What can I say - we really love the place!
We took the bus from Washington to New York City. A nice bus and only about 3 1/2 hrs.
We almost missed catching it from DC though as our cabs (yeah, we now need two of
them to cart all our luggage!) got caught up in a terrible traffic snarl that the driver assured
me was quite unusual and turned out to be due to the President's motorcade. The hassles
caused whenever he moves about the city are a source of quite some irritation to the locals.
As I said, we loved New York - it's a very exciting and interesting place. I'm sure there is
nothing else like it in North America and probably only London and Paris would be
comparable in the world. I'm sure a lot of people hate New York, but we think it's invigorating
just to walk down the street or to see it from the New Jersey Turnpike as you approach from a
distance. We'd go a different route each time on our daily walks - there is always something
interesting or surprising in each block.
We stayed on W45 Street between 6th and 7th, (right on Times Square) in the ‘Big Apple Hostel’.
It is not by any means luxurious but we had a good time there, even though we stayed on the
fifth floor with no elevator. You can’t beat the location. It’s near the Theatre District, and there
is an agency right at Times Square where you can buy discounted tickets to various shows,
as it is quite expensive to pay full rate – kids rates seem not to exist.
We walked through Central Park, and took a few rides on the subway so we could walk around
neighborhoods like Greenwich Village and Soho. One of the nicest things about NYC is
the profusion of varied neighborhoods, each with its own distinct character, that are mostly within
an easy walk of one another.
We also did a Circle Line cruise right around Manhattan Island, which I fondly recall doing with my
parents and family in '77. It was very good and informative, although it was a rainy day, which was
less than ideal.
On another day we got the subway down to Battery Park and then took the ferry over to the
Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately it is no longer possible (since 9/11, of course) to climb up inside
the statue and look out through her crown. They are hoping to reopen the statue in the summer,
with added security measures, but for now it was enough to be able to land on Liberty Island
and walk around the base of the statue.
They have a few exhibitions there on the history and construction of the statue. This includes
letters from immigrants as to their feelings on first sighting Lady Liberty many years ago. It's quite
moving, and one can well imagine the thrill it must have given them to first glimpse it from the
ocean liner bringing them over.
We also went past the now refurbished Ellis Island migrant processing centre, but did not go ashore
there. Only so much of this sort of thing the kids can stand in one day!
Zac and Caity both have to do a project this year on the 'built environment'. It looks like Caity
will be doing the White House and Zac the Statue of Liberty. At both places we got books that
explain in great detail the construction and internal details of these landmarks.
We also visited the World Trade Center site in the financial district. It's quite a somber experience;
some of the visitors were crying. One can still see the extensive damage to some of the surrounding
buildings that I think are in the process of being rebuilt. The site itself is still a hole in the ground,
with a walkway overhead from which it can be viewed. Plans have just been announced (but maybe
not yet confirmed) to build a new tower on the site that would be 1776 feet tall - much bigger than
the old twin towers and a number of obvious significance in American history.
The food is great in NYC, with all the excellent delis they have. You can buy any kind of bread or
cheese and basically any food item you might desire. Quite reasonably priced too. A much more
cosmopolitan range is available than in some parts of the USA we visited. Wherever we've been
on the trip we've tried to sample the local specialty. We had great Cajun food such a Jambalaya,
Gumbo and catfish in New Orleans, and tried real Barbeque ribs in Memphis.
On Saturdays they have a street market on 6th Avenue. The street was closed all the way from about
40th street to the southern tip of Central Park at 58th. It's strange to see it made into a pedestrian mall
on weekends, given the ferocity of the traffic at any other time, day or night.
We would love to spend more time here - I guess if you were here six months there would still be
lots to explore...As reported, it is quite safe and clean these days compared to what it was like a
few years ago. Certainly I have walked around the streets here at 1:30 AM with no cause for
concern at all. Having said that, a guy was shot in broad daylight, execution style, on 6th Avenue in
the diamond district only two blocks from us recently (late May 2004). It was a huge story, especially
given the decrease in the crime rate recently. Such things have become much less frequent than they
used to be. He was involved in the gold business and apparently was tied up with drug dealers,
for whom he would melt down gold as a form of money laundering. At least such organized crime
killings (which this will surely turn out to be) are not generally a threat to us 'civilians'.
We left NYC to drive to Boston, Cape Cod, Montreal, Niagara Falls and Pennsylvania. We then
returned to New York after about two weeks on the road. On our second stay we went through
the Met, visited the Bronx Zoo, reacquainted ourselves with the 'Amish Deli' (50th and 9th) where
we used to walk every afternoon to buy supplies for our dinner, and to a few other places we'd
found on our previous stay.
We visited Trump Tower, the tallest residential accommodation in the world (I think), and bought
some electronic goods such as a portable DVD player for a very good price (compared to Australia)
after much negotiation at one of the many electronics stores along 7th Avenue just north of Times Square.
Brooklyn Bridge, viewed from Circle Line tour
Caity at Central Park
The Chrysler Building
WTC Site, Ground Zero
Memorial at 9/11 Site
Damaged Building, Ground Zero
At Liberty Island
Kids - Washington Square, NYC
New Jersey Turnpike, heading for NYC on a gloomy day
NLK, Liberty Island
Emma Lazarus Poem, Statue of Liberty
New York Stock Exchange, Wall St
Parking, New York Style
Caity on Liberty Island Ferry
Circle Line Cruise
Mid-town Manhattan from Circle Line cruise
Street Scene, near Central Park
At Times Square
Times Square, again
'The Naked Cowboy', Times Square
They've copied our bridge!
Our ride to the airport – NYC
Zac and Stretch Limo
In Stretch Limo on the way to JFK airport, NYC