New York, New York
Trip Start May 11, 2012
13Trip End May 31, 2012
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Where I stayed
Hahn residence, Manhattan
Flight wasn't too bad, Mark spoke to the ground crew and they gave us seats together, which was better, although still a bit cramped for leg room. There are tropical storms on the East coast and although they are further south than we were heading, we ran into some remnants of it and had a bit of a bumpy ride! All safe though and the baggage fairies were with us as our cases were almost the first ones off and both together. Hopped into a taxi and into Manhattan
Had a good nights sleep, although it was very hot as the air con wasn't working properly, it's now fixed and the place is cooling down nicely. Memorial day here, everything is busy, so we went for a long walk. First stop Central Park, this is a huge park, it is 2.5 miles long and 1/2 mile wide. We walked north for a while then over to the west and to the Dakota building where John Lennon lived and died. Then back to the park and to Strawberry Fields, the memorial garden funded by Yoko Ono. Stopped for a quick cold drink, it's incredibly hot and humid today, and back out of the park and down 5th Avenue past all the exclusive shops. Managed to resist stocking up on designer clothing and shoes and eventually got a cab back up to 81st street for lunch, lobster rolls, absolutely delicious. Back to the apartment for a rest in the cool and out for dinner tonight at a BBQ restaurant, very tasty and loads of it as always.
Tuesday morning we set off downtown by subway to the 9/11 memorial. Joined a very large queue which fortunately was moving fast as it was in blazing sunshine. Through strict security and then into the memorial site itself. Whilst the construction work is going on around here, entrance is by ticket, free to obtain, but necessary to keep the numbers limited. Once construction has finished the memorial will be accessible for all and open from all sides.
It is astonishing how large the area is although it is not so easy to see the whole of the original WTC site as a lot of it is fenced off for the building works. When I came here 8 years ago it was still basically a hole in the ground and you could see how immense it had been. Now the footprints of the two towers are the site of two eternal pools. These consist of huge 30 foot waterfalls on each side which drain into a smaller central pool where you cannot see the bottom, eternal waters disappearing into a void... Around the rim of each pool are bronze plaques engraved with the names of all those who lost their lives including the victims of the previous bombing of WTC in 1993. The relatives of all those lost were consulted and the names are arranged according to where they worked and who they sat with in their offices or who their work friends were, colleagues forever
It is beautifully thought out and very simple but completely and utterly conveys the enormity of the outcome of that day. To walk around each of the pools takes some time and all the while you are walking past name after name. Unfortunately, there are several women listed with their unborn child which is heart rending to see, lives never even give a chance.
There are avenues of trees planted here which have all been bought from around the sites of the events, New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. There is also a tree that had grown there until that day and was then buried under all the rubble. it was later found as just an 8 foot stump but was taken to a city park where it started to grow again and in 2010 it was brought back to WTC and replanted. It is known as the survivor tree and is a reminder that there were also those who made it out that day, albeit with terrible injuries and/or memories.
If you are ever in New York, visit here, it isn't sombre, it has been beautifully thought out and created and must offer, at least, a place for those who lost loved ones to come and honour them and for everyone else to remember and respect the brave and the unfortunate souls forever buried here
From here we walked to Battery Park and took the obligatory photos of the Statue of Liberty. We decided against taking the ferry across, the queues were very long and slow moving in very strong sunshine. Stopped for a drink and quick snack before leaving Battery Park. We were strolling along quite happily and I was busy looking down at the photos we had taken on our camera when I suddenly realised there was a very large snake on the ground in front of me. I looked up in terror and there was a guy right in front of me with another large snake draped around his snake. Cue screaming and running away!!! WHY does this happen to me and in the middle of New York for God's sake. Mark took photos while I cowered at a distance. Needless to say, the photographic proof will not be appearing in my blog but I dare say he will post them n Facebook.
Once I had recovered we then carried on and walked north along the eastern seaport. It's quite shady along here and there is a bit of a breeze which makes it slightly cooler when walking. Eventually headed back through Chinatown, you really could be in China, we were an absolute minority in amongst the hundreds of Asian faces
Eventually found another subway station and enjoyed the cooler air on the train for the ride back to the apartment. Rested and refreshed we went back south in the evening to meet with Martin and Connie's son and his girlfriend, Alex and Jenna. Had a really nice evening in Brooklyn, lovely to see them both. Unusually, the meal although delicious, was on the small side and we all felt a little hungry still. Walked through Brooklyn down to the waterside for a brilliant view of downtown Manhattan at night. Finally back on the subway and home, all feeling quite tired. Only two more days to go....