Today is the coldest day of the year so far. The maximum is 13 and it is just miserable. Some people reading this would love a winters day with a maximum of 13 but the weather reminds me of our time in New York, especially Day 3.
The morning started in a way that can only best be described as glacial. We had pre booked our tickets for the One World Observation Deck weeks before the trip (a necessity with this one), well aware that we ran the risk of little to no visibility, but we were extremely lucky on this day.
As our ticket was for 9am we decided to visit the 9/11 memorial beforehand. It opens at 7:30am so got up early to beat the crowds. Besides about a few runners passing through and a dozen police officers it was us and one or two other people at the memorial. The chilling temperature and somewhat solitary presence added to the somber mood of the location.
When I visited New York last in 2012 they were close to finishing the One World Trade Centre so it was good to finally see it complete. To say that the view takes your breath away is an understatement. The beauty of New York City never escapes me and seeing it all, being able to take it all in this way was a truly magical experience. It is certainly not one to be rushed. The Observation Deck offers a 360° view of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, Staten Island, New Jersey and upstate New York. Seeing about as far as we were the day before, Bear Mountain. Like perfect bookends.
The beauty of Manhattan being scattered with skyscrapers is that each one offers its own unique view. One World Observatory offers a beautiful close up of downtown Manhattan, but you are unable to see Central Park. That honour remains with the Top of the Rock, now my second favourite view in New York. We spent a few hours in the Observation Deck, as I am sure you will too (bring snacks!). The first lap was taking photos, so many photos, each step providing a new and interesting angle than the one before. Then another to take it all in without phones or cameras to distract us. Another one to hear the interactive show, which gives information and history about the ever-changing skyline. Plus a few more to take it all in before it was time to leave. Not that there is a time limit on your visit, you are welcome to stay as long as you like but the day was well and truly getting away from us and we had so much more beauty to see.
When we finally dragged ourselves away from the beautiful view we made our way to the Staten Island Ferry, a free ferry running between Manhattan and Staten Island every 15 minutes to half an hour 24 hours a day. It is really the best way to see the Statue of Liberty, the way it was intended to be seen, by boat. There’s plenty of room for everyone to get a good shot of the iconic landmark, better yet it’s free! When you arrive at Staten Island you will be made to disembark and re-enter the terminal should you wish to make the round trip back to Manhattan. The trip takes about half an hour and you most likely had to wait to board the ferry anyway so while you are there you might as well explore Staten Island, you won’t be disappointed.
Staten Island is a beautiful borough, which I think is thoroughly under rated. Quaint historical houses with a view of the harbor and the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines. Me personally, I’d much rather live somewhere that has the view as opposed to living within the view itself. Last time I visited we disembarked and re-boarded the ferry to go straight back again, this time I wanted to see what Staten Island had to offer, and boy was I impressed. A visit to Snug Harbour will have you stepping back to the 19th century with beautifully restored mansions and cottages converted into Museums and Galleries. There is something to do for the whole family from a Secret Garden with a Maze to a Chinese Scholar’s Garden complete with Cherry Blossoms and a Chinese temple. Built in China, the temple was transported to Snug Harbour then completely reassembled on site. It cost around $5 per adult for entry. Where we entered it was the back of the temple and honestly looked like nothing, I thought I had wasted my money and then we found the front and as soon as we crossed that threshold it was as if we had been transported to Ancient China. The temple itself is deceptive, it is much larger than it looks from the outside and every little room or walk way has so much intricate detail it is hard to believe you are in a Megacity like New York.
The temperature dropped dramatically from the morning when we were at Snug Harbour. The freezing temperature (we had a potential snow forecast) and rain meant that we had the whole place practically to ourselves. Aside from staff and groundskeepers we were completely isolated in a city that is home to over 8.5 million people. It was completely surreal.
I cannot recommend Snug Harbour enough, especially if you are going in winter as the overcast nature made for an eerie historical transformation. As you leave the St. George ferry terminal in Staten Island, follow the crowds to ramp D to catch the S40 bus for a short ride to Snug Harbor. Ask the Bus Driver to tell you when you need to get off for Snug Harbour, entry to the park is free itself and is beautiful enough to wander around and admire the restoration without paying entrance fees to various activities.