Sunday, March 29, 2015

NYC Part 3: Bagels with Lady Liberty & Reflective Moments at 9/11 Museum

When reading about travel (which I frequently like to do), I remember coming across the quote:

I don't think the meaning of this quote quite makes sense until you have traveled to a wide range of destinations and then found yourself looking back and yearning for a repeat or continuation of those adventures. Similarly to my travels to China and Taiwan, New York enchanted me in such a way that I find myself daydreaming about returning more frequently than I probably ought. The area of the city that truly won over my heart was Lower Manhattan. While we often hear about the Upper East Side from shows like Gossip Girl or Times Square, I've come to realize that lower Manhattan is usually ingrained in people's minds next to negative images. This area of the city might provoke images of the 2008 financial crisis on Wall Street or perhaps the tragic events of 9/11. However, this portion of Manhattan is also a bridge to the history of this country. 

We began our Monday morning by hopping on a subway at Grand Central Station and making our way down to the Bowling Green stop. Since my friend, Kailey had recommended trying New York bagels, we were on the hunt. We soon found ourselves in a little deli with some of the biggest and most delicious bagels I have ever eaten. We bagged up our bagels and strolled down to Battery Park, steaming coffee in hand. 

While I love the constant motion of the "city that never sleeps," I found a much needed sense of peace in the Hudson Bay area as we gazed out at Lady Liberty herself. (Even in large cities you can always find places of serenity.)

Energized from our coffee and bagels, Morgan and I hunted down the line for our ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty. I must admit, it felt almost unreal that we would soon be in such close proximity to this symbol of our country. 

We were blessed with beautiful blue skies

Similar to my thoughts on how puny the Rockefeller skating rink appeared, I also felt that the Statue of Liberty was not as massive as I had imagined it to be. However, for you numbers people out there, Lady Liberty measures in at 305 ft, 1 in from the ground to the torch. When you look at it that way, I guess she is a rather large lady!

Ellis Island
When we had finished roaming around Liberty Island, our ferry took us to Ellis Island. Having started our day later than planned, we decided to forgo a tour of the sites at the island and journey back to Manhattan. With that said, I didn't have the opportunity to reference the date scene from the movie Hitch (I know you are all disappointed!) On my next trip to New York, I would like to spend some time on Ellis Island. Just another excuse for me to make a return visit, right?!

Back in Manhattan, we wandered up to Wall Street. Along the way, we came across the National Museum of the American Indian. We also stumbled upon the famed Charging Bull of Wall Street. I couldn't believe how many people wanted a picture by that thing! (Of course we hopped on the bandwagon and asked for a picture, as well.)

Federal Hall National Memorial
This is where George Washington took his oath as the first president
Soon our stomachs were growling and we made our way to the Subway station. This is the part of our day where we had a bout of "Morgan and Amanda have no idea how to read a Subway map and somehow ended up in Brooklyn." (Believe it our not, we had a couple of those incidents occur.) While we were trying to make our way to Chinatown, we accidentally took the Subway the wrong way. We were both frustrated at the time, but looking back, that little adventure makes me burst out laughing.

Even though we gave up on the idea of eating in Chinatown that day, we did cross another area off of our list: Penn Station. Here we were able to see Madison Square and also relax at Blarney Stone Irish Pub for a late lunch of Shepherd's Pie. Mmmm. The combination of my growling stomach and sweet relief of finally figuring out where we were made that meal taste so darn good.

Heaps of cheese :)
Having to stray from our original agenda, we caught a Subway back down to the 9/11 memorial. One thing I have learned from traveling is that sometimes it is best not to have a strict schedule. Some of the best stories and adventures arise from straying from your original plan. 

The 9/11 Museum is truly incredible. It commemorates both the events of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993. Prior to visiting the museum, I kept thinking I really wouldn't be that affected by it. When the events happened, I remember them clearly. I was in a 4th grader and I recall processing the events the best my young mind was able. It all still seemed so distant to me though. However, once you are in the the Historical Exhibition, you may need to grab a handful of the tissues they have distributed throughout. Walking yourself through the timeline of events for that day and hearing real phone calls from people who were in that building...unreal. You feel as if you are right there on that day and the experience pulls at all of your emotions. At the end of the main exhibit, I also recorded a reflection in the recording studio they have available. 

If you are in New York even for a single day, be sure to take some time to visit the 9/11 Museum. That will be a museum you will never forget. 

After such an emotional experience, we were in need of a pick-me-up. Since it was getting late, we made our way back closer to our hotel and finished our evening with hazelnut shakes at the Shake Shack in Grand Central Station. 

The "city that never sleeps," certainly left Morgan and I exhausted each night! Our next day was spent in the Upper East Side where I was able to unleash my inner Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl. But I will account for those events in my next post.

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