Sunday was our first full day in the city. We had reservations to visit the 9/11 Memorial that night at 5:00 PM, but otherwise our day was wide open. My friend, Balie, was supposed to come with us to the 9/11 Memorial, but ended up being out of town until late that evening, so it was just Valerie & me.
We walked to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast and I tried their hazelnut iced coffee. It was so gross! It didn’t occur to me that there wouldn’t be anything sweet about it. Just coffee, milk, and ice. It was incredibly bitter and I was thankful I had only wasted 99 cents on it. After one sip, a pack of Splenda, two more sips, and some very unattractive facial expressions, it went in the garbage.
Once breakfast was over, we had solidified our plans for the day – Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge (if we had time), and 9/11 Memorial. It seemed like a lot crammed into one day, but we would just see how much time we had to work with. In my experience visiting the Statue of Liberty, one time the line was very short and one time the line was so long that we stood in it for about two hours before boarding the ferry. This time was the fastest ever. But before we got to the Statue of Liberty, we had some subway drama.
A nice gentleman approached us in the subway station as we were waiting for the train and asked if we knew how to get to the Statue of Liberty. We told him that’s where we were heading too, so he was welcome to just follow us. We all got on the train and as we were riding, an announcement came over the speakers that the last stop for this train was going to be a stop that was well before the Statue of Liberty stop. Hmmm. Repair work is in progress further down the line, so we had to regroup. I went from being the helper to the one needing help. We put our brains together and I’m so thankful this other tourist was around. He ended up helping me more than I helped him. We finally figured it out and exited the subway exactly where we needed to, sending us right down the path to buy Statue of Liberty tickets.
The total time it took to buy our tickets, walk the pathway, go through security, and board the ferry was maybe ten minutes. It was amazing. We got some great photos on the ferry to Liberty Island. It was so windy, I was worried my beloved beanie that my sister made for me a few Christmases ago (thank you, Ashley!) was going to fly off my head and into the Hudson River. Fortunately, it did not.
Oh, we shared a snack of french fries. Yum. While we were eating them, I got a text from Sheri & Keesha. They were headed to New Jersey to eat at the Grimaldi’s over there & invited us to join them. Unfortunately, we were full and also still had a little more to see and do on Liberty Island. So that was Grimaldi’s failed attempt #1, but it sure was kind of them to invite us!
We skipped Ellis Island and stayed on the ferry back to Manhattan. From there, we took the subway back to the hotel to charge my phone – it was the only camera I brought – and put on some warmer clothes for the 9/11 Memorial that night. We had no problems finding our way back to the hotel, thanks to backtracking our route with the fellow tourist from earlier!
When it came time to head back to lower Manhattan for the 9/11 Memorial, we boarded a pretty crowded subway. It was standing room only at that point, and when I reached for one of the bars to hold on to, I noticed a lady standing in front of me in her panties. I remember thinking to myself – Is she in her panties? I think she is. Weird. Whatever. There are some strange folks in this city. After one stop, some seats opened up, so I took a seat. That’s when I noticed a guy in purple briefs. Then I noticed some other guys in boxer shorts. It hit me. Oh goodness. This is a thing. I’ve heard of this before. It’s a bunch of people riding the subway in their underwear. They’re doing this for what they think is a reason. Then another thought hit me. Yikes. Good thing I’m not two seats down or I’d be eye level with Mr. Purple Brief’s nether regions. That would be awkward! Then another thought. Okay, Valerie must not have noticed any of this yet, because she’s way too outspoken to just ignore it! Suddenly, we pulled into one of the busier stations. I believe it was 42nd Street/Times Square. It was just a sea of bare legs, as far as the eye could see. Valerie noticed! The subway slowed to a stop and this was our stop to make a transfer to another train. We got off the train and Valerie was like, “What the —-? These are the hookers!” (This makes me laugh every time!) I told her, “No, this is a thing. They do this once a year or something. People ride the subway in their underwear. I’m not sure what they think the reason is.” Valerie said, “Attention. Let’s get the —- out of here! Bunch of —holes! If any of these people bump into me, I’m gonna be so mad! This is so gross!” We made our way to our train as Valerie spouted profanities and gave people looks of disgust. I, on the other hand, was trying to just ignore their desperate cry for attention, but Valerie was cracking me up!
We got to our track and as we were waiting for our train I noticed that the majority of the underwear enthusiasts were waiting for other trains, but we had a handful of them waiting for the same train as us. In particular, we had a lady with little panties exposing her very large thighs. Valerie was making comments to me about how some people are way too large to be flaunting themselves like that in public. (I tend to agree! But I think we’d also agree that even the thin, trim, toned, fit ones need to be clothed!) I heard a man tell his son or grandson, “Look at that woman. She’s in her underwear!” The little boy looked very surprised and amused. I immediately thought of the line from Home Alone when Kevin says, “No clothes on anyone! Sickening!” (I have a thing with movie quotes.)
Our subway arrived and we boarded the train. It wasn’t nearly as crowded as the previous one, so Valerie & I sat down next to each other. Valerie was steadily making comments about how nasty these people were and now disgusting it was to walk around in their underwear in public and how she hoped they all got diseases. In the meantime, big thigh lady was standing up, facing toward us. After one of the stops, a few more seats opened up. She turned around to place her jacket on the seat and then I realized big thigh lady was wearing a thong. A poor unfortunate thong. That was a large caboose staring me in the face. (No clothes on anyone! Sickening!) Valerie didn’t catch a glimpse of the giant bare butt, which is a good thing, because her comments would have probably gotten louder and a little more profane. She did notice that the large woman sat down and she said, “Remind me to take this coat to the cleaners when I get home!” A lady sitting across from us was listening to Valerie and nodding in agreement the whole time, with a look of disgust similar to Valerie’s. Around this time, a fully clothed man got on the subway and took the seat on the other side of Valerie and she said, “Thank you for wearing pants.” This comment tickled me to no end. I started laughing and couldn’t stop. “Thank you for wearing pants.” How many times in life do you think you’ll even have to say something like that? “Thank you for wearing pants.” It’s such a simple thing. PANTS! What is wrong with these people, just walking around in public like that?! I don’t understand! But oh my goodness, how “thank you for wearing pants” just made me laugh. And laugh and laugh and laugh. I don’t think he heard her, because like 90% of other subway passengers, he was listening to his headphones. But wow. I heard it. And I’m so glad I did.
Later that night I texted my friend, Balie, and told her that we had the misfortune of experiencing “No Pants Subway Ride” day. She said she had never experienced it, even though she has lived in New York City for several years now, and had only seen censored photos of it. I told her it was quite an eyeful, and I don’t understand! She said living in New York has made her much less self conscious, but never to the point of disrobing on public transportation! HA! I remember saying, “Who does that?!” Valerie’s answer – “People with cellulite do that.”
So anyway, on to a more serious note, we made it to the 9/11 Memorial. Balie had told me it is beautiful at night and I had only visited once before during the day. Balie was right. It was gorgeous. It’s such a nice tribute to those whose lives were lost in that horrible tragedy. One thing that caught my eye during my other visit and again this time is how among the names of those lost they’ve included the memory of those children who were unborn. There were several pregnant women who died in that terrorist attack, and in those instances, it says ______________ and her unborn child. I love that they honored those children, too. Several names had flowers dropped into them. I read somewhere that they place flowers on the names on their birthdays, but there were colorful flowers as well – all different kinds. So I think some of them were for birthdays and some were just friends or family members who had visited that day and left flowers in memory of their loved ones. It’s a very quiet, calm, peaceful place to visit. I felt honored to be there and said a prayer for the families & friends of all these people named on the memorial.
From there, we made a quick stop at Century 21 department store, which is right across from the memorial, and then went back to the hotel. Our feet ached at the end of that day, and as always, I slept like a rock. Our first full day in the city was a success, but the Brooklyn Bridge – my favorite NYC landmark – would have to wait for another day.