The Dakota (John Lennon was shot out front)
This morning started with a walk along Central Park all the way to the southern end. It was there that we found the Dakota, the apartment complex that John Lennon lived in - and was shot out in front of. The doorman was a rather interesting fellow. I guess the doormen have to take a class on the shooting, because he was able to tell us everything that happened that day. After chatting with him for some time, we asked if we could take a picture of him...he flat out refused, but he said that we could take a picture of the area with him in the picture...I thought that was strange...
From there we crossed the street and entered Central Park in the area known as Strawberry Fields. It's an area of the park dedicated to the Beatle by Yoko Ono. Since we had some time before our sightseeing tour, we decided to walk through Central Park and see what we could see.
Strawberry Fields, Central Park
Little did I realize how quickly we would get "lost" wandering around in there! Since we had no clean destination, it was impossible to get lost, but there were many times where I did not know which way was which. I could not believe how big the park was. Passing statues and water, we came to a rather famous fountain (or so I am told). A lone bum rather ruined the moment as he dug around for change in the fountain. A park official shooed him off for a time, but once he know she was gone, he came right back.
By this point the rain was coming down pretty hard. However, we pressed on with our two umbrellas for three people (my brother had on his Yankee poncho, and he was happy about that) and made our way to the northern part of the park.
It really felt like we were in a forest for a time there, getting turned around multiple times before making it to a large pond in the north. Nearby was the Guggenheim Museum, so we stopped inside (mainly to get out of the rain!). From there, we caught the subway down to Times Square to find our sightseeing tour guide. We got there a little early but were forced to wait for almost two hours for a tour bus that had working air conditioning. I am glad we didn't take a bus without AC, but I hate companies that can't get their act together.
So we embarked on our whirlwind sightseeing tour of New York City. My brother took over the camera and snapped some great shots from a moving bus.
Fountain in Centrak Park...at the hobo digging for change
Problem is, I can't remember what most of these pictures are of. I'll let you use your imagination. We raced around the Times Square area on the bus, looking left and right to catch glimpses of sites in the area. It wasn't until we reached the flat iron building that we were able to get off the bus and take a moment to enjoy the site. We were told a bit about the history of skyscrapers in New York
, and the competition to build the biggest and the best one. Even brothers fought the power battle to build the tallest building. It must have been quite a sight to see a European-looking city turn into a sea of buildings almost overnight.
From there it was back on the bus.
Soup Nazi from Seinfeld
Had I not seen sites like the Empire State Building already, I would have been bummed that we just drove past it on the tour. As we headed into south Manhattan, we drove past Little Italy. We were able to get off the bus and take a walk through Chinatown, as we were given some time to find dinner. It was still a little early, but this was the time we were alotted for dinner...we got some pictures of the bridges of New York City before finding a pseudo shopping mall with a top floor dedicated to restaurants. I walked from place to place sampling the food (this almost filled me up!), but settled on an asian food place. Got some good food there! Since we were on such a tight timeframe, we headed back to the bus...little did I realize that I had left the umbrella behind that we borrowed from the hotel!
I didn't want to pay the $25 to the hotel for the umbrella, so I ran back to look for it - I knew I had left it at the place we ate dinner.
The tour people had threatened to leave without me (how rude), but I wanted to find it anyway. I got back to the table where we ate, and...! No umbrella. Crap. As my time wound down, I asked one of the clean up crew if they had seen an umbrella. Fortunately, she had taken it to the back in case someone came asking for it! Whew! I made it back to the bus with seconds to spare. (Not really, I am sure they would have waited for me, but that's not as suspenseful, now is it?)
The tour then continued (after some nasty looks for being late) down to Battery Park and to the Staten Island Ferry. We were able to get off the bus again, but we had to follow specific instructions about getting on the ferry.
Cross found at Ground Zero
The Staten Island Ferry is now a free ferry (it used to cost like 40 cents, but it was more expensive to staff everyone) from Manhattan to...Staten Island! We were to get on the ferry and enjoy the ride, and once we got to Staten Island we were to turn around and get right back on the boat. Still, it was fun and relaxing to do, and we had some views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. This tour didn't go to those islands though! I was glad we went there a couple days ago.
Once back on Manhattan, we headed over to the financial district of the city. It was here that we saw the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, the Stock Exchange, and of course, Ground Zero. Even then there was already a lot of work being done to get the ground ready for new buildings and new business, but it was still a powerful sight to see.
Bridges of New York
I hope they build an everlasting memorial there to those that lost their lives. At the site sits two steel I beams fused together in the shape of a cross. This simply shows that God has His hand in everything, and that He uses everything for the greater good. There was a church across from the site that was used for a shelter and safehaven for many of the wounded. Although there was nothing to block debris from the attack, the church was not damaged, although many buildings further away were.
This was the end of our whirlwind tour through New York. My mom really enjoyed the tour, so I am glad we did it, but I wish I had done it on my own time and been able to enjoy the sites a little more.