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2011 The Nightingale's Oddessy Our exchange year in Canada.

New York city Pt Tres

CANADA | Tuesday, 29 March 2011 | Views [207]

Ok here we go part three of three.


Days Five, Six and Seven: 16 – 18 Mar 2011


Wednesday 16 March, we woke up to a wet overcast morning. Forecast was for the rain to disappear around lunch time. Today was the day to do some bus tours. Back up to Times Square, where we jumped on a Hop on Hop off bus and took the Down Town tour. This was a double decker with a perspex roof, which because of the rain, somewhat obscured the view and didn’t allow for many photos, but the commentary from the guide made up for it. We passed such places as Macys, Madison Square Gardens, The Garment District, etc. We also passed St Paul's Chapel, which has an interesting story, this church and its graveyard backs immediately on to the site of the Twin Towers and when both came crashing down the church did not lose a single window, divine providence or was it something to do with the huge tree standing in the graveyard that protected the church? I’ll leave that for you to ponder. Unfortunately the tree itself didn’t survive. Carrying on from Trinity church, passing Wall St we went down to Battery Park on the extreme tip of Manhattan Island. A slight diversion, in the photo’s I posted you will see one of a bronze bull, this bull is so well done it is anatomically correct in all facets, so for some unknown reason it has become popular with tourists to squat between the bulls legs and get photos cupping its balls, nice photo to send to the folks?


At Battery Park we boarded our next tour bus to Brooklyn over the East River. I had hoped we would travel over the Brooklyn Bridge, but that trip is only reserved for cars these days, our bus being too high to make it over the bridge and also heavy vehicles are now banned as the bridge isn’t strong enough to take them. The tour of Brooklyn went for a couple of hours and our guide Barry made it a lot of fun, he took a shine to Ryan, because Ryan was asking questions and supplying answers and he had Ryan in stitches. Barry is a life time native of Brooklyn and so knows everybody and everything there is to know about the place. A useless bit of trivia. Why is David Beckham’s son called Brooklyn? Yes, he was conceived there, apparently this doesn’t sit well with the natives. Barry pointed out where some of Brooklyn’s more infamous denizens used to live, a couple of the Godfathers and Al Capone. We also saw the Arc De Triumph or Brooklyn’s version of it - Brooklynites are not against plagiarising designs. Like most Boroughs of New York, the developers are moving in so a lot of the character of the place is being lost and the price of real estate is going through the roof, anything with a view of Manhattan will cost in the millions.


After our tour of Brooklyn we ended back at Battery Park now bathed in sunshine. Once again running on Ryan’s stomach clock it was lunch time, another quick bite at Macca’s.  If I never visit another McDonalds again it will be too soon. A change of plan ensued, we were going to see the Statue of Liberty from the Deck of the Staten Island ferry, only because the ferry ride was free. But looking at the negligible line for the ferry to Liberty Island we made a dash for that one instead. This proved to be a masterstroke, as the next day when we passed the same spot, the line was huge. A fifteen minute ferry trip and we were at the feet of Lady Liberty and does she look majestic up close.  Not wanting to wait in another line and not having booked tickets, we didn’t go into the pedestal or up inside the statue, preferring instead to walk around the island and take in the views of lower Manhattan. Back on the ferry and a quick float by the Ellis Island Immigration centre we were back at Battery Park. From there we walked up to the Twin Towers site, now a mass of construction. The new Freedom tower that is being built there will be taller than the two original towers and half again as tall as the Empire State building, 1776 feet tall, apparently this is a significant year in American history - Lol. Looking through some of the fences around the site, it is still possible to see the bathtub, or basement area. Having been up the towers years ago and standing at the base craning my neck to look up, it is still hard to believe that buildings that big could collapse so quickly. We stopped at Firehouse 10 the nearest fire station to the site and reflected on the memorial to its members and the many other fire fighters who perished on the day, very sobering.


Back to Broadway and hop on another Bus, this time the completion of the Downtown tour which goes up the East side of Manhattan, passing Little Italy and China town and a number of other significant landmarks I have forgotten. We jumped off the bus outside the UN buildings and waved to Kevin and all the other UN delegates, all busy arguing about what to do in Libya. On the subject of world events, you should have seen the American media coverage of the Japanese disaster, the media sounded as though they were incensed that the Japanese had the gall not to immediately ask for US help and let the US run the show. Good to see the media is the same in all countries, can rely on them to get all the facts wrong.


A hundred metre walk to the hotel and dinner for starving children. Then back out and off to the Empire State Building, where this time because we had tickets, there was no waiting in lines. A high speed elevator ride up to the 86th floor which I know Chelle hated and then the lights of New York at night. As part of our ticket we each were entitled to an audio commentary doover lacky, which instantly made Ryan an expert on the city sights. To be truthful Ryan hates being on observation decks that have only wire around them, but he became so engrossed in the commentary, he was able to overcome his fear and really enjoyed himself. While Ryan got the good goss and I went mad with my new toy, the girls retreated inside because at 86 stories high it was a bit cold.


Back on the street we headed across to Broadway and made our way up to Times Square to see the lights after dark, another must see. We even came across the M&M store, two levels entirely devoted to M&M’s and no we didn’t go inside. By this time it was way past 10pm, though from the numbers of people still around you wouldn’t know it, so we headed back to bed.


Thursday 17th March, St Paddies Day and Lauren’s birthdayJ  


St Patricks Day and believing that most of the crowds would be congregating around 5th Ave for the parade we decided to do the Half Island cruise. This meant that we had to be up early and make a quick dash up to and across 5th Ave before it was closed off. The parade starts at 11am and doesn’t finish until 4pm, meaning that a large part of 5th Ave and surrounding streets become gridlocked. Getting over 5th Ave we headed to the East side of the Island. We walked from 1st Ave our hotel to 12th Ave where the cruise started, so we went from one side to the other. The cruise terminal was alongside the USS Intrepid and almost immediately opposite the spot where US Airways Flt 1549 crash landed in the Hudson river.  Our ferry was one of the first on the scene and the first to reach the plane with the rescue equipment. It is interesting to note that all ferries and crews in New York are drilled on rescue and evacuation emergencies. An anecdote from one of the crew was that one woman was in such shock, she refused to board the ferry until the crewman dove into the freezing waters to retrieve her handbag that she had just dropped, she apologised later. Another guy stepped onto the ferry carrying his suit bag.... only in NYC


A breezy trip down the Hudson River gave us more splendid views of the Empire State and Manhattan, and also the New Jersey shore. We passed the pier that the Titanic should have docked at, also a pier that is used to hold towed vehicles, the biggest revenue raiser in the city. Out past the tip of Manhattan it was once again over to Liberty Island for some close up shots. Tash had brought along Coco now dressed as Liberty Bear so we could get some comparison shots. Around the tip of the Island and Under the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges it was up the East River for a view of the city from the other side. The cruise went up as far as the UN buildings, hi again Kevin and then turned around and retraced its route back to the pier, all up a relaxing, if somewhat, cold two hour cruise.


Walking back to midtown the stomach clock once again pointed out it was time for lunch. This time we found an American dinner, where we had another huge meal and I finally got a slice of New York Cheese cake, yum. At lunch Chelle made contact with Jenny and crew, who had tried to get a look at the parade but gave up trying to fight their way through the crowds packed 6 deep. So this decided us on our next course of action, Madame Tussaud’s. I will state now we had to drag Ryan kicking and screaming, he did not want to go and see wax dolls. However once we were in there, guess who wanted his photo with anyone and everyone???? Guesses anyone???


We all got our photo’s with someone famous, me I got to put my arms around Elle, Chelle

 gazed lovingly into John Bon Jovi’s eyes, Tash met Hannah Montana and became a member of the Spice Girls and Ryan met everyone. An hour and a half around Tussauds and it was back out on the street.  We walked down to Macys just so the girls could say they had been in there, though by this time they were tired so didn’t stay very long.


Ryan and I left them there and decided to use up our one last Hop on Hop off pass and go uptown to Harlem. Bad mistake.

The tour was supposed to take two hours and left at 4pm, by 5:30pm we had only covered 1.5Km!! The problem was all the traffic that would normally go down 5th Ave was being funnelled over to the other side (our side) of Central Park and it was absolute grid lock. Even our tour guide stated he had never seen it this bad, poor guy I felt sorry for him trying to make 1500m sound interesting over 90 mins. To make matters worse the constant stopping and starting overheated the bus and it eventually broke down at the North end of Central Park. By this time it was 6pm and because I had no way of contacting Michelle and I had said we would be back around 6pm I decided it was time to depart the bus before we got into an area I wasn’t familiar with.  Ryan and I then made our way back across Central Park, grabbed a cab and headed back to the hotel. The brief journey wasn’t all bad, we saw the Soup Nazi’s (No soup for you, the Seinfeld fans will be familiar with that) kitchen, the place where John Lennon was shot, the Ghostbusters building and the Northern part of Central Park. Thursday night our last night in New York ended up being a quiet one as everyone was too tired to meet up and Jenny, John and Lou were flying out the next day and we were driving. I ventured out to get pizza and had to make my way past all the pubs with people spilling out onto pavements all over the place. Drunks everywhere, nothing changes they just speak a different language.


Friday 18th March Homeward bound


Friday morning check out and then brave the sidewalks and carry our bags up to Central Station. Two things I had noticed over the week, one the poor state of the roads and sidewalks around the city and two the amount of dog poo on the sidewalks. How anyone can keep dogs in New York is beyond me and we are not just talking small dogs, professional dog walking is big business in this city. At Central Station we jumped on the bus again and headed back across the East river to New Jersey and Newark airport. Picking up the car we headed once more out onto the open road and bade fond goodbyes to NYC. Tash and I could have spent more time wandering around but Chelle and Ryan had had their fill. An hour out of Newark we crossed the border from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, our next stop was an outlet shopping mall. Pennsylvania has lower sales tax than most other states, so we had decided to leave most of our shopping until the end. Three hours later and once more loaded down with bargains it was back out onto the road and head to Syracuse in New York State for our overnight pit stop.

All up our trip to NYC took us through three states, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.


Saturday 19th March Home


Saturday, a quick journey home. This time via the Lewiston Border crossing East of Niagara Falls, arriving back in Burlington around lunch time. Another big journey completed, once again it had its ups and downs, tense moments, fun and was very tiring but that’s what makes the best holidays.


There’s only one last thing that needs to be said. “New York City, I LOVE THIS TOWN”



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