Terre Bleu Lavender Farm Review

https://www.facebook.com/terrebleulavender/ My personal review of Terre Bleu Lavender Farm. Isn’t life nowadays revolved around social media?  Greatest pics, most shares, what to do, how to do, you get my drift.  I love Lavender.  I love natural beauty.  That is why I went.  I put it on my bucket list of things to do this summer… Now I can check it off!  #Goals. Bloom time is from mid July to August. I thought it would be a nice outing for the family as well.  Well.. I kinda had to bribe them. This was clearly a “mommy outing”. They have a variety … Continue reading Terre Bleu Lavender Farm Review

Surviving New York City with 5 Kids!

Step 1:  How to get there

Our first step was to figure out how to get there.  Initially, we wanted to drive.  I knew that would save a lot of money in airfare.  The drive from Toronto would of been 8 hours.  I am sure, realistically it would of taken more like 12 hours.   Only because we were driving unfamilar territories, and New York traffic is the worst.  That with 5 kids… maybe 14 hours..

We would probably plan on taking two days.. maybe travel for six hours one day, then rest, then another 6 hours.  That was my initial plan. That would of been manageable since I knew our longest car drive was the six to eight hour trek to Sault Ste. Marie.  However, we would of been on a time constraint.  I initially wanted to travel over the summer, and because we were busy with the house project we were not able to do that.  I always give an hour each way for travel.  I ended up feeling terribly guilty for not fulfilling my promise- so this seat sale came in at perfect time.

An alert on “Hopper” that tickets to New York City was $150 round trip.  I’ve been to New York a million times when I was younger, and I loved it every time..

I wanted my children to have a fun and exciting trip.  New York was only an hour flight, so that was a bonus.. one hour!

Hopper is an app that notifies you when something you are interested in a certain destination goes on sale.  And honestly, I did not know a lot about them, so I was a little hesitant.

Booking the tickets was fun.  Not.

I had to find the right combination of person to time of day.  Sounds confusing?!  It was! Only three of us was able to fly at one time, and five of us at another time.  I guess because it was a seat sale?!

Yeeeeh!  How exciting.

So we booked two months out.

Step 2.  Find a hotel.

Hotels in New York are not cheap.  I spent a lot of time researching prices, and locations. We wanted to be in a convenient area, we wanted it to be kid friendly, and we wanted it to be reasonably priced because we needed two rooms.

We searched B’n’B first.  A lot of mommies on my Facebook group suggested B’n’B because you got way more space for your money.  I searched through a lot of properties that looked great. However, I was not familiar with areas and frankly I was afraid that my children would demolish their homes.

The prices were not significantly different from a hotel.  A great luxury was that it was more like a “home”, than a hotel.  I liked that idea because it would of saved us on food, and that there would of been a common living space.  Versus just one room in a hotel.

I opted hotel.  Only because I wanted to test B’n’B without the children.  Maybe next time.

We knew we wanted to stay close to the major attractions.  That would save us in commuting to those places.  TIME is of utmost importance with kids.

The number one place I wanted the kids to be close to, was Central Park.  Of all the times I visited New York, I never went through Central Park.  I also knew that going to the park on the occasion would be kid friendly, cheap, and beautiful.

I googled random hotels close to Central Park and started calling for prices.  I posted more on my Facebook mom site asking- begging for advice from families who have already experienced New York with children. I received a lot of feedback, but no one who went to New York with 5 children, my husband and I, and my mother.

The problem with having so many people was that we required two rooms.  Going with just my husband meant we slept separately. We also needed the extra hands in such a busy city.  It was a definite bank breaker. We opted for safety and comfort.

Of the seven hotels I called, I chose Park Lane Hotel.  It was right across from Central Park, and close to Fifth Avenue.  A plus for my mom and I, who loved to shop.

Park Lane’s rate was $361 per night. Multiplied by two rooms, three nights.  $3636 USD.  I don’t know if that was the best rate possible, however, it was the right location, they offered free appetizers and drinks every night from 5pm to 8… did I mention free drinks??? Oh and location, location, location!! Also,  I had time to cancel, if I chose to further shop around.

Step 3:  Things to do

Next on my list was to find things for us to do.  I am not a strict “stick to the agenda” type of person, but I did want to have some sort of plan.  New York is a high tourist area and I wanted to get the biggest bang for our buck while we were there.  I spent a lot of time searching for unique things to do, as well as the big attractions.  I tried to budget the things that cost money as well as the things that were free, and things that we must see.  With little legs travelling, you can’t always go by the book. I like to live by the moment and see how the kids are feeling at the time.  I would plan 1-2 things a day.  With five kids ranging in age, I wanted to see things that would suite everyone.

Here was my list:

  1.  Empire State Building
  2. 911 Memorial
  3. Central Park
  4. Statue of Liberty
  5. Times Square
  6. Wax Musuem
  7. American Girl Store
  8. Metropolitan Museum of Art
  9. St. Patrick’s Cathedral
  10. Central Park Zoo
  11. Blue Man Group
  12. Dylans Candy Bar

A great web site was mylittlenomads.com

The First Day

The ride to the hotel

The first day was great.  The boys left first, they had an 8am flight.   Myself, my mom and the three girls left at 11am.  We all met up at the hotel.  Only disadvantage was that we got boned twice for the cab ride from the airport to the hotel which was $40-60.  My husband and the boys got a private SUV. Only because my husband is not travel savy and picks whatever hits him first.   $60 plus a tip.  We got a cab, which was $45 plus a tip.

After we arrived, we chilled for a couple of hours and then did something simple- go to Time Square.

We arrived early enough that we still had all afternoon to do something.

I looked into to booking tour packages but I did not want to pay for something and not end up going.  I also hate rushing to meet at specific time frames.  Too much stress on everyone.

We got a family pass for the subway and rode it to Times Square.  We happened to pass by Madame Tussauds, so made an unscheduled visit there.

 www.madametussauds.com

We got the full access ticket, which meant seeing the Ghostbusters, Super Hero’s, and Celebrity wax musuem.  Which was $59 walk up rate.  If we would of ordered in aadvance, we would of saved about $5 per ticket.  $580 damn.

It took us about two hours to walk through. The boys went through the Ghostbusters, 3D thing, so they paid extra for that.  While the kids and I waited for the boys to finish the kids wanted a snack and a slurpee…. budget killer!  It was like $10 a slurpee- in a souvenier cup of course.  We also got had group photos done with the cool New York backgrounds… which was great because very rarely do you get everyone in one photo.

We then grabbed a bite to eat at the Shake Shack– which was crazy busy but delicious!- and everyone went back to the hotel except the boys and I.

The boys and I walked around Times Square, got to see Trump protestors, and walked back to the hotel.  Which was not really a long walk, but with a 7 year old muddling through it- it took a bit longer.

Day 2

We hopped on the subway again to Times Square.   It was busy, but not unbearable.  I have been to busier places in Toronto where you could hardly move.

We wanted to have a nice “diner” breakfast.  I let my husband pick the place… big mistake. This is what happens when you do not research your places.  We stepped into one diner- I forget what it was called.  It was quiet, quaint… and reallllllly expensive!  It was definately not “kid friendly” as my son ordered a $15 footlong hotdog!  I think our bill came up to around $150! and it was not that good!!

After walking around, we headed back to the hotel for rest.  My kids could not bear hours of walking around.  The boys and I walked into a few shops, then later joining them at the hotel.

Empire State Building http://www.esbnyc.com

Later that afternoon, we decided to go the Empire State Building.  The 102 story skyscraper. We wanted to see the cityscape at night.

Bicycle Cab: My husband and the boys took a cab there, and my mom, the girls and myself took a bicycle cab!  $30 versus $10 cab ride.  The experience was surreal. Nothing like being in midst traffic, with a hundred honking cabs, in the brisk air, the loud noises, and all the bumps of the road. It was definately a great experience and a tad scary at times.

We arrived at the location alive.  We decided to grab something to eat before heading up. We just grabbed a quick pizza from a small local restaurant.  It defeated my whole purpose of trying to experience the authentic, delicious foods of New York- however, with five kids it was tough.

We did not buy tickets in advance, so we endured a long line.  A line to get the tickets, then a line to get to the floors, then another line to get to the top levels.  We got the standard pass of $54 per adult and $47 per child.  $397.

There were express passes- which was $80 per person- straight up.  No wait.

On their website, it also shows how long the wait is until you get to “the view”.  We may of waited 45 minutes.  I did not know this at the time- plus it did not matter because we were already there and that is what we planned on doing at that time.  The kids were ok with the wait. They did offer people to take the stairs to help alleviate the wait.

We saw a man propose at the top of the building, and that was special.  Made me get teary.

Day 3

Statue of Liberty Boat Tour

About $25 per adult, $15 per child

Everyone was tired.  However we still had lots to do!!  We had the hotel valet service take us to Battery Park for a ride to the Statue of Liberty.  He dropped us off, and as soon as we got out of the cab we got bamboozled by two men with pamphets selling tickets for a boat cruise.  They asked if we had tickets for the boat ride to see the Statue of Liberty and of course we did not. They gave us a pamphet and asked if we wanted to purchase tickets at discounted rates and of course we got suckered into it… they gave us a great deal- or so we thought.. My husband paid them cash… and then they waved a cab down!  WAIT A SECOND..  what was going on??!  “Oh- our boat docks at another Pier”, “We will pay for your cab to get there”… What the F!  I was scared.   Here we just gave money to these total strangers and now we were being put in a cab to get to another location…. SHADY!!!

The cab ride took another ten minutes to get there, and we walked behind an industrial area, to get to this boat… other people were there as well, so I didn’t feel as scared.   We got on this boat that was not the best looking thing, but I was just glad we did not get scammed. We took the ride there, and back… tried to snap as many quick shots of the Statue of Liberty as possible… it sucked. I am not going to lie.

These men knew that tourists get dropped off at Battery park to ride the boat to see the Statue, and they had their own business that they wanted to sell and make money. No one would of ever of gone to them because they were out of the way.  They found their pray as the clueless tourist who did not purchase tickets, or know what was going on.  We got on a shitty ship, to see the Statue of Liberty for the five minutes it took the boat to circle the statue.  Of course, there was about a hundred other people taking photos as well.  On our way there, I saw some way nicer boats, and way faster boats… ahh well.   My kids weren’t crazy about the 45 minute wait while they filled the boat with other unsuspecting tourists, and the 45 minute ride.  We should of got out to see the statue.

Once we finished…. we had no clue where we were.  They told us to walk up a block, take a left, and then a right to hop on the train to the city….. yah…. right.   We started walking.  With the kids.. We may of walked through Harlem.  It was nice, but being a tourist, you are always scared.  Especially with kids.  There were no cabbies to be found!  No food places….  all we did was look up, and followed the direction to the city.

We finally found a street with a small pizza joint and a Subway.  The pizza joint had two small round tables- definately not fitting our whole family.  The boys went to the Subway and we sat and ate there.  THE BEST PIZZA EVER.  It was a dive pizza joint, in a small area unknown to us- and it was absolutely delicious.  It was a gem.  I never did get the name of it.

We continued on our walk, we found some cabbies lined up… we approached one and he said he was on break… ugh.  We found a subway…. but could not figure which train to take or how to get to where we wanted to go.  Our best bet was to continue walking.  I knew that the girls would not make it much longer.  I finally found a cab, and the girls and I took it.

Twin Towers 9/11 Memorial

We arrived at the 911 Memorial.  It was beautiful.  I felt solitude.  I felt sadness.  My kids did not understand, but to me… I remember it as if it was yesterday.

I had just graduated from nursing school.  I was working at my first job in Pontiac, Michigan.  I was a small town girl in a city of poverty. I was away from my family for the first time. I remember I was making rounds on my patients and seeing the news on the television screen.  I had no idea what “terrorists” were.

We spent a few hours at the memorial until my husband started breaking down.  He has a gluten allergy and was unable to find anything gluten free to eat.  By this time he was hangry.  Dealing with five kids and a Celiac was near impossible in a city that you did not know.

We headed back for another rest.  The girls went back to the hotel to take a nap, and oh I should rephrase… the girls and my husband.

My boys, my mom and I took a walk down Fifth Ave for some window shopping.

Beni Hana

We wanted to go to this Chocolate restaurant for dinner, however, the Trump protesters were everywhere.  Streets were getting blocked off, police were everywhere. Our hotel was only minutes from the Trump Tower, and the protestors took over the streets.  My seven year old loved it, and picked up a few swear chants!  So we walked to Beni Hana’s for dinner.  The kids loved it.  Even though it was a chain restaurant and we could of eaten at Beni Hanna’s anywhere in the United States.  I really wanted some Authentic, unique to New York kind of restaurant, but we were all tired and did not want to risk getting stuck in traffic.

Day 4.

Central Park

It was our last day and we wanted take it easy.  My husband and I took the kids to Central Park.  Immediately, just as we crossed the street to the park, we were approached by a man offering bracelets… GREAT…. my girls loved bracelets… they each wanted one…. GREAT… I looked at my husband and gave him the eye… the guy was a Monk offering “Peace bracelets”, and we were to make a wish.  Four bracelets later, he asked for a donation.  Of course. All my husband had was a twenty, so he gave him that.  Four bracelets… sure, whatevs….. then the monk turned to me and pointed at the twenty…. he wanted another TWENTY! ughhhh…. What do you do??.. you can’t take the bracelets off of the kids and give it back!?  So I gave him another 20!! Suckers.

We strolled through the beautiful park, seeing the cute little vendors, watching the unique little shows that some people had with their donation buckets.  The kids really enjoyed the bubble show, where this man made huge bubbles for the kids.  That was worth the few dollars we donated! Continue reading “Surviving New York City with 5 Kids!”