Monday, April 28, 2014

New York, New York! Part III: Sunny Endings

Blue skies and sunshine again greeted us on Sunday morning. Kate and I spent some time reading through and discussing Philippians 2 for our morning "church", then rode a couple subway stops to Central Park, ready, after the previous day's adventures, to just enjoy a {free}, relaxing walk. It was a lovely morning/afternoon.

First stop: A park in Central Park! We got some strange looks from all the young parents and 5-year-olds, but very classily pretended not to notice.

Thus began our 3.5 hour stroll through sunshiny paths. With beautiful scenery, fabulous people-watching, and good conversation, we reckoned it time well-spent.

There were many ponds throughout the park, but the reservoir was by far the prettiest. The path around it was especially designed for runners, and literally hundreds were taking advantage of it, making me wish I'd brought my running gear!

We finally got pretzels! (they were rather dry and anti-climactic, but we got 'em!)
During our short sit-down, I wrote postcards, and Kate took pictures.
I thought we should do a grumpy picture, but Kate doesn't know how to be grumpy.
  This little tower was actually built in 1869 as a look-out tower. Now, it's in the Shakespeare garden of Central Park. :)
How cool is this instrument?? I wish I knew what it was called, so if you're an enlightened individual, leave a comment and let me know! The musician had a microphone and was playing and singing away.

After Central Park it was time for getting lost a stroll along the streets, heading toward none other than Times Square! Bikes and buildings marked our way...
 ...and the Museum of Natural History...
...with good ol' Teddy guarding the entrance.

After a quick stop for "coffee" (aka, an excuse to use an outlet to charge a dying phone/camera battery), we arrived. Unexpectedly, this was actually one of the most fun and exciting moments for me! :p

First view...
We were there!! :)
And so were the minions!

Bound and determined to spend as little money as possible, we boldly began our walk down the square. However, being chased down by Spider Man, who apparently thought we were gorgeous enough to get a picture w/o paying for his pose, forced us to seek refuge in the Hershey store. What could we do? We were greeted, upon entering, with two free chocolates, and enjoyed perusing all the delectable options. It was here that I lost Kate for a second time, although our separation was considerably shorter, being above ground and in the same crowded room.

Next, we were drawn by unseen forces to the M&M store. This place was beyond cool. Boasting over 22 non-traditional colors in M&Ms, I just had to get some hot pink and deep purple ones for my M&Ms back home (Megan and Madeline), as well as some green M&M shoelaces for the Z-man who leads the Littles.

Next stop (which was just a thrill to walk into, as you shall presently see) was the Disney store. Downstairs was cute - Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, etc - but when we turned our feet toward the escalator to visit the second floor, we were enchanted with the "Tangled"-theme lighting!

(Yes...this pic is obviously from our trip back down the escalator. Kudos to you observant ones)

At the top, a Disney castle and elegant chandelier dominated the floor, with princess dresses, accessories, and dolls at every turn. We liked it muchly.

A quick stop to H&M, and then the growing darkness encouraged us to turn our steps away from the Square (I would 100% recommend spending a whole day there, not just a couple hours) and toward the Empire State Building!

Long lines and elevator rides brought us to breath-taking views from the 86th floor/observation deck. It was beautiful (the pictures really can't do it justice), with lighted streets cutting deep gorges between the towering buildings, stretching far, far away.

Thus flew our weekend in New York City. The next morning was pack-up-and-leave day, in which we marveled at the sunburns we had somehow acquired during our hours of walking in freezing sunshine, at how fast the time flew, and at how confusing train stations can be. It was a fabulous couple days, and so I say, "Hooray for NYC!"

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

New York, New York! Part II: Statues, Strolls, Supper, and Too Many Pictures!

In the end, we made it to Battery Park (you were on the edge of your seat for that cliff-hanger, weren't you?). As we streaked up to the ticket office (our cell phones reading 2:45pm), I held only one hope: that they would allow us either to exchange or refund our tickets. You see, the website had been very strict: You depart at 2. Be there at least half an hour early to go through security, or you will miss your chance. Completely. And never-ever-ever get an opportunity to see the Statue of Liberty again. Ever. In fact, your name will be blacklisted from any sightseeing you ever thought you wanted to do for the rest of your life!

Or...I was sure it said something like that. Lo and behold, we arrived only to be informed that the departure time on our tickets was irrelevant, and ferries embarked every 15 minutes - just go get in line! I had so completely resigned myself to missing this iconic NYC moment, that I was excited beyond reason to wait in line for security! We were in!

Blustery wind (which seems to be the norm in NYC) flurried around us, mimicking our internal impatience and excitement to finally board and be on our way to visit Lady Liberty!

Apparently, the ferry was out of pretzels. We were sad.
But we were on the ferry toward Liberty Island! We were happy!

And then, suddenly, were were there! Bobbing up to the dock at Liberty Island and seeing the towering Statue of Liberty up close and in person - it was a fabulous moment. A fabulous moment which turned into a cool couple of hours as we strolled around the island and took waaay more pictures than we will ever know what do with!


A couple happy, windy hours later, we were patiently waiting in line for the return ferry, being very mature and acting like grown ups, just as young ladies in New York always do...


Actually we got a little bored. Waiting in line for an hour will do that to you, you know. Returning to shore, we had a minor detour, the telling of just another "you don't want to know," and then we began a leisurely stroll up Broadway, only to discover...

...Trinity Church, at the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway!! (Shout out to all "National Treasure" fans!)


...and, of course, the Trinity graveyard (the one above ground, not beneath the church).

This fun discovery was followed by a more sobering event: a visit to Ground Zero. Words fail me. It was horrible, and sad, and right, and good, and a proper conclusion to our visit of Liberty Island. Lady Liberty is recognized world-wide as a monument to a new world, to a new life - to freedom. Walking a couple blocks deeper into the city, the Freedom Tower stands as the modern affirmation of her cause, soaring in blatant defiance of those who wanted to steal our freedom away, declaring "and yet, we are free."

Then there was more walking and random picture taking through the streets of New York.
In front of City Hall. :)

Our adventurous first day concluded (at least, according to the photographs) when our freezing feet found rest in a charming cafe in Little Italy, which has apparently shrunk in size to a mere two streets, China Town (which, despite its growing size, we did not visit) having grown over the former boundaries...

No extra charge for that quick geography lesson.

The food was, naturally, fabulous, but the atmosphere - couldn't be topped. :)

The street that boasted our restaurant. :)

    Yum Yum Yums! My first cannoli!

Only two more things have I to tell you:

1. Apparently, I lied about this stop being photographically the end of our day. A few pictures are being withheld to preserve whatever remains of the dignity of the subjects. The other proves that I most definitely had Kate with me at the subway stop before going home:

2. I like pictures too much, and thus find this post to have completely reached the scrolling limit. Translation? Day Two will have to follow. Let me tell you, it takes talent to turn 2 days into 3 blog posts. Only a master of superfluous words and obsessive picture taking can manage such a feat.

Over and out, gang!