This time last week, Anna and I were navigating the streets of New York City. We were exploring art galleries, fancy shops, restaurants and, unfortunately, way too many yellow cabs.
I had been quite nervous about this trip. Before last week, I had only flown once. That was also to New York, but it was a very long time ago: 1983. I was traveling with the newspaper staff at Atlantic Christian College, and there was always someone (Mike Fukuchi to be exact) to tell me where to go and what to do. This time, I was on my own with a 15-year-old girl.
Well, we did just fine, thank you very much. We had no trouble with the airports, no trouble figuring out where to go and how to get there, and no trouble hailing a cab whenever we needed it. Anna got to be quite the pro at throwing up her hand and summoning a ride for us.
The highlight of our trip, of course, was a ceremony at Carnegie Hall, where Anna received a very large gold medal on a big blue ribbon from the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. The award was for a photograph she took of my parents last year before each of them started a downward spiral in their health. Seeing that photo on exhibit in a Manhattan art gallery was quite emotional for me, but it was also one of the proudest moments of my life.
There were so many other fun things that I don't even know where to start!
On the first day, we had dinner at American Girl Place. Yes, we are both too old to play with dolls, but we are still little girls at heart and simply loved our leisurely stroll through that store, which is packed with dolls, accessories and books. Taking Anna to dinner at American Girl Place has been a goal of mine for years, and the experience lived up to the hype. The meal was good, and the pleasure of having dinner with my daughter in such a lovely place was priceless.
On our walk home that night, we stopped in at Abercrombie. I knew we were no longer in North Carolina when a shirtless man, posing for pictures with young ladies and their moms, met us at the entrance.
Another treat was a visit to Times Square. We were able to walk to the "Crossroads of the World" from our hotel on 57th Street. It was overwhelming to see the large signs and news tickers and to stand on the bleachers and take photos at this landmark. We were in New York soon after a large portion of Times Square was blocked off to street traffic. Lawn chairs now dot the street, and tourists sit and rest their weary feet or look side to side at the activity around them. We didn't do much shopping in Times Square except for an extended stay in the M&M's World Store, which we loved!! I've been eating my cereal out of a colorful M&Ms bowl since my return!
Although we didn't shop much in Times Square, we made up for that in our next stop: Macy's. Anna had been saving money for weeks and was determined to buy some special clothes in the world's largest store. She did, indeed, find some very pretty things to buy before we left, both overwhelmed with the enormity of the store. We also ate a delicious lunch in one of the many restaurants at the store.
While Anna was in rehearsal for the awards ceremony, I ventured out on my own, determined to find the Nintendo World Store without asking for directions. I succeeded, by the way, but not before venturing through the Diamond District and getting a little nervous at all the activity. During this adventure, I also stumbled upon Magnolia Bakery, famous for its $3 cupcakes. This bakery is recommended in a number of guidebooks I had read, so I was eager to taste a cupcake. I bought two: lemon for me and chocolate to take back to the room for Anna. I bought a cup of milk and enjoyed my cupcake on a bench across the street. It was delicious!
While in the Rockefeller Plaza area, I saw all the advertisements for Top of The Rock, the observation deck. Later that night, after a wonderful meal at a small Italian restaurant near our hotel, Anna and I went to the deck. I'm not always good with heights, but I'm so glad I didn't let this be a concern. The view was amazing! We were there just as the last bit of pink was disappearing from the sunset. We were overwhelmed and stayed a long time, walking all the way around to see everything before us. It was mesmerizing. I highly recommend this attraction.
The rain and exhaustion dampened our mood on the last day of our trip, but after a morning workshop with Scholastic, we ventured to the Museum of Modern Art, where we saw a wonderful photography show, and later that afternoon we did some more shopping. Being small-town girls, we were both shocked at the prices at Bloomingdale's, but we enjoyed exploring the many floors nonetheless. We had even more fun at Dylan's Candy Bar, where Anna stocked up on gummy candies for her and her boyfriend and I found some fun candies to take home to my husband and son. From there we walked in the high winds and heavy rains to FAO Schwarz where we spent a very happy hour or so looking at dolls, toys and baby clothes.
We had grown tired of getting carsick in cabs by this point, so we took a long walk home, knowing it would be our last walk through the streets of New York for a long time. We stopped in at an art supply store we had walked by many times, and I bought Anna some sketch books and drawing pencils. We also ate dinner at a wonderful pizza restaurant. From my seat, I could see the cooks sliding pizzas in and out of a coal-fired oven. The pizza, made with fresh mozzarella, was one of the best either of us has ever eaten.
New York was quite an experience. I loved watching people. I admired the courage of residents who rode bikes in the crazy traffic. I tried to envision buying my fruits from the many stands that dotted the streets. I looked out our hotel room window and tried to imagine the lives being lived behind the hundreds of windows in front of me. I wondered how long it would take to hit all the tourist spots in New York, to see all the shows, to try all the restaurants. I'm sure it would take a lifetime, at least!