Friday, August 21, 2009

Off to the Financial District- Rendezvous

Not really knowing how far downtown is to walk, we started off towards the Hudson River and intended to walk south for our customary (remember our strict regimen?) one hour. It was stinkin' hot, but the breeze from the river was wonderful and the boardwalk trail system the follow the River south is well developed and quite interesting.
We were supposed to have met up with Australian friends who, unfortunately, had to cancel their trip. Our friends Steve and Catherine, and their daughter Caitlin, had told us they were driving down to NYC for the weekend. They had been there many times- Steve goes as his brother works on Wall Street and Irish born Catherine worked in the travel industry and has been going since she first arrived in Canada. We planned to meet up at their hotel in the Financial District.
After an hour and a half of walking, Steve called wondering where we were. We had tried to hail a cab but realized that the expressway next to the boardwalk was not a good place to get a cab. We turned towards downtown and found one right away, and were quickly delivered to the their hotel.
Across from their hotel was located the Irish Hunger' Memorial, which looks like a little piece of the old sod with a stone brought from each county, including Wexford, where my relatives are from, and Dublin, where Catherine was born.
From Blogger Pictures

Together we walked to the World Trade Center site, shopped at "Century 21' (can you say DEALS?!), and had lunch in the Financial District. We parted with plans to meet up later for dinner at Steve's brother's favourite Soho restaurant. Passing Trinity Wall Street Episcopal church, we stopped to view the bronze sculpture of the sycamore tree's roots, that protected St. Paul's Chapel on September 11, 2001.
From Blogger Pictures

We walked to the Staten Island Ferry terminal where we boarded the John F. Kennedy, all the while wondering about the US armed Coast Guard Zodiac escort that followed our ferry across to the Island. The gentleman we chatted with didn't seem surprised. As a former Soho resident, marathon runner and businessman, he offered many insights into city life. Lightly dressed in the stifling heat, humidity and harbour breeze, he described life on Staten Island, running the NY Marathon, as well as other things.
Returning from the Island, we took our first foray into the NYC Subway. It's amazing! The double tracks allow for local and express trains. We quickly figured out how to switch from one track to the other to make trips more quick and efficient. In 20 minutes we were already back to our 75th Street location, ready for a shower. The subway cars, I might add, are all air conditioned but imagine the heat being pumped out of them into the tunnels! The temperature on the platforms was in the high 40s!
We returned to Soho, having mastered the art of the express subway train (Upper West Side to Soho in 20 minutes- take that TTC!) where we met Steve and Catherine in front of Raoul's bistro on Prince Street. Steve and I visited the corner store to buy a ticket on the NY lottery (prize estimated at $205 million and no, we did not win!) while the others gathered at the art gallery next door. Wild stuff in there!
Catherine and Colleen (the chardonnay assassins) had to settle for the low priced French white as their first choice, the $4100 Burgundy, did not pass the men's approval (it should be noted that they were already drinking large bottles of Belgian Brevel beer).The corn and lobster gazpacho, Noix Saint Jacques, and the blueberry dessert far exceeded the restaurant's reputation, and even the bill!
A stroll to Washington Square helped us work off the wonderful meal. We said our goodnights and then hopped back onto the subway and were home in 20 minutes (take the #1 train north to Times Square and transfer to the #2 express to 72nd Street)!

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