New York City; the city that never sleeps; an overwhelming and chaotic mix of neon signs, blaring horns, and millions of people; played host to our girls’ weekend in mid October. For three days, Whitney, her mom, aunt, cousin, and I explored the big apple. Although Whitney and I had visited NYC before, not surprisingly, we still had plenty more to see.
On Saturday, we hit the pavement early, heading towards Ground Zero. We spent all morning frequenting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. The museum is elegant, simple, and powerful. Select pieces of the rubble were carefully chosen to highlight key aspects of that fateful day. Exhibits house voice recordings of victims’ messages to their families, newspaper clippings, photographs, and news footage of that morning, an intricate timeline of the events minute by minute. The entire museum forms a cohesive and moving tribute to the victims, the survivors, the rescue workers, and the American people as a whole.
That afternoon, we boarded a small vessel to visit Lady Liberty, as well as Ellis Island. The Statue of Liberty, located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, was a gift from France in 1886. The magnificent copper structure represents Libertas, the Roman goddess. The tablet in her hand has roman numerals inscribed with July 4, 1776. Ellis Island, nearby, was the gateway for over 12 million immigrants from 1892 to 1954. The immigration building is now home to the Immigration Museum, an expansive collection of objects and histories of the people of the Americas.
On Sunday, we opted for the Hop On, Hop Off bus tour in order to get a wide overview of the city and see some farther neighborhoods that we hadn’t visited before, such as Harlem and the area around Columbia University. We ventured out to Chelsea Market and strolled through the old brick building, mesmerized by the plethora of food shops. We finally settled on brick oven pizza, followed by New York Seed + Mill, the ingenious masters behind tahini ice cream. It was sensational: salty yet sweet, nutty yet creamy. I highly recommend it. After filling our bellies, we meandered along Beecker Street through a beautiful tree lined neighborhood, fit with old brownstones and fancy shops. Eventually we made our way over to the famous Stonewall Inn, home of the Stonewall Riots, the birthplace of the gay rights movement. We walked across the rainbow painted crosswalk, passed the window of the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, and stopped in front of the old bar. It gave me goose bumps thinking about the history emanating from there, the words of so many history books coming to life.
In true New York fashion, we booked two Broadway shows. The first was Aladdin at The New Amsterdam Theatre. The magical carpet was miraculous, with incredible special effects. The second night, we saw The Lion King at the Minskoff Theatre. The Lion King is one of our top two favorite shows, alongside Wicked, so seeing it again was a true treat. The costumes are unique and creative, and the music fantastical.
Our last day in New York was short, only a morning really. Whitney and I trudged through more rain to reach the Museum of Modern Art, the last of the better known museums that we hadn’t visited yet. During our last trip to New York, we visited the Natural History Museum and the Metropolitan, both incomparable. Although modern art isn’t our favorite by any means, we enjoyed the Cezanne, Jackson Pollock, and Van Gogh paintings, particularly Starry Night. We had one last lunch on Beekman Street at a modest pub before heading to the airport to return home.
New York has so much to offer and I do truly enjoy each time I visit. Though I must say, I do miss wide open spaces and mountains nearly instantly upon arriving. That’s the beauty of traveling; the chance to glimpse into the lives of people with such different lifestyles, cultures, and geography. A mere toe dip into the waters of the foreign, all the more highlighting the essence of home.