Day 31 ~ In which #KiwiChickInUSA and her DH say goodbye to Baby (AKA the Dodge Challenger)
It was a little bittersweet for us driving from Washington D.C to New Jersey today, as we both knew it was the last time we’d be driving the Dodge on American roads. In case you haven’t guessed, DH and I **LOVE** road trips and we have had a blast this time. So with sinking tummies, we left the car at the shipping yard in New Jersey and hopped into a cab to head into New York City. Only to be caught in THE biggest traffic jam EVER while trying to get into the Lincoln Tunnel.
Anyway – we made it back to NYC! Woot! Once again we’re staying at the Hotel Pennsylvania midtown opposite to Madison Square Gardens. Funny story. Nine years ago DH and I and our 2 kids (then 6 and nearly 10) arrived from a crazy-long flight from New Zealand on our very first trip to America. We’d booked into the Hotel Penn and rocked up on into their foyer at around 2.30 am…only to be told we’d screwed up our booking and we weren’t expected until 2pm the next day. Total disaster. Not wanting to pay another US$500 for a room for 12 hours until we could check in, we left out bags at the hotel and stepped back outside.With two kids in tow we loaded them up with sugar and kid-friendly caffeine (ie Coke) at the Tick Tock diner on 34th street/8th Ave and then wandered around Times Square (once we’d checked with a police officer that it was safe) until the sun rose. You know what? That total disaster turned out to be one of the most amazing memories we have as a family of New York.
Once we’d checked in to our room, we hit the streets of NYC and like two eager salmon, swam/floundered through the craziest, most diabolically insane crowds I’ve ever experienced up ten blocks to Times Square. It felt like literally every person in New York had converged in the area, and I pity the poor EMT with sirens wailing trying to get through traffic and douchebags who casually pulled out in front of them – not to mention the idiot pedestrians who continued to dodge across the road in front of them also.
At the last minute we decided to get discounted tickets to a Broadway show – which we did, to Matilda. We really enjoyed Matilda and the child actors, wow! Super talented. After the show we again got caught in massive crowds in Times Square as we walked through flashing neon madness to our hotel.
Day 32 ~ In which #KiwiChickInUSA pays her respects and has all the feels.
Have to confess I didn’t sleep well on my first night in NYC, not used to the constant honking from the street below and the room we’re in seems to be behind the elevators which means pretty constant rattling noises. Ugh. Anyway, we breakfasted at the aforementioned Tick Tock Diner which had changed quite a bit since our last visit.
Then we tried to remember how to use the subway system – took a little longer this time, but we eventually made it down to the World Trade center stop. The two memorial pools in the plaza there are beautiful and a fitting tribute. We spent a while just walking around in silence, because it’s just that sort of place. At least, it was to us – not so much to a small percentage of people who carried on loud, laughing conversations. Something that pissed me off.
Unfortunately the line to get tickets into the museum was huge and we waited in the sun for almost 3/4 of an hour – and THEN there was another 1/2 hour wait to get into the museum. The wait was worth it, however. I didn’t realize, when we were lining up outside, that the museum went down into the remaining foundations of the Twin Towers. So I was already emotionally unprepared for the impact that would have on me. Seeing the bent and broken chunks of steel that the first plane had plowed into, the crushed Number 3 fire engine, the remaining steel pillar of the towers covered in notes from rescue workers…and then there was the moving exhibit with recorded memories from survivors, and the powerful and heart-breaking recordings of victims who hadn’t made it. No wonder there were strategically placed boxes of tissues around the exhibit – I needed them.
I think the thing I took away from the museum and visiting the site was this: those ordinary men and women who died in the towers and on the planes had no idea of the scale of the tragedy that they had unwittingly become a part of. They didn’t have time to analyse who did the despicable act and why. All they cared about in those last moments were the people they loved – family, friends, spouses. And the incredible bravery of the firefighters, police and paramedics who were (and this was mentioned more than once in the audio recordings) “just doing their jobs”.
The moving tributes of the museum and memorial were not reflected in the One World observatory, however. This, unfortunately was purely about getting as many people upstairs, fleecing them for as many $$ as possible, then getting them out again. While the views were amazing, I didn’t enjoy the experience much. Starting with the almost obligatory green-screen group photo (which we to frowns bypassed) and then the overpriced food ($9.80 for a stale doughnut and a bag of potato chips) and ‘standing-only tables’. Very few seats where you could just enjoy the view, and a souvenir store selling 9/11 stuff that took up a large chunk of space. It would’ve been nice, considering the location, to have just ONE observatory in New York that had a more discreet souvenir shop and didn’t have the vibe of ‘we’re out to get more of your money’. Somewhere, I don’t know, that you could actually enjoy the view that you’d paid $40 to go and see.
Being in a rush to get back to Times Square and see one more show before we left town, we ended up having a hot dog and shared pretzel for dinner, topped off with a Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream for desert. We found discount tickets for Cirque du Soleil “Paramour” which was fun and in the beautiful Lyric theater.
Day 33 ~ In which #KiwiChickInUSA has a laugh in NYC
Just a short blog today because it’s past midnight and I’m stuffed! Today we had lunch at Tom’s Restaurant – AKA Seinfeld’s diner.
Walked around the neighborhoods in the area.
We got a taste of Harlem via a milkshake at Harlem Shake.
And relaxed for a little bit at the north end of Central Park.