July 22, 2013

7/10/13 - New York City Tour

George would have avoided NYC completely if he'd had a choice.  Since I'm our de facto travel agent, I didn't give him much choice.  To see Boston, we took the subway into the city.  I knew that wouldn't fly here, so I found an RV park that had a tour bus pick-up right IN the park.  It was a little pricey to stay there, and the tour cost more than some, but it got us there with almost no effort and very few objections from George.

Our tour guide Albert was standard NY-issue:  loud, sarcastic, fast-talking.  After we went through the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan, he pointed out standard NYC icons as we drove past.  We spent an hour at Times Square (waaay too long--you can get dizzy looking up at all those buildings!)
Back on the bus to drive past tenements and buildings being demolished (as well as some that probably should be), a Navy ship that I'd never heard of and couldn't see, the 9/11 Memorial (you need a free pass to visit), the Sphere from WTC recently moved to Battery Park (which is a mess), and finally got off the bus near Wall Street.

We did a bit of quickstep with Albert's version of an historical NY tour.  (George calls it a "tornado tour".)  He started with Trinity Church, just an in-and-out to see the stained glass, I guess. We filed in, took 2 pictures, got pushed back out. 

We rushed on to Wall Street for the Stock Exchange building, then past the Federal Hall National Memorial, where George Washington was inaugurated.  Albert said the tour would continue up the street, then come back to this corner.  As soon as I heard that, I suggested to George that he should do a quick trip inside Federal Hall to get his NP passport book stamped while I continued on with the tour group to see Tiffany's. I think he got the better deal; I didn't even get to see in the window!
We hurried on to Ground Zero, which we mostly couldn't see because of construction signs.  The new Freedom Tower is almost done--they're working on the antenna now. When completed, it will be 1776 feet tall--a pretty good year for freedom in the US. 
The FDNY Memorial Wall dedicated to the fallen firefighters is across the street.  
Arnold hustled us to St. Paul's Chapel, where George Washington had his own pew. The back fence around St. Paul's is also across the street from Ground Zero, and became the main location of impromptu 9/11 memorials. Quite a few of them are inside now.
We zipped around the corner to St. Peter's to meet the bus.  Driving through the rain (what's with that?!) towards the Holland Tunnel, Albert pointed out some buildings that still have smoke damage from 2001.
The bus took us to Liberty State Park in NJ for the ferry ride to Liberty Island.  Before we did that, we stopped at a diner for lunch.  I think that was the longest stop we had...then it was back on the bus to a parking lot closer to the water.  Albert stayed with the bus driver, sending us on a long, rapid walk to the boat dock.  We had to go past the sheds for the old train station where emigrants went after passing through Ellis Island.  The old terminal is now a museum, now closed because of damage from Hurricane Sandy last October. 
There was a security check before we could get on the boat and finally head to the Statue of Liberty.  Because of extensive flooding from Hurricane Sandy, it just reopened last week.   Ellis Island (still closed for at least another year--they had 9 feet of water in the basement and it's now moldy and mildewed) was on one side.  
Manhattan across the river.  
Lady Liberty getting closer.  

Albert had warned us (and warned us and warned us!)  that if we missed the 3:55 PM boat, we'd miss the bus and would have to find our own way back to the RV park.  That gave us a grand total of 35 minutes on Liberty Island, not nearly long enough!  Of course, there wasn't any question about going up into the statue--you had to have your tickets BEFORE you got to the island.  George got his passport stamp at the visitor center, then we went the wrong way to view the front of the statue. Backtracking and bickering, we finally got our pictures, just before it was time to head back to the boat.
We didn't miss the boat.  The sky was bright blue with postcard clouds and even a sailboat passing in front of the Freedom Tower.
We headed to the bus for the long ride back to the RV park in Florida (that's Florida, NY).

Would we do it this way again?  Probably not.  Too much riding just to get to NYC and back. Too much hurry.  Too much time at some places, and not enough at others.   We agreed that we're probably not guided-tour people.  Would we go to NYC again?  Well, one of us would...

More pictures of NYC on Flickr:  New York City Tour 

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