Day two: Tuesday March 8th:
Being familiar with the harrowing effects of jetlag I scheduled the Statue of Liberty for my first morning on my itinerary, knowing that this would almost certainly be the earliest I would be awake. I grabbed a quick coffee and bagel from Zaro’s Bakery in Grand Central – not the best bagel, but it was convenient – and I was off on the 4 train to Bowling Green, arriving for around 8.20am. I timed it right, as there were only a handful of people ahead of me on the reserved line, but the place quickly filled by 9am when the ticket booths opened.
I didn’t have any interest in visiting Liberty Island last year and was happy to see the statue from the river, and to be honest my interest this year wasn’t much greater – but who goes to New York City twice and doesn’t go see Lady Liberty? So really I visited the Statue of Liberty only as a means of preventing many future conversations questioning why I visited New York and didn’t go to the statue.
The lines are the most frustrating part of the experience. It feels like there is a lot of time waiting around here, but once you finally make it off the ferry the view across the Hudson is your postcard shot of Manhattan. Though the haze of another sunny spring day created what I can only describe as a “muggy” look across the city. It was like looking at Lower Manhattan through the bottom of a dirty beer glass.
I had reserved Crown tickets and made my way up there immediately. The climb up isn’t too bad. The staircase is very narrow, but it’s manageable. I found going down took a lot out of my knees, though, and they ached for days afterwards (no doubt combined with the magnitude of walking I’d done elsewhere). Bearing in mind that I had little interest in visiting the statue anyway, I find it hard to say that going up to the crown is worth the effort unless it is a “bucket list” item for you. It’s kind of cool getting a good look at the book, and I’m happy that I can now tell people that I’ve been inside the crown of the Statue of Liberty, but the pedestal and the museum – which is very good – are more than enough. I found myself thinking a lot of the Jackie Wilson song and the scene from Ghostbusters 2 where the ectoplasm brings Lady Liberty to life and she wades across the river to help save the city. Now THAT would have made the crown access worthwhile!
I decided to skip Ellis Island as I had much grander plans on my itinerary. After returning to Battery Park and taking a brisk walk up Broadway through Wall Street and all of the associated sights I arrived at the Woolworth Building for my 2pm tour of the lobby. This is such a grand old building and the quirks of the architecture are truly outstanding. Frank Woolworth certainly had some eccentric wishes for this place. The guide was extremely knowledgeable and informative and she didn’t hide her incredulity at some of the recent changes to the building.
Following a much needed coffee break at Blue Spoon on Chambers St I made my way down to the newly opened World Trade Center PATH station (what a building!) for the train to Hoboken. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the Trip Advisor poster who had posted the route along the Jersey side of the Hudson River, but I followed it from Hoboken all the way down to Exchange Place as the sun was setting (after taking an inordinate amount of time to figure out that I had to go through Hoboken train station to continue on the walkway) and it was a really beautiful walk. The view of Lower Manhattan is just sublime and One World Trade Center really sparkles like a jewellery store window display across the water as the sun sets.
I took the PATH back to World Trade Center and managed to do something I had failed to do on two sorry attempts last year – I found the Ghostbusters fire station! This is where the experience of a second trip paid off: Last time I made the mistake of believing that taking the A train, for example, to Chambers St would be the same as taking the 1 train, but they take you to completely different places. No wonder I couldn’t find the Hook and Ladder 8 on North Moore St! So this time I stuck to my directions from Google Maps and took the 1 train to Franklin St. As it turns out the subway is virtually in the shadow of the fire station. Unfortunately it is undergoing renovations at the moment, but I still got to see that iconic red door and that’s all I needed.
I had planned on eating at Distilled across the street, but it was absolutely packed so I thought on my feet and decided to return to one of my favourite bars from last year. I took the train to Times Square and legged it over towards 10th Ave, grabbing a slice of pizza and a beer from Rudy’s along the way to The Pony Bar on W45th. I absolutely love this place. They have a huge selection of beers and whoever is in charge of the music has impeccable taste. I took the (giant) pretzels with beer mustard to compliment the drinks and rounded out the night.
Best tip today: The 90-minute Woolworth Lobby tour is a MUST. It seems like a long time (there are shorter tours available) but it flies by. The interior is absolutely gorgeous and it feels like a real treat to be taken into parts of the building that ordinary members of the public will never see.