4 days = Harlem, Muggy NYC, Uncle Joe, and Fam!

Trip Start Jul 21, 2010
Trip End Aug 26, 2010

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Where I stayed
Chic & Budget New York

Flag of United States  , New York
Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wednesday morning, we are all packed. Janice did a great job getting all four of our travel essentials to fit in to two suitcases that we will check. I have my electronic goodies bag to make the trip easier, each of the kids have their own backpacks with toys, and Janice has her purse. Traveling light for five+ weeks!

A quick drive out to Woodland to have Nanna Rachel shuttle us out to SFO ... where we caught a flight to LAX ... and then direct to NYC!

Land in NYC just before 1am. We are beat. The cab driver picks us up and takes us off to our first hotel/apartment, "Chic & Budget Hotel". I scoured the internet to find a place that wasn't $300 per night and came across this, that we could squeeze in to (with the kids sharing a bed), for $120 per night. ... .... as we drove, our cab driver and I got in to a shouting match about how he was charging the toll. The fact that I suspected he had been drinking didn't make me any happier ... ... I turned around and the kids were wide eyed and then a second later, they were asleep. Super tired. Finally, we arrive. In Harlem. At 2am.

Our apartment unit is sandwhiched between a housing project and a vacant brownstone. Across the street, three ten-story project buildings. Everywhere ... black folks. We are the ONLY white people. Despite the poverty around us, it feels safe enough, ... so we head in. A maze of halls and stairs and we find our small, but clean room. The lights go off, then back on for a second and Janice screams ... a centipede lookin' bug on the wall. She jumps up and smashes it, and we assure the kids its no big deal. Twenty minutes in to trying to sleep though, I look over and Janice is WIDE awake. Not loving the accomodations, but eventually ... we all fall asleep. Only to have Ella wake up an hour later crying. She has a fever. Hot and chills all through the night. Wake up to ants on the ground everywhere. Yikes! Not the best start to the trip. ... but we have good spirits and head out to meet my recent Sacramento transplant Joe at Central Park.

The kids are psyched about riding the subways again ... haven't been on them for a couple of years. We meet up with Joe no problemo. A quick walk to a bite to eat, and then on to FAO Schwartz for the kids to explore and dream of big purchases. Ella saves her money. Sam splurges and buys a R/C car.

Outside, we take the plunge and fork out $50 for a carriage ride for all five of us. The kids take to Uncle Joe real well and we all soak up the sounds and sights of the city. Getting hotter, but not too bad.

Eventually we head to Times Square, where we say goodbye to Joe ... we grab a quick bite to eat an amazing Greek place  ...  http://www.yelp.com/biz/dafni-greek-taverna-new-york , then back in the subway to home. Thankfully, we have had some help with the bugs from Bert, the hotel greeter ... so the room is safe and sound when we arrive. The neighborhood feels MUCH better at 9pm vs 2am ... so thats good. From the time we get off the subway to the hotel (half a mile I'd guess) ... we pass hundreds of people. All black. Its really a trippy thing to feel so outrageously in the minority (and this coming from a guy raised in Oak Park). A very unique experience. I mean EVERY BODY was black. The store owners, the homeless people, the police, the cab drivers, ... EVERYBODY. There were definately a good amount of poor people, but no thugs or weirdos ... nobody overly nice either, ... just normal, poorer folks, livin in Harlem.

Next morning, I awake to a vague dream about my cell phone buzzing. Turns out it was my dad lighting me up ... concerned. We had planned to greet him, Grandma Marita, and Uncle Simon at their room (run by the same outfit we got ours through, but about ten short blocks away), but we'd all slept through the night with Ella sick again and all of us adjusting to the time change. Wake up and off we go to meet them.

We arranged for a double-decker bus tour of NYC and jumped on the Harlem station and rode it in to town ... down to Carnegie Hall and all the tourist places you have to go to at least once. Lunch in East Village at http://www.yelp.com/biz/vanessas-dumpling-new-york#query:dumplings  ... At night we explore Times Square and the Toys R Us there. Sam nearly loses it when we have to go. He could live there. And poor Ella was heartbroken that I wouldn't take her to see Momma Mia. At $135 per seat, I told her she had to wait ...
Back to the house, tired again ... ... Ella still sick, and now Sam getting warm too. Doh!

Next day, we take the bus again down to 7th Avenue ... but its even hotter and more humid today. Horrible really. Really really hot and muggy. Yuck. We decide to take rest in the shopping mall and I find the Nintendo Store for Samuel to enjoy. Grandma and Grandpa head back for a nap at the house, while Janice, Simon, the kids, and I trek on to see the Statue of Liberty and a little street acrobat show. Then, some soul food at the highly famous Sylia's in Harlem (just two blocks from Grandpa and Grandma's hotel) http://www.yelp.com/biz/sylvias-restaurant-new-york   I have to agree with the 3/5 stars for the place. Super nice people. And I appreciate the history and accomplishment of being in business for so long. But not that impressed with the food. It was good. I ate it all. But not amazing.

Shower and clean up and ready to go, ... then got a call that our plane was 2 hours late. Instead of an 11:40pm departure, would be 2:30am. ... doh! This means we won't have the luxury to jam out of Heathrow to try to see Big Ben and such in London. Will still catch our connecting plane though, so no big deal.

Our cab comes, we say goodbye to Grandpa and Grandma and take Simon with us ... ... and our five hit the road for the adventure of a lifetime!

Its been a lifelong dream of mine to visit Prague, and thats where we are headed next! More on that in my next entry ...

WHOOPED. TIRED. MUST SLEEP SOON! Can't get on the plane soon enough ... and then ... SLEEP FOR US ALL!
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Debbie on

Yay! Glad you guys are off and running! It looks like you packed a lot of fun into just a few days in NYC. I'm so sad to hear about the kids catching fevers. I hope and pray the adults don't catch anything.

We caught an 'undercover' taxi in NYC once that apparently was only for black people. It was really weird. The driver let us in, but after much consideration. I'll have to tell you the story some time. Being from Cali where I've been raised to "see no color" the more segregated parts of the east coast kinda trip me out! Toronto was really segregated, IMO.

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