End of the line

Trip Start May 01, 2006
Trip End Sep 01, 2006

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Flag of United States  ,
Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Our sightseeing bus tickets were due to run out at midday so we had to get into town to get the early bus and finish off the uptown loop. We hopped on the New York subway down to Grand Central Station which was beautifully restored and very impressive. We have voted the NY subway to be the best train system we have traveled on - mainly because it is air-conditioned and very comfortable. It was also cleaner than either Paris or London, with no beggars.

The next 2 hours were spent on the uptown bus - this time with a very good guide. The weather was once more against us and although it started as a drizzle, it soon turned into a downpour and we retreated downstairs. We did the full loop and then had lunch in midtown. We jumped back on the subway to get the train to the very end of the island - Battery Park. This is where you get the ferry to the Statue of Liberty - but you have to ask 10 people for directions if you want to find it. There are no signs and the whole park is being ripped up and reconstructed. MTV Music Awards were also setting up on the edge of the park so we had to walk a 2km detour to find the ferry. Once we got there, we encountered the world's worst security guard. He must have been incredibly bored with his job and/or life in general because he was obnoxious beyond belief. He made the people in front of us strip off belts, shoes, jackets - empty every used tissue out of every pocket and generally just hassled them. This of course held us up as well and when I tried to change lines I was sent back - even though the four other lines were completely empty. Consequently we missed the boat by 2 minutes and had to wait an hour for the next one. Can you imagine how impressed I was with this service?

Digression: This impression that American "service" is superior to anywhere else in the world is utter rubbish!! This "Have a Nice Day" myth is just that - a total myth! Without exception we have encountered the rudest people on the planet. If you can manage to get their attention, they look at you as if you are an alien. They mumble their response and if you dare ask them to repeat themselves they roll their eyes back and repeat their answer in the same mumble. They have no desire whatsoever to actually serve you and they act as if they are doing you a huge favour taking your money away.
In contrast to this, the normal "person on the street" is really nice and they go out of their way to help the stupid tourist asking stupid questions. I even had a guy give up his seat on the train for me. We have certainly encountered both ends of the spectrum in New York.

The boat trip to The Statue was wet! When we got there it was wet. We then discovered that if you actually wanted to get IN to see the museum, you had to book the tickets 2-3 days in advance. Tickets are not available on the island - only on the mainland. Problem is - not one guidebook or person told us we needed to book ahead. We did one circuit of the island and hopped straight back on the boat. Ellis Island was very different - a beautifully restored three storey building with a very impressive museum display - totally FREE!

We returned to Harlem on the subway and had a great dinner in a local restaurant.
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