New York City
If you like traveling, taking photos and big cities, it’s undeniable that New York city is a prime place for any photography enthusiast. It is well worth planning a trip at least once in his life in the ‘Big Apple’. When I first met my wife, I told her about my many life journey’s and especially the one in New York City in 1986. In my younger days, I lived in Vancouver city on Canada’s west coast. I worked at the Beatles Museum; a job I loved. My employer, had a contract with The Beatles Festival in New Jersey, New York. It was a dream of mine to one day visit New York. I had several essential places I wanted to visit. Being an ardent Beatles fan I wanted to visit where John Lennon lived and where unfortunately he had also been murdered. I was influenced by so many films and TV series that depicted the beautiful landmarks, its skyscrapers and historic districts. Such kinetic energy with millions of people walking in the streets, yellow taxis crawling everywhere. I imagined the scent of good food in the Italian neighborhoods.
Unfortunately, I have only my memories of my 1986 trip to New York City except just two photos taken in front of the Dakota Building and the famous Central Park mosaic ‘Imagine’ dedicated to John Lennon close to Dakota apartment building where he lived. At that time, all I had was an polaroid camera. At the Beatles convention, I bought this photo memorable John Lennon taken in front of the statue of liberty by the photographer of Bob Gruen and I had him even autograph it for me. And of course, I wanted to one day take the same photo of me in the same way as John Lennon. When you’re a big fan of the Beatles and John Lennon, you’re sometimes dreamy and ambitious. When you like good old gangster movies or action films, this is a great city for scenery with its bridges, and Irish and Italian neighborhoods. And of course, the historic buildings like Empire State Building the World Trade Center. I remember seeing the original film King Kong as the great gorilla crawled up the Empire State Building with Fay Wray in hand. This experience left me dreaming to go to New York City and discover its architecture. I am aware of the privilege I had at the time of making this trip in 1986 however over time my wife Mariolis and I have viewed many movies filmed in New York. The movies conjured up my memories of my 1986 visit there. She was always impressed to hear about my experiences in the city that never sleeps. This led to Mariolis wanting to go there and I could see her imagining herself shopping!
Over 30 years later; I love New York 2019!
A friend of mine mentioned to me that there was a New York City special bus tour offer at a reasonable price being offered at Easter weekend. As a surprise to my wife, I slipped a little note to her on the way home in our car mentioning the bus tour. Subsequently, we found ourselves shopping different tour packages and finally she gave into her enthusiasm and booked a 4-day excursion to New York for us. The dates coincided with my birthday as well adding to the occasion an extra special feeling. When she announced the trip in 60 days, I remember the twinkle in her beautiful big eyes, her beautiful big smile and the additional wink she gave me. She showed me the details on the computer. It read:
Bus trip to New York
Panoramic Package – 4 stars, 4 days, 3 nights
4-star package with hotel less than 20 minutes from Manhattan. Ideal for a first time in New York! Included 12 guided tours including: the rise of the One World Trade Center, the French cruise to see the Statue of Liberty and even a trip to Metro Brooklyn following the visit of DUMBO.
When my wife and I travel, we are very curious about the mystical places and unique place to share good food, it is important to prepare a checklist with some goal to achieve. We started planning some places we wanted to see and do so not to miss anything during our stay. Internet and YouTube gives plenty of information to help plan the best places to photograph and restaurants to visit. We had to take into account we were part of a guided tour with 40 other people which meant we had only a certain amount of time to ourselves between tour stops. Our goal for us was to see the maximum of New York and enjoy our new experience with a group that also had common point in us which was probably to have fun and see the most. Our bus departed for New York on a Thursday night around 12 pm. arriving Friday afternoon around one pm. Along the way our bus tour guide shared a wealth of information about New York and the area including the activities in the program and daily scheduling of our site seeing tour. While travelling on the bus that Easter weekend, we realized we had an enthusiastic group of travelers with us who were eager to chat and exchange pleasantries. This included a vibrant tour guide and the professional bus driver. Both of them were only too willing to be fun and keep everyone engaged in the tour.
The ‘Big Apple’: New York, New York
It can be challenging trying to sleep on a bus. My wife, Mariolis, and I did our best during the 13-hour drive taking into account the other 40 people too. The arrival at hotel was scheduled around 8 pm. Friday evening thus leaving us with no morning shower. Lacking the freshness of a morning shower leaves one feeling somewhat uncomfortable and generally adds to the feeling of being tired and out of character. As you may know, these kinds of tours have a rigorous schedule so you just go with the flow of the itinerary.
We first arrived at the magnificent and historical CENTRAL PARK, an oasis of beauty in the heart of Manhattan. In the company of our guide, we walked on 5th Avenue, visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral and crossed at Rockefeller Plaza. Then it was on to Times Square for a small period of free time to eat and regain strength. We took advantage of all the excitement of Times Square, its shops and entertainment. Of course, I had my camera in hand and took as many inspiring shots as possible. Mariolis was thrilled to realize her dream coming true. I too was very happy to breathe the fresh spring air of New York and let myself me go and simply live in the present moment. It was 5 pm. when we had our first free time. We ate a hamburger in a pub restaurant name ‘Irishman’. Along with our tour guide, several people in our group took the time to re-generate their energy and re-focus. We had endured quite the drive from Canada and the ensuing day’s tour, although very inspiring, took a fair amount of energy out of everyone. Perhaps Times Square can serve as an oasis for some weary travelers. As our time at Times Square subsided, we headed to our meeting point to finally get to the hotel. We realized how exhausted we were and settled for hot showers and a quite evening and a good night’s rest. I am glad we listened to our tour guide who warned about partaking in any parties.
Very early the next morning we were summoned to breakfast and then it was swiftly off to the Hudson River for 75-minute private cruise. There it was, the Statue of Liberty in all its glory. The splendid New York skyline was awesome with all the skyscrapers competing to reach the heavens above. The sunny and partly cloudy weather was no deterrent for me. I wanted imitate the famous John Lennon photo of him posing with the statue of freedom in the background. Unfortunately, my wife was at the other end of the boat and I missed the photo opportunity. Life has so many ironies! After the cruise, we headed to the business district including the famous WALL STREET with its iconic bull statue. We viewed the 9/11 memorial constructed in memory of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. We also viewed The Oculus which is part of the complex World Trade Center, a real architectural marvel built in 2016. I took the opportunity to make a beautiful panorama photo of the site. Then with our daily free time for dinner we took a taxi to get to Greenwich Village where we dined in an Italian cafe consuming good prosciutto sandwiches, delicious cheesecake for Mariolis and a cake sponge with lemon. To finish, we enjoyed a good latte. We then headed to Washington Square Arc – where I took some pictures. We moved on to the World Trade Center. Unfortunately, in the heights there was haze blocking visibility so the tour guide offered to do the activity the next day however we did make it Brooklyn Bridge and the historic DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass. I took lots of pictures of Manhattan from this viewpoint in addition to There was another activity unforgettable walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. Due to a past foot accident, walking long distances is a real challenge and I can still remember the pain I endured. From here, we took the Metro transit to go to ‘Little Italy’ to eat and visit the Chinese neighborhood.
Find a Wrist Watch for my Birthday
Mariolis and I decided to eat alone in the Chinese neighborhood and then walk around the small Italian section even though the tour guide personally invited us to join him at his favorite Chinese restaurant. We wanted to be alone and adventurous. In our bucket checklist, we had to try to find a copy of Omega Speed master model chronograph watch. We walked around the neighborhood, asking several vendors street only to discover most of the watches were lower quality thus leading us to suspend our search but finally before turning to the next street close to the heart of the Chinese neighborhood, we finally found a quality brand by Patek Philippe which pleased me as my birthday gift. Then we walked to china town and stopped at a good Chinese restaurant where we ate a delicious General Tao rice dish and a vegetable broccoli. Moving on from dinner, we headed to our meeting point for the bus to our hotel. On the other side of the city we took photos of the illuminated city night skyline. As you can imagine, everywhere we went on the tour it was so crowded making creating a real challenge to find vantage points to take photos. We were the last arrivals at this spot so I did not have much time to take pictures. After this photo shoot, we headed back to the hotel and a good night’s sleep. Our tour guide again advised all tour participants to boycott any ideas of after-hours partying. He was right he had to get up early.
Day 3: My birthday
After breakfast, we started our daily tour on 5th Avenue taking in Flat Iron and Soho and Greenwich Village. Later we moved on to a district named Chelsea, where we ate great tasting Italian sandwiches followed by a march on the High Line. All these spots I am mentioning are really interesting and inspiring places to visit. Take it from me, if you ever go to these areas of New York City you will really be seduced by life there. At last, as our guide promised, we arrived at #1 World Trade Centre to take the grand ascent. There was a queue but it was worth it. The elevator took 47 seconds to reach the observatory at the 102nd floor! A must-see in addition to the small film presentation amazing on developments in the construction and history of the city over with surround sound. When the elevator doors open what a surprise to experience the incredible view of New York from the 102 floor. What a sensation and thrill to be hold. It is all natural to admire Manhattan, take photos and view the spectacular scenery however it is just as natural to imagine 9 11’s incredible drama and subsequent loss of life, the airliners crashing at such heights and, for me, a melancholy feeling that permeates the presence of the building. As much as we were excited to see the whole city of New York in all its splendor it is natural to also remember horror of what took place. Back on earth again, we headed to eat in pizzeria called Capizzi whose specialty is pizza cooked in a wood oven. We ate a good traditional pizza with a salad of fennel and orange. Everything was perfectly tasty and generous. For desert the group tour guide offered us all cannelloni stuffed with cream. A delight. We had some more free time. We went site seeing in Times Square and walking down the Avenues before returning on our tour bus back to our hotel knowing we had another early morning next day.
Our last night
After breakfast, we were off to Harlem. In the safety of the bus we toured the Harlem area taking in the Church of St. John the Divine. We walked around Columbia University campus, Riverside Church and the monument of General Grant, 18th President the United States. Then it was on to Central Station with its “wall of secrets” followed by a visit to the famous New York Library which has been a feature location in several films including ‘The Day After’ and ‘Bryant Park’. There was an incredibly beautiful garden surrounded by skyscrapers. We had a little free time before we left so we took opportunity some photos and walked around eating some pizza and buying some treats for the all-night return trip.
The Return Home
Everything went well except at the customs or there was a wait of two hours since it was the Easter Weekend. We were not alone in loving New York there were more than 20 buses ahead of us that were part of the same package. From Longueil, it was onto Drummondville where our coach had a punctured tire leaving us to wait an hour before being rescued by a new bus before heading to Mont-Jolie. 5:00 am., after finally getting home, my wife is ready to go to work without sleep while I took a nap till 10:00 am. And then I also returned to work.