Morning finds us awake much earlier than expected. We fight our way through the masses downstairs for what is ultimately an unsatisfying breakfast that really isn’t worth the effort of fighting for. The breakfast area is unfortunately very short on space, and is completely unable to cope with more than a small number of guests at the one time. It’s absolute pandemonium as tidal waves of guests attempt to reach some food. We decide to get out of the hotel for a bit, and head back to Time Square to check out watches in the Fossil shop. There’s one we’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get for Brodie in Ireland. Finding it amongst the selection of watches on display in this store is an overwhelming task. Virtually identical watches are spread out across the store making it hard to tell the differences. Ultimately we find what we’re looking for and Brodie gets a slightly different colour. I pick up a replacement for my own battered watch so we’re both very happy with ourselves. We have just enough time left after our retail therapy session to hightail it up to the entrance of Central Park where we spent a lot of time on our previous visit. This time the trees are barren of leaves and the landscape is quite stark. It’s nice to see it in a different season.
After a quick glance around we jump on the nearest subway to get back to the hotel in time to meet some friends who recently relocated to the area. We all go for brunch in a typical American diner that serves massive portions of breakfast food. Suitably fortified with this second attempt at breakfast, we travel south in a probably futile attempt to catch the next ferry to Staten Island. Time is completely against us, and we’re too late to do this. So we stop off for a coffee and then trek halfway across The Brooklyn bridge for some great views of the city. This is well worth doing to give a bit of perspective which you lose when you’re walking through the streets at the feet of towering blocks of metal and struggling to see the sky. By now it’s time for our appointment to see the 9/11 memorial so we don’t continue to the far side of the bridge. It’s only when we’re queuing for the memorial that I realise we forgot to bring our ids with us. Oops. Thankfully, despite a thorough bag screening, no one asks us for any form of id in the end. The site itself has two tasteful pools marking the spots where the towers once stood. Names of the fallen are inscribed around the rim. The new towers are about halfway up now, we think. They’re possibly more impressive as they currently stand, reaching halfway up into the skies with cranes circling. Some surrounding buildings are also getting a facelift; gaping holes where the uppermost windows haven’t been replaced yet. It’s a big change from the massive hole in the ground we passed by on our last visit here.
We return to the original plan and manage to catch the Staten island ferry this time. I’ve heard it gives a good view of the Statue of Liberty on the way past. We’ve never made the tourist trek out to Liberty Island to see it properly. Happily the ferry proves to give a pretty good view on the way past, and an even better view of the city skyline from the sea. There are obviously plenty of other tourists also availing of the free view on the ferry. And plenty of locals, one of whom starts accusing a tourist of standing in her space while everyone queues to exit the ferry at the end. She spends several minutes detailing in a loud voice how she could easily stab him because she doesn’t know who he is, and he was standing too close when she bent over to tie her lace or something. Err, okay. Close proximity to others is usually an expected hazard of any public transport. The poor guy looks desperate to get away from her. When we finally disembark and start circling around to re-board we pass by her again (obviously giving her a wide berth to ensure no encroachment of personal space). She’s carrying on a full scale conversation with herself now.
The return journey back treats us to a beautiful view as the last rays of light from the sun reflect off windows and the city lights start to power on. Not too bad for a free round trip. We’re hungry by this stage so we return, yet again, to Time Square and go to an Italian restaurant close by for some food and drinks. The kitchen staff manage to lose our order for a while, so we benefit from a free round of beer and cocktails. After a hearty meal we move on to a sports bar for a few more drinks before it’s time for everyone to call it quits. We have an early start in the morning and warmer climates to visit. For now, it’s time to say goodbye to New York once more.