We're on our way home...

Trip Start Mar 12, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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JFK Airport and in the air

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Today is our last day in foreign parts, we fly out tonight. Packed our bags, left them at the reception in the hotel and set off for the last time.

Took the train into Manhattan, and because it is back to weekdays, the engineering work was over so it was an unfamiliar route to us, straight in.

We made our way down to see the Wall St protests. Actually they are in Liberty Plaza, which is a bit of a walk away. Its public land (well, I guess its owned by someone, but left as a square so that the buildings on either side can go that much higher) Spent a while talking to police, protesters and public about the protests and all sorts of things. They seem to be quite well organised in some respects, using toilets at the nearby MacDonald's, and building sites, and they are all cramped onto each other, but no sign of any animosity spilling over. One guy was explaining to us how he was going to build a wooden shack where his tent is. They have electricity generated by cycle powered generators, but they admitted that the problem is that the batteries take a long time to charge and only last for a short while. Story of our lives, isn’t it! There were food stalls which were giving out free food, albeit limited in nutritional value. They seemed quite adamant that the coming winter wouldn’t put them off, and have indefinite plans to stay, until 2113 one guy said. But I just wonder whether they have any actual aim to make it cohesive, or whether when the snows come, they might just melt away?

Wandered from there down to actual Wall St, which is actually quite unimpressive. Its not very wide, and has some tall buildings, but then sop does most of NY. The main sight was the fact that they have barriers preventing traffic going down the road , and since the protesters, they have put up extra barriers to limit the flow of pedestrians as well. Don’t think I'd go there a second time.

Made our way along to the river where there was a scheme to do up old boats, we looked at one that had been used to transport jute in the olden days. Made our way along the bottom of Manhattan to the Staten Island Ferry, which takes people over to Staten Island for nothing. Quite good value! Nice views of the Statue of Liberty, and also of Manhattan skyline. Spent half an hour on the island just wandering around. They have an interesting monument to Staten Islanders who died in the 911 attack.

From there we returned to the main island, and walked along to the 911 Ground Zero. In fact, there are limited tickets to see the memorial that is in the process of being build, and they have to be pre booked, so we wandered into the World Finance Centre as you can get a reasonable view from there. Not all that impressive, it looks like a building site at present, I guess it will be a lot more impressive when its done. Something like the Crazy Horse memorial in that respect!

The Finance Centre was an eye opener, in that the area we could get into has to have been put there so that the surrounding buildings (which were all tightly secured) could go up high. Martin talked about ostentatious space in Trump Towers, well this has loads of totally open space. Places for shops, but not a lot of them.

Eventually we headed back to the hotel, had a pizza for dinner and took the shuttle (which was a bit late) to the airport. The other passenger was a pilot flying to Washington, if he's late then the plane goes late. Now we know what they mean when they say that departure is beyond the airlines control!

Waiting in departures for the flight to be called.

Martin's mystifying moments:

So in the middle of the Occupy group on Liberty square - who I numbered to be about 300-400, there was a chap trying to build a better home, using wood that another person told him in my presence was for general use (whatever that is).he had placed a container for passers by to drop in donations. Was he trying to sow seeds of capitalism. My overall feeling was dismay at the lack of rage. I think there is nothing wrong with good healthy expression of disappointment and frustration but if this is all that the capital city of a country like the US can muster its hugely disappointing. I could even go along with anarchy at this stage although I'm not too keen as a rule on disruption without an objective. I spoke to a person who seemed to front the group to the media and he reckoned that the average age had been calculated as 37!If this group represent the 99% then no wonder the 1% can do what they like.

Ground zero? In this age of virtual communication the tallest building in the US is being erected no doubt to house the 1%.I wasn't sure about going and came away with some great confusion about whether we ever learn.

The bad news? I was in LA in June where most of the people I was with were big Obama fans who at that time were wrestling ,as he was, with the intransigence of the Republicans over the budget and generally giving him a hard time. Since then but increasingly as we shuffled to New York the attitude has hardened to the point that the GOP feel that they have a chance. Even The Occupiers were disenchanted. The current group that the Republicans have to choose from does not look like throwing up a credible front runner. Increasingly looks like a late entrant might feature. Surely....no that would be ludicrous. But then...

So its goodbye from me until the next time. Always remember - without you, there would be nobody there.
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Jan & Dave on

Hope you are back in the UK safely & that Stanley arrives safely as planned. Thank you for the entertainment and learning provided during your travels. Hear more about your adventures next year Roger?

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