21 July 2012

Remember 9/11

One day that haunts our minds and makes us take a second to think about our lives has to be September 11th 2001. Remembering this may bring back the harrowing memories of what happened in New York City ten years ago. A place that was left in a unthinkable state on the fateful time of 9/11 has been rising upwards from the ashes of that fateful event. How has New York moved on from that unspeakable event? What is there for us and the world to remember 9/11?

You ask why I wanted to visit the 9/11 Memorial? I wanted to see the sight through my own eyes. The New York City skyline will never be the same, but a breath of fresh air is certainly making its way through the Financial District. As there is no way to bring back the same Twin Towers, a development is taking great shape before the world's watching eyes. One World Trade Center will give hope and prosperity to the once devastated site. A sense of awareness has been awoken by a large part of humankind as this new focal point has become a holistic tourist attraction or should I say place of remembrance? I thought it was necessary to pay my respects to the people that lost their lives during that devastating act of terrorism over a decade ago. As displayed the new tower is dominating the Lower Manhattan skyline, giving the district back its grand appearance that was once visible. Being a tourist or a traveller doesn't have to mean theme parks and amazing attractions all the time, its just as enriching to spend some time to reflect in a new environment to truly understand how lucky we are to be doing what we do! 

Construction of the entire 'Ground Zero' area is still a work in progress. Change is coming to the former area of the Twin Towers but through the tragedy there seems to be something positive that progressing to signify a new chapter in the life to remember of New York City's darkest day! Witnessing the energy around the work area is something else, whether the passers-by are making their commute or just taking a break there is a feeling of cohesion and hope in the air. I for one pass the construction site when I take the PATH train to World Trade Center Station from Newark Penn. From a visitor's point of seeing things, there's a feeling of excitement in the air and I am sure that this part of NYC has some things to look forward to. I hope that the new development brings a feeling of strength to New York City!

I have a knack for visiting places that are out of the ordinary. For instance I took it upon myself to seek the Headquarters of The United Nations. Now deciding to discover the 9/11 Memorial Site. My visit to this endearing place may have only been brief but in the end it was extremely insightful. Finding a pace that felt like it was a pocket of calm in the centre of all chaos was great to experience. The 9/11 Memorial Site remembers the dark times of the terrorist attacks that blighted New York City over 10 years ago. Whereas entry may be  free it allows people from all walks of life to admire the exhibits and to remember the cause. A feeling of calm definitely descends upon the memorial site considering the main construction area overlooks the four corners of the site. In-particular the North and South pools omit a feeling, which could be classed as sobering. When looking closely at a place like this its an unspeakable shame that the attacks happened in the first place. New York City has stayed so strong!

Getting a feel for the 9/11 Memorial was easy but I wouldn't say it was a happy experience at all, emotion is conveyed in many different ways but I just didn't think it was respectful to be joyful and not remember the real reason for the memorial site being present in the first place. July 2012 brought some crazy weather with the day I spent at the 9/11 Memorial experiencing a tonne of rain and gloomy weather I didn't see the dreary conditions an excuse to hop back on the PATH train back to Newark Penn Station because I had something to attend to! As far as popular places of interest go I would have to say that the 9/11 Memorial site was a hype of activity with the large numbers of visitors taking their time to view the thought provoking sights at the memorial ground. Looking back I would have paid to visit this Memorial site but in this instance I'm showing my sign through this blog. Ground Zero has a significance to its name but I wouldn't associate it with a jubilant time whatsoever!  


The 9/11 Memorial site gives New York City Financial District a sanctuary where people can pay their respects in peace without feeling the full craziness of the city, for this place has to be taken quite seriously its not like seeing the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building! I found this memorial site had a feeling of calm where I could take a moment's solace to think about things. The future brings a new exhibit to the memorial site, a museum in the grounds of the memorial grounds is currently under construction, well at the time of my visit it stood unopened. Only time will tell what things will be displayed for visitors to see. When looking at the effects of the reinvention of the Twin Towers I could not comment on the grounds of what improvements these new structures will make but simply the impact and the legacy that they are intended to create. Will time be the healer for this situation? Whatever happens I have a strong feeling that the memory of the day in-question shall be remembered appropriately. 

Honestly, looking towards the future I do hope that the new developments and the inclusion of the 9/11 Memorial site will heightened the impact that the terrorist attacks have caused. We can change the past but we can look onwards to the future, hoping that life can move with the times not forgetting the events of 9/11. Captured above to the left is a photo from the 9/11 Memorial site that speaks without words for the stillness of the whole area is quite eerie in one sense but in another its the way one would imagine this place to be. Construction carried on throughout my visit so like I have tirelessly mentioned many times before in this blog the wheels are most definitely in motion. I look back to my visit to the 9/11 Memorial site to know that I don't need to return for I have made my peace and can take what I want from the experience to hopefully understand a little bit more about that day. Take one afternoon or even one hour to visit  New York City's 9/11 Memorial site at Ground Zero, just do it! 

Remembered But Never Forgotten


Joseph Harrison 

15 July 2012

Discover Delaware

New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C are all cities that are recognisable to the masses but, have you heard of a city called Wilmington? Fear not, I threw caution to the wind and decided to explore this unfamiliar city and also a hidden gem that I wasn't aware of before. Taking the Amtrak from my local Newark Penn Station to Wilmington, looking forward to experience a brand new state on a beautiful sun-shining day in July. Taking a chance on the state of Delaware, seeking adventure once more to find that almost every American state deserves a chance. So, you fancy uncovering new city walls, hidden island forts and holding a new perspective of America's North-east coast? Well, your in the right place!

After arriving bright and early in the city of Wilmington, I was lured by the waters of the Christina River. With the sun getting warmer by the minute it was a pleasure to explore The Riverfront. My opinion of Wilmington was set from the second I got to know the Christina Riverside. Wilmington's Riverfront gave me the chance to hear a slice of nature, sure it was great to hear the chiming songs of the fluttering birds that were nearby. Everything blended in well, from the old architecture to the newly renovated pathways leading the way along the waters front. I had been advised that Delaware wouldn't be a good place to visit, well  my current view of Wilmington, Delaware was certainly rubbishing the negative suggestions. Note this down, when in Wilmington you must take a stroll down The Riverfront!

Like I said before I chose to travel by Amtrak train from Newark Penn Station to Wilmington's red brick station, my train fare was fairly priced for train travel in America is very comfortable. I passed through Philadelphia before I disembarked in Wilmington, I think train travel will have to be a luxury for every once in a while but it was completely worth it! Booking trains within North America's Northeast coast Amtrak network should be done well in advance for once those discounted fares have gone they have gone. 

Wilmington prevails to be a city that possesses a special flare, owning something different that stood out to other cities I've visited before in America. Teamed with wide range of retro buildings, which resemble the life and times of yesteryear as featured the "Delaware Historical Society" certainly pays attention to the surrounding buildings. The city itself has a displaced feeling, almost having little or no links with other parts of the Downtown district. I did not use a map for I didn't have access to one, so I just used my sense of direction and thankfully the streets were well signposted. Taking away the negatives by revealing a positive side to Wilmington would be that it posed to be not what I expected, something that is generally a good thing from my point of looking at things.

Amongst the old parts of this city, a feeling of re-generation could be seen throughout Wilmington. I felt a good vibe from Wilmington, considering I had never heard of this city before I had arrived in America for my current internship I knew that my travelling efforts this year have gone from strength to strength! New office buildings and apartments were either newly completed or in the final stages of construction. From both ends of the spectrum every component worked well from a visual state of mind.

Not wanting to limit myself to Wilmington for the rest of my day in Delaware I took a different choice, a voyage to the unknown. Taking the 25 Dart bus to Delaware City, seeking Fort Delaware located on Pea Patch Island. I had one of those sickening feelings when I took the bus to Delaware City thinking it was the wrong bus, thankfully my research had served me well as all fared well. Arriving in Delaware City, a place which was strange to be called a city due to its village type feel.

Setting sail to Pea Patch Island to seek Fort Delaware was great, I felt excited to seek a new and exciting place, who couldn't love a island with such a charming name? Honestly feeling like I had stepped back to some point in the past as the feel of the island was quite peaceful and tranquil. The fort itself posed to be a great place to discover, but the period actors didn't impress me, please don't do a job halfheartedly or just don't bother at all. Aside from that shard of disappointment the main feel of Fort Delaware was great. It was actually crazy to think that once a baron island just sprouted from nowhere, literally getting its name "Pea Patch Island." Visit Now! 

Delaware, Delaware oh Delaware! A state that showed me so much in just one day, a good value for money day out with the perfect balance of culture and history. This just goes to show that the smaller and less recognised states can be very interesting and well worth visiting.

Joseph Harrison 

9 July 2012

Half Time Whistle

After five first-class months the half time whistle has sounded. I cannot believe I have been in Newark for five months, time certainly flies when your having fun or when your working so much?! Since my Virgin Atlantic Airways flight landed at Newark's Liberty International Airport things have been intense, rewarding and slightly stressful. Working at the airport brings many challenges, somehow I don't think my remaining six months will be the same! So, as I look at things at this halfway stage I believe that my progress has been fair for this current stage as I have so much more to achieve. Seriously, I still have to pinch myself to believe that I have been given this opportunity. 

Newark is a place that certainly keeps you on your toes, something's always going on and its not always good. Nevertheless, this city offers a haven which I have had the opportunity to live in for the first five months of my placement. The Ironbound District has some seriously tasty Portuguese restaurants that I have grown to love, something tells me I'll stay loyal to these places for the remainder of my time here in Newark, New Jersey. I've adapted well to being a Jersey and New York City Boy so thing have been great so far! Being away from the norm has been something that's been good to deal with, I suppose variety is the spice of life after all. I have love for Newark but nothing beats having New York City on my doorstep! I have managed to master the NYC Subway network and only have to consult the map if I'm sort of lost, I guess things have become normal for me now. I would like to say thank you to the almighty PATH train, for this mode of public transport makes getting to Downtown NYC and Midtown Manhattan really easy! I'm just a New York City Boy! 

Family are my number one, so Its been one of my hurdles to get through whilst being away on placement. My new friends here have kept me going when things haven't been to rosy. Working at Hallmark Aviation Services has given me the opportunity to meet some great people who never cease to keep my spirits high when things aren't too good. Two of these friends are Paolo and Thomas, these guys have been my saviours. Honestly if it wasn't for Paolo and Tom living two seconds away down the road the first half of my placement would have been a different story.

From the random days we spent in New York to the bizarre times during our Las Vegas trip its been emotional to say the least. They're leaving very soon and I won't lie, I shall miss them lots as they've been there for me since I have been here in Newark. The next five months shall stand as a challenge to enjoy myself without Thomas and Paolo, for I know if I met any other people at work they would have some big shoes to fill to compare with the like of Paolo and Thomas. It's a journey that I have felt honoured sharing it with this pair of friends who I will love as brothers. This might sound a bit obscure but it was meant to be that the Las Vegas three met in Newark in February 2012! So, I dare say we will meet again upon my return to England next January. So watch out Huddersfield and Northampton there'll be a reunion!

I have set myself the challenge to be the intrepid traveller whilst being here in America, Its my first time discovering the delights of the Northeast coast. Viva Las Vegas! Myself, Paolo and Thomas made the journey to Nevada for four days of fun, also making a cheeky visit to Los Angeles as well. Certainly a trip I will not forget for a long time, well the parts I was incredibly intoxicated on the flight back to Newark. I have tried to utilise my days off to the best of my ability, its been my challenge to see a new state every month. Newark is located in the middle of some great states which have a selection of superb cities. I visited Philadelphia a couple of months ago, a city that left me quite speechless due to its contrast between social classes and environments. Also New York, a city that has given me some of my best days here so far. I'm looking forward to my upcoming trip to Puerto Rico. So, its official that I have accomplished so much already, but have a lot more to achieve until I fly back to London Heathrow.

Finally, I have found medium of blogging very helpful as its given my the opportunity to describe and illustrate the experiences that I'm having here in America this time around. Desperately Seeking Adventure has given me the freedom to blog about my experiences at New York's Pride March and also my first baseball match at the Yankee Stadium. It's been a great way to share my new discoveries with family in the same way as a letter could, hopefully painting a more colourful and exciting picture than the norm. So here's to another six months of faithful blogging for the world to read.

Keep On Going Joseph ... 50% Done ! ! !

Joseph Harrison

6 July 2012

Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey

South Beach in Miami or Venice Beach in Los Angeles? Which one would you choose to visit? Well, I didn't choose any of the above because of the obvious geographical issues. So, I chose Point Pleasant Beach on New Jersey's famous Jersey Shore. I am very pleased to say this beach enabled me to have a very relaxing sun-drenched afternoon, one which I desperately needed!

Work has been hectic to say the least, so with my precious two days off around the corner, I decided to make the most of the sensational Jersey weather and go to the beach. New Jersey has recently been blessed with great weather. Throwing caution to the wind, this morning I jumped on the 10:02 NJ Transit train bound for Point Pleasant Beach Station via Long Branch. I almost forgot to take the essentials with me to the beach like sunscreen, so I dashed to Walgreens on the way to my local transport hub, Newark Penn Station. In my opinion my notebook, pen and camera seemed to be the most important things for me to pack, you could say I'm turning into a dedicated journalist. Who could possible want to write about a day out to the beach? Me!!! My Kuumba days have radiated into my real life endeavours. Matt Lazenby springs to mind. Enough reminiscing, let's go to the Beach, Beach!

Green fields and picture postcard houses passed by before my eyes, this could only mean that the depressing site that is Newark was out of my life for a few hours at least. I'm such a hypocrite because when I arrive back in Newark I always feel a sense of belonging as its my home for now. The kitsch neighbourhood of Point Pleasant pleased me as it radiated a sense of seaside cuteness, please I make myself nauseous with my own way of describing things. Back to the script, I missed the earlier train from Newark so my plans were somewhat behind than what I previously estimated. I now see a bit of dis-organisation actually pays off as by 12 noon the weather on the Boardwalk was a staggering 36 degrees, a temperature which I would not complain about when at the beach.

Taking my place on the quieter side of the beach, a point that was more than pleasant due to the scorching sun beaming down on the golden sand. Not being bitter but I paid $8.00 to spend three hours at the beach, slightly disheartened that I had to pay but my day wouldn't of been so good without my tanning time. The water was quite nice, but swimming was not on my agenda. Prepared with my factor 4 Hawaii'an Tropic sunscreen I cooked myself until it was time to cool off in the blue Jersey waters. 

Relaxing to the maximum the stresses of the last week were drifting away from my mind, I have a feeling next week might have to be another beach day to tan and chill-out. Coney Island anyone? I tried to imagine if the beaches in Puerto Rico match the beaches in New Jersey, as my vacation is only two months away. No offence Point Pleasant but I imagine Flamenco Beach makes Point Pleasant look totally different. This time last year I would have been making my day trip down to Miami, me and my Disney friends all had a great day there. Swimming in the crystal clear ocean blue, taking in the sites of South Beach. I look back at that time and think it would have just been nice if our stay in Miami was for a little bit longer. Let's not dwell on what we haven't got or in this case, what we didn't do because by all accounts my day at Point Pleasant Beach was amazing!

Point Pleasant beach happened to be managed by a private company, officially known as Jenkinson's so now I understand why I paid to use the beach. This company owns the boardwalk, which included the beach. I do wonder if I would have to pay at Coney Island for the same facilities? The fairground is also part of the business, I noticed a lot of children enjoying the rides that made up the fairground rides. Everything looked really clean considering the beach, boardwalk and fairground were really busy during that summer's day. 

Visiting the beach in June fared to be a good idea because the crowds of people weren't too overbearing in the heat of the midday sun. I still don't agree with having to pay to use the beach but the convenience of the location for the beach from Newark was perfect, I don't think I have ever been to a beach where I could seamlessly get on a train from the next city! Come to think of it, my day at Point Pleasant Beach was probably my first ever American beach day! I know my negativity isn't the best way to note my day at the beach but I did have a great time! So, I say to the welcoming and quintessentially American Point Pleasant Beach to keep doing what you do!

As my beach experience drew to a close I felt my day would of have been incomplete without a walk down the Boardwalk. I have to say the main feeling of the Boardwalk was that its quite tacky, in the end something made me look closer to appreciate its American charm. Ultimately, the deciding factor was the strawberry ice cream I enjoyed from Kohr's Ice Cream stand. The sites and the people that made their way down the Boardwalk gave it the character and individual seaside charm that made all of the components worked perfectly. Point Pleasant Beach is a great beach to visit, having something for all of the family and an independent traveller like myself I left the beach very relaxed, ready to face another day at work. Would I visit Point Pleasant Beach again? That's a really good question because I probably wouldn't due to New Jersey and New York has so many other beaches to visit. I think my next beach trip will be in Puerto Rico, I have to make the best of this time here, so I don't want to choose somewhere that might ruin my string of luck!

Listen to Nicki Minaj's latest jingle 'Starships' because it will take you to the Beach! Beach! Beach!

Point Pleasant Beach Thank You for a Great Day! 

Joseph Harrison