I don't like New York.
Just wanted to get that out in the open. I'm not sure what it is, whether I've picked up some sort of Boston-based chauvinism, if it's a snobbish disdain for something merely because it's popular, or I'm unnerved by the sheer size of the place, but I don't “get” the attraction of the place. On this particular day I was a lot grouchier than normal, because JJ added to my travel exhaustion by keeping me up for an hour in the middle of the night. The weather had clouded up.
We pulled ourselves together and drove a short way down to the New York Aquarium, which we had settled on as something L was old enough to enjoy (the one bad thing about our hotel being its distance from the subway; we ended up driving everywhere we went). We got there right at opening, pulling into the lot between a couple of school buses. And then we saw all the other school buses. Apparently, the day of our visit coincided with a field trip for what looked like half the Brooklyn school system. This made me even more cranky.
We made it inside and rendezvoused with our friend as hordes of small children began pouring through the doors, watched over by teachers I would not have traded places with for all the money in the world. We ended up trying to time a lot of our travels around the place to get between the groups, which worked reasonably well as it turned out. It is a very nice aquarium, by the way. We had one anxious moment when we lost sight of L somewhere in the coral reef exhibit and exchanged a panicky “I thought you had her?!” but she was quickly located. On our way out, we even saw their star attraction, the baby walrus, and the sea otter, both of which had hidden away during our first pass by their enclosures.
We made the mandatory gift store stop (I got fully into my role as a tourist and bought a t-shirt), then left the aquarium and walked out onto the boardwalk. It was too early in the year for anything to be open, the beach was wide and nearly deserted under the gray sky. I parked myself on a bench with the hungry baby while the others went down to the water and poked around, and after some wandering around through the closed rides, we went back to our car. D managed to wedge himself into the back in between the car seats, and we drove up to our friend's apartment (which is extremely cramped by the standards of any other city, but I gather not bad for NY).
We hung out there for a while and then headed back out to find dinner. It was a little bit early for it, but this actually worked out quite well. We settled on El Pollo, a very small Peruvian place. We were the only ones there for most of the time we were eating, so L's restlessness didn't inconvenience anyone but our patient waiter (again, all she ate was applesauce).
After dinner we walked a bit farther down the street and found a playground where she could run around (we were somewhere in or near Park Slope, which I gather is currently famous for having lots of young parents). The rain had held off all day, the weather was still warm, and it was nice to watch the kids careering wildly around. A proposed further outing for the guys to a Japanese place down the street from our hotel was nixed on the grounds that they were too tired. We made plans to meet for breakfast, and headed back for our last night on the road.