Lost and found - An Irish student's adventures on Liberty and Ellis Islands
Lesson One: Always get there early. Lesson Two: Bring sunscreen!
SLIDESHOW / IRISH SIDE OF ELLIS ISLAND / CLICK HERE
The outside world is a scary place. Especially when outside is New York City. Even more so if you are a self-confessed computer addict and outside is New York in the summer.
Just the thought of all that natural sunlight can make you feel as if your skin is about to boil.
Nothing quite like the Big Apple to put shock and awe into a small-town Irish lad on his first adventure away from home.
So, on a fine sunny morning I threw away my inhibitions and decided (read: was told) to take the ferry to Liberty and Ellis Islands.
The plan was to get there at about 9 a.m. to beat the queues, but me, in my infinite wisdom, decided sleep was far more important so I only fell out of bed at 9 a.m.
It was an uneventful journey on the 4 train from Woodlawn to Bowling Green, but when I arrived at Battery Park at roughly 11 a.m. I promptly got lost.
Disaster was averted when I discovered - before boarding - that I was headed for Staten Island so I started paying more attention to the signs and eventually found my way to the terminal.
Hindsight soon made me realize that my lie-in was a bad idea. The lines snaked for at least a mile through the park, and I almost gave up hope of ever getting through it alive.
I settled in with my iPod for a long wait, hoping that maybe Tool could make the time pass more quickly.
One hour later I had reached the ticket stall. On the plus side, $12 for both islands was fairly reasonable. On the minus side, there was yet another line, this time for the ferries themselves.
Standing in Battery Park at midday in 83 degree heat is not good for anyone's skin. Especially Irish skin. Especially Irish skin belonging to someone who had forgotten to bring his sunscreen with him. I had remembered to put sun cream on earlier so I had thought I was safe. What I hadn’t realized was that it had to be reapplied every few hours and the container specifically warned against “prolonged exposure to midday sun.” In other words, I was screwed. Two hours and one case of sunstroke later and I was on the boat.
As the boat pulled across the harbor, the view of the Manhattan skyline was breathtaking. It was almost enough to distract me from the screaming children running around the boat. There should be a law to put all children on leashes. Evidently one couple were ahead of the game and already had their son tied up. A short hop later, we were on Liberty Island.
And that was it really.
Unless you have somehow managed to book a trip inside Lady Liberty herself there is nothing there. You arrive on the island, take a few pictures of the statue and leave. Granted the view of Manhattan is even better than from the boat, but even that loses its appeal very quickly.
Next stop, Ellis Island.
Maybe it's because I'm not an American, but I didn’t have high expectations of being interested in the immigration center. Very few of my family's direct ancestors would have passed through these halls. Although, clearly some members of my family must have emigrated because the infamous American McVeigh came from Ireland.