Friday, February 26, 2016

New York, New York

Between Christmas and New Year we took a trip up to New York for a few days.  We decided to try out the train service from our local Amtrak station in Lancaster, and it was surprisingly easy - only 2 1/2 hours to Penn Station.  (I can see us taking more train trips in the future...)  From Penn Station, we eventually navigated the process of getting new metro cards and the metro itself to get to our hotel near Times Square.

And then we hit the sights!  Despite being very chilly, it was still extremely busy.  We headed along 5th Avenue towards the Rockefeller Center, taking in St Patricks Cathedral (looking very pretty in the fading light)...

...and then the very loud and flashy (and eventually, annoyingly repetitive), light show at Saks.  

The huge Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center looked beautiful all lit up.  We also found some oversized Christmas lights and baubles on nearby 6th Avenue.

We had intended to head to the top of the Rockefeller Tower (supposedly better views from there than from the Empire State Building), but sadly it was too overcast and foggy, so we bought tickets for the following evening, hoping to beat the queues.  By this time we were hungry and thirsty, and stopped at the Spotted Pig (apparently co-owned by Jay-Z) for much needed sustenance.

Day Two started out at Ground Zero, with a first stop at Trinity Church.  The Church dates back to 1766 and was George Washington's place of worship.  It also survived the events of 9/11 completely unscathed, whilst the surrounding buildings were destroyed.  It served as a refuge base for the rescue workers on the days following the attacks. and there is a thought-provoking display of service memorabilia inside.  We were also lucky to catch an orchestral rehearsal in progress - lovely to just sit and listen to the musical acoustics inside the small church.

From there, we wondered past the huge queues at Memorial Plaza and the Reflecting Pools, and past One World Trade Center (which disappeared disconcertingly into the lingering low cloud above us), before a gentle stroll along the Hudson River and some murky views of the Statue of Liberty.

After a pit-stop for food, we headed into Central Park, visiting Strawberry Fields...

... the Bow Bridge 

and my favourite, the Alice in Wonderland sculpture.  

A few more minor sights later (the cubist Apple Store, Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building), and it was time for our trip to the "Top of the Rock" - the observation decks of the Rockefeller Tower.  And despite the low cloud and mist we had experienced all day, it magically lifted as the sun went down, and we were able to get some amazingly clear views of downtown New York at night.

All too soon, it was our final day, but we still managed to squeeze in some final sights.  The High Line is a re-purposed train line, now a walking trail ("linear park") which runs through the historic meat packing district.  We walked a small stretch of this, taking in more views along the Hudson, 

before we reached the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.  Lots of historic aircraft, and also the USS Enterprise Shuttle.  

And then our brief few days in New York were over, and we were headed back to Penn Station. But after all that walking, it was nice to just rest our legs and relax on the train with happy memories for the journey home!

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