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Saturday, 1 January 2011

Burringham to Boston-My 2003 World Trip-Part 11-USA (The Big Apple)

The Big Apple
  Tuesday 23rd September. Anne makes sure we’ve a good breakfast in us before we head down I95 in the Buick. We’re parking the car at Mary and Eamons and catching the train into the city. It’s pouring out of the heavens. Luckily Eamon’s at home and makes two trips in his pickup truck to deposit us at Rowayton station.
 I’m always in awe coming into Manhattan on the train knowing that below ground level is a maze of tunnels bringing in essential services as well as the subway and mainline trains. The fact that this honeycomb is bearing the weight of one the most skyscraper congested cities in the world makes this a fantastic feat of engineering. The fact that one of the pioneers of this feat ’Pat the Glan man’ a McGovern from Glangevlin gives me a certain amount of pride of my association with this clan. We get to Grand Central Station where waiting to meet us are Sarah and Marie who are looking great after their weekend here.
Grand Central Station Manhattan
              After lots of hugs and kisses we’re into the magnificent main concourse and dwell a little to take it all in. We then look at a great TV and Film Exhibition in the Entrance hall before emerging onto 41st Street. This is Michele and Steve’s first visit, and I think I can safely say they were awestruck by the immensity of it all.
We turned left because I was thinking we were on 42nd Street and upon reaching Lexington Avenue I realised we were heading the wrong way. As it turned out that was ok. Because of the downpour in Rowayton we’d left the buggy for Erin in the boot of the car and enquiries led us to Conways on Third Avenue where we got a lightweight cheap one.
We get onto 42nd Street and walk to Times square and enjoying the hustle and bustle of it all. It’s just a short walk now to the Days hotel on 8th avenue, but our rooms aren’t ready yet so we lunch in a café opposite. The hotel rooms are great and we dump the bags and freshen up.
  Refreshed now we make our way to Broadway and head east passing all the great theatres till we reach Columbus circle and Central Park.
My Family, Central Park, NY
A relaxing walk through this beautiful oasis gets us to the kids play park where Callum and Erin find they’ve got nearly as much energy as the squirrels. A walk round to the Zoo to find it closed but we did spot a Polar bear and a Sea Lion from outside, maybe come back tomorrow. The Central Park horses and coaches get Callum excited.
   Out now onto Fifth Avenue and just past General Motors Headquarters
to F.A.O. Schwarz’s amazing toy store. The kids loved it.
         Now we’re window shopping at Tiffany’s and looking through the very ornate Trump Towers. Back on the street the traffic’s getting heavy. Yellow cabs are everywhere, steam is coming up from vents, city buses are advertising such things as ‘Judge Judy-New York’s Ultimate Truth Machine’, and the sounds of the city are unique. It really is just like the movies.
   We make our way down to Sixth Avenue or Avenue of the Americas and on reaching Radio City Music Hall found the NYPD putting up road barriers. The Presidents Motorcade was due to come this way from the United Nations. We decided to wait with lots of others to try and catch a glimpse of George Double Yah. After a while we were rewarded with shouts of here he comes. I point my video camera and press record. A later frame by frame viewing shows the motorcade consisting of nineteen motorbikes and twenty-eight assorted four wheeled vehicles with President Bush being in the second limousine. We saw the President.
    Night has fallen as we get back to Times Square. It’s a kaleidoscope of colour with it’s flashing and neon lights including the NASDAQ. The whole area is buzzing as we stop and take pictures and I do even more videoing.
Times Square

            Back at the hotel Sarah, Marie and myself volunteered to baby-sit while Michele and Steve went on the town, and after a while I let Marie and Sarah head back to their own hotel since the kids were well asleep. We arranged to meet up in the morning.
   Michele and Steve weren’t out late, they were still jetlagged having been on a rollercoaster since arriving in the States. They said they’d seen the Times Square Naked Cowboy. They’re hooked on the place now.
   Wednesday 24th September. I don’t know why I didn’t have a good nights sleep, the bed was good. We’re off to meet Sarah and Marie at Canal Street Subway so we purchase Metro cards to cover all our transport needs for the day. After a little confusion we find each other and set off walking to Ground Zero. We hit another bit of confusion when me and Sarah are waiting for the others coming out of a shop and they’re doing the same thinking we’re in one. Still, Sarah bought me a speciality pie while we were waiting. Confusion cleared up we get to Ground Zero.
          It ‘s really eerie, the last time me and the twins were here we watched night fall from the 107th floor looking down on the Empire state building. Now street vendors are selling vivid colour magazines with names such as ‘Tragedy’, a street musician’s playing plaintive tunes including ‘Amazing Grace’ on his flute, and there’s a kind of serene aura about the place that’s different to the normal brashness of New York. We spend a bit of time looking at the site, the symbolic twisted girder in the shape of a cross set in concrete and the memorial boards with the victim’s names on. Such a tragic and utterly pointless waste of life. If the spirit of the people of New York survives there’s hope for the human race yet.
1997             The World Trade Center           2003
Our next stop is a mix and match delicatessen selling hot and cold food which we’re going to eat in Battery Park.
I spotted Peter Lorre’s son, it couldn’t be anyone else with such distinctive features. Nobody believed me but I didn’t dare go ask him.
After eating we walked along the waterfront looking out to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and watched the Staten Island ferry crossing. It was really nice and sunny as we came back through the park, the Silver Robot man was as still as a rock fooling people into thinking he was a statue. Another entertainer was impersonating
Mike Myers and others were doing a break dancing routine. A sculpture named the ‘Sphere’ which used to be in the WTC is now a memorial in Battery Park and we looked at that before heading for the subway.
We’re on the train and Callum judging by the wariness in his eyes isn’t too sure about all the screeching and hissing of this thing so he’s relieved when we get off at Lexington and 59th.A bit of shopping at Bloomingdales and Levis is what the family want to do, so I arrange to meet them outside F.A.O. Schwarz. I’m there early so I’m thinking I’ll see them if I sit on a bench outside central park. I miss them of course but they eventually find me. No Worries.
    On the way to the zoo we get offers of great reductions if we want our portraits painted. We decline and get to the zoo in time for a brilliant display by the sea lions. It’s a great zoo where all the animals seem happy with the exception maybe of the Polar Bear, he didn’t look too happy. I was videotaping some monkeys in their compound when I made a comment to one of my daughters about one of them playing with ‘his nuts’. Upon hearing a strange voice saying oh yes I realised I’d gaffed again and beat a hasty retreat.
   Back on the subway to Times Square and Toys R’Us. A very lifelike Dinosaur scares Callum, but Erin thinks its great, I pose with ET and Spiderman’s going to jump on Sarah. Heading for McDonalds next we catch a glimpse of Ashanti being driven away in a limo after making a personal appearance at a record store.
  Back at the hotel we say goodbye to Sarah and Marie, they’ll be up in Connecticut  by the weekend. A yellow cab to Grand Central and we’re back on the train to Rowayton. Me and Steve chill out with a pint can of Fosters each.
At Rowayton all the family are shattered so I leave them at the station while I collect the car and call and say hello to Mary and Eamon. Back up I95 to Bridgeport and bed, its been a hectic couple of days in the ‘Big Apple’.

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