Spring Trip to New York City
May 14, 2011
We went to New York City last weekend. We were surprised to find 6th Avenue from 42nd Street to Central Park on 59th blocked to traffic and converted into a street fair. Although it was hard to resist the smell of souvlakis, shish-kebabs, and gyros as we strolled past the food stalls, we went to a food-by-the-pound place instead on 45th Street. We wanted climate-controlled seating and, also, the food place was close to two of our favorite stores -- Jack’s World, the cheapest department store (really an “odd lot” store) in Manhattan and Book Off, a Japanese bookstore that sells used books (English as well as Japanese with many titles current), CDs, movies, and games at very low prices. Our son, Cody, was big into anime, the Japanese cartoons.

Next we went to Rockefeller Center. We inquired about the hop-on-hop-off red double-decker bus tour there but found the fare steep. So we went up the stairs to msnbc.com’s Digital Café for a view of the flag-bedecked Rockefeller plaza while having coffee and yogurt. We considered going up the Top of the Rock for an unobstructed view of Manhattan 70 stories high but decided Ripley’s Believe It or Not on 42nd Street was more fun so we went there instead.

After Ripley’s it was already dark so we hit a Chinese restaurant for dinner. We then strolled into Times Square and headed back to where we parked our car on 43rd Street.

People are generally right in saying everything’s expensive in NYC. But since I work there I am not blinded by the glitter and actually know some of the cheap places there. Still, multiplying every expense by four which was the number in our party could take its toll on one’s wallet so you better have an idea on how much cash to stash before venturing off to NYC.

Despite that, earlier at home before leaving for NYC, I told Vi and Via, our daughter, that they can go shopping at whatever store they liked in NYC -- Saks, Bloomingdales, Macy's. “I’ll pay for it”, I said. “Sky’s the limit,” I added. This drew laughter from both of them knowing that with the signature stores and exorbitantly priced merchandise there I was just kidding.

But I wasn’t. Having known my family’s spending habits all these years I knew they wouldn’t spend someone else’s money hard-earned at that on clothes at inflated prices. It was a safe bet and a cheap stunt which fortuitously for me made me, the man of the house, feel like Donald Trump.

So when we didn’t get to do much shopping in NYC for lack of time, I repeated my dare and told them they can go mall-shopping the following day. On me, I said.

“What’s going on with dad? Where’s this coming from?” our daughter wondered aloud in mock disbelief.

I knew where but I didn’t answer. The kids were growing up and soon will be off on their own. On days like this when the family’s together I try not to hold back even when I’m running on near-empty because you never know when it’s going to be the last.

Click on a picture to enlarge.
We were surprised to find 6th Avenue turned into a street fair.
We went to Rockefeller Plaza and inquired about the double-decker bus tour. Vi took this picture.
At msnbc.com Digital Cafe on the second floor above the souvenir gift shop, we had coffee and yogurt.
We moved to seats by the window for a better view.
View from our perch.
We went to the Rockefeller Promenade where Vi took pictures of flowers. Vi took this picture.
More flowers at Rockefeller Promenade. Vi took this picture.
Fountain at Rockefeller Promenade. Vi took this picture.
On the way to Ripley's we passed by 6th Avenue again. These jewelry...
...are two bucks each.
These basket-bowls made by children at Senegal cost $29(!)
Stalls on 6th Avenue.
Gyros and kebab.
This is how they make funnel cake, a popular food at fairs all over the U.S.
Vi and Cody share a funnel cake.
Cody hopping on steel barricades. He saw one man do it so he did, too.
Start of the Ripley's Believe It or Not Odditorium tour.
Cast of hand that's a foot long.
Cody, master of illusion.
Cody pilloried (after being caught hopping on the steel barricades...)
Me leaning on a piece of the Berlin Wall. Vi took this picture.
Vi and Via wait for Cody to finish the Laser Race, a dark room where you try to navigate over and under criss-crossing infra-red beams without tripping them.
These are just some of the displays at Ripley's. Unlike at other museums like the Met or the Natural History, we didn't spend much time reading the inscriptions explaining the displays. Then again, why bother when we didn't go to Ripley's to be educated but rather to gawk at...
...the gory...
...the bizarre...
...and the macabre?
Soon Ripley's is over and we walked around the block. This is the New York Times building on 40th Street.
Cody in Muji, a trendy Japanese store at The New York Times Building.
Times Square.
The Carpio Family at Ripley's. With the green screen in back of us, we were told by the photographer to look scared. I personally think this is how we normally look.
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