I have so many full and rich memories from these two days that we spent visiting iconic sites in New York City. On Thursday, we were blessed with another late start, meeting the bus at 12:45 for our drive into the city and our scheduled tour of the United Nations.
Owen had warned each of us before leaving home that security at the UN was over the top, and this was the one venue where we would be required to have our vaccination cards, and legal ID, and he suggested bringing our passports because there was a spot in the building where they would stamp your passport with the official UN stamp, similar to visiting another country.
Surprisingly, this wasn’t the case, with the security check consisting of simply passing through a security gate where we were required to put our phones and other metal items on a belt. For the first time in many years, the pins in Mo’s ankle set off the alarm and she had to get the wanding treatment.
There was also no passport stamp, and no post office where you could send mail with a UN canceled stamp. Ah well, there was much to see in this historic place.
As we awaited entry Mo and I were greeted with a very familiar site. The Sphere Within a Sphere sculpture is familiar because we had seen a similar piece at the entry courtyard of the Trinity Library in Dublin. If you look closely in the photo below, you can see a tiny reflection of Mo and me in the sphere in front of the Library.
“This gift of a bronze sculpture depicts two interlocked spheres. Entitled Sphere within Sphere, this piece is one in a series of similar works displayed across the world. The sculpture was designed for the Vatican and is also displayed in Dublin, Tel Aviv, and the Italian Parliament. The form depicts the globe of Earth itself. This complex work of art, composed of a sphere growing inside another sphere, can be read as a symbol of the emergence of a new world from the old.
This sculpture was designed by Arnaldo Pomodoro (1926 – ), a well-known Italian artist. Pomodoro’s works are notable for their use of geometric shapes that often relate to themes of self-destruction and recreation. Pomodoro has held exhibitions worldwide, including the 1988 Venice Biennale, and museums in Paris, Cairo, Cleveland, Copenhagen, and more.”
As we entered the building, we were greeted by another statue, a bronze depiction of Nelson Mandela. There are many works of art throughout the UN, gifted by various countries and showing support for the goals and aspirations of the organization throughout the world.
We have seen this main room filled with people from throughout the world so many times on TV news.
Our tour of the UN was fascinating, and a bit overwhelming. It is here that 193 countries come together in an attempt to solve the problems of the world, especially in regard to Human Rights. No discussion here, please, of pros or cons or opinions of the UN. I was deeply moved by the art, the work they attempt to do, and the mission.
As the tour ended, Mo and I wandered a bit through the gift shops and the bookstore on the basement level of the building. The bookstore was fascinating, and I was drawn to a book called “Exodus-How Migration is Changing our World”, written by economist Paul Collier. So looking forward to long winter days when I can read and absorb this book slowly.
Below is a photo of a scale model of the UN building complex located outside the bookstore.
Standing outside the building once again, waiting for the group to gather, I was entranced by the shapes of the clouds against the angular shapes of the buildings, and the various combinations of rock and glass that made such a beautiful contrast.
Meandering through the city on the bus once again, traveling toward the Chelsea Pier was interesting. Mo and I noticed that several sites and locations were becoming familiar to us. However, it all began to look a bit different with a little more familiarity.
Below is a wrong side of the bus view of the High Line Trail and Little Island that I managed to catch as we passed through on our way to the next part of the day.
Another highlight of the trip awaited us. Our group had a reservation for a dinner cruise on the Spirit of New York. This cruise is another example of some of the expensive extras that were included for us by Adventure Caravans.
We were so lucky to have such a perfect evening for our cruise. The skies were clear and the temperatures were cool in the breeze but very comfortable in the dining room of the boat. As we cruised out of the pier into the Hudson River, I finally got a decent photo of the infamous Little Island, and the angle from the water showed the music venue that is so popular there in addition to simply walking through the artificial landscape created from what was once a sad eyesore.
Accompanied by a full moon, we watched the lights of New York City brighten with the evening. The dinner was a buffet, which I thought was quite tasty. The braised short ribs were extremely flavorful and tender, there were salads, and kale offerings, garlic mashed potatoes, and really good gravy. Down home food that was done well in my opinion.
As we rounded the tip of Manhattan Island toward Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge came into view. How lucky for us that the full moon was in just the right place as we passed under the bridge.
When the boat turned around and passed back under the bridge, we were greeted with a truly amazing sight. Every year, during the week of the anniversary of 9/11, there are two blue beams of light cast into the sky to commemorate the loss and the bravery of the New York first responders who gave so much during that awful time.
The food was delicious, the views were superb, and it was only an afterthought that the extremely youthful music curated by the DJ was ridiculously loud and made conversation completely impossible. Still, some of the group managed to get up and dance to the crazy beat as we watched and loved how much they enjoyed themselves.
We were spared the YMCA, but the Macarena made a big appearance. I got no photos of some of the beautiful people out on the dance floor before I took this photo of our fearless assistant leaders, Tina and Claudia, and a tiny lady whose name I have already forgotten who was a delight the entire trip.
Our quick pass view of the illuminated Statue of Liberty was beautiful, but almost an afterthought to the moving view of the blue lights of the memorial. Still, it was fun to see the statue up close, knowing that on the next day we would have an entire day to ourselves to explore Ellis Island and Liberty Island.