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With the family in New York - from Ground Zero to Little Island

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

Big, loud and strange-smelling. That's New York.

The thing about smells is actually worth mentioning. We've been around quite a bit and we know: Every city smells different. So my memories of the different metropolises are also linked to certain smells. I could probably even recognise Bangkok and Barcelona by their smell. That would be something for betting that ...!

New York is different here, too, because here the olfactory organ is exposed to a strong strain, or let's put it this way: it smells different every few metres and over everything there is an intense aroma of fried sausages - hot dog with everything and spicy. I kind of liked it, even if it didn't always smell pleasant.

But the nose was only secondary on our first full day in New York, because there was so much to see. Find out if day 2 could keep up here.

Sunday, 3 July:

We started Sunday again with a family breakfast at our city hotel, Stadthotel Element Times Square. Breakfast in the USA is a cultural experience in itself, because Americans eat differently than we are used to. I'll go out on a limb and say that, even if it's a subjective generalisation and not everyone will like it.

When I go to the buffet, I either take a plate of spicy food or something sweet. With Americans, everything usually ends up together at the table, and lots of it. There's the scrambled egg with bacon on the plate, plus meatballs, muffins, pancakes and a big load of maple syrup (or Tabasco) on everything. I'm not that brave. In fact, we've even found the "egg, meat and pancake with syrup" mix on menus. It must have caught on.

After the calorie-filled culture shock, we packed our sightseeing essentials and headed straight to the nearest metro station. This time, we won the battle with the ticket machine (see last blog) without any injuries, but we would have gone to the One World Trade Center even if we had been battered.

We took the metro to Ground Zero. It was a very emotional trip.

The Freedom Tower, the associated 9/11 Museum and the Memorial Pools are located on Ground Zero, the site of the two towers of the old World Trade Center. The skyscraper with the observation deck is 417 metres high up to the roof, including the top even 541 metres (1776 feet - 1776 was the year the American Declaration of Independence was signed). New York would not be New York, however, if commerce had not found its way onto this tragic, historic site. The Westfield World Trade Center Mall opened in 2016, an underground shopping centre that cost around 1.4 billion dollars to build. The interlocking "columns" give the building a unique, impressive look that also amazes on the inside.

My wife and I never thought that a visit to this memorial would touch us so strongly emotionally. At Ground Zero, New York suddenly comes to rest. The colossus of a city becomes reflective and equally thought-provoking. You become sad when you look at the thousands of litres of water that fall into the memorial pools second by second and think of the people who fell victim to the senseless terrorist attack in 2001. When I asked my wife if she had tears in her eyes too, she just said, "Yes, I did." That visit was important. We will never forget it.

After this touching experience, we walked for three quarters of an hour to the boat pier in the immediate vicinity of the Manhattan Bridge. In this city, it is advisable to walk as much as possible anyway, as this is the only way to get to know this melting pot better and see things off the beaten tourist track. We had booked a one-hour boat trip to the Statue of Liberty and back for 11am. When we arrived, it was a shock: the queue of people in front of the boat must have been 200 metres long. Luckily we had booked in advance. We had booked this excursion via the German app "Getyourguide", which has never disappointed us.

There is probably no one who doesn't want to visit the Statue of Liberty during a visit to New York. It is THE landmark of this city, if not the symbol of the entire nation. There are several ways to get a closer look at the old lady. The cheapest option is to take the Staten Island Ferry. The ferry is free and runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week between Manhattan and Staten Island. From here you have a great view of the New York skyline and the Statue of Liberty. If you want to see the Statue of Liberty, take the underground line 1 or R to South Ferry Station or ask for a route to the Island Ferry Terminal.

This collage does not even begin to show how impressive the shipping was.

If you want to see the Statue of Liberty up close, you have to book a trip to Liberty Island. In addition to the strict safety precautions, however, this excursion is usually very crowded, which is why we opted for a boat trip that passes by Liberty Island a little closer than the ferry, doesn't cost quite as much and is still comfortable. The trip cost four 134 dollars for us. Despite the price, this decision was the right one, because the queue of people in front of the ship dissipated quite quickly and the view of the huge statue was impressive. The New York soundtrack was even played on board. Goosebumps guaranteed!

With the boat trip came hunger and after returning on foot we went in search of a small restaurant for a culinary stopover. After 20 minutes we found what we were looking for and ordered crêpes and cold coffee in a small street café with French flair in a side street. There we asked the waitress how to get to the Manhattan Bridge, but she didn't know her way around. She was a temporary waitress from France. Anyway, with our map-fanatic son, we would find our way to the bridge. We planned to cross the East River via the Manhattan Bridge in one direction and via the Brooklyn Bridge in the other.

The walk across the Manhattan Bridge is noisy and long, especially in high summer.

The Manhattan Bridge is not nearly as impressive, and crossing it is long and noisy, as the underground thunders past every minute. But it offers a great view of the more famous Brooklyn Bridge. Before we found the bridge approach, we walked a bit through China Town. This part of town is amazing. One minute you think you're in New York, then you cross a street and you seem to be in the middle of China. Suddenly all the advertisements and shop signs are in Chinese and the smell of rice and spring rolls is everywhere. New York is more colourful than a paint box!

The view from the Manhattan Bridge is all the better for it. This is a picture to remember.

The walk across the Manhattan Bridge was exhausting, as the sun burned relentlessly on the shadeless pavement. It was a joy when we finally reached the other bank. Even there, in Brooklyn, there are a few options for the motivated New York visitor. We had planned to just linger on the riverbank, eat something and then cross the Brooklyn Bridge back towards the Lower East Side.

Once you're finally level with the Brooklyn shore on the Manhattan Bridge, you have to walk quite a bit before you finally come to an exit. The view of the small Pebble Beach and the Empire Fulton Ferry waterfront park shows where you should go. There are several playgrounds and picnic areas, and the Time Out Market is a great place to fill your belly - which we did before heading back to the crowded Brooklyn Bridge. Those walking both bridges should be aware of the distance that has to be covered. People were crowding the central reservation of the bridge.

Generally speaking, we have never walked anywhere as much as in New York. After all, the most famous bridge in New York, and one of the most famous in the world, offers a number of photo opportunities. It's worth it.

The well-known Brooklyn Bridge abutments give this bridge its distinctive appearance.

Back in Manhattan, we wanted to downshift a bit and ordered an UBER to take us to Little Island. This park is located not far from the Meatpacking District and the High Line in the Hudson River (yes, exactly "in") and was only opened in 2021. It was built on the former Pier 54 and looks unusual as it stands on 132 tulip-shaped concrete stilts.

The park is usually very busy (you can pre-book for free at certain times), but it still offers space to relax. Concerts and cultural events take place regularly, there are culinary facilities, but also public toilets, drinking fountains and a wonderful view of the Hudson River. We liked it very much.

With Little Island, New York has given itself a great new destination.

Motivated again, we decided to walk back to our hotel. Along 9th Avenue we started our way back, which turned out to be longer than we thought. At least we passed two of the rare supermarkets and were able to shop for the next day, the 4th of July! Again, we walked over 30,000 steps that day and gathered more impressions than on other trips in a fortnight. On Independence Day, we wanted to take it a little easier, but I'll report on that in our next blog.

We are looking forward to your feedback and are open for a lively exchange. You also want to travel and like to travel often and have a question, just write us and comment.

Kind regards,

Steffi, Max and the kids

(Author of this blog: Max)


Unser Buchtipp zu New York

From photographer Susan Kaufman, an intimate celebration of the beauty and charm of New York City

For some people, New York City exists only in their imaginations, a big-screen beacon of wonder and twenty-four seven delight. For others, it’s a dream destination: the diverse urban center where they will finally feel they belong. And still for many, it’s the place they already call home. No matter how you view New York, longtime fashion editor and photographer Susan Kaufman will help you see the city with fresh, appreciative eyes. As she travels with her camera through New York, Susan Kaufman invites readers to see the city as she does: from the sidewalk. She explores the beauty of the city found in its charming townhouses, decorated shops, lovely parks, shop facades, and serene streetscapes. New York may be known as the city that never sleeps, but beneath the bustle, there’s a soulful side, with its own quiet power and universal allure. Walk with Me New York invites readers to appreciate the streets and buildings that have made the world’s most iconic city survive centuries of change yet retain its vitality and aspirational magnetism.


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