The second day we spent in New York was a day of going in circles, but not in the sense of getting lost. We actually did fairly well with the help of our trusty maps. Our first excursion was going on a Circle Line Boat Cruise around the entire island of Manhattan. We traversed both the Hudson River and East River, going under 18 bridges in total. Lady Liberty seemed to salute us as we passed her and her home of Ellis Island. We also boated over the area where Captain Sullenberger heroically landed flight 1549 in the Hudson River after encountering a flock of Canadian geese in 2009.
Central Park is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Although food cart vendors and bicycle carriage drivers assail you at the main entrance, when you continue into the heart of the park the outside noises decrease. Filled with biking, walking and carriage driving paths, the routes throughout the park are maze-like, leading you to a pond or reservoir, castle or commemorative monument. We traversed through the park to reach another destination, this time it was the American Museum of Natural History. We were slightly rushed as we walked through the museum since we arrived only two hours before closing, but we managed to take in all a lot of the exhibits. Unfortunately quite a few of the special exhibits were closed to the public, presumably for maintenance. The life size dioramas depicting animals in their native habitats were quite spectacular. The background landscape paintings seemed to merge into the 3D habitats so that you didn’t know where the actual objects stopped and the painting began.
One of the most spectacular things I’ve experienced while in New York is going to a Broadway showing of the Lion King. The Lion King Broadway show first began in 1997 and has been running sold-out shows ever since. It’s easy to see why after having the privilege of seeing this awesome show. The combination of orchestral music, melodious voices, dramatic lighting and set design, charismatic dance, and fantastical costumes worked together to create a magical scene. So many of the same songs from Disney’s beloved Lion King film are present in the show and bring me back to my childhood. The opening scene of the “Circle of Life” is filled with people dressed up as stilt walking giraffes, leaping gazelles, swooping birds, prancing zebras and so many more majestic creatures. I actually got goose bumps when it all began. And when it ended, I wanted it to start all over again! Following the show, we crossed through Times Square which is an incredibly active place at night to say the least. It is truly the city that never sleeps…especially after a Broadway show ends where pedestrians mob the streets and yellow taxi cabs nearly run people over.
On our last day in New York, we visited the World Trade Center memorial. After waiting in line for the area to open up, we made our way through airport-like security check points to see the North and South Ponds. It’s quite something to stand on the areas that were depicted so heavily in the news after 9/11. It’s a whole new world compared to those tragic images we’ve seen countless times. An air of remembrance and reflection fills the area, and the calm ponds seem to emulate that feeling.
Once our time in New York came to an end we went to the Bus Terminal. We had tickets for the Peter Pan bus line which was to take us to Woods Hole via Providence, RI and Bourne, MA. The journey to the bus terminal was somewhat chaotic to say the least. We pulled our suitcases and carry-on bags six city blocks through crowds of people. But I must say that it felt more like twenty city blocks as our hands went numb and the sidewalks reeked havoc on our suitcase wheels. It also didn’t help that we really had no idea where the bus terminal was or that it was the New York Mexican Independence Day parade. The streets were cordoned off and traffic was grid-locked in some places, but none of these obstacles stopped us! (Although they surely slowed us down a bunch). To an outside viewer, I’m sure we were a hilarious sight to see blazing down the streets of New York each pulling 75 pounds of luggage. We were determined not to miss our bus as the next one would leave the following day and then we’d have to pay for another set of tickets. Navigating the bus terminal is quite a feat as there are over 80 departure gates and many flights of stairs without escalators close by. It felt like we were wandering around in circles. As our departure time neared we bit the bullet and decided to stop wasting time looking for a non-existent elevator. We found the stairs and dragged our luggage down two long flights. Ka-thunk, ka-thunk, ka-thunk! echoed throughout the corridor announcing the insanity of three now very bedraggled students. But thankfully we made it to our gate with enough time to spare. And we breathed a deep sigh of relief once we boarded the bus and found our seats. The sigh became even greater once we realized we had free wi-fi onboard, making the seven hours of bussing just a little more enjoyable. Once we reached Woods Hole, we were graciously picked up from the bus stop and taken to our residence which is only a five minute walk from the Atlantic Ocean!