Tired girl checking in with you all. Just uploaded the pics from today and thought I would take a few minutes to share with you the fun that we had on this picture perfect Sunday afternoon.
We got a late start as we finally allowed ourselves a little time to sleep in and once we were up and about and as I was writing my morning post, Susan went across the street and bought us two extra large coffees. In New York, you don’t even have to own a coffee pot, because there’s always a place right next door or across the street that will have fresh brewed java at any time of day. Yeah, one of the perks.
We walked from the apartment to a completely new to me, subway station and boarded for what turned out to be my longest subway ride to date. I think we were on for just about an hour or so and it was a great ride. We talked and chatted and laughed out loud for most of the ride and then it happened. We came up out of the subterranean and rode the rails in the daylight. We were above ground for a couple of stops and then we descended once again. A couple more stops and we finally came topside for the rest of the ride to Coney Island.
We had just passed the Avenue I station when we saw something so unique to New York, I immediately told Susan that we had to get off at this stop on our return ride so that I could explore. If you’ve already looked at today’s pictures, you know what made me want to see this up close. It’s a Jewish cemetery that is the largest, most crowded, most New Yorkish cemetery I have ever seen. I’ve never seen anything like it, even on television or in the movies. I had never laid eyes on a sight so bizarre in all my life. The pictures can’t possibly capture the enormity of this place, but from the train platform, it almost appears to disappear in the far distance as if it goes on forever. So we vowed to stop on the way back.
Another twenty minutes or so and I can see the rides from Luna Park as the train makes it’s way to the crowded station at Coney Island. When we disembarked, It felt a lot like a crowded train station as opposed to a subway station because everything is above ground and there are numerous tracks to choose from. We get to ground level and exit and that’s also kind of backwards because we normally go up to get out. The first thing I see is the world famous Nathan’s hot dogs. I’ve heard about them all my life and since it was already lunch time, Susan and I headed there first to get some hot dogs and cheese fries. I also got a frozen lemonade which was perfect on this warm day. It’s all outside seating of course and while I ordered, Susan went to fetch us a table. I see her seated with an older couple and I bring our food to the table at which point Susan introduces me to our new friends from Oakland, California; which is almost home for the both of us. How ironic to meet this very nice couple that are from our hometown area and have lunch with them. He’s from Southern California and was born in Los Angeles proper. She’s originally from Rockaway Beach which is just up the coastline from where we were sitting. They’ve been married forever and we talked about neighborhoods and Brighton Beach and Russians and Jews and how wonderful New York is to have every nationality from almost every country. Then the husband pulled out his phone and showed a picture he had taken from the train on their way in to Coney Island and of all things, he had taken a picture of Washington cemetery that had so caught my attention. He thought it bizarre enough as well to have captured the image on his phone and we talked about how cemeteries in California don’t look like that.
We enjoyed our chili cheese dogs and went in search of a photo booth because we wanted to create a photo booth moment to compare to the ones we always did when we were kids. As soon as we dumped our tray from lunch, there was a booth immediately in front of us and we both scrambled to get inside and close that little curtain. These days, it’s all digital and you have choices of sizes and borders and funny captions or goofy designs. All fine and good, but the old way was definitely a lot easier. Put your money in and out drops a strip with four black and white pictures. Today, we weren’t entirely sure what we were doing but it was funny and it probably cost me 20.00 as compared to 1.00 back in the day, but we laughed and it was worth it. Susan is going to take a picture of the photo and also some we had done at Top of the Rock yesterday with her I Pad and get them uploaded for me as I’m not familiar with I anything.
After the picture taking, we strolled through Luna Park and made our way out on the boardwalk. There were a lot of rides not running at all including the Cyclone which is the only thing I really wanted to ride. The Wonder Wheel was operating, but at almost 15.00 for the two of to ride one time, it didn’t really seem worth it. The park is old and dilapidated and I know that all of it was almost destroyed by hurricane Sandy back in 2012, but it was kind of sad to see it in this condition. Especially when seeing postcards of when this park was the glamorous, seaside amusement park and beach that it once was. Back in the day, it looked beautiful and romantic and exciting. Today it looks like an old woman that is just about ready to move on to the next world. Another thing that struck me immediately was how empty Luna Park was on a Sunday afternoon in June. There wasn’t a person at the carnival games and there were no lines for any of the rides that were open. The bumper cars sat silent even though they were open for riding and even the Wonder Wheel had almost no one in it’s swinging cars.
You exit Luna Park right onto the boardwalk and from there it is quite a stunning sight of the Atlantic Ocean. Susan and I quickly crossed the boardwalk and made our way down the sandy beach full of people and kids and we stuck our feet in the cold Atlantic Ocean and wondered how anyone could do more than ankle deep because it was chilly water for sure. Not Pacific Ocean chilly. But, still pretty cold. We took a couple pictures and headed to the gift shops where I seem to always end one excursion or the other.
After shopping for a bit we headed back to the station to start our journey home with a couple of planned stops. The first of course was Washington cemetery. We disembarked and probably spent an hour walking through two sections and marvelled at how peculiar this place really was. One thing that struck us was the fact that each plot of earth between the markers was usually less than four or five feet in length. It doesn’t seem possible to fit a full sized casket into a space that small. I understand the graves touching side by side, but end to end just doesn’t seem to be big enough to accommodate a normal sized adult. Another thing that was interesting and that I want to know more about is that many headstones had rocks placed upon them. Some had many rocks, some had a couple of rocks. Some would have a single rock on one side and then multiple rocks on the other. I don’t know the significance and I know have some Jewish friends. So please, if you are reading this and know the meaning and the symbolism of these rocks, please let me know. Overall this place was amazing and like so many other things I’ve seen in New York, I wished I had a whole day to explore and see every section instead of just a fraction of two.
From the cemetery we boarded another train to the Park Slope area of Brooklyn. Susan wanted me to see the classic brownstones that you see so often and so defines how people think of Brooklyn and I’m glad we went. As soon as we popped up from the subway station we saw a donut shop/diner directly across the street and went in search of caffeine fortification. This place is classic New York and it looked exactly like you think a New York diner should look. We ordered donuts and ice cream and strong, wonderful coffee. They serve the coffee in these heavy, old-fashioned mugs that have the name of the local coffee company they get their beans from and Susan was so impressed with the mug that she asked the manager if she could buy one. This is New York where everything is expensive, right? Well, he gave her a mug for free and our entire little snack and coffee came to under 8.00! Yep, just like a good old fashioned, Brooklyn diner should be. We left the diner and walked around the neighborhood for a few blocks and even spotted the Statue of Liberty way out in the harbor which seemed almost impossible to me. No other part of the harbor is visible, but if you’re on the right street corner and you look the right way, Miss Liberty is holding high her torch in the direction of the sunset.
That’s it for today. We’re back at the apartment and we’re making it an early night. We are doing our posters for the Today show after dinner and of course Susan bought glitter and letters and markers for us to use to create posters that will stand out so brightly that all of you will be able to see us. Yes, please tune in to the Today show tomorrow morning or do what my husband will be doing, which is using the DVR so that he scan the audience shots for us. Our signs will be telling all the world that we are celebrating 40 years of friendship in NYC! And then, that will be about all she wrote and we will be out of the city by noon tomorrow to begin our drive back to Nashville. I then have to say goodbye to her on Tuesday and complete the rest of the trip to Memphis by myself.
It’s been the trip of a lifetime. One that I will cherish forever and will always hold the memories close to my heart. I’ve been so blessed to have a friend like Susan for all these years and I couldn’t imagine having a better vacation than the one that’s just about to end. I’ve had a blast. We’ve done just about everything you could possibly do in the amount of time that we’ve had and though I’m about to drop from exhaustion and I have blisters and a sore hip and back, I wouldn’t trade this life affirming, life changing experience for anything. It’s been priceless. And, I’m so glad all of you have been here to share the journey.
Okay, time to close for the day. I will probably not post again until we get to the hotel tomorrow night which we’ve planned to help break up the long ride home. But not to worry, I will post pics tomorrow night and give you a recap of my last morning spent in New York. I have absolutely loved sharing my trip with all of you.