Once Upon a Week

So this is the week that was. Sounds ominous right? Well, it’s been one of those weeks. So the last time we blogged we were hoping to head off the next day to the Smithsonian. Well, as luck would have it, the cold that we’d been battling took control and confined us to bed for the duration of the day. Not. Happy.

The following morning we were on an early train from Washington D.C. to New York, to meet up with some friends, do the usual tourist stuff in the Big Apple and generally get up to trouble. That was the plan. Guess again. We made the train, we were collected by the friends, and spent the following day still cooped up being sick. Things were looking grim.

On Tuesday we finally received a reprieve from the evilness that was masquerading as a cold and fought our way into the city. Catching a train from New Jersey we rattled and bumped our way along and under the Hudson River and into New York Penn station. Hooray!

A quick trip up to 42nd, then around to 48th and we were on our way! Now sadly at this point we found ourselves heading hopelessly in the semi-right direction. Only semi-right. So in our attempt to walk from 48th and 8th Aves to the river (just beyond 12th Ave) we somehow wound up at 5th and 27th. Whoops! We’re only about 1.5kms too far south! Quick march back northwest and we’re back on track and boarding the New York Water Taxi!

A 15min ride later and we’re getting off at Battery Park. It’s an interesting place, considering it’s landfill between two massive old piers many moons ago, and is now home to an aging fort, some gardens and is the closest point to jump off for the 9/11 Memorial. Which was our next destination.

In our baggage we’d carefully carried a donation from the Dereel CFA crew, one of their crew badges, as a symbol of their support and sympathies to those lost during the tragedy that was those attacks. Our visit was to deliver that badge, and the sentiments of a rural Australian crew, together with those of our friends and family who asked us to do so on their behalf. We were honoured to do this, and were speechless at the memorial itself.

These sorts of tributes aren’t for everyone, the sentiment and emotion can quite easily overcome a lot of people and we respect those who choose not to attend such places because of these reasons. We’ve visited other sites, like Culloden Moor in Scotland. But standing by the pools that mark the spots of the North and South Towers, watching the water cascade over the top edge and into the unending catchment pools was an eerie feeling. In my mind it I couldn’t help see the water as the tears that were cried at the time, and all those shed ever since. At the loss of innocent lives, and the innocence of the world at large. Whether we like to admit it or not, things aren’t and never will be the same. It’s not like when someone says to our parents ‘Where were you when JFK was shot?’ or even the day when Princess Diana died. What happened on that horrible day did effect everyone, near and far, young and old. Our very way of living was forever altered, whether we want it to be or not. Those were the sorts of thoughts running through our minds as we tried not to be upset at other visitors smiling and posing for happy snaps as though they were attending yet another tourist site, another tick on the checklist of ‘must see’ attractions.

With grim faces we left the memorial and headed back towards Battery Park and water taxi, now late in the afternoon it could soon be completing its final loop past the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and returning to Pier 84 where we boarded. The afternoon was a lovely one to be cruising on Hudson River, we smiled and gawked at the famous Brooklyn Bridge, we grinned and waved at Lady Liberty and thought of those who had passed through the aisles of Ellis Island in her days of immigration. Setting foot ashore again we ‘legged’ it back to Penn Station and jumped the next train back to New Jersey, content that we’d accomplished as much as we had, but concerned that we may have in fact done too much after being so ill the previous days.

Our fears were warranted.

That evening we spent coughing and melting, tossing and turning and barely sleeping at all. Despite our best efforts Wednesday would be a complete write-off.

Thursday however we would once more venture into the New York for our final day on the eastern seaboard, we had a mission, a simple one; visit Madame Tussaud’s, The Natural History Museum and Central Park. So that’s what we did. Boarding yet another train and traveling from New Jersey into New York we exited at Penn station, walked the eight blocks to 42nd St and ventured into the fabled Madame’s. Wow. What a bunch of stiffs! The ‘tour’ of the wax museum starts on the 9th floor and works its way down to the 5th. Amongst the various figures we saw; Jodie Foster, the Osbournes, Harrison Ford, Robin Williams, Robert Pattinson, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio and the list goes on. We had a great time there, K even finding great pleasure in a frozen peach slushy that kept her company for most of the day.

From there it was onto a ‘Hop On, Hop Off’ bus tour and head up to the museum. The tour itself was pretty decent and the commentary was relatively entertaining, if only the individual hadn’t started badgering travelers for tips. So we gave him one as we departed. With evil smiles and a wink that suggested we were not amused we gave him the most precious gem we could; ‘be good to your mother!’ and left.

Climbing the plethora of stairs to the museum we sighed into air conditioned relief as we passed through its doors. The giant forms to two dinosaurs greeting us as we blinked into the semi-light as we scanned the hall for the ticket counter. 5mins later and we were marching through the hallways and into various exhibits; Dinosaurs of all walks and kinds, African and Eurasian histories, Native American, and of course many, many animals. All in all we were quite impressed with the museum, and especially the care that had been shown in setting up the exhibits, posing the animals in realistic poses, rather than stiff statues of their former lives.

Back on the bus and we were planning on heading back to the station and home, but things never do go according to plan. The next thing we know we’re veering away from Central Park and heading rapidly towards Harlem. WTF? With nervous faces we decide to remain in our seats and hope that eventually we’ll return to an area we’re familiar-ish with. And we did. But not before we saw every ounce of Harlem and had several buckets of water thrown on us from some overly exuberant teenagers, this nearly causing K to have a heart attack as her camera was sitting in her lap at the time and was saved only by split second timing as the first wave of water was sighted from the corner of her eye.

Yet another international incident narrowly avoided. These have become trip tradition after-all!

Finally heading south again we watched eagerly as Central Park returned to our view, the east side this time, and together with the magnificence of 5th Avenue and its ‘Mile of Museums’ that would sadly go unvisited we passed through Columbus Circle and could once again see Times Square and 42nd Street. But in sight is where it would remain, and not come any closer. For reasons still unknown to us the bus deviated once again from its scheduled route and stopped at 50th Ave. It deposited us rather unceremoniously at the corner and tootled off into the distance.

Now faced with the eighteen block walk back to the station there were some rather choice words being muttered under our breath, together with fear snarls and angry glares of locals and tourists alike who seem hell bent on physically barreling into you at every given opportunity. We’d been warned about this attitude, the one of New Yorkers and their ‘just don’t care’ philosophy. Well, after eighteen blocks New York Rude met an abrupt stop when it hit Aussie Brick-Outhouse, that poop don’t fly here no more kids! Suddenly like Moses and the Red Sea, the seething masses parted and we casually walked back to the station, down the stairs and boarded the next train back to New Jersey, farewelling New York and its crazy inhabitants.

If only we’d gotten on the right train.

After a panicked couple of minutes, a few txts and one phone call later and we quickly hopped off at Newark Penn Station and waited another few minutes for the right train. NJ Transit, you are the bane of so many lives.

So tomorrow we head north, we’re going to Toronto for the weekend and to catch up with more friends, sadly farewelling the ones we’ve been staying with for the week. We’re not sure what we’re going to see or do as yet, and we’re thinking that’s a good thing. The colds are finally lifting, so we’re happy just to wing it and see what happens. But as our first month is rapidly coming to an end we can’t help but look back at all we’ve done, seen, and the people we’ve met. We’ve had a great time, and can only hope we’ll have even more adventures in the month to come!


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