Wednesday, July 23, 2014

World Cup Fever in the City, Red Bulls Arena, Harrison, NJ

World Cup Fever in the City
Red Bulls Arena
Harrison, NJ

RED SOX NATION SPOILER ALERT:  My kids might be growing up to be Red Bulls fans.

I'm so sorry Sox Nation.  I tried so hard.  We go to Fenway every year.  They wear Dustin jerseys to school in Brooklyn and to the Bronx for games.  They know that the Manning brothers are no match for Brady, Bledsoe, Eason or Grogan.  They danced in the streets when the B's won the Cup.  We even live five blocks from the Barclay Center where we rooted for KG and Pierce BEFORE they were Nets.  They even hate the Lakers and they don't know why.  But, I think I lost them on soccer.  I'm sorry.  Truly, I am.

It was the World Cup summer that did it.  Like Newton, in Park Slope soccer is king.  Kids stroll the streets in Messi and Neymar jerseys.  The boys play in the fall with AYSO and in the winter and summers with Super Soccer Stars.  This Cup we chose Argentina.  Messi was easy to love, who doesn't like a South American team over those European moneybags (Yanks anyone?).  We were heartbroken when Neymar went out before the finals.  We were even sadder that Messi didn't realize his dream of winning a Cup, and had to lose out to those damn Germans.

But we couldn't go to Brazil, so what's a Sox fan to do?  Head to NJ.  It didn't help that we rooted for France when they won the Cup and the captain of the Red Bulls is Thiery Henry.  We were doomed when Red Bull midfielder Tim Cahill tore it up for Australia. Now Bradley Wright-Philips is tearing up MLS by leading the Golden Boot race with his 17th goal (that we saw live!).    But the final straw were the chants from the fans, let's go Red Bulls as the boys sung along "let's go Red Sox" and we distinctly heard others joining in.  It ain't Foxboro, the Garden and it sure ain't Fenway, but at least it's in Jersey, not the Bronx!

Eating with Kiddos in China; Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Beijing, PRC

Eating with Kiddos in China
Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Beijing

The most significant source of fun and frustration traveling with kids is eating.  We were delighted at how willing they were to experiment. We were willing to give them a "break" from Chinese and also avoided the obvious.  That formula seemed to work. 

Familiar foods were always a great place to start.  Our first delights were donuts and dim sum, something our kids are used to and love. We sold them on dim sum for years before we travelled. 

Easy staples, available everywhere, included fried rice (although staying awake during jet lag made this takeout),  noodles, wonton soup and common dishes like sweet and sour or veggies without sauce are everywhere. 

Dumplings are the nexus of kid friendly and adventurous.  Fillings ranged from typical pork to intestines.  Staff know American kids are not used to the later, and will not offer unless you ask.  

Meals like Peking duck were more for the adults and the experience.  They tried it, but settled on duck spring rolls and  veggies. 

Then there is the Andrew Zimmern "off the map"; watch daddy and Nic try stuff.  I am a big believer in modeling and moderation. So, I let them watch me try a cricket, not a scorpion.  

Our goto fast food break in the states is Subway. Clean, relatively healthy (compared to McD or KFC) and there is always something they like. We were fortunate that they were everywhere.   We did DQ one time too.  Sometimes kids just need a little home, a playground, the pool.  Meatballs on sub rolls so hit the spot for our boys. 

Sometimes daddies just need their iced coffee too without worrying about water born bacteria in their ice. When it's 100 and feels like 115 because the humidity is 85% I am thankful for a little slice of home too.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Chinese" Disney,Disney Land, Lantau Island, Hong Kong, PRC

What do you do with an afternoon to kill near the airport in Hong Kong and you need the kids to stay up late to adjust for jet lag?  Why, head to Disneyland!  It just so happens that the two ladies on this trip are South Florida residents who went to "Florida" day in Orlando as an annual rite of passage. 

So what makes this different from Disney World?  Umm, it's in Chinese for starters. Everything is in miniature from Sleeping Beauty's Castle to Tomorrowland.  But more importantly it also includes Mystic Point, Toy Story Land and a number of "Asian" themed restaurants.  

Like most of the rides. Grizzly Gulch was a more modernized runaway train than Orlando's.  Mystic Manor was a fascinating take on the Age of Exploration in a Haunted Mansion fashion.  Toy Story Land was beautifully anchored by Tinkertoys giant Slinky the Dog rides and your fav toys from growing up.  

But the highlight of this cool, sea breezy evening was Kam's fav "It's a Small World." (Ok, having a planet named "KamiandSeth" as the main act of an animated Stitch show was pretty cool).  Shockingly there was no wait, and the diversity blew away its Orlando partner.  From the Pacific Islands to the Middle East, the representations were fantastic!

Dinner and dancing were the magical "Chinese" cap on the night. What better way to spend our last night in China than with piggie bao and fireworks!  Let's see what Tomorrow brings ...