Sunday, October 06, 2013

New York in 5 Days with Teens - Part 3

New York with Teens day 2

9/11 Memorial & Brooklyn Bridge. Then dinner and a show.

Feeling a little more confident today about the subway, and more intentional about firmly mapping out our subway plan of action!

Today is a Saturday, so we know its going to be a little busier. This morning we visited the 9/11 Memorial site. There are a few things to know that will be helpful.

First, the site itself is free but
 you need a pass (which carries a $2 administration fee and a suggested donation) to get in. The passes are for a specific entrance time which you'll choose if you purchase online. Three ways to get your tickets. The best is to purchase online and print at home (or pick up your pre-purchased ticket at the Memorial preview center on Vesey street if you're at the hotel and can't print, that's what happened to us).  The other two ways involve getting your pass when you get there, and there are two different locations. Let me explain.

You can go in the "I need a pass" line-up at the actual site entrance on Greenwhich street. That line is HUGE and moves SLOWLY. Don't do that. Instead, take the time to walk a few blocks over to Vesey Street (there are signs pointing the way), where the memorial preview site is located, and buy your pass there. THEN walk back to the actual site entrance and enter the very fast-moving "I already have a pass" line-up. There is a security check almost identical to airport screening but much much faster. We didn't have to show identification, just move our bags and our bodies through the screener. I wish airports could move us like they did here.

If you have the New York Pass, you can take the walking tour but please note this is a separate business from the 9/11 Memorial, however it does include your pass into the memorial itself. The walking tour is more finicky to obtain with the NY Pass, because while its ideal to book online in advance (time slots fill up quickly), there is no online option to say you have the Pass and therefore don't need to pay. 

So we didn't do the walking tour, but oh, how I wish we had made the effort. Please, please do the walking tour. Its run by survivors or people who were there at the time of 9/11. They will tell you stories that will make your visit more meaningful. I tried to eavesdrop on a group while I was there.  I really wish we had done the walking tour so that we could really "enter into" the experience. Its not an attraction, its a shrine. Its sacred and meaningful.

  The rebuilding of the towers. This one is almost complete. The second is in progress. I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable working there.

The memorial itself consists of two pools where the original Twin Towers stood. The waterfalls are supposed to block out the noise of the city, and be a place where people can go to remember. There is a museum in construction, opening next spring. We peeked through to see an original beam from an elevator shaft. Wow.

The waterfalls are the largest in North America at 32 feet, descending into a center void, representing infinity. The names are cut into the metal edge and they are actually organized to have specific meaning based on the deceased's location at the time. An entire section is dedicated to first responders who lost their lives.

The best part for us was the story of the Survivor Tree. This is a Callery pear tree that was originally planted on the WTC plaza in the 1970s, and was found by 9/11 workers after the tragedy. It was an 8-ft tall stump in the wreckage. It was nursed back to health in a city park and replanted in 2010. It represents survival and resilience. 

It is the only pear tree on the site - the rest are white oaks. And they are beautiful. Eventually, once construction is complete, there will be free access to this memorial, no security checks.

At our time of visiting, several things in the immediate area were closed - including the little Chapel that was a refuge during the crisis. 

Canadians felt the 9/11 tragedy too. We were honored to be able to be at the site and reflect.

The second attraction planned by my lovely daughter was to walk the Brooklyn Bridge, then have lunch in Brooklyn, perhaps in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). Notice the word perhaps - that means we didn't have a place in mind. Not good people, not good. But let's move on.

The Bridge is fun to walk - it will take you about 20 minutes (15 if you're well into your 28-day transformational challenge!). The sites of the city and harbour are amazing. The only drawback is that its really crowded, even on a fall day in early October. The walking path is above the part where cars drive. Very smart. The path is for both bikes and pedestrians and its crowded. So you know, some people walk slow, some are more anxious to move quickly, its maybe not as relaxing as I would have hoped. You are fighting the crowds. The right side is for pedestrians both coming and going. The left is for bike traffic both coming and going. So in one squishy lane you are battling people walking ahead of you and people walking back, towards you. All in the same lane. I can't imagine it in the summer. But it WAS fun to do, and the bridge is so architecturally interesting. Very photo-worthy! Make sure to stop and drink it all in along the way.

Just starting out ...

Then getting to the end:

A view of Manhattan Bridge along the way:

Once you get to the end, you're not really sure what to do because there is a fork in the path, which wasn't all that well-marked as to what leads where. To the left and heading down under, you can access DUMBO, which is what we did. We expected a fun kind of neighbourhood based on the descriptions, with quaint little art shops, bistros and cafes, a fun and hip and happening place. 

I think we missed it.  We followed the map, walking along Front street, but honestly it was kind of a seedy area. There were a few little shops. We were hungry, and the plan was to find a place to eat. There weren't many choices. I'm sure we just missed the good stuff.  We did ask ... In the end we picked a little corner pizzeria and it was actually really good. Then, we headed back, all of us feeling a bit let down by not getting to some wonderful little neighbourhood on the other side of the bridge. Oh well. Flex, right? And it WAS a good walk at any rate. Teens need exercise to burn off their energy!

Heading back home, walking the bridge back then taking the subway, we ended up at Grand Central and decided to just poke around near our hotel. That's when an amazing thing happened, walking outside of Grand Central.

It looked like this:

And it was heavenly. Just what we needed when we all needed a little perk-me-up. Ice-caps all around, a bit of shopping, then back to the hotel to recharge.

Brittany made our dinner reservation online in advance for The Brooklyn Diner just off Times Square. It has great reviews, and it was also recommended to us by a friend. The prices are reasonable for this area of town, and the food was pretty good. This place wasn't as noisy and squishy as the others, we really enjoyed the atmosphere. Our waiter was so much fun - at the end he asked us if we were from New York. When we said we weren't he said he was so disappointed because he thought maybe, by our example, it was actually possible to raise a family successfully in NYC. That was a nice compliment - because we really are enjoying our dinners out with our big kids! Its something so simple but its afforded us time together to just relax and enjoy each other's company, without the little kids constantly demanding our attention. 

But you know what ... I also really miss my little kids at home with Grandma. Being away here, Tom and I both are so very thankful we have both little and big kids at the same time. Having teenagers can be a hard mental ride some days, but the little kids draw you, no, force you out of yourself in a really good way.

New York cheesecake. I'm told its better than Bobby Flay's. Yeehaw!

We capped off the evening with a performance of Phantom of the Opera, at the Majestic Theatre. This was Dawson's pick, he has seen the movie many times over the years. It was so awesome to look over at him and feel his excitement at each scene. Just priceless.

That sums up our second day in NYC. I hope you enjoyed our travels! 

You can find Part 1 right here.

And Part 2 of New York in 5 Days with Teens is right here.

Find Part 4 over here.

And Part 5 is found here.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you are all having a fantastic time! What a treat to be able to take this trip with just your big kids ~ I'm sure you are making wonderful memories :-)


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