Off the bench, please ma’am!

It was a mighty hot day today and, given that Mirinda was heading off to New Jersey in the afternoon, a lot of it was spent inside. Either in the cool air-conditioned room or on the Zephyr…which is also air-conditioned. But first, an early breakfast.

Down at Roxy’s Diner we were greeted like old friends. I love the way they do this in New York. There’s very little chance that they actually remembered us but that doesn’t stop them sounding like they do.

Mirinda decided to try oatmeal (which is just porridge) while I had my usual pancakes, bacon and maple syrup and a great cup of coffee. Actually, it’s not really ‘great’ as such but having it in a real diner goes a long way to making it great.

Breakied up, we wandered down to the South Street Seaport. This is a series of piers in front of the constantly busy South Street traffic viaduct that runs around the bottom of Manhattan.

The piers have been around since the 18th century back when big sailing ships plied their trade all around the globe. A couple of the ships are open to visitors, unless it’s a Monday, but you can wander around the piers just looking at them from onshore. The docks have a website here.

Mirinda wandering around the pier at South Street Seaport

We wandered to the end of the dock then back, figuring we’d go and see when we could actually get to see the ships, when we spotted a booth for New York harbour cruises. I figured this would be a great way to sightsee and stay cool at the same time.

The Zephyr was leaving in half an hour so we bought our tickets and headed down to the long queue of Japanese tourists already waiting.

I was beginning to worry about how long we’d be stuck standing in the sun when the Zephyr pulled alongside the dock. There was still an awful lot of people in front of us but then a miracle happened. We, apparently, were in the priority queue! We were like the fourth on the boat. This has NEVER happened to me before. We picked the seat we wanted and watched as the tour group stood outside looking totally jealous.

Eventually they were all on the boat and we set out on a tour of the harbour. Our first stop was Brooklyn Bridge.

Brooklyn Bridge from the East River

We heard all sorts of facts about the bridge, like how it was completed in 1883 and looked the same as it does now except without cars. It was built with an amazing lot of foresight because it works really well for the huge volume of cars that use it now when there was only horse drawn vehicles for the opening.

It took a few years before the first person jumped off it to his death. That ‘honour’ goes to Robert Emmet Odlum, who leapt to his death in 1885.

The Zephyr did a big u-turn and we headed out into the New York harbour. The woman giving us the tour repeatedly assured all the passengers that we would all be getting some wonderful views of the one thing we were all there to see. The Statue of Liberty. Apparently. It’s a bit of a shame if this is true because the harbour is lovely with lots of interesting history. But, as the ferry crept closer to the statue, the excitement on the boat was palpable.

Our favourite view, though, was the upside down building that Mirinda noticed. It seriously looks like someone has plonked it on the side of the river but the wrong way round. As Mirinda said, it is sitting on its head, kicking it’s legs in the air saying “turn me over!” It turned out to be an air vent for the tunnel that goes under the river. There is an identical one on the other side.

Upside down building in New Jersey

I popped upstairs as we came close to Lady Liberty and was fortunate to witness the madness that is the tourist photo op. Along the edges of the boat, Japanese tourists stood three deep, cameras ready, ignoring Ellis Island, with focus rings set for the statue.

On the top floor of the boat is a series of metal benches.

Upstairs on the Zephyr - Liberty on the left

As we drew closer to Liberty Island, the tourists started getting a bit edgy, climbing over each other, trying to reach higher for that special shot that no-one else has managed to get (yeah, sure). As the more desperate jumped onto the benches, a deck hand (with huge muscles) started to politely ask people to get off them.

I say he started politely…it didn’t take long before he was just dragging them off and throwing them around. None of this seemed to bother them as they simply stood up, shook themselves down and started climbing all over again. I spotted another deckhand downstairs, sitting at the bar, happy in his work. I guess they must draw straws for the top deck.

Of course, given that the tourists were all Japanese, I had no problem taking uninterrupted photos of the statue before turning around and returning to the air conditioned bliss downstairs.

Statue of Liberty

As I sat down opposite Mirinda, the boat turned and the statue loomed large in the window next to us. A group of women, who had been sitting sedately in front of us, suddenly went insane, squealing like middle aged teeny boppers at a Take That concert. It was seriously bizarre.

We then headed back to the seaport and the heat of the day. After disembarking we unsuccessfully tried to go to a cafe for a drink and the loo and, instead headed straight back to the hotel for lunch, ahead of Mirinda heading off to her conference.

After a few hours of essential heat recovery, we walked over to the WTC to catch the PATH train across the river to Exchange Place ($1.75 for a 4 minute train ride under the river) in order to deliver Mirinda to her conference.

We checked her into the Hyatt – two almost double beds and a view towards the Statue of Liberty as well as a strange noise coming from the room above which sounded very much like someone playing marbles on a wooden floor.

I am amazed that such an expensive hotel charges extra for wi-fi! I know I’ve said that before regarding other hotels but the hotel in Wall Street includes wi-fi and is about half the price. OK, there’s only one massive bed and no lounge suite but even so.

After a cup of tea we wandered across to the conference building where I left her to head back to Manhattan. I then changed to the subway and headed for Times Square.

The temperature was well over 30 degrees and the crowds were intense. I didn’t stay around too long. I’d spotted an ad on a brochure for a great bargain on a Canon EOS DSLR and went straight to the shop to assuage my need for better images. Starting from tomorrow, there should be a vast improvement in my photographs. I seriously hope so, anyway.

New camera in hand, I then went back to the hotel to cool off for an hour before venturing out for dinner.

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2 Responses to Off the bench, please ma’am!

  1. mum cook says:

    You and your photos! They look great to me. So you will be in
    different hotels for the next two nights is that right.
    love mum

  2. admin says:

    No, just last night. Mirinda is back with me tonight, after the conference has ended and all the brains have been suitably stormed.


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