My legs feel like they’re about to fall off, but I have just had one of the best days ever!
After arriving in New York yesterday evening, we explored the area around our hostel, took in the city skyline while the sun set and decided to get an early night to make the most of our first day in the city. Well, we certainly did that.
We got up super-early to get a customary bagel (yum) and wander around the finance district before the morning rush-hour. It was incredible to walk through the streets and take in the giant skyscrapers in the calm before the storm. The buildings here are a fascinating jumble of old-style stone and mortar, alongside modern glassy behemoths that block out the sunlight. We enjoyed our bagels in the park next to New York City Hall, and pretty soon the quiet was shattered as the city woke up, people started appearing in their droves and the city’s soundtrack of shouts, car horns and sirens began.
As I had previously been to New York for a short time back in 2001 and had been lucky enough to visit the Twin Towers, I was particularly interested to see Ground Zero and the work that’s being done for the new memorial. It’s been strange for me not to see the towers in amongst all the buildings while we’ve been looking around, as they were such a memorable part of the city. It was also really sad to look across the flat expanse of land where they once stood. But the new memorial, which will open at the end of this month, looks like it will be a very fitting tribute – two giant waterfall pools set in the previous footprint of each tower. There’s also a striking centre that looks like it’s fashioned from the same style steel as the towers. You can see what it’ll look like properly here: http://www.911memorial.org/about-memorial Although it’s not open, we may well be able to have a ‘preview visit’ before we leave the city. I hope we’ll have time to fit it in.
We then went to visit the Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park and strolled around the edge of the city until we reached the dock for the Staten Island Ferry where we boarded a free boat that sailed right past the Statue of Liberty!
Deciding we hadn’t quite walked enough, we trekked up Brooklyn Bridge, through Chinatown, Little Italy and on to 5th Avenue – where we walked past the Empire State Building and took a little detour to see Grand Central Station. We had amazing food at both Chinatown and at a pop-up marketplace at Madison Square Gardens and ended up getting back to the hostel exhausted and aching but very happy that we’d been able to fit so much into our day… According to Dale’s phone (which has a pedometer) we walked 51,684 steps across Manhattan over around 13 hours, covering a distance of 28.5 miles…
There’s heavy rain forecast for tomorrow, so we’re likely to stick to museums and galleries – if our feet are up to it by then!