Monday, October 19, 2015

NYC Trip Report Part 3: Statue of Liberty and Intrepid

NYC Trip Report:

Music Video
Hotel Review
Amex Centurion Lounge Review
Part 1: Intro and Getting There
Part 2: Times Square and Rockefeller Center

Part 3: Statue of Liberty and Intrepid

Sunday, October 11, 2015

This ended up being the longest day ever with some really great times and some really frustrating times.

I woke up tired and grumpy due to my son's blanket issue that I mentioned in the hotel review. We had to set our alarm for 6:10 a.m. and eat an early breakfast to be out the door by 7:15 a.m. We had reserved a 9:00 boat to the Statue of Liberty.

Our morning view of the city:

Ok, I need to mention our issues challenges with the subway. Based on information we read about the best way to get subway tickets for all of us, we purchased a reloadable Metro card and calculated how much we needed to load based on our estimate of number of subway trips. The card could be swiped four times at each station, and since my daughter was under 44 inches, she could ride for free. She is supposed to just duck under the turn style. Well, on this morning, she decided she did not want to be treated like a little kid and she refused to go under the turn style (even though she did it the day before). After much fuss (loud screaming and crying!), my husband decided he would just swipe our Metro card and pay for her to go through the turn style. What he didn't realize is that then the Metro card would not let him in because we had reached the maximum per station of four people. So he had to go back around and wait in line to buy another individual ticket. And then his credit card wouldn't work because the company had flagged our activity in NYC as fraudulent. Anyways, we all eventually made it on the subway, but we were a little grumpy from the morning's events.

To make it to Battery Park, we rode to Grand Central Station and then transferred to a subway line heading south. It took us about an hour to get to the boat launch.

We boarded soon after going through security and sat on the top of the boat. It was a little chilly.

We arrived on Liberty Island around 9 a.m. since our boat left a little early. We had pre-purchased three tickets to go to the crown and pedestal, and two tickets for just the pedestal (since my daughter did not meet the height requirement of 48 inches to go to the crown). Tickets to the crown sell out months in advance, so buy early if you are planning to go.

There is an indoor museum that is accessible with the pedestal ticket.

We all walked up the stairs to the pedestal together (215 stairs). The stairs took us to the top landing of the pedestal, but then we could walk down to a few different levels below.

The pedestal has a great view of the city.

Brian and the boys then climbed up 167 more steps to get to the crown. I nagged my husband many times to take photos, because I am usually always the one to take pics. Thankfully, he remembered!

They said it was very cramped up there!

And quite a view from the crown!

While the boys were climbing to the crown, Alyssa and I went back to the museum that is included with pedestal tickets.

There was a lot of good information in the museum and a few life-size replicas of parts of the statue.

Life-size replica of the ear:

We took photos before heading back to the base.

Note: You are not allowed to bring a backpack or any bags to climb to the crown and pedestal. We had to get a locker for our stuff. Only cameras allowed.

After we arrived back at the statue base, we met up with my brother and his family who also happened to be on vacation in New York City. We got a few photos of the cousins together.

The kids just played for a while in the trees while the adults chatted.

We went our separate ways, and my family visited the gift shop and ate lunch on Liberty Island. We debated on whether we should take time to do the National Park Service Junior Ranger badges with the kids, but we all voted to move to the next thing since time was passing quickly. We ended up being on the island about 3 1/2 hours.

It was 12:30 p.m. and we got in line for the ferry to Ellis Island. We were going to spend some time there before returning to the city, but the lines for the ferries were long and we realized we had to start making some choices as to how we would use the rest of our time for that day. Everything we wanted to visit closed at 5:00 p.m., so the clock was ticking.

We decided to skip Ellis Island and stay on the boat back to Battery Park. On our return trip, we sat on the lower level of the boat.

We got a photo with this statue dude after landing back at Battery Park:

We saw some artsy globes in the park:

And we were so close to the World Trade Center that we could walk there.

We almost went there, but then realized we would have no time to do anything else that day. So we decided take a taxi to the Intrepid Air and Space Museum. We wanted to take a taxi to save time and avoid the subway drama with my daughter. We figured we just had to find a minivan taxi that would fit all of us.

Well, we couldn't find any available minivan taxis at all. We were walking north trying to get out of a busy area, but it just didn't happen. We decided to call Uber to request a ride. And then it turned out that the Uber car wouldn't allow 5 passengers. So then we had to cancel that and call Uber XL (because apparently my family is Xtra Large). From the time we got in line to get off Liberty Island to the time we arrived at the Intrepid Museum, it was 2 HOURS. We didn't expect to take that long to get there. One of my kids was a little grumpy at this point. "Another science museum? I don't want to go to another science museum." He just wanted to go back to the hotel to swim and play with his new NYC toys.

While we were in the Uber XL car, we saw the Highline Park (elevated park on an old subway line). That was something we were going to visit if we had the time, but we never made it.

Ahhh, the Intrepid. We got in free due to our membership at the Perot Museum in Dallas.

We started our visit by watching a short film about the history of the Intrepid.

Then we made our way to the top deck to see some airplanes.

We saw a Lego model of the ship:

The Intrepid had a lot of areas to explore on the inside. We climbed ladders and ducked our heads through hallways to see the bridge areas.

We all had a fantastic time at the Intrepid, and I'm glad we prioritized it. We liked it more than I thought we would. Even my grumpy son was so happy we went there. We only left because it was 5:00 p.m. and the museum was closing.

At this point, we were all thoroughly exhausted. However, we were only a mile from the famous Ellen's Stardust Diner, so we decided to call an Uber XL to take us there.

This restaurant does not take reservations, and the line was already around the block, but we decided to wait. And we got seated in only 20 minutes.

This restaurant has a singing waitstaff, and they put on a show. They are always performing. They did a few songs that my kids appreciated (like "Let It Go") and some Broadway tunes. I'm glad we were able to make it here. It was a very entertaining dinner.

We still had to get back to our hotel in Queens. We had a phone app called Transit that instructed us to walk to a nearby subway station on a line we were not familiar with. I decided to carry my kicking-and-screaming daughter over the turn style. We walked in the tunnel maze and then when we got to the platform, there was a sign that the subway line was closed for the weekend. Ugh! And then my daughter started doing "the dance". You know the one. So we had to go back up all the steps and try to find a bathroom. I ran into a deli that didn't have one, we walked in circles for a while, and then I saw a Hampton Inn hotel. We were racing for the lobby and found the bathroom, only to be locked out of it because it required a guest room key to get in. We ran back to the lobby to see if any guests could let us into the bathroom, and we only found people who did not speak English. Fortunately, one of them recognized my daughter's dance and rushed us to the bathroom JUST IN TIME. It was so stressful!

So by that time, we had all had it. We called Uber XL to take us to Grand Central Station so that we could catch the 7 line back to our hotel.

That night was the only decent night's sleep I had.

The next morning, we ate breakfast and went to the rooftop terrace for one last look at the city before hopping on the hotel shuttle to the airport. You can read about our airport lounge experience here.

My daughter fell asleep on the plane before take-off.

One thing that had us laughing on the way home: We purchased this landmark playset at the Statue of Liberty gift shop that has little figurines of popular NYC attractions.

My daughter kept asking me, "Mom, is this a toilet?" Ha! It's the Guggenheim!

I asked my kids what was their favorite part of the trip.

Nathan (age 11): "The big buildings, the sights and sounds of the city."
Joshua (age 7): "The shops!" (Who could blame him? The stores were very cool).
Alyssa (age 5): "The statue of liberty." But she is insisting we go back in a few years when she is tall enough to climb to the crown.

Truth be told, the trip was exhausting and really trying at times. There was no down-time for Mom and Dad. But our adventures outweighed that, and I'm so grateful that we could give our kids this experience for (almost) free because of my miles and points hobby!

Based on our survival in New York City, I do believe that my kids could handle a trip to Europe right now. However, we don't have any plans to go across the pond in the near future. Because while I think we could handle it, I believe a trip to Europe will be a little more pleasant if we wait a few years.

When I plan our trips, I try to achieve a balance between relaxing/pampering trips where Mom and Dad get to reconnect (a cruise or an all-inclusive with a kids' club) and the more adventurous go-go-go trips (like this one). And right now I can't wait for our next vacation in a few months where I will get to relax more.

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