overheads where a hard case could not have gone, although you would have to carry it and not roll it and I would not want to set it on a bathroom floor! Tough decision. First world problems. I also recommend for ladies to travel with several gentlemen. You never have to carry a thing!

Colton met us at the airport and guided us to our hotel where we stored our luggage since it wasn’t check-in time yet. We stayed at the Residence Inn at 54th and Broadway so that we would be within walking distance of the things we wanted to do. It was too early to go to our lunch reservation so we went to the hotel’s fourth floor lounge which had comfy seating. Just what we needed. Then we were off to a delicious Thai lunch at Topaz Noodle Bar.  Don’t believe them when they say “a little spicy.” Fortunately, combining my mild rice with my husband’s “a little spicy” rice gave us both “still pretty spicy” rice. It was very good, though. We walked through the south end of Central Park for a bit before Jeff and I turned in for our afternoon nap and the boys ran off to see the world. 


Our room wasted no space but had most everything we needed.  The room darkening curtains worked great.  I am always wishing for more hooks for hanging things but I suppose hotels have their reasons for not providing more. We had a kitchenette that would suffice for an apartment complete with crock pot.  I didn’t happen to use it this trip. Trying to think of a case when I would use it in a hotel. Still thinking. I love anything that is efficient and that usually means it is multi-purpose.  I loved the stool that matched the chair. It could be a stool to sit on, a footstool, a luggage rack, and storage.  The storage was lined in a way that I wondered if it were also a cooler in which you could chill drinks.  A colossal ice bucket?  Someone was thinking. Our 49th floor room had a great view and we enjoyed it in every phase of lighting from early morning to dark. 


After our early flight, pavement pounding, and Asian-food induced comas, our footmen (aka sons) came for us and for Capers’ backpack and guided us to Brooklyn to see Colton’s apartment.  It’s a 30-minute subway ride from Manhattan and in a nice area of Brooklyn.  He walks past stores and restaurants from the subway and is able to get what he needs on his way home without having to carry it far. His apartment space is two-story and his room is as neat as a pin.  They have done a good job of organizing their small space and it is comfortable and clean.  Colton’s roommate happened to be out of town this weekend so Capers was able to stay with him.  We met two of his apartment mates.  Some of them graduated from the same school he did. I feel better having seen where he lives.  I don’t know why but it is settling for me as a mom. Then we took a bus to Dekalb Market/City Point which is like a gourmet food court.  We bought two $21 pastrami sandwiches to split and we were stuffed.  I have no idea who eats that sandwich by himself. It was fairly late when we ate and I dipped mine in spicy mustard so I had a little heartburn later that night.  I am finding that this ole thing can’t eat just any ole thing any ole time of night anymore. It was so good, though! Cool experience. Of course, there’s always room for ice cream because it just fills in the spaces between as it goes into your stomach. We had walked around the market looking for what we each might want for dinner but then we thought that it is better to experience things together and so we decided to eat whatever Colton was having and I’m glad we did.  Together is better.

The boys took us back to our room and these old people went to bed at 9:00. 

Saturday morning, Jeff and I had the hotel breakfast which was the typical nice hotel hot breakfast buffet. It is served on the third floor which looks just like the fourth floor lounge. We had tickets for 10am to see the Downton Abbey Exhibit.  I had wanted to go months ago and it was supposed to close in April but it has been held over and I was so excited to find that out. It is a self-guided tour though they have headsets to rent. The bottom floor is the servants’ quarters and kitchen.  It looked just like the set.  The cast appear as holograms from time to time to tease you. The library is a room where a multi-media presentation is shown. We should have sat at the back so we didn’t have to look around to see what was happening on each wall.  Very cool. The second floor is the family’s area.  The table was set and the bedroom was on display.  I have a thing about dressing tables so I loved seeing that. Many artifacts were included from the show which were from the time period.  The part that made me weak in the knees though was the costumes.  Pieces were scattered about but the third floor was dedicated to the clothing.  The detail! Designing and making my own clothes again is on my empty-nester list and I am collecting ideas. Learning about a craft or art gives you the capacity to appreciate what others have done. That was true for me this weekend in so many areas: music, acting, sewing, etiquette, health, happiness.  If you do not know how hard or rare something is, you cannot fully enjoy it. Knowledge is power: it gives you the power to enjoy.


The tour took only an hour. Then we mosied around to kill time until lunch. The weather was perfect and the streets were busy. We met the boys at Junior’s for lunch and then walked around with them.  We went into the Steinway store and Colton played the $97,000 Steinway for us in the humidity-controlled studio. Beautiful talent. Beautiful music. Beautiful piano. So much good. On to Bryant Park and then to our respective theatres.  The boys saw the musical “Spongebob” and we saw “Hello, Dolly!” Very enjoyable. Bernadette Peters was the lead role and 72 years old, Y’all. The worst part of our trip was the woman behind us who sang along and said the punch lines one second ahead of the actors. We heard her talking during intermission about how many more drinks she thought she could handle. It is so difficult to not share some wisdom with people like that but what good would it do? We exercised patience and were reminded that others have to bear with us in our own ignorant rudeness. Still our memories of a great show are not tainted by another GertRUDE sighting.


After the show, we headed back to Junior’s to get cheesecake to go.  I knew my friend was in New York on a family girl trip but we did not have plans to meet up, but, lo and behold, who is standing next to Junior’s?! We chatted and snapped a groupie and then my husband and I headed back to the hotel for some rest. It was already pretty late so I just rested instead of sleeping so as not to spoil a good night’s sleep. The boys came and visited a bit and then we all went to Little Italy to a cool spot called Piacere. The food was very authentic but the portions were not very large which is kind of nice so you can still handle dessert.  We strolled through Little Italy and Capers ate a cannoli which someone had told him to do while he was in New York. Colton gave us subway instructions to get back to our room and we obeyed perfectly.  It was cheesecake time so we each ate one fourth of the six inch raspberry swirl cheesecake we had bought that afternoon.  They sell it by the slice also but the six inch was cheaper if you were buying two slices.  Mr. Wonderful had suddenly decided my favorite flavor was his favorite flavor and ended up with a kiss on the cheek AND with cheesecake. I highly recommend marrying a nice man. It comes in handy when choosing cheesecake flavors and going to girly things like Downton Abbey Exhibits.  And every other day, too.

After a hard night’s sleep, Jeff went down for breakfast while I polished off all I could eat of the remaining cheesecake. Cheesecake for breakfast as you look at the NYC skyline: life gets very good sometimes. We stored our luggage with the hotel bellman and took the subway as Colton had prescribed. We collected Capers from the coffee shop where Colton had left him moments before.  Then the three of us walked to Redeemer Presbyterian Church where Colton was getting his instructions for what to do in the service.  You see, this is the whole purpose of this trip.  This is the morning that our first child to leave home was joining a church.  When we learned of the date of this event, we wanted to go but then decided that it was bad timing, etc, etc. As the time drew near, we decided that it didn’t matter what kind of timing it was; we needed to be there for this event to support our son in this good decision. The fact that we have a grown son who is willing to join a Bible-believing church is not just something that should go by uncelebrated.  We thank God for His mercy and grace that brought this about and we want our children to know that this is the big stuff.  This is a wonderful decision and a milestone in Colton’s life.  He has been involved already in the church and attends faithfully but he could do both without being a member.  This decision helps to tether him to a family away from home: his church family and God’s family. They will support him and encourage him and look after him. He is making himself a part of a local church and publicly stating who he is and what he believes and making Christian growth a part of his stated intentions. The service was wonderful. I always enjoy attending church on vacation because it makes obvious the bond Christians have. You can feel it immediately. This church is a one-race church: the human race. The hands I shook felt just like mine and our voices blended perfectly. My favorite moment though was when Colton took his vows and answered “I do” to the question of depending solely on the work of Jesus Christ to save his soul. I have heard Colton deliver many lines publicly on stage but none have ever moved me so. Praise be to God.


His church meets early so he had a favorite brunch place picked out for us called The Smith.  It had an early 1900’s feel with black and white tile.  The food was great and I heard that the bathrooms were worth seeing: each stall was it's own little room.  Next stop was the Flatiron Building. I forget the order of coffee shop visits from Sunday because there were quite a few.  When hotel check-out is early in the day but you do not fly out until late in the day, you have nowhere to take your Sunday afternoon nap. And it was raining.  And we were tired. So the cost of a chair to sit in was the price of a cup of coffee.


I wanted to see The Frick Collection this trip. I saw the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the last trip.  I say "I saw it", as if one could fully see it. There are New Yorkers who go regularly because you can’t take it all in.  It is massive.  It’s an elephant you eat a bite at a time.  So I should say I did a run through last time.  I will digest more of it in the future, Lord willing.  Without researching it this trip, I remembered that I wanted to see The Frick museum sometime and it turned out to be the perfect choice. Mr. Frick died in 1919 and left his home as a museum to house his art collection. The house is left largely as it was and the downstairs is open for tours. I would have been happy to buy the $22 ticket just to see the house. The mouldings, the drapes, the furniture, the paneling. Sigh. Then there’s the art!  Three Rembrandts, three Vermeers, a Degas, a Manet, and much more. We took a lovely Sunday afternoon stroll in Mr. Frick’s home and it ended by teasing me with a GORGEOUS roped-off staircase. Torture. Actually you know all tours end in the gift shop.  I bought a beautiful tote bag with a floral print taken from a piece of porcelain. It became my carry on.  Easy to please.  That’s me. 


We navigated police barricades which were there for the Puerto Rican parade after having toured the museum to their music (not the typical museum music) to get to the Peninsula Hotel where we got hot tea and sat in their comfy chairs. We each got our own little teapots and strainers and had a delightful chat while watching others have high tea. The petit fours looked wonderful and are on my list for next trip.


The boys had gone to Brooklyn to get Capers’ backpack so now we met in Hell’s Kitchen for French food at La Bergamote before our final “au revoir”.  Hell’s Kitchen is an area on the west side just SW of Central Park and Colton explained that the subway doesn’t go out that far so it is not as touristy. We were not able to cross one street because a man was in a rage on the other corner and we weren’t sure what was about to go down.  We scurried across when he went far enough from the corner that we could get by.  We had a wonderful meal and some French pastries to finish off a delightful day.


After stopping by the hotel for our luggage, Colton took us to the airport and went half way through the line for security before saying goodbye. A specimen of stamina and resilience. It’s a proud moment when the child you spent your life taking care of takes care of you. Once again, I left part of my heart in New York City and had a safe trip home. Dolly may never go away again, but I plan to. Until next time, New York.