Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Day Five!

Friday began with a most enjoyable bike ride in Central Park. Biking is the perfect way to see the park. There is a 6-mile loop inside that lets you see scenery you just couldn’t cover on foot (its perimeter is 58 miles). There is a bike rental place that you can get yourself a cruiser and take in the majesty and splendor of what is nicknamed “New York’s backyard.”

To give you an idea of how huge this place is, here are some interesting facts: the land it covers is over 800 acres (it actually covers about 6% of the city of Manhattan), which includes 250 acres of lawns and 136 acres of woodlands. It contains 26,000 trees and 9,000 park benches. There is a zoo, a carousel, and 7 bodies of water, including a large reservoir. 275 different types of birds call Central Park home. It is so lush and beautiful, and quite a bit was in bloom during our visit. I think Emma captured it well with her camera. The picture in the header of my blog is of Rich and I on our bikes in the park.

Well, as I mentioned in an earlier blog, our friends, the Dempseys, providentially ended up being in New York at the same time as us! They came in late Thursday. We got in touch while in Central Park, and agreed to meet for lunch. We tried to get into the Burger Joint, a place Rick knew of and that we had read about and had on our “must eat” list. However, it was too busy, so we headed over for some pizza, which was pretty good eats. (we did get into the Burger Joint later in our trip – stay tuned.)

We parted our separate ways after lunch, because we had a tour scheduled at the lower east side tenement museum. This was found to be a very fitting activity after visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Tenements were the buildings in which immigrants would usually make their homes upon initial arrival in New York. They were very low class accommodations and hopefully only a stepping stone to better living conditions. Each tenement had three rooms (no bathroom) in about 300 square feet and this space was usually shared with 6-9 people. In recent years, a vacant tenement building was purchased and restored to its original condition and tours are now provided. We joined a dozen or so people for an intimate tour of the tenement and were told the stories of the actual people that lived in that building. It was very interesting and I highly recommend it.

Tenement that we toured

We met back up with the Dempseys for dinner at Virgil's BBQ. Even though we had reservations, they were having trouble seating our party of 8, so we split up into two groups of four, letting the kids have their own table (way fun). The food was really good! They had the smokiest meats, and pretty much everything was absolutely delicious that we tried. We all shared the most amazing nachos, with four meats atop, yummy barbecue sauce and oozy cheese. We had to eat quickly because we had tickets to the Little Mermaid !

Rick had gotten us the “house seats” which are the seats that the key performers and director are entitled to. I think they were in the 8th row – center! Wow! Now this is a show I can recommend! It was truly amazing, from the cast, to the music, to the dancing- everything was spectacular. It was an absolutely amazing production! I have to say that Ursula was my favorite! Afterwards, Rick pulled out his Disney trump card and obtained us a backstage tour which was really exciting. We got to learn more about the way they pulled off such an amazing show and it was really fun to stand on the stage! After we were done, we exited the stage door, which created a frenzy by all the fans waiting for the stars to emerge for autographs (they thought we were the stars). It was quite funny. If we had pulled out sharpies I’m sure we could have gotten away with signing playbills!

Ky with Prince Eric

Backstage tour

Taylor pretending to be King Triton

Ursula was a hoot! Boy that woman can sing!

It was starting to rain when we came out of the show, but who cares? It’s New York and it’s the city that never sleeps. We walked for hours all around Times Square and other parts of town, and finally made our way to Serendipity, a restaurant I had read about and also had received recommendations for. We arrived around 12:30 a.m., and they were busy! Serendipity is famous for their “Frrrozen Hot Chocolate” which is like a very upscale Frappuccino. It comes in a giant bowl, with 4 straws, and is thick, decadent, and absolutely amazing! They also have other frozen drinks, such as the Frrrozen Coconut Orange (which Emma and Kylie enjoyed very much) as well as a Frrrozen Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate! Rick and Kari ordered the apple pie, which came in the same giant bowl and was topped with cinnamon ice cream and lots of whipped cream! The place is kind of like an eclectic Farrells and a real gem. If you want to try the Frrrozen hot chocolate at home, I found the recipe online!

Drew: Can we go to Serendipity again??

We finally made it back to our hotel sometime around 1:30 a.m. and crashed in bed. Even the sugar rush we got at Serendipity had no effect on our exhaustion!

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