We opted to have a relatively early start so w could cram in as much as possible during the day. Dana and I were up and at ’em but Dar had a slower start-up as she hadn’t slept as well. W didn’t go far, actually, only to the corner, to that very Seinfeld look alike diner for a breakfast of omelets. And it’s a good thing we ate hearty as it was the last we ate until a late supper.
We had bought a tour package before we came that was to give us entry to a number of sites, with front of the line entry and unlimited use of a “hop on hop off” tour bus. Well. That proved to be a mixed blessing. We finally found the nearest stop for the bus only to get the craziest tour guide I’ve ever run across. And not crazy good. Highlights along the way that he pointed out to us were Victoria Secret and a liquor store. His comment on the Empire State Building was “you get in a line, you wait, you look out for 20 seconds, then you come down”. Oh, my. Certainly demonstrated a different perspective of the city.
Once we got off we made our way to the 9/11 Memorial. What a beautiful tribute to all those lives lost. It was so touching that they place a white rose by the names of those who have a birthday on that particular day. It’s especially fitting that the new subway station next to it has a sculptural top that resembles a dove in flight.
We then walked over to the new One World center where you can go up to the top floor – the 102nd! – to an observation area. A huge line awaited us, but then we found that we actually could wait in a much smaller one to replace our voucher for a ticket. That accomplished, it was then to another line to be let in, another line to go through security, another line to go up. But then – nothing short of amazement! The elevator ride had us thrilled, but it was over way too soon. 45 seconds, going 23 mph. But the fascinating part was on the walls of the elevator we realized it was showing us a rendition of how the area looked from hundreds of years ago to the present while it also gave us the elevation as we progressed. We were then shown an incredible wall of Imax like photos of the city, culminating with the very wall being quickly raised to reveal the city! Nothing but gasps! It was followed by actually being able to wander around in a complete 360 degree space to view the entire area. So worth all the lines.
Next we proceeded to walk to Battery park to see about going to the Statute of Liberty and Ellis Island. Well. More queues and more queues…. Same routine, but no head of any lines, and a mass of people with less than an ideal amount of order. After more than an hour standing in the hot sun we finally boarded the boat out to view Lady Liberty. Our time and patience were rewarded with beautiful views on a day with blue skies and scudding clouds.
Back to a line for the boat to Ellis Island. By this time it was getting late in the day so we didn’t think we’d have much time to look around. But as luck would have it, we happened upon a park ranger just beginning an introduction to the place. We melded right into the group, following along as he related the story of a young, 17 year old girl making her way to America from eastern Europe, telling us how things went for someone like her and for those not as fortunate. The story continued about her as we moved through the hall, but what none of us expected was the surprise ending – it was the story of the ranger’s own family! There was hardly a dry eye around with that revelation. What a marvelous way to bring the place to life.
And then it was the last line of the day to board the boat back and the challenge of finding the last bus heading back up town. After a quick refreshing stop at our hotel we went off to an Italian restaurant that Dar had spotted nearby, Trattoria Dell ‘Arte. A marvelous dinner for three hungry women.