My wife Sarah and I just returned from a wild six-day journey to New York City to attend our son’s wedding ceremony. On top of the wedding, we wandered the city and took in a wealth of the history and famous spots, as well as simply getting lost in the endless maze of colorful neighborhoods thanks to their vast and complex subway system.
We flew Alaska Airlines on a non-stop flight from San Jose to Newark, about five hours. Getting from Newark was a patchwork of shuttle, train and subway, which deposited us right in the heart of the Financial District. Our 16th-floor room at the Marriot Hotel offered sweeping views of Ground Zero, the very heart of the World Trade Towers and one of the targets of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. by Al Qaeda. During the day and night thousands of people swarmed the site to take in the history of that horrifying day.
A couple takes photos in front of a mural at Ground Zero. — Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian
After settling in to our room, we walked to the nearby O’Hara’s restaurant and Pub to meet up with the rest of the wedding folks, many from California, but from as far away as Australia, Canada and Florida. O’Hara’s was blazing with loud music and talking was next to impossible — it was more like shrieking if you wanted to be heard. The thing that caught our eye was the display of official patches from the uniforms of various fire and police departments from around the world — I mean thousands of them. I searched closely for anything from Watsonville but couldn’t find them. I know someone will walk up to me and tell me it’s there. I did see Salinas and Gonzales Police patches. The patches are part of a 911 memorial in the area.
In the very cold night air, Sarah and I walked over to view the 9/11 memorial before retiring for the night. We ended up visiting the spot several times during our stay.
The next morning we walked several blocks past Wall Street and the Stock Exchange to the Staten Island Ferry, where we caught the free ferry across the East River to Staten Island. For us, it always takes a visit to another level to get out on the water (if that’s part of the geography) and take in the views of the place as well as get out of the mayhem of the daily traffic grind. The 25-minute ferry emptied us on the docks of Staten Island where he hit the streets for a sample of something new to both of us. We were impressed with the bounty of older wood, brick and brownstone homes, many two and three story, staring out at the waterway.
The New York City skyline is shown as seen from the East River. The new World Trade Tower One is the tallest building (at left). — Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian
That’s when we stumbled on Beso’s Spanish Tapas, a cozy brick restaurant dripping with charm. I had a pressed Cuban chicken sandwich and Sarah had an arugula and mango salad with ham. Both our lunches were supreme. We always remind one another how lucky we are when we just happen upon a place to eat, without any research, and the meals are a top hit.
After Staten Island we ferried back to Manhattan and headed into the free National Museum of the American Indian. Though our time was cut short by other plans, we raced through and took in what we could. On top of various totem poles, carving, pottery, clothing, canoes and headdresses, the place was loaded with information and great detailed displays. One bowl from the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico really stood out to me.
The Oculus shopping center has recently opened at the World Trade center area in Manhattan. — Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian
That evening we took the A train (subway) up island to 42nd Street to the Theater District where we had tickets to the Broadway play, “Come From Away,” a musical. The one act play, which included a live band, dealt with the ordeal of 38 commercial jets, loaded with people, that were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, after being rerouted there following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Schools, churches, campgrounds — every available sleeping quarter quickly filled up with jet passengers and food, water, medicine and cultural engagement filled up the 100-minute play. They got a standing ovation.
Editor's Note: In the next part of this series Tarmo will explore his trip to Harlem, Central Park and a visit to the famed Washington Square for grand people watching.