Actually, my mother grew up in Jersey City, back in the 1920s when it was a decent, middle-class suburb across the river from New York City. But by the time I was growing up in the 1960s, Jersey City had become a slum.
No more. Jersey City is now a thriving metropolis with soaring office buildings, luxury apartments, and easy access to downtown Manhattan.
|Jersey City skyline|
But still, it's less expensive than Manhattan, which is why, when we decided to come a day early, we booked into a hotel at Harborside, a development on the New Jersey shore of the Hudson River. But we thought, as modern and upscale as it is, why hang out in Jersey City when we could take the Path train and be in New York in a few minutes.
Well, the Path train is closed on weekends, we found out. They are still working on repairs left over from 2012's Hurricane Sandy. But there's a ferry, we were told, right down at the end on the block.
So we hopped the ferry and for $6 took a ten minute trip to downtown Manhattan.
|The New York skyline|
We got off and walked into Brookfield Place overlooking Rockefeller Park, which hugs the Hudson River. From Brookfield Place you can see the Oculus, the $4 billion structure that replaced the Path station that was destroyed on 9/11. Oculus, derived from the Latin word for "eye," refers to a circular opening in a dome or wall.
|The Oculus, as seen from inside Brookfield Place|
Built by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the Oculus design was inspired by a child releasing a dove.
|Looking up from just outside the Oculus|
We came out at the World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial. Even today, it's a remarkable site. Flowers and small American flags are stuck into the cracks of the wall. People are visibly moved, even 18 years later.
|9/11 Memorial, South Tower|
From the World Trade Center we walked north on West Broadway, and realized once again that in New York, you can find almost anything . . .
|In New York City ... really?|
. . . including a poster store that sounded interesting, not that we could afford any of the posters. They're for collectors only.
|Philip Williams Posters|
Then we poked our way into the Mysterious Bookshop, which is more our speed -- an entire bookstore chock-a-block with nothing but mystery books. B bought a copy of Murder in the Marais by Cara Black. Don't know much about it, except apparently Parisian investigator Aimee Leduc finds herself in a "dangerous web of ancient secrets" after finding a woman strangled in her home.
|The Mysterious Bookshop|
We spent some time in the park, watching the river flowing by, and the people relaxing along the waterfront. Then we went to the Brandy Library for dinner.
|Girls exercising on the shoreline|
Lest you think we have a literary bent . . . the Brandy Library does not have any books. Instead it features bookcases packed with bottles of wine and spirits. The menu consisted of one page of food selections, and 20-some pages of alcoholic opportunities.
|Brandy and more brandy|
B and I are not drinkers. But we enjoyed the atmosphere, and listened in as the group of young guys at the table next to us ordered a flight of rare brandys and got a ten-minute lesson in spiritology from the young, French-accented waiter.
|The sun sets over New Jersey|
Most of the locals, it seemed, went to the Brandy Library for drinks and appetizers, and then they were going off to dinner.
But for us, when 8 p.m. rolls around, we are ready for the end of the day. So we walked back to the ferry and cruised back west across the Hudson.
|The New York skyline, on the way home|
Then the next day we went to the wedding reception in Liberty State Park. And we left early, not because we had a long drive back home (about an hour and a half) but because . . . no matter where we go, we usually leave early.
|View of Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty and Verrazano Bridge, from Liberty State Park, NJ|