Day 4 of our trip was September 11--and it was a bit eerie to be in the city not only on 9/11, but on a day just like that awful day in 2001--a Tuesday morning, warm weather, crisp blue sky. We had seen several fire stations with memorials to fallen comrades; on our way to breakfast on the 11th, we passed a station in SoHo where the men were in their dress blues, welcoming (I assume) family members of lost firefighters. A strange occurrence on the subway later made us a little edgy. And as we wandered throughout the city, especially down in the Financial District, I kept thinking of what it must have been like on that day. So unimaginable...
We took the subway to NoLita for breakfast at Prince Street Cafe, recommended by my friend Danielle. The special trip out of our way was well worth it--besides getting to see yet another part of Manhattan, I'm pretty sure the French Toast Vanilla and Citrus Brioche was the best I've ever had in my life. So, so good!
Then we caught a train back uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I read somewhere that if you looked at every object in the Met for five seconds, it would take you more than three years to get through the whole museum! We came with a list of a few highlights to hit, but it was still completely overwhelming. I can't say I've ever been a big art-museum girl, but I'm increasingly drawn to fine art; if I lived in the city, I'd want a Met membership and I'd go often. So much beauty, so much talent and history. Two of my favorite things of the highlights we saw were the Arms & Armor hall...
...just look at the intricate detailing on this suit of armor!:
...and Camille Pissarro's paintings:
But I was struck by so many things...the gorgeous lines of marble sculptures; the texture of Van Gogh's paintings; the sheer scale of Washington Crossing the Delaware. Our Met visit was topped off, literally, by rooftop views of Central Park and the skyline...
...as well as Tomas Saraceno's Cloud City sculpture (have to give my mom credit for suggesting this cool shot of me, the reflected skyline and the sculpture):
From the Met, we traveled back to the southern tip of the island to start our second Stray Boots tour. First we explored Battery Park, which has several tributes to the fallen firefighters of 9/11.
We caught a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, then began the Wall Street and Old Manhattan tour, which took us through the oldest park in the city, Bowling Green (the revolutionaries cut off the crowns that used to cap the fence posts in 1776):
...past the famous charging bull, up Broadway to Trinity Church and then to the Federal Reserve. At this point my mom's camera died, and I haven't gotten pictures from my aunt's camera yet. Unfortunately, at the Federal Reserve we took a wrong turn, and walked several blocks before we realized our mistake. By that point we had run out of time to finish the tour, as we had flights to catch. Still, it was a great way to explore--I'd definitely do a Stray Boots tour again. Learning a little history about the oldest part of Manhattan was fascinating.
The bright side of our wrong turn was that it put us near a different subway station--which meant I got to stop in Chinatown after all! I had been hoping to grab authentic jiao zi, something introduced to us a couple of years ago by our friends who used to live in China. One of the best dumpling places in the city was near our itinerary route on Monday, but we had to rearrange those plans. I hadn't quite given up on the idea, and realized that another dumpling place was just a few blocks from the Canal Street station where we'd have to change trains. So I put Mom and Judy on the right train to get back to our hotel (they had no desire for Chinatown *or* extra walking), and ran over to Tasty Dumpling, a little hole-in-the-wall on Mulberry Street that sells the best fried dumplings in Chinatown. I sat in Columbus Park enjoying my jiao zi and listening to two elderly men playing Chinese music. It was the experience as much as the food.
From Chinatown, I had just enough time to get back to the hotel, grab my luggage, and set off on another public transportation adventure. I didn't want to pay cab fare since I had the unlimited subway pass, so I opted to take the subway out to Queens and catch a transfer bus to LaGuardia. I'll spare you the details, but it was a pretty stressful trip, with me freaking out that I was cutting it too close. Thankfully it all worked out just fine (and then my plane ended up being delayed, go figure). So I sat at the gate using the free iPads to complete our Old Manhattan tour with the help of Google :)
And that was our trip! So, so, fun. Priceless memories with my mom and my aunt in the city I love more each time I visit. Thanks, Mom and Aunt Dewey, for a fabulous 30th birthday celebration!
Prologue: how the trip came about
Day 1: 9/11 memorial, Thai food and a Broadway show
Day 2: Upper West Side church and brunch, library, Union Square tour
Day 3: Grand Central, Brooklyn Bridge, Gramercy Park, The High Line