For some reason I woke up around 2:30am and it was clear pretty quickly I wasn’t going back to sleep so I made some coffee and started working on the blog (what else?). I made my way out for breakfast around 7:30am.
I had 9am reservations for the Statue of Liberty ferry and took a Lyft from the restaurant back over to Liberty State Park. You can get to the Statue from either here or Battery Park in New York. Since I’d already known I was staying on the Jersey side when I bought the ticket in February, this made much more sense.
The ferry ride to Ellis Island was pretty quick; 10 minutes maybe? I wasn’t really paying attention. For some reason in planning this it never occurred to me that I’d go to Ellis Island. You didn’t have to get off the ferry here, I could have stayed on and gone directly to the Statue. But I figured, well I’m here, might as well.
I asked one of the attendants and sure enough: they don’t care how you got there or where you go next as long as you have a ticket. So when I was done I was able to take the ferry over to New York rather than back to NJ, and then a Lyft and a 30 minute bus ride back over the Hudson. I was pretty excited about that little development! So much simpler and quicker.
This was a full on museum which I wasn’t expecting for some reason. I wasn’t really in the mood but felt like I should at least check it out. They had a research center where I did try to see if I could find records of my grandmother coming over from Austria, which I know she did in 1912. Her name didn’t come up – maybe because she was only 2 years old at the time? – and I couldn’t remember her mother’s name (it finally came to me this morning, of course!) so I gave up after awhile. You had to have a name unfortunately; if they had allowed a search by boat and year I probably could have found them.
There were 2 movies about the immigration experience, I went to just one of them, about 30 minutes. It was good, gives you a lot to think about, especially how much we take for granted. One of the displays gave the history of the Americas which started with: “Despite the myth that North America lay ’empty’ and available for the taking, European explorers encountered over 200 different cultures whose ancestors had lived on this continent for thousands of years. Through armed conflict, Europeans seized the land and claimed it for themselves. This often entailed enslaving, subjugating, or removing native peoples to reservations against their will. Disease was an unintended instrument of conquest – millions of Native Americans died from foreign viruses to which they had no resistance.”
I was ready to go about 11am. There was a ferry over to the Statue at 11:05. My timing all day worked just like magic that way.
This was taken from the ferry, obviously. It circled around to the left side of this shot and docked.
There are several levels of tickets you can buy: Island, Pedestal, Crown. I went for Crown. At the end of this walk to your left were lockers where you had to store your stuff – no bags allowed, especially if you were Crown because of the narrow spaces. It was a good call.
Above and below were taken from the outside area of the Pedestal.
After I got enough of that I went on up to the Crown. There are roughly 25,000 visitors per day to the island. Only 500 a day are allowed up to the Crown. Glad I got my ticket in February, I had no idea it was so limited.
I’ve walked up many a steep spiral staircase in Europe. This rivaled any of them. Super steep, a very tight spiral. As you enter the guy said “I recommend you stop every 20 steps to rest even if you think you don’t need it.” And designed well – it’s actually 2 staircases, one for up, one for down.
They have 2 hours shifts only because it gets pretty hot up here.
It was about 12:15 when I decided I was done, and ready for lunch. Since I’d already decided to go to Battery Park from here, I thought Chinese sounded good since I knew Chinatown was an easy reach from there.
From Battery Park I had an easy subway ride into Chinatown, a transfer with maybe 2 stops on either side. When I first got out it was clear I was in Chinatown. Then it got very confusing as suddenly there were Italian delis everywhere, yet where I was headed was still several blocks away.
I found the above on Yelp, and it was what got me into the neighborhood. It really was the #1 listing on Yelp for this area. I don’t know how or if that plays into the sign!
I was on 2nd Avenue in Lower Manhattan which is the east side of the island. I haven’t been this far east below 50th best I can remember so decided to just walk it to see what I could see. I went through the Bowery and the East Village, which I really liked. It was very diverse – there was one block where I spotted all of the following restaurants: Indian, Chinese, Thai, Italian, Mediterranean. It was also great people watching.
The above was somewhere in the East Village. Blocks of this kind of look on the left and right as I moved up 2nd Avenue. Definitely not very touristy; it also felt very livable.
Eventually I took the subway back into the theater district. I wasn’t terribly hungry but had a 7pm show and knew I should eat before I can’t for 3 more hours. I decided on a hole-in-the-wall Indian place I found on 46 St east of 7th Ave. Completely forgot to take a photo of the outside.
Their special for the day was the saag (that’s the spinach dish if you’re not familiar with Indian food) which I love so went for that. Added ginger chicken which was incredible, surprisingly moist and full of flavor, with a kick to it. As did the saag.
Because you needed another Times Square photo in your life. This is the center of it at 46th Street.
I cannot think of Broadway show that’s been more hyped, at least in the last 5 years, since Hamilton opened in 2015. With outrageous ticket prices to boot. I almost didn’t do it but, when I was planning this trip and buying show tickets in January, I decided if I’m going to do it I should see it here since, generally, Broadway productions have a reputation as being better than whatever is on tour. But I don’t do well with over-hyped things, they rarely live up to it in my experience so I was coming into this with pretty low expectations.
There was a mother and daughter (tween to early teens maybe) behind me in line and I chatted with them a bit. They were from a small, conservative town in Oregon and had come here for Pride and to see shows. They were fun to chat with, so happy to be among their own kind. The mother said “I’m pretty liberal if you couldn’t tell.” I guess she was referring to the very purple patch of hair amidst her otherwise blond head.
That couple being photographed were sitting behind me, at least initially; I noticed just before the show started there was suddenly a straight couple back there so I don’t know what happened to these guys. At any rate, the one on the right was Extremely Chatty. They live here, he went on and on about how often they do shows, it’s their therapy, this is his 3rd or 4th time seeing Hamilton and promised me it would change my life.
That’s like the surest way there is to get my mind set on not liking something and only added to the jaded view I came in with :0
So what’s the verdict?
I had a really hard time understanding what was happening at the beginning of the first act because the words were so difficult for me to make out. Several people had suggested I listen to the soundtrack before I see it but I’ve tried that before and it never works for me if I haven’t actually seen the show. (The mother behind me in line is the same way…) Although after the 2nd or 3rd song I was starting to regret that decision – something with written lyrics would have been lovely – and was starting to worry I was never going to get it.
I don’t remember when that left me, but certainly more than halfway through the first act I realized it had sometime before. The story line is essentially about the founding fathers, primarily Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, with Washington, Jefferson and Madison also prevalent. The hook is they are all played by African-American actors and much of it is in rap (which I didn’t know until my friends John and Sherry Walck told me just a week or so before I left). Know that what I usually say about “rap music” is that it’s an oxymoron. Had I known that back in January I might not have bought the ticket.
All that aside, I’m a sucker for good performances and these guys were amazing, especially the Aaron Burr guy. The guy who played Hamilton wast not too shabby either. And a fun, cheeky performance from the King George guy (who was the only white male in the cast). And not all of it was rap, much of it was quite understandable, or maybe I just got used to it. And some of the music was quite beautiful. I also appreciated the very clever writing, with lots of quotable stuff which of course I can’t remember 🙂
I doubt I need to see it again – maybe in 5 years when the prices come Way Down. But I’m glad I saw it and that it opened my 6 show run on this trip.
Cursed Child is today and I’m stupidly excited about that.Tags: Ellis Island, Hamilton, New York City, NYC, Statue of Liberty, Steve Haas, Travel blog