Monday, November 28, 2011

New York, New York

So good they named it twice. On Saturday we got back from a week in New York City, glad of the break, but glad also to be back in peaceful Fermanagh! This was our second time in the Big Apple, so we did less of the obvious tourist activities, having seen the view from the Empire State Building, the Staten Island Ferry, Central Park, Bodies and various other things the last time.

That's not to say that we didn't do much! Sunday morning we went along to Times Square Church, which was founded by David Wilkerson (of the Cross and the Switchblade fame). Despite an odd policy of treating visitors, we eventually managed to get a seat (having been asked if we were staying for the whole service, and being made to wait for almost ten minutes at the back while the regulars took a seat at leisure). After an hour of singing, a few announcements and the offering, the pastor preached for half an hour, before another half hour of singing in response to the message. Not just as liturgical as we're used to, but more energetic!

Sunday evening we were in Carnegie Hall for a concert, but I'll write about that in a separate post. Monday took us down round by Ground Zero (for which tickets had to be booked weeks in advance, so we didn't get near the site) and the South Street Seaport on the bus tour, while Tuesday was spent dandering along Fifth Avenue looking at all the expensive shops.

On Wednesday we called in at the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition in the Discovery Channel Center just off Times Square, resisting the chance to pretend to be CSI investigators in the other exhibition currently running. Having heard so much about the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Essenes, it was interesting to see the scrolls themselves - and also to read some of the 'spin' on the information boards. After that, we took a spin round by Chinatown, being quickly put off by the constant barrage of "Rolex watch? Handbag, lady?" and escaping to SoHo.

Thursday was Thanksgiving, and we had been told about the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. Getting up early, we were on the parade route almost two hours before it started, yet still only managed to be in the fourth row from the barriers at the edge of the footpath sidewalk. Then other people thought they had a special right to push through everyone and get to the front row arriving after the parade had started. It was as if you were watching the parade in the middle of a scrum!

All in all, between the massive helium balloons, marching bands, cartoon characters, floats, cheerleaders, celebrities and street performers, I ended up with around 750 photographs of varying quality. If I find time (!) I might just put together a stop-motion video of the balloons going past using the photos I took.

Earlier I mentioned a scrum for the Macy's parade. That night we went along to the midnight opening of the store for the big Black Friday sale. Talk about a scrum! The queue was halfway down the block (not to mention the people gathering in Herald Square to try and push past the queue and charge the doors when they opened), but we were entertained by two separate protest marches by Occupy Wall Street and the self-styled Church of Stop Shopping with a dog-collared 'pastor' leading them. The latter at least had composed a little song to sing as they marched, but they weren't persuasive, and in we went.

It seemed as if the front escalators were going to stop working, the number of people on them, but we found the couple of things we had decided beforehand to look for, and then made a quick escape (having paid for them, obviously!).

Friday was another little dander, visiting the last few shops we had to see and try to get a few bargains, then back to the hotel to begin to long journey home, and a dose of jetlag which made Sunday morning's service interesting, I'm sure.

There are some photos of the trip on my new obsession, Blipfoto, including This rings a bell; Taxi!; Brooklyn Bridge; FDNY; Empire state of mind; What a tangled web we weave; and Macy's midnight madness. As a taster, here's the Thanksgiving parade picture:

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