After so many days of constantly being on our feet and pacing the streets of Manhattan this day was originally put together in the itinerary to be that little bit kinder to our souls. Whilst I can say, yes this would be the lowest step-count of the trip so far it is still miles more than a regular day back in London.
Starting off, it was ever so rude of us to not pay a visit to the First Lady of New York City. For some reason I forgot to cross her off the Lonely Planet list when I added it to the blog, but alls well that ends well.
That’s right it’s Day 4 and after a few spots from the top of the Empire State and 30 Rock we actually went to see her in person. It has been 13 years since I last made the trip on the ferry and this time it was in much clearer weather. Plus I knew where to stand on the ferry to take a good picture.
I kinda like this happy accident of weather as it looks like Lady Liberty is parting the clouds with her torch. Pretty much what the sculptor’s intent was. We know this as we managed to reserve a place to go inside the pedestal and so see the museum (at no extra cost).
Back in 2003 the interior to the statue wasn’t open because of 9/11, but now everything feels just that little bit more relaxed. Maybe it’s because there are two airport style scanning machines and a locker before they even let you into the statue. I mean, who can say for sure.
As pretty as the statue is (apparently the face is based on the designers mum, make of that what you will) there is only so long that you can stand and stare at it. So it was onwards to Ellis Island where we only just snuck on the ferry as one of the final handfuls of passengers. It helped that we were told to fill the space in which allowed me to legally jump the queue with gleeful abandon. Revenge for years of London tourism is sweet!
In these troubling times of mass immigration through Europe and the Trump presidential campaign (oh please say he didn’t win) the visit to Ellis Island was simultaneously sobering and enraging. The fact that millions upon millions of migrants flooded into the United States and very few were turned away is astonishing. Like you had to be incurable dying, insane or a criminal to not be admitted. Those feel like pretty decent criteria.
Anyway, we were getting hungry and the feel were already starting to ache so we headed back to Manhattan proper in search of lunch before our next visit.
The night before myself and the hub had discussed what truly American foods we still needed to try. We have a little list and were able to cross off one of these during a visit to one of the many delis near Battery Park. The humble Philadelphia Cheesesteak is something you regularly see and hear in American media so I’m happy to have finally had one. It was good and something I can see myself making at home now that I have tried it.
Bellies filled and pineapple Fanta in hand we headed up Broadway to our next destination – another place I haven’t visited since 2003 when it was still very much in a state of demolition.
Having visited the memorial to the victims of 9/11 all I can say is how impressed with how peaceful it is. It felt understated in an American way (not a dig, but this was never going to be the same as the memorial to the victims of the Hiroshima bombing) and I have to say that the two water features standing where the towers previously stood felt like a perfect tribute.
One thing that gave me a lump in my throat was a sign stating that a rose planted in the name of a victim means it would have been their birthday today. Next to it was a white rose carefully placed in the dot of one of the victim’s initials. Similarly, the listing if unborn children as part of the victim list was also incredibly sobering.
So. After both Ellis Island and the 9/11 memorial we needed something a bit lighter, which meant we went to check out Grand Central Station. I swear that walking through this station really made Charing Cross look like a steaming pile of crap. It just feels like stepping back in time or like how a train station in the world of Bioshock.
Another major plus point of this station is the awesome food market with everything a wannabe gourmet would want to try. This leads me to…
Right so this is a food item that I was actively seeking out for this trip to New York. When I first got the 1001 food book this smokey blue cheese has been within my internal top 10 most wanted. Why? Because who wouldn’t want to try a cheese that is both blue and smoked?
Originally I was just going to stick with a sample (which they did offer), but after one taste I just had to buy some. We went by a Duane Reade to get some saltines to go with the cheese as it would be weird to eat a wedge of cheese by itself and we needed a pre-theatre snack.
The cheese was gorgeous. Like I am feeling sad knowing that I can not get this cheese in the UK. Hats off to the people at the Rogue Creamery as this is an idea that feels like it shouldn’t work. But it does. It’s essentially a cheese that combines the creamy blueness of a dolcelatte with the light smokiness of smoked salmon. The sweetness of the smoking completely removes any bitterness you get from the blue parts of the cheese.
I could just keep eating and eating this cheese, but it’s probably for the best that I only bought $6 worth.
What is a trip to New York without taking in a show on Broadway? Well, this time it was possible one of the less orthodox things I have seen for a while. Now I love Nick Kroll and his creations on Kroll Show, which means that it was fortuitous that we were in town for him taking On, Hello onto the stage. Let alone having tickets for the first week of the official Broadway run! I don’t think I can explain exactly what this show was, but I can easily say that I spent more time laughing than not. It was fantastic.
To finish off we had a late night dinner in a diner and I tried a Monte Cristo sandwich for the first time. It was weird having a hot sandwich on sweet fried fluffy bread. I probably wouldn’t have it again, but I am glad for trying it.
Tomorrow is the last full day in New York. I’m feeling really sad about this, but since I know that I will be coming back it isn’t so bad. Right?