9am – a bakery near Battery Park
Somehow it’s already my last day in New York – how did this week go by so quickly?
There’s a few things left on my NYC wishlist, and I’m determined to tick them off before I leave for my flight this afternoon. Game on.
I’m fuelling up for the busy day ahead with a croissant and hot chocolate at Au Bon Pain. I had an affirming moment at the counter when the server told me to ‘have a good day at work’. A good day at work? Me? The girl with a British accent, a beanie hat and a backpack? I’ll take that.
I feel like a New Yorker now. That, or the waitress was really tired.
10.30am – the harbour
Today’s New York tip: there’s a free way to get a beautiful view of Manhattan and catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty from the water, the way it should be seen.
All you have to do is grab the Staten Island Ferry from Manhattan and enjoy the 30 minute trip across New York Harbour. You’ll get great views of the city, historical islands (if that’s your cup of tea), and a little bit of Brooklyn!
I really wanted to see the Statue of Liberty during my holiday – and this is the quickest, easiest way to see it. But better than the view of Lady Liberty was the sight of Manhattan springing up from the water. The cluster of glass buildings against the bright blue sky were gorgeous – forever holding the promise of prosperity, excitement and adventure.
It’s unbelievably windy and chilly up on deck, so make sure you bring a hat and gloves!
Bonus photo: more posing squirrels! I found this guy in Battery Park…
1.30pm – Trinity Church
The next stop on my quick downtown tour was a sombre one.
The World Trade Center complex: a beautiful place tinged with sadness, an indelible fibre in the tapestry of New York City.
When I thought about the stomach-churning footage we’re all very familiar with, it didn’t feel entirely real. We’ve seen destruction like that a hundred times in Hollywood movies. But walking onto the same ground was surreal. This was no studio backlot. This was real. Those were real lives lost.
Wherever you go in New York, there’s an unmistakable buzz – but the second you step foot into the Fulton Street complex, the buzz dies. It’s quiet, serene, strange. But it’s beautiful, too. Two huge memorial pools with waterfalls have replaced the cavernous holes created 15 years ago. Orange-hued trees are scattered around the grounds, contrasting against the blue-tinged buildings, pools and sky.
And then there’s the One World Trade Center: the biggest, proudest, shiniest tower you’ve ever seen. Defiant. Powerful. That architecture moved me more profoundly than almost anything I’ve ever seen in an art gallery or museum.
But most strange of all was a huge, white, ribbed structure just across the way. It looked like an abstract interpretation of a bird. Or a fish skeleton. And, intriguingly, you could walk through it. And that’s how I found myself in a mall (the structure turned out to be an entrance to The Fulton Center).
It seemed strange to move seamlessly from a site of tragedy and reflection to consumerism and shiny things, but maybe that’s the New York way?
The Fulton Center was light and airy, incredibly fancy, and – inexplicably – smelled delicious. I didn’t stop there for long, as I had plenty more to see, but I did linger in Sugarfina to admire their beautiful sweets.
Then it was time to walk to Trinity Church – I was on a mission to show Kate (via Facebook Messenger) Hamilton’s grave. There’s no way to avoid sounding macabre, but since the Hamilton musical became the Next Big Thing in America, it’s kind of a tourist attraction. His grave (don’t picture a small grey headstone, this was a vast white marble memorial) is tucked away in the corner of the cemetery, and covered in miniature American flags and bunches of flowers. I wonder if they were there before the musical, or whether Lin-Manuel Miranda has inspired a new generation of supporters? I suspect the latter.
I noted several photogenic spots around the Trinity Church. If I’d had more time, it would have been nice to explore and take more photos. Here’s a courtyard filled with twinkle-light trees that I fell mildly in love with. I’m a sucker for fairy lights.
2pm – Potbelly Sandwich Shop
I only had one thing left on my New York wish list – and just enough time to do it. With just a couple of hours left before our car arrived at the hotel, we marched east towards the Brooklyn Bridge.
We made it halfway across the bridge and walked back (I plagued with visions of me getting stuck in Brooklyn, thanks to a malfunctioning subway, and missing my flight – so I didn’t get the whole way across).
That was enough for me to get a few pictures of Manhattan. It’s not the best place for photos, but I’m glad I did it – even if it’s just so I can point at it when it’s on TV and say ‘I’ve been there!’.
After the bridge, we got the subway back up to Midtown (which pretty much felt like ‘home’ already), and sourced somewhere for lunch. Eventually we settled on the Potbelly Sandwich Shop, which I’m going to describe as a ‘hipster version of Subway’. I think you’ll understand what I mean.
And then? Then our town car arrived to take us to the airport. What a whirlwind this past week has been! I loved New York – I’m already itching to return and explore more of this wonderful city.