Slightly later start to today than before but then I had gone to bed at a time when most of my friends were getting up for work the next day.
Subway before coffee today and I’m heading further south on the island than I’ve been before. In fact after today I will only head this far south again when I leave and I’ll be the other side of the Hudson. The reason for the subway first is partly to get on the move quickly due to the later start but also due to the fact that the Ground Zero tours are only once a day and I have no intention of missing it.
Turns out that the tours aren’t as advertised. And that’s a good thing. The Internet told me that I needed to be there for 11.30 for the tour. Not so. Just before 11 I joined the queue; however I was in the wrong place. Like all Americans I’ve encountered I was politely informed that the queue was for people who had signed up. It wasn’t a problem they told me, I could just go inside and sign up inside. This I did and found out that it was half the price of that on the internet, though the internet price was advertised via another company. I’ll leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions about that internet company.
The tour was hard going emotionally. The museum itself had loads of quotes from people on the wall and even pieces of plane and tower wreckage. The tour was given by one of the surviving retired fire-fighters who was part of the rescue attempts. I’m not going to talk more about the tour here. I think each one is personal to the tour guide and the anecdotes to long and too many to detail. There is a lot of work going on at the site now and the final designs look impressive. Even now though, 6 years on buildings are still having to come down and another has recently been declared unsafe. That part of the Manhattan skyline will be changing for a number of years to come.
The Staten Island ferry is a must for any tourist to New York. One of the main reasons is that it is free! According to one of the staff onboard the reason is that Guliani had nearly all the voters on the island and it was a way of getting them included in the mayoral elections. For a free ride it’s a good way of seeing the island of Manhattan, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. For photos you will need a long lens (which I fortunately had with me). I went outside for the photos but a cold wind was starting to come up so I didn’t stay outside long. I do feel slightly sorry for Staten Island. I’m sure they have loads of things over there but the majority of people simply turn straight around and come back on the same ferry they went out on. You do have to get off at each end, but with no tickets and only a couple of hundred yards to walk you would have to be extremely slow not to make it.
Once back on Manhattan Island, my next objective was to get off the island again. This time on foot. The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the few ways of walking off the island, assuming you include walking round and round on the Staten Island ferry. I was rather surprised to find that the walkway was right down the middle of the bridge. It’s not quite as dangerous as it sounds. The walkway is probably 10 feet above the traffic. It’s actually quite a busy walkway as it offers excellent views and photo opportunities. The only problem was that now it was getting to sunset (the best time to get photos); it was also getting very cold. The shrill wind had not died down and the bridge walkway was extremely exposed.
I was more than happy to be heading back to Times Square in the warmth of the subway. My current mission, to get a ticket for one of the evening shows. I’d left it a bit late in the day with the booth opening at 3 and it now being well past 5. However it was not a problem and a few minutes later I had a ticket for Chicago for less than $50.
After a couple of hours of detour I ended up in Century21. This shop is billed as ‘America’s best kept secret’. If that is still meant to be the case I’ve news for them. Someone’s been splitting on them. It’s more like a bullpit and being able to use your elbows is essential. That said, it is incredibly cheap for designer labels and a useful place to buy a suitcase for the extra stuff I’d bought during my stay.
The evening finished with the show and another late meal. I comforted myself that it was really breakfast time at home.