Posts Tagged With: New York

NYC – Times Square and Central Park

We started our second day in New York City at Times Square. Let’s just say this was over-the-top on crowds and noise. It was quite overwhelming with all the noise, lights and signs, crowds and countless people trying to sell us tickets to whatever (bus tours, shows, bike rentals, you name it!)

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I loved seeing the Times Square Ball with 2018 on top. We will definitely be remembering this sight when we watch the ball drop again this New Year’s Eve.

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We stopped in the M&Ms store which was enormous!

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Once we had our fill of the over-stimulation of lights and noise, we started to head toward Central Park for a taste of nature in the midst of the city chaos. On the way we stopped to pick up some lunch at the Original Soup Man. We are huge Seinfeld fans and this was the restaurant that inspired the famed “Soup Nazi” episode.

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“No Soup for You!”

We brought our soup lunches over to Central Park (the soup was delicious by the way), and enjoyed several hours meandering around the park. Who knew that it could literally take days to explore Central Park? That place is huge! And such an oasis in the middle of a noisy, crowded city.

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There are 21 playgrounds within Central Park. We managed to hit several of them, but definitely not all 21.

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The Strawberry Fields section was a memorial to John Lennon. I love oldies music like The Beatles so I enjoyed visiting this area.

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There were lots of areas to just sit and relax.

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When the boys were little we read a book about a sled dog hero in Alaska named Balto. At the end of the story it mentioned that there is a statue to honor Balto in Central Park. I forgot all about that until we came upon the statue as we walked around.

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Balto, the sled dog hero

After we roamed around Central Park for several hours we headed back into Times Square to find some dinner, but first we wanted to see a couple more iconic buildings.

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Empire State Building

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Macy’s on 34th Street

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One more glimpse of the New Year’s Times Square Ball

While visiting New York we stayed at a county park called Croton Point in Croton-on-Hudson. This park was really nice and didn’t feel like we were so close to a city.

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Spacious campsite with lots of room to sit outside when Chris’s family visited

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Beautiful sunsets over the Hudson River

The best part about the campground was that the train into NYC was just outside the entrance to the park making it very easy to travel into the city. The train took us right into Grand Central Station which was an experience in itself.

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Grand Central Station

From Grand Central you can catch a subway to pretty much anywhere you need to go in NYC. Like I mentioned in my first post about NYC, New Yorkers were surprisingly helpful to us in figuring out where we needed to go and which subways to take. One person even got on a subway with us, then let us know when we got to the right stop and kept reminding us which one to catch next. I suppose not all New Yorkers are nearly as nice and patient, but in our experience everyone was super nice to us.

I love to leave an area on such a high note, having made such incredible memories. That’s how it was when we left New York. It beat all of my expectations and now I look forward to visiting again someday.

One last surprise from our time in NY actually happened after we left. Chris’s cousin Bob who lives close to where we stayed in New York never had a chance to get together with us while we were there. He was Facebook messaging with me on the morning we left NY and asking me where we were headed. I didn’t really think it mattered since we were leaving NY and not going to be so close to him anymore, but I answered his questions anyway. Once we got set up at our next campground in Connecticut he showed up to surprise us and we had a wonderful rest of the day catching up with him. We haven’t seen him since our wedding day almost 18 years ago!

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Chris with his cousin Bob

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NYC – Statue of Liberty and 9/11 Memorial

One of the nice things about traveling is not only visiting some amazing places, but also seeing family and friends that we don’t get to see very often. Chris is originally from New York and still has several family members there, but he hadn’t been back there since before I knew him. We had a wonderful visit with his sister Laurie and her husband Steve and also our nephew Ryan who has really grown up!

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It was so nice to catch up with all of them. The boys enjoyed playing some games one afternoon with Laurie and Ryan.

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We also got to visit with Johnnie, a man that was like a father to Chris when he was growing up. We surprised him one afternoon showing up unannounced. It took him a few minutes to realize who we were, but once he recognized Chris his whole face lit up and he had tears in his eyes. What a sweet man and I’m so glad we were able to see him while we were in New York.

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Anyway, if you know me you know I’m not a fan of cities. Visiting New York City has never been high on my bucket list. I was pleasantly surprised to find out just how much fun it is to visit NYC. I had a common misconception that New Yorkers were rude and unfriendly. I could not have been more wrong! We found them to be so helpful and friendly, even going out of their way to help us navigate the subway system or find our way around town.

We spent 2 days exploring the city. This post will cover our first day when we visited the Statue of Liberty and the 9/11 Memorial. Several months ago I learned that Crown Access tours to the Statue of Liberty sell out way in advance so I reserved these tickets back in January. Do you know how hard it is to decide in January which day and time in May we would like to visit Lady Liberty? I prayed about it, asking God to help me pick just the right day when the weather would be nice the week were planning to go. And you know what? The date/time I picked just so happened to be the most beautiful weather we had during a week that rained most days. Needless to say I was very thankful for answered prayers.

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The tour included a boat ride over to Liberty Island where we could visit the statue museum, walk around the grounds listening to an audio tour and climb up inside the statue not only to the pedestal, but all the way up to the crown. This was so cool!

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View of NYC skyline from the statue pedestal

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Inside the statue getting ready to climb up to the crown

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Inside the crown

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View from inside the crown

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Another view from inside the crown

The Statue of Liberty is part of the National Park Service so there were a couple of park rangers at the crown to answer questions. As we started back down they made sure we noticed that we could see the eyes, nose and mouth inside the statue.

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Can you see the face of Lady Liberty?

A little bit of information if you plan to do this: it is 354 steps in a tight, enclosed area to climb up to the crown. Children must be at least 48 inches tall and cannot be carried. We booked our tickets at this website: Statue of Liberty Tickets.

After we came back down we toured the museum that had many displays explaining the process of building the statue.

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Then we walked around the grounds a bit before catching the boat that would take us to the next stop on the tour: Ellis Island.

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Here we learned about the process that immigrants went through after landing in NYC.

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The immigrants had to declare their destination and we were surprised to see our hometown of Fernandina, Florida made one of the lists.

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View of NYC from Ellis Island

I am so glad we took this tour, it ended up being one of the highlights of our visit to NYC.

Later we walked over to see the 9/11 Memorial. This was a beautiful tribute to so many lives lost, and brought back a lot of memories of that day back in 2001. Our kids were not born yet, but we told them all about what we were doing that morning when we first heard the news. How sobering to come to the spot where this occurred.

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There are 2 of these memorials, one for each of the Twin Towers. The names of all the victims are engraved along the sides and the interior is a continuous fountain, like a fountain of tears falling into the hole in the ground.

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I don’t really know what to say about this or how to describe it. It was such a sad time in our nation’s history and it was very emotional.

We had a very busy week in New York, between visiting with family and sightseeing. I have one more post about our 2nd day in the city when we visited Times Square and Central Park. Stay tuned for more on that later.

Categories: New York | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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