Saturday, 25 February 2017

Big Apple 2-Ground Zero

Thursday 2nd February.
Destination for the day.

                  Our second day of the Big Apple birthday treat started with another visit to the Manhattan diner for our start up fuel for the day.French toast and Canadian bacon complete with the ubiquitous hash browns which were a meal on their own.Our plans were for a visit to the new Trade Centre and the 9/11 Memorial museum.I didn't think this was going to be as much of a fun day as yesterday but more thought provoking and I wasn't proved wrong.
Oor fav diner.
 The good thing about staying on Broadway albeit No 2552 is that it is just one Metro trip through to lower Manhattan.The only down side to the trip is the amount of entertainers/scroungers that get on at one stop do some sort of act then after passing the hat around disappear at the next station.Today's entertainment was in the form of a Mexican guitarist who strummed a few chords sang a few lines and stood there hoping for some monetary gain.His luck was out.I think the residents of New York have become immune to these "street artists".Yesterday's entertainment came in the form of a lad singing "God bless America".
                       We arrived at the new Trade Centre and even although it was mid morning in Lower Manhattan the square was very serene and even the usual tourists were pretty sedate obviously the recent history adds to the sombre mood that still hovers over this area.
                        Our first visit was to the the new tower and after going through airport type security which would prevail throughout our visit to the Big Apple we headed for the lift that took us from the ground floor straight up to the top viewing platform in less than a minute which went down well with Lady Watson-not!

                        The view from the viewing platform was magnificent with a 360' view right over Manhattan.The U.N building ,Empire State,Brooklyn Bridge,Statue of Liberty and every other landmark were there to be seen in all their glory.

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. 

Pier 54 still awaiting the Titanic

                           After photos were taken and information read we headed back down towards the ground floor and a perusal around the Ground Zero square and   with its North and South pools which are situated in the exact spot of the towers belonging to the ill fated Trade Centre before heading into the 9/11 museum.

The North and South pools on the actual spots of the Two Towers inscribed with the names of the fallen.
 One prominent feature of the Ground Zero square is the "Survivor Tree"which is a Callery pear tree that withstood the falling of the two towers and also Hurricane Sandy which devastated Lower Manhattan in 2012.
The Survivor Tree ready again for blossoming.

         After visiting the actual Ground zero square we headed into the newly opened 9/11 museum and prepared ourselves for a rather sombre visit and even then we weren't prepared for the sights and sounds we saw.Everybody knows what happened on that fateful day but this museum brings it all back and tells you even more about things that happened behind the scenes and all the equipment that survived the destruction of the two towers.
Picture taken on the morning just before calamity struck.
                                 The bravery of the emergency services who without even thinking headed straight into the buildings without any hesitation and thought for themselves with a lot of them paying the ultimate price.
The helmet of Patrick John Brown who I'm afraid didn't make it.
These are three pictures of what was once a fire turntable.

There were plenty of reminders of that fateful day from pieces of uniform and equipment used by the emergency services as well as reminders from the survivors. A pair of blood encrusted high heeled shoes were donated by a survivor who only noticed the blood when she got home as rightly she had been very traumatised by the events she had just been involved in.

On display were the "Survivor stairs "which were used to save hundreds of people and funnel them away to safety.
Another  display was this motorbike which was bought by fireman Gerard Baptise of FDNY Ladder Company 9 in the summer of 2001. He had intended to restore it despite ridicule from his colleagues and friends.After his untimely demise on 9/11 his surviving colleagues and some motorbike enthusiasts got together to restore it as a memorial.It has 10 roses on it in memory of Gerard and the other 9 members of the company who lost their lives
A couple of supporting beams taken from the debris.
This is the last column ceremoniously removed from Ground Zero where workers and victim's relatives were allowed to leave memorials.
There were plenty of momentos around the museum none more so than the room containing the names and photos of the victims as well as the names of victims from the earlier bombing of 1993.I'm afraid you are not allowed to take photos in this room.Another poignant feature was the phone call from the lady in one of the hijacked planes phoning her family saying that there was a problem but was sure to see them all that evening.
We left the museum after a couple of thought provoking hours .
After leaving the museum we head for nearby St Paul's church which was nearby which was used as a refuge on that fateful day and also during the days after as a rest area for the rescue squads.

It is surprising given its closeness to Ground Zero that it only suffered one broken window.
After that thought provoking afternoon our plans were to find one of these gourmet restaurants called KFC but as always when you want one you can't find one.I suggested the food hall at Grand Central Station thinking there must be one there but no luck so we ended up at a chicken shack of some sort.
Food was consumed before heading of to see the Empire State Building at night hoping above hope to see the giant monkey.

Alas no monkey but we still headed up to the viewing platform in order to see New York at night and it was well worth the trek.A fitting end to our bust schedule for the day.We headed back to the hotel to rest our weary legs and to see if Trump and Arnie were still indulging in handbags at 20 paces.
I'll leave you with my funniest picture of the day.I'd love to see a car giving a piggyback.
See you when I see you.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The City that never sleeps.

Fri 10th Feb

                  Lady Watson had decreed that since she was about to enter into the 21st+ year of her reign that we should go somewhere nice.Great I thought somewhere warm and sunny to get rid of the winter blues.Well I was 50% correct.It was sunny albeit the temperatures were in the minus numbers typical for a New York winter.The only good thing was that after previous experiences we decided to fly to Heathrow from Edinburgh to cut down on travelling time.
                                   The difference in travelling with BA short haul and long haul are immense especially from a catering point of view as they now charge for the sale of teas and coffees aboard the short haul whereas they throw gin and tonics at you in long haul.
Didn't want to show its face
The 747 was duly boarded at Heathrow and after we were informed that the plane was quiet so  we headed into the centre of the plane and enjoyed having the whole row of seats to ourselves.Films were watched and meals consumed and after seven hours we landed at JFK.Due to Trump's executive decisions it took ages for us to get past customs.Mind you when we told the security guys we were there for leisure they gave us a suspicious look as in who comes to New York in -7 temperatures for leisure.Since they realised we had not come for political asylum they let us in so we headed out for our yellow cab trip to downtown New York during rush hour.
Yellow cabs in abundance
 The trip was an eye opener and took forever ending up with a traffic jam due to an illegally parked car and the sound  of the horns was right out of a movie.We eventually arrived at our hotel which again was right out of a movie albeit a 50's movie.
Broadway-a very small part
                   We found our room,duly left our luggage in our room and headed for Central Park as the sun was setting.The snow had been coming down during our cabride in so the snow lying in the park was nice and virginal.
Central Park in the snow
            When we arrived at Central Park it had just finished snowing and I must admit it did look romantic but that thought only lasted until I nearly got run over by a jogger the first of nearly a hundred joggers which passed us through our visit.Photographs were duly taken and sights visited including the Jackie Onassis reservoir which I thought of what an unusual way to remember her by-only in America.
One of Lady Watson's sought after bridges

The Manhattan skyline over the Jackie O reservoir.

The new Trade Centre 

Aw nice!

Two chances-some and none
                       We finished our trip round a very small part of the park,the remainder would be perused when we returned a few days later,and headed back towards Broadway looking for somewhere to eat which was found in the shape of a Spanish Chinese restaurant.What more could one ask for, Chow Mein followed by churras-only in America.The entertainment was provided by listening to Chinese speaking Spanish.Very funny but not as funny as listening to them speak German.
                            After a pretty sleepless night due to antiquated plumbing we headed to the nearest diner to indulge in the usual enormous breakfast before heading for the USS Intrepid which is an aircraft carrier converted into a museum which meant that I was going to be like a bairn in a sweetie shop

Anchors Aweigh
       I wasn't disappointed and straight from the off walked around with my tongue dragging across the ground.The USS Growler,a cold war submarine ,is docked alongside but since we had visited it a few years before Lady Watson declined the chance of another visit due to her being a wee bit claustrophobic therefore I had peace and quiet to wander about at my own pace whilst she headed in to the wider climes of an aircraft carrier.
USS Growler
                 The USS Growler had the distinction of being the first submarine capable of firing nuclear missiles albeit fired just like a cruise missile.These types of submarines weren't too successful and were soon replaced by the nuclear ballistic systems we have around today.The sights on the submarine are complemented by ex sailors who are there to give you an insight into life beneath the waves which was not for the fainthearted.
Avec missile

How do you fancy sleeping with torpedos as a room mate

This is the Cheif petty officers quarters more commonly called The Goat locker
             On leaving the sub you are greeted by the sight of Concorde which has been displaced as number one exhibit since the arrival of the space shuttle.
Crying on its own away at the back
                     As the interior of the Concorde was out of bounds I headed up the gangway into the interior decks of the Intrepid humming Anchors Aweigh of course.
    On arrival you are taken into the Intrepid's history through its involvement in the Second World War,its time involved on America's post war struggles through to it's involvement in the recovery of space capsules.
Grumman Avenger-Torpedo bomber

American ejector seat created by some great British engineering

Fury-Forerunner of the F86 Sabre

Mercury capsule-I had one of these for my Action Man

Skyhawk-small but lethal

These jimjams belonged to Lt Wilson"Denny" Denver who spent some time as an inhabitant of the "Hanoi Hilton"courtesy of the NVA

NVA anti aircraft gun

Shows you how small these early capsules were

Straight out of M.A.S.H.

Purple Heart
After a good look around the interior decks I headed out to the maindeck and the gorgeous array of gigantic Airfix kits that were all sitting mean and moody along the length of the maindeck.
Crewed by marines

Four barrels are better than one

A very moody F16

"Gonna kick the tyres and light the fires"

The plane that was used when a precise job was needed

Super secret spyplane

Grumman Tracker-sees the bad guys coming.

The ubiquitous Huey

Straight out of Thunderball

Gorgeous beast-my 2nd fav after the Hunter

Bad guy-Mig 21

Another bad guy-Mig 17

All roads lead to the bridge

Chewing over some war stories.
Short,stubby but with some lethal firepower.

Can I have one please?
   I eventually met up again with Lady Watson and we headed towards the bridge where once again ex crew members were on hand to give us an insight into life on a carrier.One lad was stationed at the Holy Loch for years and couldn't believe it when I told him that there was nothing there anymore.
The last time she steered a boat I lost my favourite cap.
                  After we left the bridge we headed for Lady Watson's mustsee,the space shuttle.She wasn't amused when I told her that this one,the USS Enterprise,had never been to space and was used for landing trials and usually took off from the back of a 747.One was not amused.The things I'll say to go back to Washington to see a real one.
                Even so she was a sight to behold and it was a very good exhibition albeit only external.

Live long and prosper
                          The crew of NCC 1701 were all pictured in attendance when this shuttle was revealed to the waiting public with a few words of wisdom from Spock.

The gang's all here.
Dinner Time
            We headed back into Times Square for dinner and ended up in Planet Hollywood only because there was a private function on at Hard Rock Cafe.Food on offer was the usual burgers and boil in the bag food expected from these establishments but some of the decor was very good with costumes from various films,film props and to cap it all "Little Nellie" from "You only live twice"

Wasn't allowed to take it home with me.
After dinner we headed along Times Square which I assure you never goes to sleep.
Funny muggers in Times Squar
I think somebody was trying to get rid of me
                  We finished of our day with a trip to the World Trade Centre which was our destination for the following day and I must admit in the darkness it was very peaceful.I'll tell you all about it later.
                            See you when I see you.