My three year old son J enjoyed the airplane flight and behaved better than I expected. Its difficult to sit still (as an adult) when you are excited - but even more so as a three year old.
We arrived at Laguardia and after spending 35 minutes in the baggage claim room to file a claim on the huge rip in my suitcase, we proceeded to the taxi stand. I was immediately impressed with the speed at which we moved through the line - the man in charge certainly had his game on.
He was personable, which caught me off guard, and he quickly explained to us (mostly J) how to hail a cab in the city. He made J practice it and we all chuckled and laughed as the man made a comment about vacation needing to be 'educational' as well as fun.
He put us in a taxi that was a mini van and Man! was there a lot to look at and a lot to touch (from the perspective of a 3 year old). It took a few minutes of us distracting J because he was upset and quite disheveled at the fact that he wasn't in his "car seat" and we weren't making a big fuss about it. We had to explain to him that when you ride in a "NYC Taxi" you don't have to sit in a car seat - only the seat belt. That was fascinating to him but he kept proclaiming that we "weren't safe". We wondered if he might be right once that taxi shot out of that airport at what seemed like an ungodly speed. We were off towards midtown Manhattan. No problem, right?
It was 4:10 pm. :) It was a Wednesday.
J spent the next 10 minutes, which in reality we traveled about 7 miles, touching all the knobs and pictures and buttons - the van was an earlier model of the van that is our family vehicle. He saw the stadium, a few airplanes and LOTS of cars. The traffic was a tad bit slow and at one time early on in the trip - J said to us, "Why are those cars 'stuck?' " He quickly changed his questioning to "when are we going through the tunnel?" and stayed stuck like a broken record for the next 2 miles until we told him not to say it again.
We had been priming him for weeks about the tunnels that we would go through. He kept asking how much longer and the driver would inform him of how many minutes. Once we got out of the airport traffic - that van started hauling ass. He whipped through traffic and cut into places and spaces that I wouldn't have had the courage to whip. We (me holding Baby K for dear life, B sitting beside A on the back bench and J sitting beside A in the seatbelt) were all thankful to be strapped in.
The driver was personable and we could understand him. He lived in Queens and said he was putting two boys through college. He'd been driving a taxi for 12 years and was also a CPA. Truth? I don't know, don't care. He certainly knew how to move that vehicle through the endless number of cars. I didn't think that the traffic was any worse than Atlanta traffic, although Atlanta seems to have more road space. Perhaps its just my perception. I remember thinking that anyone who would consciously drive in that mess daily might need to have their head examined.
We all took to looking at the sights and where absorbed in watching the locations that the driver was explaining to us. We were all caught very off-guard when he announced that the tunnel was about a mile up the road and we turned to tell J and noticed for the first time that he had fallen asleep on A's lap. After all that - he would miss the tunnel. We tried for the next mile to awaken him but it was pointless. He slept through the entire taxi trip and we had to carry him onto the sidewalk at the hotel to get him to wake up.
That taxi ride was pleasurable for all of us, if you don't count the fact that it was more like a flight ride at 6Flags. The driver had given us a quick lesson of the streets, how to hail a cab, cautioned us about hailing a cab that was not going in the direction that we wanted to travel, where most of them would be, only get a yellow taxi (NYC Taxi) because they were the only ones that were regulated, don't tip more than 10%, don't tip anything if they say their meter is broken and then ask to be let out on the next intersection, and a few other tips that escape my memory. That taxi ride (and the driver) was a pleasant welcome to NY.
We didn't have a negative ride the whole time we were there. We had budgeted $150 for transportation. That got us to and from the airport and then all around the city to the places that we wanted to go that were more than 7-10 blocks. We came in under budget and were pleased with that aspect.
Every time that we wanted to hail a cab - with the exception of the day we were trying to get back to the hotel from Ground Zero - we hailed a cab within 90 seconds. The day that we really needed one (because it was at least 100 degrees and we had two crying children and two women who had bum bodies) it took us more than 20 minutes to hail a cab. We were so frustrated and hot and tired and frazzled.
When it was possible, we let J hail the cabs for us. He hailed the cab when we left Central Park and he hailed a cab when we left for the airport to come home. He still (3 weeks later) hails a cab in his make believe play. We bought him a NYC Taxi cab T-shirt. That's the one that he wanted. He loves it and explained all about the taxis to his teacher at preschool when he wore the shirt Monday.
"Taxi!" he will shout at the top of his lungs as he holds his right arm straight up in the air while he places his left leg/foot out a bit. One time last week, I overheard him telling the taxi driver to take him to 'the fountain' and then to 'build a bear workshop where we got Joey'.
When you ask him what was his favorite part about the trip - he'll often mention the "yellow taxi" as part of that list.
Oh, and when we took the taxi ride back to the airport, we rode in a black Town Car. He. Was. Pissed. ..... So pissed that he cried himself to sleep and missed the tunnel going back to the airport.