Welcome back to my mini-series on my trip to the East Coast of America last October! If you missed part 1 of this blog post, be sure to take a look at it by clicking here! Last time, I talked about my time in Washington, and now I’m going to tell you about being in Philly and NYC, so read on for this!
Part 2: Philadelphia, PA
We were only here for literally a couple of hours, as it was just to break our journey up the East Coast between Washington and New York. Nonetheless, I learnt a great deal whilst I was there! We walked in Independence National Historic Park, which houses Liberty Bell and its visitor centre which we saw, and just before us was Independence Hall, where the US Declaration of Independence was proclaimed. We then saw Liberty Bell, rang for the first time on 8th July 1776 to celebrate the first public reading of the US Declaration of Independence. After having lunch in another big food hall (and I tried Junior Mints for the first time – very tasty! 👌) we then continued our joinery northwards to NYC…
Part 3: New York City, NY 🍎
First Impressions & Times Square
…now you’re in New York, New York, New Yorrrrk!!! 🎶
That was the song that we were singing on the tour bus as we entered Manhattan via the tunnel to there! It felt so magical seeing for the very first time all of the skyline features that we’ve all seen in the movies since we were children: the Empire State Building and WTC 1 just to name a couple of these marvellous features. After we got settled into our hotel (which also had a lovely view of NYC, as we were on the 14th floor!) we went out and explored. We got the NYC Subway to Times Square where we had tea at the famous Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and then went shopping. It felt like another dream had come true, seeing Times Square in real life as I had seen pictures of it so much before!
The next day, we walked past the Natural History Museum and went into Central Park. I must say, I expected Central Park to be much smaller and more polluted than it really was, so I was pleasantly surprised at such a utopia of nature it was in the middle of such a big, densely-populated city. You could still see the skyscrapers at pretty much any point within it, but at the same time it made such a contrast to the business of everyday life in NYC. Unfortunately, it was raining, so there weren’t many people about at all, but that made the break from the business even more so! It was just so pleasant walking through the many paths and amongst the many trees which were home to so much wildlife: it shows that human civilisation and nature really can coexist in harmony, even in places such as NYC, if it is managed appropriately. We walked past the Strawberry Fields memorial, which is a tribute to John Lennon, a key member of the Beatles back in the day – named after one of their songs, Strawberry Fields Forever, written by Lennon himself. We then crossed a MASSIVE puddle to get to the beautiful Bethesda Terrace, right in the middle of the park, which offered shelter for us until the worst of the rain had cleared up. The architecture of the terrace was pretty impressive! 😍
Top of the Rock: Rockefeller Center and Grand Central Terminal
We then ascended the Rockefeller Building in hope of seeing the whole of Manhattan from this vantage point. Fortunately, the rain had pretty much stopped at this point. Unfortunately, it was still really foggy, so we couldn’t see that much in front of us, only the very outlines of buildings – we couldn’t really see the Hudson River or anything like that showing where Manhattan stopped! However, I still managed to see the Empire State Buiding though, which I was very glad about. 😊 It was still pretty cool to, feel “on top of the world” though! After this, we had lunch at the Grand Central Terminal, which also looked pretty impressive as a station (although not quite as impressive as the Union Station in Washington, if you ask me)!
The United Nations Building in New York City (and St. Patrick’s Cathedral)
We queued up outside the UN building for a bit, and we were told by our teachers to get our passports out (as it was international territory, and we needed to show them in order to get in), at which point I discovered that mine was soaking wet! However, it dried out and fortunately everything inside it was still legible! After we had been granted access and security scanned (we were security scanned literally everywhere we visited in New York, as they have been really hot on security ever since 9/11) we then went into the outdoor space before we entered the building itself. The view from this area was really cool, as we could see the whole of Brooklyn and Queens and the skyscrapers which were to the East of where we were, across the East River. When we first came into the UN, we could see through a tiny window the meeting that was being held between some of the representatives from various nations of the world, and translators in the General Assembly Room – to think that this is the very room where so many of the world’s decisions are made! 😮 During our tour, we saw some of the conference rooms for the principal organs of the UN, such as that of the UN Security Council, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) room, as well as the General Assembly Room again at the end of our tour. We even saw some of the gifts that nations have given to each other as a sign of good will and solidarity. On our way back from the UN to our hotel, we walked past St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is again a wonderful site to behold!
Ellis Island & The Statue of Liberty 🗽
The next day we got the subway to the Battery Park Terminal near the Financial District to get the ferry to Ellis Island, passing the Statue of Liberty on the way. I loved every minute of this journey, as although it was very windy, the view of the whole of the south side of Manhattan was insane, and plenty of cool photos were taken at this point! A random tourist even asked to have a selfie with me (it would have been awkward to say no!) – I don’t know if he thought whetherI was some celebrity of what – who knows!! When we got to Ellis Island, we explored the Immigration museum, which was extremely interesting. It was all about the various stories (first-hand) of people who had come to New York to be registered to live in the USA after fleeing from whatever horrible situation which pushed them away from their home countries. In many cases, they had used virtually all of their life savings in order to cross the Atlantic, in the hope of starting a new life – transatlantic flights were VERY unusual and expensive in those days, compared to now. It was certainly all very moving: we got to see the hall where they all would have arrived, and old pictures of all of the immigrants when they first came. It really made me think about how fortunate I am to be British: I don’t have to flee my country due to oppression, and I can’t be denied citizenship of a stable country either – many are not able to say this. Ellis Island was also a great photo spot for southern Manhattan – especially with the pretty autumn leaves in the background! 👌📸
September 11th Memorial & Museum
Ever since I’ve found out about 9/11 I’ve always been so curious about the whole thing, wanting to find out more, as well as empathetic towards those who have lost loved ones during this truly tragic event. Since then, I’ve also always wanted to visit where the twin towers would have stood. This trip to the 9/11 museum and memorial therefore really helped me to fulfil both of these almost life-long wishes. We first visited the museum, then payed our respects at the reflection pools afterwards. The museum really helped bring this tragic incident to life, as it contained photos, first-hand accounts, memoirs, surviving artefacts and tributes to those who had tragically died as a result of the attack.One of my teachers visited the Twin Towers when she was our age, so told us about her experience with how they were when they were still there, which was so interesting and also brought things much closer to home for me. To me it’s crazy how many people (and objects) actually survived, but also the sheer number of people who actually unfortunately died too, which was shown so well in the room which was filled with portraits and names of all those who died in the attacks, top to bottom on all four of the walls.
The North and South Pools were also extremely moving to visit, and became even more meaningful to me when I was told that each name of a person who died was put next to another name of a person who died, who had something to do with each other during their time at the World Trade Center. I could also notice how tactfully the new WTC 1 Building was placed in relation to the North and South Pools: next to them, but also to give enough space for people to pay their tributes to those who had died during the destruction of the Twin Towers. One thing’s for sure: from now on I don’t think I’ll reflect on 9/11 in quite the same way after this experience…
After that we went back to our hotel, got our stuff together and waited for our transfer to the JFK Airport. It was quite late by this point, and our flight was an overnight one (I still managed to get a couple of hours of sleep though!! 😵).
Overall, this trip has definitely been one of the best ones I’ve ever been on, and I absolutely loved every minute of it! 🇺🇸 I’ve always wanted to visit the “land of opportunity”, and this wish has finally been fulfilled! I feel so fortunate to now be able to say that I’ve visited the two main cities of the USA: Washington D.C. and New York, as well as arguably the birthplace of the US Constitution: Philadelphia. I’m so grateful to all the teachers at my school who helped organise and make this trip possible: definitely a bucket-list item ticked off here! ✔️
Thanks so much for reading this post and for all of the support you’ve shown me so far! I hope you’ve learnt something new and that you’re considering visiting the USA if you haven’t done already! 🇺🇸✈️ I have now had over 100 visitors and over 150 views since I first started this blog 2 and a half months ago so I thought it’d be something to celebrate! You may or may not notice that I’ve now changed my username from SazNoz to SarahbrateGoodTimes! I love puns, so I thought that this name would be slightly more fitting whilst also making a contrast to my username on other social platforms too – my Instagram and Twitter still have the username @SazNoz! Just tap the respective names of these platforms to take a look! 😉
Until Sunday – bye for now! 👋