Monday, October 24, 2011

NYC: Day 5

For our last day in New York, we had Magnolia cupcakes (we split a chocolate and a red velvet), a black and white cookie, and an apple. I think that's pretty fitting.

And speaking of typical New York, our last day also included our long-awaited Statue of Liberty tickets!

I should first mention that the subway was epically late due to a derailment on our line. We fought our way onto the platform and after about nine subway trains went by, Dave finally managed to squeeze onto one. I made it about one or two trains later. We arrived at the dock about an half an hour after our planned departure time, but luckily they allow you to use your ticket later than scheduled. Because I had bought reservations, we also got to breeze past the HUGE line. I like to think of those people as "steerage."

On our way to Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty sits, there is Ellis Island, where the immigrants were actually processed.

We didn't get off here because the subway fiasco ate into our time, and there was no way we'd make our plane if we had disembarked at Ellis. Nonetheless, I'd like to try to learn more about my family history and actually look up some people the next time we're in New York.

I expected the Statue of Liberty to be touristy and hokey, but actually she was even more beautiful than I imagined her. I really don't know if any of my relatives came through Ellis Island, but to see the statue is to feel everything that America represents and promises. It may sound stupid, but I got a little choked up.

We arrived at Liberty Island and got our asses in line for the tour. Out of the thousands that they grant island access to each day, only a few thousand get to ascend the pedestal, and out of those few thousand, only 240 get to go all the way up to the crown. You had better believe that Dave and I were two of those lucky few!

We had to put everything into lockers except our cameras as a safety precaution. Our tickets included audio tours of the museum, which showed the various designs that the statue could have followed. The museum also contained some pretty great propaganda posters that featured the statue.

Then it was time to make our ascent. The people right behind us were French and I actually got to speak to them a little bit to explain when the tour began. Pretty fitting, I think, to be inside a French Statue representing the beauty of America, speaking French with some fellow tourists!

The climb was 8 stories of pure hell, I'm not going to lie. This is not because I was out of shape (which I kind of am), but because after two or three stories, the climb turns into VERY narrow spiral staircases that are built quite literally for a tiny immigrant worker in the 19th century. Val is big, very big, by comparison, and does not appreciate heights. But I made it up anyway.

There's me in the crown, and you can see the slits behind me. Pretty cool! The crown will actually be closed from the weekend after we visit until a year or two. This is to make some repairs and to install the torch camera. I felt pretty lucky that we got to make the ascent before they shut her down for an indefinite time.

The descent was even worse, since you can really see how far you will fall if you slip. The people around us could hear a colorful array of cuss words coming from me; hey, maybe they thought I was a real New Yorker!

Actually, I should take a moment to point out that Dave and I really felt at home, personality-wise, in New York. Everyone jokes that New Yorkers are kind of neurotic, beaten down, grumpy, etc., and Dave especially fits that description. And I certainly cuss enough for anyone. Plus, we both tried to dress nicely all weekend, so we actually were mistaken for New Yorkers many times. That was nice, because I really do try to blend in when I travel.

We made our flight without a problem, and we even got a nice view of the island on our way out.

You can't see too much, but Manhattan is the Illinois-shaped mass with the big lake in the middle - that's the reservoir in Central Park from our first day.

I really loved New York, although I have confirmed my previously held belief that I could never live there. I would definitely like to go back, especially to see Brooklyn and some of the Manhattan sights that we didn't get to explore.

When we came back to Chicago, it really did look tiny, as my old judge had said it would. Now when I walk around the Loop, it doesn't feel as big as it once did. We want to watch some movies that feature the sights we saw, and now I really understand why so many movies and shows are filmed in New York. The whole place feels like the set of a movie.
"We'll turn Manhattan into an isle of joy."

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