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Running before you walk

13 April 201507:24PMusa-2015travel

The Run

Grace got up at 6 this morning, because she was doing a 4 mile run.

I got up at 6 this morning because I am a little bit jetlagged still.

Both of these are a legitimate reason to start your day with a stroll in Central Park. There seriously are not words for how impressed I am with Grace's though.

well done!

The Walk

While we were in Europe, we did a tour of Dublin with some pretty cool guys from Sandemans, and it seemed worthwhile to track them down again and see what their New York offering was like.

Short answer: Decent, but not as good as Ireland.

The guide, Nick (who was no Eoin, but still pretty cool) basically took us around what I gather is known as 'Downtown'. It was the same deal: group photo for accounting purposes at the beginning, tips very strongly encouraged at the end, food break in the middle and occasional plugs of their other, paid, tour.

We started near this little patch of grass called Bowling Green, which has the distinction of being the first public park in the city, and took a detour via the famous charging bull statue (which is not on Wall St, apparently?) seemingly solely so Grace could make me grab the bull by the... horns:

heh.

Then we headed down the Battery Park, and ran into a little thing called the Statue of Liberty. You may have heard of it.

The thing that these free tours are really good for is figuring out how everything works. In this case, how the various ferries work, and the curious fact that all the dudes selling tickets somewhat pushily on the street are not only legit, but licensed. Which I guess makes sense, in a weird, capitalist, American kind of way. For something as huge as the statue, you're going to get scalpers anyway, and regulating it would massively cut down on your requirements for ticketing staff.

Also, I fed a squirrel.

SQUIRREL!

Then we headed up (in? north?) a little way for lunch at this awesome place called Stone Street. It's a section of the city in the middle of all these skyscrapers that's been restored to hwo the area looked... well, a long time ago. It had a really cool vibe, and also some really cool food. This is also where I had my first slice of New York pizza.

it's not pretty.

I think there's a pretty strong argument to be made for New York, rather than Italy, being the true spiritual home of pizza.I think there's a pretty strong argument to be made for New York, rather than Italy, being the true spiritual home of pizza.

(America is also the spiritual home of grape soda, which I tried at Grace's suggestion. That was not quite as much of a revelatory experience.)

We headed up through Wall St., where apparently they were shooting a movie with George Clooney in it, which blocked our way for a bit, and up past some banks, at least one stock exchange, and the square that got Occupied back when Occupying things was cool. It's now a hangout for bank employees on their lunch breaks.

We finished the tour at the September 11 memorial, which was... wow. Truly awe-inspiring. On the sites of the towers, they've built two massive, deep, black pools, with water cascading down the sides.

south tower pool

It's thoughtful and contemplative, but also really gives you a visceral feeling of how much the attacks hurt this city. They beautiful, but they're also very obviously scars. This is something that was incredibly painful, but that America will never allow itself to forget. And I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or not.

(With that metaphor in mind, for better or for worse, it's hard not to see the new towers on the site as gigantic metaphorical middle fingers. Again, I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.)

middle finger?

This place brings up a lot of feelings. There's horror, at the visceral illustration of the scale of what was destroyed. There's respect, at the appropriateness and classiness of the memorial.

There are kids visiting these memorials for whom this event is World History, not Current Events. They feel about the twin towers the way I would feel about the Berlin Wall coming down - it's just recently enough that people still talk about it, but also just before my time. So for people my age, there is a weird tinge of almost-nostalgia in there too.

It feels wrong to call this a highlight, but it was certainly the most powerful thing I experienced all day.

Yes, even more so than the pizza.

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