The Old Fogies visit the Statue of Liberty in New York

Like many visitors to New York, we decided to visit some of the iconic sights of New York. Probably one of the most iconic is the Statue of Liberty which stands on Liberty Island, just off the southern tip of Manhattan.

On a warm and sunny day, we went on the subway system to take us from Midtown down to Battery Park where the ferries take the thousands of passengers to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Arriving in Battery Park, we were directed to Castle Clinton from where we could pick up our tickets for the ferry.

Although most people ignore Castle Clinton, it has a remarkable history.  Castle Clinton or Fort Clinton was previously known as Castle Garden, is a circular sandstone fort which was America’s first immigration station (it predates Ellis Island), where more than 8 million people arrived in the United States from 1855 to 1890. The original fort was built between 1808 and 1811 on a small artificial island just off shore. When Battery Park was extended the fort was incorporated into the mainland of Manhattan.

Liberty Island and Ellis Island are run by the National Park Service who use Statue Cruises as the official ferry boat service to the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island Memorial Museum. Like most of the major American attractions, once you have your ticket, you have to go through airport style security screening prior to boarding the vessel.

Depending on the time of day you may find large queues to board the ferries, however the ferries do run very frequently and eventually it was our time to board the crowded ferry. There is little doubt that the best way to approach the Statue of Liberty is from the water and many of the people on board had their camera’s ready for that iconic photograph.

The statue resides on Liberty Island, although the island was known Bedloe’s Island up to the 1950s.The Island is located nearly a couple of miles southwest of Battery Park, so the ferry ride is very short.

There is little doubt that the Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous statues in the world, however when you see it in real life, its size comes as a bit of a surprise. In all it stands over 300 feet high and towers over the small Liberty Island.

The Statue of Liberty or Liberty Enlightening the World which is the correct name was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel. The statue was dedicated in 1886.

The statue quickly became an icon of New York and the United States, and was always a welcoming sight to immigrants arriving by sea.

You can get tickets to go inside the statue but we were quite contented to get an ice cream and wander around the statue. The island also gives great views of Manhattan, New Jersey and Brooklyn.

The statue’s location is interesting because in some ways it is influenced by the large statues of antiquity like the Colossus of Rhodes which stood in a harbour entrance. In 1984, the Statue of Liberty was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and welcomes over  3.5 million visitors each year.

As we made our way back to the ferry, we saw the crowds of excited visitors making their way to the statue. The Statue of Liberty has been attracting the crowds for over 100 years and is still as popular as ever.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London here.


The Old Fogies go to Devonport in Auckland

Just across the water from Auckland is Devonport is very attractive small seaside village town with plenty of antiques, gift and book shops with a number of cafes and restaurants. It is popular with locals and visitors and has a number of attractions.

A short twelve minute ferry ride takes you from Auckland’s CBD to Devonport and not far from the ferry stop you have a wide range of book shops and food options.

Devonport is one of the earliest settled areas of Auckland and is rich in history with a strong naval tradition with special links to the New Zealand navy who still has a naval base here and are featured in the informative and attractive Torpedo Bay Navy Museum. Devonport’s foreshore is where the great Waka (Maori canoe) Tainui landed in the 14th century and also where the British Navy arrived in 1840.

Two volcanic cones are two main landmarks of Devonport , Mount Victoria and North Head. Towering over the town is Mount Victoria is the highest volcano on Auckland’s North Shore, a steep walk up its slopes are rewarded with stunning views of Waitematā Harbour, Hauraki Gulf and the Auckland skyline. For some reason there are number of toadstools on the peak and artillery emplacements with a disappearing gun.

Although quite steep, it only takes around twenty five minutes to walk to the top of Mount Victoria and the walk gives spectacular views of the surrounding areas. It strategic importance is reflected in evidence of Maori occupation and the military bunkers, interestingly one of the bunkers is now home to the Devonport Folk Club.

After the delights of Mount Victoria, it is relaxing to just wander around Devonport with its small beaches and a number of beautiful Victorian buildings that are a feature of the area.

All along the waterfront is reminders of Devonport connection with New Zealand history,  it was at Windsor Reserve that the British navy landed and began the European settlement of Devonport in 1840. Near King Edward Parade is the Boer war Arch commemorating the fallen soldiers of the Boer War.

Near Torpedo Bay is a commemoration of the great waka Tainui. The Tainui was one of seven wakas that carried the first Maori from Hawaiiki to New Zealand.

Even if the pace of Auckland is hardly frantic, Devonport has a notably slower pace and locals will stop and have a chat. We had a long chat with an old dear who had lived in the UK for a while but for the last few decades had enjoyed her life in Devonport.

We could understand why Devonport was so appealing, we stopped for a coffee and some homemade scones and watched the stream of visitors exploring the shops and art galleries. Entertainment has obviously been a feature in Devonport for some time having the earliest purpose-built cinema that’s still in existence in the Southern Hemisphere.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London here.

The Old Fogies go to Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium in Auckland

When we decided to include Auckland in our trip itinerary, Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium seemed to be one of the attractions that people recommended for a visit. So with blue sky up above and rucksacks on our back, we decided to walk the six kilometres (3.7 miles) from downtown Auckland to the Aquarium. The Aquarium does provide a free shuttle bus from Auckland but we wanted to see a little bit more of the waterfront as we made our way down to Tamaki Drive where the Aquarium is located.

Unusually for a major city, Auckland’s port is very close to the city centre and as we began our walk, we quickly began to come across the large Port of Auckland complex  which is full of wharves and storage areas (mostly for containers). Some of the wharves deal with the arrival of cruise ships which visit Auckland on a regular basis.

Once past the port, you then see an attractive view of the harbour and across the water is the ever-present Rangitoto Island.

Tamaki Drive is the coastal road which follows the contours of the Waitematā Harbour and is  popular with walkers, runners and roller skaters and cyclists.  As you approach Ōkahu Bay there is a marina, yacht club and small beaches where Aucklanders relax and enjoy the waterfront.

After a very pleasant walk and a sit on the beach, we finally arrived at Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium. Above ground, the entrance did not look too inspiring with a couple of the distinctive Shark shuttle buses parked outside. However most of the attraction is underground and as you descend down to the box office it begins to look much more promising.

Probably very few people outside New Zealand have heard of Kelly Tarlton but he was an interesting larger than life figure who was a marine archaeologist, diver, and conservationist.

People thought he was mad, when he proposed building a large aquarium in unused storm water and sewage tanks on Auckland’s eastern waterfront but he proved them wrong with an innovative marine Aquarium that at the time was four times larger than any other in the world. One innovation that has been copied around the world was his pioneering use of curved acrylic tunnels that enable visitors to view sea creatures from below. Unfortunately Kelly Tarlton died only 7 weeks after the Aquarium’s opening in 1985.

The first section is the Antarctic area which includes a replica of the hut used by Captain Robert Falcon Scott on his tragic expedition to Antarctica and a colony of Antarctic penguins.

Signs asked visitors ‘Not to tease the Penguins’, we had visions of school parties dangling fish in front of the glass.

Stingray Bay allows you get a close view of the largest species of Stingray in the world in an open tank. Rather strangely you can have a coffee and look out of the window and see above and below the water outside in the harbour.

You enter the plastic tunnels and look at some of the world’s biggest aquarium sharks, including the Sandtiger and Broadnose Sevengill Sharks. This part of the aquarium is certainly large with the Predator Tank containing more than a million litres of seawater pumped straight from Waitemata harbour.

The tanks also features thousands of other New Zealand native fish, eels, turtles, crayfish, and octopus.

 The Seahorse Kingdom is filled with seahorses from around the world and featuring the world’s only Spiny Sea Dragons on public display.

As aquariums go, Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium is certainly one of the better ones and is located in a lovely location. As we came out of the exit the thought of a long walk back was not really welcome, so we clambered about the Shark shuttle bus for the ride back into Auckland.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London here.

The Old Fogies go to the Auckland Domain

Auckland is an unusual place for parks with many parks being built on volcanic cones,  Auckland Domain is Auckland’s oldest and largest park in the city.

Walking past the tennis centre and bowling greens into the park gives the impression of an English park, however this thought is soon dismissed as you make your way past a large number of exotic and extraordinary trees.

The park is built on the crater of the Pukekawa volcano which is one of the oldest in the Auckland volcanic field and was an important site for the Māori who named it Pukekawa which means ‘hill of bitter memories’. The Europeans bought the land and it was set aside as a public reserve in 1843.

Auckland Domain was set out in the Victorian era like a British park with cricket pitches and the park was landscaped with formal gardens.

Walking around the park, the exotic trees from abroad augment the many New Zealand species to create a strange hybrid of English and native New Zealand landscape.  

The Wintergarden complex was established after World War I and consists of: two display glasshouses, one containing temperate plants and the other containing tropical plants with a formal courtyard with a pond in the centre.

Gradually we walked uphill till we reached the Auckland War Memorial Museum and Cenotaph. The large museum building was opened in 1929 and hold a number of Māori performances as well as extensive objects from the history of New Zealand.

The Museum and the Cenotaph sits prominently on the crater rim which gives extensive views of the surrounding area. We sat here from some time enjoying the views and trying to understand some of the unusual typography of Auckland. It is really only when you sit high above the city that you can spot the volcanic cones that are dotted around the landscape.

Auckland Domain is a fascinating place to visit, whilst it does have some similarities to British parks, the trees in particular remind you that you are in a very different environment.

The park is a wonderful place to wander around, the unusual landscape offers a number of novel experiences with strange tree formations creating an otherworldly impression. We could see why New Zealand was the ideal place to film the Lord of the Rings saga.   

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London here.


The Old Fogies take a ride on a San Francisco Cable Car

One of San Francisco’s unique attractions is the cable cars that trundle up and down the steep hills. The San Francisco cable car system is the world’s last manually operated cable car system and is used by 7 million annual passengers each year.

Twenty three cable car lines were established between 1873 and 1890, however only three lines remain. Two of the routes travel between Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf, and a third route goes along California Street.

The cable cars are very popular with visitors to the city and often towards the end of the lines, large queues form. Locals often move a few stops to jump on the cars but we were determined to have a ride from one end of the line to the other to experience a unique way of travelling through the heart of San Francisco. Also the rather expensive fare of $7 is the same for a short ride or the full ride and the longer ride is much better value for money.

After looking around Fisherman’s Wharf, we made our way to the Taylor Street and Bay Street terminal to take a trip on the Powell – Mason line of the system and joined the queue. Part of the fun whilst waiting is watching the workers manually pushing the turntables to reverse the cars.

The cable cars a relic of a bygone age and have a rather antiquated system, the cars are pulled by a cable running below the street. To start and stop the car, the gripman closes and opens the grip around the cable. To prevent the cable cars running away, they use three separate braking systems operated by the gripman and the conductor. The gripman stands in the middle of the car and the conductor stands at the back.

There are three ways to travel in the cars, sitting inside, sitting outside on benches and for the brave, standing on the running board. We decided to try the sitting outside on the benches.

The cables cars travel relatively slowly and are an ideal way to watch the daily life on the San Francisco streets and the various districts as you trundle along. The hills of San Francisco are incredibly steep in some areas and travelling on the cable car is the nearest thing you can get to riding a roller coaster through a city.

The San Francisco cable car system is unique and most visitors ride the cars at least once. They maybe the transport of a bygone age but they are still incredibly popular with locals and visitors.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London here.

The Old Fogies go to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge

Unlike Sydney Harbour Bridge which is in the middle of the city, San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge is around four miles from Fisherman’s Wharf in the centre of San Francisco. Therefore riding a bicycle down and across the bridge is very popular with a number of cycle hire places doing a brisk business.

We decided to take a walk down to the bridge and enjoy views from a number of vantage points. The bridge has a fascinating history and has become one of the most famous bridges in the United States.

The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge which spans the Golden Gate, the one-mile-wide (1.6 km) strait that connects San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Before the bridge the only way across the strait was by ferry. Earlier plans for a bridge across the strait were dismissed due to the costs, deep water and extreme weather conditions.

However, money was raised and construction began 1933 and was completed in 1937. The bridge cost around $35 million and great celebrations took place when it finally opened to the public, on the day before vehicle traffic was allowed, it was estimated that 200,000 people crossed the bridge on foot.  

Remarkably, despite quite extreme weather condition at times, since its completion, the Golden Gate Bridge has been closed because of weather conditions only three times in 1951, 1982 and 1983.

At the time of its opening in 1937, it was both the longest and the tallest suspension bridge in the world, with a main span of 4,200 feet (1,280 m) and a total height of 746 feet (227 m) and although other bridges have now surpassed the Golden Gate Bridge it remains one of the most beautiful bridges in the world.

Part of its appeal is the way that the bridge complements the natural surroundings and blends into environment. Although the bridge looks red, the colour of the bridge is officially an orange vermilion.

The bridge can be admired from afar but for a closer look it is worth entering the fascinating Fort Point National Historical site which is located underneath the bridge. Rangers point out some of the interesting facts about this Civil War fortification before you climb to the top of the structure to get great views of the bridge, the harbour and the Pacific Ocean.

Although the bridge is primarily for vehicle traffic, it is also popular with pedestrians and bicyclists who arrive in their thousands especially at the weekend. Unfortunately the bridge holds another record, the Golden Gate Bridge is the second-most used suicide bridge in the world, and an estimated 1,500 people have fallen to their deaths from the structure.  

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London here.

The Old Fogies go to Bondi Beach in Sydney

Whilst we were in Sydney, we thought that a trip to the beach would be nice, the only problem was choosing which beach. We narrowed it down to Manly or Bondi Beach and finally decided to head to Bondi which is one of the most famous beaches in the world.

Bondi Beach is located around 7 km (4 mi) east of the centre of Sydney, it is surprising difficult to travel too for a major tourist attraction. You can take a quite slow bus directly from the centre but we decided to take the train to Bondi Junction and then take the local bus the rest of the way. It was a Sunday morning, so we started off fairly early, by the time we had reached Bondi Junction we were happy with that decision because the queues for the buses were already quite lengthy. Eventually we boarded the bus to take the ten minute downhill to the beach. The packed bus was enjoying the ride until a sudden stop launched everyone forward and there were some shrieks of shock.  By the time we had got to the beach, everyone had calmed down and were looking forward to their day on the beach.

Some sources suggest that “Bondi” or “Boondi” is an Aboriginal word meaning water breaking over rocks or noise of water breaking over rocks and this is a great description because the sound of the wall of water hitting the rocks and the beach is surprisingly loud.

Bondi Beach is relatively small being around 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) long and is popular with walkers, bathers, swimmers and surfers.

Looking at the strength of the waves, we was glad we didn’t pack our swimming costumes and settled for a paddle as we walked along the beach, two surf clubs patrol the beach and keep people safe. This is a full time job because the water off Bondi beach has a number of hazards which trap thousands of people each year.

Bondi Pavilion has changing rooms and lockers cafes, a bar and a ice cream shop. Behind the beach, there are numerous food and drink options with more cafés, restaurants and designer shops on Campbell Parade.  

The beach changes from the more sedate northern end to the more turbulent southern end where surfers do their thing. It is part of the fun visiting the beach to sit on the rocks and watch the surfers getting wiped out by the Pacific Ocean.

We had timed our visit to coincide with the Festival of the Winds when hundreds of people fly their kites along the beach. It was an amazing sight when kites large and small filled the sky.

After our walk we decided to just relax and enjoy the beach life until the crowds began to get too large and then we made our way to the bus stop. Thankfully the bus journey back was without incident and we arrived at the Bus Station to see the large queues snaking around the bus station. Rather smugly we passed through the crowds and took the train back into Sydney, we both agreed that Bondi was one of the best beaches we had ever visited and is well worth a visit if you are travelling to Sydney.  

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London here.

The Old Fogies go to the Sydney Opera House

Without doubt, the Sydney Opera House is one of the 20th century’s most famous and distinctive buildings. It was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon and was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973. With such a complex design, perhaps there was no surprise that the building of the Opera House was fraught with technical and political differences, so much so that Utzon resigned in 1966.It is not just the Opera House but it has a magnificent setting on Bennelong Point overlooking Sydney Harbour near to the Royal Botanic Gardens, and close to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.The Opera House has a number of performance venues inside that put on well over 1,500 performances annually, attended by more than a million people. It is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Australia with more than eight million people visit the site each and around 350,000 visitors take the guided tour of the building each year.One of the unusual aspects of visiting the Sydney Opera House is that depending on where you are standing it can look very different, the more iconic pictures are usually from side or from the harbour. Another surprise is the size of the site, the building covers over four  acres of land and is 183 m (600 ft) long and 120 m (394 ft) wide. In front of the entrance is the Monumental Steps where thousands of visitors sit to take photographs and enjoy the view.

Going inside the building is actually quite difficult unless you are attending one of the performances or taking one of the very expensive tours. You can go into the main foyer but that is about as far as you can go. With large crowds of people we thought we would give the tour a miss and instead walk around the building to enjoy the sun, the harbour and look at the Opera House from its very different vantage points. It is one of the great delights of Sydney that you can enjoy a meal and a drink overlooking the Opera House, The Harbour Bridge and the harbour.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London here.

The Old Fogies go to the Sydney Harbour Bridge

To anyone arriving in Sydney, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House are fascinating iconic sights which dominate the harbour.

The bridge is nicknamed “The Coathanger” by locals and is in some ways similar to Tyne Bridge in Newcastle. This is not surprising because they were both built by the British firm Dorman Long and Co Ltd, of Middlesbrough.

Soon after we arrived in Sydney, we thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at the bridge and on a clear bright morning we made our way up to the Rocks area to find a way up to the bridge. Although there is a number of signposts, the stairs up to the bridge near Cumberland Street are tucked away behind some buildings.

When you reach the same level as the road, you get some idea of the enormous scale of the bridge. The arch has a span of 504 m (1,654 ft) and its summit is 134 m (440 ft) above sea level. The total weight of the steelwork of the bridge, including the arch and approach spans, is 52,800 tonnes. About 75% of the steel was imported from England, however the bridge is held together by six million Australian-made hand-driven rivets made in Melbourne.

It is only when you reach the bridge that you realise it is actually quite wide carrying trains, cars, bicycle, and pedestrians between the Sydney central business district (CBD) and the North Shore.

Although this stretch between the North and South shore is a natural place to build a bridge, it was not until 1932 that the bridge was finally opened. Previous to this date, plans to build a bridge across the harbour were put on hold due to lack of funds or the technical difficulties involved. The undertaking of building the bridge in the depths of the Depression provided some badly needed employment to thousands of people and is another reason why Australians are so proud and grateful for the bridge.

Walking across the bridge is often quite blustery and the side fences which have been added to prevent people from committing suicide by jumping from the bridge mean that the wonderful views of the Opera House are achieved by peering through the fence.

Whilst on the bridge, you can occasionally spot groups of climbers which ascends to the top of the bridge, each climb takes three-and-a-half-hours including the preparations. The four pylons on the bridge have no functional role but are used for various things including a museum and tourist centre.

Needless to say we were happy to wander across under our own steam rather than join the Bridge Climb, until we decided it was time to return. On the way back, we made the slight detour to the southern end of the bridge which is located at Dawes Point in The Rocks area. Here is a great view from under the bridge and you can see the rather bizarre large painted face that is the entrance to the Luna Park amusement park at Milsons Point on the North Shore.

Bridges are not only useful but often serve a symbolic purpose, this is certainly the case with the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The Harbour Bridge is an integral part of the Sydney New Year’s Eve celebrations each year and is generally used for other major celebrations such as the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London here.


The Old Fogies go to New York

There was a slight delay to our flight from San Francisco to New York and we arrived in the evening at Newark Airport. We used the Airtrain and then the New Jersey transit train to arrive in Manhattan. The train staff collected our ticket, tore them and put them in a holder in the seat in front, only to collect them later. This bizarre behaviour was compounded by their less than friendly behaviour to the few passengers on the train.

We arrived at Penn Station and found our way to the exit to make our way to the hotel, thankfully the hotel was a relatively short walk along Seventh Avenue. The sidewalks were crowded and the heat and car fumes did not make for a pleasant walk. Eventually we arrived at the hotel and were grateful that the room was at the back of the building meaning it was relatively quiet. The next day, we decided to take a relatively relaxed day before some serious sightseeing. We took a walk up to Central Park which is often known as New York’s ‘backyard’ and is a large 843 acre park which took 16 years to create in the mid 19th century. The park is an attractive mixture of greenery and water features with a number of buildings dotted around the park. The Central Park Zoo occupies one corner before walking around the Sheep Meadow brings you to the Bethesda Fountain and Terrace. We stopped at Boathouse for a bite to eat before making our way to Belvedere Castle which is a 19th century stone castle that gives visitors great views over the park. Walking down the side of Central Park West, we stopped at the Dakota Building before walking into Strawberry Fields which was created by Yoko Ono. After the 10th rendition of ‘Imagine’ by the buskers in the gardens we decided was time to leave and visit the nearby Lincoln Center.  The Lincoln Center is a large cultural complex that houses an array of venues for The Metropolitan Opera, New York Ballet and New York Philharmonic. It is also a great place to people watch around the spectacular and entertaining fountain. The next place on our itinerary was the United Nations Building which involved walking to the east side of Manhattan. Walking past the famous store of Bloomingdales, we began to come across roads blocked off and groups of police standing around. A bit further on groups of demonstrators lined the street and we realised that the area around the United Nations was in lockdown due to the General Assembly of the United Nations taking place. In the evening we began to explore the madness around the area around Times Square, which is not really a square but is where a number of roads meet. This is also the Broadway Theatre district and where a lot of television shows are recorded.   Before we set out on our trip, we had purchased a New York Pass because virtually nothing in New York is free and it would enable us to be fast tracked at some of the busier attractions. The pass is not cheap but does provide a wide range of attractions, tours and cruises for your money. However it does need a certain amount of planning to make sure that you get the most out of the card and therefore the next day we decided to concentrate on the Downtown area. We took the Metro down to the World Trade Center to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. It is only when you visit the site, that you fully understand the scale of the disaster, outside two large memorial pools sit in the footprints of where the towers stand and inside the human stories are told in a restrained and sensitive way. The new One World Trade Center, the tallest building in New York stands like a sentinel above the site. From the Center, we walked down past Wall Street to Battery Park where you get your tickets and catch the ferry over to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The ticket offices are in Castle Clinton and then it’s a case of joining the queues and going through tight security before boarding the ferry for the short ride across to Liberty Island. By this time the heat of the midday sun was approaching 85 degrees and many travellers were beginning to feel the strain. However the cool breeze from the water was most welcome as we made our way to the Island. The Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous statues in the world and with clear blue skies looked magnificent as we approached the jetty. Close up to the statue, you have some idea of its enormous scale being 305 feet tall and weighing 200 tons. From Liberty Island you can return back to Manhattan or take another ferry to Ellis Island. Fascinated by the story of Ellis Island, we took the ferry across to one of the symbols of America’s immigrant heritage. Between 1892 and 1954, Ellis Island was the arrival point for over 12 million people, the Museum gives some insight into their experience of landing in America.Over the next few days, we enjoyed great views of Manhattan from the Top of the Rock in the Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building. Had a cultural fix at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. Had a bus trip around Greenwich Village, Soho, Tribeca and Harlem. Went shopping at Macy’s, Bloomingdales and looked around some of the various markets.

One of the highlights off the usual tourist path is a visit the Grand Central Station, the vast terminal is one of the great public spaces in New York with its vaulted ceiling full of moving constellations.

The abiding smell of New York is the food from the various street kiosks and car fumes as the gridlocked streets are full of taxis and other vehicles. New York is not a place for enjoyable stroll, the grid system is great for locating where you are but the endless crossing of the junctions becomes tiresome after a while. It often says in guidebooks that you are more likely to be in a road accident rather than being mugged in New York and crossing the road is a major undertaking with police patrols at many places to enable traffic to keep moving.

The high temperatures when we were visiting did mean that walking the main thoroughfares with crowds of people were not particularly enjoyable and being stopped every few yards by people selling bus tours and other rides got quite irritating. Whether it was the hot weather or not, people could be quite brusque in shops and restaurants but if you are open to having a conversation with a local, they often would show the famous New York sense of humour.

Both our first impressions of New York were not exactly favourable but after a few days, you do begin to understand some of the ways of the city and it grows on you. We both thought it would be nice to revisit to explore more of the city away from the main attractions.  

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London here.