Thursday, July 9, 2015

Summertime, summertime ... Part 2

Where do I start?!  New York City is an amazing place to visit!
I couldn't possibly share ALL my photos here ... plus, attempting to transfer pictures from my iPhone to laptop has taken forever!  I'm sure there's an easier way than emailing them to myself (I need to talk to my techy older brother again).  At any rate, I've managed to share these here, and hope you enjoy!   :) 
 We visited Central Park a couple of times during our stay in NYC.
The beautiful, quiet "haven" surprised me. I had assumed one couldn't get away from the noise of the city.
 Umm ... my actual 40th Birthday was in NYC, which explains all the photos of myself.
[ahem-  uploaded after several hours of techy challenge, I wasn't about to delete them from this page]
 There's a quiet side to NYC, along with its loud side!
 We took a sky tram to Roosevelt Island- what fun!! 
Once again, I was surprised by the city .... this time, by how friendly people were. I had assumed New Yorkers would keep to themselves and ignore us (or possibly glare & yell at us when in their way). While riding the sky tram, a long-time New Yorker began asking where we were from, and then gave us inside tips on sites to see. Throughout our 5 day stay in NYC, we had several experiences like this one, and were quite impressed with New Yorkers' friendly, helpful ways. Yes, hundreds of business folk hurry here and there, but they lack the "cold mask" I imagined them having.
Having grown up in Northern Indiana (not far from Chicago), I cringed to realize that while holding false assumptions about New Yorkers .... in reality, they were more friendly than Chicago folk.
So much for making assumptions!!  Always see & visit for yourself, before drawing conclusions (in any area of life).   :) 


 Navigating the NYC Subway system was a big challenge, but Richard successfully guided us with his Frommer's travel guide & App. There were only a couple of times he was totally confused.  :)  One, was on the way to the airport when our trip was finished. I'm grateful we left for the airport early, and had a good "cushion" of time. :)
By the way, we pulled & carried our luggage through NYC's streets and subway system, to and from the airport (both coming & going). At first, I was embarrassed, certain we were the only ones who would do this. Later during our sight seeing, we noticed others doing the same thing. "This is New York City," Richard said, "they've seen everything."   Lol!   :) 
Often, someone would be playing music in the subway. People would stop or slow their stride, to enjoy the music. So funny ... one would be rushing to get somewhere, then stop and enjoy music for a moment before hurrying away. This particular musician group drew a good sized crowd- we could barely get a good view ourselves. It was like a partying world down below the busy streets of New York. Of course, the subway system is so big, there weren't musicians at ALL interchanges/subway stops ... but when there was (and a musician with upbeat music), there was a party.
We couldn't visit NYC without trying their pizza and cheese cake!  No picture of the cheesecake here, though it was delicious. I suppose if we had two different cheesecakes to compare, side-by-side, we'd be able to tell what makes NY cheesecake unique. Their cheesecake simply tasted like great, yummy cheesecake (with many varieties/toppings to choose from).  As for NY pizza, we determined that the crust on the pizza is what makes it so good. It has a thinner, less doughy crust, but not flat & hard, like most typical "thin" crusts.   :)  :)  Every pizza store across the country should sell some.

The loading area for Statue of Liberty's Ferry was in Battery Park and one could see the new World Trade Center through the trees. I hadn't realized how close the Statue of Liberty was to the 9/11 terror attack tragedy. Goosebumps appeared on my arms, as I considered the irony of Lady Liberty offering freedom to the those in other countries yearning for it ...only for America to be attacked for offering such liberty. 

We enjoyed Lady Liberty; the highlight of our trip. We listened to a self-guided tour, learning more about the statue (a gift from France), its symbolism, and immigrant stories. It was more of an emotional experience than I anticipated. All my life, I had wanted to see the Statue of Liberty in person... and there we were.
Some people in other countries have the same desire to see Lady Liberty (Mother of Exiles), but for another (greater) reason. They wish they could live in freedom; when it doesn't happen for themselves, they wish it for their children.  Yes, our country has problems, but nothing will be perfect in this human world. We can be grateful for our freedoms granted & enjoyed, and pray for our leaders. Likely, it could also mean we become more politically involved. If one has complaints, he should act & do!!  Let's put our unique freedom into practice/exercise- instead of becoming lazy and taking freedom for granted. :)  
 [also a reason people join the military; it's more than just a job. It's defending & protecting our freedom]

Same photo of Lady Liberty .... but with Instagram touches. I love Instagram!

Ellis Island was much larger than expected. I had difficulty capturing the massive building in my camera lens!!!  We learned more about immigration in general, and thought it was nicely done.
It would be a LOT of reading for younger children, so I'm glad our kids were at the right age to visit. We came at the perfect time (Caleb turning 16 this year ... may have a job next summer to where we can't travel as long? Only God knows).

The crowds never died down in the evening; NYC is indeed the city that never sleeps.
At times, I felt like we were going to drown in a sea of people. Like I said in my last post, it was a challenge staying together as a family. I always followed behind the others, to make sure we all stayed together. 

I had requested seeing the 9/11 Memorial & Museum for my actual Birthday .... then once there, wondered why I had considered visiting something so sad on my 40th. lol!
While exiting the subway, a lady asked if we were looking for a particular name (like I said, New Yorkers are friendly). We weren't trying to find a name, so she told us about a Fire Fighter Chief who died a hero, quickly helping people down the South Tower before its collapsed.
So ... yeah ... by the time we approached the Memorial, I had tears threatening to escape my eyes.
And yes ... we eventually found his name among the many others. 
In the place of the former Twin Towers, were two massive Memorials, with waterfalls inside. What really got to me, were the names ... several female names had "and unborn child", written beside them.
Someone had not only lost a wife (or girlfriend) ... but an unborn baby, too.   :(
The 9/11 Museum was underground- beneath the Memorials. You can see the small white-ish building, just behind the trees in photo above ... one begins at ground level, and then takes escalator to Ground Zero. 
What a touching, emotion-filled Memorial & museum. It may have been so, since Richard & I remember 9/11 well ... we were living in Missouri at that time, and had a two year old & newborn.
Our children really enjoyed the place, and weren't as disturbed by the stories and artifacts. I'm hopeful they'll always remember this visit, and never take our country's freedom or family relationships for granted.

Above, is the American flag that flew at Ground Zero.
Below, is a staircase people would have been trying to escape the tower (I don't remember which one); the stairs were hit by falling debris, causing them to crumble.
There were many stories that got to me ... but one in particular, was a recorded voice mail message from a man to his wife. He was in the South Tower when the plane hit ... management told everyone stay put (not good; they all should have run) .... and then he didn't make it out alive. I couldn't imagine what it must have been for the wife, hearing those voice mail messages later.
Pictured below: The new World Trade Center ... reminded me how life always must continue after a tragedy.
Goodness!!  After the deep emotional visit, I asked Richard why had I chosen the 9/11 Memorial on my actual 40th Birthday. :) Attempting to cheer ourselves up, Richard took me out to eat at Ruby Tuesdays at Times' Square! 
[The kids were at our hotel- it's nice having teenagers, so we can have a date during vacation!]

Do you see us inside the heart? We're there holding up our iPhones for a picture. Ha! :)
At the end of a different day (these pics aren't in order), our family enjoyed a free Philharmonic concert in Central Park!!
It was so beautiful!! :)

What fun going up, up, up the Empire State Building!!  Except for when it seemed the building was moving, while we were on the Observation Deck!

We knew we needed to visit the Financial District, even if the kids might not appreciate it.
Here we are with the Bull!!
What most people don't realize, is that Wall Street is quite a Historic street. The area has beautiful character!  You would have to see it yourself to believe it.   :)

New York was our nation's first capital, until moving to Washington DC around 1790 .... did you know that??  :)  This History fact came back to me while on Wall Street, when we saw George Washington's statue, and the plaque that marked where he gave his inaugural speech. Very cool!  It pays to study History with your children.   :)  :) 

Here's where all the buying & selling takes place ... the New York Stock Exchange!

One of our last adventures, was walking on the Brooklyn Bridge. Views of water, tall buildings, and blue sky, couldn't accurately be captured by a camera. Like I said, you'd have to be there!!
Last, but not least, we visited both China Town & Little Italy, and wished later we had gone through more ethnic neighborhoods. An amazing piece of large city-living, is the multiple foreign languages being spoken around you. You can't tell by looking at a person, whether they'll speak English well or not.
Several different times, I had to try and understand broken English, which I'm not good at (Richard's much better with understanding accents).  I smiled a lot through my focusing/concentration, so they wouldn't think I was being rude with possibly not addressing/acknowledging all they said(?)!  :)  
I thought it was neat how nearly every Restaurant in New York, had sidewalk seating. It added to the charm of the place. Realistically speaking, they likely do it due to lack of space-?  :)
Even when we explored ethnic neighborhoods, the kids were good troopers and didn't complain TOO much. ;) 

 What a trip of a life-time!!! 
I'm grateful we had this opportunity, thanks to my husband's skill/hobby of planning family trips. This trip was certainly one to remember always, along with the life lessons learned along the way (Lady Liberty, 9/11, etc.).   :)  :)

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