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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Tour of New York

10 November'06 :
Sujatha,Shobha & I left early around 6.00 am for New Brunswick station to catch the 7.00 am NJ Transit to New York. Got into the 7.10 am instead and reached New York @ 8.10. From Penn station we took a cab to the Grayline tours office & boarded the coach at 9.oo am. The tour leader was of East European origin - either a Czech, Slovak or Serbian. A short,stocky guy with coarse,weathered but handsome features. He was well informed about New York sights and regaled the tourists with several interesting trivia. The morning drive took us through mid Manhattan and lower Manhattan covering Madison Square Garden, China Town, Greenwich Village,Times Square, Wall Street & finally landing at the harbour from where we took a cruise around Liberty Island. Near the harbour we saw a damaged bronze sculpture which we are given to understand is the only surviving structure from the mindless twin towers attack of 9/11. During the cruise we had breathtaking views of Manhattan skyscrapers, Brooklyn & of course The Statue of Liberty. This lovely tall lady is indeed the most fascinating sight in New York. We took some very memorable shots(the camera simply kept clicking) to be stored away for posterity. The cruise lasted around 45 minutes and took us under the Manhattan,Brooklyn as well as the Williams bridges. The Statue of Liberty National Monument officially celebrated her 100th birthday on October 28, 1986. The people of France gave the Statue to the people of the United States over one hundred years ago in recognition of the friendship established during the American Revolution. Over the years, the Statue of Liberty has grown to include freedom and democracy as well as international friendship. There are 25 windows in the crown which symbolize gemstones found on the earth and the heaven's rays shining over the world. The seven rays of the Statue's crown represent the seven seas and continents of the world. The tablet which the Statue holds in her left hand reads (in Roman numerals) "July 4th, 1776." The total weight of copper in the Statue is 62,000 pounds (31 tons) and the total weight of steel in the Statue is 250,000 pounds (125 tons). Total weight of the Statue's concrete foundation is 54 million pounds (27,000 tons).
After the cruise we had delicious Mexican lunch consisiting of Quesedilla, french fries, salad & pepsi. Next we went to Ground Zero where the twin Towers had once proudly stood. Our next destination -United Nations Headquarters (enroute we saw the Empire State Bldg, the Rockefeller Centre,the Donald Trump Centre). A pretty young lady of Noth African origin speaking impeccable English led the group on a well informed & enlightening tour of the General Assembly, Security Council,Economic & Social Council, Trusteeship Council.
Next we drove through Broadway the crowded business district. It was late evening and almost dark.Unlike the rest of the US new York cabbies and pedestrians are quite indisciplined. Cabbies indiscriminately overtaking, pedestrians jay walking, traffic signals being flouted at will - one could have been on a Mumbai or Dilli road. Skyscrapers all round & neon signs flashing an enchanting experience. And a traffic jam to add spice. Broadway was indeed an exciting experience! Broadway is known for its countless theatres & concert halls which run classical, opera, ballet,standup comedies,and seasonal shows-Mary Poppins, The Lion King, Les Miserables, Christmas Spectacular, The Apple Tree to name some of the shows on offer. We inched along Broadway for nearly 45 minutes crossed Central Park and Colombia University campus and reached Harlem which is predominantly African American.Harlem has produced many great black jazz musicians over the decades. From Harlem to Bronx & thereon to Times square where we alighted from the coach.
We walked around Times Square a bit before taking the NY subway to Wall Street-our destination ? Of course the Bull in front of the NYSE ! Some memorable shots of taking the bull by its horns & the day was over. We returned to New Jersey with Ravi picking us up again at New Brunswick station.

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