We had been planning our return trip to New York for a long time and had devised a pretty full on itinerary before we even stepped foot in the city. Even though we have visited together before, it was back in 2009, therefore even though we have visited a number of the attractions before, it’s hard not to visit them again when you are in striking distance of them. We landed late at JFK and by the time we had made it to our hotel, The Wellington Hotel and checked in, it was almost 11pm therefore too late to do much so we just grabbed some room service and enjoyed a full night’s sleep in preparation for our first full day in The Big Apple.
Uptown Bus Tour
Our first port of call was to the Big Bus Tour Welcome Centre located on 7th Avenue near Times Square to pick up our 24 hour pass for their hop on, hop off bus tours. With the choice of two routes, we chose to do the uptown route first. The uptown route is certainly the quieter of the two, the other being the downtown route. We sailed through the Upper Westside passing a number of high-class apartment blocks including The Dakota, where John Lennon was shot in 1980. The bus then took us up through Harlem, which I’ll be honest didn’t have anything that really interested me and we certainly didn’t feel the need to hop off the bus especially after I saw an old guy stood on the side of the road with his penis hanging out! The tour then took us back down the other side of Central Park through the Upper East Side as I looked out for Serena, Chuck, Blair and the gang before we hopped off at The Met.
The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (The Met)
The Met was the first attraction we visited whilst in New York and is the largest art museum in the United States. It was also an attraction included in our CityPASS booklet. I wouldn’t necessarily say Mr ESLT or I are particularly arty but we did enjoy our whistle-stop visit to the museum. There are so many collections at The Met it would probably take weeks to see and read about every single piece. Unfortunately, we simply did not have the time, however we have added it to our list of places to return to next time we are in New York. We then jumped on the downtown bus loop and headed to lower Manhattan…
Statue of Liberty
Having seen Lady Liberty on our last visit to New York we spent a lot of time thinking about whether or not we should make the journey to see her again. In the end the choice was easy, we decided that she was definitely worth the trip out to Liberty Island. Last time we visited we had to wait in a queue for over an hour in the blistering sun to get on a ferry, this time however, and probably because it was January, we walked straight through security and onto a ferry, again another attraction included in our CityPASS booklet. The journey across from Battery Park to Liberty Island didn’t take too long at all, especially as we were busy taking snaps of the Manhattan skyline and each other, of course. Once at Liberty Island we spent around an hour wandering around, grabbing a hot drink to warm us up and visiting the gift shop. Tickets to get into her crown were sold out for the day, however my brother-in-law went up there a couple of years ago and said there is a very narrow staircase and not much room at the top. As I am slightly claustrophobic a visit was never on the cards for us. But if you want to visit we recommend booking your tickets well in advance as they sell out quickly.
Another reason for taking the ferry from Battery Park was so we could visit Ellis Island. The last time we visited the Statue of Liberty we did not have time to jump off there too. This trip however we ensured we factored an hour or so in to our itinerary. Ellis Island was the gateway for over 12 million immigrants to the United States as the nation’s busiest immigrant inspection station for over sixty years from 1892 until 1954. The main building now houses the Immigration Museum which we walked through listing to our free audio tour as we went. The tour took us through the whole immigration process including the horrendous medical procedures people had to endure. Even though we are not American and never learnt about American history at school, it really was an eye opener as to the lengths and treacherous conditions that people went through just to get to America for the chance of a better life.
The Charging Bull
Back on dry land the next attraction to tick off our itinerary was the Charging Bull which is a bronze sculpture that stands in Bowling Green Park in the Financial District. The sculpture symbolises aggressive financial optimism and prosperity, as the bull is leaning back on its haunches with its head lowered as if ready to charge and is one of the most photographed artworks in the city. Thousands of tourists visit the big fella every day and I was surprised to find that people were actually queuing politely to take a photograph of it, a rarity in New York. Whilst we were there we also saw a lot of people touching and rubbing its massive testicles(!) apparently for good luck – we didn’t!
Walking the Brooklyn Bridge
We had plans in Brooklyn that night so took the opportunity to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. As we arrived at the Brooklyn Bridge the sun was just starting to set. By the time we got to the middle it had completed disappeared and we got to see the State of Liberty lit up in front of amazing red sky. The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest bridges of its type in the United States. It took us approximately 1 hour to get from one side to the other, that was at a leisurely pace and we stopped a couple of time to take photographs. The walkway runs down the middle of the bridge with lanes of traffic on either side, it was a great way to get into Brooklyn, although by the time we got to our destination we were freezing cold from being out in the elements for so long.
Ice Hockey in Brooklyn
Our last stop of the day was the Barclays Centre, which is a landmark sports and entertainment arena located in Brooklyn. We had tickets to watch the New York Islanders v Montreal Canadiens. Having never been to an ice hockey match (are they even called matches?) we were excited to see what it was all about. First of all, we of course hit the bar, walking all the way from Battery Park to Brooklyn made us very thirsty. With our 4 cans of Corona in hand and our wallet $60 lighter we headed to our seats. The arena wasn’t that full but there was still a good atmosphere, although it was bloody cold, I suppose the ice had something to do with that! We enjoyed the very fast paced game and would definitely go to another one if I ever get the chance – and the New York Islanders won which was a bonus.
After an action packed, long, yet amazing day our feet were throbbing and we were in need of our bed as a good night’s sleep was needed ready for day 2 in New York.