Sunday, September 27, 2009

Statue of Liberty

I finally made it to Statue of Liberty despite living and working rather close to it. Most locals have taken visiting friends and relatives to the famous Liberty Island, but apparently I haven't hosted enough tourists.
I can't even remember how I found out about the special night event. Probably from a newspaper. Basically, the Statue Cruises company had two special nights in September where they had boats going to Liberty Island for special night tours. I was surprised the tickets were not sold out when I looked on the website a week prior. I bought a pair tickets for J. and me.

The directions said we needed to go through airport security level of checks before boarding the boat, so we arrived at the entrance in Battery Park quite early. The sun was about to set and without sunglasses I was practically blinded by the light. Our tickets got marked off and we were directed to place our belongings in plastic containers that went through the x-ray machines. Luckily, we didn't have to take our shoes off. The whole process took a few minutes and we boarded the boat smoothly.

Once we got on the boat we climbed to the top level, which is the best place to grab photos and to take in the scenary. We got comfortable on the benches and were soon surrounded by people taking photos. I had some trouble getting a clear shot of the skyscrapers behind us. Once we got near the statue (face-on), everyone went crazy for photos. The sun was setting so the photos came out quite well with those pretty clouds.

Upon arrival, we headed straight to the cafe. The meal options were quite good compared to many tourist spots I've visited. Our tickets came with a meal voucher so we could have one entree and one drink. Passing the sodas, I saw a row of specially marked Statue of Liberty bottles. On the inside of the bottle there is a colored print of the statue which is magnified by the water. I decided to get it for drinking and as a souvenior.
I don't know about the capacity of the cafe seating during the day when the crowd is larger. For the evening, we were able to grab a nice table near a tree outside, with a view of the sunset and the Verrazano Bridge. The most romantic spot to eat a bacon cheeseburger and fries, ever!

After food, we walked around the island to the Statue of Liberty. I always thought it'd be bigger than it actually is. Maybe because I always see it from airplanes and tall buildings and afar. The torch and crown are the most impressive parts because they are so bright up close. The hand holding the book looks bigger than it should be. Granted, I guess the woman who was modeling it must have been really buff. You have to look closely at the arm holding the torch next time you're there. With so many floodlights, it's no surprise that the statue is visible from miles away. To get a night photo is difficult, I basically had to stand near the floorlights and get my photo taken.

Lights of midtown, the Empire State Building, and the long Verrazano Bridge are all visible from Liberty Island. If you toss a couple of quarters in the binoculars machine you can take a closer look at them. The wind blasting across the island made it pretty chilly to walk around. I can only imagine how cold people are during the winter when they visit the statue.

In the clearing, NPS had set up a screen where they were showing excerpts from Ken Burns's National Parks documentary. If you have ridden the subways, you have probably seen huge ads for this program. J. and I are both fans of his, although I didn't know Ken Burns until he spoke at my graduation and J. had known Ken Burns through PBS documentaries a long time ago. We both love to watch his stuff and point out the spots where he pans and zooms in on a still-photo. On the particularly night where we went to Statue of Liberty, we braved the wind and watched clips of the national park and interviews with park rangers. I bought two cups of hot cocoa when it got too chilly. They worked well as hand warmers too! I hope I get to go visit more national parks in the future.

On a sidenote, my birthday cake this year was one of the best ever, even though I ate it a day later after having dinner out with family. The cake was a custom order from Gabriel's Fountain, a restaurant that also made home-made ice cream. It was a two layer ice cream cake with fudge in between. Top layer was vanilla oreo and bottom was chocolate peanut butter swirl. They topped the cake with oreo bits and wrote the birthday message in light blue. I wish I had ordered a bigger cake because it was so delicious! If you're a fan of ice cream cake, you should call your local ice cream place and customize your next cake with your favorite flavors. It may be a bit more expensive than the regular ready-made ones you can pick up, but it's totally worth it.

No comments: