Monday, January 3, 2022

Whirlwind Trip to NYC Day 1: Indiana to Harlem

I planned this Christmas trip to New York City back in August, when I was high off of two recent successful traveling adventures and naively confident that my days of having Covid ruin my plans were over.

I ought to know better, as I'm a Medievalist and every now and then I feel the urge to randomly tell people that the Black Death lasted upwards of five years. And if our trip had been planned to start just a day or two later I'd definitely have cancelled it myself, because the day we arrived in Grand Central Terminal was the day the news reports got big that apparently NYC was chock-full of Covid, and everywhere we went people were lined up for curbside Covid tests, and the thing that I most wanted to do in the city got cancelled because of Covid the literal day I planned to do it...

Ah, well. The kids, Matt, and I emerged safe and sound, and all have our negative Covid tests in hand to prove it.

And on the first day of our trip, we got to watch the sunrise from the sky!

We flew into Newark, primarily because in my limited experience I've found the TSA agents there to be ever so slightly less cruel than the TSA agents in JFK (Have I ever told you that I get "selectively screened" A LOT? Like, barring the time that a TSA agent put her hands into my literal underpants in front of everyone in the security line and I cried, it's more or less a family joke, and when Matt looked over at the Indy security checkpoint and saw a TSA agent swabbing the bottom of one of my socked feet he just rolled his eyes and got my bags off the belt for me, but nevertheless, it's the WORST and you bet I evaluate my airports based on the level of humiliation I've experienced there in the past). 

I bought round-trip tickets for us on the Coach USA airport shuttle, which let us off near Grand Central Terminal at something like 10:00 am. 

I actually bought an audio tour of Grand Central Terminal, thinking it would be a fun (for me!) way for us to kill a couple of hours, but honestly, it took us a couple of hours just to figure out how to buy the 7-Day Unlimited Metro Cards that I wanted (probably at least an hour of trying vending machine after vending machine, each time unable to figure out why it wanted to charge us hundreds of dollars for something that should be thirty-ish bucks each, only to finally read the words on the machine and notice that it sold TRAIN tickets, not SUBWAY tickets. And then the adventure trying to figure out where the subway ticket machines live!). As well, we definitely weren't used to how crowded Grand Central was (I mean!), so we mostly just gaped at the zodiac ceiling mural--

--fueled up at Doughnut Plant--

This is the Brooklyn Blackout, which is the most delicious doughnut I've ever eaten. Totally worth spilling coffee down the front of one of the two shirts I'd brought, leaving me with one shirt and a sweatshirt smelling vaguely of coffee for the rest of the trip because obviously I'm WAY too lazy to hand-wash a shirt on vacation!
--went up and around and out and around and in and across and down and FINALLY figured out where to buy the correct Metro Cards--

--and then headed out to wander. 

And look up!

Found the Chrysler building! 

Here's the charming path to the New York Public Library:

Apparently nobody else found this path as charming as I did, so here begins the typical NYC practice of Matt and the kids forging quickly ahead, looking neither up or about themselves to sightsee, turning their heads just every now and then to find me mosying twenty feet behind them and then waiting impatiently for me to catch up before forging ahead again.

We had our luggage with us so I didn't really want to go inside anywhere, and therefore we confined our visit this time to the outside of the New York Public Library.

Will made the acquaintance of Patience and Fortitude--

--and we assured them that we'd definitely come inside and tour the treasures on our next visit.

Fortunately, Bryant Park has lots to do outdoors in December!

We didn't ice skate. It's funny because there's so much to do in New York City, that everyone who visits can fill their time doing completely different things from everyone else who visits, so whenever I've told someone about our trip that person immediately starts peppering me with questions that relate to the stuff THEY'D do, like "Did you ice skate at Bryant Park? Did you climb the Empire State Building? Did you eat a hot dog from a cart?", and I'm all, "No, no, no...", making it sound like we just sat on our butts the whole trip. 

We have a puzzle with this fountain on it!

Browsing Bryant's Park's Winter Market was suitably festive, as was walking north on 5th Avenue while admiring the buildings and the window displays.

The Rockefeller Tree, though, was... a little underwhelming?

We decided it's TV's fault. They make the tree look absolutely massive, so when you see it in person, yes, it's absolutely massive, but not, like, the most massive thing ever? And it's in front of the genuinely massive Rockefeller Center, so really it can't compete.

The skating rink is genuinely charming, though.

The Christmas Balls Fountain is way less crowded and way more photogenic, in my humble opinion.

We were all getting really exhausted/really excited to check into our AirBnb by this time, so we walked to the Times Square subway station, passing Radio City Music Hall on the way.

By this time, I already knew that the Rockettes had just a few hours ago cancelled the rest of their performances for the entire season, and it gave me a sinking and unhappy feeling in my gut re. Covid and lockdowns and shows I had my heart set on and really, really, really didn't want to get cancelled...

Will is on the lookout for a rat, which she desperately wants to see.

There were some quirks checking into our AirBnb--this is only the second time I've ever booked an AirBnb, and both times checking in has been quirky. Is this the norm?--but good lord, the place felt like heaven after getting up at 4:00 am and then hoofing it all over creation with our bags in tow. The Harlem neighborhood that it's in was so comparatively more quiet and peaceful than where we'd been battling for space with other tourists all day, it was roomy and comfy with a giant couch big enough for us all to sprawl simultaneously (something I now realize we absolutely need in our own home!), and best of all, the TV was already logged into someone else's Netflix account!

I'd kind of only meant us to stay long enough to unpack and buy some groceries, and I had a nebulous idea that we'd head out again, unburdened by our luggage, to do some more sightseeing, but Syd lay down on that couch and promptly fell asleep, so I figured we were more or less done for the day. 

Might as well take a shower, order some takeout, and see what's on Netflix!

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