Liberty and old bones
Thursday saw us head off downtown to catch the ferry out to the great symbol of America and Freedom, The Statue of Liberty. It was a bit nippy as we set off, but quite sunny. It was a promising start to the day’s adventures downtown.
The Statue is big, no doubt, and dominates the skyline as we approach it in the ferry. Along with 300 or 400 others. And these ferries go across to the Island every 30 minutes or so. It’s lucky that the people already there get back on the ferry and continue on to Ellis Island. Ellis Island was the entry point for emigrants to the US from 1892 up until 1954 and has now been turned into a museum complex that retells the stories of these people, all 12 million of them. Quite an interesting spot. The emigrants came by ship from Europe. Ellis Island seems to have been the sort of place where they did all they could to let the emigrants in, except if they had a disease or were mentally deficient. Total contrast to Christmas Island and our boat people, where we do our best to keep them out!
Prior to getting on the ferry we had visited the 9/11 Memorial and the World Trade Centre construction site. The first Tower is up and claims to be the tallest building in the western hemisphere. The second Tower is due for completion next year. The 9/11 Memorial is a magnificent piece of work and despite its size is really quite understated, truly a place for reflection on freedom and sacrifice.
Arriving back at the dock from Ellis Island we headed back uptown through the financial district. The NY Stock Exchange is now totally cordoned off, preventing tourists dropping in! Or others on symbolic endeavours, peaceful or otherwise. All the workers seem to have to go through checkpoints and identification checks. Quite a security operation.
After a late lunch we headed back to the hotel to rendezvous with the Imlays who had arrived from Richmond on the train. Some soup in our room was followed by some red in the bar with them to recap the last few days and plan the following day.
Yesterday it was off early to see old bones at the American Museum of Natural History. They have the largest collection of dinosaur and vertebrate fossils from all parts of the world. There were the usual suspects on display, including T Rex, Tricerotops, Stegasaurus and other big bony guys. Even a Diprodoton from Australia. A Diprodoton is the largest marsupial known and died out circa 20,000 years ago. It is thought that Aboriginals in hunting them may have played a part in their demise. Not sure about this theory! Why chase one of these guys down, there would have been smaller and easier prey around. Many of the displays were actual fossils and not casts. Some were near complete finds. Fascinating place. We only had time to do the top 4th floor. You could easily spend a couple of days in this place going from top to bottom.
Lunchtime called and we headed off downtown to Greenwich Village and lunch at what is marketed as a cross between a Parisian steakhouse and a classic New York City tavern. Minetta Tavern. Not sure about the Parisian bit. But the signature burgers we had were pretty good and the potato fries were curly, crunchy, moorish things. Best fries that I think we have had on the trip. The place was packed when we arrived but thinned out around 2pm, some workers no doubt scurrying back to the office.
After lunch we had a short wander around the area, particularly Washington Square and lower 5th Avenue. The chess players in the Park Square were hardy types. It had dropped a few degrees and was quite chilly, so after a warming tea and coffee we headed back uptown for the hotel.
Today was Homealone’s birthday. Something special was required so in the morning we headed off for a short walk around our area in mid town. More buildings! But then we were off to Jersey Boys. Great show! Then dinner with the Imlays at Tony Napoilis. Big Italian feed this was. Much noise and crowdy but the food was great. Ambled back to bed.
We leave tomorrow for the cruise down to the Bahamas. It will be warmer one hopes!
The blog will be off the air for a week or so while we are at sea, we will report back in from Houston.