Really, this was our first real day, at least it was the first time we'd seen Manhattan in the day light and lots of light we had too, blue skies and a bright sun were out to greet us. Our first stop ( and first major sightseeing plan) was to head down on the subway to catch the Staten Island Ferry to try and see the Statue of Liberty and take in a view of Manhattan. Before we did head to the ferry terminal though we took in some New York food and bought our subway tickets (for more details of which head over to Norngirl's blog post 'There's no stopping to the sound of the NYC beat' as Norngirl is already ahead of me writing about all this )
The Staten Island ferry for anyone who doesn't know is a free service which transports people between the North East coast of St. George on Staten Island and the Ferry Terminal which you can't miss near Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan. After getting off the subway and finding our way above ground we instantly saw the giant sign and as always I took out my camera to take some photos - I think it's now an addiction.
Inside the terminal there was already a crowd gathered en-mass, in no order what so ever, by the door. Instead of joining the huddle, Norngirl went to get herself a soft drink from one of the shops and I went for a little wander over to the right of the big room. Just looking out of the window I wasn't expecting to see much but there with a green tinge was the Statue of Liberty looking back at me. Like meeting most celebrities in person, she was tiny!... but on this occasion we didn't need Father Ted to point out to this Dougal that this wasn't a small statue... it was just far away!
Intrigued by the spotting and after Norngirl was rehydrated, we got in the huddle and waited for the ferry to dock. Once the other passengers had disembarked, the doors opened and we all huddled like penguins into the corridor which led to the ramp to get on the ferry. Given the amount of people who got on before us, we weren't very confident of been able to get a seat on a deck or balcony or to be able to see much. Surprisingly though the Staten Island ferry is some form of Tardis! We found our way up stairs and found we had a choice of where to sit or stand. We chose the left hand side of the ship (though just to let you know that you can move about) and we got comfy leaning on a balcony so that we could take in the sights and take a few photos.
The sailing was fun and the views of Brooklyn and the South West tip of Manhattan were picture postcard worthy. The sun shone on the water leaving silhouettes of anything south of us including the major bridges to the south. In the bright sun we started to wonder if sun cream (something we'd joked about bringing with us) might have been a good idea, the weather was certainly a pleasant surprise. The views were great but the best views were yet to come as we still had the return journey to come.
Once you arrive at Staten Island you have to get off to get back on again. There are apparently a few things you can do for a while when you're there but we gave it a miss as we had a tightly packed itinerary to fit in. So we huddled off and then got in an even more humongous huddle to get back on. being at the very back of this bigger huddle we were again thinking "noooooooooo! We're never going to get a space on the left hand side again to see the Statue of Liberty etc". Turns out the Tardis ship we were getting on expands to comfortably fit any number and still has room to spare! A serious question to any native New Yorkers or Staten Islanders who might read this, where does everyone go to when they get on!?
We were more than happy to be able to get settled leaning on the balcony again and the ferry soon got under way. First we passed this lighthouse shaped building and what looks to be a golf course. Then it was a view of New Jersey before we started to turn and Liberty Island started to edge closer.
There she was. La Liberté éclairant le monde - Liberty Enlightening the World. Damn you France, why couldn't you have given Ireland or the UK a nice present like this!? Later in our trip we passed the French embassy and it turns out that France at least got a nice piece of real estate out of the deal.
The Staten Island ferry for the record passes close enough to be able to see the statue well enough on a day like the one we had and with point and click optical zoom lens you can take a picture as if you were as close as you probably ever would want to be without going inside.
In the distance from the Statue was Jersey City in New Jersey which made for a nice backdrop to the impressive stance of Lady Liberty.
As the ferry turned, we headed to the front of the deck to where you get on and off. From there you have a perfect view of lower Manhattan and a great perspective of the island and surrounding boroughs.
The Buildings are great to look at close up, a mix of old brick and new glass and metal. The contrasts and styles of the skyscrapers was pretty hypnotic to look at.
For free it was a great wee trip, probably the best bargain you're likely to find in the city and something I'd recommend anyone heading to New York to try. Even the old guy who works on the upper floor elevator of the Empire State Building recommends it too, so if you ever get chance, give it go.
We docked and were quickly off the boat and heading back to the subway to head uptown and carry on our list of to-dos. First was a quick look around the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park which had some brilliant tree decorations and other festive items and then we made our way to what my next post will be about - the Empire State Building.