Day 2 in New York City
After the first day was shattering, walking all day, we decided to brave the Subway system. I find the tubes in London so easy to use but found New York ever so confusing. It really was not clear to me which direction the trains were going in. When I thought I had figured it out we hopped on a train heading downtown. It was just our luck when we had worked it all out and an announcement said that the train had to terminate at the next stop, we duly obliged and got off but thought we were pretty close so could just walk. Alas no, for we had instead been travelling the opposite direction towards Harlem. After wasting a great deal of time we finally managed to figure it all out.
We got off in China Town, it was still a little walk from our destination but we wanted to explore as much as we could in the time. We must have missed the main street because apart from stumbling upon a square of old men doing Thai-Chi, there was nothing interesting about the area, which was disappointing. I’m sure that we would have found more perhaps if we had more time but unfortunately we did not.
As we ambled further downtown we came across the Supreme Court. Although surrounded by huge skyscrapers, the court was dominating. The tall pillars gave an air of some sort of ancient, magnificence that I’m sure would be incredibly intimidating if one had to face justice there. While outside I stopped at a Pretzel vendor. I had seen them repeatedly all over the city so thought I ought to give one a try. The pretzel was honestly the size of my face which was pretty impressive. Unfortunately it didn’t taste all that great. The amount of salt it was covered in was enough to make my lips dry. I presumed it would taste like a crispy, regular pretzel, just larger, but was instead doughy. To add to its delight, there was a horrible, dirty aftertaste probably where it had been warmed up in the rusty oven. I tried persevering, hoping it would get better but it didn’t and I actually threw it away, which says a lot – I never give up food. We continued past the iconic Brooklyn Bridge and on through the Financial District, passing through Wall Street and the Stock Exchange.
Eventually we reached the Staten Island Ferry. The ferry runs regularly for free, for commuters going to and from Staten Island and Manhattan. As the Ferry we arrived in time for was cancelled we had to wait a long time but I get the impression it normally runs a lot smoother. When planning our trip, the American government was in shutdown which had meant the Statue of Liberty was closed. It opened the weekend we were in New York but we still chose to get the free ferry. Although it does not go especially close to the Statue you get a spectacular view of the city skyline, including the statue. I would definitely recommend it.
We had booked our entrance to Ground Zero in order to avoid the queues and so had a very brisk walk to the site to make sure we didn’t miss our timeslot. The memorial was beautiful, and I feel it was as respectful as it possibly could be. The victims names are engraved all around the fountains that mark the foundations of the twin towers. A particularly nice touch is that on the victims birthdays, a rose is placed on their name. The memorial is still a work in progress and I am sure when it is complete, my issues would be resolved. I did not like how everyone had to queue to enter the memorial and go through various checks. I understand that safety is of upmost importance but it distracted from the peacefulness inside. Once through the checks you have to take a seemingly obscure route, marked by temporary fences before you finally enter. I do not know if it is the eventual plan, but think it would be a far better idea to just have the memorial open and people could visit as they please.
After the wondrous Shake Shack the day before, we ensured we would have another visit before we left the city. It took us a while but we endeavoured to find it and as expected it was delicious. This time I had a vanilla shake which was even yummier than the coffee flavoured one. Once sufficiently satisfied we braved the Subway once more, heading to Central Park. We rendezvoused with the boys at the Museum of Natural History which was very exciting, as I love the film Night at the Museum. Disappointingly, as we entered the lobby it became apparent that the inside wasn’t the site for the filming. It was still impressive, with two large dinosaur skeletons, it just was not what I was expecting.
Heading across the street we all ambled about Central Park. I found it surreal. It is like its own little, beautiful, serene, bubble, oblivious to everything outside. It certainly helped that we had gorgeous weather on our visit too. The park was full of all sorts of treats; we came across a Roller Disco with people of all ages skating around to the blaring music, entertaining the large crowd that had formed, there were people making giant bubbles which fascinated children, the famous Strawberry Fields, and old men doing Roller Skating tricks with teenagers. There was such a happy, chilled atmosphere that I would have loved to have spent longer soaking up.
By now the sun had set and we headed to Times Square. Everything here just felt so alive, it made you feel excited just sitting there – a contrast to the more relaxed feel of our earlier visit to Central Park. After a weekend of sightseeing I was truly shattered yet I felt like everyone else was just getting warmed up. Times Square epitomises how New York really is
the city that never sleeps.