Saturday was our museum day. We went to the American Museum of Natural History, which is right next to Central Park. I'm not sure if it's actually bigger than the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, but it sure felt like it. We were there for about 4 hours and barely made it through half the exhibits. Lots of dinosaur bones and taxidermied animals and stuff to see.
We saw quite a few blocks of (upper? ish?) Manhattan on our way to and from the subway stations. There was an impressive array of restaurants along the way, each looking - and smelling - tastier than the last. We ended up at Patsy's Pizzeria for an early dinner, where we ordered a pizza with pepperoni, fresh basil & sun-dried tomatoes. It was quite delicious.
Those of us who had done a lot of walking fell asleep pretty easily that night. Eleri, on the other hand, took about an hour to finally settle and conk out. Much too much excitement (and too many piggy-back rides), I guess.
Sunday morning we got up & out and went to ride the Staten Island Ferry. It's kind of a perfect touristy activity - the short (25 minutes each way), FREE trip affords passengers a decent view of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Lower Manhattan. We didn't linger on Staten Island (not that much to see anyway, from what I understand) because we had lunch reservations at Les Halles. Oh my goodness yum. Tom & Shannon both had mussels, I had duck confit (out-friggin-standing), and we ordered a French Dip sandwich for the kids. They didn't eat much of it; all the more deliciousness for us. Muahaha.
On our way to the restaurant, we walked up Wall Street, past the big bull statue. There was a horde of people waiting to take photos next to it, more than a few of whom were especially interested in posing beside the bull's balls. (We did not stop for photos.) After lunch we walked by the WTC site and through a bit more of Lower Manhattan. It's quite the city, New York. Lots of people going every which way, buildings crammed together and trying to make the most out of extremely limited space. I think I would probably feel claustrophobic if I had to spend a lot of time there.
Back out to Brooklyn in the afternoon, for a meetup with some blog acquaintances. On the face of it, meeting up with people you met online and bringing your small kids along, at a beer garden no less, probably doesn't sound like an example of stellar parenting. But we've had great experiences meeting folks from this blog before, and this time was no exception. And believe it or not, the beer garden was one of the more kid-friendly venues in the area.
So we tasted some German beers (and I also tried the apple wine, which was pretty good), and chatted. I built houses out of beer coasters, which Soren gleefully knocked down. A stop at another neighborhood diner on our way back to Shannon's rounded out the evening. Bags were packed and preparations made for our trip home in the morning.
Monday morning I woke up early (before 6:00) to the sound of rain pouring outside. Fortunately, it had abated by the time we needed to head to the train station, a few hours later. We stopped for the last of our quintessential NYC culinary experiences on the way - bagels. I do love me some bagels, and these were very tasty. I wasn't brave enough to sample any of the many fish-related options (lox, various smoked fishes, etc.) on my own bagel, but I did try a bite of Shannon's bagel with whitefish salad and actually enjoyed that quite a bit. We met up wtih another friend, Wylie, and visited with her until it was time to board our train.
On the ride home, we lucked out to find four seats next to each other, and we ended up right in front of another family with kids the same age as ours. Soren and the other boy were pretty adorable, chatting over the seat with each other.
"Do you see that tree?"
"Do you see that bridge?"
"Do you see that truck?"
"Do you see that gate?"
And so on.
And thus it was that our New York vacation came to a close. We had a really great time, and I'm so glad we got to go. My cousin was awesome for hosting us and tolerating our crazy little weasels. We'll definitely be making our way back up there sometime in the future. :)