SUNDAY, MAR. 25 -- DAY ONE
Sunday dawned cold and windy, but we were determined to stick to our original plan, which was to knock out all the touristy things on the southern tip of Manhattan.
Up until this trip, I had always pictured Times Square and all the Broadway shows to be placed toward the bottom of the island, close to the World Trade Center. But they're not. They're farther north, in Midtown (which is where our hotel was) -- though not as far north as Uptown. Downtown, Midtown, Uptown. Got it? 👍 Downtown is primarily the Financial District (aka the dry, business-y side of town).
In our original planned route for Sunday (traced in red pencil), we planned to see the 9/11 Memorial, take the free Staten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty, see Wall Street, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and then end the day in China Town.
So after grabbing coffee and hopping onto the subway at Grand Central Station ...
But since Ryley was still carrying her breakfast croissant, the squirrels in the City Hall courtyard started circling her -- kind of scarily, to be honest. They were much more habituated than the Colorado squirrels we're used to. Also, we'd never seen a black squirrel before.
Anyway, so the Brooklyn Bridge! In all its Sunday morning glory ...
Our first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, from the bridge ...
A whole group of very kind people waited behind me while I took this shot! We didn't even ask them to. They were just courteous and nice like that. :-)
It was really chilly and windy, and it seemed people were always right on our heels, so we pulled over from time to time to let them pass us. It was a pretty epic experience, though! On the other side, we sat in a park for a bit while Ryan searched his phone for which subway train would take us back.
Our next stop was the 9/11 Memorial ...
I actually started fighting back tears before we even got to the memorial because I was dreading seeing it so much.
The reality, however, was a little underwhelming, compared to the terror we know happened there. Maybe it was that we chose not to do the 9/11 Museum, but it was hard to imagine the attacks and really let the gravity and magnitude of them sink in. I had trouble translating the holes in the ground and the beautiful, sleek fountains into the horrible picture in my head of the towers falling.
I would like to do the museum someday.
It ended up being a good thing that we didn't do it, though, because we took the subway a few blocks to Wall Street (we were newbies to the walking scene and were still underestimating our walking power) and ended up passing an old church cemetery that looked enticing. Old cemeteries fascinate me! A group of tourists stood just inside the gate, so we felt comfortable taking a quick detour.
What a find! A quick internet search informed us that this was the Trinity Church cemetery where none other than THE Alexander Hamilton was buried!
We also heard that there were a few of his family members buried there, too, so we set off on a bit of a hunt. The problem, however, was that the headstones were so old that it was hard to decipher names and dates.
Can you tell that I love old cemeteries? And it was so amazing that we had just happened upon it!
A block away, we found Federal Hall, which was the United States' first capitol building and the place where a BUNCH of U.S. history went down. We would have taken a free tour of that, but it was closed since it was Sunday.
Right across the street was the New York Stock Exchange.
And then, winding our way back to Broadway, we found the famous Charging Bull statue ...
Here's the view as we pulled away ...
New York on the right, New Jersey on the left -- Statue of Liberty in the middle.
My phone battery had already dipped down to 10 percent, so on the ferry ride back, I found an electrical outlet in the middle of the boat and stood there charging it. I really enjoyed watching the "huddled masses" stand in awe of the Statue of Liberty as we passed by -- so poetic.
After this, we took the subway to China Town for dinner. I didn't mind China Town at all, largely because I've been to China, and it brought back some fun memories.
But Ryan and Ryley were generally miserable there. The situation only worsened, however, when we had finished our meal (which I alone thought was delicious). We left cash on the table for the bill and tip, but the waitress chased us down at the front of the restaurant to ask us why we hadn't left more of a tip. Totally caught off guard, Ryan dug into his wallet and gave her way more than she deserved.
I mean, seriously??? We're not cheap -- I promise. It takes a lot of gall to chase people down and ask for a bigger tip.
So no pics of China Town. You can imagine it, I'm sure.
We took the subway back to Midtown and crashed in our hotel for a few hours to let our feet recover and (just being honest) surf our phones for a bit.
Around 7 or so, we decided we were feeling adventurous again and that we wanted to explore our area some more. We knew that St. Patrick's Cathedral was just a few blocks away, and since it was Palm Sunday, we figured it would probably be open. We were right.
Isn't it beautiful?
Ryley had a lot of questions about Catholicism and "praying to the saints," and I answered them quietly while we sat together in the pews, only for Ryan (the former confirmed Catholic) to correct me and re-explain the facts when he finally sat down with us. Oh, well!
I know how churches work, of course, but these boxes of Palm Sunday palm branches -- just casually shoved in a corner -- made me laugh. It reminded me of how in Sunday School when I was 7 or 8, my dad cut some of the leaves off of our big, leafy houseplant so we could have "palms" in children's church to re-enact Jesus' entry into Jerusalem!
The cathedral is only a block from Rockefeller Center (have I mentioned how compact the city is??), so we headed over there to check it out.
Rockefeller Center is where they light the gigantic Christmas tree every year, and I just want to say that the plaza was not how I pictured it -- at all.
Rockefeller Plaza is also known for the ice skating, and we could hardly believe that during the last week in March it was still in season! FYI, in case you go: It's actually open until mid-April!
In one of those last-minute, live-in-the-moment decisions, we let Ryley skate! It's something she'll never, ever forget!
Tired and worn out, we slowly made our way back to the good ol' Roosevelt Hotel and our bottle of ibuprofen. 😏
Total miles walked on Sunday: 9.9
Stay tuned for Day Two, coming soon!