Well, today got off to an exciting start. Halfway through my shower, the fire alarm went off.  Of course, I was the only one awake, and I have two kids who would rather toast in a fire than spring out of bed. In the midst of trying to save them from death by roasting from laziness, I shouted to Ned to call the front desk to check that we were really in Towering Inferno mode.  Funny story … it seems that the smoke detector can be set off by shower steam.  And, it seems this happens frequently in our particular room.  By which I mean, our former room.  Sigh.  At least we were spared the indignity of rushing into the lobby in our jammies screaming “this building’s going to explode.”  And, on the plus side, everyone was up in time for breakfast. 

Check out the cool elevator we would have avoided by running down 14 flights of stairs to flee a nonexistent fire.

Ned took it all in stride, saying it was a classic, charming NY hotel story: “What? No one told you that was the steam alarm room? Just goes to show you, the night guy is the worst. I tell my manager all the time, but who listens to me. Am I right? Let me hook you up with something less alarm-y.”  The children found it less charming to be awakened an hour early by their screaming, soaking wet mother. 
On our walk to breakfast, we found this … our Monday night concert with Penn’s favorite band: Alt-J! Cheered him up immediately.

Down a pedestrian arcade, we spied another Otterness statue. 

And, then, Norma’s!
Norma’s is what happens when the 1% open a diner–a high ceilinged, ironically modern cathedral to decadent and delicious breakfast.  You start off with complimentary smoothie shooters.  (Side note, the table behind Penn was like a sitcom version of nouveau riche. The mom was wearing lots of bling at 9 am and kept waving her Chanel bag around so that it didn’t touch the floor.  She also noted–very loudly–how her son’s girlfriend looked more like her sister. And the table described their other extravagant vacations in a theater-worthy boom.)
All coffee is French press and hot cocoa comes with little bowls of fresh whipped cream, which you just want to smash your face into.  The fresh squeezed OJ comes with free refills. Bien sur.

Here comes the breakfast editorial swoon shots.  Harper: dual Nutella crepes, banana and strawberry, topped with ice cream.

Penn: pancakes stuffed with Nutella and topped with pineapple and raspberry.  He described them as the most perfectly cooked pancakes ever.

Ned: Arepa with Chorizo and over easy eggs.  If the table could have had a pound of that Chorizo, it would not have been enough.

Me: Duck and Eggs, duck confit hash topped with over easy eggs and a side of tender mache.

This table says it all … notice the absence of all but a partial pancake, which we couldn’t eat without exploding, and the dregs of a crepe, which I ate as soon as I took the photo.

As good as Norma’s was, our family vote was that we still like Sarabeth’s better: more comfortable and warm, less see and be seen.  But, if you want to blow the budget on breakfast, you can’t go wrong with Norma’s, as these smiling faces underscore.

After eating about 8 ka-thousand calories at breakfast, we needed to walk it off and headed a few blocks up to Central Park.  Here’s a question.  When did CPK become surrounded by a gauntlet of aggressive carriage ride hustlers?  Our family throws city shade like it’s our second job, but these guys are pretty persistent.  Still, nothing cuts sharper than a teen’s raised eyebrow, “Uh, no, dude,” said with an inflection that immediately makes one regret all life choices.  Give that girl a medal; she also gave a guy on the street unsolicited advice about how no one should count their money out in public.  Still, shouldn’t someone be regulating the CPK guys?   (deBlasio, I’m looking in your direction.)


Thank, it was on to Bjork: the woman, the myth, the legend.  First, look at that gorgeous theater!  As beautiful as it looked, it sounded even better!

Our seats were dead center, directly in front of the sound board.  Couldn’t have been better!  Photography was banned during the show unfortunately, as Bjork was at her Bjorkiest.  As for the show itself, I almost started crying the moment she started singing.  Her voice is a pure, powerful, crystalline force.  The first half of the show was devoted to Vulnicura–a piercing portrait of the dissolution of her relationship with Matthew Barney, and she sang alternately with sadness and fury that pounded deep within your chest.  The second half brought the joy; she beamed, danced, shimmied and skipped with happiness throughout.  In between each song, she offered a small voiced, “Thank you.”  Nope, thank you, Bjork.  You’re simply unique and we love you! (PS–Just found this review of yesterday’s show online and agree completely. This our 3rd Bjork show: Radio City, Roseland & now. Kids also loved act two more.)

I borrowed these images from a review of the show.  It gives you an idea.
The twenty minute intermission between set one and two offered a nice nap time 🙂  But, both kids were humming the show right after and called her, “Amazing!”
We love New York!

Grabbing a slice, post Bjork.  They waved at everyone passing by–no one waved back 😦

Hey, it’s the Lego store!  I wonder if Penn wants something for his birthday?  Probably not.

Window mocking.

Afternoon break in our new room–basically our old room on a different floor with less alarm-in-ness …

… but the same crazily ornate Starbucks.  Seriously, this is the ceiling of the Starbucks in our hotel lobby.

Our magical day continued when we found a four top immediately after grabbing an assortment of food stuffs from the Grand Central food concourse.

Side note: don’t ever leave us alone at a table.  Glam selfies result.

Then we ran upstairs for the ghost tour.  Love Grand Central!

As for the ghost tour: yep, this photo kind of says is all.  She meant well.

We did get to see this hidden board with the train times in chalk.  Last updated in the 1950s.  It was in a quiet corner that’s currently not in use as they wait for plans to bring the Long Island Railroad to Grand Central.  I actually sat next to the woman who used to run LIRR at the State of the State one year.  She said she had dreamt of having this job since she was little.  It’s easy to imagine the halcyon days of rail travel at Grand Central–final, tearful goodbyes; hopeful journeys to places unknown; men in fedoras and women in gloves coming into the city for theater and cocktails.  So much history that looks so lovely in memory.

We peeled off the ghost tour to grab cupcakes and check out PIQ.  Where Penn bought his “Bert Macklin” ear buds–so he could look like an FBI agent.  First job, take out that oddball lurking in the background.  And, I got a cute Peter Kato Bedtime Bunny vinyl.

And, we ended the night finding the perfect name for our family band: The Siamese Connection Standpipe.  We’ll sound like what would happen if Bjork and Alt-J had four babies (two of whom were kind of older at birth).  Look for us to hit your city soon!

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