Leaving New York early in the morning, we hopped into a taxi to take us over to our next hotel in New Jersey: the Westin Jersey City Newport. We were only going to stay overnight in New Jersey before boarding a cruise ship to Bermuda the next day. So, we weren’t going to stay long in the area. However, we were going to make our day in New Jersey count, as we had plenty planned for the day.
Arriving in Newport too early to check into our room, we instead dropped off our luggage to be held until after we returned to check into our room later in the day. Since the Newport Center Mall was located right beside our hotel, we walked over and checked out the mall for a bit until we grabbed some sandwiches for lunch.
After this, it was time for us to go grab a cab to drive us to the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal, where we picked up our tickets for the ferry which would take us to our main activity for the day: a visit to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. The line for the ferry ended up being extremely long. Thankfully, however, my husband being the big on planning ahead, had already reserved the ticket to climb to the top of the Statue of Liberty for a certain time, which allowed us to move up in line. In order to make our visit to the statue on time, we bypassed Ellis Island and went directly to Liberty Island.
Sitting at the top of the ferry, it was quite windy as the boat stopped first at Ellis Island and then continued on to the Statue of Liberty. I was very excited as we neared Lady Liberty. This was my first time seeing and visiting this icon of freedom and I was in awe as we approached. She stood tall and proud, overlooking New York across the bay and I felt quite humbled as I imagined the great happiness and wonder that must have filled the hearts of so many past immigrants as they caught their first glimpse of this honorable lady…a lady that must have inspired many dreams and much hope for their
futures. And, despite my disappointment in the current state of the US due to the chaos and upheaval the current administration is creating, as I looked at Lady Liberty, her face calm and serene, I was struck that despite the turmoil and growing pains that the US is currently facing, the core of what Lady Liberty stands for still stands tall and strong for all to see. None can deny the simple beauty of what she represents which is the backbone of her beloved country. And, though I live in the Netherlands, I am still very much an American who was quite moved to see The Lady in person.
There were lots of people at Liberty Island. Before going up, we put our bags away in the safety lockers provided at the foot of the statue so as to not have to carry stuff up the very narrow stairs to reach the top. Luckily, an elevator was available to carry people up part of the way. From there, we had to go up some very narrow, steep stairs inside the statue that could even give regular Dutch stairs a run for their money on being tiny and harrowing to climb!
There was a halfway point after climbing the stairs that led to a landing where people could walk outside and walk around the statue enjoying the view. After taking a quick break to cool down from our initial climb, we soldiered on and climbed the rest of the way up to Lady Liberty’s crown. The space inside the statue’s crown was tiny. It seemed like only 5-6 people could fit in there comfortably. We couldn’t stay long there as there were others climbing up eventually behind us as well. So, we stayed there only for a few
minutes, looking out the small windows that grace the Lady’s crown and taking a couple of photos before going back down. I did notice, however, that there was a guard that was stationed there and I felt a bit sorry for him, as it was fairly stuffy in that small space and I hoped for his sake that the post was done in rotation, so that he might stretch out and grab some fresh air eventually.
It was much easier, of course, going down the stairs than going up. But, I have to say, by the time my feet touched the ground floor, my legs were shaking and feeling wobbly from going down carefully down those steep stairs. Unfortunately, that unsteady feeling in my legs didn’t leave me for a while.
Picking up our bags from the lockers, we made our way back to the line to catch the next ferry to Ellis Island. When we finally got off at Ellis Island, we walked into the stately building that was situated there through which millions of immigrants had
passed through in the past and stayed awaiting entry into the United States. I made my way upstairs to a great hall which was the registry room. Surrounding the hall were
many rooms and as I made my way through the various rooms, I discovered what they had been used for. The hallways between the rooms were stark and felt very clinical. There was certainly nothing that felt warm about the place. It felt like I was inside of an old hospital. Each room held information, items, or posters that explained what the rooms were used for as well as the treatment the immigrants received while they were there. There was much that was interesting to learn as I toured the building that served for over 60 years as a US Immigration station. I’d definitely recommend a visit here simply for the value of the history that is preserved here.
Jumping on the ferry to take us back to the New Jersey Terminal, we enjoyed the view of New York across the bay one last time before leaving.
When we finally got back to our hotel, we were all quite tired and happy to finally check in and relax in our room. We took advantage of the fact that we were near the mall once again and had a very American dinner of delicious hamburgers and fries at the Johnny Rocket’s diner there.
By the time we got back to the hotel, we were stuffed and ready to rest our feet. I enjoyed our nice nighttime view of New York from our room window for a while before turning in for the night. We were excited for what the next day would bring, especially as we knew that we’d be boarding our ship to Bermuda! A little thing like the Bermuda Triangle wasn’t about to stop us from continuing on our adventure! So, please do check back in a while to read all about our time on the cruise to Bermuda.