Our hotel was the Millenium Hilton on Church Street. It is directly across the street from ground zero and our room over looked the whole site. Brian told us that many New Yorkers were angry that nothing has really been done in the past 9 years since the attack. The whole thing was bogged down in red tape and everything takes a long time to get done. They are coming up on the 10 year anniversary in 2011 and there still wasn’t a decent memorial to the victims of 9/11. The best memorials were in St Pauls Church, which is next door to ground zero and was used as a head quarters for the clean up operations. And down in Battery park there is the remains of the globe that sat in one of the towers. It stands on the lawn with an eternal flame, but there was still no recognition to the men and women that lost their lives that day. (Obviously that has now changed with the opening of the reflection pools at ground zero, but at the time we visited New York there was only construction going on).
It had been a rough and stressful time for us in Toronto so when we checked into our room we just wanted to be with each other. We were well into each other on the bed when I heard what sounded like a key card in the door. I thought to myself that it was probably across the hallway and keep on going. Next thing I know I here the door opening with a small tap on the door and a soft voice saying “house keeping”. I jumped off the bed shocked and tried to find something to cover up. Thankfully who ever it was left without seeing anything. I learned to put the security latch on the door in the future.
Brian had given us the tip to go to John’s Pizza on Bleeker Street for dinner the first night. He said to get a taxi or use the subway, but once I found it on google maps we decided to walk. It was a nice walk. The traffic was insane as everyone on the island was trying to get off for the weekend. Walking was the way to go. We never felt threatened during the walk which is contrary to what we thought New York would be like.
John’s Pizza didn’t look like much from the street and the interior was a little run down. The walls, chairs, tables and anything else that was made of wood had peoples names and messages carved into them. We ordered a pretty basic pizza along with a pitcher of Coke. The pizza didn’t look very nice when it came out but we weren’t going to turn back now. The slices were big enough that you had to fold them over to eat it properly. The first bite was a little average, but the subsequent bites were to die for. They were wood fired pizzas and the base was like Nann bread that Kims mother makes. As we made our way through this spectacular pizza we were wishing it wouldn’t end, but it did. We savoured every last mouth full. When we went to pay for the meal, Kim locked eyes with the surly pizza cook and gave him a smile. He returned the glance and while his surly facial expression didn’t change there was something in his eyes that lit up.
We walked back to the hotel to work off the delicious pizza. On the way we stopped at a Baskin and Robbins for some ice cream. The store was rather hot for an ice creamery. We spent longer in that heat than I wanted because they didn’t seem to have the flavour Kim wanted. We swear it was right in front of us but they said it wasn’t it. Anyway, we got our ice cream, which was needed after being in that hot store, and made our way back to the hotel. The ice cream was delicious which just topped off a wonderful meal. It was the perfect end to a long and enjoyable day. Considering we started our day in a location of tremendous stress, Toronto, our day finished in a comfortable and relaxing location. We were thrilled to be in New York and we couldn’t wait to see more of the city tomorrow.