December 17th, 2006:
After recovering from the night before, I popped back into the city center to do some of the bigger tourist activities in the city.
First stop was the Empire State Building. I visited it seven years ago, so it wasn't high on the list of priorities. Just as well, as the queue was around the block and I didn't fancy waiting for hours in the freezing cold. It wasn't a waste of a trip though as something happened there which was straight out of a Hollywood movie: a convoy of Feds "took-down" a "perp"! There were five black Cadillac's, with discreet flashing lights on the dashboard, filled with guys in black suits and they pulled over a car from which they extracted a passenger and escorted him into one of their cars and sped off again. I started taking a picture, but one of the suits gave me a warning look so I thought it best to play it safe and put the camera away :(
After the Empire State Building, I wandered through Macys for ages (the "World's largest department store" is quite sizable alright) and then it was off to Battery Park to catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. This didn't quite work out as planned either: there were big signs up with symbols for things such as no guns, no knives and no explosives, but it was the first banned item in the list which caused a problem: no packages or backpacks... I looked doubtfully at my Macys bags and my backpack and wondered if they'd let me through anyways: however, none of the other tourists had any bags whatsoever (how did they know not to bring anything? I must have missed the memo...) and after asking a guard for advice I was politely turned away :( I didn't make it to the Statue of Liberty on my first trip here years ago either, but maybe next time...
After dropping the bags back to the hostel, I met up with someone from Texas and together we explored more of Central Park and even though she liked "power-walking" we still only got to see a small part of the place.
Last thing on my list of things to do in NY was to get a picture of the city lights at night time. The easiest way of doing this, I thought, would be to jump on the free Staten Island Ferry and get a picture of the city from Staten Island. Now, on the subway maps Staten Island looks like its a quick hop across the Hudson River: it is not all that quick(!) By the time the ferry arrived at its destination, the city looked very small on the horizon and taking a picture of that seemed pointless :( Still, the ferry ride at night time is worth doing: the city looks great when you are up close to it (though taking a picture at night time from a moving ferry makes the picture end up blurry) and the State of Liberty also looks impressive when its lit up, with the torch glowing golden orange at the top. Watching the twinkling lights of the city skyscrapers was a fitting ending to my NY trip and I can't wait to come back again.