Here are my Top 10 highlights from my trip to the big city.
1. The first night we got in we hit up a few sites real quick! On our way to find a restaurant for dinner, we went right past the Empire State building, so we took a quick photo in the lobby. ;) We opted out of going up this time, because we just didn't have the time and we have to save a few things for the next time, right?
2. After enjoying a delicious dinner (which you'll get to hear all about another time), we realized we had a really short amount of time left to make the train out of the city to our friend's house. We ran a few blocks before realizing a taxi would be the best idea at that point. We quickly jumped crammed into the next cab that came by with our bags on our laps (we were in too much of a hurry to bother putting them in the trunk!) I'm sure the cab driver thought we were nuts! ;) We made it to Grand Central Station with only minutes to spare. While my sister bought tickets, my brother and I snapped some quick pictures of what would turn out to be one of my favorite places in NYC. I loved this building. It's SO beautiful and full of character. It's no wonder it ends up in so many movies. The ceiling is covered in amazing paintings and lights, the whole place is just plain beautiful. They just don't make buildings like that anymore.
|Sorry the picture is a bit blurry, we were in a hurry, remember?! :)|
Then we had a true New York experience running to the catch our train...we made it without a minute to spare! :) What a great way to start our New York city trip!
3. The next morning we were up and ready to hit the city, early! We round the subway into the city along with all the rush hour commuters. That actually turned out to be another one of my favorite parts of the city. Constantly being surrounded by so many cultures and types of people was very fascinating to me. We all loved the international feel of the city and it's very evident on the subways and trains! We laughed about being the only white people in NYC, wondering if it really was part of the US or if we needed to show some sort of proof that we really were Americans and not foreigners, even though we looked like it! ;)
4. Not only was coming in during rush hour a fun way to experience the life of a New Yorker, but it also gave us a real perspective for what it must have been like for people in that city on 9/11/01. We arrived at Ground Zero, where The World Trade Center buildings had once stood right about the time the first plane hit the first building. WOW! Nothing like being in the area around the exact same time that so much changed for that city and our nation. Seeing what the streets were like around that time of the morning, you can visualize just how big of a moment that was that morning. All of NY was doing what they normally do on a Tuesday morning, go to work. The streets were packed full of people minding their own business, carrying their favorite cup of coffee, eating breakfast on the go, listening to some great tunes on their ipods, when the earth shook and changed all of their lives forever. They had spent their morning much like we had the morning we went to visit the site. We woke up to our alarms, got ready, wished our friends a great day, rode in on a crowded subway or drove through crazy traffic, and went to work. Crazy how just seeing the "normal" morning routine made the attacks all that much more of a surprise to all of us and you recognize the devastation that immediately took place on just another, beautiful Tuesday morning in September.
One of my favorite places to visit was this quaint little church, literally right across the street from the World Trade Center. It became a central hub for all the people that were working the rescue and recovery mission as well as where people sent letters of support and encouragement and pictures of the missing. Talk about emotional! Seeing all the faces of the people that lost their lives in those buildings, because they were responsible enough to go to work that morning, next to their children or spouses, makes the numbers--personal. It also was a reminder that no matter the size of your church or community, when the needs arise, you find a way to meet it. This church is very small, but has made a world of impact in the lives of those that needed it during the weeks and months after the attacks. They too, are heroes for stepping up and being a support in every way they could, even though they too had been affected by the tragedy in their own personal way, they were there for the community that needed them. I was also surprised to find that it is directly across the street and was left unharmed, even though the subway entrances just a block away was covered in debris when the buildings collapsed. God, in his sovereignty, spared this building to be a refuge for the hurting.
|The beautiful church that supported NYC during the |
most trying 9 months in recent history.
|The plan for the new site, scheduled to be completed |
by the 10 year anniversary, September 11, 2011.
5. Interestingly enough, we weren't far from the symbol of our freedom that still stands as a reminder that we are Americans and we are the land of the free. We walked down Wall Street and by the New York Stock Exchange on our way to the Staten Island Ferry, that takes you right past the Statue of Liberty. When I think of New York, this is what I think of: Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Seeing it in person was awesome. Sadly, it was kind of a cloudy day so the view was perfect, but again, some things had to be left for next time, right? ;) And there will be a next time, because I LOVED this city!
6. Our friends told us about a local attraction that was a must see. Chelsea Market, fitting right? ;) So we made our way there and it turned out to be one of our favorite places. It's a great building full of amazing little food shops and tons of character! Just across the street the old train tracks have been recreated into a beautiful walkway with flowers, fountains and wonderful views of the city skyline. We met up with our great friend, Josh, from high school there too which made the stop even sweeter.
7. Okay, really, how can you go to NYC and NOT get a frozen hot chocolate at the world famous Serendipity? Just minutes from Central Park, this cute little restaurant was a favorite stop, for sure! Plan on going with a big appetite because the food there all looked amazingly yummy & because their is a minimum purchase required too. But, since there is regularly at least an hour wait, you're sure to build up an appetite just thinking of all the tasty treats you'll be ordering soon.
It's no wonder these tasty drinks are world famous, because they are SO good! Really, THE BEST cold chocolatey drink in a cup I have EVER had. :) This was also a "bucket list" item, but it might be worth leaving on there a little longer just to make sure I get a second helping! ;)
8. Since we had an hour wait for Serendipity, we made a quick trip to Central Park. Rather then running through the park we decided to sit right across from the Central Park Zoo entrance and have a meaningful talk about the ups and downs of our childhood. Along with our friend Josh, we have a unique childhood experience that created a fun and interesting discussion for us to explore as adults. A highlight of the trip, for sure. Surrounded by the beauty of the park and serenity out of the chaos of the city, it was the perfect little break before indulging in some chocolate.
The next morning, we decided to got right back to Central Park to begin our second day in the city. It turned out to be one of my favorite places. It is surprisingly quiet and calm. It never felt crowded or busy, though I'm certain there were hundreds of people spread out throughout the 50+ blocks of park! We barely saw any of it, even though we walked through a large portion of it. It's a beautiful, beautiful place. The trees and structures make it a serene escape from the city, but the city skyline along all sides of it makes it an even more beautiful site.
9. Spending some quality time with our friends was a highlight to note. It had been over 10 years since I've seen both Grames (the friend and his wife Sheila that we stayed with) and Josh (the friend who came along with us site seeing in the city). It's impossible to describe the connection that exists between us, because it's purely based on our common experience, but it's always a sweet time to reconnect with these special people from our childhood.
10. To wrap up my top 10, my favorite part of NYC is the character and culture of the city. I've mentioned it throughout the list, because it's really in every part of the city. We got to explore a little bit of Brooklyn (to see the Brooklyn Tabernacle) and Queens (to find an Argentine restaurant to enjoy some food from our childhood) the second afternoon and those were crazy experiences all together, but it gave us an even fuller picture of what New York is really like. Manhattan was by far our favorite area, but it was great to see some non-touristy parts of the city too. Back to the character, it's every where, from the subways to the streets, the buildings to the people. I'm realizing that there is a part of me that is international (despite being fully American), it brings something alive in me to be surrounded by richness of culture and history and that's exactly what this city symbolized for me. There are no two places that looked alike, a representation of the people of New York to me, a place full of uniqueness. I instantly fell in love.
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