Friday July 13th
We all met up for breakfast at 9.00am, and decided to eat at the hotel. What a mistaka to maka as it cost an arm and a leg….a glass of orange juice cost $10! Ok it was freshly squeezed oranges they used but you can buy a lot of oranges for that amount of money!
Michelle wanted to check out the Warner Brothers offices in New York and asked us if we wanted to join them. As it was probably one of the few non touristy things that we would be liable to do in NY, and probably the only opportunity to get some insight into the WB operation, I naturally jumped at the chance.
We walked the short distance to the Rockefeller Center where the offices are located and after passing through security where we were given visitor badges we caught the elevator to the 30th floor where we were greeted by a very nice lady called Kathy who is Michelle`s opposite number at WB but works in NY instead of LA.
Kathy showed us through some of the offices which were very “wacky” in places and it sure seemed like a fun place to work, surrounded by photos and memorabilia of many of their recording artists which adorned the walls.
After a while a guy in a polo shirt and slacks came to meet us and introduced himself as Steve.
He told us that he had a meeting due to take place in a few minutes, however he seemed like he had all the time in the world for us.
He took me into his adjacent office from where there was a great view of the plaza below, explaining to me where the Christmas tree and winter ice skating rink are located. He also pointed out several of the buildings, including the one where the “Today” programme is filmed.
Among several other topics, I asked him about the effects of 9/11 on this area and we ended up chatting away like long lost friends.
All too soon, Steve had to leave us to attend his meeting, even though his other visitors had been waiting in his office for what seemed to be ages during our lengthy conversation.
After saying our goodbyes, we then went down to the 7th floor so that Michelle could say hello to some folks in another department who she has spoken to on the phone many times but it was the first time that they had ever met.
On leaving the building, Michelle remarked that I seemed to get along well with Steve, and I told her what a nice guy he was.
Michelle then told me that Steve was in fact the CEO of Warner Brothers Worldwide Operations, and that even her boss [who is reputed to be one of the top 3 record producers in the World] looks on him in awe!
It was indeed a great honour to have met this guy, whose dress and manner was totally different from anyone holding a similar position in the UK.
After leaving the Center and following munching a snack sandwich from a diner, we caught the subway to visit the Empire State Building.
This was the first time that I have used the subway and I was amazed at how hot it can get down there. By the time our train arrived we were all dripping with perspiration but thankfully the trains themselves are air conditioned.
The look of unease on my DW and Michelle`s faces was well worth a photo, but I decided against it! They really didn`t feel comfortable in the subways at all.
We entered the Empire State Building and caught the elevator to the viewing deck on the 80 something floor, and we were overjoyed to see that the Disney Magic was in dock as it was shortly to be bound for a 2 day cruise before we were to begin our cruise to Nova Scotia.
It was a fairly clear day and one thing that struck me was how calm it was because I had expected it to be very windy in the open air at that height.
On leaving the building, our next stop was at the 9/11 Memorial for which Michelle had obtained tickets for all of us on line before they left LA.
The security here was very tight and I lost count of the number of times that we had to show our passes.
The atmosphere inside the Memorial is very hard to put into words, and I was very glad that it was a sunny day so that I wore sunglasses, because on a couple of occasions I was actually moved to tears, such was the effect that the place had on me.
Normally I would suggest a group photograph at any point of interest, but here, out of respect I guess, it just didn`t seem right. In fact none of our party had their photos taken at this location, so they obviously felt the same as me.
Quietly we walked around the waters surrounding the bases of the Twin Towers, reading many of the names of the victims that were laser cut into metal plates all around the areas.
We hardly spoke to one another during this time, which was a totally different scenario compared with the usual banter that we enjoy when was are all together.
It was a particularly moving moment to see this name [one of several similar entries], that appeared on the Memorial.
Upon exiting the Memporial, we then went into the nearby St Pauls Chapel which was opened in 1766 and is apparently Manhatten`s oldest public building still in use.
This was where George Washington had worshipped and it was where the 9/11 recovery workers received around the clock care.
Inside were many poignant reminders of that tragic day, along with tributes from around the World.
Another moving experience that I will never forget.
We then met up with Doug`s brother Ken,who had come into town to spend some time with us.
He is a couple of years older than Doug, but equally as tall and almost as well built, so it was almost like we had our own personal minders with us in this huge city!
Ken and Doug knew of a restaurant named "Da Nico" in Little Italy which had an outside patio area which is where we headed for dinner.
My DW was a bit disturbed that we were to have dinner in the same casual clothes that we had been wearing all day, however our hunger won in the end!
Here we had a great dinner at a very reasonable cost [certainly less than what we had paid for breakfast at the hotel], with good service in very pleasant surroundings.
After walking around the area for a while, browsing inside a few of the shops around SOHO and NOHO [Doug informs me that SOHO is “South of Housten” [pronounced “Howsten” apparently] and there are no prizes for guessing what NOHO stands for!
We caught a couple of cabs to take us all back to the hotel, where Ken was also to be staying for the next couple of days, arriving there at around 9.00am after a truly amazing first day in New York.