15 years since 9/11

I can’t believe it’s been 15 years already. I’m sure everyone who’s old enough to remember that day, still knows exactly where they were and what they were doing when the news broke. I don’t remember much about my own activities during other catastrophic events throughout the world. But this one I do. That’s how you know how significant something truly is. When even 15 years later, you can still remember it all like it was yesterday.

Coincidentally, I ended up living in Manhattan for a short while in 2007. You could tell that even six years later, it was still very present in everyone’s mind. I subrented an apartment in the upper East side, right near Lexington Avenue. The apartment was being leased by an eccentric Jewish woman, who somehow decided to trust me with her entire furnished pad, including her little dog, which I agreed to take care of during her short-term move to Israel for half a year. It was a good deal for us both. I got a great discount on the rent of a fully furnished place, and in exchange, she had someone to house- and dog-sit; which was no trouble at all for me, since I had my own dog to walk anyway. One day, I came back from walking Jack and Zuki, and started talking to the doorman at the entry of the apartment building. We somehow got to the topic of 9/11. He told me that the apartment right above mine belonged to a man at the time, who worked in the North tower. He didn’t come home that day. They lost several residents in that apartment building. You could tell he still had a hard time processing it all. As I laid in bed that night, I remember staring at the ceiling, thinking about the apartment right above me. That man I didn’t know and never will. How empty and eerie his apartment must have been the night after the attack. I imagined the phone ringing in the dark, from friends and family trying to reach him, still hoping for an answer at that point.

I decided to plan a break in my scheduled tasks the next day, and visit ground zero.

I had never been to the lower part of Manhattan before. So I tried to guess my way around a bit, not knowing exactly which corners to turn. But all of a sudden, you could feel it. I hadn’t even turned the last corner yet, I couldn’t see how close I was. But I could feel it. There was a very particular vibe lingering. And as I turned the last street corner, there it was … like a painful open wound.

Ground Zero world trade center wtc twin towers 9/11 september 11th 2001 - site under construction - spring april 2007

Ground Zero world trade center wtc twin towers 9/11 september 11th 2001 - site under construction - spring april 2007

Ground Zero world trade center wtc twin towers 9/11 september 11th 2001 - site under construction - spring april 2007

Strangely, I remember a friend of mine mentioning that same heavy vibe he felt when he visited it 5 years later or so. It was still a massive construction site when I saw it, all still down to ground level. You couldn’t make out any old structural outline, nor see any new foundation of what was to come. As I walked around the whole place, I noticed this little church across the street and decided to check it out. It turns out it was a key place during that day, as well as the following months. Something they never talk about here on European TV.

Saint Paul's Chapel Manhattan New York City church 9/11 september 11th 2001 ground zero april 2007 six 6 years after spring memorial

Saint Paul’s Chapel, also known as “the little chapel that stood” is the oldest surviving church building in Manhattan. This is actually the back of it. The chapel served as a place of rest and refuge for recovery workers at the WTC site. For eight months, hundreds of volunteers worked 12-hour shifts around the clock, serving meals, making beds, counseling and praying with fire fighters, construction workers, police and others.

The church survived without even a broken window.

Saint Paul's Chapel sycamore tree stump roots 9/11 september 11th 2001 metal debris memorial church ground zero world trade center wtc towers

Saint Paul's Chapel sycamore tree stump roots explanation plate artist steve tobin 9/11 september 11th 2001 memorial world trade center manhattan new york city wtc ground zero

Church history declares it was spared by a miracle sycamore on the northwest corner of the property that was hit by debris. The tree’s root has been preserved in a bronze memorial by sculptor Steve Tobin.

Saint Paul's chapel churchyard church graveyard cemetery old lower manhattan new york city spring april 2007

Saint Paul's Chapel bell of hope church lower manhattan new york city 9/11 september 11th 2001 memorial spring april 2007

Saint Paul's Chapel church bell of hope explanation text plate plaque monument memorial 9/11 september 11th 2001 spring april 2007 world trade center wtc ground zero

Saint Paul's Chapel church lower manhattan new york city back entry facade graveyard cemetery churchyard graves headstones old spring april 2007

Saint Paul's Chapel church inside interior pink blue spring april 2007

Saint Paul's chapel church lower manhattan new york city inside organ inside interior pink blue tourists spring april 2007

Saint Paul's Chapel church lower manhattan new york city inside interior exhibition 9/11 september 11th 2001 memorial photograph picture ground zero world trace center wtc

More about Saint Paul’s Chapel:

Flashback: Curaçao 2010

Continuing with the monthly flashback series I started last month, here’s a look back on our second vacation together which was spent on the Carribean island of Curaçao.

curaçao 2010 vacation holiday Curacao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino review

I remember Gert mentioning during my birthday dinner in March 2010 that Curaçao was one of the few places on Earth he’d really want to visit some day. I just looked at him and said “Then let’s go”. He looked at me very confused, as he didn’t seem sure whether I was joking or not. I said “Seriously, let’s go. There’s no point putting this on the list of things you’d maybe do one day, because most people say those things and then they never do it and end up with regrets when they’re older. Or maybe they end up dying prematurely and then never get to do it.” Yeah, I’m morbid and straight to the point like that. He laughed and was like “okay!”. So we booked our tickets a few weeks later.

We ended up absolutely LOVING this trip and we often mention going back. We stayed at the all-inclusive Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino. The whole vibe there was soooo relaxed. Honestly, I’ve never had such a relaxing vacation in my entire life. Although Aruba came close; but I’ll write about that later.

Curaçao is a super cozy little island with a constant sunny weather and a nice 30°C all year round. Do they even have a weather forecast? I remember the hotel channel always showing a little sun and the same temperature every single day. It’s located outside the hurricane belt, so it’s a fairly safe choice at any time of the year.

Most of our week consisted of: lounging around at the hotel’s private beach, the pool, the jacuzzi, our balcony … it sounds super boring, but I promise it’s not lol It was just heavenly! We did rent a car at one point and toured the island by ourselves for a day, and visited a few touristic highlights as well as the capital city of Willemstad (which is more like a pretty laid back town). There’s no denying the island used to be a Dutch colony, as the Dutch influence is VERY visible.

We loved the fact that it’s not overcrowded nor flooded by tourists. Although I can only speak for the month of April, which is when we were there. Maybe the Summer months are more hectic. The hotel itself was also very quiet and we often had one of the pools and jacuzzis just for ourselves. The best part about staying at a Marriott Resort is the food! ❤️ Breakfast buffet was to die for and so was dinner every night.

Anyway, if you ever get a chance to visit Curaçao: please do! I highly recommend it!

Beautiful Memories

As 2016 has just started, I’ve been busy backing up all our pictures from 2015, as I do yearly around this time. It seems we take more and more photos each year. The amount we have accumulated so far is a bit overwhelming. At this point I’m just glad I stayed on top of it all and have everything neatly organized and backed up. After I finished up the last details of my 2015 folder, I started going through our entire photo collection and reminisced about our very first vacation together in 2009. I can’t believe it’s almost been 7 years! Where did the time go?

Ever since I started this blog in 2013, we’ve actually only been on one vacation since; which was in Croatia this past Summer. Our most beautiful trips happened before my blog, and so they have never been posted here. I feel like sharing them one by one in the next few months, because they are really beautiful memories to look back on.

Italy was our very first vacation together as a couple. The ultimate test, basically. Were we going to get along while being with each other 24/7 during one whole week for the very first time? Haha! It was exciting! I had never been to Italy before. We spent an entire week around the Amalfi Coast area and stayed in Sorrento for the most part. We visited Capri, Positano, and the impressive ruins of Pompei, as well as the Vesuvius volcano. We had such a grand time there. The weather was amazing, and as for our relationship test: we passed it successfully! 😄 Not one argument, not one disagreement. Only beautiful memories. 💕 I guess that’s when I knew for sure that we were going to last. And after all, what more romantic place to spend your first vacation together than Italy, right? *sigh* It feels like yesterday yet also like an eternity ago. Does that even make sense?