Travel Diary: New York City in the Summertime

Note: This is the first of many posts about my self-funded, two-plus-week trip to New York City, Paris, England and Ireland. More to come!

My friend Elizabeth and I explore Lower Manhattan.

I told myself I was just trying to save money. Yes, that was the reason I was starting my 17-day Eurotrip in New York City –  because international flights were cheaper out of JFK than FLL. Suuure. I think the truth was I just wanted an excuse to go to the city again. So I stuffed clothes for 90-degree weather into my suitcase, which already had outfits for 60-70-degree European weather spilling over the sides.

My friends and I spent about three days frolicking around the city. The first day was mainly about shopping and eating.  I don’t have many photos from that day – the first of many lessons learned on this trip was to never leave my camera in the hotel, because if you do you’re out of a whole day of pictures – but I have a couple cell phone shots I stole from my friends.

Anyway, after an exhausting morning of 7 a.m. flights and shopping in SoHo, we decided to indulge in some food. Eating is my favorite part of NYC, I think. I highly recommend Pommes Frites in East Village, a hole-in-the-wall eatery specializing in Belgian fries. Best fries you’ll ever have.  Promise. Fries are the only thing on the menu, and they come steaming hot and with a choice of dipping sauces, from peanut satay to curry ketchup to wasabi mayo. My favorite was the peppercorn parmesan sauce.  Afterward, we walked across the street to Cafe Mocha, a cute little espresso and wine bar, for some lunch.

Elizabeth and me, after downing multiple giant glasses of water at Cafe Mocha. It only took a few hours in the city to feel extremely dehydrated.

Some goodies I picked up in NYC in and around SoHo.

We walked around Chinatown for awhile and then explored Lower Manhattan and Battery Park. We went to see the 9/11 memorial, which is honestly one of the most breathtaking things I’ve seen in my life. New York got quiet here. Even among the groups of people sitting on blankets in the surrounding park, I didn’t hear a single person laughing. In fact, other than the reserved murmur of onlookers, the only sounds came from the memorial fountains, which are positioned in the exact spots the twin towers stood in more than 10 years ago. I could feel everyone around me thinking. There is so much symbolism in the memorial. You can’t see where the water flows to in the bottom of the fountains; it just falls into an  infinite abyss, like thousands of lives did that day. Amazing how one location can tell so many stories, how it can be transformed from a place of chaos and wreckage to one of beauty and serenity.

The 9/11 memorial and World Trade Center redevelopment, which is supposed to be completely constructed by 2014. On the bottom left is the Survivor Tree, one of the only living things found in the rubble weeks after the attack. Barely alive, it was cared for and nursed back to health over the past 10+ years.

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