Monday, April 17, 2006

New York Rocks - Follow up

γ. Follow up - Sunday 19th

Instead of taking the usual path to Manhattan, we went to Brooklyn. Uncle dropped us in Coney Island. We went through Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, one of the world's longest suspension bridges. Named after Giovanni da Verrazano, the first European explorer to sail into New York Harbor in 1524, this is a major link to Staten Island unaffected even during extreme weather conditions. We went to the Coney Island beach and it was the first beach we saw in US. Crazy to go to a beach at around -90­C J!

New York aquarium was nearby beach which was opened in 1839. My desire since childhood to see sea animals underwater came true here. A large water tank was recreated to show the oceanic conditions. Beautiful coral reefs and color fishes were attractive but the real star was a Sting Ray which reminded me of Stealth Aircraft. It kept on moving in the water and there were 3 or 4 of those. Belize barrier reef, extinct species of Lake Victoria and species of Lake Malawi were the next exhibits. Anemones, Star fishes, Jelly fishes also followed. Piranhas from Amazon and other South American rivers which can eat anything from cattle to parts of human and reduce them to skeleton in minutes was yet another attraction. They don’t kill their prey; they just start eating the victim alive. They venture out in schools and when they are in a feeding frenzy the water appears to boil and churn red with blood.

Then we saw Pacific walrus, a large semi-aquatic mammal from Arctic regions. It was a treat to watch those biggies playing in water, spraying out water and making sounds occasionally. These younger ones didn’t develop their characteristic tusks. But they had a superb moustacheJ. Then there was California Sea lion and Northern Fur Seal found in North Pacific Ocean. There were California Sea Otters too. These animals were funny to see as they always float in water looking as if they are praying. They are threatened species due to fur trade. There was a small rocky place with caves where Black footed Penguins were kept. They are an endangered species and come from Africa. These penguins live on ice. They are called Jackass penguins because of their loud donkey-like braying noise.

We then moved to an underground area called Sea cliffs. We could see Striped Bass and Leopard shark. But the best part was watching walruses, sea lions, sea otter and seals underwater. What a fun it was to watch them playing. Walruses resemble hippos, that big they are. We saw Seahorses. They are specialJ. While linked in the mating embrace, the female forces the eggs into a pouch on the underside of the male, where they are fertilized and where they remain until they are expelled as miniature versions of the adult. Unlucky guys! Different varieties of them are present like pipe fishes. We also saw Octopuses and Lobsters.

Sharks, Turtles and Giant sting rays formed the next section. It was truly amazing to see the sandbar sharks moving like a rocket close to us. Last section was Alien Stingers which comprised of Moon jelly fishes. They are translucent and beautiful as they were kept in blue light illuminated water. Also there were Elephant nose fishes and Electric Eel.

It was almost 12.30 when we finished the aquarium part. We then took subway to Manhattan and went to Brooklyn Bridge City Hall street. Brooklyn Bridge was walking distance from the subway station. It was a truly spectacular scene to see the 120 year old bridge spanning across East River connecting Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. You would have seen it in Kal Ho Na Ho. A giant of bridges, it was the first steel-wire suspension bridge in the world and was the world's longest suspension bridge at the time of its completion. We walked for some distance over the bridge through a walkway over the vehicle lane. The bridge was used in 2001 by people in Manhattan to escape the September 11, 2001 attacks on the WTC after the subway service was suspended. Manhattan Bridge stays next to that. Built by J. A. Roebling and his son Washington Roebling, many painful incidents occurred during its construction.

Our next destination was American Museum of Natural History situated on Central Park west. When we got down from subway, we directly walked into the museum. First we were surprised as we couldn’t find the galleries. Soon we entered African mammal hall. The models of the animals were created and the background is matched so perfectly that we feel it’s original. We were running short of time and soon explored all the galleries we could like people, civilization, fossils etc. What an amazing feat of achievement it is! Truly a pick of a museum and certainly the pick of our tour!

We headed towards Times Square again and saw Radio City Hall and Rockefeller Center. There was a skating show going on and the flags of all countries are hoisted. Then we went to Wall Street to see the Federal Hall with Washington’s status where he gave his first presidential speech and then New York Stock Exchange. It looked marvelous with a Giant American flag flying. The street was stranded and we left the place soon. We narrowly missed ferry and had to wait there for 1 hr to get back home.

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