The streets were very quiet Memorial Day morning. The neighborhood wasn’t busy like it was the day before. As I left the hotel, I asked the doorman if he knew where Starbucks was, and he pointed the way. It felt a little strange to be walking all by myself. Sometimes I felt like I should be afraid because I was in the Big City. Then I realized that I didn’t have a reason to be. I took a right turn by the DSW Shoe Store and walked a couple blocks down Broadway. When I entered Starbucks, I was the only customer, and it was nice to have the individual attention! On my walk back, I saw a few moms pushing their little ones in strollers. People were busy working and moving boxes from trucks to buildings. Only a few cabs and cars traveled along the road.
When I got back to our room, Susan and I ate protein bars and washed it down with some coffee. We didn’t have time to stop for a leisurely breakfast because we were heading down to the 9/11 Memorial.
The subway was only a block away. By the time we got to the bench to finish our coffees, the traffic had picked up, and more people wandered about. The bench was by a big grate and we heard the trains pass underneath. After we finished, we walked down the steps. As we went down each step it got darker and colder.
I followed Susan’s lead. I watched her slide her subway pass through the slot and push the turnstile to get through the gate. Just a few people were waiting. I stood back, and when I heard the loud rumbling coming closer, I stood back a little farther just to be sure. The train stopped, and the doors opened wide. We found a spot to sit right away. After the doors closed, we sped up faster and faster. The train swayed from side to side. Passengers unknowingly bobbed to the rhythm. The rumblings from the inside of the train were not as loud as they sounded when it first started to approach. When we made it to our destination, we only had to walk a few blocks to the Memorial. The taller buildings cast longer shadows here. Susan, who I referred to as “My Tour Guide,” had taken care of the required reservations, which had no charge. We pulled out our passes and entered the gate. We joined the zigzag line of people. There was quite a wait because we were told a film was being produced for military personnel.
No buildings shaded us. We soaked up the warm sun because we knew at home everyone was suffering through more rainstorms. Susan struck up a conversation with the couple standing in line in front of us. The lady was originally from Reykjavik, Iceland. She and her husband were on vacation, but were ready to go back home to Sweden to their two children. She commented how nice it was to see so many people at the 9/11 Memorial on Memorial Day.
When the line began to move, we were told that we would have to go through an airport-type security. Thankfully we didn’t have to take off our shoes. We passed through the security check, and went back outside. The first thing I noticed was the sound of water running. The very large pools stand where the Twin Towers used to be. The names of the people who died there are carved into the beautiful stone. I watched the water fall. Where the sun shined, the water sparkled. The water fell down the upper walls, fell down another level and disappeared.
We were not able to visit the museum because it is scheduled to open next spring. You can see the museum in some of these pictures. It’s a short, lopsided building.
Being there reminded me of the scenes we saw on TV and the stories that we read in the newspapers. It reminded me how we felt about the lives of the people who were lost, and how we grieved for them and their families. I thought about how frightened they must have been and how heroic the firefighters and policemen were.
We also saw St. Paul’s Chapel. Even though the church is very close to where the Twin Towers stood, it didn’t get damaged. This is where the fence was, where people left mementos of their lost loved ones and where the recovery workers slept on pews and received round the clock care.
The old tombstones in the back of the church have been there so long that the names and dates have worn away. Inside the church a choir sang.
We walked around that area and saw more sights: The New York Stock Exchange Building, the Wall Street Bull, and Battery Park. We also walked halfway across the Brooklyn Bridge, even though parts of it were under repair.
We ate Panini’s and found our way back to the subway. We stopped to see Grand Central Station, visited Annie Moore’s for a cold beverage and then went back to our hotel.
That night we went to Chinatown. We briefly tried to find Wo Hop, a very good Chinese restaurant. We didn’t stay in Chinatown very long because we felt claustrophobic. Many people surrounded us and asked if we wanted to buy a Rolex and other such things. Thankfully, Little Italy was only a few steps away. We found Di Nico, one of Susan’s favorite restaurants, and relaxed while we ate dinner outside.
When our orders came, we realized that one of the ladies next to us ordered the same pasta as I did, which led us to start a conversation. Kate and Maddy, a mother and daughter, were visiting from London. Maddy shared how her parents told her that they were going to send her on a trip to Ireland with her Mom, but then surprised her with a trip to New York City instead. They had plans to spend a lot of time shopping. It was great to meet them, and I loved listening to their wonderful English accents.
Kate and Maddy told us how they waited in line for 90 minutes just the other day to eat at Wo Hop. They said that it was very good, but it was a very small restaurant. If Susan and I would have found it, we never would have met Kate and Maddy.
The eventful day had us feeling quite tired, and we were glad that Starbucks helped us make it through! The next day we had tickets to see Tom Hanks in The Lucky Guy, and we were really looking forward to that!
To be continued…