The place was originally used to protect Manhattan from potential threats from Europe. It remained a military outpost until May of this year when it was officially opened to the public as a park.
There are parks and there are parks. I’m not big on the parks that have been planned to a fare-thee-well, flattening all the adventure out of the experience. Some are wilder than others (Fort Tryon), some are over planned (Hoboken). And then there is Governors Island which turns out to be planned, but with many lovely surprises.
The first surprise as a cyclist, was in trying to find the ferry pier on the Manhattan side. It was a little like gate 9¾ for the Hogwarts Express (if you’ve read any of the Harry Potter books). After taking the usual Riverside Park route down the Hudson, I lugged Lucille up four concrete steps into the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, through the heavy doors, only to be told the entrance for bikes was around the corner. But when I got there (down those steps again), there was no there there – just hurricane fencing. Up the steps again. Nope, entrance still around the corner - only this time, we had an escort – and low and behold, metal gates opened and a ferry was indeed awaiting us, with a whole crowd of people who were already there.
Boarding the ferry, bikes went first – and are clearly welcome:
The Belgians have been to this party before and were more circumspect. Also outnumbered. They bided their time.
The ride itself is literally about 5 minutes (cost $2 round trip)
I kept going, then realized I had a choice: continue on this well-paved (but somewhat dull) road, or follow this:
And you don't even have to bring your own bike.
But the most touching by far of everything I saw at Governors Island, was this:
You can’t go to Governors Island and not see the forts. I’m not big on military installations (could you guess?), but the forts were quite something. There was this one, Fort Jay, built in 1794 – with a moat (now grass) and portcullis,
There are a couple of food trucks on Governors Island – a Mr. Softee and a Belgian Waffel truck. They were both on the ferry with us returning to Manhattan, and as I stood next to the Belgian Waffel truck, it occurred to me that its driver might actually be rooting for the Belgian Side. His truck had a patriotic sports theme (though it seemed more to do with bikes and waffles than soccer):
There was a bit of a stir in the American crowd. Just then I happened to look over into the cab of the waffle truck, in time to see the driver, his head bowed onto the steering wheel, sobbing uncontrollably. Then he sat up and slammed the wheel with his hand. That told me all I needed to know: he was an American driver. We had just lost 1-0.
From what I understand, these soccer teams are all international anyway. Whoever has the money, can bid for any soccer player they want. Kind of like the Yankees.
I love soccer, but jingoistic behavior by any country always gives me the creeps. Lucille was content to nestle with her tribe.
Bikes don’t have national allegiances.