Many first-timers to the Big apple end up here.. The Statue of Liberty!
Just the other day I learnt that the Statue of Liberty was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the United States and is recognized as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. Inaugurated in 1886, the sculpture stands at the entrance to New York Harbour and has welcomed millions of immigrants to the United States ever since. The statue often being the first thing they saw when arriving by boat was a reassuring sign that they had arrived in the land of their dreams….
I have been lazy to go there on my past visits to NYC as the hotels were quite far. This year, I finally yielded to the tourist pressure. I bought my ticket online ( Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Tickets ) and hopped on a train to New York City’s Battery Park where the ferry boats depart from. Trains are always a good idea in NYC because the traffic can be crazy!!! Plus it’s quite a save…. I honestly cannot remember how much I paid for the train ticket but it was affordable. Uber is also an option if you have time to sit in traffic.
Battery Park, NYC
Battery Park, NYC
Battery Park, NYC
Battery Park, NYC
I had to pick up my tickets at the pre-paid ticket box office located inside Castle Clinton National Monument at Battery Park. Why did I even chose this option???? The queue was quite long….It was a cold sunny day (0°degrees Celsius)… “The cold never bothered me anyway!!!”.…. literally because I was well prepared having won everything I had in my suitcase….I’ve read that it’s always colder on the really sunny days in winter..The irony!!
I recommend you get there at least 30 minutes (1 hour during peak travel season) prior to your scheduled tour for your tickets and screening (airport-style security).
The ferry ride (approximately 20 minutes) takes you to the island and on the way you’ll enjoy fantastic views of the city. Tours are self-guided, and can last three to five hours, depending on your pace when you visit Ellis and Liberty Island. Yes there is Ellis island too which has Ellis Island Immigration Museum here you can research your family history and get to view genealogy records of your ancestry :-)…
Another chance for me to take another “I was here photo”….in my case photos ;-)……
….. not only did I get to do that but also got to learn a whole lot about Lady Liberty…
The Statue of Liberty was designed by French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi.
It took nine years to complete the statue with so many of workers working ten hour days, seven days a week.
Gustave Eiffel, the man who designed Eiffel Tower, designed the statue’s “spine”- four iron columns that hold the copper skin.
The statue was finally finished in 1884 and presented to America on July 4th.
It didn’t arrive in the United States until many months later though, because all 350 individual pieces of the statue had to be packed into 214 crates for the long boat ride from France to New York.
Auguste Bartholdi thought that the Newyork harbor was the perfect setting for his masterpiece because it was “where people get their first view of the New World.”
The statue was to be a symbol of welcome for all immigrants coming to America, as well as a universal symbol of freedom.
The Statue of Liberty celebrates her birthday on October 28th in honor of the day she was officially accepted by president Grover Cleveland, president of the United States in 1886.
Visitors climb 354 stairs to reach the Statue of Liberty’s crown.
There are 25 windows in the crown.
The seven spikes on the Statue of Liberty’s crown represent either the seven continents or the seven ocean.
The statue is made of copper and is now green in color because of oxidation from evaporation of the seawater surrounding it.
The Statue of Liberty weighs a whopping 450,000 pounds! (approximately the weight of 40 elephants) but don’t call her fat ;-). The Lady’s copper skin is extremely thin—barely 1/16th of an inch thick, to be exact.
Lady liberty holds a torch and a tablet on which the date of American declaration of independence (July 4th,1776) is inscribed.
Lady liberty is 93 meters tall!!!….(I guess it should be …As tall as Lady liberty:-))
The Statue of Liberty wears a size 879 sandals that are each 25 feet (7.6m) long.
Many people ask if you can get to the crown… YES YOU CAN!!! I hear it gives you quite the view of the city. However, by the time I was buying my ticket, crown tickets were sold out until JUNE 2018….and it was February! I understand only a limited number of crown tickets are available each day and tickets for the crown must be purchased in advance (looks like 4 months in advance) of your travel to the island. I had the pedestal access tickets which cost $18.50 just $3 less than the crown tickets. The Pedestal Ticket provides access up to the Fort Wood section of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. It also allows you priority entry to the Screening Facility and saves you waiting time at the departure point prior to boarding the boat plus a self-guided Audio Tour headset as you visit Liberty and Ellis Island.
Overall I had a great experience, it was worth the $18.5 dollars. The ferry trip gives you a great view of the city. The island is peaceful compared to the hustles and bustles of the city….. The 231 steps that I climbed to the pedestal was a thrill especially because I had skipped my cardio sessions at the gym for weeks….or is it months?… I felt like I was compensating…
Ellis Island is something!!! If you are into history, it’s enthralling and worth it!!!
A simple life is good with me…I do not need a whole lot. Apart from my iPhone and camera…😉 ( My mother keeps dissing me that I should be a photographer in my next life….I Love taking pictures….sanity not vanity 😉) For me a t-shirt, a pair of shorts, barefoot on a beach and I am happy. I typically enjoy a beautiful beach destination. I love the beach…the peace it brings, the scent of salt and sound of the sea…. I could go on and on …. I’m sure we all love it…
The little paradise on earth….reminds me of our Kenyan south coast……. Maldives is an island country and archipelago in the Indian Ocean. It lies southwest of India and Sri Lanka. The chain of twenty six atolls (sometimes called a coral atoll, is a ring-shaped coral reef including a coral rim that encircles a lagoon partially or completely….. in layman language mini island ...) The capital is Malé, traditionally called the “King’s Island“.
I have been lucky enough to be there more than four times evidenced by these cute stamps the customs officers “tattoo” on my passport…
Most of these trips have been work related….getting approximately 24hrs layover.Even for 12hrs layover..Maldives is always a good idea. During which I have enjoyed lounging at the beach with a good book, soaking up the sunshine in between swimming and snorkelling……I had always heard of the amazing underwater life…Maldives has a reputation as a diver’s paradise….
I took the plunge to travel alone……but who goes to Maldives alone???……It’s more of a honey moon destination……So out of curiosity…I decided to conquer my fears….explore the underwater world by enrolling for a scuba diving course .. and on July 2014 I did my first ever solo trip to this beautiful destination for my Padi certification -an open water diving certification that qualifies you to dive up to 18 meters underwater. This was going to be a diving crash programme and I had to take the theory part of my padi course online in advance with the help of my diving instructor…..
I had never travelled alone and had no idea of where to begin!! Google was my friend ( we are still tight) and I consulted him a lot while planning for my 5 days trip.
Kenyan citizens do not need a visa to visit Maldives….I HATE VISA APPLICATION PROCESSES!!!..One spends so many hours researching documents required,filling painstaking amount of forms, pay slips, proof of sufficient funds…and in addition part with your hard earned money, sometimes as much as 200 dollars just to visit a new country for days…being on a third world passport- the pains of not being able to travel on a whim, being subjected to extra stringent investigations, sometimes not even being able to travel to certain countries…. not going through all that to travel to the Maldives was a relief!!
I booked myself at Helengeli island resort.
Helengeli Island, is a heaven ideal for diving and snorkelling; with her own PADI certified dive school and close proximity to famous dive sites. https://www.expedia.com/Maldives-Hotels-Helengeli-Island-Resort.h1273954.Hotel-Information . This traditional Maldivian resort is isolated from other tourist resorts as it is located at the very far north of the North Male’s Atoll. Helengeli is situated in a ninety degree angle to the outer reef and has a channel on either side which boasts plenty of big fish, rarely spotted at other destinations. With its six entrances, the house reef is very easily accessible to snorkelers as well as divers. There are no less than thirty-six unspoilt dive sites, all reachable within an hours Dhoni (boat) ride from Helengeli. This was perfect for my PADI certification.
Helengeli Island’s easiest access is via a fifteen minutes seaplane flight from Male International Airport. You can also get there via a 50 minutes speedboat ride from Malé.
The resort had an all-inclusive package which I chose…I am the kind of a person who wants to know the entire cost of their vacation upfront without having to reach into there pocket each time they order a drink or receive a service. So I always prefer to go for an all-inclusive package if at all it’s available and affordable… It gives me comfort in the sense that I feel fully covered on all meals should either my cards fail or I misplace my cash, I would not die of hunger in a foreign land…paranoia 😉))!!
So I arrived in MALE , went through the immigration and customs clearance…..quite an experience!!!! .. They probably did not understand how and why a single African woman would be coming to maldives alone for vacation… my bags were thoroughly checked and I was asked whether I was coming to look for a job..like really!!!!!..Finally, after almost 10minutes I was let in…The experience with the customs officer was quite frustrating but I chose not to let it ruin my trip… …First SEAPLANE flight… First scuba diving experience…. so many firsts …I was not going to let anyone ruin my First solo trip….
I had been on many flights before but the seaplane “ride”, because it felt like a ride, was quite a thrill!! An expensive thrill… it cost me 290 euros for a return ticket…… A rare treat though that added an extra layer to my experience of the Maldives by putting its unique geography into perspective through cottony layers of cloud. Flying over the islands at low heights, I was able to see the shapes of reefs and colours of shallow waters around every island. My “ride” to the resort was timely, I was also able to see a couple of dolphins crossing the atolls channels.
Finally here I was in a small and quiet island with warm clear waters in bluish and light greenish shades and soft white sand. It was a low key place – very tranquil. My ocean view room was simple and clean, pleasant with an outdoor open bathroom.There were no fancy shops or formal restaurants – just one restaurant and one bar with sandy floors so you never had to wear shoes. Mainly German speaking tourists…little Berlin in Male. The snack menu in the bar was so-so… sandwiches and pastas and burgers from $15. The restaurant only serves buffet, and most people are on full or half-board. Prices are high – $35+ for the dinner buffet, $25+ for lunch. Food is good but not fantastic. Helengeli was described to me as a “good value” resort – so no lobsters at the buffets, but service, cleanliness, and the incredible beaches are all top notch.
Time to put theory into practice…. take the final exam and get the PADI open water dive certificate.My instructor polished up my scuba diving theory lessons…sat for the final exam and I passed… with flying colors…rather diving colors…hehehe 😉
Helengeli has a beautiful house reef around 12mtrs deep so unlike many first time scuba divers who start off in a swimming pool, I started my diving experience in the ocean. Our instructor showed us some techniques like breathing with the regulator, what to do if your viewers are filled with water, how to communicate with signals, etc….
Having learnt the correct technique of diving with all methods, rules and precautions, we prepared our equipments and we were off to the ocean. My mind was raving with thoughts, I did not know what was down there. I had snorkelled before…(I remember trusting some beach boys and parting with kshs.400 at Tiwi beach while i was in campus. My cousin and I were taken snorkelling with nothing but a pair of swimming glasses in a lagoon that looked like the map of Africa walking barefoot for thirty minutes with strangers on sharp corals….would I do it now??? I guess not..the older I get the more sceptical I become…..God bless those beach boys who work so hard without the right equipment to give tourists cheap underwater thrills at the Kenyan coast) A blue abyss? strange sea creatures around me? Sharks? Would I Survive? … Thank God my dive buddy was my instructor…
The adventure!!!! It starts out of the water when putting on your gear.
The wet-suit was not flattering, but the size fit and I could comfortably move around in it.
The flippers were not a problem either, but then came the hard part: the lead. Lead? Yes. When scuba diving you have to carry a belt with lead(Weights) around your waist to be able to go down or, more dramatically put, sink. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? My instructor asks me about my weight and concludes that I need 7 kgs of lead. To put on the belt I had to bend over, lay the belt on my back, strap it up in front and then stand up again.
Seven kilos is as heavy as it sounds… but not as heavy as the oxygen tank . I first had to put on inflatable jacket on and then adorn the oxygen tank. Quite heavy!
Everything fixed and checked we walked towards the water. My feet could barely carry all the weight I was wearing but I WAS happy… I was about to do something I’d always wanted to do….
I was determined to not let fear get in the way but I still could not get myself to jump into the water…I was letting the team down….” last man standing”. I tried over and over,but I couldn’t do it. After a little convincing I conquered my fears and jumped in…
Blue and blue….. it was spectacular, WOW! I could not believe it, everything was amazing, Many colored rocks in the sea, sand like a vast cotton field and some fish swimming around.Along with the instructor and two other divers we began to descend compensating ears as we slowed down to the sand, 10 meters deep, It felt like another world….
The skills were manageable: I learned how to clear water out of my mask underwater, how to use the equipment safely, and how to control my buoyancy. Got used to the slow motions of the water. Everything moved at a snail’s pace. Once we got to the bottom, we took pictures, moved around plants and rocks, tried to swim after schools of fish, and explored the deep waters as much as we could. We did our first two dives 2hours apart in the house reef which was fine. By now our instructor felt we were ready for the open water….the next day.
The boat stopped in the middle of the ocean with no land in site… and this when i got really scared!! You would think that after the two sessions at the reef I had gotten used to this…clearly not!!! This time we had to dive in and stay in the water until we finished our first forty minutes session. It wasn’t the skills I was worried about. Do you know that if you forget to exhale while you’re underwater and you ascend, your lungs could explode? If you forget to equalize the pressure in your ears while you’re diving, your eardrums could burst?If you ascend too quickly, you could suffer from decompression sickness, which is where too many bubbles of nitrogen in your bloodstream make you ill. It can be quite serious. These are the things I was thinking about…rather worried about ; especially considering we were so many miles off shore…
In addition to worrying about my lungs exploding, my eardrums bursting, AND coming down with decompression sickness, I ALSO worried about boats passing by overhead and the likely dangerous sea creatures. There are a lot of sharks in Maldives…VEGETERIAN SHARKS as our instructor called them, and honestly, the sea creatures do not bother you, but still. The boat thing. It meant that if I had a freak-out and ascend to the surface, I could get cut to bits by a boat propeller!!
I took the tank on my back, the viewers on my head and my regulator ready on my hand. I sat by the edge of the boat scared but “bravely” jumped into the water. YOU GUESSED RIGHT….I was last to jump in…I was nervous wreck but we went under anyway.
The first 5 minutes of our dive I was freaking out and signalling my instructor that I wanted to go back to the surface. You know…..WHERE THERE IS PLENTY OF AIR.Knowing there was nothing wrong with me, he wouldn’t let me. Considering I had no idea of how to get back to the surface without him and didn’t particularly want my head crushed by a propeller, I was stuck. So I held on tightly to his hand…I think he got bruised from this…🙂!!!For the first 5 minutes I did not take my eyes off my instructor and the two fellow divers. They seemed like my only hope.As I slowly sank down, listening to the louder ‘pop’ in my left ear, I began to take shape and come into focus. We swam deeper and deeper and my instructor kept communicating through hand gestures to make sure I was alright with the water pressure.
I turned up and realized how amazing it was to be in that place at that moment, nothing else mattered. I was so lost that it could have been hours swimming and sailing across the ocean. We saw a huge number of exotic fish of various sizes and colors! Several other divers,Corals, beta fish, clown, barracuda, jellyfish, starfish and huge reefs with different fish inside, just like in the movie Finding Nemo. We also saw a turtle slowly drifting towards the ocean surface, it was beautiful! Unlike in big cities, where your vision is hindered by numerous obstacles, underwater, all I saw was clear-cut beauty. I was in awe of the sheer magnificence of it all and just wanted time to stand still. I wanted to stay there and take it all in until I was rudely interrupted by my cylinder indicating that I was left with low levels of oxygen and so, hesitantly, we swam back up.
We got back to the boat where the other divers were waiting for us…..I was so proud of myself … I had conquered one of my fears.Life underwater is beautiful!!!This is more surreal than any city, any town, any sunset, I’d ever seen in this life.
We Sailed back to the resort for lunch and we were back to different dive site for an afternoon dive.I couldn’t wait for the next dive…That first dive allowed me to fall in love with scuba diving itself. They said that 60% of people who dive for the first time do not want to launch the ocean in the second session because you get sick, luckily this did not happen to me…
The subsequent dives were fulfilling …on my second dive….I was lucky to see a “baby” shark, Tuna fish- alway thought tuna fish are small because I am used to canned Tuna… they are massive !!!..for a second i thought it was a shark, Crabs were crawling across the sea floor, as the colourful parrotfish appeared, out of blue, eating algae off coral reefs and before we got out we saw a stingray, 1 meter in size!!! above the sand began to swim, amazing!!!!
Out of my five days in Helengeli, 3 1/2 days were spent diving .. I could have dived for four days but because I had a flight to catch, I missed one diving session…It’s advisable not to scuba dive before your flight. Approx 12 – 18 hrs (or more) to avoid getting decompression sickness when you fly. However, the longer your pre-flight surface interval time, the more nitrogen you expel from your system which minimizes the risk of decompression sickness.
Overall my trip was a success,The discovery of a Pupperfish, who was almost ready to dispense her magic upon me, as I remember, was the highlight. Beside diving, I enjoyed chilling at the resort… watching the magical sunsets every evening as I chilled at the deck…. enjoying maldivian hospitality.
Life underwater is beautiful. The many countless fish zigzagging their way around you, makes it only far more magical. Fairy-tale like, even. The discoveries on this trip were endless.
A Beautiful scuba diving trip was over… Back to work and more adventures while at it….This still remains top of my most incredible experiences ….Now that I’m certified I am constantly keeping my eyes and ears open for great diving spots. Anyone up for a diving trip?Hit my inbox…LET US EXPLORE A WORLD UNSEEN BY MOST… #Nyamburatravels
My ride was here……It was time to leave this beautiful island….
The last 6 years or so have been nothing short of spectacular. Spending more than 3,000 hours at 38,000 feet above see level can give you quite the view of life…. Oh by the way that is almost 3 million kilometers of flying!!!
I have visited over 60 countries and more than 100 cities to date (135 countries to go… yay!!) so technically I can say I have been to almost 1/3rd of the world. Somehow I’m sure Columbus would be jealous ;-)!
In the times I have flown, with all the bustle of airports, and meeting new people, new places, trolleys, intercoms, champagne, hotels and on and on, what I have found most amazing has been the culture… the very thing that differentiates and yet unites all the diversities this world has to offer. And this cultures, they have built something so breathtaking. Of course one of the most thrilling thing about my job has been the opportunity to experience this diversities and all the beauty in tow.
On my bucket list has been to see all the wonders of the world, old and new, to visit the UN heritage sites. Mostly I just want to sit by the boat decks in Miami and watch the setting sun, want to kick up my fit in an infinity pool in Melborne with my favourite book, want to be lost in an old street in Venice, have dinner in quiet café in Cusco silhouetted by old hand crafted walls. I want to experience autumn in the Scottish country side, to spend a hot summer evening with a glass of Bordeaux in Provence or maybe a walk in the Sicilian hillside taking the smell of lemon that’s in the air. I digress… so one story at a time…
Let’s start with Paris, the city of love. There is a lot to do in Paris…. A lot!! I probably need to live there for a year or so to be able to see most of it… maybe a year is not even enough…
If you have been to Paris… A picture at Eiffel Tower is a must have ..Or does this only apply to me….
No trip to Paris is complete without visiting the city’s most famous landmark, The Eiffel Tower.
So what makes this tower so unique that it welcomes around 7 million visitors a year most of them foreigners.Named after Gustave Eiffel, the engineer and architect behind the tower. He built it for the 1889 exposition universalle, which was to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the French revolution. The tower also represents the Magic of Light…its lighting, it’s sparkling lights and its beacon shine and inspire dreams every evening….. Completed on March 31, 1889, the tower was the world’s tallest man-made structure for 41 years until the completion of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930. It stands at a whopping 324 metres tall including antennas – just a 150 metres shy of the petronas towers built in 1998. The tower weighs a staggering 10,100 tonnes equivalent to an estimated weight of combined weight of 1600 elephants or 18 airbus A380 aircrafts. It was the tallest structure in France until the construction of a military transmitter in the town of Saissac in 1973. The Millau Viaduct, completed in 2004, is also taller, at 343 metres.It is possible to climb to the top, but there are 1,665 steps. Most people take the lift.The lifts travel a combined distance of 103,000 km a year – two and a half times the circumference of the Earth. Victor Lustig, a con artist, “sold” the tower for scrap metal on two separate occasions. During cold weather the tower shrinks by about six inches.
If it’s your first time to Paris, as much as you would probably want to spend some time at the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and Notre-Dame, don’t miss out on lesser-known jewels like the Musée Rodin, the Musée de l’Orangerie, and the many markets. There’s no way you’ll get to do it all — museum-touring, shopping, cemetery-perusing, district-exploring, opera-attending — so plan your own itinerary, group sightseeing nearby attractions together and see Paris on your own terms.