I’ve lived in Brooklyn for nearly seven years, so when the opportunity presented itself to take a walking tour in the Big Apple, I’m not entirely certain why the idea seemed so appealing. Perhaps it is because as a resident of New York, my time is rarely free enough to notice many of the attractions that pull tourists from around the world to this city (it took me nearly six years before I visited the observation deck at the Empire State Building). Or, perhaps it was because in spite of the fact that I tend to grumble when stuck amongst large groups of tourists, I still have many landmarks on my NYC bucketlist, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island being two. Regardless of what whim led me to the NYCVP (New York City Vacation Packages) Ground Zero/Statue of Liberty Package Walking Tour, I was along for the ride.
I have to be honest, when I saw the 8am start time, I wasn’t exactly excited. However, being out in Manhattan early on a Saturday morning enabled me to realize that while this may not exactly be the city that never sleeps, it certainly takes a disco nap during the weekends’ early morning hours. It was pleasant to be able to jump around the city without the normal crowds.
No matter whether you’re a tourist or a fellow straphanger, this tour has something for everyone. Don’t be fooled by the midtown meeting point, the walking is limited to a short journey from the World Trade Center station to the Battery Park ferries. A quick subway trip begins your journey (paid for with your admission).
Whether you find the enlightening knowledge about the actual progress being made at the Ground Zero site (I for one found it incredibly re-affirming after years of jaded “what are they waiting on?” dismissals) or the very personal stories collected from years of living this route more fascinating, your tour guide is not only filled to the brim with facts and stories both great and small, but he’s also got a lot of personality. He loves this city and the people in it; he can even point you in the direction of the least and most annoying street performers, the latter being a Jamaican guitar-playing clown. I challenge you not to laugh and at least nearly cry a few times during your four hour trip. Spend at least a few minutes marveling at one of lower Manhattan’s best kept secrets, American Express’ open-to-the-public One World Financial Center – hands down the best place to take in the awesome site that is the Ground Zero/ new WTC site today. Once you reach Liberty Island, the term self-guided pretty much covers the rest of your day, allowing you to explore Lady Liberty and Ellis Island at your own pace.
Overall, the NYCVP took a near-New Yorker and taught her a thing or two about an area I was sure I covered with endless visits from family and friends. While the tour may be the perfect way to entertain out of town guests, I suggest you tag along as well. Your tour and guide will remind you why you love living in this city.
For schedule information, buying tickets, and more on the Ground Zero and Statue Of Liberty Walking Tour, visit nyctrip.com.