The trip to Staten Island
The next day as I got up early (I’m an early bird anyway and jetlag makes it worse) I decided to take the ferry to Staten Island. It seemed to be a great idea for this hot july weather. From the serries “Sex and the City” watched seventeen (!) years ago I remembered, that the view of Manhattan was worth seing from the boat.
Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte coming back from Staten Island on the ferry. Episode “Where there is smoke”. I highly recommend SATC to anybody who havent seen it. Maybe not a deep intelectual enjoyment, but certainly a good piece of enterntainment. Also might be an inspiration to visit NY and even a source of information about it.
Also the ferry passed not far away from the Statue of Liberty so I had a chance to get a look on this iconic spot. If you have a very tight budget or little time and patience to get a tour Staten Island ferry is free and leaving from the South Ferry terminal each 30 minutes.
On the ferry I googled places to visit in Staten Island. I try to do it as often as possible: not making big plans, not spending hours on reading guides and not choosing the “must-see” lists.
Of course I wouldn’t rather miss the must-sees, but I travel for such a long time exactly to be able to do this: choose places without looking at their ratings, ones that for wide public may seem boring and that are a little afar from the main attractions.
This is always a way to see some real citylife, real habitants, non touristic neighberhoods and spots. Also that is a nice way to discover cheap places. One’s that are remote, not listed in guides and not busy are most often low-cost or even free while the most popular are around 30$.
And last but not least, people who work in such places are usually very dedicated to their job, willing to share and being glad of every sinle visitor who comes by their workplace or neighberhood. It’s a true bliss to ask someone from non touristic area a question and see how their eyes lighten up because someone cares or to see a guide in a tiny provincial museum to organize a tour just for you, because there is nobody else, and making the best of your experiece. It may be the same kind of dedication that bands playing for a small audience in a tiny club. There is intimacy in the experience they would never experience playing a concert to a stadium of people, not even being able fo see the faces of the audience as the first row would be so far from the stage.
Among other places google told me about a historical town in the middle of Staten Island. It was about an hour by bus just from the stop next to the ferry terminal. Great! I took the bus and off I go!
First thing that was distinguishable here was that the people were different than in Manhattan. In the bus all were black or latins and most problably lived in Staten. I was clearly the only tourist around.
Some people would be reading this and ask silly questions like is that safe? All the bullshit we’re being fed (especially in Poland which is very homogenic) about being the only white person in a place and having others staring at you (which is by the story tellers often described as a near death experience) is just stupid. It’s politicians who want us to fear of other people, of immigrants, of other races or relligions.
From my experience of all my travels I can only say, yes, there are differences, yes, sometimes big ones. But I was never abused, threatend, hurt or treated badly. In contrary, people from different countries often showed a lot of good will, were helpful and kind to me, invited me over their homes or gardens, shared meals and smiles with me. Poles are so proud of their hospitality, they shoud be conscious that they’re not the only welcoming and hospitable nation in the world. I have never seen any hostility from the people of different nations and races surrounding me.
I have to admit, there are some places in the world that a single woman walking down the street is a subjet to catcalling (Italians are absolutely the worse, mi dispiace, but they are. Altrough editing this text after leaving the States I can say americans are just slightly better. A single woman would be constantly talked to, advanced and provocated and absolutely most of it I felt as a niusance. Every woman hates their boundaries being crossed and I hope catcalling would become more condemned, as it’s still being ignored as harmless. Yes, often it’s not resulting with a rape, but isn’t making someone feel bad or thretened or uncomfortable enough to do something bad to them? of course it is).
As we were riding I looked outside the window. There were rather no tall buildings, just small houses and homes. It looked so different than Manhattan. A working class neighberhood, not very wealthy but neat and clean. Houses were all diffrent from each other and each of them was so different that the housing in Europe. I was devouring the views, the details, event taking photos (most of them really bad) from the bus.
Here are some Staten Island’s views
I got off after an hour ride in the middle of Staten Island. It was rather quiet. The houses just next to the street were clearly the part of the historical town. Not only it was obvoious that anybody lived there, they were just looking old, altrough in a good shape. I found a roadsign directing me the center of the place. There was an old building which looked like a town’s town hall. I learned in there that it was a local court’s building.
I bought a ticked and went to the other building to see the exibition about the place. There was a guided tour which I also took with two other tourists from France and a local jewish family with 4 children. Funny thing, some of the buildings in there were used to shoot scenes from Boarwalk Empire. The coolest was the old shop building. At the times it was selling pretty much everything. From food to nails, tools, chemicals, oils, lamps, cutlery, writing accesories, candles, tobacco, pots, bowls, guns and everything what people from a small town needed in their everyday life about two hundred years ago. There were some houses from that time, full of old furniture. As usual the kitchens were the most interesting.
I was glad to spend my time in a quiet and slow place after all that noise and crowds in Manhattan. The tour guide told me about a nice place to relax behing the old houses. I went there and sat in a moderate silence (cars from the road not far away from there were till to be heard) and put my feet in the cold water of the creek. My feet were sore after all that walking and it was a very hot day. It was a rest I needed after the previous hiking and sightseeing madness.
Here are some pictures from the Historic Richmond Town and a link to see their website
I took a bus back and got off after about half an hour ride. All the way there were houses, shops and little restaurants along the bus route. I quickly found an italian pizza place. That was clearly run by italians, not fancy looking at all, but the pizza was really good, altrouhg the portion was gigantic. I bought two slices and they were just hudge.
I got back from the trip to Staten Island with a full stomack and took the ferry to Manhattan. It looked like it was going to rain. The view of the skyline was quite dramatic. I came back to the hostel for a nap,still fighting the jetlag. I woke up an hour later and in the evening took off to see Times Square.
After the crowds and big city experience befora I felt like it coundnt be more crowded and busy. I was wrong. Times square was amazing. No photos can describe what one feels in the middle of the ocean of people, buildings and lights. Famous ads, screens, plasmas and neons were just everywhere, hudge and with an infinite variety. A few hours ago I was sitting between the trees by a creek. Are there any words to describe it really? I doubt it.