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

Next Stop... Wilmington, Delaware!

The state of Delaware was in my sights! I took my Amtrak train from Newark Penn Station to Wilmington to explore Delaware's largest city on a July day that was so beautiful, the weather was perfect! Taking a chance on the state of Delaware, I was seeking adventure to find that every American state deserves a chance. Sure, Wilmington served many secrets and surprises!

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 city's own 'Riverfront'. My opinion of Wilmington had been 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 song birds sing as they fluttered in the skies above me. Everything in my view blended well, the older buildings blended well with the newly renovated walkways along the riverside. I had been advised that the state of Delaware wasn't worth my time, I didn't pay their thoughts no mind! I was expecting Wilmington to be a squeaky clean city, I was open to finding some surprises and secrets during my day of exploration. The July weather was proving to be a scorcher as the morning went on further. I was ready for Wilmington!

As mentioned before I chose to travel by Amtrak train from Newark Penn Station to Wilmington's red brick station, my train fare was fairly priced because train travel in America stands behind its European cousins. On my way to Wilmington I passed through Philadelphia before I stepped down from my train in Wilmington. I hadn't really done much research regarding what there was to do in Wilmington, I trusted the signs that guided me from the train station to the riverside along the Christina River. Wilmington wasn't a huge city, I had faith that I could make my way around without any issues. Sticking to the riverside for the first part of the day allowed me to see some lovely views, the skyline that Wilmington served wasn't huge but it was humble, appropriate for the size of the city. Moving into the Quaker Hill part of the city lead my to my second part of the day. Bordering New Jersey, why had the train taken the time that it did? I brushed shoulders with Maryland! My tri-state day!

Wilmington prevailed to be a city that possessed a special flare, owning something different that stood out compared with other cities that I had visited before in America. Teamed with a wide range of retro buildings, which resembled the life and times of Wilmington's not so distant past featured the 'Delaware Historical Society'. The city centre layout showcased a feeling of displacement. By the looks of things, Wilmington was just getting started with its future regeneration projects. I did not use a map because I didn't have access to one, I used my sense of direction and thankfully the streets were well signposted. Unlike other people, I wanted to give Wilmington my full attention during that July afternoon. I am currently living Newark, New Jersey so I was able to respect the nature of Wilmington's city streets. Life along the Northeastern coast of the USA helped me open my eyes to the realness!

Amongst the old parts of this city, a feeling of change could be seen and felt 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. Wilmington boasted direct access to Amtrak's Acela Express line, another reason for the new developments. Getting itchy feet as I had seen most of the city centre quite quickly, I had managed to snatch some WiFi in the street, I searched for things to do around the Wilmington area. Catching 'Pea Patch Island' and the neighbouring area, I asked the cashier in the local Walgreen's along East 9th Street and Market Street about directions to the bus that I needed to take to find 'Pea Patch Island'. All was good, the lady from Walgreen's was helpful and friendly to me!

Not wanting to limit myself to Wilmington for the rest of my day in Delaware, I took the 25 Dart bus to Delaware City, seeking Fort Delaware located on Pea Patch Island. Thankfully, I was on the correct bus that was going in the correct location. I hadn't had anything to eat for my lunch, I was looking forward to something delicious upon my arrival. Eventually I made it to my stop, being the last stop on the route allowed me to see where the Wilmington bound bus would be boarding from. Scouting out the waters edge allowed me to buy one return ticket for the boat over to 'Pea Patch Island' and my admission, both charges didn't cost me too much! With my tickets booked I found a nice looking pub, things looked really quaint with that area. The pub served me an almighty large point of fish and chips, refuelled and ready I made my way to the dock to take my boat over to the island. Things were running fine, I needed that!

I wasn't bothered with the history of 'Pea Patch Island' because the whole feel of Fort Delaware, sure the island had enough to see for it to grab my attention. Disembarking my chartered ferry from the mainland to 'Pea Patch Island', I made my way to Fort Delaware. Word on the street was that pea seeds had floated over to the island that had formed in the middle of the Delaware River. Being during the week there wasn't many people exploring the fort on the island, I had enough time to see the 17th Century fort at my own leisure without any crowds proud. Feeling content with my wanderings on 'Pea Patch Island', I made my way back across the Delaware River to get my bus back to the city centre. The rest of the day was pretty relaxed, finding my way around the central city core allowed me to witness the realness within Wilmington's inner core. I knew that taking a chance on Wilmington, Delaware was the right thing to do! Which city will be next? U.S, let's keep seeking adventure!

Delaware Called... 

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