This post is the third part of a series named “New York”, in which I talk about my trip to New York city in the first week of May 2011. These posts will be loaded with pictures, I took 1050 that week!
or read all about day 2!
Sunday, May 1st
Back home, it would be labor day and I thought it would be so too here in New York, but it wasn’t. What it was though, was supposedly ‘a carless sunday’. All of which to support the “Five boro bike tour”, organised by Bike New York. Unlike the flashmob-like crowd (and feeling) that we encountered yesterday, we knew about this day when we left. Our granddad told us about it, being the avid cyclist he is.
However, when we went around the corner to enter Broadway, there were still enough cars. All of the downtown biking took place on 6th Avenue and everything else seemed to carry on as usual. Slightly less traffic, though.
For breakfast we went to Bagel & Bean on the corner of Broadway and 54th street. Nobody actually got a bagel, but oh well..
Yesterday we went, as you may have read, to Battery park and watched Miss Liberty from a distance. We then already agreed on going there the next day; which happens to be today! We hopped on the tourist bus again and went downtown. Slightly different route, different guide. The guide was meh.. the tour, or more like, the detour was great. Because you get to see different stuff of course. We already saw Ground Zero on saturday, somewhat, but now the bus took us all around the block and we were sitting on the upperdeck which allowed us to watch over the fence and see the square holes for the fountains, which were empty. (Now that I’m writing this, they have one operational!)
We first had to get our Liberty Island tickets in the Castle Clinton monument bookstore, which had a “No gun”-sticker on the window (yes, for us Europeans this is worth mentioning). When we entered through the maingates, the loudspeakers already said that entrance into the statue was full or closed, or whatever. I have no idea what the thing was and somebody had already told us that you have to get there early. We got there 10 o’clock, which isn’t that early, apparently.
Then there was the line, which went from the docking entrance all the way around the westside of the park untill halfway the path that goes right through the park; yes, it was long. But luckily it went fast, so my little sister and I went to get some drinks from one of the many stands and I also bought a ‘churro‘. I knew about these things from Youtube, but had no idea what they were. They’re ‘sticks’ made from dough and somewhat remind me of pancakes. A bit dry though.
Anyhow, like I said in my post about day 2, we’d encounter more airport-style security, one of which was this ferry. But then again, you’re going to the most famous landmark in the States, if not the entire world; Statue of Liberty.
So after the long line and some annoying Italians infront of us, we went through security and got on the boat. Which was rocking heavily, which must have been due to it’s location, the ‘north’ shore. My little sister, dad and I went up top, on the upper deck, where I quickly seized an open spot near the railing, ’cause it was crowded!
After we started pulling away from the shoreline and the oh so famous skyline became apparent, all the waiting, annoying people, losing 10 bucks *coughcough*, the security, it all faded away; “This is New York!”
We then arrived at Liberty Island, the Island on which the Statue of Liberty resides. About 200 people were waiting to get onto our boat, oh yes; “This is New York, too”. Tourist-y.
While the number of people on shore scared me, the number of people that left our boat wasn’t that great and it only felt like 50 people were on the island. Trying to get a photograph from your relatives and the statue was hard though. Not only did you have to kneel, but everybody had the same idea. So in some photos you could see 3 other people/couples/families take somewhat the same picture. But hey.. there you are.. at the foot of this massive statue that the entire world knows about, a statue that is practically in every movie that starred New York.
Then there was the NY skyline again. Wow. Watching all the helicopters fly over, the boats, the cars on the other side of the river, very nice. But we shouldn’t forget the island it self, it was a gorgeous day and we walked around the island, to the back of the statue where there’s a little park and a place to eat. So I got a bacon cheeseburger and not the kind you get at McDonalds. It was a real bun, real burger and slightly less chemical cheese. Accompanied with some chips and lettuce.
We then went to sit at the ‘riverside’ and that’s where I took the photo above, which should been a 360 degree photo for you to really ‘feel’ it. Also, if you look closely, you can see the building on Ellis Island on the left side of the photograph. It was really relaxing, away from all of the city buzz.
We then left the island and went to the ferry’s next stop; Ellis Island. We didn’t get off, because we weren’t that interested, so we just stayed seated. Then a seagull pooped on my dad, bingo!
When we went pass Ground Zero on the busride that morning, my sisters saw “Century 21“. It’s an outlet store with designer brands. So our plan was, to walk past Ground Zero and visit the memorial museum first and then go to this outlet store. Well.. my plan changed once I walked into the store.. you know.. on secondhand, I’d rather wait outside. So my dad and I went outside and went to sit on some steps across the street. Watching people and cars come by. Also quite some jews with the curly sideburn hair, just like you see in Antwerp, Belgium.
To find the museum, I had to use a tiny map in the guidebook, because we were on some outer edge corner of the ground zero block. So after some streetcrossing we found the street the museum was in and on the corner was “FDNY Ten House”. This was the firehouse of engine 10 and ladder 10. On the westside of the building was a giant bronze relief plaque as a memorial and monument for September 11th.
This firehouse lost 6 members that day and was partially destroyed as it laid literally at the foot of the Twin Towers.
So here we were, a day too early really, because the next day they’d announce the death of Osama Bin Laden and people and newsagencies would gather near this memorial and Ground Zero in general.
We then went into the Tribute WTC museum. It was quite emotional, especially the personal stories and just the entire ‘people’ aspect. Because numbers and names start to get real people behind them. It’s not seatnumber 12D anymore.. it’s ‘ John Doe’, father of 2 and passionate about building motorcycles. It’s really weird when you start to think like that, after 42 years of walking the earth, you die in a terrorist attack because some dickhead misinterprets some ‘religious’ book and thinks he can become ‘an hero’ when he dies a martyr.
There’s a wall with “Missing person” flyers.. I just skipped that entirely, couldn’t handle it. On the other side they showcased stuff they found in the rubble; burned creditcards, deformed cellphones (really old ones!) but also firefighter badges and stuff from people that were on the plane.
When we left the museum, I felt somewhat awkward. You leave an emotional and quiet place.. and then all of the sudden you’re out in the street again, people, cars and noises. There’s always noise in New York. Which makes places like Liberty Island so liberating (yes, pun intended), like I said before.
Anyway, the ‘thing’ my older sister had waited all day for; Century 21. I don’t believe they bought anything. I can’t remember either. “Shopping” is the worst invention ever.
Next landmark: Wall Street.
It was kinda dissapointing. I knew there’d be only just this one building. But it got overtowered by quite some buildings, was lying in the shadow of everything and was not very ‘reachable’.
But it was also more of a lucky coincidence, because we wanted to go to the Brooklyn bridge, so we just dropped by Wall Street. Then we walked north through some ‘normal’ blocks. Which was fun to see as well, because not much tourists come there.
We then started ‘climbing’ the Brooklyn Bridge. The walking bit was divided into two sections, one for cyclists and one for pedestrians. Just not all pedestrians were able to understand this system, so a lot of annoyed cyclists and squeaky brakes. The Brooklyn Bridge is actually looking the prettiest from the water and when you’re on top of it, it’s hard to see it’s beauty. It’s quite pretty though, just before the first tower, to look to the west, over South Street Seaport where you can see the water and the road curling around the island.
Something else that I found pretty, were the padlocks on the tower. I’m not really sure what they mean, but I bet it’s supposed to symbolize ‘eternal love’. It was a funny sight. (I googled, read more about it here and see it here!)
We didn’t really cross the bridge, and why would you? We did go to Brooklyn, don’t worry, just not on ‘this’ day!
We then walked back to the nearest busstop which was behind the City Hall, which by the way is a great building, but I don’t think we even got a photo of it, or at least not in full view.
Then onto the bus.. If you’re staying in New York for longer than a day, then I really suggest you get passes for this bus, because it’s amazing. We once again got another guide; a great one. I’d say he was the best. He was a sobered up drugs and alcohol ‘addict’, he had some rockstar thing going on and was funny in a cynical kind of way. Straight to the point and direct, just like us Dutch people.
We first went round Battery Park (again) but this time we got new information. We passed a giant golden globe which was dented in, we thought this was supposed to be art, but it turns out this was the globe that stood on WTC plaza in 2001 and got smashed by the debris. Now it’s a timeless reminder in a beautiful park.
We then went through South Street Seaport, pass the United Nations building, the police museum and old boats called “Peking”. Okay, just this one boat.
We then entered China Town, where we had been before, but different guide means different story. So he managed to tell about how you can get from New York to Boston for just 15 dollar with this Chinese company. Another thing he liked to point out was that you can find anything here. The Chinese McDonald’s is funny too..
We were really lucky this guy was funny, because it was 6pm and it started to get cold and besides all of that, we merely got on the bus to get back home to Times Square. Next time we should just take the sub, but my dad didn’t feel comfortable.
I’m not sure where we ate that day, or what we ate. But we did go to the Wallgreen’s (supermarket/grocery store) on the middle of Times Square to get some water. We then also started to realize we were somewhat sunburnt from half the day on the open water, with the gorgeous weather. So no complaining here!
So we walked down Times Square as if it was daylight, but it wasn’t, it was 8pm and dark. The lights (and advertisements) are enormous and everywhere, everywhere!
We sure slept well that night.