For months now we’ve had our Fourth of July plans set: apple pie and Chinese food. Since reading Apple Pie 4th of July about the lessons a Chinese-American family learns about cultural differences and what it means to be an American, we’ve wanted to celebrate the many cultures that make America what it is. And what better place to do that than New York City?
After putting on our red, white, and blue, we set out for Jersey City’s Liberty State Park. The park gets its name from its prime location on the Hudson River just across from both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The views of both were amazing as we walked the wonderful riverfront trail. The park seemed to offer many recreational activities from walking paths to playgrounds to green spaces, but we had to catch a ferry and didn’t have time to explore as much as we would have liked.
The ferry to the World Financial Center in Manhattan left right from the marina in the park, which made parking and commuting to the city a breeze. We have traveled by bus and train so far, so we were excited finally to take to the water. The ride didn’t take much time at all, but we were still treated to some spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline along the way.
As we started walking to the closest subway station, it was hard to ignore the somber atmosphere as we traveled past the World Trade Center and the reconstruction happening there. People from all walks of life had come out on the 4th to photograph, converse, and remember. It was hard to comprehend, and even harded to explain to the kids, how this area of such a bustling city could be so quiet.
Entering the subway station, we had no idea how bad our transportation luck was about to get. We found two possible routes to Chinatown only to discover that one entire line was closed for the holiday and the other was only running express trains that would have sped past our intended stop. After standing in stuffy, sweltering air waiting in vain for a local train, we gave up and took to the streets where the temperature had hit 100. We walked many, many blocks and missed our street as the one unmarked cross street happened to be ours. We should have figured as much.
Nonetheless, the walk to Wild Ginger was well worth it. The vegan bistro offered so many appetizing dishes that it made ordering quite a challenge. The younger Fives enjoyed soba soup with spinach and other fresh vegetables, while Five Spice and Five String sampled sizzling soy cutlets with spicy black bean sauce and basil infused tofu. This will definitely be a place we return to the next time we pass by. From there, our hopes to find apple pie at the vegan bakery we chose were dashed as the only offerings were pumpkin pie and cheese cake. After a dessert picnic in a nearby park, we took the ferry back to Jersey just as the crowds staking out a place to view the fireworks were pouring into the city.
Five Spice was not about to let our quest for apple pie go unfulfilled, so we stopped at a grocery store to pick up ingredients for an Apple Pie Parfait. Back in the climate-controlled comfort of our hotel room we enjoyed delicious layers of granola, sliced apples, and coconut sorbet with cinnamon sprinkled on top. We ended the evening by watching the fireworks on television, though we could hear the rumbles and see the sky light up from our hotel window. This 4th not only gave us all a greater appreciation of the wonderful diversity and determination that is America, it helped us see how workable seeing the big city can be by making the Jersey side our base camp.