The morning dawns overcast with a low bank of clouds covering the tallest buildings. On our agenda was to see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and 9/11 Memorial. We take the subway, get off and make the change to another one that’ll take us even closer. A short walk and we’re in line to board the ferry that will take us to the Statue of Liberty. Connie’s really jazzed about all of these stops and I’m looking forward to them too. She’s got tickets so that we can go up into the pedestal of the Statue but no higher. If you’re going to visit the Statue…get online and get those tickets well in advance of your trip.
The ferries carrying us between the islands are always packed. It’s recommended that you get there early to avoid the biggest of crowds.
Once back on shore we walk to the 9/11 Memorial, which is a few blocks away.
There’s nothing that I can write to express what this place means, or is, to everyone, but I’ll give you what it was for me this day. It’s beautiful. It’s somber. It’s a burial-place to thousands at the hands of a few. It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that the 9/11 attacks happened. With its serene setting of tree and grass lined plots with waterfalls amongst the hustle and bustle of downtown Manhattan and in the shadow of the new World Trade Center…it’s a lot to take in.
The Memorial, inside and underground, is somber…as it should be. It’s interesting. I had noticed that my mouth was dry and throat tight as I neared the final exhibit. With no photography allowed I’ll do my best to convey what was in the exhibit. There were monitors replaying the news of the attacks and downfall of the buildings. Information of the terrorists and their plans, as well as video of them passing easily through what was then considered “security”. It literally had the play by play, blow by blow of the attack. As I walked past a large piece of the American Airlines plane that struck the WTC my throat went tight and tears welled up…our daughters a flight attendant, as things repeatedly struck close to home. “Why?” and “What did this prove…the taking of all of those innocent lives? They were all just minding their own business, working for a living.” flashed through my mind. Display cases holding the wallet, ID or other personal effects of those killed that day were situated throughout the room. Emergency vehicles that had parked close to the buildings then were crushed as the Towers collapsed were on display. Morbid? No. Stark and real….yes….terribly.
After we finished with the last room of the Memorial we exited back out into the late afternoon sunshine and humidity of a mid-June afternoon. “If the attack was supposed to cripple us as a country it didn’t work. Look at all of this construction going on around us.” I said to Connie as I pointed out the new buildings going up around the WTC. “Do you think that they know they failed to keep us down?” I asked….not really expecting a reply. “Yeah…they know…” replied my bride.
My advice to you if you’re visiting New York is to take several hours and visit this hallowed ground. If you do….you won’t forget it.
We made our way back up towards Times Square with a stop off at a place that we’d heard of ahead of time from a family member. Situated off the lobby of Le Parlor Meriden is the Burger Joint. A nondescript hole in the wall place said to have the best burgers in NYC….so well camouflaged that we walked right past its entrance. It’s tiny but packed with customers. Their service was fast and efficient with our food taking no longer than a few minutes. Our burgers were really good and the fries were excellent…but we hadn’t eaten since breakfast either!!
We arrived back at our hotel in the early evening. I persuaded the youthful, and now full of fried food, Mrs. Ripley, to join me at the hotel bar for a refreshing nightcap. She relented if only to shut me up from whining. It worked.
Our bartender was a tall, friendly middle-aged guy with a blonde mop of hair that covered his face much of the time. Since I had enjoyed a rum sidecar so much the night before at another bar I proceeded to order another, if for nothing more than to see how consistent the drink was from bartender to bartender. Jim, our bartender, combined the ingredients into a chrome shaker then proceeded to mix the liquors in such a fashion that I thought that he was being electrocuted. His blonde mop waving from side to side and his middle-aged body jiggling…I knew that I’d have to tip him extra for the physical exertion alone. The drink was….okay, not as good as the first one that I had the night before….but still tasty. Connie and I rehashed our day, before asking Jim where he likes to eat. He paused…moving his blonde locks from his face before replying in a tone normally reserved for Presidential speeches “We live in the golden age of the hamburger….” before he went on to list several places and their addresses that he enjoys….small and off the beaten path places….WE’D STRUCK GOLD!!! Connie jotted the names and locations down of what Jim had said with the look in her eyes of “we’ve gotta try some of these..” which we did…but that’s a story for another day. We tipped Jim well for his thoughts and efforts (his shirt tail still un-tucked from his literal gyrations of my rum sidecar).
Once in our room I head to the desk overlooking Times Square….jotting down my thoughts of the day while Connie gets our itinerary ready for the next.
Our trip is heating up, thanks for reading.