So many things done and seen, yet we still had explorer passes we needed to use! The month that had seemed so long before, was very quickly disappearing..
I had fun sorting out the options, to see what we really wanted to do out of the remaining options and of those, which ones we would be able to do.
We did the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour, which was really great!
Each person receives their own audio-tour guide. The history there is SUPER interesting!
Before visiting, I never knew that the Statue of Liberty was actually a gift from France to America! They did everything – designed, built and transported it. All America had to do was build a pedestal.
Unfortunately, the ‘American Committee for the Statue of Liberty’ ran out of funds. So Joseph Pulitzer came to the rescue. He owned a paper and used it to appeal to the people of America.
“It is not a gift from the millionaires of France to the millionaires of America, but a gift of the whole people of France to the whole people of America.”
He encouraged people to donate to the building of the pedestal and published the name of every contributor in his paper, no matter the size of the contribution. (Most were under $1).
Ellis Island was no less fascinating. With the immigration boom from 1892 to 1954, over twelve million immigrants entered America through Ellis Island.
The audio guides were absolutely great for this part of the tour. We heard stories of people who had come from all over Europe.
There were a lot of requirements to be filled. Mostly, the federal government didn’t want immigrants coming in to become a burden to the country. Sickness or legal trouble would keep you from entering the country.
Sometimes there were sad stories. A grandmother who was sent back, for no reason other than that she had a black fingernail. She had no family back in Europe and the women telling the story was still very broken over the memory.
There were lots of different voices telling stories in the different rooms. A lot of old people who had been children during the time Ellis Island had been really busy.
Overall though, the people were helpful. Even though Ellis Island was known as ‘the island of tears’, only about 2 percent of the immigrants were not granted entrance.
They really did try very hard to help the immigrants enter America. There had to be MANY translators. One woman spoke such an obscure dialect of Russian that there was only one man who could understand her. (Out of I don’t know how many translators.) Another old lady who was told to read had a very kind translator. He opened the Bible and told her to recite the “Our Father” and so she made it through with no problem.
Men standing in line, worrying about the fact that they had no money to show the official, were suddenly a couple of dollars richer. The law required that you at least be able to pay train fare to where you need to go. After passing the checkpoint however, a man was standing ready to take back the money. The boats that brought the people from Europe also didn’t want people to be unable to enter America, as they were only paid according to the people they were able to deliver.
Most of the “six-second medical inspections” took place in the Registry Room (or Great Hall).
There were two more things on our list that were kind of ‘minor attractions.’ One was Coney Island.
I don’t know if we would have visited Coney Island if it hadn’t been for our explorer passes.
I really liked Coney island. After all the big rush of the Disney parks and Sea World, it is small and homey. Sophia loved it – she is exactly the right age for it. ^_^ She might have gone on the big thrill rides with us at the parks, but that just isn’t her comfort zone. Luna park, with its typical fairground rides was awesome.
The Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO walking tour was one of our ‘we-would-really-like-to-do-that’ items.
Franci said I should add this photo of our packed lunches.
Brooklyn Bridge is another very ‘New York’ thing that many people will recognise from movies.
At the time the bridge was built, it was huge – much taller than any of the structures then standing in New York.
Now, not so much. 😉
The Central Park walking tour was one of the two last things we did with our explorer passes. The other was to go on ‘The Ride.’
We definitely would never have done that if it hadn’t been for the explorer pass! It was a kind of bus tour, but way better.
The whole one side of the bus is completely made up of windows and the passengers face that side of the bus sitting on rows, like a grandstand.
As the bus is driven past familiar landmarks, such as the Empire State building and the New York Public library, two comedians entertain the passengers with random trivia and special effects. At every other stop, they would actually speak to a person on the sidewalk and in then that guy (or girl) would give us a solo or a little act, right in between the normal New York bustle. Some people would stop to look, but most didn’t even pause.
Because it was so close to Halloween, the theme had to do with ghosts and such. It was still extremely funny and very well done. When we reached Columbus circle the bus was filled with classical music and outside, next to the centerpiece, two people danced a classical ballet just for us.
It made up for not being able to go and see a Broadway show. 😉
(Oh, and by the way – a show doesn’t actually have to be on Broadway to qualify as a Broadway show. It just needs 500 seats or more.)
We also got to celebrate New Years in Times Square. ^_^ (Even though it was October and we were technically in a bus – we were still celebrating New Years. 😉 )
We procrastinated visiting the MET until it was almost too late! When we finally did, we were sorry we hadn’t made time before. But our time was up – we could only spend one day there.
It was close enough to walk to and we had a very interesting time. Here are some of the photos I like which didn’t make it into Karin and Sophia’s blog.
To live on the Hudson river meant that whenever we had to get ashore, we needed to launch the dinghy.
This job became more of a challenge as the weather started turning, because the waves were much bigger, but mostly just because we were really cold.
We had awesome views though.
Three more random photos before this blog ends!
Here we are sitting in one of the many little “parks” dotted around New York. If you look on the map and see a tiny little green patch, it could quite likely turn out to look something a lot like this.
The second random photo is outside the house they used for outside shots in the “Cosby Show”. I don’t know how many of you know the show, but we have just recently finished watching the entire thing. ^_^
Last but not least – I found a photo of that interesting ‘Trader Joes’ trolley lift! It’s awesome!
Okay, now I’m done. =)