I’ve always loved the book Rapido’s Next Stop by Jean-Luc Fromenthal, illustrated by Joelle Jolivet, but we haven’t had it off the shelf in awhile. The book opens with a list of deliveries that need to be made that day – then you wind through each page, answering the rhyming clues to figure out what to deliver to each location. The illustrations are really great in this book – and the rhymes and delivery items are really clever.
The book isn’t necessarily set in New York City, but there’s something about the book that reminds me so much of the various neighborhoods we explored all week long. There’s so much activity on the street that relates to the daily workings of, you know, several million people living in an area roughly the size of a postage stamp. The logistics of how this all works varies from city to city is so fascinating to me. (And I’m often reminded when we travel about how truly wonderful an alley system is! There’s nothing crazier to me than seeing this gorgeous residential street piled high with trash bags and full of rolling dumpsters!)
Back on topic… days one and two were really full days, and we were finding it hard to wake up much before eight (the grownups – the kids could have slept until noon).
We were expecting M’s parents to arrive at the house just before lunchtime, so we had planned to sleep in a little and then explore the neighborhood for a couple of hours on foot before meeting them back at the house.
I texted the owner of the house and asked her a couple of questions. First, “Please point us in the direction of your favorite bagel spot in the neighborhood.” And second, “If you wouldn’t mind – could you give us a brief outline of a nice walking tour of the coolest streets, maybe with a playground stop and a path to the waterfront?” She responded with really detailed directions and recommendations, and so we headed out into the sunshine for another day.
I didn’t take as many photos on our walk as I thought I did – I tend to get a little self-conscious about photographing people’s homes anyway. But the walk was really nice, despite the hills and F’s instance that she was tired every couple of blocks. We picked up bagels slathered with cream cheese, juice, and coffee (for under $15, quite possibly the cheapest meal we ate all week!), and walked a few blocks to the playground behind Ft. Hamilton High School, Bay Ridge. Just as we were promised, it was a beautiful high school – and huge. The athletic fields were behind the school, and they were full of hundreds of kids playing every sport imaginable. We did some people watching for awhile, and then continued on our walk.
I did take some photos of Bay Ridge’s most famous house – the “Gingerbread House” – it’s still for sale, or you can just rent it for $26,000 a month.
Just when we rounded the corner back onto our block, M’s parents pulled up in a cab. We barely let them catch their breath before we headed out for the afternoon.
M. Sasek’s This is New York is probably the best NYC book we own. I picked it for this post because of the dinosaur drawing in it.
We jumped on the train towards the American Museum of Natural History near Central Park on the Upper West Side. We grabbed some lunch on the way, attempted to get fresh cookies at Levain (the line was down the block, so we bought some free smells), and again skipped the ridiculous lines for the will call desk.
I love museums, but my interests lean more towards art than natural history. But I’m beginning to wonder if that’s really the case. I absolutely loved the time we spent in the Field Museum in Chicago, and even though I’ve never considered myself a dinosaur person – the dinosaur exhibits at this museum were simply incredible.
We purchased tickets with an additional add-on for a special exhibition or movie. We chose to watch the movie Dark Universe, narrated by Neil Degrasse Tyson, and then we wandered around the area and weighed ourselves on different planets. There were also some critical decisions made with souvenir money in the gift shop.
And, of course, the famous animal dioramas. Are they called dioramas? I’m not sure, but that’s what I think of when I look at them.
We ate dinner at Kefi, a Greek restaurant just a short walk away from the museum. It looks like a tiny, nondescript restaurant from the outside, but the place is actually really large, and relatively family friendly. I think everyone liked their dinner reasonably well, but mine was flat out delicious. So was the wine. I should have taken my mother-in-law’s advice and asked for the name from the waiter again.
Once dinner was over, we headed back to Bayside, and got everyone settled in for the night, dreaming of dinosaurs and distant galaxies. And maybe a few dioramas.
Find these titles at your favorite local independent bookstore. Happy reading!