Phoebe's birthday today. Hope you got the card that we sent you Dear Phoebe, we are thinking of you on your special day.
We have crossed 3 time zones which means that we have lost 3 hours since leaving San Francisco and this morning it really caught up with us. Neither Ian nor I really felt like getting up and the day was grey and wet anyway so there was less incentive.
New York is the most densely populated city in North America with 8 million people occupying 830 sq km of land. It has always been a city of immigrants and still almost a third of the citizens are foreign born with about 138 languages spoken on the streets. We found that when people speak of New York, they really mean Manhattan. New York City is made up of 5 boroughs; the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.
|Inside the Empire State Building|
We left the hotel at about 11:30 and went in search for a cup of coffee before going to the Empire State Building, one of the 'must-do' attractions on our bucket list. Unfortunately, there was zero visibility from the observation platform so we decided to leave our visit for another day.
There wasn't much that we could do while it was raining all day so we resorted to some retail therapy and lost ourselves in Macey's, reported to be the largest store in the world. (Ian wanted to get a replacement part for his electric razor which had recently broken). I must admit, Macey's is so big that its too big. After spending a few hours there, we had only scratched the surface! It had everything you could imagine, from designer clothes to household furniture and everything between. It even had a McDonald's and a Starbucks.
Time Square is the square between 6th and 9th avenues (east/west) and between 39th and 52nd streets (north/south). The name was given to the square when the New York Times headquarters was situated there. There is a constant bustle of people in the square that is bathed in the neon glow of the massive illuminated advertisements.
Ian bought tickets for a Broadway show, a musical, The Jersey Boys, and we walked from Time Square, along Broadway to West 52nd street to the theatre.
We had heard it said that New York never sleeps and we saw that for ourselves today. The vibrant buzz is astonishing and still very much alive when we left the theatre at nearly 11:00pm. It could almost have been a Saturday morning rather than Friday night. Besides restaurants and coffee shops, the main shops were all still open. We even saw side-walk merchants setting up their stalls! It was truly amazing and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Saturday 13th April
The day dawned bright and sunny although I had to lean out of the 5th floor hotel window and crane my neck upward towards the top of the building to see the sunshine striking the the tips of the high walls.
We had a very quick cup of coffee before walking (briskly) to the Empire State Building once again. It was as well that we went early because,with good visibility, the crowds were gathering. In an extremely well orchestrated route, marked off with velvet covered ropes, we followed fellow visitors (almost in single file), through security systems, gift shops, and along corridors to the lifts that would take us to the top of the building. We were herded expertly into a lift and the doors shut automatically before being whisked to the 80th floor. The burgundy and gold velvet ropes, punctuated by smartly uniformed staff dressed in burgundy and gold uniforms, once again guided us along an exhibition gallery before leaving us in front of another set of lifts that would take us to the observation platform.
|Views from the Empire State Building|
The Empire State Building was so named as it was originally the tallest building in the world and built after the United States gained independence from the British Empire. The American people would build their own Empire with the tallest building at the centre of it.
|Route map - Half Island Cruise|
After leaving the Empire State Building, we walked the twenty or so blocks along West 42nd street to pier 83 where the Circle Line trip boats go from. Just to put the walk into context, 10 blocks equal a mile, but on the map it looked a lot closer than that!
We bought a 'Half Island Cruise' that took us around Lower Manhatten, past many of the historical landmarks including the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building and then under the magnificent Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.
|Layout of the 9 11 Memorial|
The next historical landmark that we really wanted to visit was the 9/11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan at the site of the former World Trade Centre complex. The memorial is a national tribute of remembrance and honour to the lives of the men, women and children killed in the terror attacks on 11th September 2001 and 26th February 1993.
The 9/11 Memorial features two enormous waterfalls and reflecting pools, each about an acre in size, set within the footprints of the original twin towers. Inscribed along the edge of the pools are all the names of the fallen.
|North Pool, 9/11 Memorial|
More than 400 trees have been planted in the plaza, surrounding the Memorial's two massive reflecting pools. The whole monument, spread over approximately half of the 16 acre site had an air of quiet contemplation and tranquillity which is quite extraordinary when you consider the thousands of visitors. It was designed to capture the spirit of hope and renewal and in my opinion, it certainly did just that. It was quite an emotional.
Off to one side of the planted area was a beautifully flowering Callery Pear tree called the Survivor Tree. It was found, badly burned with only one living branch and buried under tons of rubble. It was nurtured, pruned and replanted, and over the years it has grown into this beautiful tree. Its resilience is now held as a tribute to the people of New York.
By this time, our feet were really feeling the effect of all the walking so we elected to take the subway back to Penn Station, close to our hotel. The evening was drawing in on this very full day and I still had a pile of laundry to do and we had to organise our packing once again.
Sunday 14th April
Waking up on our last day of our epic holiday, I had a strangely sad feeling but we didn't have time to be morbid. We still had more to see.
Leaving our luggage in lockers at the hotel, we set off in the direction of Central Park. It was a lovely spring day and we wanted to make the most of it. We walked the 27 blocks up Broadway from 31st Street to 58th Street to reach the edge of Central Park. As you might expect, you could hire a horse drawn carriage, a rickshaw or even a bicycle to convey you around the edge of the park, but we chose to simply walk through the park to enjoy the spring day.
Later in the day, when the pangs of hunger told us that time was getting on, we set off for to find somewhere to have a late 'Sunday Lunch'. We came to Rosie O'Grady's that seem to be a bustling Irish saloon and pub. The steak that we had was wonderful and Ian finished his meal with the cheesecake which was exceptional.
As all good things do, our holiday was coming to an end. We returned to the hotel, gathered our belongings and climbed into the shuttle bus for JFK Airport. Here we found that our plane had been delayed for 5 hours, so we had an exhausting home coming. At least we had a great 'last' meal.
|Lower Manhattan, New York|
God Bless you all
Ian and Cherryl