Do you think I can do it? Can I take a crew of six people through New York City in a “New York minute”? Considering that a New York minute is about 59 seconds shorter than a regular minute……. probably not! But I am definitely going to try!
The night before our grand tour I map out on Google the sites we want to get to. If we don’t make them all it’s not the end of the world, but I am certainly going to try! But surely if you want to do a lot in one day you have to make a plan. And one thing’s for sure….. you’d better be ready for some boogeying!
The morning alarm goes off way too soon, but I immediately jump out of bed to see the sun rising over the city! I don’t know about you, but for me it is hard to miss these moments!
I am up early to pack some snacks and to make a hearty breakfast. This not only saves money, but also time. I can’t be thankful enough for the kind owner of this apartment who let us stay here, right in the heart of Manhattan!
Ok kids, are you ready to fly? Put on your most comfortable shoes, and your best attitude! We are going to do a TON of walking! I have my Fitbit on, and I am excited to find out how many steps I take today.
It’s about 8 am when we hit the street. If I wasn’t full from my hearty breakfast I would be tempted to buy some fruit from this awesome fruit stand, although I don’t know how many tonnes of exhaust fumes coat the fruit. I wonder if this is local produce…. oh wait, we are in a concrete jungle…..
I catch David doing his favorite little antic. He will walk along holding hands, and when you approach an obstacle, such as the tree in this case, he won’t let go of your hand. Then he feigns shock at the sequelae. Oh, looks like we already made a Starbucks stop, as witnessed by Aundrea carrying her drink.
We hop onto the clattering subway, which we take down to the lower tip of Manhattan towards Battery Park. I have to say that the subway here in Manhattan seems to be in a lot better shape than in Boston, although with all the problems they have been having this summer it makes you wonder. I used to take the subway to work in Toronto for years, and I have to say I am glad that I can indulge in nostalgic subway rides occasionally, and that its not a daily affair for me anymore.
I am looking forward to relief from the deafening city noises, but there is construction ongoing in Battery Park, sending me loud reminders that we are in one of the busiest cities in the world. Well, I take time to smell the flowers in Battery Gardens. Just look at these beauties!
From Battery Park you can get beautiful views out towards the Statue of Liberty. We are booked to go to Ellis Island and the statue tomorrow! There are two ways to get there, as you may be aware. You can take a ferry from Battery Park, or from over in the New Jersey side. Initially I had wanted to take the ferry from here, but they sold out of tickets before I got my act together. Luckily I was able to still get tickets to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty albeit from the Jersey side! I really wanted to make the climb up into the crown, but those tickets were all sold out long ago! My word of advice if you are going to the statue, make sure to plan early!
Well, kiddos, how are your feet holding up so far? Jasmine didn’t join us today. She has a job interview next week in Maryland and wants to shop for an outfit, which I guess if you want to shop this is the place to do it.
I have always loved cool architecture. When I was a kid I used to hang out in downtown Toronto. I could walk around for hours and entertain myself by looking at all the amazing tall buildings. This glass building is particularly awesome, as it looms high above the WWII Memorial in Battery Park. By the way, may that be the last digit ever to be found on a world war memorial.
This is my group of five fellow travelers today that I am taking on my ‘New York Minute’ tour. I am not worried about the younger folks so much. I am worried about Mr. Handsome. He has the tendency to get caught up in the minutia, and loves to examine everything with a microscope. He has a long step and can walk fast, so that’s a bonus! And he has a gentle sense of humor that makes for great company on a day like this.
Battery Park is truly the front lawn of lower Manhattan. It is a 25 acre oasis in this vast city. The round brick structure is the Castle Clinton National Monument, a fort that was built here prior to the war of 1812.
No bull…. it is very difficult to get a group picture with the Charging Bull of Wall Street. There are hordes of tourists jockeying for photos. I am good though. I charge through the crowds as deftly as any annoying tourist, call out instructions to my minions and snap a few photos. The other tourists jockeying for position must be amused, because I hear their cameras clicking as well. Maybe they are annoyed…. I can’t tell. All of this in under one minute….. not bad! Someone should start charging for pictures here. Oh wait, we just did.
Onwards to Wall Street where the sheisters fleece the masses, depending upon your perspective, of course.
Here is the world renowned New York Stock Exchange. We stand on the sidewalk looking upwards awe struck, like all the other little people who have come here to pay reverence to the people who control their very destiny. I try to conjure images of the traders inside, but try as I might they remain nameless and faceless. I wish the traders inside there would tell me how to invest my money. I would love to retire soon.
I capture a shot of this darling boy chasing greedy Wall Street pigeons. Even the pigeons are greedy on Wall Street. Where are all the fat cats when you need them? Uhhhhhh…..making deals with politicians…….
Well, we are not getting any richer standing here on the sidewalk in front of the New York Stock Exchange, so we start trekking along again. Maybe I could get rich if I started cleaning windows on high rise apartment buildings like these guys…… uh…. no thanks! That does look like an incredible amount of windows to clean! I would be like ‘one and done’.
Just around the corner is the New York Fire Department Memorial Wall, constructed to commemorate the 343 New York firefighters who died in the horrific 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers in September 2001. And yes, may we never forget….. how fickle we are and how forgetful.
To think that the firefighting men and women regularly rush into burning buildings to save people blows my mind. If there’s a fire there is only one way that I am running, and that is OUT! I would be so outta there! I say that, but as you may know I am a nurse, and in the event of a fire we can’t just abandon our patients. I think about that every year when we have to do our mandatory safety training….. I make promises each time that if such a day would dawn I would put my patients first. I have every intention.
I would just like to tell you how not to take photos of your loved ones at the 9/11 Memorial grounds….. cover your buns….
It is hard to even imagine what everyone went through on that fateful day of September 11. Perhaps you could take a moment to reflect upon when you first learned of the heinous crimes against humanity when two hijacked airplanes slammed into the Twin Towers in downtown Manhattan. Being here at this place sure does bring that day sharply into my mind.
I had been at home all day working on my computer. I was writing papers for an online class I was taking towards my BSN degree, intermittently nursing and fussing with my baby Kristoff as I typed away, researching details, carefully crafting my thoughts.
I was very deep in my own thought world, trying to fine tune my paper and ready it for submission. Every paper I wrote received this careful attention to detail, and consumed me completely. I heard the front door open when my oldest son came home from school. Soon I hear him over my shoulder.
“Mom, it’s WWIII! It has started!” he said calmly.
“What? What are you talking about?” I ask, perhaps a bit annoyed to have my concentration disrupted.
“They have come! New York City is on fire!” he replied.
Sure enough, I take a look at the news online, and soon we are watching the horrors of that day unfold, watching one video after another. Fear for the future gripped my heart. Sorrow for those who lost loved ones pressed upon my soul. Pity for the people who jumped from the top floors of the building to avoid death by fire scorched my spirit. How is it that humanity had stooped to such depths of despair that innocent people are arbitrarily murdered in such a heinous way?
I know I cried. Perhaps my tears are mingled here in this memorial fountain with the millions of others who also cried that day.
Surely this pool includes the tears of the person who set this rose upon the memorial, deftly wedged into the engraved name of their loved one who was lost on that sorrowful day.
Our hearts are heavy. How could they not be? So many broken lives…. so senseless….. perhaps those who lost loved ones have found peace and hope…. perhaps they are able to carry on knowing that the death of their loved one inspires each of us to carry them in remembrance, even though we have never met. In our own small way we want to send our condolences, even so many years later.
Our tears mingle with theirs, flowing freely into the abyss below. I am not afraid to cry.
After a moment of solemnity at the fountain my eye catches the glimmering new Freedom Tower through the trees. It’s a glimmer of hope for the future, for peace and prosperity.
May peace be with all who suffered and lost.
For the sake of time we forgo visiting the Memorial Museum. With the events of 9/11 still pressing on our hearts we step into the St. Paul’s Chapel, which is very close to Ground Zero. This beautiful chapel survived unscathed by the attacks, presumably protected by a giant sycamore tree that deflected falling debris. Not even a window broke in this chapel, which gives fodder to several schools of thought…. a) a conspiracy that the twin towers were bombed from within…… and b) God granted His supreme and miraculous protection to His holy place of worship…… and c) whatever you want to believe.
For the sake of time, once again, we hop onto the subway for another short ride. This time our destination is the High Line Trail. Now, this I love! Right away we are treated to a gorgeous magnolia tree in bloom!
The High Line is an old elevated railroad track that has been converted into a gorgeous walking park. In this part of the city the railroad had been built up above the street level in order to allow trains to move about from the shipping docks without impeding street level traffic. Subsequent to disuse and a demise into a massive eyesore, some brilliant minds came up with a plan to create this park to save the old track from being demolished. I lifted this picture from the web which shows what the railroad looked like before the park was made.
I feel compelled to lift another photo as well. This picture has an aerial view that helps explain what the park really is like. The plants and trees have flourished and grown quite a bit since this photo was taken. I think the park has really helped rejuvenate this part of the city.
I have to say I really like this place!
The High Line is busy. I would suspect that perhaps many of the people who use this walkway are tourists, but if I lived here I should love to walk here each day!
In parts of the park you can see the original railroad tracks still intact.
There are some older buildings adjacent to the park, but I venture to guess these will soon make way for incredible high rise apartment complexes. There seems to be construction going on everywhere around us.
There are explicit instructions posted not to give money to panhandlers. I suppose if you started allowing panhandlers at this park it would turn into a mecca for begging. Although if I was a panhandler I should so like to come here! The people here probably have plenty of money….
Later Aundrea tells me that the High Line was one of her favorite parts of New York City.
The northern section of the High Line ends at the Hudson Rail Yards, where the sound of construction is almost deafening. The plan is to build massive high rise complexes over top of the entire rail yards, leaving them underneath the buildings. The project is well underway, the scale of which is unbelievable!
The trail ends close to the Lincoln Tunnel right next to the mighty Hudson River. I have to tell you the truth. My feet are killing me so bad that I don’t know if I can take another step, but step we must. Just a short way ahead is our next destination.
The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum! This aircraft carrier museum came highly recommended by a friend. Since I am the proud owner of the ASTC Travel Passport (annual pass to over 200 different science related museums throughout the U.S.), I am so happy to find out that this museum is included! When I walk up towards the ticket booth I am grinning from ear to ear! The ticket prices are $33 each, and we get to go for free!! I am super pumped! I paid a grand total of only $48 for the annual ASTC pass on Groupon as a Christmas gift for the kids. I highly recommend looking into purchasing this type of pass!
I think it’s pretty amazing that this thing can stay afloat! Look how wide it is up top and how narrow down below! One wave should knock this thing helter skelter!
I approach the ticket booth very excited. I show my pass to the ticket agent and tell her we have 2 adults and 4 kids. The agent smiles at the twins and asks how old they are. I tell the agent they just turned 13. The agent starts to ring up a charge.
“Excuse me ma’am, the kids are free on my pass.”
“I am sorry, but we charge for anyone over the age of 12. That will be $132, please. Only you and your husband can go in free.”
“No, my pass states it includes a couple and their children. I bought this pass at the planetarium in Flagstaff, AZ.”
“That is not our policy.”
“Yes, but I bought it, and it says right here that kids are included.”
“Your children are over 12 years, so they must pay.”
“Fine then,” I blurt out as I feel my neck turn red. “All four children are 12 years old!!”
Don’t ask me where those words came from, but as soon as I blurted them out I regret it, but I am not backing down, and I think she can see it on my face. She makes no eye contact.
“Okay,” she replies, much to my shock, and thrusts six free tickets into my hands. “Have a good day!”
And in we go. When they scan my tickets I wonder if the employees notice that my very adult children have “child” written on their ticket. If they do they don’t say anything. The first thing that we check out is the USS Growler, a submarine.
If there is something in life that I am very certain about it is that I would never want to be on a submarine for any extended period of time, much less when it dives into the depths of the oceans. No thanks.
If I were stuck in this thing I would stare out this little window all day long.
On the deck of the Intrepid there is a real live Learjet! For an extra fee it is possible to go onboard for a tour, but we regrettably decide not to do it.
Look at the powerhouse of the Learjet!
We spend the next couple hours touring the aircraft carrier.
There are many interesting planes on the deck of this aircraft carrier. The city landscape makes for an amazingly dramatic backdrop.
Perhaps the most interesting thing on the Intrepid is the Enterprise shuttle, which is housed in an enclosure on deck. Too bad we can’t go inside the shuttle itself!
Fancy ship instruments…..
One of the features of the Intrepid that made it such a valuable fighting ship is this ginormous elevator. This elevator was used to lift planes to the top deck from storage below and vice versa We get a chance to ride on the elevator.
Annika, what do you say? Do you want to join the service? We stay on the Intrepid until closing time. What a fantastic free tour! Do I feel guilty? No. Should I feel guilty? I dunno….. you tell me!
It’s 5 p.m. and by now I literally can walk no more. My feet are absolutely killing me. That’s when I decide that regardless of the cost I am going to rent Citibikes for all of us! Soon we are cruising along the Hudson River in the Riverside Park. There is a lot of bicycle traffic on this gorgeous day, so I have to yell instructions to the kids now and again…… “Stay to the right!” “Look behind you before you go to pass someone!” “Slow down, this isn’t a race!” “Watch out for other cyclists!”
My eye catches this interesting statue in Riverside Park. It is called “Stand Tall, Stand Loud” by Aaron Bell, and depicts a man who has a noose instead of a head. Perhaps initially the statue catches my eye since we had just been in Salem, MA where 19 innocent people were hanged for presumed witchcraft.
The statue speaks to racism and the struggle for social injustice, the inspiration for the noose stemming from hangings of African Americans in the past. Ironically the city of New York initially had censored the noose, deeming it to be problematic for some undetermined reason or maybe a distraction for people doing yoga in the park. Really?
I think the statue speaks about the whole human experience. “The NOOSE: In this context it is the embodiment of all forms of hate found in society,” Mr. Bell was quoted to have said in his artist statement.
And how pervasive is that hatred and intolerance in our society today? It is profound. The questions I would ask myself is “Am I the hater?’ or “Am I the hated?” Am I spiteful and vengeful and short to anger? Am I intolerant? Am I a bigot? Am I quick to criticize, and slow to love my neighbor?
Surely each and every one of us can look within ourselves and find people we are intolerant of, people that drive us crazy, people that we should like to change to be just like ourselves as though we ourselves are indeed superior to others. Every day I must vow to be a better person.
We ride along the Hudson River, my heart full and happy. I test my amazing biking and photography skills at the same time as I snap photos at full speed.
Soon enough we decide to head towards Central Park, which unfortunately requires cycling with the kids through New York City traffic without helmets, no less! No worries, I warn the kids about 1000 times and we are off into the thick of it.
Did I say no worries? Maybe I should worry! This lady has her motorcycle knocked over right in front of us when hit from behind by a driver! She is unharmed, luckily!
We head into Central Park and make a ginormous loop around the park. As would be my luck there is a marathon here today, and there literally must be 20,000 people to dodge here! It’s like a serious accident ready to happen.
I don’t know if you’re familiar with these city bikes or not, but basically every half an hour or so you have to dock them in racks that are around the city or else you get charged an exhorbitant overage fee. We get into a verbal altercation with one man when we go to dock our bikes, as he figured he was first in line. When he realizes his mistake he is truly remorseful, and apologizes profusely for creating a poor impression of New Yorkers.
Whoa, what’s that? It’s Trump Tower! Maybe we should go protest over there or something…..
We decide it is too risky to ride the bikes in traffic after the sun sets. Heaven forbid that anything should happen to our kids, so we set off on foot again.
Our route brings us right by the Rockefeller Center. This “Seated Ballerina” sculpture by Jeff Koons is pretty awesome! Maybe it is just a giant mylar balloon, I can’t tell. It’s 45 feet tall!
I find myself wondering if late at night this ballerina finishes lacing up her shoes, stands up tall, encircles her arms above her head, and gingerly steps down off the platform.
Soon she might be gracefully twirling and spinning on pointed toes, dipping this way and that, swirling to some music only she can hear, her golden ponytail strung straight out behind her as she spins.
Perhaps a young girl who is aspiring to become a ballerina has snuck into the square, hoping to catch a glimpse of the silver ballerina, only to find her deftly performing magnificent and flawless twists and turns and jumps and swirls, her skirts swooshing about her.
Soon the child would hear the same music and magically join in, breathlessly performing an equally perfect rendition of the ballet. The two would dance and dance, dip and twirl and spin about on pointed toes until the sun begins to rise, and the first shopkeeper makes their way to the square.
“Goodbye, my friend,” the large mylar balloon would whisper as she seated herself back upon the pedestal. The child would cling to the ballerina’s foot, impulsively get up on her tippy toes to kiss the hand that she can barely reach. “Goodbye, magical ballerina! I will return tonight for more,” she would whisper back. With that farewell her dainty feet would follow her light heart out of the square, she would slip past the sleeping doorman of her apartment, latch her front door quietly and crawl back into her bed before her mother should notice she was missing.
We catch a glimpse of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I am secretly glad it is not open at this hour. I snap a photo from the distance to save my aching feet some steps.
We literally have done little more than snack throughout the day, and at 10 pm we are simply starving! Pizza…..pizza….. that’s all the kids want! And so do I! I want some delicious thin crust New York pizza…..! No, not California Pizza Kitchen! Stop the madness! Finally we find one that is near home and is still open. Vezzo Thin Crust Pizza, and for crying out loud……it is the most delicious pizza I have ever eaten! Don’t ask me what we ordered. This place is “da bomb”!! You can order anything here and be very, very satisfied! The kids look very tired.
At great long last we are back at our apartment just before midnight! The gorgeous views…… they get me every time! The hum of night time traffic, the occasional piercing sound of emergency sirens….. I could get used to it….. I could learn to love life in this bustling city….. maybe….. my eyes are closed and the sounds drift away from me.
How many sites did we see – some admittedly in minimal detail, and others moreso?
- Battery Park
- Battery Gardens
- WWII Memorial
- Castle Clinton National Monument
- The Charging Bull
- Wall Street
- New York Stock Exchange building
- New York Fire Department Memorial Wall
- Ground Zero
- 9/11 Memorial (skipped museum)
- Freedom Tower
- St. Paul’s Chapel
- High Line Trail
- Hudson Rail Yards
- The Intrepid
- USS Growler
- British Airways Learjet
- The shuttle Enterprise
- Biking in Riverside Park and along Hudson River
- Stand Tall/Stand Loud statue
- Biking in Central Park
- Trump Tower
- Rockefeller Center
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral
- Grand Central Station
- Vezzo Thin Crust Pizza for amazing NYC style pizza
I am almost asleep when my brain tells me to look at my Fitbit. No kidding! I nearly faint when I look at the data….. I took 26,362 steps today! And that is not including the many miles of cycling that we did! No wonder my feet are broken! Weary…… I am so weary….. and yes, we did successfully complete a New York City tour in a “New York minute”!
Done and done!