Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Travel Tales: NYC, Part 2

When I left off back in January, I'd gone through most of our pre-Christmas day trip to NYC. We had quite an adventure, and were heading towards one of our main destinations of the day: Ground Zero.

When I first started planning this trip, I knew that I wanted to try to fit in a trip to Ground Zero. That turned out to be more of a challenge than I expected - I didn't know that you needed to book timed-entry passes until just a few days before our trip, and I almost didn't get them. When I first looked at the site, there were entry times available for that Saturday, but I didn't get them right then, and the next time I looked, they were gone. However, a friend suggested to keep looking, as sometimes more entry times are added. I did that, and on Thursday managed to secure four tickets for late Saturday afternoon.

We took a taxi from Times Square to Ground Zero (so much easier than figuring out the subway or anything, and took us less time, too - and not so expensive, considering there were four of us in the cab) and got there about 45 minutes before our entry time. We found a hotel bar and had a beer and thawed out before making our way over.

Security at Ground Zero is obviously intense - lots of lines, and guards, and metal detectors. Everyone has to have a ticket to get in, and each ticket has a specific name printed on it. They warn you that you may be asked for photo ID (we never were). At one point, you have to go through metal detectors and take off coats, shoes, hats, etc. - it all seems rather thorough. I was surprised to find that everything moved quite smoothly, though, and before we knew it, we were standing in the middle of the site.
I will never forget those moments (and am actually tearing up a bit just thinking about it all again). It had gotten dark already (it was about 4:30 PM by then) and everything was lit up. It was surreal to be standing there, seeing those gigantic holes in the ground, hearing the rushing water, and seeing so many names. All my memories of September 11 flooded through me. I was young, just starting high school, when it happened, but my memories and mental images from that day are so vivid - and standing there, trying to imagine what it could have been like, was almost too much. It was a powerful, emotional experience.
The Survivor Tree

Those moments at the memorial are some that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

We finished out our day with dinner at an incredible restaurant -the Blue Planet Grill in the Financial District, right by Ground Zero.

As we excited the memorial, we tried to figure out what we should do next. We had a few hours left before we needed to catch the bus back home, so we could either go back to the heart of the city and find somewhere for dinner, or we could find dinner where we were and then go back. As we stood in the cold debating, my mom suddenly looked up and saw a sign right in front of us: the Blue Planet Grill. "Oh my gosh!" she exclaimed, "multiple people told me to find this restaurant and eat there if I could!" ....Decision made. We tumbled into the restaurant, and were very, very happy to hear that, though they had a large reservation for the majority of the dining room in a few hours, they'd be happy to seat us for dinner then. Perfect!

I cannot say enough good things about BPG. It touts itself as a "global fusion" restaurant, with "liquid art" cocktails. The food was absolutely scrumptious. It's a bit of an eclectic menu, and so we had a variety of dishes. I went with the beef stroganoff, which I could have just passed out over. It was comfort food at its finest, with melt-in-my-mouth beef tips and a delicious, creamy gravy. I practically licked my plate! My mom had short rib tacos, while my dad went with homemade creamy mushroom soup and a Greek salad. C chose chicken kebabs, which were so tender and juicy. Everyone was happy with their meal, and we were so glad that we'd found our way into that restaurant - it was like it was meant to be! I also got ambitious and tried a new-to-me drink: a Moscow Mule! The homemade ginger beer absolutely made it. A little sweet, a little spicy - it warmed me right up. Yum! If you ever find yourself in the Financial District looking for a great place to eat, make a reservation at BPG. You won't regret it! I just wish we could have tried even more things on the menu.

Terrible photo, but that's my Moscow Mule in there!
To-die-for beef stroganoff
C's chicken kabobs and homemade chips
Greek salad
Dinner at the BPG was the perfect way to end our day in the city. We all climbed the bus back to DC absolutely stuffed, and happy as clams. All in all, I think the day turned out perfectly. We may not have seen all the tourist sites or checked a bunch of places off in a tourist guidebook, but we saw what we wanted to and enjoyed each others' company, and kept the day quite stress-free, to boot! I'm already looking forward to our next adventure in NYC!


Lisa said...

Looks like a fun weekend! I would love to check out the new Ground Zero memorial at some point.

smilesthroughmiles said...

When I was home for the holidays, my family also made a visit to the Ground Zero memorial. Definitely an emotional experience, but I am so happy I was finally able to make it there.