Bari Azman and Sam from The Blind Life had a rare opportunity to meet up in New York City for a day of action packed sightseeing. This was Sam’s first visit to the Big Apple and there was only a short window of time in which to see all the sights. From Sam’s first New York City subway ride and viewing the Statue of Liberty to Fifth Avenue and Grand Central Station, Sam saw the Big Apple courtesy of Bari’s touring skills.
The day began in lower Manhattan with views of the Freedom Tower poking its astronomically high spires through the dense fog. It’s always a moving sight despite the weather.
However, there was no time to linger as it was past noon and Bari and Sam were long overdue for lunch. They grabbed some sushi on Wall Street before heading uptown. The two jumped on the #1 train to go to Penn station. The city could make itself friendlier for the vision impaired. Sam said it was difficult to see how to use his metro card and challenging to maneuver through the subway stations.
Despite that, it was an interesting journey that included Sam’s first ever New York City subway ride. “It’s an experience that neither one of us will ever forget,” said Bari.
The subway took Sam and Bari to Penn Station. From there, the two adventurers walked along 34th Street where the Empire State building is located. It was time to stop and grab photos of one of the most iconic skyscrapers in the world before heading to Macy’s Herald Square. From there, they trekked along Broadway to Times Square. After snapping a few photos in one of the world’s most famous locales, they walked passed a handful of Broadway’s finest theaters with their bright marquees.
A walk to luxurious Fifth Avenue showed Sam the vast contrast between the city’s various neighborhoods, and introduced him to NYC souvenir shops. Next stop was 30 Rockefeller Plaza – a must see in the Big Apple. It’s the home of the Today Show, Comcast NBC studios, and the famous ice-skating rink under the big bronze sculpture of Atlas. (There was no ice on this summer day.)
Then it was time to walk to Grand Central Station. However, Starbucks called their name and Bari and Sam took a detour to fuel up with a late afternoon snack and a dose of caffeine. The path to Grand Central included a walk along picturesque Park Avenue and a view of the magnificent Waldorf Astoria (currently closed for major renovations and construction). Grand Central Station turned out to be a welcome destination. The two intrepid walkers could finally cool down from the heat and humidity outside as they stood inside the station’s grand marble halls. While cooling off, Sam and Bari could also take in the soaring vaulted ceilings and gain an understanding of the magnificent architecture and allure of the famous landmark.
While inside Grand Central Station, they visited the famous whispering gallery, where the acoustics of the low granite arches can make a whisper sound like a full-blown shout. Voices follow the shape of the domed ceiling and make it sound as though someone speaking on the opposite side of the hall is standing right next to you speaking into your ear.
Then, Sam and Bari hopped on the S shuttle to catch the 1 train at 42nd street and head downtown to pick up Bari’s car. From there it was a short drive to Battery Park where Sam could see the infamous Statue of Liberty with his IrisVision. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime to see the grand lady and Sam was thrilled to actually be able to see her.
Then it was back into the car to travel up FDR drive for more sight-seeing, including a view of the United Nations building. Sam and Bari headed to the 59th Street bridge to go to Queens and before driving across it, they watched one of the Roosevelt Island trams in motion.
The day came to a close and Bari dropped Sam off at LaGuardia Airport for his return flight home to Kentucky. It was a whirlwind day full of magnificent sights and excitement for both Sam and Bari.
“I feel privileged to have toured New York City with Sam,” said Bari. “He is inspirational in s many ways. I saw the city in new and fascinating ways through him, as he was seeing it for the first time through IrisVision.”