Friday 13 March 2015

America/Canada Adventure Part 11.......

Day 13 already and another busy day sightseeing ahead.

First on today's to do list was a 2.5hr Circle Cruise which sails all the way around Manhattan Island and takes in over 101 city sights of it's exciting skyline, including a close-up of the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and the Yankee Stadium.

A quick coach ride down to the harbour soon found us installed on the tour boat.


Completely different views from the previous day's airborne tour.
We passed under a variety of bridges - namely Brooklyn, Mnahattan, Williamsburg, 59th Street and George Washington.  Here are a few of them.

I love this view of the Empire State Building and the variety of architecture surrounding it.
Look at this little pink palace high up in the middle of these high rise buildings.
The Hospital for Special Surgery.
Interesting architecture and the water towers.

What a surprise we had when we passed this
Concorde!   and right next door USS Intrepid, an Aircraft Carrier, which houses a space shuttle, it is covered by that white tent like thing.
River tour over it was time to head back to the hotel, where we said goodbye to some of our group who were heading to the airport for their journey home.   We however had the afternoon and another full day to explore the delights of New York.

We had a quick lunch then set off to walk to Central Park.   Here's what we saw on the way.
Radio City.
The Warwick Hotel, where the Beatles stayed on their first visit to the States.
Stopped for a short rest at this fancy fountain.
Saks 5th Avenue.
A carriage ride through Central Park.
Of course we had to see the inside of Trump Tower!

Happy Hour?   Oh just in time!

St Patrick's church, outside and inside.
An interesting sight on the way back to the hotel - is this NYC royalty??
Back in Times Square we stopped for a rest and people watching.   Enjoy the sights and interesting characters with us.
We ate dinner in the lovely Irish Pub that we had already found near our hotel before retiring for the night with another busy day to look forward to.

Join me for Part 12 when we meet up with another blog friend and visit Greenwich Village.

Friday 6 March 2015

America/Canada Adventure Part 10....

Day 12, after a restful night and a good breakfast it was time for our included tour of NYC!

Did I tell you we had a view of The Empire State building from our bedroom window?
Our first stop on the tour was the World Trade Centre site, 9/11 Memorial. The One World Trade Center (previously coined the "Freedom Tower" by Governor Pataki) is the centerpiece of Libeskind's design. The building rises to 1,368 feet (417 m), the height of the original World Trade Center north tower, and its antenna rises to the symbolic height of 1,776 feet (541 m). This height refers to 1776, the year in which the United States Declaration of Independence was signed.
As I am sure you already know on the morning of 11th September, 2001, two hijacked planes bound for Los Angeles were intentionally crashed into the two towers of the World Trade Center. The towers collapsed within two hours of the collisions. Islamic terrorists affiliated with Al-Qaeda organized and executed the attacks. Nearly 3,000 people died. After the attacks, hospital workers and police officers began referring to the World Trade Center site as "Ground Zero"

We stopped at the fire station, where we saw the wall of names of firefighters who lost their lives in the rescue.

A memorial called "Reflecting Absence" honors the victims of the September 11 attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.The memorial, designed by Peter Walker and Israeli-American architect Michael Arad, consists of a field of trees interrupted by the footprints of the twin towers. Pools of water fill the footprints, underneath which sits a memorial space whose walls bear the names of the victims.

It is a beautiful and intensely moving memorial and I am not ashamed to say we both cried, unashamedly, as we reflected on what happened and thought about the people who lost their lives there. May they all Rest In Peace.

We marvelled at the 'Survivor Tree'.  A Callery Pear tree which endured the September 11, attacks.
In October 2001, the tree was discovered at Ground Zero severely damaged, with snapped roots and burned and broken branches. The tree was removed from the rubble and placed in the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. After its recovery and rehabilitation, the tree was returned to the Memorial in 2010. New, smooth limbs extended from the gnarled stumps, creating a visible demarcation between the tree’s past and present. Today, the tree stands as a living reminder of resilience, survival and rebirth.

On the morning we were there a large group of cadet students from West Point were taking part in the 13th annual Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Run.

On 9/11, 34-year-old F.F. Stephen Siller had the day off. When he heard the first plane had hit the World Trade Center, he raced to his firehouse, threw on 60 pounds of equipment and drove to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel which he ran through on foot. He was last seen on West Street and like so many others, never made it home. Stephen’s siblings started the Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk as a memorial tribute to his heroism. Funds raised through the T2T support the NYC Firefighter Burn Center, scholarship programs for children who have lost parents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the construction of Smart Homes for military returning home with devastating injuries, as well as several other charities.  We applaud them!

It was time to continue our tour of NY so we boarded the coach and headed off to see the 'Strawberry Fields' memorial.
The Central Park memorial was designed by Bruce Kelly, the chief landscape architect for the Central Park Conservancy. Strawberry Fields was dedicated on what would have been Lennon's 45th birthday,  9thOctober, 1985, by New York Mayor Ed Koch and Lennon's widow Yoko Ono, who had underwritten the project. The entrance to the memorial is located on Central Park West at West 72nd Street, directly across from the Dakota Apartments, where Lennon had lived for the later part of his life, and where he was murdered in 1980. The memorial is a triangular piece of land falling away on the two sides of the park, and its focal point is a circular pathway mosaic of inlaid stones, with a single word, the title of Lennon's famous song: "Imagine". This was a gift from the city of Naples, Italy.
We could see the apartment where John lived and where Yoko Ono still lives.

Of course we had to cross the road to visit the Dakota Buildings to see where our fellow Englishman and favourite Beatle lost his life.
Back on the road to the other side of Central Park for a leisurely walk,where we saw people fishing,
 the French and Italian gardens,

beautiful fountains

 We even saw someone taking two turtles for a swim in one of the fountains!

Then it was back to the hotel with time for a quick lunch before we had to meet up with our tour guide again for a trip on the subway to where we were going for our next exciting ride - on a helicoptor!  We took lots of photos, here's just a selection.

We also took a video from the helicoptor, this is just an extract to give you the bird's eye view we enjoyed. I suggest you turn off your sound before watching the video, as you might imagine it is very loud.

After the helicoptor ride we headed back up to Times Square, where we purchased discount tickets to see a Broadway show,  before going to Red Lobster for something to eat, then onto the show at the Helen Hayes theatre.

What a fantastic show, we can really recommend it.

As you might imagine we were, by now, exhausted but it wasn't too late so we found an Irish Pub just around the corner from our hotel, where we enjoyed a couple of beers before heading for our bed.

I hope you'll join me for Part 11 and the Circle Cruise.