December 3, 2013
December 19, 2013

My children grew up on 20 acres in the country playing in creeks and woods with dogs, cats, horses and cattle.  Their exposure to cities has been limited to Houston, San Antonio and Washington, DC.  So this summer, I started planning a surprise 16th birthday celebration for my daughter in New York City.  My co-conspirator in the planning is a dear friend and a native New Yorker whose daughter is a friend of my daughter.

If there is a hipper, happier, more happening place to celebrate your daughter’s 16th birthday than the Lower East Side of Manhattan, I’d like to know where.

From my awestruck daughter’s first glimpse of the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, to stepping out of the cab at 8 o’clock in the evening into the pseudo daylight cast off by the street-to-sky signage in Times Square, we knew we were in for a thrilling weekend.  I could go on, but I thought that the best way to present the highlights of this trip would be to interview the two Sweet Sixteener’s who celebrated their birthdays in the City That Doesn’t Sleep and ask them what made the trip so memorable for them.

For Carly, the highlights of the trip were:

  • The costumes, dance and music of The Lion King.
  • Finding the Grom gelato truck (the same gelato we had in Rome) outside of Central Park.
  • Getting a groovy haircut with Kitty in Chinatown.
  • The view of mid-town Manhattan from our apartment, especially at night.
  • Spending time with Kitty.
  • Eating the best dumplings ever at Joe’s Shanghai Restaurant in (recommended in the Lonely Planet guide to NYC).

For Kitty, the highlights of the trip were:

  • Shopping in village street markets and thrift shops.
  • Eating tapas at Macondo’s Taperia in the East Village.
  • Attractive and well-dressed guys everywhere.
  • The general aura of the city and the diversity of the groups of people we saw in the city.
  • The cool graffiti.  She really wishes she could have purchased a Banksy original from the anonymous 5th Ave. vendor who was selling them on the street.
  • Sharing the trip with Carly.
  • The awesome human/animal puppet choreography in The Lion King.
  • The hip and sociable street vendors.

When we got off the train in Charlottesville, tired but ecstatic that our visit to New York City had exceeded our expectations, my friend Patty gave me a big grin and said precisely what I was thinking, “We pulled it off!” Claire December 2013



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