New York Adventure, Day Three

Day three, Wednesday, dawned early but not bright with a drip, drip, drip in the living room. It was raining and the roof of our hotel was leaking into our top-floor suite. It wasn't a disastrous leak, but in the dark it produced the kind of hard-to-identify noise which makes imaginative little girls very nervous. After we had reassured the girls and set up the ice bucket to catch the drips we went downstairs for our daily waffles and doughnuts.

Our trajectory was east that day, into the wilds of Queens and ultimately to the New York Hall of Science, a.k.a. the Queens science museum. (We got in free because we have a membership at the Ontario Science Centre.) The first exhibit we visited was about science in the Muslim World, which was pretty cool. There was an interesting exhibit on light and optics, another on sports science (I believe all science museums are required to have an area devoted to sports science), and a bunch of stuff about space. It was fun but assumed a fairly high level of literacy — Cordelia was reduced to being one of those annoying little kids who runs around pounding buttons because there wasn't much designed for kids at her level.

We went for a late lunch at Tortilleria Nixtamal, a fantastic little place recommended by Sascha. We had nachos (with Mexican cheese, avocado, peppers and beans), tamales with chicken mole, pork tacos, and the girls had fish tacos. I had Mexican Coca-Cola, which is apparently sweeter than American Coca-Cola, but I didn't notice. It came in a cool bottle, though. Blake had a cool drink the name of which I have forgotten. Everything was excellent, but the nachos were my favourite — crispy chips, fresh toppings in just the right proportions. Afterwards the girls and I enjoyed an ice pop, or as mine was labelled, "Artificial Coconut Quiescently Frozen Dairy Confection". So much tastier than it sounds!

By the time we finished lunch the sun had come out and we were on track to be late meeting Leontine and Nina at the Children's Museum of the Arts in Manhattan. We found our way, with some twisting and turning, through the neighbourhood back to 103rd St station and headed west.

The Children's Museum of the Arts has lofty goals but my impression of it from the hour or so I spent there was of an arts-and-crafts oriented drop-in centre. The main floor had various art stations: painting, cutting, that stuff you make out of Borax and glue. Downstairs there was a ball pit stocked not with the usual little plastic balls but with those giant exercise balls, and a dress-up centre. It was pretty cool but I missed the "museum" part. Then again I didn't really look for it. The girls had a great time bouncing in the ball pit, dressing up, and listening to an energetic rendition of Cressida Cowell's "That Rabbit Belongs To Emily Brown". Delphine made a picture of a turtle. Blake and I got to hang out with Leontine, which was fun. She's awesome. (I love it when my friends marry awesome people.)

When the museum closed we peeled the children away and set them loose on the streets of Manhattan to terrorize passers-by with their erratic behaviour and injudicious piggybacking. Also irrepressible adorableness: they made a lovely trio.

Our intention was to go out for dinner, and since Blake was the only person with a preference, and Blake's preference was to go to Pizzeria Uno (why don't we have those here?!) we decided to go the Pizzeria Uno that's right by, I mean mere blocks away from, our hotel in Queens. So close we could almost walk it!

Closeness to the hotel was desirable because before dinner we had to stop by the hotel to deliver this painting by my friend Tanya which I had bought to give to Sascha and Leontine. Buying art for other people is always tricky, maybe even unadvisable, but I think this went pretty well. Leontine and Sascha liked it, or else they were really polite and good actors. Delphine kind of ruined it — or added a level of intrigue — by saying they were evil bubbles...

Our next mission was to get to Pizzeria Uno, which seems simple but was complicated by the fact that it's almost too far to walk, it was dinnertime and we had three small short-legged children to think of. Sascha thought it would be easier to catch a bus, Blake was with him on the bus plan, I was indifferent and Leontine was strongly against taking the bus, which is apparently her usual stance on the issue.

As always when taking the bus, it could have gone either way: the bus could have arrived promptly and taken us where we wanted to go, or we could have waited for ages and ages, getting crankier, tireder and hungrier, until we finally decided to take some other bus which got us slightly closer so we could walk the rest of the way, inevitably being passed by the original bus as we walked. Nobody's mind was changed about the value of buses that evening.

Finally we arrived at the restaurant, where we marvelled at the calorie counts on the menu, and were perplexed at the lack of prices for alcohol and the supreme awfulness of the waitress. The grown-ups all had pizza of various kinds, Nina had macaroni and cheese and Delphine and Cordelia had the exact same dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets they get at The Longest Yard three blocks from home.

Then Sascha ordered a car service to drive us home, and we all collapsed into bed — far too late for the girls and somewhat embarrassingly early for the grown-ups.