Liberty, Harlem and Natural History

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Feb 20, 2014

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Where I stayed
77 55th Street
What I did

Flag of United States  , New York
Thursday, August 25, 2011

I was desperate for a sleep-in Wednesday morning, but given the poor weather forecast (or futurecast as the American News Stations call it - cringe) for the next few days I knew that Wed would be my best shot to view the Statue of Liberty. I had read and heard from friends that the line to get out to Liberty Island is insanely long and u have to be there early to beat the crowds. I got to Battery Park where the ferry departs by 9 am and had no trouble with queues for either tickets or the heavy security screenings. It is a short ferry trip out to Liberty. I had missed out on getting Pedestal entry tickets (only 3000 are issued per day to 'early birds'...lord knows how early that is) so I was disappointed that I couldn’t get any closer. The crown tickets (to the top) are only 30 per day and u have to reserve 6 months or so in advance! I went on the free Park Ranger guided tour that is run each hour and talks thru the history in great detail – only 6 people on the tour. At the end of the tour, I was very fortunate that the lady wrote on all our tickets that we could get entry to the pedestal!! I don’t think she was meant to do this based on the dirty looks I received when I went up to the attendants at the pedestal area, but I didn’t care cause I was so happy to get inside. Great Manhattan views and interesting to see the museum and the interior of the statue; all of which is not visible to the standard tourist. I now have a greater appreciation for this monument than I did before visiting and enjoyed the history of how it came about. I recall from the opening of the Bell Tower in Perth that Richard Court said that the Bell Tower is the same height as the Statue of Liberty and that always intrigued me – now I can put it into perspective. So of course, with this new found fascination I went a bit mad in the gift store and bought a few mementoes of my visit. I do love a good gift shop (something inherited from my mother I think). I’m dreading the journey back to Ghana carrying all my luggage. When I left Vegas I had to sit on my bag to get it to close!

The Liberty ferry also included stop-over at Ellis Island Immigration Museum. I think this would be much more resounding if u had US heritage. Mum would have spent a whole day here looking thru the many floors of exhibits but I was not overly interested. Although, I’m amazed at how many people they processed here – 5000 per day at its peak and 12 million in total. Massive numbers for the early 1900’s.

On Thursday I went beyond Uptown to Harlem to see the Apollo Theatre. This is a famous black music venue and where the Jackson 5 won a talent contest back in the late 60’s that started the ball rolling for them and MJ. Wandering down 125th street, I felt like the whitest kid on the block and in a foreign place. It was raining too. I didn’t want to hang about too long. I don’t think it is that bad a place, but I just didn’t feel comfortable.

I then trained down to the American Museum of Natural History, which is a massive place and u could spend a whole day here. Having studied 4 yrs of Environmental Science, I don’t have the fascination I once had for all things rocks, plants and animals but I did spend a few hours and particularly enjoyed the dinosaur exhibit which is what I think most people come for. This is the setting for the movie ‘Night at the Museum’ (which I have not seen, but still know enough scenes to recognise it). They have done a fantastic job putting together all the exhibits with amazing detail right down to the individual bug on a moss covered tree stump within the South American rainforest hall.

I ate my first American hot dog from one of the many street stands before heading to the Pompeii exhibit off Times Sq. I had free entry to this with my NY Pass but would’ve paid to go. Having just recently been to Pompeii and learning that most of the artefacts are now in the NY museums, I was definitely up for going to this exhibition. Very well prepared (no photos allowed tho) and they even have a volcano room where they replicate what the eruption would’ve been like and show photos of the excavation works. I think there were better mosaics and relics in the Naples museum but here had a lot more plaster cast moulds. One of a boy where u can see his eyelashes, plus his hands lifting his robe over his mouth in a futile attempt to filter out the ash/smoke. Plus a group of 16 skeletons that were all found in one house huddled together. So sad.

I enjoyed a salmon dinner at ‘Bubba Gump Shrimp Co’. Not sure what the affiliation is with the movie ‘Forrest Gump’ but obviously it plays on the shrimp company that Forrest and his war mate Bubba set up in the movie and there is a bunch of movie memorabilia throughout the restaurant. Overlooks Times Sq too. Nice way to cap off a busy day. Oh and I bought something from the Gift Shop too – a t-shirt that says "Run Forrest Run". It will be my new gym shirt.
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