Saturday, June 11, 2011 – Ah…the final full day of our anniversary trip. Another day of overwhelming proportions…but we wouldn’t want it any other way! We woke up to some pretty dismal weather – the sky was very overcast and threatened rain. I had originally purchased a 3-day Flex Ticket to the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island because I was unsure of the exact time we wanted to go. However, after reading many online reviews, it was suggested that the earlier in the day you go, the better. So we set our alarm for 6:00 am to give us plenty of time to wake-up, catch the 25-minute metro ride, take a short walk over to Battery Park, and stand in line. The first scheduled ferry ride was for 8:00. We were easily there by 7:30, and met a fairly short line, probably 50 people deep.
Before we got on the boat, we had to go through security control and it reminded me of a regular airport check, where they x-ray the bags and you pass through a metal detector. The line, again, was fairly short, and we were herded like cattle onto the boat loading dock. Alas – we were on the very first boat over to the island! Liberty Island was the first stop, and it was only about 15-20 minutes…but on the way you get great views of the statue on one side and lower Manhattan on the other. Unfortunately, as we booked the NYC trip on a last-minute basis, we were unable to get tickets to the Monument or the Crown. Lady Liberty will just have to wait for us to come back one day! So when we arrived on the island, we casually strolled the perimeter, taking many, many photos! After a good 30 minutes of walking around, we decided to catch the next ride over to Ellis Island.
Once we arrived on Ellis Island, it started raining, so we used the opportunity to explore the Museum. Ellis Island was the first stop for many immigrants to the USA. You learn the history of the place by walking through various rooms, such as the baggage room and the registry room, etc. If you stand in the registry room and look out the windows, you can imagine how impressive it must have been for a penniless Norwegian peasant to stand here about year 1900. Out of the one window was the huge Statue of Liberty and outside the other was the skyline of Manhattan. It must have been a jaw dropping sight even after weeks or months at sea.
The rain (more like drizzle) continued to fall on our boat ride back to Manhattan. The rest of the morning was dedicated to seeing what lower Manhattan had to offer. The Financial District was first on our list. We passed the infamous Bull Statue (known for financial optimism and prosperity.) Sadly, we could not get a picture with the bull due to the inordinately large amount of posing Asian tourists. Oh well. We walked all of Wall Street taking in the NY Stock Exchange and Federal Hall.
We continued walking a few blocks over to the Ground Zero/World Trade Center site. Reconstruction is now underway, through it’s been slow and the physical void remains immense. The primary new building for the site, The Freedom Tower, will reach 1,776 feet. To the north of the site stands a tall glass building – the new WTC 7. It replaces the 47-story building that fell late in the day on September 11, 2001. We walked to the south side of the site and saw the Tribute Center where there was a timeline of events and pictures of the new memorial. Still all very somber here.
We then decided to head over “somewhere” near the Brooklyn Bridge. We ambled through the back streets and ended up at Pier 17 – a great little shopping and food extravaganza! We stopped and ate lunch at the Seaport Cafe…then continued up to the top floor of the shopping plaza to take pics of the Brooklyn Bridge. Since we were really the only ones out and about in the cold, rainy weather, we had fun making faces and strange poses! Then we marched on, following just underneath the bridge until we came to its opening. From here, we decided to travel up to the Suspension Cables and take a few pics.
As we were now thoroughly “showered” with rain drizzle, we decided to continue on towards China Town! I was looking down at the map on my phone telling the hubs, “It should be around here somewhere…” when I heard him chuckling out loud. I looked up and was instantly hit with a wall of Chinese words/signs. It was amazing. On one side of the street you have a normal looking brownstone. On the cross street, you have bright red/yellow/green characters! We walked through a few little shops and took in the smells of spicy cooking! Then I got the idea to continue on until we reached Little Italy.
Again…completely surprised when I looked up and saw a banner: one side was China Town, the other side was Little Italy! Literally paper dragons and lanterns on one street corner, and red/white checkered tablecloths and candles on the other! Amazing! We strolled through Little Italy wishing we hadn’t yet eaten lunch so we take in the atmosphere. There were young Italian men trying very hard to get us to come in andTaste the menu! You will love it!!”
By this time, we realized we were only a few miles from our hotel…so we decided to continue on foot. We walked, and walked, and walked, passing through neighborhoods, playgrounds, fashion districts, etc. Upon arriving at our hotel, we decided that our aching feet needed a bit of a rest! We laid down and ended up watching the animated movie “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.” Super cute! We asked the concierge about a great place the locals go for NY Pizza, and he recommended a place called Aperitivo. I was originally hoping for a hole-in-the-wall, pizza-by-the-slice kind of place, but the hubs and I actually really enjoyed this lil’ place. From here, we had the option to buying some last-minute Broadway tickets (we were considering Lion King) or head on over to an actual movie theater in Times Square. Being huge movie buffs…we decided on Times Square.
And we were not disappointed! The AMC 25 in Times Square was HUGE! We decided to see the 8:20 showing of X-Men: First Class…and we had to ride escalators up to the 5th floor! The theater itself was at least twice the size of a normal theater…the rows so high and steep I’m surprised no-one had vertigo issues! The movie was great, by the way. After the movie, we strolled back to the hotel for our final night in NYC. We set the alarms…snuggled into bed…and promptly passed out in under 5 minutes!
We took our time getting ready Sunday morning. We fully opened the blinds as it was a GORGEOUSLY sunny day to look down one last time upon St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We went downstairs, hailed a taxi, and were off to La Guardia.
Farewell New York…it was fun.