Last month I was in Paris with my family. One afternoon, we met my husband’s childhood friend, who now lives there, and he gave us this advice: No matter where you live, or where you visit, act like you’re a tourist.
Truth is, I am not a big fan of tourists. They walk too slowly, take too long to order at the deli counter. They say hello.
But my husband’s friend has a point. I treated Paris like the great city it is – but my own city? Please. Who has time?
Turns out, I do.
Last week, I went on a cruise to Liberty Island with my husband. My husband, who has lived in New York CITY his ENTIRE LIFE, has NEVER been to the Statue of Liberty. I’m not much better. Other than a class trip when I was in fifth grade, and of which the only thing I remember is that it was COLD, I hadn’t been until about two years ago. And then, only because out of town friends wanted to see it.
True, we had a spectacular night – perfect skies, a light breeze and no humidity. And true, since it was a press/media event (full disclosure, we were comp-ed), the crowd was small and well-selected, but still, the thrill of seeing the skyline of the city from the middle of the river – the truly awe-inspiring size and majesty of the Statue from up close – well none of that can be comp-ed or prettied up. It is just amazing.
I appreciated that the island, since it is a National Park, has only one cafeteria style “restaurant” (note the quotation marks), that offers a quite spectacular patio where you can sit along the water and eat. And only one gift shop. This is not a touristy tourist attraction – no one is hawking plastic statues or foam crowns (at least not on the island itself – in Battery Park it’s a different story) I also appreciated the fact that I got to meet the only two people live on Liberty Island: The Superintendent of Liberty Island, and his wife. Talk about a close-knit couple. It’s them and Lady Liberty. They really HAVE to get along.
The boat ride was a bit rocky – but not bad, really only at docking – but the views were spectacular, the air felt fresh and clean. And I liked being a tourist. I liked appreciating what my own backyard has to offer.
Turns out that no matter where you are from – from across the world or just uptown, there is nothing quite so moving, quite so thrilling, as seeing the Statue of Liberty from the water, as walking under her enormous presence, as feeling like a tourist in New York City.
Liberty Island is open 364 days a year. Statue Cruises runs several cruises a day, and some evenings, to Liberty and Ellis Islands. My ticket and my husband’s were provided by Liberty Cruises as part of a press/media event.