It’s now Saturday morning (okay, okay – Saturday afternoon by the time I posted this!) and we’re already flying home tomorrow! I think there’s some amazing science project to be found in the study of the way time passes on vacation as compared to how it passes when you’re anywhere else, but hey, I’m no scientist. So instead, let me fill you in on how we passed the time on our second day in the Big Apple.
After the museum fun of our first day, the goal of our second day was to visit another big tourist destination. In fact, you could say we were going for the BIGGEST destination – the Statue of Liberty! Although we’ve both visited NYC several times, neither of us had actually visited the iconic statue before, though we did look into it on previous trips. The thing we weren’t considering is how important it is to pre-book this particular experience, so this time around, we booked the tickets well ahead of time (I can’t remember exactly when, but it was at least a couple of months ago). Although you can just walk up and purchase tickets, there’s no guarantee there will be tickets available for the specific time you show up for if you haven’t pre-booked. Also, there are different types of tickets – one that allows you access to only the pedestal (base) of the statue and another that allows you access to the crown (alllll the way at the top). For example, when we were there yesterday, there was a sign outside the ticket booth informing visitors that there weren’t any crown tickets available at all that day, so clearly pre-booking is important! Surprisingly, the tickets aren’t even terribly expensive either – our crown tickets were $21 apiece and apparently that cost all goes towards the ferry transportation as entry into the statue and Ellis Island (those are two different islands, by the way) is free by law. Not quite sure how that works, since there are different costs based on which part of the statue you want to go to, but I’m no expert on this stuff.
Having been through the statue now, I can safely say I really don’t see the point in only getting a pedestal ticket – it doesn’t even feel like you get to experience it because you aren’t all the way at the top! Before I dive into that though, let’s talk logistics. You have to pick up a ferry from Battery Park (or Liberty State Park in New Jersey), though you must first pass an airport-style security screening. For this reason, it’s recommended that you arrive early (up to an hour early on holidays, apparently!). Thanks to the lovely NYC traffic, we only arrived about 15 minutes early, but our Lyft driver dropped us as close as possible and, perhaps because of the rain, there weren’t a crazy amount of people there, so we were able to get through and on the ferry in plenty of time. Don’t think you’re done with security screenings yet though – you have to go through another one when you get to Liberty Island (where the statue is) before you can go in. Safety first I guess, right? Anyway, once you’re through that second screening, you’re good to go!
Now, let’s talk about STAIRS because there are a LOT of them in the statue! So many that I started having flashbacks to our visit to Belfort in Bruges, so be warned. To be fair, you can take an elevator up to the pedestal, but we hoofed it all the way up 215 stairs. Just before those start, there is a small museum about the statue, but we bypassed it. I was thinking we may get a chance to circle back to it at the end, but that isn’t an option, so if you want to visit it, be sure to do it before you start climbing.
As mentioned above, the pedestal is…okay. After climbing all those stairs, you find yourself in a smallish space with a door you can walk out and then walk around the base of the statue. It’s okay, but I really didn’t see the point of going only that far, so I’m very glad we booked crown tickets. That said, if we weren’t dealing with rain and fog, you definitely would have gotten some amazing views of Manhattan, even from the pedestal, but either way, I’d suggest shelling out a few more dollars for the crown ticket. Oh, but don’t forget that will involve more stairs (162 more, to be precise). There is no elevator option to get to the crown and the stairs are VERY narrow and windy, so be sure you’re ready to commit and feel like you’re physically able to do it before you begin your ascent. Scott and I felt echoes of visiting lots of buildings, primarily churches, in Europe as we made our way up the tight stairs, but we were very glad that there are two sets – one to go up and another to go down. In Europe, the stair traffic always seems to be two-way, making already-difficult climbs even harder as you had to let people going the opposite direction through. None of that here though! Eventually, you’ll make it to the crown, which is a pretty tight space and can get really hot in the summer months, all the way up to 120° F (according to the ranger we talked to, that’s the temp at which they would close access to the crown). There was a group of three in front of us who took their sweet time taking loads of photos, drinking from their water bottles, chatting, and generally being very inconsiderate of the fact that we were waiting for them to move out of the space to so we could look out of the crown and take our own photos, but that’s what happens sometimes. Just do some silent judging with your eyes and move on, like we did. 🙂 Again, the weather was NOT our friend yesterday, so we didn’t get to experience the amazing views we otherwise would have seen on a clear day, but it was still a really cool experience. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, going down was MUCH easier than going up (though you still have to be careful as the stairs are just as tight and sometimes quite steep, so use those handrails).
After Liberty Island, we moved onto Ellis Island, but before we do that here, check out some Lady Liberty photos!
After visiting the statue, we hopped back on the ferry, this time to go to Ellis Island. Before this trip, I thought they were actually the same island, but I was wrong! While the statue sits on Liberty Island, Ellis Island is a nearby, but separate island and was, for over 60 years, the busiest immigrant inspection station in the country. Who says you can’t learn new things on vacation?! The big feature of the island is its Immigration Museum, though you can also book a separate ticket to take a tour of the former Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital, which is still being restored. We didn’t do that (it’s separate from a statue ticket, so you’d have to have a good chunk of time set aside to do both), but the 90-minute guided tour through the space sounded really interesting, so I would do it on a return trip. We didn’t spend a whole lot of time in the museum, but it was worth the visit, especially when thinking about all the people who came through it as immigrants, looking for a better life in the USA.
Not as many photos to see from Ellis Island, but check ’em out anyway.
Thankfully, by the time we were back in Battery Park, the rain had mostly ceased (though it would be off-and-on throughout the rest of the day), so we were able to do some walking around. We were originally just going to catch a Lyft back to the hotel, but decided to take advantage of the slightly-improved weather and walk towards the West Village, which is where we’ve always stayed on previous trips. The energy in that part of the city is totally different from many other parts of NYC as it’s quiet and feels very much like a neighborhood, as opposed to the people-crammed craziness of so many other parts. We didn’t necessarily have any particular destination in mind, but we did manage to find our way to Magnolia Bakery, which we’ve visited on probably all of our previous trips, to pick up some sweet treats. After all the stair-climbing and walking we did, we deserved a little pick-me-up!
Just a few photos from this leg of the day.
This sculpture in Battery Park is called The Immigrants.
A little Christmas tree in Bowling Green, which was the first public park in New York City.
The Charging Bull statue is a popular place for tourists to take photos.
After all that touristing and walking, we went back to the hotel to relax for a little while. So nice to put our feet up! After wrapping up yesterday’s blog resting our feet, we made our way to Victor’s Cafe for dinner. Scott once again chose an excellent place as the food was SO good! Although not a small plate kind of place like Momofuku, we did get a few different things to get a nice taste of the menu. Check out the photos below to make your way through our food journey!
Scott had a dish called ponle ropa a la vaca, which has portions of ropa vieja (braised skirt steak in a delicious garlic sauce – very Cuban) and vaca frita (shredded skirt steak with red onions). Both of them were super tasty, as were the black beans they were served with.
Scott was definitely 2/2 on his dinner choices! Cuban food isn’t something we can easily find back home (though there are a couple of good options), so it was nice to find something so tasty and authentic. I highly recommended Momofuku in my previous post and I have to give Victor’s an equally positive recommendation, so put it on your next NYC itinerary.
After dinner, we decided to head to Industry Bar, very nearby, for a quick drink. It was pretty busy in there and we quickly learned why – not only were they offering 2-4-1s, but they were also hosting a viewing party for the episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, hosted by former contestant Phi Phi O’Hara. So cool! We ended up staying for the whole episode, but still left earlyish after a long day.
And with that, another day in NYC was in the books. We had a lot of fun, so here’s to another great one on Saturday!