A Grapple With the Big Apple

New York sparkling at Sunset.

So, is it true? We can all travel again? You bet your ass we can! 

And no longer do we have to sit in our homes holding up a toilet seat to our heads pretending it’s an aeroplane window like this absolute legend:

Dreaming of travel.

 We can actually do the real thing. And yes, in fairness, you could say it was ok to travel last year too, which is true. But for our family, any money we’d saved up for holiday jollies last year, ended up going on just one of the many sexy things you can do with your holiday money when you’re a homeowner – fixing a leaky roof.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I spoke of the journey. Today it’s the destination – New York. The Big Apple. NYC. The City

When we told the kids we were doing New York, naturally they were pumped. For one, it’s got the most iconic skyline in the world. It’s featured in so many movies too. And the towering skyscrapers, yellow taxis, street vendors, the steaming manholes… they’re all there as you imagine, all playing their part in the city’s spectacular allure. And with only two full days at our disposal (before moving onto the next leg of the holiday down in Texas), if we did it right, the walking blisters we’d take there with us would be nothing short of epic.

Becoming accustomed to the Subway as quickly as we could, we blasted up and down Manhattan making light work of the miles. We hopped on the Staten Island Ferry and grabbed snaps of the Statue of Liberty and Downtown Manhattan. We took the kids to the World Trade Center Memorials and taught them of the tragedy of 9/11. We gasped at the dinosaurs and Blue Whale in the American Museum of Natural History and were clued up on the planets in our Solar System in the Hayden Planetarium.

Central Park was a fab place to catch some rays and rest, the New York Public Library offered us some rather fancy public toilets. The girls danced in the fountains outside the Rockefeller centre, and the Friends apartment block and Brooklyn Bridge were checked off the list as they were visited and seen too. 

But New York is more than just its architecture and attractions. The people that make up the city are just as fascinating too. 

We saw examples of New York’s urban intensity such as an altercation between a taxi driver driver and his passenger, where the driver yanked the man out of the cab and they had a good old tussle on the sidewalk right there in front of us. 

There was also a moment when Mickey Mouse wandered up to us in Times Square and tried to force a picture with my unwilling daughter. When my wife said fine to draw his attention away and got in the picture instead, all of a sudden Mickey was expecting a tip and got a little hostile when we didn’t give him one (since we didn’t want the photo in the first place).

As Brits, we’re a little unfamiliar with the tipping system anyway. So to have some fella stick on a Mickey Mouse costume, approach and scare my daughter and expect us to pay him for the privilege, put his chances of getting one somewhere in alignment with me going into work with both legs in the same trouser leg and declaring the day ‘Mermaid Day’.

Anyhoo, for a city with a tough reputation, we experienced unexpected moments of kindness too: an ‘Ice Cold Water 1 Dollar’ guy offering my son a free drink, and a local offering my wife a seat on the bus. And when we arrived hot and bothered at a Five Guys before it had opened, the fella behind the counter let us inside and made us milkshakes.

And what of the kids? What did they make of the city that never sleeps? Loved it, of course!

My son was all over the Museum of Natural History. And my middler, she loved being in the presence of the Friends building. 

But what was it for my youngest? What was her magical moment? Well, for her it was the biggest moment of all…

When we were in Central Park and a fly landed on her sister’s knee scab.

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