I'm ashamed to say that, other than around September 11 every year, I don't spend a ton of time thinking about that awful day in 2001. As with so many other tragedies, the memory of it tends to fade with each passing year. But visiting Ground Zero and walking through the memorial brought it all back and it was a very sobering, thought-provoking time.
The Freedom Tower
North Tower Fountain- every name of every victim is engraved in these fountains, and roses are placed in their names on their birthdays. The sheer volume of names alone... thousands of them... was so heartbreaking. People are still grieving over these losses nearly 13 years later. So many brave men and women gave their lives that day, and so many innocent victims were killed without mercy. (And people say we're fighting a war for no reason. Hmm.)
Our next stop was Battery Park... we didn't get to take a ton of pictures because, while the temperature wasn't really that cold, the wind was FREEZING and got even stronger the closer we got to the water. We had planned on taking the ferry across to Ellis Island so we could pass the Statue of Liberty but I'm pretty sure we would have regretted it since none of us were dressed for the arctic blast.
So this is as close as we got! Still a pretty good view!
And close by Battery Park was Wall Street so we popped over there to see where all the financial magic happens (of course the New York Stock Exchange isn't open to the public, so we mostly saw a bunch of guys in suits running around.)
Not terribly exciting but pretty cool to see such an iconic place.
We headed toward the Brooklyn Bridge... and walked and walked (and walked and walked) until we got to one of the first columns with different plaques (which suggested to me that perhaps we had nearly made it across... ha! No... it was like a third of the bridge.) So, we only walked about a third of it and back but it was a really cool view of the Navy Yard and the water and commercial shipping and everything. Plus, walking across such a masterpiece of engineering was a little thrilling.
Gazing off into the distance... =)
By this time we were STARVING...and super excited about heading to Little Italy for lunch. A few people recommended Lombardi's (one of the oldest pizza joints in the city) and it did not disappoint. We waited for a long time but it was worth it!
Also, the calzones were like the size of my face... a bit of a step up from Little Caesar's =)
Next stop- 5th Avenue! We went to Rockefeller Center, Trump Tower, Tiffany's, FAO Schwarz... all that jazz.
It's not like I've never been to a big city, but the size of these buildings still blows my mind.
Trump Tower... fancy schmancy.
Lots of cool Lego statues (and cheesy poses =) in FAO Schwartz
When we left FAO Schwartz, we stopped outside and were discussing where to go to dinner and mentioned the fact that we were all disappointed that we hadn't seen any celebrities all week (yes, we are trolls.) We knew of several stars that were in town and had kept our eyes peeled, but no luck. But, we knew we couldn't just spend our last night tracking famous people so we went off in search for some food.
Sometimes, though, fate smiles upon the hopeful (or we just had dumb luck) and literally right down the street we came upon what looked like a pretty big hoopla going on. What could it be? Well... it just happened to be the premier of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and we literally walked right up to the it (Blake actually nearly stumbled onto the red carpet with the paparazzi... that was short-lived, but cool nonetheless.)
So, we stood on our tiptoes and go showered with red and blue confetti and cheered as each person came down the red carpet... we saw Dane DeHaan (who plays the Green Goblin), Pharrell Williams (a singer, I guess?), Alicia Keys, Dennis Leary, Jamie Foxx, B.J. Novak (from The Office and Saving Mr. Banks!) and Emma Stone.
Speaking of Emma Stone, I got to have my own cool little celebrity encounter... you probably saw it on Facebook (or Instagram) but each star gave away two tickets to the premier (no, I did not win.) But Emma Stone saw a little girl who was literally standing right in front of me with her mom (she noticed thanks to the group of girls screaming SO obnoxiously at every famous person) and I saw her mouth the words "I'm going over there." Um, okay? She's crossing the street to come where I AM? (I got totally starstruck and I have never even really seen her movies, so I can only imagine how I'd freak out if I saw someone I really love (hello, Psych cast.) Anyway, she came over to the little girl and was literally close enough to touch (I didn't. Her security guards looked like Vin Diesel.)
She was really sweet and very pretty up close... which is more than I can say for Dennis Leary, so... =)
After being so hung up on seeing famous people, we did pretty well... a whole red carpet! That was a highlight of the trip, for sure. (Now, if we had run into a member of Newsies? Fainting. Right there.)
We headed back to the
food court Dining Terminal at Grand Central Station for dinner once again (I had soup from Hale and Hearty and it was delicious, thank you) then spent the rest of our evening in Times Square. It felt like the end of the trip, since Blake and Brook left a day before us, so it was our last night together. (Tears!)
We've talked forever about planning a vacation together but who knows if you'll ever really make something like that happen? I am so, so glad we did. I can't even describe how much fun it was to take a trip like this with our two best friends... to get away and relax, laugh our heads off, eat way too much, and just generally have a truly wonderful time. We've been double-dating for six years now and have more fun than ever... (there I go getting sentimental.) I love these three people so, so much, and I'm blessed to have them.
(And not to spoil the happy illusion above, but this picture was taken right after a very creepy life-sized Elmo had tried to embrace Brook for a picture... um, no thank you.)