Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Getting around New York City in a Wheelchair

New York City, one of the most dazzling cities in my book. The first I ever visited was when I was a young sixteen year old. The lights, the shops, the excitement of massive crowds, the accents and cultures...they all intrigue me, especially the shows on Broadway. What a huge melting pot! Everywhere I went, there were people speaking all sorts of languages. I get excited every time I heard Portuguese and Italian being spoken...such beautiful languages! I feel my love along with my appreciation for the city has only grown since learning more about the history and gaining more cultural perspective over time. This time, I got to visit the city with my sister, who is living there for the summer, which made it extra special and even more of an adventure.

We went up to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building, the tallest building in the city (tickets were $25 each).  We saw the whole city and its lights for far above the ground.  I loved the feeling of a little bit of invincibility from being so high up.  I loved the time to think outside about some very important questions that have been on my mind for a while in a "serene" setting, with little sirens and music to break my concentration.  I loved the sense of security from being there with my sister--one of my bestest friends in the whole world. It seems New York has a lack of signs because it was difficult to navigate and locate elevators to get to the top of the building. And there were no accessible women's restrooms on the 86th floor. Blah! I wished all of the attendants were all on the same page and communicated instructions better. That was the most frustrating thing. 

We visited the World Trade Center (free, but prior registration required) with mates from her program (brilliant and funny people). We went through a long security check line, but made it. The memorial included two reflection pools, each with names of heroes from 9/11 engraved on them.  The water dropped into a never ending pool, which to me, was symbolic of forever--the memories of those who passed on will forever remain in our hearts and minds.  I thought long and hard about life and sacrifice for the greater good. They are true heroes. I'm so sad that this happened, but so glad and proud of those who, in the last moments of their lives, decided to prove humanity is existent and saved others. Words cannot describe the love and respect I have for their courage and valor.  It's such a  wonderful opportunity to be there and to reflect on their lives and sacrifice.  I'm thankful for the memorial because it helps us to forever remember and cherish their lives. It was a bit difficult for me to get around the museum as the lift was broken and some of the displays were on platforms that were crowded with people. Maybe next time will be better. Is there an off season?

We also watched the show, "Chicago" on Broadway.  What a scandalous and hilarious show! I was afraid I would leave feeling depressed or sad that it would totally bring out all the scandal in people, but it's the crazy reality some people lead. I could probably deal without all the lies and scandals in my own life though. I was glad there was wheelchair accessibility at the theater, although less smooth than other places because it was an afterthought. Pretty old theater.

I just want to mention that the downfall of the whole trip was that New York City is that it is so old that it's NOT as wheelchair accessible as other places (like D.C.), especially the metro, stores, Chinatown, and restaurants. I was shocked to find out that there are metro stations that don't have elevators, so the only option is to awkwardly ask for help to get lifted up several flights of stairs, or stop at a station that does have an elevator and take the bus or walk to your destination.  Now, my sister and I didn't know about this beforehand, so we encountered some problems. Also, signs were not helpful for visitors, especially those looking for accessibility. Also, not all buses are wheelchair accessible, so your best bet may be an accessible taxi. Try AccessibleDispatch and they will not charge you extra for the wheelchair.  

Nonetheless, exploring the streets of NYC continues to entice me.  Nothing that a traveling wheelchair can't handle. There's just something about this city that makes it so exciting for me to even think about visiting...just don't use the metro!

No comments:

Post a Comment