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NYC and flight to London

Today we headed off to try to make the most of last morning in NYC. We headed off to post office, then into Central Park, up around Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy reservior which has a pretty good city skyline view then futhrt up the park to the ice skating rink. Now everybody has seen endless numbers of movies featuring the rink – yes, okay bad news it looks nothing like it! You know how they glide across the expanse of the park and step ever so graciously onto the rink … The rink is fenced, its tiny and there are steps hmmm good ole hollywood.

So after strolling the park we headed back to collect our bags aand head to the airport. No drama’s at airport thank goodness, hand luggage a ok so long as no liquids (which we had triple checked), and yep once againi got picked for extra customs screening – this time (once before they have glanced at them but that’s it) they actually took my prescription meds out looked them, looked at the dr’s letter then handed it all back over and off we went. I should mention that whilst tash is carrying a virtual drugstore (asthma and sinus) they haven’t even looked in her bag, I am carrying the usual precautionary stuff and I am the one always selected!

Sooo, we make it through customs get on the plane, have our own little video screens and it also shows a map of where we are, we are going and fast etc – very cool. The flight is another short one only just over 5 hrs but it takes about 2 hrs to taxi to the runway at JFK, where when we eventually take off there are 15 other planes in the queue – mad. Another night flight with early morning arrival 7am london time into heathrow, another night with no sleep – I just can’t sleep on planes, and there are always good movies to wattch, this time The Sentinel (a good secret service movie – very fitting) and Over the Hedge, not sure if its a Disney Pixar but it was hilarious.

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9/11 – NYC

Well today is 9/11, and as you can imagine its pretty sad here in NYC. We woke up and watched the memorial being conducted at ground zero until the second bell tolled signifying the collapse of WTC1. We had decided not to go to ground zero today, however it seems the universe had other ideas. We set off headed for the bottom of manhattan – bowling green and battery park. As we got close all roads seemed to lead to ground zero. So we ended up at the memorial/exhibition site and then wandered around the site, down to WTC 3 and 4, past the stage where the final names were being read, the ramp down into ground zero, with hundreds of family and uniformed personnel going in and out, past many personal tributes placed on the fences all around the site – too sad a ace to stay for too long, and we felt like we were intruding on the grieving families, so we managed to weave our way out of WTC through wall st padt the stock exchange and down to bowling green where wrought-iron fence spears were broken off to use as bullets in the revolutionary war and where we saw the big charging bull statue made famous for its rather oversized personal bits. Then down into battery park, where there is the sphere relocated from WTC after being damaged on 9/11, a lovely clear sunny view of the lovely lady on the island, ellis island where many immigrants were processed, past some little stalls where I picked up a lovely NYC hat for 5 bucks – bargain (mum – am sending old hat home you may want to soak and hang outside for a few days!).

We had lovely lebanese lunch then headed up town to checkout an internet place we heard of, stayed there a while then headed to Rockefeller centre, NBC studios, radio city music hall and some window shopping on 5th ave hmm maybe not, not really our sort of shops or prices for that matter, come to think I don’t think our packs can take anymore anyway.

We headed back to the hotel to do our washing and pack.

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Today was blue sky, so we headed straight for the Empire State Building, 102 floors constructed in just 410 days with 7 million man-hours clocked, not being a building buff or anything but that sounds pretty impressive, and the view is definitely impressive, and it was pretty cool because we pick out lots of places where we had been or what we were looking at (and yes this tower did have little info markers). So having surveyed NYC and taken our pics we marched into Chinatown and the chaos and stench that is canal street. Whoa was it bad, and in my job in Sydney I smelt some pretty good Chinatown and inner west smells, but this one was too much. There were hawkers and what we assumed to be black market sellers (the black garbage bag was a small hint) everywhere, it was the weekend (and 9/11 tomorrow) so the streets were packed, it was a beautiful warm sunny day – am I painting the right picture – so needless to say we saw all we needed to and got the hell out of there and headed downtown a little.

We passed the civic centre with city hall, the supreme court and international trade court.

We then stumbled upon probably a once in a lifetime event, a real live sighting of the President of the United State with full secret service detail and motorcade to boot!

Under normal circumstances little George could go jump, but to see the whole ensemble was something neither of us was going to miss. He was in town for a memorial service at St. Paul’s, which is where we first stumbled onto the whole thing. Having walked past the church where a white party ‘tent’ was being erected it caught my eye not really the normal thing to have at a church entrance, then it occurred to me we had heard on news this morning that the president was going to a church service. Now the tent thing was looking a whole lot more interesting, then it hit me, it was the secret service canopy that they erect for the president and yep sure enough upon surveying the surrounding area, there sticking out of the hordes of people like the proverbial were the secret service goons. So we decided to hang around and watch the circus. And hang around we did for about 2.5hrs – crazy I know but how could you by pass this opportunity. so we are standing behind the barricades right in front with front row view of Broadway st, the church and canopy, watching the goons parade around. After standing there for about 2hrs they clear the area, so we move a little further down the street, get moved again, then finally we find a spot, at the front again, where we don’t get moved.

By this time the snipers are on the roof (for real we have the pictures), Broadway has been closed, um yes Broadway like only just about the busiest street in NYC, the goons have tripled in numbers, and are now joined by an alarming number of NYC’s finest guys and gals in blue. The street are filling up, the traffic is being diverted with even more urgency which really doesn’t seem possible, then along come the police chiefs and secret service advance party checking all is ok, and then there is silence, complete silence an eerie silence on what should be and not long ago was an extremely busy loud intersection and then we hear it, the sound of American Harley Davidson police bikes lots of them, and now the show is about to really heat up.

The bikes come screaming, not cruising screaming along followed by big black tinted window RV’s and then the two presidential cars with state and president flag flapping, George and Laura waving, crowd clapping, a little cheering, then the car disappears inside the canopy, but outside the show is still going, the Big black cars keep coming but Now they are crammed with big burly men and large machine guns, then the media come running hordes of them running to get into the church or front row across from the church in the press area, you see unfortunately for the press they are at the rear of the motorcade and running is a better option then waiting for the big black cars to organise themselves on each street and angle they have mathematically I am sure worked out is best.

So the show is over …. Nooooo …. We are now in the “frozen zone” nothing in nothing out nothing moves, for another whole hour! So yep we are standing on a shut down Broadway street watching the sun start to slip down the sky, waiting for George to finish his presidential business.

So whilst we are waiting we watch the circus in revervse the bikes lining up, black cars hooning around, big burly men wandering looking trying to look impressive, and then we see it disappear into the darkness of Broadway, and the city tries to unravel itself from a gridlock from hell. Us, we walked and jumped the subway, grabbed some extremely tasty Chinese and pondered our boring little existence.

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Welcome to American history 101. Today we walked the Boston freedom trail passing significant people, places and events in American history. Starting at the Boston commons (oldest park in America, est 1634) we headed down the red line marking our path for the next few hours past park street church and the old granary burying ground – final resting place for john Hancock, Paul revere, Samuel Adams (not of beer fame) – all signatures of the declaration of independence and victims of the Boston massacre. Then onto kings chapel and burial ground; old city hall; old south meeting house where Samuel Adams gave the signal to proceed with Boston tea party a protest to British taxation on tea leading to the American revolution; old state house where from the balcony declaration of independence was first read in Boston; Boston massacre site marking clash of British guard of nine and a jeering Boston crowd on march 5 1770; fanueil hall; custom house tower Boston’s first skyscraper; Paul revere house oldest home in Boston c1680 home to silversmith and patriot; old north church and copp’s hill burial ground.

It was then across Charleston bridge to bunker hill monument, site of the historic battle of June 17, 1775 and Charleston navy yard and the USS Constitution “old ironsides” the oldest commissioned warship in the world.

We retraced our steps across the bridge and the little red line awhile to get some lunch and see the new England holocaust memorial – six luminous glass towers etched with six million prisoner numbers of those who perished in the camps. After some lunch we got back on our red line and headed back to the commons to the very grand state house built in 1798 topped by a golden dome.

Having seen pretty much all the sights in the city we headed out the esteemed suburb of Cambridge to Harvard University. This place is every bit as big old and beautiful as the movies make out. We wandered through Harvard yard, into the square, past all the dormitories and huge library, the very beautiful old church and university buildings.

After Harvard we wandered back to Back Bay via the public library the first publicly supported municipal library in the world. Now probably by now you are wondering why we are always going to the library when we are on holidays … Quite simple really Free internet !! Yep anywhere from 15 mins to an 1 hour, quite excellent.

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NYC to Boston

Another uneventful greyhound day. We arrived in Boston with the grey skies following us. We hopped the subway to the hostel in Back Bay then went looking for a supermarket. We wandered through a pretty plaza with old buildings and a fountain to a big shopping complex where we picked up our food supplies for the next few days. With dinner eaten we went about the washing duties and sussed out the plan for tomorrow.