22.05.2013 - 22.05.2013
Day 2 of our trip was officially Day 1 of our tour. After breakfast, we met our group in the lobby. It turned out we'd be spending the next three weeks traveling with about 25 Aussie couples (and a few Brits), ages ranging from 40s to 80s, and one Kiwi couple with a daughter about the same age as mine.
Our first outing together was a sightseeing trip to all the must-see places in New York. It was a good way to get around as much as we could in the limited amount of time we had. Our local tour guide was excellent, and told lots of interesting stories about the places we drove past, or hopped off the bus to admire a little closer. On our whirlwind tour, we visited the Rockafella Centre, 5th Avenue, saw the Today Show filming, The Empire State Building, Soho, Greenwich Village, the famous Law Courts, Battery Park, the Statue of Liberty (from a distance), Wall Street, and the Freedom Tour.
Empire State Building
When we reached the Freedom Tower, we hopped off the bus because I wanted to see the World Trade Center Memorial Pools. Fortunately, we didn't need to queue, and after making our way through some airport-strength security checks, we found ourselves confronted with one of the most moving settings imaginable. Where there once stood two ridiculously tall office towers, there are now two deep pools, the bases of the buildings. Around each pool are the names of all those who died, grouped into fire ladder, flight, or company. Over the side of each pool, water flows in a continuous waterfall, drowning out the sounds of the city, leaving you in stunned silence with a jumble of calmness, anguish, and disbelief running through your veins.
World Trade Center Memorial Pool
We probably only spent 40 minutes there, in the shadow of the looming, new Freedom Tower, but it was long enough to appreciate the scale of what had happened and the legacy it left behind.
After lunch, in the sunshine, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. From the other side, we had a fabulous view of the famous skyline. We sat admiring that for some time before heading back across.
New York from the Brooklyn Bridge
Just as we left the bridge, the rain started. After a brief argument about whether we should catch the metro (I wanted to but lost, keep that in mind) we went in search of a world renowned yellow cab. After walking a block or so, the rain became a torrential downpour. Not just any old downpour, a flooding, television news making, several inches in an hour, type downpour. We huddled in a doorway, stuck on a ledge, a wall of water bucketing down in front of us. Every now and then a yellow cab would pass, already taken. After about an hour we started discussing our survival strategy, until were rescued when a doorman at a nearby hotel took pity on us and ran out into the deluge to flag down a cab. Safely in the car, we started the long, very slow, somewhat expensive drive back to 10th Avenue.
The only real dampener of getting caught in the rain was that we no longer had time to get back to 5th Avenue for shopping. Still, with that opportunity missed, I have a reason to return to New York. Like anyone ever needed a reason to return.