The dreaded day of departure from our beautiful ship has arrived. I woke up about 6 a.m. when my roomie opened the balcony door and excitedly said "Statue of Liberty!"
I grabbed my camera and stepped out onto the balcony thinking we were still sailing and a picture moment could disappear quickly. But we were already docked and being serviced by a boat beside us and there in the distance stood beautiful Lady Liberty. It was still quite dark out and my camera doesn't perform well in low light but i snapped away anyhow. We could see Ellis Island clearly and a bridge and some skyscrapers as well even though we had been told they would only be visible on the port side and we were starboard. It was so exciting. Our luggage had been picked up the night before so we finished packing our carry on's in between pic taking as it became more light outside. We headed for breakfast in the Lido and it took awhile to get there as the elevators are always busy on departure day, especially as most of the 4000 passengers would be leaving. Princess has a good system of organizing departures with colour/number tickets so you know aprox when it'll be your turn but it still takes time and some waiting. It was par for the course that they got a little behind as elevators are few and people are many and watching the ensuing drama is interesting. Eventually it was our turn so we said our goodbyes, retrieved our luggage in the terminal, got into a cab and were heading off to Manhattan just after 10a.m.
Our cab had two sunroofs and i couldn't resist taking a few tall building shots up through the roof. We arrived at the Manhattan Westin at Times Square by 11a.m, got the desk to take care of our luggage as we were too early for check in and off we went to see the sights. I was already stunned and dazzled by what i saw from the cab to put it mildly, OMG! i go to the movies and i watch Apprentice and yet i wasn't prepared; the tall buildings, the huge bright moving advertising, the interesting stores and never ending rivers of people. I was a total country bumpkin in the big apple for the first time snapping so many pictures it was ridiculous but i just couldn't stop, i loved it so much! Every 3 seconds the scenario changed and i wanted to capture it all! Then we were hungry so we grabbed a bunch of tour brochures and went to a deli for lunch and to hatch a plan on how to do Manhattan.
We decided to buy a two day pass from the red dbl decker bus company after comparing it with the green bus company. Our first tour was about 3 hrs long and it was awesome. Afterwards we checked out our hotel room and finding everything was good we went to a different deli type place for something to eat. We then boarded the night tour bus which was also awesome, thanks to having the foresight of going prepared wearing layers of clothing which included a long sleeved shirt, a hoodie, raincoat, scarf and mittens. I'm sure some people must have thought me a weird character being all bundled up like that in Sept.as some had on simple little T's, shorts and thongs on their feet. Maybe i'm in somebodys "weird people of Manhattan" photo's. However by the time the tour ended i think there were a lot of very cold people, but i learned my lesson a long time ago about the cold of evening after a warm day especially on the open upper deck of a tour bus. I snapped pictures until my battery was dead and then coaxed a couple more out of it. It was annoying because i missed capturing a lot of awesome scenes but thankfully that evening and the sights i saw will live on in my memory forever. I might not remember every exact scene but i'll always remember the feeling, the personality, friendliness and warmth of exciting yet easy going Manhattan.
It was especially poignant riding over the Brooklyn Bridge; how high we were and how terrifying it was to realise there was no shoulder or guardrail of any sort, we were literally riding right on the edge! It seemed almost like a roller coaster ride on a skinny track except our safety was all in the driving skills of the bus driver....the same bus driver who went through tons of red lights! When i peeked over the edge all i saw was a vast black emptiness. Not only that but other dbl deckers were in the lane beside us at times and so close you could reach out and touch them and we were on the outside lane with them closing in on us, and it seemed like they were trying to push us over the edge all the time! But i guess nobody was truly frightened because we were all totally enchanted by our experience. Now, i have to admit it did occur to me that maybe those buses automatically get into a grooved track of some sort that's been designed for them or something, because lets face it; there's millions of tour buses in Manhattan and they must have good safety rules and maybe they couldn't go over the edge even if they tried. I'm not sure if i really want to know. Afterwards we walked up the street to our hotel tired but happy and no longer worried about getting lost in the dark. Billions of people were still out and about and we felt safe although dazzled by all the lights, the sounds, the smells and all the wonderful things we saw. I am so glad to have had this opportunity to visit this amazing colorful vibrant city. I already know i'll be back!