Saturday morning in the Big Apple was considerably quieter than the previous week days, fewer people were dashing here and there, instead everything and everyone seemed to be moving at a slightly slower pace. We had a list of places that we were eager to tick off on day 3 of our New York trip. Day 1 and day 2 had taken their toll on our feet, so we decided today to try to and walk less and use public transport where possible. With the threat of snow we ensured we were dressed for the occasion and took extra layers in our rucksack just in case it got really bad, especially as we were heading to Lower Manhattan so couldn’t just nip back to the hotel to pick up more winter weather clothes.
The Love Sign
The Love sign is an iconic sculpture designed by American artist Robert Indiana in New York, located on the corner of Avenue of the Americas (6th) and 54th. It was only a short walk from our hotel and we had in fact passed it a couple of times already during our stay, however there was always a massive queue of people waiting to have their picture taken in front of it. As we passed by it on our third day we noticed that there was no-one queuing, not one single person, therefore this was our chance to snap a couple of photographs of it without holding anyone else up. It is a must stop in New York, if we hadn’t taken a photo of it, I would be kicking myself now. We also noticed a Hope sculpture located in the Theatre District on 7th Avenue, between 53rd & 52nd Street, again designed by Robert Indiana, unfortunately we never got a photograph of that one. Are there any more that you are aware of dotted around the city?
Grand Central Terminal
We had decided that we were going to try to master, well just try really, the subway. Neither of us had ever taken it before and I’ll be honest, we were quite nervous that we were going to end up in completely the wrong direction. Instead of jumping on the subway right outside our hotel, we decided to combine it with a visit to Grand Central Terminal, again somewhere neither of us had ever been. Grand Central Terminal is possibly one of the most beautiful train stations I have ever seen in my life and having seen it in many movies and TV shows, it was instantly recognisable. It covers 48 acres (19 ha) and has 44 platforms, it also 60 shops, 35 places to eat, and a full calendar of events, which means it is so much more than just your average train station. You can also take self guided audio tours and fully guided tours of the terminal, which we didn’t know before we visited. If we had, we definitely would have done one. Unfortunately, once down into the subway all the elegance and beauty of the terminal were left behind
The Freedom Tower (One World Trade Centre)
Having visited the Twin Towers and then ground zero during previous trips, I needed to visit The Freedom Tower. The Freedom Tower’s official name is the One World Trade Centre, named after the North Tower of the Twin Towers and is the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Centre complex in Lower Manhattan. The building is stunning and is in fact the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and the sixth-tallest in the world. The tower has a three-story observation deck, located on floors 100–102 called the One World Observatory. We bought tickets for the observatory on the day, rather than before our visit. On the day we visited, fortunately there wasn’t a queue for tickets so we simply handed over our $34 each and headed for security. As the security process it very in-depth, just like airport security, which is understandable, it takes a long time and there was quite a queue of people waiting to get through. I imagine on a busy day you could be waiting for at least an hour, so prepare yourself for that. We shot up to the observation deck in 60 seconds which of course made our eyes pop. Once at the top, the view was revealed in a spectacular way and we set about exploring straight away. Yes the views are great but unfortunately there is no outside viewing area, so all photographs have to be snapped from behind glass. Visiting the Freedom Tower because of the atrocities that happened there and wanting to pay your respects are one thing but if you are visiting to get amazing views of the city, I personally think that Top of The Rock offers better, in fact the best, views of New York. For the price we paid we were slightly disappointed and didn’t spend long there at all.
9/11 Memorial Museum
If you do nothing else in New York, you must visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum. It is one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had in my life. I remember exactly where I was on the 11th September 2001 and I’m sure if you are old enough, you do too. It was a day that changed my life, I was 18 and it made me realise just how terrible people could actually be. The 9/11 Memorial Museum was an option in our CityPASS booklet and the easiest choice we made when deciding what to visit. It is extremely well thought out and very tasteful. A lot of the exhibits can be quite overwhelming, there are however a lot of open spaces where you can collect your thoughts and have a moment. There are some parts of the museum where photography is not allowed which is understandable, but even the areas where photography was allowed, we hardly saw anyone with their cameras in their hand. I overheard one young man say to another that he visits once a year to pay his respects. I imagine if I lived closer I would do the same. I literally could have spent the whole day, wandering around the museum in silence. On more than one occasion I had to choke back a tear or two whereas other let their emotions flow.
Our last stop of the day was Times Square and many would argue – the epicentre of New York. With its bright lights and massive billboards no trip to New York is complete without seeing it for yourself. As with many iconic buildings and areas, Times Square has been used as the backdrop in many tv shows and films and being there yourself feels like you have walked onto a set. Times Square is the most visited place globally with 360,000 pedestrian visitors a day, amounting to over 131 million a year. Even in January, passing through the throngs of people was quite hard work but completely worth it. And Don’t forget to check out the only Police station in America, probably the world, that has neon lights!
After an emotionally difficult day, we tried hard to remember that we were in New York and that fun was the aim of the game. Therefore, we headed to the Hardrock Cafe – yes we were in a city with a million and one restaurants so why choose a chain restaurant? Well the simple fact is we visit every Hardrock Cafe we come across and the New York one was our 24th. I used to collect hurricane glasses, but we simply ran out of room in the cupboard at home! With our stomachs full we headed back to The Wellington Hotel ready for a good night’s sleep before another exciting day in the Big Apple.