I'm happy to mooch around cities forever, but my dad isn't much of a city-goer and much prefers getting out and about, so we got a car and decided to make use of it. We drove down to Coney Island and had a brief look, but the whole place was of course closed up for Winter. We headed down to Long Island, Dad's goal was to check out a couple of exclusive golf courses down there, and we stopped off at a diner along the way.
The last few days were a lot of driving around some beautiful small towns in New Jersey, shopping and eating at various diners. :) I spent far too much money in Toys R US (buying TRU exclusive ponies we can't get in England) and MIchaels, mainly on scrapbooking supplies. Oops.
I love New York. I love large, busy cities so of course it's right up my street. Shopping in America (as a Brit) is incredible, too! Everything is so cheap compared to over here, it's crazy. I can't wait to go back to NYC, probably for NYCC someday. <3
Today would be our last full day in Manhattan, as we were planning on grabbing a car for the weekend. Just as well, since the weather was due to turn pretty wet and miserable! We went to Macy's to take a look at their famous window displays before heading up to Central Park. Macy's was great! We went in and had a look at their huge Christmas department, and fell in love with all the beautiful decorations! In the end, Mum decided to buy a Nutcracker figure with a Christmas countdown on it, because New York was full of Nutcrackers everywhere and it just summed up the whole trip to us!
We took a train to the north of the park since I'd only seen the south part before, but I certainly wouldn't recommend it, especially in Winter! There really wasn't anything there... we spent hours just wandering down to the south part of the park. I guess I should have researched it before we went there. The bottom half of the park is wonderful, though.
After Central Park we were all pretty exhausted, so we walked towards Times Square and the Rockefeller Center to try and snap some photos of the tree when it was less crowded, but unfortunately the Heavens opened and it poured down! Just in time for us to go and get the car for the rest of the holiday, really! We also heard that William and Kate were due to fly into New York soon and didn't really want to get involved with the extra crowding and heightened security, so the rest of our holiday would take us away from Manhattan!
Day two was a really full day for us over in Manhattan. We took a ferry over from New Jersey and it dropped us off pretty much directly next door to the World Trade Center site, so we decided to have a look around there and visit the memorial. We passed the One World Trade Center (the Freedom Tower) on the way, and that building is so impressive! The way it's been designed is so crazy, it makes it look so tall if you stand at the base and look up, due to the optical illusion of the fine point at the top. It was beautiful to see on such a clear sunny day.
It's really a strange thing to visit the 9/11 memorial. I can't believe the whole thing happened over a decade ago, it still feels so fresh and recent. The actual memorial area was beautifully designed, two huge pools of flowing water surrounded by the names of those lost in the attacks. Some of the names had white roses tucked into them, and I later learned that it would have been their birthday. There was a beautiful callery pear tree there that has been dubbed the Survivor Tree that had been nurtured back to life, and oddly enough it was the only tree there in bloom when we visited.
A callery pear tree became known as the "Survivor Tree" after enduring the September 11, 2001 terror attacks at the World Trade Center. In October 2001, the tree was discovered at Ground Zero severely damaged, with snapped roots and burned and broken branches. The tree was removed from the rubble and placed in the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. After its recovery and rehabilitation, the tree was returned to the Memorial in 2010. New, smooth limbs extended from the gnarled stumps, creating a visible demarcation between the tree’s past and present. Today, the tree stands as a living reminder of resilience, survival and rebirth.
The museum was very hard, though. I'm glad we did it. I was dubious at first, because it all feels so macabre to ogle the dead. However, it was all presented so thoughtfully - with the upmost of respect. There were a few things I couldn't bring myself to do - they had little telephone handsets where you could hear the last phone calls and messages from people who called from the towers or the planes. I just don't like that. I head them enough, over and over, when they played them on the news at the time, and it bothered me. These were private messages, the last words these people said to those they love, I've no right hearing them and nor does anybody else.
Largely though, the whole experience was really worthwhile seeing, and really difficult. A lady near me left in tears. It's obviously still far too raw and far too real for some people. I walked around in tears at some of it. It was horrible. It sounds awful to call it a 'good day out', because of the subject matter, but it really is worth the trip.
I didn't take many photos inside the museum. I found it incredibly tacky for the most part. People were taking selfies up against photos of the tower collapsing. It was grotesque. I really liked this line though.
Afterwards, we grabbed a bite to eat at a local cafe (authentic, recommended by one of the World Trade Center employees, where I had a very yummy philly cheese steak and salad, nom!) and took a slow walk down towards Battery Park to go see the Statue of Liberty! We weren't planning on actually going to the Statue of Liberty herself, I went last year with Moose and found it incredibly disappointing. Instead, we planned to take the Staten Island Ferry across to take some photos and see her up close from the vantage point of a dry, warm (and free!) boat. We ended up getting to see her at sunset, which was incredibly pretty (and the photos don't really do it justice, sadly).
We decided to head back up to the WTC area afterwards, where we grabbed a drink at a local Irish Pub before heading back to the apartment. It was a busy, full day and we were shattered!
Day three coming soon!~
Apologies for the lacklustre blogging lately! Honestly I've been so busy I just haven't had much time to sit down and catch up here! My family and I spent a week in New York a couple of weeks ago, and then we went to Danny Elfman's concert in the Royal Albert Hall, and then I went to the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland with my buddy Laura. So, I'm going to try and catch up with everything before Christmas. Eep!
Anyway, so New York! Basically, my parents haven't had a holiday in a few years now after inheriting my nan's cat. Tigger is very insecure and we've never felt all that content putting him in a cattery while we go away and have fun, but after a few years they both really wanted a break and a vacation! We chose New York because I'd been there last year with Moose and really enjoyed it, and because Mum has wanted to visit there forever. Dad's actually not a big fan of busy cities or crowds, so the plan was to break it up, stay in New Jersey and get a car half way through so we could travel around and do some more 'real' America. It was the best of both worlds, really!
We flew out on December 2nd with British Airways. They were great! I used to be a Virgin Atlantic fangirl but BA really won me over, the crew were fantastic, the in flight entertainment was great and the food was yummy. By the time we got through security (seriously, three giant flights land and Newark Airport had four immigration desks open), and got to our apartment, we were all far too tired to do much else that night. The apartment was crazy though! We overlooked the Manhattan skyline, it was beautiful.
We were only a quick train or boat across from Manhattan, so we spent our first day exploring our local area and grabbing pancakes at the City Diner. They were lighting the Rockefeller Tree later that evening, so our plan was to walk up to the Newport Mall, have a look around and then rest in the afternoon before taking a train over to Manhattan in an attempt to get to Rockefeller. That's where I had the cutest interaction with a child, ever! I was stood on the train with my parents when this woman said to me "she's obsessed with your hair." I looked down to see two little girls, both smiling at me. Of course, I've got bubblegum pink hair at the moment, and the woman, obviously their mother, explained that they thought I was a mermaid. Honestly, I've been rehearsing this interaction ever since I started dying my hair! I told her I wasn't a mermaid, I was a unicorn and that's why I had pink hair. It was so adorable! The older girl said her name was Elsa and she had snow magic (uh huh) and her little sister poked her tongue out and told me that she had 'snake magic'. I didn't question what snake magic was, but she was at the age where she probably saw a snake recently and realised I Like Snakes. It was so perfect. They asked me if I was a unicorn, where was my horn? And I said you can only see it if you believe enough! If I have children, I'll make sure they're as cute as these two were, full of magic and excitement.
It was so busy though. We knew it would be, with the tree lighting and all, but the crowds were crazy! Mariah Carey was performing 'All I Want For Christmas' so that kind of explains it, but she was so bad! Like, her performance was super off key. We learned later that she was meant to record her performance but didn't turn up at the recording session so was just forced to perform it live. Which, y'know, is probably what a multi millionaire singer should be able to do anyway, but what do I know? Ahem!
We left the crowds because it was just too crazy, and stumbled across the entrance to the Empire State Building, completely by accident! Since that was absolutely on our 'to do' list, we decided to go up and enjoy the view. It was super windy and cold up there, but I took some great pics!
I'm gonna wrap up day one here because I'm posting lots of photos! I'll be back soon with part 2! :)
Last Saturday, my friends and I went on our annual pilgrimage to the Bath Christmas Market! We all met at university in Bath, so meetups in the city are a lovely occasion even though none of us live particularly far. Unfortunately, we could only make Saturday, which was the busiest and most hellish day, so it wasn't the relaxing romp it usually is. It took me over an hour just to snake my way in and out of the car park, and then we spent the whole afternoon trying to find somewhere to eat that wasn't closed or packed to the brim. As fun as the market is, we all decided that if we had to go on a Saturday again, we probably wouldn't bother. It was pretty and it's always nice meeting up with my friends, but the crush just made it more chore than fun. Oh well!
I actually nearly lost these photos. Half way through copying them onto the PC to make this blog post yesterday, I got a popup saying the card needed to be formatted. I was getting 'memory card error' in every device I put the card in, and I spent the evening flailing and Googling for help. Eventually, I came across a program called Zero Assumption Recovery which managed to save all of the photos (which was crazy since anything else I tried told me there was no disk in my SD card slot at all, it just wasn't recognised at all!) Best of all, it was free! Total lifesaver. Gonna chuck the card in the bin now, hah.
Every year, one of our traditions involves climbing up Bath Abbey. They offer special little tours where you're allowed up to the very top, overlooking the whole city below, with complimentary hot chocolate or mulled wine. We do it every year, it's just really nice.
And here's a bonus photo by Sarah, since I'm never in any photos I take myself. Rockin' some very fuchsia pink hair at the moment... waiting for it to fade to the baby pink I prefer.
Anyway! Tomorrow my parents and I are flying out to New York City for a week of festive good times! In typical nerd fashion, I am absolutely taking my laptop (and tablet, and phone, and camera, and 3DS...) as well as a Smash Book, a sketch book and some other goodies, so you won't be without me long. We chose an apartment with free wifi. Of course. :>
Hey there! I'm Selena, an artist, blogger and video gamer - but maybe not always in that order! Dream Somehow is a geek, travel and Disney lifestyle blog dedicated to my nerdy little life! If you'd like to learn a little more about me, click here.