Carolina: Cruising Past 70: OLA: Waking up in a City That Never Sleeps

Monday, June 4, 2012

OLA: Waking up in a City That Never Sleeps

Bill and Carol at a lovely dinner in Ai Fiori (among flowers) on Fifth Avenue, NYC
Progress! One World Center now at 100 floors
the Transportation Hub emerges!
That seems like a contradiction! But Bill and I wanted to go back to New York City to live it up! Joe and Dottie let us park our RV at their home in Middletown, New York, 45 minutes from the campground. That gave us the chance to revisit Lower, Middle, and Upper Manhattan one day at a time. Let me tell you what happened!

Lower Manhattan
work at left and throngs at right, view from our hotel room
the new 9/11 Memorial wall at the Visitors Center NYC
Our room at the World Center Hotel was spacious, clean, and well-equipped but it is the location that is enviable. It is right next to the 9/11 National Memorial and our room had a view of the site so we could see the work going on, the endless queues from 9 am to 6 pm, and the 100th floor, at 1,368 feet, of One World Trade Center which, with its spire, will tower to 1,776. Even now it is again the tallest building in Manhattan. The complex will be a multifaceted Transportation Hub, connecting the World Trade Center and the World Financial Center. What a successful renewal!
Bill at the grounds of the Chapel of St. Paul with its unwavering spirit
Alexander Hamilton's tomb at Trinity Church's burial grounds
Just across the southwest side (our hotel is at the northeast side) is the little Chapel of St Paul (Catholic) which survived the fire of 1776 and the terrorist attack on 9/11. An engraved bell at the burial grounds commemorates its unwavering spirit!. Inside this chapel built in 1772, one will see the very pew that George Washington used when the nearby Trinity Church (Episcopalian), where he regularly went for service, was destroyed by fire.  At the grounds of the restored Trinity Church we found the tomb of Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father, a framer of the US Constitution, and first Secretary of the Treasury of the US.
Bill in front of the New York Stock Exchange
Bill with the Bowling Green Bull, for bullish trading
Facing Trinity Church is Wall Street where we found the New York Stock Exchange across which a big George Washington stands in front of the Federal Reserve Building seeming to ensure that every financial transaction at that Financial District is above board. About a block towards Battery Park is the charming little Bowling Green Park and its Bull! Of course, at Battery Park we got a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, now doubly meaningful to me, a naturalized US citizen after migrating here 8 years ago!
Immigrants' Memorial in Battery Park with Ellis Island at the background
Upper Manhattan
Cathedral of St. John at Upper Manhattan, NYC
In Upper Manhattan, way up on 123rd street is the Cathedral of St. John, largest handcrafted cathedral in the world! It is an exquisite work of art, inside and out. Several blocks from this cathedral is the Grant National Memorial, considered one of the top 10 mausoleums in the world. It was so cool inside, despite no air-conditioning. Three floors of marbled walls and floors surround the tombs of General and Mrs. Grant at the lower level. A huge dome tops the beautiful mausoleum, surrounded by tall elms.
the Grant National Memorial in upper Manhattan, NYC
Bethesda Fountain and lake at Central Park, NYC
Although it is considered central in Manhattan, hence the name Central Park, let me include it in this section. The few times I had been to New York I never got the opportunity to experience the Park. This time, Bill and I walked a small loop that included the Carousel, the Literary Walk, the Bethesda Fountain, boathouse and the lake. All along the Mall were artists: acrobats, jugglers, musicians, magicians, jokers, etc. competing for the public’s attention and dollars, performing under 150-year old elm trees.  
150-year old elms provide the natural canopy
for strollers at Central Park, NYC
Columbus Circle and the familiar Central Park horse-drawn carriage
At the end of the small loop we came upon a group that was singing some old familiar Beatles tunes and, of course, I stopped and sang with them! Little did we know that they were there because that was right across the John Lennon Memorial, a circular mosaic that had the word IMAGINE at the center. And about a hundred yards from the memorial, across the Park on Central Park West and 72nd St, is the Dakota Apartments at whose gate John was gunned down by Chapman at 10:50 PM of Dec. 8, 1980.
the John Lennon Memorial at Strawberry Fields Forever, Central Park New York City
Middle Manhattan
Bill inside the Empire State Building
On Central Park’s southeast side is the Maine Monument and just across is the roundabout called Columbus Circle (a statue of Columbus stands at the center). The Circle is the actual center of Manhattan and every place is measured in distance from it. Middle Manhattan is where you will find the Rockefeller Center (although the skating rink has become a flurry of stores) and the Empire State Building (which still runs tours up to 10 PM). St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a few blocks from the Rockefeller Center and we were so lucky to have made it to the Sunday 10:15 AM mass when the choir sings.
Carol at Rockefeller Plaza in NYC on Memorial Day

Memorial Day Mass at St, Patrick's Cathedral in NYC
with representatives from the Navy
We were not able to get a glimpse of the Chrysler Building and the United Nations complex but we chanced upon the Flatiron Building near the birthplace of Theodore Roosevelt, a national historic site. It is his home in Long Island, however, that most people know. But the busiest part (besides the subways) is Times Square and the Theater District beside it. I (not Bill) had so much fun having my picture taken with the Marines, the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, NYPD, and, of course, The Naked Cowboy  who were all around the Square for Memorial Day celebrations.

Teddy Roosevelt National Historic Site in Middle Manhattan, NYC

nobody seems to care...with The Naked Cowboy
 at Times Square, NYC
Then Bill and I had the time of our lives at The Times Square Visitor center for a photo op with the New Year’s Eve Ball ($8M worth) and post our prayers at the Hopes and Dreams board. Then, just a couple of buildings away we went to the American Eagle Outfitters. It took me quite a while to find an item that is not too expensive but pretty enough. I finally found a $12 top (everything was 40% off) which gave us the chance to have our 15-seconds of fame on a giant Times Square screen in front of the store!
our 15 seconds of fame at Times square, NYC!

Hopes and Dreams at Times Square Visitors' Center, NYC
Finally it was time to see Lion King at the Minskoff Theatre on 45th and Broadway.  I couldn’t help but sing Hakuna Matata and ‘Can’t you feel the love tonight’ with the cast.  I had been to several Broadway plays in New York before but this was indeed a spectacle! Next we dined at Ai Fiori (meaning among flowers) on Fifth Avenue, a gift from my daughters Trisha, Claudine and April. Never could I have spent this kind of money. But, they were right! Even if our meals at Europa CafĂ©, TGIF, and Koko’s were also good, this Ai Fiore dinner was truly the meal of a lifetime! Thank you, my girls!
Carol, before the Lion King performance
at the Minskoff Theatre off Broadway, NYC

riding a romantic tricycle in Times Square, NYC
The three Manhattans gave us everything…the best of food, theater, history, celebrations, architecture, churches, memorials, parks, and people!  Waking up to a city that never sleeps, although literally quite contradictory, is a shot of adrenalin for another eventful 24 hours each and every day!  And I was so tired i slumped on the floor of Grand Central Station, waiting for the train that would take us to Upstate New York again to get our RV and resume cruising! 
waiting for the Metro-North train at Grand Central