The first day is always a warm-up day, and we saw a lot of really great things.
I woke up early this morning, but Karen has had a cold for a few days, so I let her sleep until almost 9:00am. When I did wake her up and we got ready to leave, we made our way of to ms. Dahlia's for breakfast. It's a southern-style cafe with a New York flair. I wasn't sure if they would have many vegetarian options, but I was wrong. I ended up getting a bsicuit and scrambled eggs with gouda. Not normally the sort of thing I go for (I don't trust other peoples eggs, and I don't eat them that often), but it was VERY good. A wonderful, big biscuit, just enough cheese, and perfect eggs. Karen had an almond croissant that was very good.
We jumped on the A-Train and headed toward World Trade Center. The stop we needed to cross-over to the C-Train was being worked on, and I didn't realize it until we were 3 or 4 stops past it. Whoops! Fortunately, the C runs in tandem for quite a few stops, so a quick cut-over has us going the right way again..... Oh yeah, figured out why we weren't able to buy an unlimited subway card yesterday. The cards we initially bought were AirTrain cards, which can be used on subways, but not for unlimited fares. Bought need cards, and all is well.
As we stepped out at the WTC stop, the very first thing we saw was the new One World Trade Center building that is nearing completion. It is a very incredible looking building, to me at least. Karen didn't seem to be as struck by it as I was. I was simply blown away by it. It's a very remarkable building and just looks darn cool.
After quickly getting our bearings and taking a look around, we realized we were immediately next to the massive construction site. It immediately felt weird to me. It had an air about it, clear something very awful had happened here. It may simply have been the realization of where we were. Karen later said that she was more impacted by all of the construction that was going on, even more so than by the memorials, and I think she is right.
We walked around looking for a way to get into the memorial area, getting stuck on sidewalks closed by construction, wandering around climbing up onto a pedestrian bridge and then ended up right were we started. Karen asked for help at in information kiosk, and we headed over to get tickets. The line to get tickets was long, but moving pretty quickly. It was weird to see the women handing out tickets tell the lady in front of us that it was recommended that she give a $5 donation, three times, before finally giving her a ticket. I don't think that the recommended donation is at all ridiculous, but it doesn't feel like a donation when people are being pushed to give one.
We walked the 4-5 blocks down to the entrance of the memorial, and then made our way through the fairly long (but again, relatively quick moving) line, through the security area, and into the memorial. It's quite an experience. I didn't know if I really wanted to go to the memorial, and in some ways I still felt like it was an exploitation of a horrible event, but I am glad we did go. The actual memorial felt right. It was not politically motivated or had an agenda, it was a somber remembrance of the lives of those that perished in the collapse of the towers, on the planes and at the Pentagon. It was very appropriate and constructed perfectly.
We started walking North again, to check out Little Italy and Chinatown. What an experience! Lots of cool little Chinese shops everywhere; dried sea cucumbers, seahorses, deer tails, cheap viagra, fresh fish (for aquariums) and tons of other weird stuff.... sure, not things I would buy, but still neat to see. We also saw a handful of Italian cheese shops, but mostly Italian restaurants defined Little Italy. Chinatown has grown and taken over a lot of Little Italy, but it was still great to hear people speaking in Italian and dressed like gangsters from the 1970s... okay, that was just one guy.
We ducked into an Italian restaurant, Lunella, for a simply but authentic lunch. Nothing terribly remarkable, simply pasta, but damn tasty! Afterward, Karen and I quickly popped into Caffe Roma for a canolli and some strawberry gelato. It was the best gelato I've had since Italy! Well, except for the ones I've made! They are always too sweet in the US, but these were perfect today!
We wandered a round, took some pictures, and decided to come back to the room to relax before going out later in the day.
We got back to the room, relaxed, took brief naps, and did a little bit of research into where we wanted to eat dinner. After debating between foodswings (can't wait!) and Do or Dine, we settled on Do or Dine. Do or Dine doesn't have a web presence beyond facebook, and while they list vegan/veg as an available food, I wasn't sure what they might have. Was I in for a surprise! They only currently had one vegan option on the menu, but it was DAMN good. It was a garbanzo chimichanga with onion, tomatoes and spinach. It was topped with blackberries and a thin blackberry sauce. MAN OH MAN, it was GREAT. Not your everyday chimi, and I loved every bit of it. Karen had a flank steak that was served with avocado and sweet potatoes. I was hoping to try her veggies, but the steak was mixed up with all of it, so I didn't. It looked really good though.
We initially planned to head toward Times Square as we didn't really have anything else planned, but Karen wasn't feeling super great and had gotten pretty stuffy again. We stopped and got some cold medicine and ended up watching Glenn propose to Maggie on The Walking Dead.
Click Here for my album of pictures from today.
Tomorrow is relatively open still. We've got out eyes on a couple of restaurants, and tomorrow night is Sigur Ros! Can't wait!