Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Tours and frozen limbs

Today was cold. I mean cold cold cold. And after yesterday's weird warmth, I dressed like a noob and forgot to wear a jumper under my coat. My new gloves failed me miserably and my new boots had to be broken in. Long story short, down at the pier and on the walking tour we took today, I was a little frozen fish finger. 

Today we woke up earlier than we ever had (torture), caught our bus into the city, and walked down to the pier to board at water taxi. Like I said, it was freaking cold. We had already taken a ferry tour, so the tour guide on the water taxi just repeated things we had already heard, but he went into more historical detail which is good!

We got off at battery park with the rest of our walking tour group. On guide explained that we would be walking around the area; wall street, a few chapels and the 9/11 memorial; while he gave us some info about the sites.

We went to wall street and heard about the history of the strip and new york's establishment. 

There is some pretty intense architecture in this area! It was really good to have a tour guide there to explain it all to us, especially me as I have little knowledge on American stuffs. Unfortunately, the cold made the tour quite uncomfortable as we would stop walking at certain points and the wind would blow and you would just want to curl up and sit in a fire. Literally, inside a fire. Thank you. Please. 

Happiness came in the form of the churches we visited (aka heating). The first one we went to was beautifully crafted with amazing architecture. It had such a peaceful and serene atmosphere, and it was warm. I did not want to leave.

After church #1, we went to the 9/11 memorial. At the site, you can see the new world trade centres that they are building. Truly spectacular buildings. There are seven being built. The 9/11 memorial was where the tour was the most useful. I didn't realise how little I really knew about the attacks and the effects on New York and the people here. Obviously, I knew it was huge, but I think it's hard to understand the scale until you actually visit the site.

After excessive amounts of security checks, we were able to go into the memorial. Two huge man made waterfall memorials site in the footprints of the twin towers. They are magnificent. 

The memorial has a strange atmosphere. As an Australian, I wasn't really sure how to react to the place. It's difficult to wrap your head around, but it's impossible to not be swept up by the raw emotion that sits over the site like a cloud. Seeing all the names, knowing the story, it's very overwhelming. I was only six when 9/11 happened and I think I only truly understood it today.

After the memorial, our tour continued to some other sites around the area. more magnificent buildings with rich history. We also visited another church, which was used as the home based for the emergency services during 9/11. It featured a lot of memorials and photographs and stories of individuals who lost their lives that day. It was a very emotion place, if not more than the memorial itself, because it had a much more personal feel.

It was so cold that I felt it necessary to get a waffle. And oh ma gosh, it was the best waffle ever. And the guy at the cart was super nice and so was the lady who ordered coffee next to me. So waffles reinstated my respect for New Yorkers (they can be rude, often).

After the tour, we caught the subway to SoHo for lunch (which was a rather uninspiring Italian restaurant) and did a bit of shopping. We wanted to do something in the afternoon that didn't require walking and was warm! So we went to the movies! We saw the Hobbit, because only Amelia had seen it and we thought we'd use this opportunity. It was fabulous, clearly. Then we caught our bus home to our warm apartment and swore never to leave the house without forty-seven layers of clothing on ever again. 

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