Just when you thought this blog might have finally met it’s timely demise…
Our Fall trip to Austria and Slovenia had to be canceled due to Carolyn’s emergency spine replacement surgery (well okay, just parts of it), but she recovered sufficiently to able to go on our holiday trip to the United States.
Due to our multiple experiences flying from Europe to the Pacific Northwest and back, we’ve learned that it’s actually more enjoyable and comfortable to cut the trip into halves. While fewer stops is always good, after a ten to twelve hour flight the pooling of fluids in your body makes your lower legs look as if you’re wearing hockey shin guards under your pants and your shoes feel like size four ballerina slippers. When you walk down the aisle to the restroom, you feel exactly like a cross between a ballerina and a hockey player… one that waited to pee about thirty minutes too long.
In addition to that, each one of the plane’s toilets looks as if a terrorist accidentally set off a hand grenade inside. Which reminds me of this VW ad. It’s worth a click for a quick laugh. Plus it features the car we own in Portugal, the (Marco) Polo.
Anyway, if you break up the trip to a couple of five or six hour segments, you not only save your shoes from looking like a Pillsbury crescent roll tube after you bang it on the counter, but you can actually use the toilet even right before landing and experience only a minimum of dry heaves, depending on which bodily function you are unfortunate enough to require at that time and, more importantly, depending even more on which bodily function the person who just walked out was unfortunate enough to require as well.
As a result of all these scientific calculations, we decided to make a stop in New York City for four or five days. Carolyn had never been, so we wanted to take in all the famous sights. I will say this about New York: Back in the late seventies and eighties, I traveled there a few times, and generally found it dirty, scuzzy, and dangerous. But this trip, I felt very safe, the city was clean and the people pleasant.
Statistics back those observations up, as crime in the city spiked in the 1980’s, mostly due to the crack epidemic. But today, crime is now among the lowest of major US cities. Indeed, New York City is now about the 10th safest in the world. Again, statistics back up what we felt with our “spidey senses.”
Theories abound as to why New York City has improved so much. But I doubt it’s a coincidence that it has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, and they also had a long period where a Democrat was mayor. Just sayin’, especially since Trump likes to blame state and city problems on Democrats where he can, and I hate that kind of partisan nonsense, so I speak up. So there. Regardless, we were delighted to feel as much relative safety as we have in major European cities. Good job New York!
Well, onward and upward with this photo spread of all the major sights in New York City complete with a helluva lot fewer words.
First stop: Times Square. Back in the seventies and eighties it was dominated by a bunch of adult theaters and graffiti. Today it is a glittering testimony to the technology of huge animated billboards. And crowds. Hoo-wee. Might’ve been because of the holidays, but I haven’t seen that many people crammed together since Voodoo donuts announced a free donut day. And they were all friendly. Who woulda thunk in New York?
The answer to the question: “Where the hall is Carnegie?”
We tried smiling in front of it. Honest we did.
This is the Rockefeller Center skating rink. No one goes there anymore because it’s so crowded. So we didn’t either.
It would have been fun to see the Rockettes. We had to settle for this outdoor shot, but then Carolyn made up for it by doing the Can Can for me back in the hotel room. But that’s all I got to say about that.
We even braved the subway. Being lifelong suburbanites (and possibly both of us being a little, shall we say, “short bussy,”), we find mass transit to be a challenge, even when we know the language. As a result, we walked from one end of Manhattan to the other, being proud of ourselves for exercising when it was really only because we felt too stupid to try the subway more than once.
Speaking of the language, while it was nice to be able to understand everything we read and heard, apparently there are still some hotel professionals who struggle with English. “Your are here” indeed.
A must-see while in New York City has to be the 9/11 memorial. They didn’t allow photography throughout a lot of it, but the memorial was very well done and very much worth seeing.
One of the actual fire trucks that arrived on the scene only to be crushed by falling debris.
There are two outside pools where the footprints of the twin towers used to be.
This was the original retaining wall, which was a key piece of engineering in order to keep the Hudson River from seeping in. It is now part of the museum.
It took the better part of an afternoon to see everything in the memorial, but it was time very well spent.
We opted not to take any of our remaining time to go out to Liberty Island, settling for this shot from the docks. It was too freakin’ cold, so we were satisfied to confirm from the shore that the Statue of Liberty still exists.
Every year, the Staten Island Ferry provides 22 million people transportation between Staten Island and Manhattan. And it’s free. No wonder crime is down in New York!
We’ve got this Brooklyn Bridge to sell ya!
Somehow this photo from Paris got into our New York City collection. No, wait, this was in Greenwich Village! It is, in fact, the Washington Square Arch. It was built in 1892 to celebrate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration as President. And we thought arches like this were only European…
One of the most pleasant surprises was going up the Empire State Building. We hit it when it was near-deserted. Walking through any maze of roped-off lines with no one else in sight is always a nice feeling… unless you think everyone else knows something you don’t.
The experience wasn’t cheap, costing over thirty bucks apiece. But for that you do get to save your wife from the clutches of King Kong, at least after you take the photo.
And you also get to see some magnificent sights. I never tire of experiencing scenic views from atop castles or skyscrapers. Everything looks so clean and beautiful.
The building even had its own red light district. Actually the light is from the heaters which were installed to prevent the wind chill from turning people into Empire State Ice Cubes.
The city looks almost science fiction-y from that far up. Just need some flying cars!
That’s the very tippy top, where King Kong met his demise.
They make it pretty hard to jump off, although at least 30 people have jumped from the Empire State Building since it opened in 1931. The last guy to do it did it in 2006, and that was from the 66th floor, so these barriers are apparently working.
During the elevator ride, you are entertained with a ceiling outfitted with a video presentation. The one on the way up was more interesting than what they played on the way down, making it look like the building was being built as you soared skyward. I didn’t think to take any pictures of it until the way down, when it was really just a kaleidoscopic art piece.
Now back into the city!
This place was as busy as Grand Central Station! Mostly because that’s what it is.
The clean up and safety of the city is no more exemplified than with Central Park. It is now a beautiful park, and is safer than 83% of the cities in the state of New York.
I got a kick out of this pencilly building bordering Central Park. I guess if land is real expensive, you buy a small plot and then go up, up, up!
Gotta do a dog when you’re in New York.
Also gotta do the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Met. The Met is the largest art museum in the US, and one of the most-visited museums in the world. About 7.3 million people visited the met in 2018.
Our offerings to the gods have a lot more plastic in them than they used to.
The Met houses over two million pieces of art spanning much of the history of human culture. We didn’t have time to see half that. Or a quarter. Actually, I estimate we saw .00015 of it all, so I’m sure we missed something cool!
Speaking of cool, it snowed while we were there. We were as giddy as school children since Lisbon outlawed snow not long after it was founded.
The majority of our visit, however, was to see friends and family over the holidays, and ring in the new year in the country of our origin. Family photos are rarely of interest to anyone who’s not in them, so the number of photos below bears no resemblance to the importance or delight in our visit. We tried to get to everyone, but sadly there are so many hours in a trip like this, so don’t have your feelings hurt if we missed you. That said, if you’re someone who lives in the Pacific NW and we didn’t see you this visit, please contact us right away because there are damn few people as it is who read the blog this far! If you’re one of ’em, we gotta see you next time!
When you discover that your grandchildren now tower over you.
This is the perfect face for a grandkid to make when opening a present.
Carolyn and her progeny and their girlfriends.
And then when the photos are taken five drinks later.
After the unwrapping frenzy, the men sit back and talk about the good ol’ days.
One of the activities we were taken to was axe throwing, which apparently is a thing now.
After Carolyn demonstrated her expertise, I decided I would make sure I always treat her well.
My oldest son and one of my top two grandsons. Well I only have two, but he’s a great kid, mostly because he thinks I’m really cool for some reason.
Despite the great time we had, and the fun seeing our old haunts and family and friends, we were happy to get back to Portugal.
Happy 2020 everyone!