Monday was cloudy with a chance of thunder showers. I put a folding umbrella and light jacket into my handbag and headed out into the muggy day. The hotel shuttle took me to the Walmart Super Centre, where we had picked up most of Fiona's res stuff on our first day in NJ. The alarm clock ipod dock had not worked for her, and needed to be returned. Funny, she set it to go off her first morning in residence and it didn't. She and her roommate were almost late for freshman orientation that morning. They tried again the next morning, and confirmed that it still didn't work, so Fiona gave it to me and I took it back to my hotel. On Thursday morning I had my first opportunity to sleep in. Guess what? At 7:15am the clock started to alarm, inside the box, on the emergency backup battery. It took me a couple of minutes to figure out what was making a noise. NERTZ! stupid alarm clock. Well, I was up early after all.
Back to Monday. The nice lady at Walmart gave me a store credit because we couldn't find the receipt for the alarm clock. We can use it at any Walmart in the US, so we'll take it to Walmart in Bellingham where they sell cheap Smart Pop microwave popcorn and also cheap beer. The shuttle picked me up and I got a ride to Secaucus Junction train station, where I grabbed a train into the city. I connected to the subway near the train station, and rode it down into Lower Manhattan. The subway is amazingly easy to use and always full of people, so it feels safe. All of the city maps have the subway lines and stops clearly marked, and google maps will tell you which train to take and where to transfer if you're planning your trip ahead of time. Here's a picture of the above-ground part of a subway station near Times Square.
The only thing I didn't like about the subways is how hot the underground stations get in the summer. It's like waiting in a pizza oven. The trains are air-conditioned so it's a relief when you get inside. They take you swiftly to wherever you want to go, and there are local and express trains.
I took the Staten Island Ferry out to see the Statue of Liberty. The ferry is free, and passes very close to the island where the statue stands. The boat was full of visitors who crowded along the statue side of the boat to snap photographs. At Staten Island we all got off, then raced up the ramp to re-board for the free ride back to Manhattan. When I have more time, I'll go find out what there is to see and do on Staten Island.
Battery Park is right beside the ferry dock, so I walked through part of the park next. It's a very large park, which deserves another day's visit. I found a quick, healthy outdoor lunch at an unfortunately named food stand, jumped on a kids' playground toy that made xylophone sounds (much fun) and looked at memorials for those who served in the Second World War and Korean War.
To the north, I could see the Freedom Tower under construction at the World Financial Centre. I follwed a pedestrian walkway up to the World Trade Centre site. All along the way there were new parks and playgrounds and small scale people-friendly places, even a community garden just steps from the site of the 9-11 calamity and the memorial and new development that is being built. At the World Financial Centre I entered a walkway that took me around the perimeter of the memorial site. You'll see it all on TV and in the newspaper this weekend. Two huge reflecting pools stand in the footprints of the towers, with waterfalls going into them and a treed plaza surrounding them. The new buildings form a quadrangle around the outside. Their mezzanine lobbies are open to the public to walk around and view the memorial site.
The people there were all quiet. The mood was very reverent and sombre. I'm glad I saw it, and I left feeling kind of emptied out. My thoughts were of the people who died and those who lived through the worst day of their lives here. I was also processing my goodbye to Fiona the evening before, and my impending journey home. As soon as I got away from the site, I found a place to sit on a bench and I phoned Fiona at the university. She was having a very good day, meeting the remaining students from her class who were arriving and moving in. She had gone for a workout at the gym which she says is wonderful, and was getting ready for her first floor meeting in her residence. I wished her well on her auditions the next day, told her how much I love her, and said goodbye from New York - next call will be from home.
After all that I needed cheering up, so I headed back to midtown to the friendliest, happiest, loveliest public place that I know in New York. I'm not talking about Starbucks either. Bryant Park is a place that Al showed us when we visited in January. I hung out there for about an hour and just watched the people. I also visited the most lovely public bathroom in the world. It's just as nice in the summer time as it is in the winter.
Bryant Park revived my spirit. I had thought I was going to grab takeout and return to the hotel for supper, but I was feeling regretful that Fiona and I did not have time to squeeze in a visit to Yum Yum Thai restaurant, so I took myself there for a very nice supper.
Then I went back to the hotel to relax, pack and get ready to go home. It was really a very nice day, exploring New York City 100% by myself. In case anyone wonders if I was really there, I did snap a photo of myself in the restaurant bathroom, using my new ipod.
question: where have you explored all on your own?
mompoet - Goodbye New York. See you again soon I hope.