We are myself (63) and DH (65) (grandparents,), and granddaughers J (age 18), and K (age 14), they are sisters. We take our grandkids on a vacation every summer and this year the girls wanted to go to NYC. It was the second visit there for me and DH, and first time for the girls.
We left home (Illinois) on Saturday, July 27 (traveling in a truck) and visited the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, PA that day. At the hotel that night, we found out that J and K's little brother had an allergic reaction to nuts and was being taken to the ER. We felt terribly helpless being so far away, but he was given a breathing treatment and shot (and told to start carrying an epi-pen) and sent home, so that was a relief.
We arrived in NYC the next day at around 3 p.m., and had reservations at the Home2Suites in Long Island City. I had budgeted a considerable amount for parking, thinking that we might have to pay extra because of the big truck, but we lucked out and found free parking on the street for the first five nights - woohoo!! The hotel is brand new and very nice, with a few minor issues to be worked out. I asked at the desk if they had a room with a view available, and we were given a room on the top floor with a fabulous view - just beautiful at night. The room was very nice with a curtain between the bed and sleeper sofa, allowing for a little bit of privacy. We didn't do any cooking, but appreciated having the refrigerator to keep soda, cheese, snacks, etc. There was a little store just a block away, and we bought a lot of snacks for the room to keep the girls happy, and wine for DH to keep him happy. The subway was a very short block away. The minor issues were non-working ice machines (we finally just bought our own ice at the little store), and a bad set-up for the breakfast area - not that it mattered much anyway, as by the time the girls were done primping each morning, breakfast was over anyway.
So after check in, we stopped at the desk to make sure that the subway that we could see a block away was the one we wanted to get on. The desk clerk told us no, you have to walk 3 blocks a certain direction and get on the subway there, because the other one doesn't run on weekends..??? I was not happy about that at all, as one reason for choosing this hotel was because of the proximity to the subway. So we walked the 3 blocks, and bought our 7 day Metro cards. Had a little problem there, as the machine would only allow DH to purchase 2 cards with his credit card, so we had to use a different credit card to purchase the other 2. We used the first credit card for everything else the remainder of the trip - no problem with the card at all - so I don't know why we couldn't buy four Metro cards on it. Anyway, we saw rats playing in the subway rails while waiting for the train to come, and the girls were intrigued with that. That was the only subway where we ever saw rats - never saw them again at any station.
Our first destination was, of course, Times Square! DH and I had been there before, but this time it was more crowded than I remember from our previous trip in 2008, probably because of the construction work going on. I have been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans about 10 times, and I think that the crowds around TS rival Mardi Gras! It was all we could do to keep track of J and K and we finally told them that if we got separated, just wait for us at the next corner.
I should mention that J and K are somewhat reserved and shy, and I figured that TS would intimidate them. I had warned them about taking things that were handed to them, or getting into a conversation with people trying to sell them something, etc. As we walked along, a very well-built African American man without a shirt (posing for pictures to show off his abs) saw the girls and said to K "You are creamy vanilla, and I am hot chocolate". She looked shocked for a second, and then broke out into a big grin! It was a fun intro to Times Square. She saw the guy again later in the week and said 'there's that guy who said I was creamy vanilla...
We were hungry and found a place to get in quickly - Dallas BBQ. DH and I had eaten there on our previous trip and enjoyed it. DH and I had a 'real' drink (dacquiris), and the girls had 'fake' dacquiris. The food came out quickly, it was fine and filling, and our total bill was under $70 plus tip.
The girls wanted to shop at the stores they had seen at TS that we don't have in our area, Forever 21 and H&M. DH and I fortunately were able to find benches to sit on at Forever 21 while they tried on every outfit in the store. Finally, they were done spending $ and we were ready to head back and get some rest.
Got on our subway back and when we got off at the same platform where we had gotten on (3 blocks from the hotel), we were totally confused and couldn't locate the direction of the hotel. So we had to call the front desk, and the desk clerk told us to get on the N (I think) line and it would drop us off at the platform that we could see from the hotel (the one the other desk clerk had told us wasn't running). We finally got back to the hotel, and never walked those 3 blocks to the other platform again. I'm not sure why the first desk clerk sent us on that wild goose chase, but it all worked out in the end.
Day 2 coming separately.