Tuesday, July 25, 2017

NYC - Day 7

They say that all good things must come to an end. The New York portion of the trip was a good thing but it was time to end. On our way out of the city to the second half of our trip, we went to the New Jersey side to catch the boat to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We rented a car so I got to drive in the city and enjoyed it.

George Washington Bridge


Don't buy your tickets from street vendors because only one company serves the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island - Statue Cruises. You can chose either of their start points - Battery Park at the tip of Manhattan or Liberty State Park in New Jersey. We drove to NJ for our departure. Skip this if you aren't into maps (but shame on you for not being into maps!). I love maps. Hardly a day goes by that I don't stare at one for some reason. My parents instilled this in me. Back to NY or NJ - whichever side of the center line (and the center red circle) that you are on. Manhattan is an island with the Harlem River to the north, the bay to the south, the Hudson River to the west, the East River to the... well yeah, east - this is where all the disposed bodies from Law and Order rest. Brooklyn and Queens are the 2 boroughs of NYC on Long Island but the eastern portion of Long Island (not pictured) is not part of NYC. Staten Island is at the bottom of this map and is one of the boroughs of NYC. The Bronx (another borough but not pictured) is north of Manhattan. It is the only portion of NYC that is connected to the main land. It gets even more fun because each of the 5 boroughs is a different county. This has to make for some really interesting local government interaction. You'll also notice that Ellis Island and Liberty Island are on the NJ side, but Liberty Island is in NY jurisdiction. So, you might go to NYC to see the Statue of Liberty but if you go to the Statue, you're in Jersey but you really aren't.

For those who survived the map lesson, thank you. Below is the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal.  Our journey of the bay from the Jersey side kind of put us on a reverse track from the immigrants of the late 1800's on in to the 1900's.This is where you would end up after being processed through Ellis Island.

1st landing, Ellis Island. I am fascinated and very moved by the plight of the immigrant. I can't blame someone for wanting to come to the United States of America. I'm biased, but it's the greatest country, not only in the world, but throughout history. Early in the 1890's, immigration went from being state regulated to federally regulated. Beginning in 1892, Ellis Island served as the entry point for immigration for 62 years. 12 million people were processed there. Over 100 million or the current 326 million U.S. citizens have had an ancestor go through Ellis Island.

 The Great Hall is a spacious area
for its 21st century visitors but was
anything but at the turn of the 20th century.

 Some of the currency that was
exchanged here.

The sleeping quarters pictured below give you a very slight idea of how crowded this place was. 3 rows high and 3 rows deep. Families would often be separated while waiting for their background and medical reviews. One of the most heart-wrenching stories that I read was about how children might get sick and end up in the infirmary for weeks and could only receive a visit for 5 minutes a week from one family member.

One of Scott's favorite pictures is
from one of the windows at Ellis Island.
I guess it reminded him a kid who wanted
to go out and play on the great big
playground called Manhattan! 

 From Ellis Island, you hop on the boat
again and cruise on over to the Statue
of Liberty. I know I posted pictures 
earlier but you're never really satisfied
that you got "THE Picture" so here are more:

 We had to get this picture when it occurred to us that we had seen many images of this lady but never her back side! This is where you enter to go up to the pedestal or the crown. Scott tired of waiting for the elevator and did climb those 192 steps but neither of us went on up the remaining 162 steps to the crown. Perhaps those who go on up to the top find it worth while, but we really didn't see anything particularly great about the view from or the walk around the crown. It definitely wasn't worth the frustration of going through security. They tell you that it is similar to airport security but there is one thing worse than TSA and this is it! We should have read better before we went so here's a warning to anyone visiting: you can only take your camera and any medication you might need. There are lockers for purses, camera bags, etc., but they require 2 dollar bills. You must have those bills. Nothing else works and no one bothers to tell you why your 5 isn't working. Then, when you finally get change, it may or may not like your bills. It's an incredibly insufficient system and the park personnel aren't sympathetic. We were by no means the only people expressing frustration!

These guys were in the bonus package 
of the Liberty Island

One last look...

 That's it. We went back to Liberty State Park, got in the car and quite literally put NYC in the rear view mirror as we headed to Annapolis, Maryland, for the beginning of the 2nd half of our trip. I must confess, I was very sad when I saw the skyline in the mirror. I truly understand why so many "I love NY" souvenirs are sold. 

I plan to do one more post on the city. It'll be some of the things that aren't necessarily touristy, but will feature some of what I really like about the whole new experience called New York City. Thank you for staying with me this far. Annapolis, New Jersey shore, and Westpoint are yet to come.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

NYC - Day 6

Tuesday was our last full day in New York City. As I wrote earlier, the hotel was just 2 blocks from the bus and subway. The subway is quicker and there's often an interesting event taking place but I really like taking the bus. From the bus, you can see where you are going and take in the sites en route. Every day as we walked from our hotel in Queens to the bus stop for the short ride into Manhattan, we would see this...

One of the companies for the street vendors was just across the street and they would pull out every day as we were stepping out. This was our bus stop, right past the fruit stand. You can see the subway enclosure in front of the tall building.

After MoMA, Scott wasn't quite sure he wanted to take in another art museum but I convinced him that he would be glad he did... and he was. I think we could enjoy the museums much more if we weren't worn out with walking, and standing (which is worse). The pictures don't even begin to display how massive the Metropolitan Museum of Arts is. The Met (main location)is located on the 5th Avenue side of Central Park.

When I was at the museum in October, I didn't have much time and told my Mummy that I could skip the Egyptian section. I had no idea how good it was. Scott headed straight there and took dozens of pictures in the Egyptian gallery. Here are some highlights:

While on the trip, I completed Ron Chernow's exceptional biography titled, Washington: A Life, so I was particularly interested in portraits of the Father of our County. There were many more than this.

 Ben and me.

 This was my favorite from the Arms and Armor gallery:

 I could not find this one again last month but
I was drawn to this one in October. If you 
know me, you know why! Hint: color.

Most museums run special exhibitions throughout the year so a good museum never gets old!  This song book was from an exhibition in October: Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven.

Did you feel safe riding the subway? We've been asked this a few times. My answer is always, "Yes", and has been since I took my first subway ride in Washington DC, as a teenager. Since then, I've journeyed on the transit systems in 10 cities. It's better than 6 Flags! Even when strange people get on a car, it still felt safe. Once, a young couple entered, introduced themselves to the entire car and he turned up a small amplifier and played guitar while she sang. He emphasized over and over how he just wanted to brighten our day but that bit of goodwill didn't stop them from collecting tips:) Three different times, persons boarded the train and in a loud robotic voice, introduced themselves and told their hard luck story. They made sure we knew they just wanted any granola bars, sandwiches, etc. that someone might have but, they too were happy to take money. Interestingly enough, their scrips were all the same with just a few details changed - I thought it had to be some kind of organized racket. 

Below is one of the Times Square entrances (yes, we were back there again!). This station is the busiest in the United States with more than 60 million passengers passing through in 2016. The picture in this article shows the entrance we used the most. I guess that makes us a statistic.

You can also see a Duane Reade store in this picture. DR was bought out by Walgreen's in 2010. One of the two is around every corner! There are over 300 of the 2 stores in NY with over 150 in Manhattan alone. Find the one you need by checking out the website map link.

Need to park your car? Here's a solution. We passed by several of these from the bus and didn't get a good picture so I had to ask Google for a picture:

We finally got to take our boat ride. 

I actually enjoyed the view of the Statue of Liberty from the boat as much as being up close. Unless you are wanting to see Ellis Island (coming up in the next post), spend your money on a boat ride - this too is better than 6 Flags.


From the October trip:

It's time for Ray's.

My parents love to visit NYC (and I understand why). They stay with someone very close to Times Square and have taken in a few Broadway plays through the years. The "day of" ticket booth is right at 7th Avenue and 47th Street. There, you will find same day tickets anywhere from 20-50% off and availability can change at any time. Following my dad's EXACT instructions, I went to the last booth looking for the black lady, about my age. When I walked up, she asked her routine question, "what are you wanting to see." I said, "Well, my dad sent me to your booth." The look said it all - I was crazy. Then, using his words, I said, "He's the fat man from Arkansas." She immediately lit up and said, "That's your daddy!" Scott showed her a picture of him and we immediately became friends as she stuck her hand through the tiny payment cutout and grabbed mine. We visited like long lost friends. She recommended we see Bandstand and set us up on the 11th row with aisle seats. He told me she'd take care of us! So, since we can't afford "The Room Where it Happens" (that would be Hamilton)...

We very much enjoyed the 1940's music and dancing in this play about musicians who had just returned from WW2 and were trying to start a new band. The story line wasn't exceptional. It basically provided a good backdrop for some excellent music and choreography. Although it was a pleasant PG-like for the adult content, it did contain some unnecessary language. 

Currently only 4 theatres are actually on the street, Broadway. But it's not the street name that designates whether a show is a Broadway show or an off-Broadway show of off-off-Broadway. Off-off Broadway theatres hold fewer than 100 seats. Off-Broadway has 100-499 and Broadway theatres, like this one, hold 500 plus. I guess not everyone can have The Muny with it's 10,000 seats!


And when the shows let out, it a madhouse (click here) - the fun kind - you know, better than 6 Flags. Along with a few hundred other people, we stopped at Juniors Diner after the show.
It did not take long to decide we weren't staying in line half the night to get a table but we did get in the bakery line for some Junior's Cheesecake. Some say it's the best in New York. I think they might be right. Scott was excited to see that they had a sugar free version. I opted for the devil's food cheesecake. We didn't munch until we got back to the hotel but it was well worth the wait!

Scott finally got a Nathan's hot dog in NYC. 

PSA: Notice the mesh drawstring pack he's sporting (it's Cardinals, in case you can't tell, but that's not the point). We found this to be an excellent way to carry a few things (water, water, and more water) around for the day. It's light weight and if we needed anything else, it keeps expanding. Many people carry full backpacks and they look so uncomfortable - especially when they are in front. This is the recommendation from many travel websites. It's too easy for the bad guys to open the zippers from the back. Not so with our little drawstring option.

It was our last night crossing over the street from the subway station. I had to stop, look, and take pictures. It's hard to tell but there's a train straight ahead and others in the station on the right. Standing there, I really thought I'd miss it all - I was right. I wonder if I could have pitched a cot and stayed the night there? Maybe not.

 Crossing the bridge with cheesecake in hand.