Day 3 was a little less hectic, although we still had big plans and we still ate a ton of pizza! TravelShopGirl and I left Yotel and walked along to Times Square to pick up our tickets for the Big Bus Tour. For the first time, we had a real human being as a guide. I always find on these tour buses that the narration is pre-recorded, but standing right in front of us was a lady with lovely, long curly hair and she was the life and soul of the bus.
We drove through New York, past the Flat Iron Building and a few other notable landmarks and finally we reached our destination – the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and One World Trade Center. When I first visited New York back in 2001, the Twin Towers stood in all their glory and it was heartbreaking to be back there, standing on the very ground where so much death and destruction had taken place 15 years earlier. I can’t exactly describe the feeling and I certainly didn’t understand the people that were taking smiling selfies in front of the memorials at the North and South towers. Although there was a lot of hustle and bustle, and noise from all the tourists, you could still feel the heaviness in the air and the sadness in your heart.
The National September 11 Memorial is a tribute of remembrance to honour to the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center site, near Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.
The Memorial’s twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest man-made waterfalls in North America. The pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood.
The names of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed into bronze panels edging the Memorial pools, a powerful reminder of the largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil and the greatest single loss of rescue personnel in American history.
I have to say that the museum was a fitting tribute and it was very moving. I couldn’t really find many words whilst we were in there. I just listened to the narration, read the plaques and observed what was around me. I didn’t really know what to say if I am honest – it was all so overwhelming on the inside.
The Museum’s 110,000 square feet of exhibition space is located within the archaeological heart of the World Trade Center site—telling the story of 9/11 through multimedia displays, archives, narratives and a collection of monumental and authentic artefacts. The lives of every victim of the 2001 and 1993 attacks will be commemorated as visitors have the opportunity to learn about the men, women, and children who died.
The monumental artefacts of the Museum provide a link to the events of 9/11, while presenting intimate stories of loss, compassion, reckoning, and recovery that are central to telling the story of the attacks and the aftermath.
We left the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and re-boarded the Big Bus – our next stop would give us some exercise as we decided to walk the Brooklyn Bridge.
It was still incredibly hot, the humidity and heat never let up the entire time I was in America, but we decided we would tackle the bridge and off we went. I have to say that it’s not the best sign posted attraction in NYC – we just walked towards the bridge until we found a sign that pointed us in the direction of the stairs leading to the public footpath. Literally. Had I not happened to look up and to my right, we would have walked straight passed it.
I’m pleased that I can say I walked the Brooklyn Bridge, it was absolutely fantastic and offered great views of NYC. I’d do it again in a heartbeat, but ideally in much cooler temperatures. When we got to the other side I was hungry, thirsty and feeling the heat, so instead of walking back across the bridge, we ordered an UBER and made our way towards the Rockefeller Center – we figured it was a central spot and we could easily grab food and drinks in the area. Yes, you guessed it, more pizza!
It had been a great day and although we were both quite tired, we ended up having a rather late night. We found ourselves back at Boxers in Hell’s Kitchen and this time a friend came to join us – I blame this sign for leading us ladies astray!
New York City Day 4
This would be our last full day in the Big Apple and we were determined to make the most of it. We had been using a CityPass each for some of the attractions (Circle Line Cruise, American Museum of Natural History, Top of the Rock and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum), these are the official passes that you can pick up at various places in NYC and they are absolutely worth it! You can save a small fortune, especially if you are travelling as a family! TravelShopGirl and I kindly had our passes given to us complimentary by NYCGO – The official tourism board for New York City.
We started our last day with a visit to the American Museum of Natural History. The queue was long and we waited for what felt like a lifetime to actually get in, but it was worth it, even though our visit was quite brief!
You could easily spend an entire day in the museum. We didn’t quite have that long, so we targeted the things we really wanted to see, including Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs, Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs, Hall of Plains Indians, Hall of Pacific People, Hall of Asian Mammals, Hall of African Mammals and the Hall of Ocean Life – and that’s not even half of them! The ones I have mentioned are permanent exhibits, so no matter when you visit, these sections will be on display.
We also stopped for a look at the Titanosaur Exhibit and it was incredible! The 122-foot long dinosaur is said to have been a herbivore and weighed around 70 tons. The remains were found in the Patagonian Desert region of Argentina and it is one of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered. Although the exhibit features a cast of the bones, there are actual femurs and thigh bones on temporary display in the exhibit.
We spent our last evening enjoying the stunning views across New York City from the Top of the Rock observation deck at Rockefeller Center. It really was a fantastic end to what had been an epic adventure in America. The weather was perfect and you could see for miles in all directions. Central Park was a bright shade of inviting green among all the towering buildings around her. The views across to the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center were also pretty impressive. When I visited NYC in 2001, I went to the top of the Empire State Building and admired the city from above. I’d heard a lot of people say that the views from Top of the Rock were better and to an extent, I agree, but I think they each offer a unique view of the city and I would suggest that you actually do both!
We had returned the car to AVIS when we arrived in NYC, so this had been a non-driving aspect of the trip. I think we did the right thing by ending the road trip in New York instead of making that our first real destination. If you are thinking of doing something similar then I would definitely recommend keeping the hustle and bustle of NYC until the end of your trip.
We checked out of Yotel and made our way towards the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal…it was time to say goodbye to TravelShopGirl and the U.S., and hello to the Queen that was waiting to take me home. I felt like Rose from Titanic when she said “the ship was taking me back to America (or in my case, England) in chains”. I really didn’t want to leave…