Statue of Liberty Crown Tour

Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
Trip End Oct 14, 2011

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Flag of United States  , New York
Saturday, March 5, 2011

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My friend, Bill, and got up early, grabbed a quick breakfast and caught the subway to Battery Park where the ferries leave for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  We had vouchers for Crown Tickets.  They allow 12,000 people to purchase tickets for the ferries only each day and an additional 3,000 people a day can purchase tickets for the ferry as well as the museum in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty but they only issue 240 Crown Tickets a day, which include the ferry and the museum in the pedestal as well as the chance to climb up to the Statue of Liberty's crown.  The additional cost is only $3 but getting a Crown Ticket requires some advance planning due to the limited supply and high demand. 

We first had to exchange our vouchers for actual tickets.  We found the correct line for that and got our tickets.  Then we had to get in another, much longer, line for a security check.  Next, we had to wait for a ferry.  And then wait to get off the ferry.  Then it was on to a line to get a locker, since I couldn't take my camera bag up to the crown.  Then into line for another security check.  Then you get your appointed time to go up in the crown.  Then you get together with your group where you are given the final details of your climb to the crown.  And then, at long last, you get to climb the 354 steps to the crown. 

The walk up through the pedestal is rather dull.  When you reach the body, the view is much more interesting since you can see the internal construction of the statue.  You soon wind up in a narrow, circular staircase and it gets dull, again.  Eventually, you wind up at the viewing area in the crown,.

The viewing area in the crown is quite small.  The viewing ports are covered in glass, which I suppose makes sense but, for some reason, I thought they would be open.  The amount of sway on a windy day, such as today, is very noticeable.  After a short visit, we headed back down.

Now a visit to the Statue of Liberty is interesting.  Getting to see the museum in the pedestal adds to the experience.  And getting to see the inside of the statue and the view from the crown also add to the experience.  But, after having done it, much of the day was a lot like spending the day at an airport with all the lines and security checks.  I suppose I'd recommend doing it but it's probably not for everybody.

After coming down from the crown and finishing going through the museum, we then got back into line for the ferry to Ellis Island.  We got off there and walked through the exhibits fairly quickly.  We then got back into line for the ferry back to Battery Park.  We really spent a lot of time in lines today.  And this is on a rainy day in March!  I'd recommend going on a weekday.

We walked from Battery Park to Wall Street, past the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall toward the east side of Manhattan.  We found our way up onto the Brooklyn Bridge and walked part of the way to Brooklyn before turning around.  You get a nice view of Lower Manhattan from the bridge.  We walked down off the bridge and caught a cab to the Empire State Building.

Someone had mentioned to me that the flow of visitors to the Empire State Building had been changed.  I was hoping that that meant it had been improved.  I didn't notice any improvement.  You now go through security checks before boarding the elevator to the observation deck.  To get back down you're now routed through the gift shop.  The new areas you go through have been give an Art Deco look but most of what you see on the 2nd floor is new.

Anyway, in spite of again feeling as though we were spending time at an airport, we got to see the view from the outdoor observation deck.  It was a windy night and it was uncomfortable, at times.  After a couple laps around the observation deck we got in line and, after walking through the gift shop, of course, caught an elevator down to the lobby.

We had a 9:00 dinner reservation at Eleven Madison Park, which is around 10 blocks from the Empire State Building.  We walked the 10 blocks and arrived at roughly 9:00.  They had a little trouble finding our reservation.  I didn't know it at the time, but they had sent me a cancellation e-mail since I had not called to re-confirm the reservation.  In spite of the lack of a reservation, we were quickly seated.

Eleven Madison Park ranks 50th on Restaurant Magazine's World's Best Restaurant list and has a Michelin 1-Star rating.  The setting is quite nice.  The restaurant is on the ground floor of the Metropolitan Life North Building, a landmark Art Deco building built in the 1920s.  The main dining room has 35-foot ceilings with large windows looking out onto Madison Park.

We both ordered the tasting menus.  In Bill's case he ordered the standard one while I ordered a vegetarian tasting menu.  There was no information on the menu concerning what we might be served; it was entirely up to the chef.

I'm not going to try and describe each of the courses; I couldn't do that without having taken copious notes, which I didn't do.  We did receive menus to take home with us.  That was the first time we saw a written description of what we had been served.  I believe that we both ordered what were described as 8-course tasting menus but, in fact, we received 13-course tasting menus plus a couple amuse-bouche and a jar of granola to take home.  In addition, a bottle of cognac was left on the table for us to enjoy before leaving.

It's natural for us to compare Eleven Madison Park to the restaurants we visited the previous two nights, Daniel and Per Se.  Daniel and Per Se are both Michelin 3-Star restaurants vs. a 1-Star rating for Eleven Madison Park so it's really an unfair comparison.  That said, Eleven Madison Park is punching well above their weight and compares rather well.  Executive Chef Daniel Humm has only recently joined the restaurant and their current Michelin rating doesn't seem to reflect the changes he's made. 

We both agreed that the dining room at Eleven Madison Park is more pleasant than Daniel's although not up to Per Se's.  Per Se had the best bread with the Parker House roll and Daniel had the best bread basket selections but Eleven Madison Park had a goat's-milk butter that I thought was the best out of all the butters offered by the three restaurants.  The service wasn't quite as good as the service at Per Se but it was better than the service at Daniel, although, to be fair, we did chose to eat in the bar area so our service might not have been typical.  The food was outstanding at all three.  At Per Se each course was consistently excellent.  Daniel was a bit less consistent and while there were some particularly great courses there were also one or two courses that seemed a little weak.  The consistency at Eleven Madison Park fell somewhere between the other two.  While at Per Se and Daniel I felt that my vegetarian meal was as good as Bill's non-vegetarian meal, I didn't always feel that way at Eleven Madison Park.  Some of Bill's courses looked more appealing that what I received.

After dinner we caught the subway back to our hotel and went to bed.
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