New York City with a 3 year-old (Part 3)

What to do in New York on a rainy day? Head to a museum! After a breakfast of bagels and really good coffee at Irving Farm Coffee in Grand Central, we geared up to face the rain and were on our way to visit the American Museum of Natural History.

IMG_3149

This museum, from dinosaurs to sea creatures, offered our little family hours of entertainment, knowledge and plain fun.

IMG_3151

IMG_3156

IMG_3159

After our day at the museum we went in search of some much craved soup dumplings, which we found at The Bao in East Village. We had a delicious and pretty authentic (according to my husband, who has experienced the real deal in Asia) pork soup dumplings and scallion pancakes, while our little guy enjoyed some steamed rice and entertained himself by trying to eat with chopsticks (with a folded piece of paper and a rubber band, or in this case, a hair tie, you can fashion kid-friendly chopsticks).

IMG_3189

IMG_3184

With this food craving checked off our list, we headed back to our hotel on the subway, another great day in New York City.

The next day was our last day in New York. Since we had a few hours before heading to the airport, we decided to explore the Grand Central Market (just because we enjoy going to markets wherever we go) and then headed to the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue. Patience and Fortitude (the 2 famous lions, which are carved out of pink marble from Tennessee) welcomed us into this magnificent building. We love books and reading, so we really enjoyed exploring the library, from the Children’s Center with it’s Real Winnie-the-Pooh exhibit (the original stuffed toys that inspired the beloved story), to the impressive Rose Main Reading Room, and my husband’s favorite, the Map Division.

IMG_3200

IMG_3204

IMG_3207

We ended our trip with a visit to the lobbies of the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, absolutely stunning works of art and architecture from a very different era.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_32bd

IMG_3216

We had a grand time exploring some of the many options that New York City has to offer, it was our first visit as a family, and it certainly will not be the last!

New York City with a 3 year-old (Part 2)

On our first family trip to New York City we wanted to experience some touristy things that would appeal both to my husband and I and to our 3 year-old son, so of course we decided to see the city from the top of one of the skyscrapers. We settled on Top of the Rock, mostly because we wanted to actually see the Empire State building, and also because it was a more budget-friendly option. So off we walked to 30 Rockefeller Plaza after breakfast and enjoyed a bird’s-eye view of New York.

IMG_3063.JPG

IMG_3061

After that we got on a bus headed straight to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, where my two boys had the best time, as only boys with these cool toys can have. Our membership to Nashville’s Adventure Science Center got one of us in for free thanks to the ASTC Travel Passport Program, a great benefit to be aware of when planning your travels.

IMG_3088

IMG_3086

IMG_3101

IMG_3106

DSCN0697

Time for lunch! We walked a few blocks to the Gotham West Market, where the little guy had some tasty pizza and the adults enjoyed ramen and pork belly buns. After lunch we took the subway to South Ferry station and got a free ride on the Staten Island Ferry, which allowed us a look at Lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

IMG_3127

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_32b2

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_32ad

Once we were back in Manhattan we made our way to the 9/11 Memorial. Our little guy is too young to understand the enormity of the tragedy that took place, but we wanted to pay our respects. I went through many emotions: I had a good cry as I remembered the lives lost, I was amazed at how much this area had changed since I was last in New York back in 2003, but most of all I couldn’t help but think about how short-term our memory is as I saw people taking selfies and chatting in the most animated way, when all I felt was respect and sorrow for what had taken place here in 2001.

As we headed back to the hotel we got to experience a significant delay in the subway, which resulted in our little guy falling asleep and staying asleep all the way to his bed. This was our chance to get some take-out we had been craving from Momosan Ramen & Sake, which was just around the corner from where we were staying. Ben had no idea who Masaharu Morimoto was, but as a fan of Iron Chef America, I was really looking forward to trying the food prepared at his restaurant, and I was not disappointed, best take out ever!

IMG_3131

For more of our trip to New York with a 3 year-old click here

New York City with a 3 year-old (Part 1)

This Spring we decided to take a family trip to New York. My husband, 3 year-old son and I flew into La Guardia airport and took a bus ride to Grand Central Station (which was less of a hassle than trying to take the bus and train). We walked a couple of blocks to our hotel, checked in and proceeded to head out in search of a late lunch and some exploring. We found a small Thai place near the hotel which was tasty, decently priced and kid-friendly, then walked towards Broadway. There, in the Garment District’s pedestrian plazas (between 36th and 41st streets) we encountered “A Fancy Animal Carnival“, a great display of eleven large sculptures created by artist Hung Yin. Our son loved looking at all of these and recognizing the different animals, it was a fun and colorful welcome to New York.

IMG_2871

IMG_2867

We continued our walk up to Times Square to give our little guy the opportunity to see all the lights, screens and people. Thankfully we brought a pair of kid’s head-cancelling headphones for him and with that he was happy to look around without having to cover his ears the entire time. Our walk took us to the Rockefeller Center, where we enjoyed pointing out all the flags and going into the Lego store to look around.

IMG_3111

IMG_2883

Then we headed to Fifth Avenue to walk by the library and see the lions before it got too dark. We ended up in Grand Central Station‘s Main Concourse, where we pointed out the constellations on the ceiling and admired the four-faced brass clock and the old ticket booths. After a full day of traveling and exploring we were ready to head back to our hotel, but not before picking up a slice of pizza for dinner.

IMG_2895

IMG_3198

IMG_3197

Our second day was a beautiful, sunny Sunday, so we decided to spend the day outdoors. First we rode the subway to the Meatpacking District to walk along the High Line. Needless to say, for a 3 year-old boy, the subway (or train, as he called it) was one of the highlights of our trip and he wanted to ride it everyday.

IMG_3129

IMG_2965

The High Line was great, we loved walking in a place where we didn’t have to worry about cars, and our little guy had fun climbing on every bench he encountered. It was a great stroll where we just relaxed and enjoyed the contrasts that make up this incredible city.

IMG_2909

IMG_2939

IMG_2944

IMG_2963

IMG_2928

After our walk we got on the subway and made our way to Columbus Circle, where we picked up some sandwiches and headed into Central Park for a picnic lunch. We spent the rest of our day in this glorious park, letting our son play at the Heckscher Playground, climb the Umpire Rock with dad, and play soccer with a mini inflatable ball we brought along. We also rented a boat at the Loeb Boathouse and spent a fun hour  rowing and people watching in Central Park Lake.

IMG_2988

IMG_2971

IMG_2982

IMG_2974

IMG_3005

IMG_3013

Spring in New York city is absolutely stunning! I was so happy to see the cherry blossom trees in full bloom, it reminded me of beautiful Victoria, B.C.

IMG_3040

We ended our day having dinner at Shake Shack, before heading back to the hotel. Our little guy fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow!

For more of our trip to New York with a 3 year-old click here

Córdoba

Our final stop on this trip to Spain was Córdoba. Our first stop was the stunning and unique Mezquita. The Great Mosque of Córdoba, also known as the Cathedral of our Lady of Assumption, is an arquitectural and visual trip through the history of this town: from Catholic to Muslim to Catholic once again. I just walked around in awe of this magnificent building.

DSCN0447

DSCN0444

DSCN0438

DSCN0436

DSCN0434

DSCN0427

Once outside we set out to explore the beautiful town on foot, known for its historic patios beautifully decorated with flowers.

DSCN0467

IMG_0015

IMG_0007

DSCN0486

IMG_0008

We found a great spot for lunch, La Posada del Caballo Andaluz, with a guitar player, a lovely courtyard and delicious food.

IMG_0011

What a wonderful way to end our trip! It was hard to say good-bye, but we hope to visit again soon. Hasta pronto España!

IMG_9998

Granada

Our visit to Spain had started out with two days in Madrid exploring the capital and meeting up with good friends, followed by a wonderful few days getting to see Cádiz and visiting with dear friends there as well. Now it was time to head to Granada with a brief stop in Gibraltar. We packed into our friends’ car and off we went on our little road adventure.

My husband Ben is a fanatic of geography and maps as well as a pilot, and having flown over Gibraltar in the past, he couldn’t pass this opportunity to set foot on it.

While Ben was crossing over to British overseas territory, we went shopping for some food for lunch. We had tickets for La Alhambra for that afternoon, so a quick picnic style lunch is what we would have before that visit. (La Alhambra is such a magical place that it deserves a post all by itself, click here to find out more about our visit.)

After our afternoon in La Alhambra we drove to our hotel in Granada, which was in a great location and surprisingly modern, very fitting for a city of such contrasts. Here imposing buildings coexist with colonial architecture and narrow busy alleys in an interesting kind of harmony.

DSCN0355

IMG_9979

IMG_9985

Our approach to exploring Granada was relaxed and leisurely, wandering around the city, stopping here and there for a little break or an impromptu game on the street.

IMG_9963

IMG_9972

We visited the Catedral de Granada and the Capilla Real. We walked up Calle Calderería Nueva, a cobblestone street lined with shops and bright colors, and found a tetería where we tried a couple of different teas while our little guy dug into a chocolate tart and enjoyed the lively view from the window.

DSCN0357

IMG_9966

IMG_9964

We walked up Carrera del Darro and Paseo de los Tristes, enjoying stunning views of La Alhambra.

DSCN0360

img_0307

We saw colorful displays of traditional Spanish dresses in all sizes and ornate Spanish hand fans.

DSCN0387

DSCN0389

We fully experienced the tapas scene in Granada, where for every drink you order you get a plate with a generous portion of delicious food for free. The drink glasses are small, so we were able to have a taste of two or three different tapas at every bar we visited. Some of these even had displays like this one below, showcasing their iberico ham, know also as ‘pata negra’ (black hoof).

img_0306

We couldn’t leave Granada without heading to the Gran Café Bib-Rambla for some chocolate con churros. The square also gave our little guy an opportunity to chase pigeons at his leisure.

IMG_9984

What a wonderful time we had visiting Granada, a city of contrasts and rich history we will not soon forget. Our next stop: Córdoba.

DSCN0401

La Alhambra

I had wanted to visit La Alhambra for many, many years, and in our recent trip to Spain my wish was granted. After a short road trip from Cádiz, we found ourselves in this magnificent ‘red castle’, surrounded by incredible history and stunning views that did not disappoint.

img_0311

DSCN0272

DSCN0287

I simply walked around in awe, looking up at the ornate ceilings, out of the elaborate windows at the beautiful views and just enjoyed taking it all in.

DSCN0270

DSCN0301

DSCN0334

DSCN0345

There were also enough fountains to keep our son entertained for a good portion of the visit.

img_0312

IMG_9952

And when he got tired, he just rode the rest of the way on daddy’s shoulders.

After this wonderful stop, we were on our way to explore the city of Granada for a couple of fun days.

Cádiz, la tacita de plata

On our recent trip to Spain we enjoyed two days exploring Madrid before heading over to Cádiz in Andalucía. Our last meal in Madrid had to be breakfast at La Mallorquina, conveniently located half a block from where we were staying. I love that you can have jamón for breakfast, lunch and dinner in Spain, so tasty!

A four-hour train ride took us through fields of olive trees and small quaint towns all the way to the beautiful coast of Andalucía and what is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in Europe: Cádiz

Our dear friends Paco and Lorena were there to greet us at the train station and after a round of introductions and hugs we set of to the lovely vacation rental they had arranged for us. If you ever plan on visiting Cádiz, contact them, you will not be disappointed.

We got settled in and then went for a walk around the historic downtown and Paseo de Vendaval, where we got to see a beautiful sunset.

DSCN0149

We ended our day at Freiduría Las Flores, having our first taste of the local fried fish and seafood, quite the feast!

The next day we got to see even more seafood when we visited El Mercado Central de Abastos, the oldest covered market in Spain.

IMG_9870

After a stop at a small playground nearby where our little guy got to play for a while, we continued exploring the city with the best guide in town: Paco. Born and raised in Cádiz, this proud Gaditano made the streets come alive through his stories.

Next we visited Torre Tavira, where we were treated to a panoramic view of Cádiz through a camera obscura and got a different perspective of this city surrounded by beautiful blue water.

DSCN0165

Having a map always helps.

IMG_9873

That night we experienced flamenco like the locals at the Peña Flamenco La Perla. We ate montaditos and yelled “Olé!” while our son stomped his feet and watched a Japanese woman dance flamenco accompanied by four local musicians, all of which danced beautifully. It was a wonderful performance!

DSCN0182

DSCN0190

The following day we headed to Jerez de La Frontera for a tour of Bodegas González Byass, home of the Tio Pepe brand and makers of world-famous sherry, wine and brandy.

IMG_9903

Back in Cádiz we visited several museums that walked us through the history of the city, all the way back to the Phoenicians in the 8th century: Museo de Cádiz, Yacimiento Arqueológico Gadir, Puerta de Tierra, Oratorio de la Santa Cueva, Museo de Las Cortes de Cádiz, Plaza de las Flores. This is definitely a city that caters to those wanting to explore it by foot, and we loved it.

The next morning we got to taste the typical breakfast of the region which consists of a special bread called mollete that is toasted, then topped with olive oil  fresh crushed tomatoes and ibérico ham, absolutely delicious! The little bar, called “Porme Otra” (loosely translated as ‘pour me another one’), had a Simpson’s character for their logo, simply hilarious.

We couldn’t visit Cádiz without going to Playa de La Caleta, where we had fresh seafood for lunch and our little guy got to play in the sand and the ocean for hours.

DSCN0228

In the meantime my husband walked over to Castillo de San Sebastian.

DSCN0252

The city of Cádiz allowed us to experience a part of the world that was new to our little family with the added bonus of time spent with friends who showed us what life is for a local gaditano. There is something special about seeing a city through the eyes of someone who is proud to show you why he thinks his city is the most beautiful there is… it’s the best kind of wandering.

The next morning we bid farewell to beautiful Cádiz; next stop: Granada!