Thursday, March 27, 2008

From New York IX...

The last day in New York had come.
We had all packed and put all the luggage in the bus again. We had a last american breakfast.
Then, we went into the New York City one last time.
Our first stop was Greenwhich Village and then the Soho. These are exquisite and beautiful areas partly neighbourhoods as well as commercial areas with fine boutiques.Then we spent the rest of the day on the Fifth Avenue, again, because it has so much to see and to buy.Some of the group decided to visit the MOMA- the Museum of Modern Art, that's located in a nearby street.
Finally, we gathered at the Plaza Hotel, on the 59th street to the Fifth Avenue. And we were taken to the airport.

After the traditional ckeck in, we had time to have a snack before boarding in flight TP114 back to Oporto. We had a quiet flight, most of us decided to sleep a bit but others couldn't because they were still excited from the days spent in New York.
Once in Portugal, after going through Customs formalities and the annoying situation of having the luggage opened and searched, we could finally go to the bus that drove us to Felgueiras.
A final note, I had a wonderful feeling. Everybody was happy, it had been a great journey and in spite of the responsibility that means taking teenagers to a foreign and distant country I felt I had done something good for all...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

From New York VIII...

Hi there!
Today, we got up a little later. The day was dedicated to shopping.
We went to a very large mall, The Jersey Gardens.
The group spent part of he day, concentrated in "visiting" the many shops and having a look at the prices that were in most cases highly tempting.
At night, we had our last dinner together. We went to The Iron Bound District in Newark, to the Spanish Tavern.
Dinner was a great surprise!!! It looked like a banquet when compared to other traditional american meals, in which fast food reigns. The food was spanish, so we ate well , as if in Portugal. We even met some portguese people , who were working at the restaurant. It was a fantastic evening because the group was anticipating the end of our journey.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

From Philadelphia...

Hello again...
Today, we travelled a bit further south. We went to Philadelphia ou Phili for short.
Philadelphia is what we Europeans might consider to be the craddle of the nation, it was there that important men met to fight for the Independence of the country from England. Several batlles were fought until they were finally an independent and sovereign country. They started initially with thirteen colonies.
Philadelphia is a beautiful town, it is wide open , it has large streets with " ancient" buildings nicely preserved to tell the history of the country.
Our first stop was he Independence Information Centre, where we watched a film about the Independence of The United States and the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Then, we headed towards the Independence Hall ( the place where it all happened) and we could still see the Liberty Bell, the original one, that rang to announce the population the end of War and Independence.

Then, it was time to stop because travelling can be tiring, too. The Bourse, where was originally located the first stock exchange in the USA, is now transformed into a small shopping centre and food court.
The afternoon was spent exploring the historical places in the city.

Later on, a different, more alternative area of Philadelphia was visited. South Street is a different neigbourhood. Far from the centre and home to minorities, blacks and the poorest ones. Nevertheless, it became a complete surprise. It had fine stores and shops and we ate in an amazing Italian gourmet / kitcsh restaurant, nicely decorated.
By nine o'clock it was time to make the journey back to New York, more or less 150 km far.
It was a most enjoyable day, spent in a clean, quiet and peaceful city when compared to the megapolis that New York is.

Monday, March 24, 2008

From New York VII...

Another day in New York.
Today we will visit the United Nations. As soon as we got there what impressed most were the flags standing high, of all the nations in the world.
Then before entering, another security checkpoint. Once inside, we had a guided tour. We got a full explanation of how the United Nations work, the several councils, the committees and the Blue Helmets peaceful task missions.

Lunch time took the group to a very famous department store, The Macy's.
Once again time to go to another beautiful block in the New York City. It is indeed a city full of life, activity. It never goes to sleep.
Later in the afternoon, after some shopping, we returned to Times Square. This is probably one of the most interesting palces. No where else can we find so much colour and light.
This evening, dinner was at the Hard Rock Café.

Then, at the The Majestic, a theatre, we had the chance to go to the Phantom of The Opera.
Luckily, for me it was a revisited play, as I had seen it once in London. Neverthless, I loved it. The music. the cast of characters , the story ...what a magic night!!!
And another day went by , so quickly...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

From New York VI...

Statue that survived the collapse of the Twin Towers

New York City

New York seen from The Empire State Building
St. Patrick's Cathedral
5th Avenue
Times Square

From New York V...

A new day began. Everybody tried to have a large breakfast to give them energy to face the rush in New York City.We left at 9 0'clok and the first stop is the well-known Empire State Building.
We went to the top, all the way up till the 86th floor.
In spite of the wind and cold the sun was shining again.
What a view!!
The city's skyline...all he skyscrappers, the high buildings were at sight, and we could see the real dimension of this unique city in the world.
Later, down on earth again, we went to the mythical 5th Avenue.
It was Easter and because of that the 5th Avenue was closed to traffic to the Easter Parade. People got dressed in funny and fancy costumes, the ladies wore amazing, colourful hats. That's a unique tradition.
Along the most famous avenue in New York, we saw all the expensive , luxurious boutiques that made us dream of being millionaires.
Later on , we moved to another famous block in New York, Times Square.
There the neons gave buildings and streets a very special look and atmosphere. Time to go shopping.
Dinner at Planet Hollywood, right in the centre of Times Square.
And another day ended....

Saturday, March 22, 2008

From New York IV...

Trump Hotel- Central Park
Central Park

Central Park- main entrance

Central Park

From New York III...

Next day, breakfast was a little later, however, by 9 o’clock the bus was full with a sleepy crowd.
The Metropolitan Museum was our first stop for the day. The museum is located in a magnificent building and it houses the richest collection of art in New York. There the visitor can wander around endless rooms full of some amazing masterpieces. The time spent there was only enough to see a little of what it has to offer. A careful selection is necessary in order not to get lost . Then , outside the sun was shining and it was time to have lunch. We went to Central Park and had lunch at The Time Warner Center, a beautiful shopping, right next to the main entrance of the most famous park In New York. Outside, we can see a lively but peaceful area. In the Middle of the Square there is a Statue in honour of Christopher Columbus, the navigator that discovered America. After lunch, we walked in Central Park. It is a long, beautiful park, the lungs of New Yorkers. Even if the dominant colour was brown, we can see that when Spring lends it colours, it must be a spectacular place to go to. Squirrels are abundant and if not disturbed they are an interesting sight to both children and adults.
Again lots of photos were taken to remember the places and the people.
Chinatown was our next destination. In a way it was a disappointment to almost everybody. I myself was expecting a greater dominance of the Chinese culture and architecture. Instead, we saw very busy and crowded streets where almost anything is bought and sold. Sometimes, the confusion discouraged the group to go around. Finally dinner at a Chinese restaurant. There were mixed feelings, some like the food and the taste, however, others didn’t appreciate it. Pizza at the hotel was going to restore strengths and calm hungry stomachs.

Friday, March 21, 2008

From New York II...

Manhatthan's financial area

Madison Square Garden

Opening Ceremony

NY Knicks vs Menphis Grezzlies

From New York I...

7 am breakfast at the hotel.
8 am depart for the Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Our visit to New York city was about to start. The coach took us to an old ferry line and train station , that used to be the entry way to all the immigrants arriving in the United States and then spreading, searching for their dream
Then security checks. A policewoman, made a dramatic apearance at the door. For a moment I thought I was a character in one of the many american movies that depict life in prison. The woman was literally shouting orders to tourists in her strong, masculine and though voice. It was ok. We all survived.
Then the ferry came and our first stop was on Ellis Island. It is a beautiful building, which now houses the Museum of Immigration.
We left he ferry and headed to the Museum, so that we might learn how immigrants who came from all over the world were seen by the american authorities.
Then, again queueing to get another ferry to visit the Statue of Liberty, in the next island. These were difficult moments, the cold and the strong wind made us freeze to death.
A short voyage in the Hudson River, offered us a beautiful scenario of New York skyline.
Finally, there it was the Statue of Liberty, standing tall in the middle of the island. It is the symbol of freedom and hope.
Time to see the Statue , lots os photos taken, some strange positions of the most professional photographers to have the best shot, but still the wind was beating our bodies and faces. However, here were no regrets or sad faces. All were happy...
But, we must stop for lunch and the local cafeteria was the best and only place available. Our first americam lunch.
Later, already on the New york city soil , we walked through a beautiful park, we admired the financial area and visited the Museum of the Americam Indian.
The day will be long.
Next stop , South Street Seaport, a picturesque place, with many shops and restaurants.
Then, we drove to the Madison Square Garden to see an NBA Game - NY Knicks vs Menphis Grezzlies.
The place is huge ,magnificent and the atmosphere inside was fantastic, even if the NY Knicks lost.
It was a long day, but the emotions felt and the experiences had been greater than tiredness.


After a long and a somewhat agitated aproach and landing at Newark International Airport, we had to go through the Customs line and finally be Welcomed to The United States of America.
It was about four , when Rose Jackson, our tour guide, met us at the end of the arrival lounge. She was a nice and cheerful lady and as soon as the introductions were made we headed towards the hotel, The Fairfield Inn and Suites.
We liked the place, nice, clean and well equipped. Traditional chocolate cookies and fresh apples at the reception desk were a luxury.
The usual confusion to settle such a large group, (yes, that's right we were fifty two), and then at half past six, dinner had arrived.
Pizza and coke had been brought to the hotel , by Jacqueline, a Brazilian that helped us feel a little closer to Portugal, someone who spoke our native language.
Then, the swimming-pool and the jacuzi offered a relaxing time to some people.
Going to bed was our next step as all of us were very tired, we also felt the effects of jet lag and the following day we had to leave at eight in the morning.