Big Apple Birthday AffairBirthdays are meant to be festive events, and when a milestone like 85 rolls around, the observance ought to be a big one. "Where would you like to celebrate your 85th birthday?" we asked my mother. When she picked up an apple and took a bite, we caught the hint—New York!
This was not an easy choice. A passionate traveler, Nanamama has left her footprints in all 50 of the United States—most of them multiple times. But though she had been to New York City before, she had not visited the iconic sites and was ready to check off a few items on her NYC bucket list. To round out the party, we invited sister Jeanne and nephew Steven, two of our favorite traveling pals and booked a flight for July 14.
|Pre-trip celebration in Tennessee|
Day 1 - Monday, July 14
|Monday: Steven and Nanamama haven't seen all those cancellations and delays on the board|
Day 2 - Tuesday, July 15
|Arrived in New York—CHECK!|
Having lost one day of our trip, we hit the ground running. OK, riding. After dropping off our luggage at the Residence Inn on E. 48th Street, we discovered that David had no further engagements that morning. So we made arrangements for him to drive us to Grand Army Plaza at the southern border of Central Park, where we could begin working on Nanamama's NYC bucket list.
|Carriage Ride in Central Park—CHECK!|
|Lunch at Tavern on the Green—CHECK!|
|Metropolitan Museum of Art—CHECK!|
Exhausted from our early rising and full day of activity, we opted for dinner in the neighborhood and walked in the rain to 525LEX at the Marriott hotel around the corner on Lexington Avenue. A satisfying meal and delectable shared dessert later, we sloshed back to the hotel and fell into a dreamless sleep.
Day 3 - Wednesday, July 16
Wednesday's weather forecast called for a 100% chance of rain for the morning, so we opted to reschedule our visit to the Statue of Liberty, which we had booked for 8 a.m. Instead, David picked us up at 10 and we headed back north, this time for a visit to FAO Schwarz. It wasn't on Nanamama's bucket list, but she loves to see Steven enjoy himself, and at the oldest toy store in the U.S., everyone feels like a kid again.
|Playing the Big Piano at FAO Schwarz|
The predicted rain had not materialized, so from FAO Schwarz, David shuttled us over to Rockefeller Plaza, where we gaped in the window at the Today show in progress, admired the plaza where the famous ice skating rink and Christmas tree mark the winter season, and took a peek at the amazing creations at the Lego store nearby.
|Lunch from a street vendor—CHECK!|
|National September 11 Museum|
|South Street Seaport|
|Times Square Toys R Us ferris wheel (not on the bucket list)|
|Broadway Musical—CHECK! |
(Photo from Theatre Development Fund tdf.org)
Day 4 - Thursday, July 17
Still left over from the previous day's agenda, the Statue of Liberty loomed large on the bucket list and on the day's priorities for Thursday, as did the Empire State Building. Tickets in hand for a 12:00 cruise to Liberty Island, we were picked up by David at 10 and made our way south toward lower Manhattan. With plenty of time to spare, we stopped in at Wall Street to check on our investments and then slipped into the historic burial ground at nearby Trinity Church on Broadway, the final resting place of Alexander Hamilton, Robert Fulton, William Bradford, and other notable early Americans.
|Visit to Liberty Island—CHECK!|
|Always a Lady|
|Empire State Building—CHECK!|
|Shopping at Macy's flagship New York store—CHECK!|
Day 5 - Friday, July 18
Since we knew that David would not be driving us back to the airport due to previous engagement, we had bidden him farewell the previous day. His reliability, cordial service and unflappable demeanor added immeasurably to our enjoyment of New York. Friday's skies were clear, and our return flight to Nashville was routine and uneventful, a pleasant change. Everyone in our traveling birthday party gave two thumbs up to our three-day exploration of New York, agreeing that we couldn't have asked for better traveling companions.
|Happy 85th Birthday—CHECK!|
More Photos from the Birthday Trip to New York
|Our wonderful driver, David|
|Meeting another transporter|
|Monet at the Met|
|Our travel angel, Jeanne|
|Steven does a little magic|
|Performance art at the Met's sculpture court|
|A fun place for all ages|
|The new One World Trade Center tower|
|The last column removed from Ground Zero|
|At the Music Box Theatre waiting for Pippin to begin|
|The beautifully landscaped Trinity Churchyard|
|Liberty Island ferry|
|Nanamama on the Empire State observation deck|
|Posing for tourists on the observation deck|
|Empire State Building lobby|
|Jeanne, who is no longer afraid of heights, at the Empire State Building|
|So, why do they call it the Flatiron Building?|