Friday, June 13, 2008

NYC trip - part 2:

After a good night's sleep, we got up early on Saturday morning to take the subway downtown to catch the boat from Battery Park to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We had bought the tickets a few months earlier online, but had some problems printing them out. So A. called them and asked what we should do. We were told to go to the ticket office at Battery Park with our confirmation and they would issue our tickets. Oh, and we should get there 90 minutes early, because the security line could get very long I on a holiday weekend.

We were scheduled for an 11:15 boat. We left the hotel, hopped on the subway and quickly found out that we would have to switch to a bus a few stops early because of track work. No problem. We got to Battery Park a bit after 9:30 and got our tickets.

At first glance, it seemed that it was a good call to get there early. The line was huge, circling a portion of the park and winding through a Disney-style queue.

Then we caught sight of another line with a sign that said "Advance ticket holders only". We went over there and spoke to the security guard. She asked to see our tickets, asked what time we were scheduled to get on the ferry, and told us to be there 15 minutes before departure.

We sat on a nearby bench to figure out what to do next, since we had nearly an hour before we had to get back. As we were sitting there the guard said, "Can I see your tickets again?" She took a look at them and said that they were "comp" tickets, so we could get in line any time. The printing difficulties worked to our advantage, and we were able to get over to Liberty Island a good hour earlier than we would have otherwise.

This was a good thing, since we would need every one of those minutes. We went through our first level of security before boarding the boat, everyone passing through a metal detector. After getting on board, we rode over to Liberty Island.

Once on the island, we made our way over to the Statue. They no longer let you go up the stairs inside the statue itself, but our advance tickets included touring the base. The base of the statue includes a museum about the statue and it's construction. We got on line, which afforded us this great look at the rarely seen back of the Statue of Liberty.

The line led to another security check; another metal detector and a chemical "sniffer" that blows air at you to make sure you aren't carrying any explosives. I had gone through one at Logan Airport a couple of years ago. They aren't fooling around on security in this place.

After proving we weren't going to do anything bad, we made our way into the base of the statue. The first thing you come upon is the original torch, which was replaced during the refurbishment of the statue in the 1980's.

We made our way through the museum, which is full of some amazing stuff. If you ever have a chance, make sure you grab the advance tickets online, since they don't always have same day tickets to get you into the base of the statue.

Once we made our way through the museum, the next step was to go up to the very bottom of the statue. There were two options - an elevator, then a walk up 24 steps, or a walk up over 150 steps. J. wanted to walk, so I went with him, while the girls took the elevator. We made it up (I was only huffing an puffing a bit) and we went into a small room where you could look up and see the internal structure of the statue.

You could also go outside onto a walkway, which gave fantastic views of Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey.

Finally, we made our way down and took a few more pictures of the statue from up close and then visited the gift shop. It was around 12:30, so we decided to grab some lunch from the standard overpriced concession stand (although the food was a step above what you might expect at a place like this). We still wanted to get to Ellis Island, and it was getting late in the afternoon.

To be continued...


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