The "Josh Ritter/NYC" Weekend went off pretty much without a hitch. We traveled from Trenton New Jersey to New York's Penn Station on NJ Transit. We hopped a cab from there to our Marriott hotel in the Financial District. The great folks at the Marriott (our second visit to this one and they have been excellent on both occassions) were able to check us into a westward facing, 35th floor room at 1pm and guaranteed a 2pm late check out, good things indeed. We were happy to be up that high allowing for a wonderful view of the Hudson river and New York Harbor. We could see Ellis Island perfectly from our window.
My parents room faced north, and offered a clear view of the World Trade Center site (as seen above. This photo was taken from their window).
Our daughter loved looking at all the cabs, people, boats, and buildings from that vantage point. All that for only $169, a relative bargain!
After we checked-in, we walked two blocks to the Hudson River and strolled down the Battery Park City Esplanade. The Esplanade, with it's benches, trees, parks, and kids activities along the way made for a lovely walk. We headed south, to the tip of Manhattan, and had the Statue of Liberty in front of us the whole time. At Pier A we boarded the NY Waterway Ferry for a 50 minute cruise up the East River, under the Brooklyn Bridge, around Governor's Island and then pausing at the crown jewel of the harbor - The Statue of Liberty. (all pictures below were taken by OWTK)
There are quite a few ferry companies downtown offering these tourist excursions, but this company provided something a bit different - no waits or lines and an unpretentious, affordable, compact, and frankly, untourist-y sojourn on the NY Waterway Lady Liberty. The tourguide was a local gentleman who sprinkled in a few fun facts along with just the right amount of history giving passengers a glimpse of the Harbor's past, present, and future without gimmicks or shtick (no exaggerated NY accent or stereotypical banter here). He also knew when to be quiet and let the scenery do the talking. There were plenty of calm, quiet moments out on the water. Simply put, it was great. (NY Waterway 50 min Lady Liberty Cruise cost: $15 for adults, $14 for seniors, $12 for students, and kids under 3 are free).
We had a delightful dinner at Quartino, a quaint little Italian spot near the South St. Seaport. This rustic place felt worlds away from the tourist destination that is the Seaport area. The menu consists of mostly organic and homemade pastas and a fish of the day. There is outdoor dining on the cobblestone street giving patrons the chance to people watch. The food was terrific. The cheese plate consisted of three tasty varieties served with walnut clusters and a sliced pear. The whole wheat pizza was incredible - wafer thin, with heaps of melted fresh mozzarella. The Caprese salad was some of the best we have had outside of Italy. I ordered the fish special - poached cod (my 2nd favorite fish - next to Halibut) with spinach and roasted potatoes. Quartino serves up healthy portions (healthy as in good for you, not heaping mounds) of homemade, delicious, and moderately priced Italian food. (Dinner for four adults with our daughter sharing a bit of everything was $105 (including tip) which included a $27 bottle of Chianti for my parents).
After dinner we walked the three blocks to the Seaport - Pier 17 and watched Josh Ritter play brilliantly for 1hr 15min. Our girl made it through an hour before she had to use the potty. While she was gone he closed the show with her favorite song, "Snow is Gone". I quickly broke out the videocamera so she would not totally miss the performance but, as it turned out, she watched most of the song with Mom from Pizzeria Uno's (the nearest potty) steps - giving her a great view. She got to meet Josh afterwards and gave him a high-five. I love my daughter.
A 100% perfect day and night.
Day two saw us take the subway to the American Museum of Natural History (of course, we got on the wrong train and ended up in Queens for a spell!). The AMNH is one of the finest museums we have ever visited. I could spend all day there. Just a gorgeous and serene place. You may recall a subtle TIAA-CREF commercial with a janitor quielty sweeping darkened halls with animal scenes as a backdrop. That was shot in the North American Mammal wing of the museum. We also took in the Darwin exhibit that is closing on August 20th. It too was spectacular.
Because of our late start and E train mishap, our time in the museum was unfortunately cut short. We wanted to get our girl to Central Park for a couple spins on the Carousel as well, so we ended up rushing the museum a bit and walking the 14 blocks to the carousel. She had a blast and really enjoyed the whole weekend. We wish we could have stayed over Saturday night as well, but it was just not in the budget. The weather (high's in the mid-70's) could not have been better for a mid-August weekend in Manhattan. We look forward to another NYC visit this coming winter.
Out With The Kids