They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway…

7 minute read

Jm and I took a four day weekend for the Labor Day holiday and had an early anniversary celebration in New York City. When cleaning up my Treo beforehand, I managed to delete the JVM rendering my journaling software useless. So, rather than bite sized daily records of our trip, you get one large banquet to feast upon.

Day 1:

Got up very early on Fri. morning to catch the 7AM Amtrak to New York City. Ride was fairly uneventful until a horrid mother, her son, and his friend decided to perch near us. If anyone wants to know why our youth is so messed up these days, this mother was a perfect example of how they get that way. We arrived in NYC around 11AM and decided to head for our hotel to see if our room was ready. This meant we had to choose between taking a cab or the subway.

We chose the subway and were happy we did. We paid $7 each for an all-day subway pass; the cab fare to the hotel would have likely been equal if not more than that. Arriving at the Sheraton New York, our room was indeed ready; while it was as small as expected, we had a great view of the surrounding area. We dropped off our bags and headed down toward Ground Zero after a quick bite at McDonalds.

I have to say that the NYC subway system is rather impressive; while not pristine, it certainly was not filthy, and the trains were very fast and arrived quickly. My only complaint was that there was inadequate cooling on the platforms; most platforms did not have any sort of ventilation making the wait a bit hot and stifling.

Ground Zero was… interesting; there is not much to see other than the holes in the ground where the buildings stand and the reconstruction of the surrounding buildings. There were some placards on the fences outlining the history of the Towers and 9/11. But, something was lacking while I viewed the area. When I visited Pearl Harbor and looked at the ruined ships there, I felt a profound sense of loss but also a profound sense of accomplishment. We lost so much that day, but it resulted in a mostly better world.

When I looked at Ground Zero, I could sense the enormity of the loss and admired the resiliency of humanity to rebuild. However, there was no sense of accomplishment, no sense of meaning or purpose to the site. Part of this is due to the fact that we are stilling waiting to see the end result of our reaction to the tragedy.

Yet, I cannot help but think there will be no resolution; we are no more or less safe as a nation now then we were before 9/11. I never deluded myself into thinking that a major terrorist attack could not happen to us; one only needs to skim the news headlines everyday to realize what sort of world we live in. Having lived in Texas during the Oklahoma City bombing, I know just how real a threat exists internally and externally for every nation. Maybe someday, I will be able to look at the Ground Zero area and feel the same emotions as I do at Pearl Harbor.

We walked around the financial district for awhile and checked out Battery Park to see what the Statue of Liberty ferry prices and procedures were. Headed off to the Empire State Building; since the day was bright and sunny, we had a gorgeous view and took a lot of pictures.

Spent the remainder of the day walking around Times Square and other areas. Ended up having dinner at Sushi Zen; it was a small and pricey place but well worth the money. A bit more walking, and we decided to retire for the day.

Day 2:

We wanted to get up early and head for the Statue of Liberty in hopes of getting a pass to the observation deck. After a quick breakfast at Lindy’s next door, we hit the subway once again and arrived at Battery Park. Unfortunately, we got there just as they were putting up the sign indicating that all passes for the day were gone. Let this be a lesson to everyone, call the reservation number and grab your pass the day before. We still took the ferry over and took a lot of picture from the ground of Lady Liberty. Having seen it in countless movies and TV programs, it was great to finally see it up close. After reading more about how it was made, I was even more impressed by the colossus of the harbor.

We took the ferry over to Ellis Island next; Jm wanted to try to look up her maternal grandfather who came through Ellis Island. We found a likely match but did not hold out hope it was the right person. After speaking with the manager of the place, we learned that it was indeed the right person. Jm was ecstatic as was her mother and Aunt when we called them about it; we were thrown off because his manifest entry listed him as arriving from Russia. The manager explained to us that Poland was under mostly Russian control at that period of time; got a great history lesson this day.

The rest of the day was spent walking through Central Park; we covered a good chunk of it leaving our feet very tired. We cooled our heels and filled our bellies with some good cajun food at Jacque-Imo’s close to the park. Large portions at a reasonable price; we miss the Dixie Kitchen in Boston, so this was a great treat for us. The weather was spectacular all day making it a delightful time at every spot.

A bit more walking around Times Square had us deciding on trying to get discount tickets to a show for tomorrow. We walked a bit more and headed back to get some much needed rest.

Day 3:

The weather for day three was not good; it was considerably cloudy and a bit windy. Perfect weather though for staying indoors and seeing a show. We headed out to Chinatown for some dim sum at HSF (the full name escapes me); the wait staff managed to speak a bit of English, so we knew what we were ordering. Everything was great; had a lot of seafood based items. If you have never done dim sum, get out there and do it; great food, and you can usually get a meal for two for under $15 - $20.

Walked a bit around Chinatown and headed off to the discount ticket place at 11AM. We were startled to find a moving line at the place since the posted hours did not have it opening until noon. We stood in line for an hour and managed to score great seats to Fiddler on the Roof starring Alfred Molina (yes, the one and only Doc Ock). A bit of walking killed the time before the performance.

The performance itself was great; Molina did not blow me away with his performance but did a great job. I have to see the movie version to see how this stage production compares. The rest of the day was spent wandering to various shops like Macys and the Virgin Megastore for some shopping. The highlight for both of us was our stop at the Hershey’s store in Times Square. Picked up some inside-out peanut butter cups for her, some smores bars for me, and some hot chocolate and double fudge kisses for the both of us. Dinner was a quick bite at TGI Friday’s and then back to the hotel for one last night of sleep in the city that never sleeps.

The journey home & final thoughts

Got up and had breakfast at Lindy’s once again before heading out for one last stroll through Times Square. We packed up and caught one last subway ride back to Penn Station and had an uneventful train ride home.

For my first significant time in NYC, I had a great time and saw quite a bit of Manhattan. Would have liked to taken some jaunts out to the other boroughs, but it was too short a trip for that. After years of dealing with the T in Boston, the subway system in NYC seems light years ahead. It is a great city to visit, but I am not sure I would want to live there. I still find Boston more engaging for some reason; perhaps this is due to being familiar with it already. I think a large part of it though is the lack of parks.

Sure, you have Central Park, but everyone goes there because there are next to no alternatives. I enjoy playing soccer, but with everyone crammed into the available playing space in CP, there is little opportunity for a good game. Boston, however, has numerous small parks for playing; if one is crowded, you don’t have to walk or drive to far to find another. Maybe I am just not cut out for a pure concrete jungle.