10 December 2023

Exploring New York City

A beautiful New York day in autumn will almost certainly bring out the clouds.

Ok… Where was I?

I’m actually meant to be packing, but you don’t pass high school without a proper education in procrastination. So continuing from my previous post, I’m now backing up to two weeks ago, and I was working my way around New York. After the night before and my bright and vivid introduction to Time Square (see below) I went off to explore NYC in daylight (in some areas, you could be confused what is the sun and what is a neon light). My first task of the day was to pick up a New York Pass. They are brilliant. If anything, they get you to the front of ticket lines (unfortunately, not security lines – keep that in mind) and if you are determined to get value for money, you can race through all the attractions that it entitles you to.

And the first thing on the list was the Guggenheim museum. It may as well have been closed for the season, with only 3 of the five floors opened as the other two was sealed off as they put in a new exhibit. But the stairwell looked cool. The white paint, outstanding. Apart from that, all I seemed to take interest in was the walls of one dollar notes (that was one of the works of art on display). So a quick race around the museum (spent a good 8 minutes) and off I went to the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island.

Hitching a ride downtown on the subway (tip: I may not have mentioned before – buy a weekly unlimited ride metro pass, much more value for money than the pay as you go card. Thing about the subway is that it costs two dollars something, irrespective of how far you travel. If you intend on using the subway to get around, your $10 pay as you go card will only serve you 4 trips) down to South Ferry it was just after midday, on a warm Sunday… Not the best time to go to Liberty Island. Weather and views fantastic – crowds of people were not. On arrival the line went from the ferry and weaved in and around the park. If you remember what I wrote above, the New York pass was great in getting the ticket, but this line I speak of was the security check line. Yes, Heathrow airport faced a formidable opponent.

“Airport-like” security they bragged… Difference of course is that getting on a plane takes you further than across the Hudson river. Shoes, belts and apparently jewellery off. Bags checked and persons frisked, to get on a boat that takes from the pier to Liberty Island to see the oxydized-copper lady. One hour and forty minutes from joining the line to security check. But it wasn’t as bad as the four girls ahead of me that had pre-booked online for a 2pm ride. They had stood in line with us, only to realize they were in the wrong line. They were allowed to join another security line that was much shorter. So take note if you book ahead!

I think they Statue was pretty cool. You’ll have to line up yourself to see whether it’s worth the wait – I don’t want to deny you that experience. If you saw Hamish and Andy’s gap year where their prank was to talk someone out of seeing it when they had waited in line, you would appreciate how hard that gag was to pull off!

The ferry also spins around to Ellis island, where a museum stands where immigration processing was once operational for boats of immigrants trying to come to America. With stories of mandatory health and background security checks – walking around and seeing what was on display (and excuse the political reference), but in talking to another Australian traveller they tossed up whether one day Christmas Island or Nauru was going to be a tourist destination just like Ellis Island.

Off the ferry and up to Wall Street. Much of the street was blocked off with intense security to keep the occupants in line (no one was protesting yet). I have no concept of economics, but thinking back, there was a strange feeling that a lot of the world’s money and people’s livelihood sat on that street. Being a Sunday, I didn’t get to meet anyone in a suit that could give me their loose million dollar change – so that goes back on the bucket list.

I finished the day with a trip back to midtown to Rockefeller square and to Top of the Rock where I got to see the sun setting over New York. It was amazing. I don’t think my camera does any justice to the view – probably because night shots are not its greatest strength. If you want a great experience, Top of the Rock at around 5pm (or 6:30ish in summer) is the best thing to do in NYC.

You could write a whole blog alone on New York, but fortunately for you, I’m not doing that. But also fortunately for you, there’ll be another post on NYC shortly.

In the meantime, back to packing.

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