Day 38 – It’s a Wonderful Town

24th July 2018

So, am going all touristy today and I can’t wait. My first port of call will be the Statue of Liberty, followed by Ellis Island and the Empire State Building. I already checked it all out and bought my tickets online so am raring to go.

I can get a ferry from Liberty Park just a few miles from where I am staying. I ride over there and can see the Statue ahead of me…

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I have done 4,504 miles to this point – from sea to shining sea. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco to the Statue of Liberty, New York City.

And what a journey it has been… through wind, scorching sun, 100+ degree temperatures, rain, storm and flood… never a dull moment.

And so it continues. I park the bike up only to find I have to walk half a mile to collect my tickets, then half a mile back to park the bike, then a further quarter of a mile to the ferry boarding point…. stop it.

Outside the ticket office, which is in a disused railway station, is a memorial to 9/11 and the members of the Port Authority who lost their lives..

The ferry is reminiscent of the one I took just 5 weeks ago to Alcatraz island

And whilst I am waiting I get some fantastic views of the famous New York skyline

We board the boat and it goes to Ellis island first… mmm I really want to go to the Statue of Liberty first so I ask someone if it’s ok to stay aboard. It’s fine but when I get the boat back to New Jersey I’ll have to stop off at the Statue again, but that’s not a problem for me.

The views are spectacular, by any standards… you really don’t know how impressive this Statue is until you see it for real.

I have purchased a pedestal ticket which means I can climb part of the way up to the top of the stone plinth… tickets to climb up to the crown are sold out until November… bummer!

I disembark and the first thing I come across is a motorcycle in a huge Perspex case… I bet it’s an OCC chopper, (Orange County Choppers), and it is. I do my best to get photos, but the reflections don’t help.

A very nice looker…

Into the shop and the first thing I do is pick up a foam crown for my grand-daughter… I’m going to have some fun with this!

I queue to enter the Statue and of course there is no lift so up we go

And upwards

Forgot to mention, it’s very, very windy today… again…. upwards

Am tiring now…. upwards

And at last we are at the top of the stairs and out into a museum area… I really like some of the displays showing how this iconic image has been manipulated.

The famous quotation… ‘give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ is from a poem written by this woman… yay

Information about the construction

And it’s former use as a lighthouse.

Then out into the hurricane blowing outside… and there she is towering above me with the panoramic views beneath her…

Must be time for a selfie… or two

I’m having a great time….

I make my way back down and view the Statue including the full plinth

It really is quite something.

I catch the ferry to Ellis Island, the former immigration centre.

It’s a huge building with loads of displays and information to read… all extremely interesting… the one standout fact for me is that the very first person to go through the immigration system on Ellis Island was a woman, an Irish woman at that… Ellie Moore.

I took loads of photos… natch… so won’t go into detail, just read what you like…

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I do most definitely recommend a visit to Ellis Island, but allow plenty of time to really enjoy the experience and take it all in.   One thing though, the issue around language and names, the experience of having your name anglicised is one that my ancestors went through, Raghillig becoming Reilly or Riley or any of the other English spellings reverberates to this day, reclamation of your language and heritage is therefore very close to my heart.

Back on to the ferry to Liberty Park in New Jersey.  I plan to take the bike back to my apartment and lock it up, then get myself to New York City and over to the Empire State Building.  I have booked a time slot for a night visit as I think the views of the New York cityscape at night will be spectacular so I need to be there for 10pm.

Once back at the apartment I have some time for a rest and look up travel arrangements into the City… right so I can get a bus to the local PATH, (Port, Authority, Trans-Hudson)… thats the equivalent of the BART in San Francisco, it will travel under the Hudson from New Jersey to New York.  Seems like a good service, but I don’t want to mess around with buses so I decide to book myself an Uber.  Looking on the map, the last station on the direct line from Journal Square, (nearest to me), is 33rd Street, which takes me to within a few hundred feet of the ESB… fab!  One of the stations it will pass through is Christopher Street… oh yes, that’s a definite for tomorrow as that is in Greenwich Village and the street where the Stonewall Inn is.

My Uber arrives promptly and it takes about 15 minutes to get to Journal Square.  I purchase a ticket, but it is all a bit confusing as there isn’t a great deal of information.. actually there isn’t any so I just get a one way thinking I’ll sort this out later.

The PATH is very good and it only takes 40 minutes to get to 33rd Street.  I come out into the night air and wow you certainly know you are in New York… the buildings all around are massive.  I look down a street and there it is in all it’s glory.. ESB!

I am so glad I decided to do this at night…. how wonderful it looks, even with the cloudy crown.

There is quite a queue to go in, but that doesn’t matter.. ah it seems many people haven’t pre booked, hence the long queue… the interior of the building also doesn’t disappoint…

very plush…

We enter a lift, this is the ceiling in the lift… (the sound is the other people in the lift)…

never seen anything like it before… so cool.

We exit the lift into a lobby where there are loads of people waiting for the second stage lift, however we are invited to take some stairs if we do not want to wait, (20 minutes apparently), so I do climb a few sets of stairs and then out onto the viewing platform.  The scene is just as I imagined it would be.. unfortunately there is a low cloud base, but that doesn’t actually hamper the experience at all… fantastic!

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I exit the ESB at 2am… what an experience!!  I have had the most wonderful day, am so glad I left this to last.  Now I just have to get myself back to Jersey City….. and thereby hangs a tale….

I walk over to 33rd Street to catch the PATH back to Journal Square, but I don’t have any change for the ticket machine.  It will only accept $5 bills, no coins or cards… mmm what to do?  Ah, there’s a newspaper shop with the grill half open so I wander over and ask to change some coins for a $5 bill… ‘I’m shut!’ ‘Oh!, I just need to change this….’ ‘Shut’… and turns away.  This is my first experience of someone being rude since I came to the US.. am shocked, especially as its now 2.30am and I am a woman alone, I would have expected a little more help.  I ask, ‘Is there somewhere else where I can get change?’  He just waves me over to the ticket machines.  I wander back over, but there still isn’t anywhere that will accept cards or coins.  I climb the stairs back out into the street.  Just at the tops of the steps is a food vendor, one of the many food stalls selling everything from hot dogs to Chinese noodles.  I ask him if he has a $5 bill and he does, but I also buy a chicken kebab wrap as I am actually quite hungry.  It is delicious.  I have the $5 in my hand ready to buy the ticket home and once I’ve finished my food I throw the rubbish in the bin… can you guess what is coming??

Back down into the PATH station and over to the machine… yep, can’t find the $5.. WTF!!!!!! I look everywhere.. I run up the steps to the rubbish bin, but can’t find it.  OMG what am I like… I am devastated… its now almost 3am, I’m all alone, I don’t have a $5 bill, its $60 to get an Uber all the way… what am I going to do?  I ask the nice vendor man if he has another $5, (I have lots of coins btw), he is suddenly very reluctant to help.  He says he only has one and needs that for his customers.  There are two men standing waiting for food, I ask them if they can change it for me… they look as though an alien fell out of the sky and asked them to take it to their leader.. I mean for fuck sake, don’t we, more or less, speak the same language!  They shake their heads, get their food and wander off.  I plead with the vendor to let me have his last $5… he really, really doesn’t want to, but in the end, I manage to persuade him, he is most unimpressed… smacked arse face or what!

Back down into the station, get my ticket and onto the train.  As I am walking out of the station I get the Uber app up on my phone and order a pool car.  It is going to be here in 5 minutes, but I have to walk to the pick-up point.  I try to follow the map to the pick up point, but am completely lost… at last I turn a corner and can see the Uber about 200 metres away waiting.. I head towards it.  My phone rings, its a NY number, I answer it.. nothing… it cuts off.  I look up and the Uber is driving away.. I shout after it futilely… it’s gone.  Oh Shit!  Now, I am in a back street, it is 3.30am, the street looks to be in a very dodgy area and there are one or two men wandering around.  OK, so just get on with it Pogs.. I order another Uber, an Uber X this time so it is just for me and will come to my exact spot.  It takes 7 minutes to get to me… a very, very long 7 minutes I have to say.

At last I get home… 4am… I’m shattered but relieved to be back safe.

What a great day… shame about the ending, but all in all absolutely marvellous.  Tomorrow is memorial day… I am going to the 9/11 memorial site and have booked a 2 hour tour, which I am very much looking forward to; The Stonewall Inn; and anything else I can fit in.  I have also booked a bus tour as I have limited time to see the city.

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