A Travellerspoint blog

Day Two

Down Town New York and Brooklyn

I found planning our trip to New York a nightmare. Part of the reason for that was simply that there is too much to do there and it is not easy to narrow down what you want to see. The other reason was my husband insisted on going round by big bus for two days. His reasoning was that we had enjoyed the big bus in Cape Town and it would probably be good in New York, too. I was completely against it and wanted to explore New York purely by public transport. Anyway, to cut a long story short, he won and we booked the big bus, or more accurately New York City Sightseeing bus for two days. Included in the price was a downtown tour, an uptown tour, a Brooklyn tour, a Bronx tour, a hop on hop off boat trip, a night tour and entry to two museums. We did not manage to do all of this. We managed the downtown, the uptown, the night tour, the Bronx and the boat trip.

We started day two by going to the City Sightseeing office to change our voucher to a ticket. The first thing I noticed when I stepped out of the subway in Manhattan was how tall everything was.

Tall buildings, Manhattan.

Tall buildings, Manhattan.

We got our city sightseeing tickets and boarded the down town tour. I had read somewhere, don't ask me where, that individual New York sights are so famous they sometimes come as a disappointment, but that the city as a whole has an energy and vibe that is quite captivating. I think there is a lot of truth in this view. Our first sight on the big bus was Times Square - tall buildings, neon signs, adverts. To me it was no different from standing in the middle of Causeway Bay, Hong Kong ( I live in Hong Kong). I know you can't see a sight properly just passing through on a bus, but we came back here later the same day on foot and I felt just the same. It was nothing special.

Times Square by day.

Times Square by day.

Times Square by night.

Times Square by night.

Peter in Times Square.

Peter in Times Square.

We passed a couple of famous sights I'll refer back to later when we visited them individually - the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building.The next sight was - the Flat Iron Building. I liked this. I had originally intended to get off here and walk to Union Square, but I changed my mind. We had largely just got on and decided to stay on for a little longer. We fully intended to go back here on foot later on, but did not have time. The Flat Iron building is twenty-two stories high and shaped like a triangle. It was completed in 1902.

The Flat Iron Building.

The Flat Iron Building.

The Flat Iron viewed from the night tour.

The Flat Iron viewed from the night tour.

A bit further on we whizzed passed Union Square another place we meant to visit but did not get round to. I believe it is famous for protests and lively with stalls and buskers, but will never know for sure.

Union Square.

Union Square.

We had no fixed plan re where to get off on this tour but, for some reason, spontaneously decided to get off at City Hall and City Hall Park. This was also a sight I really liked. New York City Hall is the seat of New York City government and the oldest city hall in the United States. It is an impressive building and the park next to it with its lovely fountain is worth seeing, too.

New York City Hall.

New York City Hall.

New York City Hall Park.

New York City Hall Park.

From City Hall Park we set out to walk to the 9/11 Memorial. On the way we passed St Paul's Chapel. In its graveyard we came across the Bell of Hope. The Bell of Hope was a gift from London’s St. Mary-le-Bow, the sister church to St. Paul’s Chapel. It was installed here in September 2002. It is rung every year on September 11th and in sympathy with the victim's of terrorist atrocities worldwide.

The Bell of Hope.

The Bell of Hope.

I found the 9/11 memorials a very moving sight. I'm sure we all remember that on September 11th, 2001, al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four airliners and carried out suicide attacks against the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon near Washington, D.C. Over 3,000 people were killed during these attacks. The 9/11 Memorial consists of two pools which occupy the foundations of the destroyed buildings. The name of every victim of the massacre is inscribed on the memorial. A rose is placed on each victim's name on their birthday. This is a heart-breaking sight, but it is well worth seeing. Later on when we did the night tour, our tour guide told us his own personal memories about 9/11. His family knew his sister was in that area and were terrified she had been killed, but although she had been nearby, she came home to them crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on a bicycle she had found on the street. She arrived in a state of shock and covered with dust. Our guide said many New Yorkers will not come near this place, the memories are still too raw.

The 9/11 Memorial.

The 9/11 Memorial.

The 9/11 Memorial.

The 9/11 Memorial.

Another building of note here is the 1,776-foot One World Trade Centre which occupies the site of the former 6 World Trade Centre Building. It is the tallest building in the USA and the sixth tallest building in the world.

The One World Trade Centre.

The One World Trade Centre.

From this area we walked down to the Hudson River. There are wonderful views towards New Jersey from here. There is also a lovely statue and flower filled park along the waterfront.

Looking towards New Jersey.

Looking towards New Jersey.

The Hudson River Park.

The Hudson River Park.

From the Hudson River Park we boarded our hop on hop off boat trip. This was well worth the money. We both loved it. Best sights were a view of the Manhattan skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge, Ellis Island - where immigrants to New York were once processed - and for me best of all, the Statue of Liberty which I have always wanted to see.

The beautiful Brooklyn Bridge.

The beautiful Brooklyn Bridge.

The Manhattan Skyline.

The Manhattan Skyline.

The Statue of Liberty.

The Statue of Liberty.

Liberty Island.

Liberty Island.

Ellis Island.

Ellis Island.

Pier 59, where the Titanic should have docked.

Pier 59, where the Titanic should have docked.

After our very enjoyable boat tour, we tried to rejoin the big bus. Not as easy as it sounds - huge queues, few buses, fight to get on, after around 45 minute wait, could only get a seat downstairs, two people upstairs hit on the head by tree branches and had to be taken to hospital. We were NOT IMPRESSED.

I was very, very glad to get off the downtown tour having only managed to hop off once. Did not dare get off again as it was so difficult to get back on. We switched to the night tour. I was now in a pretty bad mood, but must admit the night tour cheered me up. Our guide was informative and funny there were some lovely views. The only downside is my camera does not take great night time shots so my photos do not do it justice.

Passing by the Empire State Building.

Passing by the Empire State Building.

Penn Station.

Penn Station.

The Met Life Tower.

The Met Life Tower.

View from the Manhattan Bridge.

View from the Manhattan Bridge.

Darkness descends over Manhattan.

Darkness descends over Manhattan.

The Empire State Building by night.

The Empire State Building by night.

Posted by irenevt 08:12 Archived in USA

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