Day 49

Wednesday 6th April

We left Newark Liberty International Airport somewhat late as the original aeroplane experienced a mechanical failure on Iceland and so a replacement had to be found. At the airport we were able to see how the setting sun illuminated the high buildings of Manhattan.

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Once under way we followed the old Great Circle route across the eastern seaboard of the USA and the Atlantic Provinces of Canada before a short hop over the Atlantic to southern Greenland and on to Iceland. This was necessary because our Boeing 757 was a non-ETOPS plane which meant that it had to stay within about one hours flying time to an airport in case of an emergency. There was a very quick change of planes on Iceland and on take-off one could see the former campsite used on an earlier Lisle expedition and the ice sheets extending eastwards.

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After a bumpy landing because of strong winds we landed at 12:45 p.m. This is only 10 minutes late because the jet stream pushed both planes to enable us to cut the delay.

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After nearly 26,000 miles of travel and 10 countries we feel amazed that without relying upon aeroplanes one can cross the globe, feel safe, be well fed and arrive on time. Only the last aeroplane let us down, but only just!

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We have had a wonderful few weeks, seen fantastic scenery and sights, met lots of interesting and welcoming people and until this morning all were non-Europeans.

Day 48

Tuesday 5th April

We are having an easy time on our final day. It is certainly crisp this morning as the jet stream has brought a weather system from the far north of Canada and the Great Lakes which for us here in NYC has produced a very cold, windy at times, but very sunny morning. To the northeast of us there has been more snow and lower temperatures. The weather system is known as a Spring Clipper though clipper ships never operated from Lake Superior.

We spent the morning walking from Columbus Circle around Central Park.

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It is an amazing resource as the sound of the city disappears. The colours of spring take over. Birds and squirrels are very close to you and it is easy to see why many films have used this location. In the centre is The Dairy, which, in the 19th century became a source of fresh milk and snacks for children and a place to enjoy the cooling breezes from the nearby pond.

IMG_1670 IMG_1676 IMG_1679 IMG_1683IMG_1686 IMG_1688 IMG_1689 IMG_1694 Now it is time for a late lunch, packing and a rendezvous with a luxury black sedan to take us to Newark Liberty International Airport via the Lincoln Tunnel which is cut through the same volcanic rock that supports the skyscrapers and was exposed in Central Park. The latter had been exposed so long that they have been eroded and scratched by ice exposing crystals of quartz which glistened in the morning sunlight. Our flight will follow the ‘old’ route across the Atlantic via Iceland. More about that tomorrow.IMG_1696

Day 47

Monday 4th April

As the day broke we could just see across the Hudson River and it was raining. On the television however, only tens of miles from here it had been snowing and was below freezing. Our mission today though was to visit The One World Observatory on top of the One World Trade Centre. Currently this is the tallest building in the western hemisphere with a 3 level indoor observation centre starting on the 102nd floor. It is built close to the footprints of the original Twin Towers but a little to one side where other buildings of the financial centre were located, but later collapsed. This enables the foundations of the original towers to become a waterfall display with the names of ‘the fallen’ surrounding two holes in the ground to respect the loss. Words cannot really express the feelings and respect that overcomes visitors to the site.

The journey to the top of the tower starts in the almost indestructible rock of Manhattan. It is testimony to what has been ‘thrown at it’ it still stands. A bomb in an underground car park and two aeroplanes hitting the buildings did not destroy this.

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These feelings are brought to a climax inside the St. Paul’s Chapel Annex to Trinity Church which was a sanctuary to survivors and rescue workers in the weeks and months after 9/11. We witnessed the messages of hope, photographs of the missing, clothing and hats, badges and anything that helped people hope for a positive resolution from the disaster and pleasingly with the reconstruction all of those momentos are preserved within the church as a most moving epitaph to that terrible day.

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As we were near we took the Staten Island Ferry to see New York harbour up close and personal.

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After dinner we revisited The Top of the Rock observatory to bring to an end this leg of our circumnavigation. Tomorrow we continue eastwards.

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The route updated to the edge of the Atlantic. Just under 3000 miles to go!

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Day 46

Sunday 3rd April

We awoke at 8:30 with 60mph winds lashing around the building but clear skies from an Arctic weather system making the views amazing.

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This morning we went to see how much the southern end of Manhattan Island had changed since our last visit. So much of the riversides has been changed to make it all a pleasant experience for locals and visitors alike. Essentially at this tip of Manhattan is the original Dutch settlement of ‘New Amsterdam’ and it was across this point of land that they constructed a timber wall to keep out the indigenous peoples. The line of that is Wall Street today. Beyond Wall Street was essentially countryside with villages that supplied the Dutch and much later other settlers with fresh milk and meat products.

IMG_1466 We started our exploration at the Bowling Green – we are not sure it was crown green! This is where the 19th century Custom House is towered over by financial buildings. At this southern tip is Battery Park – the home of gun positions to keep the enemies away – but today provides amazing views over New York harbour.

IMG_1365IMG_1383 We were pleased to see the completion of the east and west riverside walkways from Battery Park and how bright and airy the airport style Staten Island Ferry Terminal has become. It is warm, light and comfortable compared to its smelly past and has seating made of granite which looks like leather. What is pleasing is that part of the original terminal is preserved. Close to here is the ‘Elevated Area’, a public space bounded by offices but with great views over the East River to Brooklyn.

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This is the next shock readers because our shipping company is not working to Europe so we can see where we would have departed from but we are currently working on a flight to Europe.

IMG_1368 IMG_1369 IMG_1373IMG_1378 IMG_1380 IMG_1385 IMG_1370 We continued to explore the riverside of the East River as far as the Brooklyn Bridge and what is today known as South Street Seaport which was in the early 19th and 20th centuries up to piers 18 on the east side of New York harbour and continued as far as pier 90 on the Hudson River to the west. Essentially this was land traversed by horse and cart and railway lines that kept the massive port alive.

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We were surprised how clear the view from Fulton Street was of The One World Trade Centre. It is the tallest building in the western hemisphere which replaces the Twin Towers of the original World Trade Centre.

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At the end of Fulton Street, which is the name of the fish market on the east side, is Broadway and Trinity Church. We will explain more about this tomorrow but this was a major location in the resolution of people’s problems post 9/11.
A taxi ride to Midtown enabled us to complete our alternative mission of having Sunday lunch at the appropriate time!

To get back to the hotel one has to cross Manhattan so let us show you something that most people miss.

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Day 45

Saturday 2nd April

It was a wet morning so we delayed breakfast. Following this we explored the High Line. This is an elevated park and walkway recently opened on the trackbed of the railway that linked all of the docks and wharves along the Hudson River with the processing plants in Lower Manhattan and further north along the Hudson Valley. It is a steel structure that was built in the 19th century to separate rail traffic from road traffic and pedestrians. As there had been so many accidents when trains crossed west side roads a section became known as “Death Avenue”. On our first visit to NYC nearly 30 years ago this elevated railway was beginning to be run down as cargo ships became bigger and moved to larger terminals in New Jersey. At the same time the British, American, French, German and Dutch transatlantic liners stopped operating so there was no need for a railway to resupply these big ships.

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The High Line gives one a close up view of the Meat Packing District, Chelsea with its textiles, fruit and vegetables and Art Deco hotels as well as the major redevelopments near Penn Station where the walkway ends. It is very cleverly restored and the rusting railway lines are hidden by flowers, bushes and trees which are providing safe areas for birdlife.

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Day 44

Friday 1st April

Welcome to New York City!

We awoke this morning to see from our bedroom window a cruise ship that had moored on the Hudson at the end of West 49th Street.

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So we went somewhere to avoid the crowds! Just off East 42nd after Grand Central Railway Station and the Chrysler Building is Tudor City. This is a 1920s 30s complex of apartments constructed from brick steel and concrete but made with Tudor English influences that does not have the fake black and white timbers of places such as central Chester in the UK. This is a sort of tasteful flashback and an ocean of peace and springtime colour close to the East River and the United Nations headquarters.

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Close by is the HQ of the Daily News newspaper with its rotating globe in the public area which helps to summarise our circumnavigation.

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After lunch in a typical Manhattan bar/bistro we went to the ‘Top of the Rock’ observation deck at the Rockefeller Centre which actually gives a more intimate view of Manhattan when compared to the Empire State Building and the former World Trade Centre. This is a recent addition to the observation possibilities in midtown and was not available some 30 years ago when we discovered this part of NYC.

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Following dinner we explored Times Square at its best when illuminated by neon.

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