Getting A Taste of The Big Apple

Trip Start Sep 12, 2007
Trip End Sep 29, 2007

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Flag of United States  , New York
Friday, September 28, 2007

An annoying alarm woke us up at 3:15am reminding us we wanted to start our next adventure as tourists in the Big Apple. We made it to the nearby Ronkonkoma train station and walked right on for the 4:58am departure. (We even had time to stop at Dunkin Donuts for some nourishment!) Then it was a long ride into the city to the Jamaica station where we switched to the 6:20am subway J train to Broad Street.

We emerged an hour later out of the underground stairway like two gophers and found ourselves at the corner of Wall & Broad Streets. We were getting our bearings when one of New York's finest, a police officer, got John's attention. He said (in a heavy Brooklyn accent), "Look at that flag. Look at your hat. I ain't gonna tell you no more." As he's saying this, he's pointing to a red flag with a yellow star in the middle flying from a building fašade down the block. John didn't understand what the flag was or the connection between it and his hat, I had no clue, and the officer was chuckling to himself. After repeating his clues several times, he finally let us in on the joke. It was a Vietnam flag and John was wearing his Air Force Veteran's hat! The officer had made the assumption that John had served in Vietnam during the war. So we all had a good laugh as John set him straight that actually his brother served in that war as John was still in grade school. Our new buddy was kind enough to give us directions to Battery Park and wished us a good day.

The officer's directions led us right to the park and Castle Clinton where we picked up our Circle Line Ferry tickets at the will call window. At the park, we saw a large sculpture from the World Trade Center that had been partially destroyed on 9/11.

Soon the ferry arrived and we took seats on the top deck as we made our way first to the Statue of Liberty. Once we disembarked, we had to leave my backpack in a locker taking only our cameras. Then we spent an hour standing in another line where we were eventually led into a secured room filled with security personnel. One by one we were led through the same "puffer" machine that's at the airport and any little metal object was scrutinized. Finally, we were allowed to the 2nd level of the observation deck where we could peer up Lady Liberty's skirt, walk through the museum, and of course take photos from all angles. By this time we were pretty thirsty so I got a Coke for John and an Iced Mocha for myself and we rested our weary feet on a park bench. Naturally, my curiosity go the better of me so I just had to see what sort of tacky souvenirs were available at the museum gift shop. There were Statue of Liberty shot glasses, coffee mugs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, foam crowns, key chains, pens, mini statues, post cards, playing cards, books, Christmas ornaments, jewelry, magnets, thimbles and spoons. You name was probably there. I succumbed to the temptation and got my son John a key chain, boyfriend John a t-shirt/cap set, myself a t-shirt and a nice-looking replica statue.

By now it was 11 o'clock and our day was slipping away so we boarded the ferry and went on to Ellis Island. The building and numerous displays were so impressive. It was amazing to read the immigrants' chronicles of what they left behind and their hopes of a better life here. If you stood still, closed your eyes and listened closely, you could hear voices from the past in an array of different languages as they passed through these doors to start a new life in America.

Reluctantly we boarded the ferry for the trip back to Battery Park. By now the park was filled with tourists, school children on field trips and sidewalk vendors. As we were a little hungry, we did what most New Yorkers do...had a hot dog from a cart vendor. Munching on our hot dogs naturally attracted pigeons hoping for a stray crumb to drop but John made sure they understood they needed to look elsewhere.

We consulted our list of sites to see, checked the GPS and headed for Ground Zero. We sat for a while on benches in front of an office building and silently contemplated the horrific events of 9/11 as we looked over the area where those massive buildings once stood. Construction crews and machinery, meanwhile, were busy with the rebuilding effort.

Next on our list was the Empire State Building. Even though our feet and legs protested at the mere thought of more walking, we set off again. Once there we decided to rest for a bit on a street bench and watched with curiosity at an unknown event unfolding before us. Two motorcycle police officers, two officers in full riot gear and submachine guns as well as undercover officers and squad cars were positioning themselves along the entire block, mainly near the Empire State Building entrance. I had to fight the urge to snap photos and thought it better that I not put myself on their naughty list and get hauled away.

With nothing else happening, we entered the building and once again went through metal detectors and took our place in yet another line. At least we bypassed a large part of the wait by purchasing tickets online before we left home. Soon we were in the special elevator that zipped us up to the 82nd floor observatory. It was packed with tourists but we never had to wait long to get a bird's eye view from all four sides of the famous skyscraper. John pointed out landmarks and we snapped lots of photos. By the time we got back to street level, all the police presence and hub-bub had disappeared.

We rested again then decided it was time to head to the Angus McIndoe Restaurant in the theater district to meet my friend Jane Wong for dinner. Naturally, a rain shower stopped us in our tracks for about 15 minutes so we took refuge under some building scaffolding with all the others who didn't think they needed to carry an umbrella that day. We made it to the restaurant on time and located Jane. We had become friends while corresponding with each other when our companies merged. We had a great time catching up and getting to know each other face-to-face. After dinner we walked to Times Square to marvel at the bright neon lights and signage. It's quite an impressive site in the evening. A subsidiary of my employer, Clear Channel Spectacolor, has many of these signs.

Then we hailed a cab for what I considered a harrowing ride to Serendipity on East 60th Street for their famous Frozen Hot Chocolate. Unfortunately, the wait was an hour long so we opted to return on another trip. Jane escorted us to the subway station, gave us our directions and we bid farewell to an old/new friend. Thanks Jane!

Our poor feet were so sore and they protested loudly all the way back to the hotel. We arrived around 11:30pm, caught the news that our Diamondbacks will be in the 2007 World Series Play-Offs, and then crashed for the evening.

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