Friday, September 11, 2015

Day 5: New York

Another early start, which I took full advantage of by sneaking down to the breakfast buffet. A much smaller crowd awaited than yesterday but I was still timid in approaching the unfamiliar waffle iron. My fiancé scooped waffle mix into a paper cup then spread it inside the circular implement. He closed it and flipped it 180 degrees.

Two minutes later, the machine beeped so I turned and opened it. A large two-pronged fork released my surprisingly complete and perfect waffle onto my plate. I grabbed two packets of “waffle syrup”, intending on the full experience. My breakfast was too sweet and yet too bland. I managed half of it before my fiancé assisted. I absently heard that a parade was being announced on the TV but foolishly gave it no thought.

A quick duck outside revealed a relatively cool morning, one my Ghostbusters shirt would be able to stave off. After all, today we were going to ghostbusting HQ. Still, when we left before 8am I crossed my arms over my chest on the subway, self-consciously aware that it marked me out as a tourist. There were delays on the South Ferry loop for unknown reasons (ha!) but we made it after one lengthy station stop.

This time when we left at South Ferry, we went straight to the nearby terminal for the free ferry to Staten Island, dodging the Liberty Cruise spruikers and unloaded passengers from the ferry. When we went through the gateless turnstiles, my fiancé suffered an impromptu bag check. We ignored the bathrooms, keen to board the just-arrived ferry. A man at the turnstiles had announced that the best views were to be had on the right side of the ferry. He was correct!

"Best views" indeed!

Then we were on our way, coasting past the Statue of Liberty (yet to be filled with crowds). I went to the left to take photos of the distant Ford Wadsworth which looked tiny even on my camera screen. I resolved to use the telescopic lens on the return trip.

We coasted into Staten Island after the ferry came in at a worrying angle (it seemed as though we would crash into a wall of wooden pylons!). Then we were unleashed. We ventured out towards buildings, crossing over subway tracks. The Staten Island subway system is isolated but is considered an unbroken journey if you go from them to South Ferry.

My fiancé wondered why the ferry was free. My guess? “To say sorry for the lack of subway tunnel!”

I had wanted to go to Fort Wadsworth but the subway bent away from it, towards the south of the island and buses would take half an hour to get there. A taxi could deliver us but we’d have no reliable method of returning which we were not keen on. I would have to be content with the photos taken from the ferry.

We attempted to cross the road to the courthouse but a bus and truck trundled through a red light to the curses of the locals beside us. This was now an unsurprising sight to us - traffic signals are merely a suggestion in NYC. We ambled through a couple of streets until we discerned that the comic book shop we’d caught sight of definitely wasn’t opening until 10am, much later.

The only interesting thing we found near the ferry.

Finding nothing else of interest, we made our way back to the water. I enjoyed the breeze scattering the sunshine on my skin and my fiancé noted how everyone seemed much more relaxed here. If I had to work in New York City, I’d definitely choose to live on Staten Island. My fiancé spotted a Wall Street which seemed to line up with the one in the far distance - it dead ended at the water. I noticed that the island had a very prominent view of where the Twin Towers had been - a very sombre thought.

Back on the ferry! We joined a much bigger crowd (I guess more people want to go to the city than Staten Island?) to board. Everyone crowded on the left so we joined them. I switched out to the telescopic lens and, as we got underway, I staked out a spot on the railing beside another keen photographer - he had a “cell phone”. Hmpf.

The money shot

We enjoyed ice creams bought at the Manhattan terminal before heading towards the famous Bull of Wall Street that we had missed earlier. I was to miss it again on this, our last full day in New York City.

Crowds. Barriers. Police. We walked along the street, unable to get close to the bull. I snapped a poor shot, frustrated that this was one day that no one wanted to get on the bull and that I was unable to get close enough to unleash my artistic energies on it.


People were handing out biscuits “endorsed by the soccer champs!” which I thought odd at first. Suddenly, I remembered that I’d heard the dreaded word “parade” on the TV that morning. Oh dear. A later Google search revealed that this was the “Canyon of Heroes” where all ticker tape parades in New York City are held. Today the canyon was playing host to a parade celebrating the US win at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

We went the long way around, trying to get at the bull, but to no avail. We gave up. Then we were moving west, passing the huge queue for the One World Trade Centre observatory. My sore feet could move just a little longer for our destined location.

The fire engines strewn about the streets were our first clue. Then it appeared, the dinky little fire station used in Ghostbusters. I geeked out. A nearby fireman smoked, watching us with amusement. I indicated my shirt. “Dressed for the occasion!”

"We got one!"

He very kindly offered to take a photo of both of us - then told us that the sign from the movie was inside on the wall. Holy crap! Awesome! We went inside to have a look. My mood was much improved as we left to seek out a nearby subway station. At least something had gone right!

How cool is that?

The subway station was hot and stifling, as all of them are, but my sore feet and parched mouth made the 3 minute wait endless. Then it really was endless. 1 minute passed - still 1 minute to go. The second train’s ETA was simply “DELAY”. An announcement informed us that no trains were stopping near City Hall “because of the parade”.

Eventually, a train arrived to relieve the filling platform of its disgruntled passengers. We were slow on our way back towards 50th Avenue. But get there we did. Then we enjoyed a true New York hotdog from a vendor, each sausage bearing a ketchup line layered beneath mustard. It was a very satisfying meal.

“The taste of regret,” I joked.

Back to the hotel. My fiancé booked a car to take us to the airport tomorrow - hope things go well! God I’m glad to leave this place.

Bought a Yorkie to try - like a Mint Pattie but less chewy.

Packing now…

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