nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic


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Rain? What rain?

Here are my top tips for visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island:

1. Don’t go on the rainiest day of the year. Especially when that rain is really cold and forms slushy puddles everywhere you walk. Go equipped with snow boots and heavy duty rain gear including thick gloves and umbrellas

2. If you do go on the rainiest day of the year you can wave goodbye to crowds and all those who booked to come here but didn’t come because of the rain. You will breeze on to the ferry, find a seat easily and despite the rain and general cold, have a pleasant journey from Battery Park to the Statue of Liberty.

3. Be happy you booked to go inside the Statue of Liberty – the Crown tickets. This is because there are no crowds (see 2. above) and because climbing hundreds of steps inside a copper statue in the cold is actually OK. Imagine it is 30 degrees C + and you are inside said statue, now that’s unpleasant.

4. Rejoice reaching the crown of the lady liberty, be slightly freaked out by being so incredibly close to the eyes inside the statue, staring at you; look outside the tiny windows of the crown and think ‘blimey, her hands are massive’ as you realise quite how large this statue is when you get inside it.

5. Congratulate yourself when you emerge at the bottom for not slipping on the incredibly narrow spiral staircase that goes up and down the inside of the statue. Forget the fact that you slipped on the way up the first, less narrow stairs, missed the bannister and bashed your head on the wall in a spectacular feat of clumsiness.

6. Freeze in the queue for the next ferry that will take you to Ellis Island. Feel smug that you brought lunch in the form of Bob’s Bagels stuffed with lovely cream cheese and other delights; no greasy over priced food for you on this trip.

7. Lament the shortness of the crossing that does not allow your tea to cool down enough that you have to dump it in the bin on the way out as you need both hands to drive the buggy. Buggy very necessary on very wet day to control toddler who is liable to sit down in protest anywhere and anyhow regardless of foul weather conditions.

8. Feel pleased for making the effort to get off the ferry at Ellis Island as it is a poignant reminder of the adversity of New York’s immigrant population. Think warm thoughts of 8 year old daughter who is actually interested in the history and listening with interest to the audio guide, taking us around the building where thousands, maybe millions of immigrants were processed to be allowed to enter America.

9. Smirk at your 3 year old toddler who is wearing headphones and no audio guide but thinks he’s just like his big sister. Chuckle when he picks up a phone in the exhibition where there is oral history on a loop and says ‘it’s Nana on the phone’. Bribe with Smarties smuggled in from England when he starts to get bored.

10. And leave, feeling like this was money well spent and that we really should have done this earlier in our stay in New York.

11. Trudge home from Bowling Green station and emerge at the other end full of thoughts of the past as well as more pressing thoughts about getting that cup of tea and actually drinking it this time.

12. New York tourist spots? Tick done.

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Learning a bit about Korea

A glorious sunny day and I take J to Battery Park. This is the park at the very tip of Manhattan, the place where everyone goes to get their boat out to see the Statue of Liberty. It is rammed with tourists but poor old Battery Park is still looking worse for wear many months after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Much of the park is cordoned off but there’s lots of activity going on to reconstruct it back to its former glory.

The park is host to many statues and at least two war memorials. The memorial to those who died in the Korean War (1950-53) is relatively new, having been erected in 1991 and is impressively modern. We were there for some time and very few people wandered over to this corner of the park, which was a shame, because it’s very thought provoking and a close look at the flags at the base of the memorial reveals some intricate mosaics.

I was so impressed I wanted to share it here. The first photo is the actual memorial, which is huge, you can tell from the size of the surrounding trees. Then below I have photographed three of the many paving slabs which come out from the memorial, like rays of a sun, to show how many countries were involved and how many men died, were wounded and those who were missing. The numbers for the US and for Korea are way in excess of anything I would have guessed.

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It’s like looking for the end of the rainbow

Well, that’s how it felt when we landed in Dumbo and couldn’t find the end of the Brooklyn Bridge. How’s that for a bizarre sentence? Dumbo is a district of Brooklyn, so called because it’s Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Sounds attractive, eh? It’s surprisingly nice. We took the East River Ferry from 34th Street and chugged our way down to Dumbo, which seems to be more under the Brooklyn Bridge than the Manhattan Bridge, but Dubbo isn’t quite so fun sounding. There is a beautiful restored 1922 carousel called Jane’s Carousel, where your kid can ride for $2 a time and go round and round on a horse with an odd expression. Check it out at: http://janescarousel.com/.

The whole area has been redeveloped so that you can sit along the water front and admire the Statue of Liberty some way off in the distance; watch the helicopters flittering about taking tourists for expensive trips to see the great lady and watch the boats of all shapes and sizes make their way up and down the East River. It’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon, but only when it’s hot.

Walking along the Brooklyn Bridge has been on our to do list for a while, inspired by Miranda meeting Steve on it in a key episode of Sex and the City. Well, I was inspired, but I digress. And even though we were directly under it (and it is huge), we struggled to find the Brooklyn end of it. It just seems to go on forever. We could see the pedestrians on it, we could see the cars but we couldn’t figure out how to get on the damn thing. We keep walking along the side of it, traffic fumes mixing well with the heat of the day and eventually find a tiny set up stairs off a dank pathway underneath the bridge.

And because we had chosen a busy weekend to visit, it was packed. The pedestrian walkway is separate and above the road for the cars and you have to share it with cyclists. It’s a fine line between trying to pass the slowest, photograph taking tourist and not getting mown down by a crazy cyclist as they speed along their half of the pavement. And it doesn’t help that someone decided to wrap half the bridge in plastic, so you can’t even see the views most of the time. And did I say it was long? Yes, it’s very long at 1.1 miles or 1.8 km. No wonder it took 13 years to build it in the late 19th Century. And no, there is no crock of gold at the end.