BY ARLENE APPELROUTH / AJT //
I was sitting on the open deck of a Circle Line Cruise Ship, waiting for the1:30 pm departure to take my grandsons on a trip around Manhattan. We had boarded the sightseeing ship after taking a taxi from Times Square, where the throngs and activities of humans never cease to amaze.
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“Don’t look,” my ten-year-old grandson warned his seven- year- old brother when we walked passed a woman he later described to his mother as “a naked lady.”
Someone had told him he might see the famous “naked cowboy” on Broadway, but no one prepared him for the woman who appeared to be dressed only in a coat of gold paint. Men were paying a fee to be photographed with her.
My four-year-old grandson kept pointing at the Elmos and Cookie monsters who appeared on at least half-a-dozen street corners, holding buckets, for people walking by to drop dollars into them. We didn’t stop to inquire what foundation or cause these donated dollars would fund.
There was also a man in a costume, painted to resemble the Statue of Liberty.
“Is that real?” the four-year-old asked. I answered no and explained we would be cruising past the real statue from the boat.
There’s no simple way to describe the energetic feel of New York City. There have been many times when I experience a strong need just to stand on a New York corner, listening to the cacophony of traffic sounds, watching people rushing by and breathing in life’s diversity.
A recent family reunion had brought me, and about 60 other family members to the New York metropolitan area and I looked forward to getting another dose of my hometown.
It was thrilling for me, once the reunion ended Sunday morning, to be able to introduce three of my grandchildren to a city I find thrilling.
Between the characters in costume, the enormous television screens projecting images on the buildings in Times Square, and tourists like us clogging the sidewalks, just getting from point A to point B while keeping track of three children required focus and intentionality.
My husband Dan and I realized if the distances we wanted to cover exceeded a mile, the best option was to travel by cab.
Once the taxi dropped us off by the Circle Line’s ticket office, Dan showed the cashier a discount coupon on his Smart Phone, paid for the sightseeing trip, and we scrambled for seats on the top deck.
Thirty minutes of waiting can seem like an eternity to children. Two out of three told me they were hungry and thirsty. I took bagels and cheese from my backpack.
“Where are we going to wash?” one of my grandsons asked.
The rest rooms were two floors down, but a bar selling bottles of water and other drinks was less than 10-feet from where we were sitting.
Nine dollars later, I handed each boy a bottle of water, and advised him to say the brucha for hand washing while standing with his hands over the railing of the boat.
Hands washed, and the hamotzi said, the younsters sat happily munching on the snack I had snuck onto the boat. Finally, we were ready to leave the pier and see the famous skyline.
A guide stood near us and spoke more facts into his microphone than any of us would later remember. “How can he remember all of that?” one of my grandsons asked.
“He has done it over and over,” I replied.
The three bridges we sailed under were of great interest to my grandsons. They were amazed to see people walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, and delighted to see trains making their way from Manhattan to Brooklyn.
“It’s easy to remember the names of these three bridges,” our tour guide insisted. “Just think of the foreign car BMW. The names of the bridges are the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan, and the Williamsburg.”
That was a new acronym for me, and I bet I’ll always remember the names of these bridges in spite of my post Medicare age and the number of senior moments that go along with that territory.
The Statue of Liberty was the highlight of the trip.
Given the hundreds of people lined up around the perimeter of the statue, I was grateful we opted to show our grandsons that grand lady from a distance, rather than taking the “liberty tour” which dropped people off, who then had to wait an endless amount of time in long lines to go inside.
Our day of sightseeing also included a tour of the four floors of Toys R Us before heading to the Port Authority to catch our bus back to Teaneck, N.J. As we rode the bus, we talked about all the interesting things we had seen during the day.
Then I gave them options for how we would spend the next day as tourists. At press time, a decision hadn’t been reached, but I’m hoping the group consensus will be a day at the Museum of Natural History.
About the writer
Arlene Appelrouth earned a degree in news-editorial journalism from the University of Florida and her career as a writer and journalist spans a 50-year period; she currently studies memoir writing while working on her first book.