New York day 7: Saying Goodbye

It is New Year’s Eve now and I thought it only fitting that I write my last New York post today as I wave goodbye to an interesting year and an awesome trip.   On my final afternoon, I spent the time absorbing the signs, sounds, buildings and feel of New York as I looked for what makes it so alive and unique.  I have to admit that I tried my best not to absorb the smells though.

Ship Mosaic at Fulton Street subway
Ship Mosaic at Fulton Street subway

Platform at Fulton Street subway
Platform at Fulton Street subway

It was a bit of a shock at first to see how grimy and dark the subways were!  It made me appreciate the London Underground more!  The one thing that impressed me about the New York City subway stations is how unmistakably ancient they are.  The London Underground is actually a lot older than the New York City subway but our stations are so much more modern! (Did you notice that?  I said “our”; I think my assimilation into the United Kingdom is compete).

Signs at Fulton Street subway Signs at Fulton Street subway (2)

Before I went to New York, terms like “downtown”, “uptown” and “Upper East Side” were familiar to me but I had no idea what they actually meant.  Now it is as clear to me as could be; about as clear, in fact, as my desire to to move one husband, two dogs and one-and-three-quarter cats right over there right now.

I had to get up insanely early the next morning to catch a taxi to Newark airport and so my holiday pretty much ended on the Saturday night.  The sun was just rising as we drove to the airport.

New Jersey across the Hudson River
New Jersey across the Hudson River

And that was it.   The most amazing week was over and it was time to return to sunny England.

This is a recap of all of my New York and Washington posts:

  • New York day 1
  • New York day 2: Central Park and Upper East Side
  • New York day 2: Empire State Building
  • New York day 2: Times Square
  • New York day 2: Settling In
  • New York day 3: Circle Line Cruise
  • New York day 3: Grand Central, NYC Public Library & Rockerfeller Center
  • New York day 3: The United Nations
  • New York day 4: Both Sides of Brooklyn Bridge
  • New York day 4: Mets vs. Cardinals
  • New York day 4: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
  • New York day 5: Interlude in Central Park
  • New York day 5: Museum of Natural History
  • New York day 5: The Dakota & Strawberry Fields
  • New York day 5: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • New York day 5: The Museum of Modern Art
  • New York day 6: Day Trip to DC
  • An Eternal Tourist in Washington DC
  • DC: Lincoln and Vietnam Veterans Memorials
  • DC: The Holocaust Museum and Smithsonian
  • DC: National Air and Space Museum
  • DC: The Capitol and going home
  • New York day 7: Ground Zero
  • New York day 7: The Guggenheim Museum
  • Happy New Year!!!!!

    New York day 7: Ground Zero

    New York WTC Ground Zero

    Ground Zero is the site where the once majestic World Trade Centre complex once stood before September 11, 2001.  I believe that this was not solely an American tragedy and that the whole world changed that day.  The site at Ground Zero is quite chaotic though and so visiting it, I was surprisingly devoid of emotion.

    New York WTC Ground Zero (4)New York WTC Ground Zero (6)

    New York WTC Ground Zero (8)New York WTC Ground Zero (5)

    If you ever visit the site, I’d definitely recommend that you visit the Tribute WTC Visitor Center too.  It only costs $10 to get in and it is definitely worth it.

    Tribute WTC Visitor Center

    Tribute WTC Visitor Center

    The Tribute WTC Visitor Center is an interactive, multimedia exhibition and it has a huge impact on visitors.  There are two floors and on the first floor you walk through a timeline of the morning’s events.  Most of the people walked through in absolute silence and I am sure many people were on the verge of tears, as was I.  I had previously read 102 Minutes and so I knew quite a bit about what happened and the chronology of events that morning so I found that the exhibition had a huge impact on me.


    Tribute WTC Visitor Center (2) Tribute WTC Visitor Center (4)

    “When we got out onto Church Street, it was sheer pandemonium.  I stepped over large pieces of metal.  As someone who works in aviation insurance, I realized one piece was a row of windows from an airplane” – Neil Getter, Aon Risk Services

    Tribute WTC Visitor Center (7)Tribute WTC Visitor Center (6)

    There were audio recordings of those telephone calls and message left by people that were on United Airlines Flight 175 and other 911 calls and emergency dispatches.  It was not easy to listen to.

    Tribute WTC Visitor Center (8)

    Jim Geiger walked down from the 51st floor of the North Tower with only his Blackberry in his pocket. Months later, the NYPD returned his computer briefcase which was found in the debris

    Tribute WTC Visitor Center (11)Tribute WTC Visitor Center (12) Tribute WTC Visitor Center (17)Tribute WTC Visitor Center (14)

    The basement of the Tribute WTC Visitor Center was all dedicated to memoriam and reconciliation.

    Tribute WTC Visitor Center (24)

    There was a whole set of incredibly inspirational audio excerpts about how people had helped each other after the tragedy and how communities had pulled together in the aftermath. 

    Tribute WTC Visitor Center (28) Tribute WTC Visitor Center (29)

    Do you know the story of the Sadako Sasaki and the 1,000 paper cranes?  It is an incredibly inspirational story.  A little girl was dying of leukemia 10 years after having survived the Hiroshima bomb.  Japanese legend has it that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes would be granted on wish by a crane and so Sadako began to fold paper cranes out of any piece of paper she came across. 

    "Please treasure the life that is given to you," Sadako said before her death on October 25, 1955. "It is my belief that my small paper crane will enable you to understand other people's feelings, as if they are your own." - CNN

    Her brother donated one of her original cranes to the Tribute WTC Visitor Center saying that it is a Japanese symbol of peace but to the family, it is an embodiment of the little girl’s life and is filled with her wish and her hope.

    You can read more about it at CNN: From Hiroshima to 9/11, a girl's origami lives on.

    New York day 7: The Guggenheim Museum

    I can barely believe it is six months today since I left New York and returned home.  I feel a little bit silly that I am still blogging about it but the good (and sad) news is that I am very nearly finished.  I think that after 26 blog entries, it is safe to say that my week spent in the US left an enormous impression on me and it was an incredible voyage of personal discovery.  I’m sorry to say though that we have in fact made a decision not to go back to New York in December 2010 as planned.  I’m afraid the third Northern Hemisphere winter in a row has made me change my mind and we’ve decided to go to South Africa rather for a sun and sand filled Christmas!  On to the Guggenheim…

    Guggenheim Museum

    I had reserved the most exciting museum for my last full day in New York.  Not only was I fascinated by the work of architectural wonder that is the Guggenheim Museum, but there was also a Frank Lloyd Wright exhibition to named Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward.

    Guggenheim Museum interior Guggenheim Museum interior (3)

    Guggenheim Museum interior (2) Guggenheim Museum interior (4)

    If I had more time in new York, it is entirely possible that I would have sat in the lobby of the Guggenheim all day taking pictures of the interior.  It was fascinating!  Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Guggenheim and he was one of the most visionary, talented designers of all time.  I love how his houses seemed to emerge naturally from the landscape as if they had grown organically. 

    Guggenheim Frank Lloyd Wright Drawing Guggenheim Frank Lloyd Wright Model

    Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take photographs in the exhibition but I had forgotten about that and taken these (luckily while no one was looking!) before I remembered my manners!  Here is an example of one of his houses:

    Falling Water Frank Lloyd Wright
    Falling Water House - Frank Lloyd Wright [Image Source]

    This was the point at which…

    London Bridge Rail Station

    … I seriously began to doubt that I’d get home tonight.  (Or why snow turns me into Mrs Scroogey MacGrinch).

    This was taken at 4:30pm this afternoon.  I guess I shouldn’t complain, I got home at 6pm.  It usually takes me 15 minutes to walk from the train station but I was slipping and sliding all over the place and it took me 30 minutes!  All told, from the time I left work to the time I got home, it took two hours!

    I spent most of last week sick in bed and was actually happy to be back at work today.  I’d even like to go in tomorrow so I hope the weather obliges!  Thank goodness it is Winter Solstice tonight and the days will be getting that much longer from tomorrow.

    My brother is out of hospital and safe and sound back at home.  (He was hospitalised for ketoacidosis, a complication of diabetes, last Tuesday).  He is very weak though and can’t eat properly yet.  We came very, very close to losing him and it was the most frightening experience of my life.   I felt all the more powerless because I wasn’t allowed in the hospital because of my cold!! 

    Anyway, I do hope hope to get back into some schedule of blogging as I am leave next week.  I have a couple more New York posts which I hope to get done by Christmas and then I have quite a few London posts lined up which should take us right into the new year.  Of course, there is the small matter of our central heating still being broken which is what caused my cold in the first place so we’ll see how much I get done aside from snuggling up in bed with a good book!  We live in hope that the central heating will be fixed by Christmas.

    DC: The Capitol and going home

    It was getting on in time and soon I would be catching a coach back to New York.  I took one last look behind me to remind myself just how far I had travelled that day.

    Washington Monument from the Capitol

    There was a big event happening at the Capitol that day so I was disappointed at first to not be able to get a photo of the buildings without a big, white marquee in the way!  But I was son lucky enough to get a clear shot.

    United States Capitol

    I began to walk up Pennsylvania Avenue North West just as the sun began to set.  Washington, DC really is a beautiful city and I would love to visit again one day.

    Penn Ave

    I walked past the Newseum which is quite a new attraction and somewhere I will definitely visit on my next visit to DC.

    Newseum Michael Jackson Newseum

    The Newseum is a news museum and I was there at a very historic time as it was the day after Michael Jackson died.

    Archives of the USA United States Navy Memorial

    I walked past the US National Archives and the United States Navy Memorial.

    J Edgar Hoover FBI BuildingJ Edgar Hoover FBI Building 

    I was quite excited to stumble upon the The J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building too and you’ll be pleased to know that your intrepid South African / English expat wasn’t arrested for spying as she happily snapped away at the building. 

    Old Post OfficeThe Old Post Office Pavilion was as picturesque as I’d always imagined.

    Petersen House where Abraham Lincoln died (2)

    House where Abraham Lincoln diedPetersen House where Abraham Lincoln died 

    I took five minutes to look at Petersen House where Abraham Lincoln was taken after he was shot.  He died there after being shot at the Ford’s Theatre which was located across the street.

    My last stop before boarding the coach was the souvenir store where I bought a nice, thick FBI jersey for the ride home.  The air conditioning was so high on the coach that I had frozen on the way in that morning!!

    The ride home seemed to go a lot quicker than the one in but my iPod ran out of battery about 90 minutes from New York.  Tragedy!!  I then got speaking to two lovely people from Ohio and that passed the time.  The man amused me as he had once dated an Afrikaans girl in Ohio and he repeated some things that really, really made me blush.  The Afrikaans culture is generally more conservative than English culture in South Africa but what he repeated to me was absolutely outrageous!  Seriously, I could repeat it here in the knowledge that none of you would know what I mean but it is that bad that I won’t!


    We passed Baltimore on the way back which was exciting for me because my favourite TV show ever was based there: Homicide: Life on the Street.

    Later on once the sun had set, we passed over a massive water way.  It was either the Memorial Bridge at Delaware or maybe even the Susquehanna Bridge.  Probably the former?  I don’t know.  All I remember is that the bridge seemed to go on forever over the water and I had never seen a river that wide in my life before.  It was dark and eerie too and just fascinating.  Reason #264 to go back to DC next time I visit New York!!!  Actually, judging from this video, I think it was the Susquehanna River that I was crossing.  It was amazing.

    I got home that night at about midnight I think.  Having left at some ungodly predawn time that morning, I have to say that I have never been that tired before and I don’t think I’ll ever be that tired again.  After dutifully putting my beloved iPod on to charge, I collapsed into bed and slept through my second last night in America.

    Liverpool: Bombed Out Church of St Luke

    I’ve often mentioned my fascination with the Church of St Luke, the bombed out shell of a church that still stands in Liverpool.  When I was in Liverpool a couple of weeks ago, I thought I owed it to my blog readers to make a turn there and take some photos for you.

    After our visit to the new Quiggins Centre we continued to walk down Renshaw Street and soon the outline of the church became visible.

    Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 01 From a distance, it looks like any other church.  It is only as you come closer that you realise that this is merely a shell; it is all that remains after the church was hit by an incendiary bomb on May 5 1941.  That is my birthday, May 5.

    Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 02

    Something about this church haunts me.  I am interested in war, of course, and the devastation that occurred in Liverpool and London during the Blitz but this goes beyond that.

    Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 03

    I think it is the idea that the sense of devastation after a war can be so absolute that there is simply no sense in rebuilding or even tearing down.

    Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 04

    We’re simply left with painful, hurtful and permanent reminders of just how much has been lost.

    Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 05 Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 06 Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 07

    And over the years, those people who could remember what it was like before all the devastation and destruction move on.  Until no one alive can remember what it was like before or even what it was like during the war and all the suffering and loss.

    Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 09I wonder if it is better where they are?  When our war veterans and survivors move on, are the buildings and churches there complete once again?

    Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 11

    Does the Church of St Luke still have stained glass windows in that place?  Does it have shiny, brown, wooden pews and does it still smell of prayer books and polish?  Does the afternoon sunshine cast rainbows of light across the floor?

    Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 12What will happen when no one is left to remember that war? Or is that what has started to happen?  Is that why we are so keen to rush off to war in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 08 

    I’m so lucky to have my father to tell me all of the war stories that he can remember.  Of course, he was only born the year the war ended in 1945 but he tells me of what a hero my grandfather was.

    Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 15

    Of how he was in the navy and how he travelled the world and fought in the major operations.  (I must remember to start taking notes!)

    I guess it goes to show how little people appreciate their heritage, as the Church of St Luke is on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register.  How sad.

    Postcard update:  I am the worst person on Earth for actually getting off my backside and going to the post office.  So, I can confirm that I still have to post postcards for Rose, Matt and Martyn.  Christina, Kathy, Ivanhoe and April still need to send me their postal addresses!  Come on ladies… I’ll have to donate the postcards to the rest of the internet if you don’t reply!  Email your address to missus dot emm at gmail dot com.