Our last day in California, Georgia and I shamefully spent it doing absolutely nothing apart from watching films and drinking tea. We figured by this point that we had seen everything there is to see in the vicinity of Marin, plus every dollar saved here is a dollar to be spent in New York City.
Getting to San Francisco Airport was easy, staying in Marin means that you can catch the Marin Airporter coach that costs $20 from all major towns including; Novato, San Rafael and Larkspur among others, this takes you straight to your airline at the departure gate. A very smooth 5 hour flight entailed, but although there was little turbulence I still didn’t manage to get a wink of sleep for any longer than 20 minutes at a time. We left at 11:30pm and arrived 07:30am NYC time at JFK Airport.
We caught the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) train to Kew Gardens.
Kew Gardens is an upper middle class village in the borough of Queens, about 14km east of Manhattan. Our Airbnb was at the top of a small block of flats with the space being just about big enough to fit 2 single blow up mattresses by not enough room for us to be able to move around comfortably. To add to that we also shared the area job the hosts over friendly dog Hank who was a fond admirer of licking my foot throughout the night. We left our bags we began our first day of exploring the Big Apple. During my posts of NYC I’m going to detail our itinerary and restaurants and bars we’ve visited under the categories ‘sights, bites and pints’, which is a a masterpiece of rhyming when said out loud. In sulked no other travel site has used it as one of their slogans yet. Afterwards I’m going to share a small paragraph on my thoughts for that particular day in the city.
Sights. Area – Lower Manhattan
We began our journey like every immigrant who migrated to New York did by viewing the Statue of Liberty and visiting Ellis Island. We caught the metro to ‘Bowling Green’ which is the nearest subway stop to the Liberty and Ellis Island Ferry Terminal. As you exit the subway ignore the ticket touts in bright pink vests offering discounted tickets and walk through Battery Park. Walking though the park we admired the tame, urban squirrels occasionally looking back at the towering skyscrapers of the financial district looming over us. Arriving at Castle Clinton which was a defensive fort for the city in the 19th century which was built due to the apparent vulnerability of NYC that was demonstrated during the American Revolution. Walking though the fort we encountered the ticket office and paid $18 for the Liberty and Ellis Island tour. Once we paid for the tickets we boarded the ferry that took us to Liberty Island which took about 20 minutes and offered breathtaking views of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. It must have been such an amazing life experience being an immigrant passing her after weeks on a vessel with everything to lose and even more to gain. Once you depart the boat you’re given a free audio tour which lasts about 45 minutes. It was probably one of the best audio tours I have taken. It gave me goosebumps about 5 times whilst listening to first hand experiences of what it was like seeing the statue when cruising along the Hudson towards Ellis Island. The tour also told the story regarding the history of why and who built the statue – a gift given to the United States friend across the pond, France.
Next you get a ferry to Ellis Island which immediately strikes you with the red brick hospital wards and arrival building. Again – a free audio tour is offered which gives you vast information on immigration to America from the 17th century all the way to modern migration. The tour also took you back in time by going though the process of registration by guiding you around the registration hall and medical check rooms. Most immigrants were granted immediate citizenship, some who as diseases or who looked mentally unstable had to remain at the islands hospitals until further examination took place. Only about 2% of immigrants were deported back to their home country.
Arriving back at Battery Park in Lower Manhattan we walked across the park along Pearl Street. We were in the heart of the Financial District (FiDi to locals). As we walked further in the shadows of the colossal skyscrapers we arrived at the corner of Wall Street.
We walked past all the familiar buildings you see in movies; the New York Stock Exchange, Federal Hall and 55 Wall Street. Walking though the crowds of thick accented salarymen in plain suits, other tourists and panhandlers we arrived at Trinity Church. This symbolic house of worship is more of a tourist attraction than a religious building with many visitors going inside to pay respects, take pictures and buy souvenirs.
A short walk West of the Church was the North and South World Trade Centre Pools.
The sight where the former buildings once stood proudly high and mighty in the Manhattan skyline before the 9/11 terrorist attacks was a memorial to all of the people who perished on that tragic day. Every name of the people who died was inscribed around the perimeter of the foundation where water flows continuously representing the memories of those who lost their lives as a constant reminder of the legacy they left. Adjacent to the North Foundation is the 9/11 Memorial Museum. The entry price was $24 and it was a wonderfully designed building. Inside a impressive exhibitions told the story about the facts and details leading up to the day, during the day and the months after though real life artefacts, videos, news reports and information boards. We spent about 2 and a half hours here but could of easily spent double that of time permitted.
By this time the sun had set and we were looking for a place to have dinner. We walked about a mile to the TriBeCa area of Lower Manhattan (Triangle Below Canal Street).
This area of Lower Manhattan on the edge of the Financial District is home to many celebrities due to its laid back atmosphere, fantastic fine dining options and cocktail bars. The area is one of New Yorks most ‘arty’ with many art galleries dotted around and the location of the annual TriBeCa film festival. It was beautiful to walk around at night but after dinner it was around 9pm and after not sleeping the night before we decided to call it a day and get the subway back to Queens. Day One of NYC complete.
Our only meal out today was at Bubbys. An American Franchise offering ‘Southern’ American food. I had biscuits (scones) with jam and honey butter with chicken wings and coleslaw. A weird combination but a must try unless you go to Louisiana or any other southern state where you can get the real stuff.
No pints were to be had today due to our tiredness and eagerness for deep sleep.
Going to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis island was a great way to experience New York as it emulated what the immigrants went through when they first arrived. The Financial District was impressive but not a lot of time needed to be spent here, just take a few pictures and walk on. The 9/11 memorial was a fantastic museum and the foundations an interesting place to visit. We didn’t go to the One World Trade Centre Observatry but I’ve been told it is worth a visit. Eating out in TriBeCa was really relaxing. It had a safe and vibrant vibe with so many options for dining and drinking.
Statue of Liberty 10/10
Ellis Island 9/10
Wall Street 6/10
Trinity Church 5/10
9/11 Memorial Museum 10/10
World Trade Centre Foundations 10/10
Thank you for reading.