Monday, August 31, 2009

New York City

Item #44 on my 100 Things to do Before I Go list:

- Celebrate my 40th birthday in New York City

Well, I didn't quite celebrate the actual day itself, but I think I can say that I celebrated the day after my birthday in New York City. That's close enough for me to consider the item above as done.

Last Friday morning, I got up bright and early at 3am, the taxi picked me up at 4am and by 6:25am I was on my way for a day in New York City. My friend Steve, who works for an airline company, offered me a buddy-pass so it was decided we would go. Unfortunately at the beginning of the week, the weather forecast predicted a nice sunny day. By the time Friday came around, Tropical Storm Danny was making his presence known by providing steady rainfall the ENTIRE day. Although it did make being outside all day a little uncomfortable and it did change my plans a little, I was determined to make the most of it and enjoy myself.

We arrived at JFK airport shortly after 8am, got through customs and waited for a taxi to make our way in to Manhattan. In rush hour traffic, in took over an hour. Down in Battery Park we bought tickets for the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island ferry and really started the day.

The Statue of Liberty is really big. FYI - you can't reserve your ticket up to the crown or even the base, at the last minute. In fact, you need about 2 months lead time to be sure you'll get up to the top and about 2 weeks to buy a ticket for the base. Otherwise, all there is to do there is walk around outside. It's not a big island and in the rain, it's not so pleasant. But I did it anyway - for one day I could deal with rain.

From the Statue of Liberty, we jumped back on the ferry and stopped at Ellis Island. This was incredibly interesting. It would have been an easy thing to spend the whole day there, wandering through all the different rooms, reading about the experiences there and how it all worked. There was also some kind of theatre performance that was going on but we didn't get a chance to see that.

After taking the ferry back to Manhattan, we hailed a cab to take us up to Central Park and Strawberry Fields. (It was still raining so we decided to skip Ground Zero, Wall Street & the Charging Bull, and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.) On the way up to Central Park, we did drive past Ground Zero but weren't able to see much beyond the construction fences that were up. We also passed a whole bunch of docks, saw a cruise ship and even saw the Intrepid, an aircraft carrier that now serves as a Sea-Air-Space museum. I have NEVER seen anything so big in all my life. Crazy.

Finally up at Central Park West and 72nd Street, we walked into the park and quickly found Strawberry Fields and John Lennon's memorial Imagine. I took a bunch of pictures and was most impressed by the lack of people around. I was even able to take a picture of the famous park benches without a single person in the frame.

From there we walked through the park to the east side and up another couple of blocks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That is some place. After briefly examining the map, I decided how we could do a quick tour of the place and hopefully hit all the highlights. We did that and then seeing as it was still raining, decided to do a quick tour of the mezzanine level as well. By this time it was nearly 5pm, and there just wasn't enough time to go up to the Guggenheim Museum or to go shopping so we jumped in a cab and headed back to the airport.

What a day! Obviously it would have been great to have good weather. It would just have meant that we'd have spent more time rushing around trying to do more things and not really appreciating what we did see. So we didn't see as much but we really made the most of the places we did visit.

The flight home was fine too and I was in my front door by 11pm, after a 20-hour day. Totally worth it!

Maybe my next goal should be to spend a week in New York City!

Oh yeah - here are the pictures.

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