The final stage of our
round-the-world odyssey took us to New York, for the first time since 1983,
when we were there with two small boys and Sandie’s mother. We noticed some
changes, not least the disappearance of the World Trade Center towers, but the
big restless city atmosphere was the same, and very different from the other
places we have visited on this trip. We realised how much we had missed the
metropolitan buzz you get in London especially.
We took the opportunity
to take in a couple of shows. One, called ‘Viagara Falls’, was an off-Broadway
comedy, but unfortunately it was poorly scripted and acted and a bit of a
disappointment. The next night we went to see a new Broadway musical called ‘In
the Heights’, which was lively and energetic and well worth seeing.
During the days we explored
the city, mainly on foot with some subway travel. We went downtown twice, and
saw the ongoing work of rebuilding the World Trade Center site, with the aim of
opening the memorial there on September 11th next year. We walked
along the shoreline with views across to New Jersey, and visited the South
Street Historic Seaport with its old ships as well as new shops and restaurants
(Pier 17), and views of Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge. We did a harbour
cruise from there, with an insane commentator, and got close-up views of the
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The same evening we used the (free) Staten
Island Ferry to get views of the Statue of Liberty at sunset, the lights of
Manhattan coming on and the new moon rising over Brooklyn. In fact, we did the
return journey from Manhattan to Staten Island twice, completely free.
Uptown, we walked
through Times Square and up Fifth Avenue. We visited the Rockefeller Center and
went to the ‘Top of the Rock’ observation deck twice, once by day and again by
night. The view was impressive both times, but Manhattan by night was truly
spectacular. We explored Central Park
pretty thoroughly; we walked for miles, had a rowing boat out on the lake and
sampled ‘knishes’ for the first time.
(According to the guy running the ‘Knish Nosh’ stall, these are a
Polish-Jewish staple; they consist of mashed potato with spices and your choice
of other main ingredient in a light pastry case – very tasty.) During a wet
period we went in the Museum of Natural History and admired their dinosaur
displays as well as a massive walk-through ‘Big Bang’ exhibit.
Twice we had dinner
sitting at outdoor cafes in Bryant Park, on 42nd Street, which is a
really nice venue in the evening. On another occasion we ate on a balcony at
Pier 17 watching the full moon rise, and twice we patronised Irish pubs, of
which there is an endless supply in New York. One evening, after attending a
show and then going to the ‘Top of the Rock’, we needed a meal at 11pm, and
found an Irish pub which was very happy to serve us – giving us further
evidence for the term ‘the city that never sleeps’.
New York was a brilliant
end-piece to our year-long trip around the world. We have seen Komodo dragons
and Broadway musicals, the Bungle Bungles and Waikiki Beach. From the Big
Apple, our next stop was Heathrow and home, wherever home might be.