I haven’t been able to spend much time in New York City in the last several years, and never experienced the powerful scene of the post 911 tragedy in person. Print media and images broadcast on television portrayed the horrific impact of the event, but I would have liked to have seen the rebuilding progress in person to offer my respect to the lives lost and to the thousands of people who worked so hard to give aid and rescue.
My arrival fourteen years later to the World Trade Center depicted a completely different scene. As I write this today I am still humbled by the beauty of the site, and moved beyond words by the memorials to the victims. A peacefulness cloaks the sounds of construction and traffic, yet it still pulsates with a quiet energy.
In the space where the Twin Towers once stood, waterfalls cascade into two enormous square memorial pools. The pools are surrounded with bronze panels inscribed with the names of all the 9/11 victims, as well as those who were killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Beneath the tree-shaded memorial plaza is an underground museum with multimedia exhibits that tell the story of 9/11 and its aftermath.
An impressive observatory on the 100th floor of the newly completed Freedom Tower provides 360 degree views of the city and beyond.
Views of the three bridges that connect Manhattan to Brooklyn, the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges.
The new World Trade Center area is lovely. An area designed for reflection and grieving also provides hope for a better world. There is an energy and excitement pulsating throughout the 16 acres of the former Twin Towers. It bounces off the sparkling panes of glass of Freedom Tower, the memorial waterfalls and the dramatic new architecture ringing the area. I love this city, New York, and I’m deeply proud of my country.
Please do visit One World Trade Center, the Memorial, the Museum and the rest of gorgeous Lower Manhattan. Official website links are found below, for information and tickets. I recommend buying your tickets to the Memorial and Observatory in advance, as the lines do grow very long.
911 Memorial Museum
One World Observatory
On Wednesday, September 23rd, the sun’s rays began to shine directly over the Earth’s equator marking the beginning of the Autumnal Equinox in the northern hemisphere. Fall’s arrival reminded us here in the U.S. that the days are growing cooler, that it’s time to dig out sweaters, find the forgotten rakes, and to pick fresh apples and start baking them in pies. It’s the season of leaf peeping, pumpkin carving and cheering through hours of football. It is a time for counting blessings and gathering our families to celebrate all that is good in life, for cherishing our friends and remembering those who passed. This year, remarkably, the sun’s rays also guided a humble man of the cloth to our country, a Pope named Francis, who taught us that kindness and humility, acceptance, and caring for those less fortunate than us remains our daily priority. This year, when the sun crossed the equator, it delivered hope.
People are known for their resistance to change, and most find a preference for things that have been around longer, especially in the cities they call home. The Guggenheim Museum in New York was compared to a lavatory basin by Woody Allen, the Louvre Pyramid was referred to as “a scar on the face of Paris,” and a Londoner declared that the Tower Bridge, built in 1886, was “excellently situated for our ugliest public work.” Ouch! But perhaps the loudest protests over an urban construction project unfolded after the proposed centerpiece to the 1889 World’s Fair threatened the familiar horizon of Paris.
Many Parisians didn’t want to share their skyline dominated by the dome of Les Invalides and the towers of Notre Dame with the unusual skeleton-like design of the Eiffel Tower, and hoped that the “giant eyesore” would be torn down in 20 years as originally planned. They were most likely influenced by some of France’s most famous and powerful artists and intellectuals, who in a letter to the newspaper, Les Temps, protested that this “dizzily ridiculous tower dominated Paris like a black and gigantic factory chimney, crushing all beneath its barbarous mass.” French writer Guy de Maupassant was openly annoyed by the tower but still went to its restaurant every day. When asked why, he said it was because it is the only place in Paris where one cannot see the structure.
Happily we all know that since its completion in 1889, Gustav Eiffel and his tower won over even its most ardent critics. Paris’s beloved monument is an iconic image of modern times, an enduring symbol of Paris and a remains a great source of national pride.
Interested in the history behind the construction of the tower and the 1889 World’s Fair? Then you will love the highly praised book by Jill Jonnes, Eiffel’s Tower.
Also fun to read: 10 Things You May Not Know About the Eiffel Tower.
One of the highlights of Malibu is the Point Dume Nature reserve, a truly stunning stretch of coast featuring a rocky promontory that juts into the sea. The vast and beautiful Zuma Beach lies to its immediate North. Sea lions dot the rocks, and in the winter months (December through April) Point Dume is the best beach in Los Angeles to spot the Pacific gray whale annual migration from the Bering Sea in Alaska to Baja California Sur, Mexico. There is a cliff side hike with ocean views that my daughter and I wanted explore after reading that the experience will take your breath away and soothe your soul at the same time. A Yelp reviewer described it best:
“Ah, it never gets old to drive up the 1 and bask in the serenity that Mother Nature has blessed the California Coast with. Easy parking. Easy Walk. So much 360 degree beauty, you’ll want to put it on your bucket list.”
Point Dume is a California State Preserve located 18 miles west of Pacific Coast Highway, along Cliffside Drive. Operated by Los Angeles County, it is overseen by the lifeguard branch of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, and was named after Padre Francisco Dumetz of Mission San Buenaventura by George Vancouver in 1793. The beach was officially named “Dume” after the misspelling of Dumetz’s name on an 18th century map was never corrected!
27807 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265
Hot summer days, lots of haze and a need for a local escape landed me in the north Georgia mountains to a favorite little garden center where I go to take walks, fool around with my camera and to enjoy the scenery. I like it here because it’s usually a few degrees cooler in the summer, there are lots of paths to hike around the wooded naturalized gardens or some that head off toward the more centralized more formal designs. It’s a friendly environment and the air has the cool freshness that comes from being near the mountains. One of the things I look forward to seeing here are the resident garden cats. They happily hop up from their place in the shade to welcome unsuspecting visitors in a confusing tangle of leg rubbing and twisting around the ankles until everybody’s on the ground for a belly rubbing session. Being on the receiving end of a cat’s love is one of life’s simple pleasures I think.
Every Monday my friend Jo welcomes bloggers to walk along with her on her wonderful travels. This week she showcases the coast of Seaton Sluice, a beautiful rural area where the channel meets the sea in Northumberland England. You can see her beautiful photography here: Jo’s Monday Walk: Seaton Sluice. Meanwhile, I hope you’re enjoying your summer, and wherever you’ve landed make sure to stop now and then to enjoy all that’s beautiful around you.
My cat friends at Gibbs Gardens made me think of another blog I’d like to recommend. If you are a cat lover, and enjoy horses and the world of equestrian competition, you would like my friend David’s blog, “Through the Viewfinder” His life stories are a joy to read, his photography, wonderful.
Click on the link if you’d like to read more about North Georgia’s Gibbs Gardens.
New seasons, new beginnings. Warm days, star-filled nights and hope. Beaches beckon, families gather, food grown fresh finds its way to table. Hammocks are hung, porches swept, flags curl in the breeze. The sun rises, memories are made and tucked away. We celebrate our fathers, cherish our friends and honor those passed. We reflect. Happy summer, happy fathers. Be safe.
Beyond the Louvre Pyramid lies a courtyard that few people notice during their stay in Paris. It’s just steps away from the crowds lining I.M. Pei’s modern glass entrance, but the Cour Carrée sits nearly empty even during the peak tourist seasons. This section of the museum called the “Old Louvre,” is the original site of a 12th century fortress, and later, a larger royal residence. The handsome buildings surrounding this courtyard were built between the 16th and 17th century, replacing the last external remnants from medieval times.
It’s the perfect place to enjoy the architectural history of the Louvre, especially at night, when the lights enhance the majestic Renaissance structure and interesting sculptures. Take a stroll one evening and study the details, or bring a camera and photograph the nighttime moment. If you’re lucky, you may be serenaded by a roaming musician or two. Luckier still, a night bicycle tour may glide through your photo shoot with their helmets aglow and surprise you with a laser-like light show through your photograph, adding another enchanting memory to your memory book (above).
Related: Six Things You May Not Know About the Louvre
It’s hard to imagine visiting San Francisco without the great anticipation of a sighting of deep orange steel from the Golden Gate Bridge from almost anywhere you turn. Like the iconic Eiffel in Paris it teases, playfully peeking around street corners and waiting patiently for admirers to view it from the hilltops or from the hazy windows of the tallest of buildings. If I played a game where the rules read to avoid looking at it for an entire visit, I would come up losing. Have I seen it a hundred times? A thousand? I couldn’t possibly keep track. Generous, the structure’s form and color bring out the best of its natural surroundings, and as it reaches gracefully over the bay, the bridge completes the city and makes it whole. It is timeless.