Back in March Nick and I were trying to work out whether it would be better to pre-book some of our accommodation and experiences or to go with a more flexible approach and book things as we went along. It’s a difficult call because there are some things that you cannot do on the fly – if you haven’t booked them months in advance then they will have sold out long before you arrive. On the other hand, if you do commit to being in a certain place at a certain time it is much more difficult to extend your stay in places you might be enjoying.
The iconic Statue of Liberty is visited by over 4 million people a year and of those, just 240 per day are permitted to climb up to the inside of her crown so, understandably, the tickets sell out fast. You can pre-book up to a year in advance but you need to be sure exactly who will be visiting and when because the tickets are sold named and photographic ID is required when the tickets are used, to prevent ticket re-sales and potentially very lucrative black market sales. We gave it some thought and decided that, since we had the opportunity, we would book.
Alex is not tall enough to be allowed inside the crown and we didn’t fancy any meltdowns on the way up the narrow, spiral staircase so one of us would have to stay behind at the pedestal level; happily Nick did the noble thing. Or did he? There are 354 steps to the crown – that’s the equivalent of 20 stories and, out of breath, red in the face and with legs burning by the halfway point, “noble” wasn’t how I was describing him at the time. Once at the top, however, all that was forgotten.
The Park Ranger inside the crown (I think they let him out for meals and once a week on Sundays) was able to spend time telling us about how the statue was made and how Alexandre Gustav Eiffel’s frame was designed to sway to prevent breakages in high winds. Many people can feel the sway from the crown, but I couldn’t be sure on account of the aforementioned 20 stories my legs had just carried me. With clear blue skies the views were incredible and I know the experience is one that John and Teddy will remember for the rest of their lives.
After lunch on Liberty Island we caught the ferry back and walked across to the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. This gave us a chance to talk to the boys about what happened and the thousands of people who were killed. Twin reflecting pools sit deep within the footprints of the original towers and at nearly an acre each in size they are an extraordinarily powerful representation of the scale of loss. The new One World Trade Center, at 104 stories, rises up defiantly on the northwest corner of the site, giving visitors a further sense of the sheer scale of the original towers. Around each pool the names of all those who perished in the attacks, including all the first responders, are cut into the bronze edging plate. Members of the public are encouraged to touch the names and some leave flowers; the atmosphere is reflective, peaceful and tremendously moving.
From here we headed towards Wall Street to look at the Charging Bull. Nick and John discussed how shares are traded, whilst Teddy and Alex were more interested in the anatomically correct nature of the bronze bovine. Bored with queuing for a photo at the head end, my boys were far more entertained by the rear… A quick Starbucks in the grounds of Trinity Church (again of National Treasure fame – “Heere at the Wall” at the junction of Broadway and Wall Street) and it was time to head back to Brooklyn ready to see the Nets at the Barclays Center taking on Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul – the only Turkish team to have beaten an NBA side.
Basketball makes only slightly more sense to me than baseball. I struggle with the number of breaks in the game which seem to interrupt the flow and involve a conflab with the entire team, all training staff, coaches, medics and some fellow whose job seems to be to give the court a bit of a wash down, all at the most unpredictable times. Honestly, in the final section there were just seconds to go – maybe 7 or 8, and they stopped the game for several minutes with the teams huddled together before playing to the end. The boys seemed to be enjoying themselves so I occupied my time taking selfies and tweeting them to the venue which turned out to be quite productive as our faces flashed up on the big screen in a couple of the breaks – very exciting! It is a sad indictment of my twitter skills that those tweets received more likes, retweets and followers than any tweet before or since.
In the end the home side didn’t get the result we were all hoping for and Fenerbahce became the only Turkish team to have beaten 2 NBA teams. Ah well.