Thursday, May 29, 2008

Manhattan Meihem, Part II

My second full day in Manhattan began with a brief walk into central park. We started at the John Lennon memorial and saw the building he lived in. While we were waiting for our tour guide I enjoyed snapping pictures galore. What a pretty place! Our tour took us around central park. We went into Harlem. Apparently it has been cleaned up a lot since people are buying building and converting them into condos. We also went to Rockefeller Centre - another pretty spot. Next, we had lunch at a pier and then went off to Wall Street for pictures with the bull. It is good luck to kiss the bull and it is said that if you kiss a certain body part you will win a million dollars! Needless to say, I didn't go near that part!

We got on the Staten Island Ferry, went across to the island to see a view of the city, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from the water. When we landed we walked through the building and got back on the ferry again!
Next it was an hour to tour the ground zero site. There is reconstruction of the the site so there was not a lot to see. We got there too late to go into a pictorial museum and the St. Paul's Chapel. St. Paul's Chapel is one of the only (if not the only) building to not sustain damage when the towers fell and it is across the street from the reconstruction site. A miracle! I also took a picture of Ladder Company 10 who lost so many of its firefighters since they were close to the towers (right across the street from the reconstruction site) where there still are some memorials.
Finally, we went to China Town and Little Italy for shopping on canal street and dinner. Now, Canal Street is a very interesting place. It is a place to go to buy knock-offs of the high price designer clothes, shoes, handbags and jewelry (in other words, illegal things). All you have to ask is for ____ brand and you are lead to another place, sometimes in the back of the store front and sometimes down a dark alley, to the illegal stuff. While we were there one of the teachers and her husband were standing in front of one of the stores when a mass of police officers invaded the shop. They confiscated everything in the storefront, even bags that buyers had in their hands, threw it all in van, and posted a sign. I took a picture of the court order sign.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Manhattan Meihem, Day 1

On the long weekend (Victoria weekend)I went to New York City with a group of teachers from my school. I was in the city 28 years ago for a day and I either went up the Empire State Building or the World Trade Centre. I would have to look at my pictures from back then to remember.

Some teachers went to New York City to shop while others of us wanted to tour. We left on Friday night at 9:15, travelled all night and went straight to Manhattan arriving at 9:00 on Saturday morning. I was tired after not being able to sleep well on the bus (who does?) but I spent the next twelve hours touring. We went straight to the Empire State Building since we were told that it will be hours of waiting if you don't get there early. I'm glad we did because as it was there was line after line after line and it was very crowded at the top. The views were wonderful.
Following the view from the top, Sheryl (a teacher friend) and I went on a three hour boat tour around the island. The guide was informative and witty and the views were incredible. Here is some of what I saw:

Yankee Stadium - just for you, Evie!
The Mayor's Residence
The Brooklyn Bridge
Sheryl and I then went to Times Square to eat and go on another tour - a two hour night tour. We sat up top on a double decker bus. I love the architecture of the city. Toronto needs to learn from New York and stop tearing down buildings or go back to some of the older architecture. Something interesting the tour guide said: for every New Yorker there are three rats. Just think of it, if there are 8 million New Yorkers, there are 24 million rats! Tasty, eh? One of the teachers saw a dead rat on the street and it was the size of a cat!
We went over the Brooklyn Bridge and stopped in Brooklyn for a view of Manhattan.

The Empire State Building at night. Apparently the colours change on it weekly. That night the colours were in honour of the New York Mets winning over the Yankees. Sorry Evie!
Following our tour we went into Maceys and took the escalator all the way to the top and back down again. Cool! Now I can say I have been there and done it!
Finally, at 9:30 pm, we got back on the bus and headed to the hotel. I went right to bed since we would be up at 6:00 to get back downtown for another day of touring! Stay tuned for day two...

Trip to Atlanta

Recently I visited Atlanta for a teacher conference on reading (IRA Annual Conference). I traveled with two other teachers. We arrived on a Saturday so we could tour on the Sunday. We took a trolley tour to see the general sights. We hoped to decide on a couple of things to see in more detail, but the tour guide would say, "Over to your right is the ___ building", then pause, then, "On your left is ___", and so on. Real helpful! I thought a tour was suppose to give you information...

This is a view of the city from Olympic Park.

Atlanta had a tornado go through the downtown a couple months ago. Most of the higher buildings have windows out. The convention centre and the Omni Hotel (part of the CNN complex) also had a lot of damage.
On our way to dinner the first night I was approached by three different people asking for money. At dinner the waitress avoided us (she took our order and we didn't see her again - someone else even delivered our food) until the end when we stood up to ask for the bill. She was very bold and didn't really apologize. She said, "I've been busy, you know. I haven't been standing around doing nothing," but not once did she use the word "sorry". So much for southern hospitality.

While our time started out in an interesting way we did end up having a lovely time. I enjoyed my sessions which confirmed many of the teaching strategies I use and I learned some things to enhance my teaching. I heard Jamie Lee Curtis speak about her ideas for her children's books. She cried when she read one of her stories and got to the part about the importance of family. Very touching! I tried taking her picture with my zoom lens but there was too much camera shake. I took a picture of the screen instead!
We are sitting waiting to hear Jamie!
Anyway, here are a few sights from an interesting city and some of the things I did:
I visited the Martin Luther King Museum. It was very touching to read about the walks fro freedom. It was interesting to read about the Freedom Riders. A few months ago I saw a special about the riders, one of whom is a Canadian. The special was about a reunion from the Canadian's perspective.
King's childhood home and his resting place...
I had a two hour wait between sessions so I walked over to the aquarium. I loved the cold water exhibit where there were penguins and beluga whales.
My friends and I went on a tour of the CNN building and watched the news being produced. Cool!
On my next visit I would like to go to the Margaret Mitchell house where Gone With the Wind was written. There is a museum, too.
Lastly, each day we sat out by the pool to enjoy the warmth and sun. One day was on the 80s! We tried to do some professional reading but the social talk was more interesting.