Washington DC to New York City - USA
Sep 21, 2014
|Our last entry finished on Saturday 13th September and we had just spent our first day in Washington DC.
On Sunday we spent our second day sightseeing and headed into the city centre from our hotel which was in the very pleasant, Van Ness university area. We were situated a couple of blocks from the metro system and used it extensively to travel around the city.
Our first stop was to the base of the Washington monument which is a 555 foot marble obelisk built to honour the first president.
We then headed down the National mall to the reflecting pool and on to the Lincoln memorial which is a temple like building where a marble statue of Abraham Lincoln sits in a chair looking down on you.
We then crossed the Potomac river and circled around to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial, with a set of bronze statues that shows him with his dog Fala. Then we had a short stroll to the Thomas Jefferson memorial which was another temple like building with a bronze statue of the founding father. We were also lucky enough to arrive just as a park ranger was giving a talk about the monument and Thomas Jefferson's role in drafting the Declaration of Independence. We didn't know that the document was actually completed on the 2nd July 1776 and then ratified by congress on the 4th July, apparently the document wasn't actually signed until August!
We finished a busy day off with a walk over to the boundary of the White house and its viewing area.
On Monday we headed back into the city and managed to get tickets for an afternoon visit to the top of the Washington monument. We then headed towards the Capitol building at the eastern end of the National Mall. This is a very impressive building with a dome and the seat of the United States Congress, the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government.
We paid a visit to the National Archives and saw three of the most important documents in American history.
The Declaration of Independence (1776). The Constitution (1787). and The Bill of Rights (1789). (The display room was dimly lit and no photographs were allowed for obvious reasons)
By now it was time to queue for our ascent of the Washington monument, an elevator took us to top and as it was a clear sunny day we had magnificent views around the city. This was a great final activity for our last day in Washington DC.
On Tuesday morning we felt we couldn't leave America without having the complete experience of the public transport system. We fought our way through the hoards of Washington Metro commuters to Union station. Both of us were wearing our large rucksacks on our backs and our day-sacks hung off our shoulders to the front. We caught a scheduled coach that went directly to New York and took about 4 hours. We travelled through another three states, Maryland (16th) , Delaware (17th) and New Jersey (18th) before finally entering New York State our 19th and last state by crossing over onto Manhattan island using the Lincoln tunnel. When we arrived in Times Square (which isn't a square) we caught the Subway train system and finally walked the last 500 meters to our hotel which was on the Upper west side close to Central Park.
Having carried our backpacks around the world for over 11 months this was the last time we would need to carry them any distance, before our return to England.
On Wednesday we spent the morning at the National September 11 Memorial museum at the site of the World Trade Centre.
This museum is very well presented and compassionately honours the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives either as direct victims of the attack or losing their lives in the effort to save others. There is still a great deal of construction going on, a winged structure which will form part of the transport hub and the largest skyscraper in the Western hemisphere, known as "Freedom tower". We also visited the memorial fountains which are two large square stone pits in the ground with water cascading down into them. The edges of the fountains have the names of the 9/11 victims carved in stone.
In the afternoon we took a stroll down to Wall Street where there was a large police presence due to "Occupy Wall Street" protesters who due to the police presence were occupying nearby Broadway instead.
We finished the day traveling up and down the New York Subway system trying to get used to the variety of lines and types of train. To end our day we visited the theatre district and picked up our tickets for Saturday
On Thursday we headed to Battery park at the southern end of Manhattan, saw a large spherical sculpture that had been salvaged from the 9/11 site and joined several hundred other tourists who took a boat trip out to Liberty and Ellis Islands which are both situated in New York harbour and are controlled by the National Parks Service. The first island is the home of the Statue of Liberty, which was a post independence gift from the French nation. The second was the immigration station for people sailing across the Atlantic and their entry point into the USA.
We finished the day with a walk across the Brooklyn bridge before confidentially taking an express Subway train back to our hotel.
We have been closely following the commentary and news on the referendum around Scottish independence. We both hoped that they would opt for a "No" vote. We set an alarm for 1am Eastern Pacific Time (6am BST) and were very pleased to see on the BBC website that the majority of Scots had voted to remain in the United Kingdom.
On Friday we stayed in the Midtown area of Manhattan island and visited a variety of popular sites and buildings.
Our first and the main site of the day was the Empire State Building. This is possibly the worlds most famous office building. We took our time, slowly making our way through the audio presentations eventually taking an express elevator to the panoramic views we got from the 86th floor and then the 102nd floor observation decks which were truly breathtaking. The top floors have been used in the King Kong films and on a more romantic note the films Sleepless in Seattle and An Affair to Remember.
It only took the workforce eleven months to construct this 1,454 foot tall icon which at its time was the highest building in New York.
We then moved on to other landmarks, The New York Public Library which was used as a refuge from an arctic storm in the film "The day after tomorrow".
We found a view of the Chrysler building from the street and went inside the Grand Central Terminal which is over 100 years old and has cathedral like windows. Its staircase was used in the film,"The Untouchables"
We finished with a stroll along "The High line" which was an elevated railway on the west side that has been turned into a linear walkway and public park.
On Saturday morning we visited Central park and walked around the Jackie Kennedy Onassis reservoir, along with about a thousand runners. In the afternoon we went to Broadway and the Eugene O'Neill Theatre to see "The Book of Mormon".
This is a religious satirical musical from the creators of the animated comedy South Park. It tells the story of two young Mormon missionaries who are sent to a remote village in northern Uganda, where a brutal warlord is threatening the local population. Naïve and optimistic, the two missionaries try to share the Book of Mormon, which only one of them has read, but they have trouble connecting with the locals, who are more worried about the warlord, famine, poverty, and AIDS than they are about religion. For the rest you'll have to go and see the show!
The theatre was packed with people standing at the back to watch a matinee performance and finished with a standing ovation.
When the show opened on Broadway in March 2011 it set records in ticket sales for the Theatre. The show was awarded nine Tony Awards, one of which were for Best Musical.
In the evening we decided to celebrate the end of our around the world trip and had cocktails at a local restaurant.
What do you drink in New York? Well we decided to have a Manhattan.
Today is Sunday 21st September and on our last day in New York we"re just relaxing and watching an American football match on TV - The New York Giants v The Texans. As a final bit of sight seeing we're heading down to Times square when it gets dark so we can see the bright lights.
On Monday we start our final journey home. We're getting a shuttle bus to La Guardia airport, flying from New York to Montreal in Canada then catching our connecting flight to London Heathrow airport
We should be back in the UK at 7.30am on Tuesday 23rd September.
There will be one final entry on the journey to complete our circumnavigation of the world.