New York – the final chapter

So, having traversed the breadth of NYC, we settled on an excursion and discovery of Central Park, a green space that spans 51 blocks in central Manhattan and accounts for around 6 per cent of Manhattan’s land. You could easily spend the day in the park – this is a sanctuary from the noise and hustle and bustle that is NY. You can not hear the traffic in this part of Manhattan.

 
The park was created around 1850 and took almost 20 years to complete. The park itself is a rocky outcrop and the park was created with lakes and grassed areas through excavation and bringing in dirt from other parts of Manhattan.

The Alice in Wonderland statue was popular with Central park visitors, along with the RL Stevenson statue, complete with the duck, which everyone seemed to want to pat…

Central park has the nicest vistas, with beautiful views across parkland and lakes.  This is truly an oasis for Manhattanians and their lives in a concrete and steel jungle…

 
 
Actually, I think this is where Mcauley Caulkin was lost in NY…
 

We (Nicole and Greg) discovered the park by hiring a bike for a couple of hours, while Trish and her dad were entertained by a pedi-cab guide. This is certainly the best way to explore the 350 odd acres of parkland, from the lake to the Ramble and the Alice in Wonderland statue to Strawberry Fields.

You also see the apartment blocks above the tree line, which line Central Park West and 5th Ave on either side.  No wonder John Lennon and Yoko decided to reside adjacent to the park…

On the Upper West Side of Manhattan is the American Museum of Natural History, with its extensive dinosaur collection and (stuffed) animal exhibits. The museum is so huge that it is impossible to see everything in any detail, and we resorted to a walk through style tour, stopping at some of the exhibits. Of interest were the biodiversity display (a discovery of the our planet’s life) and the human origins display, telling the story of man from ape to today (not for the creationists).

The intrepid tourists also spent time exploring a few of the neighbourhoods. We walked Soho, known for its ironwork and industrial style architecture, where most of the buildings were constructed in the late 1800s to house manufacturing. Here the buildings have large windows. The cast iron facades were easier to create than chipping away at stone and often were more ornate.

 

Little Italy was exactly that, a piece of Italy in Manhattan – Italian signs, sights, smells and street side cafes and restaurants. The only thing missing was the sound of a Vespa whipping past you at speed.

And then there was the deli where Harry met Sally – and the obligitory Rueben Sandwich…this is a NY institution and I am sure that it trades off its reputation (and showmanship) rather than its exceptional culinary products…but the corned beef was just soooooo tender…

The Highline running along the edge of the Meatpacking area was an interesting walk, essentially a defunct raised railroad that has been turned into a public park. This railway once carried freight and served as the lifeline to factories where it delivered goods to the elevated loading docks. It now has abundant pants and natural wildflowers interspersed among the disused rail lines. The loading docks have become covered walkways with art space and cafes.

And yes, we went to Wall Street after spending some time at the World Trade Centre site and in the Tribute Centre. The centre has moving stories from the first respondees, residents, loved ones and those who managed to leave the WTC buildings before they collapsed. it provides moving stories of the events as they unfolded…in many ways, a difficult place to be in…incredibly moving.

 
 
And finally, nothing could be better than a cruise aorund Manhattan island, past Lady Liberty and viewing the skyscrapers from afar. You get a wonderful appreciation of just how big this city really is…and it does have a beauty about it.
 
 
Similarly, a walk across Brooklyn Bridge was a worthwhile activity, providing further vistas of the Manhattan skyline…but beware of the cyclists whoi speed past you in a devil may care attitude and are quite aggressive.

So, that is 10 days in NYC…would we go back? Probably, but only if our travels took us to that part of the US again, to explore the areas around NY state. The experience was however one that we will remember well and fondly. The transport around NY is easy – once you understand how the subway works and the people are friendly and helpful.

This is a big, brash and bold city that dares you to conquer it.  It will batter you and beat you into submission if you try to experience and see everything that it offers.  We survived NY…but there is more to the Big Apple than what we experienced.

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