Wow, New York is amazing! On 12 March Mr M and I flew into Newark airport for a short stay in the big apple. We stayed in the Affinia Dumont on East 34th Street, not far from the Empire State building. We had a big room with a kitchenette (which we didn’t really use), we were close to the subway and it was a great base for exploring. On our first night we wandered up to the bright lights of Times Square and had some food ready to start exploring in earnest the next day.
The first mission of the day was to find some breakfast and we were extremely lucky to stumble across the Murray Hill Diner which was right around the corner from our hotel. They had a great selection of breakfasts and we managed to become regulars and have something different every day (pancakes, bacon and maple syrup on day 1).
A quick hop on the subway took us out the Brooklyn bridge and we walked across to Brooklyn to take in the view of the Manhattan skyline. During my stay I found that when I was actually on street level in New York I lost a little bit of perspective and that it was only when I looked back at the city from the outside that I really got a sense of actually being in ‘New York’. I think this might be because of the scale of the buildings that surround you when you are walking, they are too high and the streets too narrow for you to be able to really appreciate them or even to see them properly. It’s only when you step away a fraction that you get the sense of the whole city and all of the landmarks that are so familiar from films and television.
We had the first of many Starbucks pit-stops (coffee, toilets and free wi-fi) and used the time to book tickets for the 911 memorial. I hadn’t been sure about how I felt about visiting the site as a ‘tourist’, but with hindsight I’m so glad to have been. The centre where we collected our tickets had some incredibly moving videos and exhibits. There was also a photograph of the twin towers which showed where they would have appeared on the skyline. Having seen the view from Brooklyn bridge earlier, it really hit home that there must be a huge hole in the skyline for those who remember the towers as they were before they fell. Even before I stepped foot on the memorial site itself I was reminded of the footage that I’ve seen from 911 and even in the midst of the construction, bustle and noise everyday life it was a eerie place to be. The memorial site itself was really fitting. It must be incredibly difficult to decide how to commemorate an event such as 911 and all of the lives that were lost on the day. I really felt that the holes where the towers should be, the water running away into the ground and the names punched out of the metal that surrounds them all spoke of absence and loss and were a powerful but quiet testament to what happened.
After lunch we walked across Battery park to the Staten Island ferry, which again gave a brilliant view of lower Manhattan and also of the Statue of Liberty. It helped that the weather was beautifully sunny and unseasonably warm too. We killed a little bit of time before the lights went out and walked back over the Brooklyn Bridge again so that we could see the skyline at night. Finally we headed off into Chinatown for some food before getting the subway back to mid-town.