Thursday, September 10, 2015

Day 4: New York

Last night I discovered two things - 1) the cumulative effect of eating Hershey Kisses (the almond variant) is that they start to taste like vomit and 2) 3-4 hour naps in the middle of the day are not going to cure my jetlag! We suffered another early morning, though I hoped this meant it would be quiet enough for me to use the waffle iron.

Alas, no. Armies of Americans sequestered both irons, leaving me munching passive aggressively on my Philadelphia bagel (actually a nice combo) and wishing they’d let me try the breakfast treat. I then was glad, because the waffles they were walking away with were huge, covering entire plates.

A much cooler day awaited us - 81 degrees Fahrenheit. I was unsure the tank top from the previous day would be warm enough (we’ve all re-worn shirts on holidays, admit it!). As we walked to Central Park at 8am, the rain began as spiteful spitting before upgrading to a mild downpour which made me fear for the camera in the backpack. I begged my fiancé to find shelter so he guided me down into a subway walkway that smelled strong of pee.

Deciding a bit of rain would be alright and that Central Park was the only thing to do on such a day, we escaped Eau de Urine and headed for greenery. It was too early for horse drawn carriages (I was tempted by this on our first day when we saw them from the taxi, one that had chipped hooves had stumbled on the road beside us) and the rain meant that my fiancé had to field the raindrops from me - and the SLR - by expertly waving the umbrella around.

My sour mood evaporated when I saw squirrels. I was thankful I’d had the foresight to attach the telescopic lens to my camera. But these critters are so fast - I mainly caught squirrel-shaped blurs bounding over the grass but managed some passable shots. What amusing little things, always in a hurry, though I discovered that some will take the time to pose close to the fence for an adoring audience.


Lawns are closed in Central Park until 9am and some areas are fenced off completely with nearby signs begging us to save American elms by not lunging at them. There are signs declaring the presence of English elms - I did not see much difference between them. We saw a handful of Central Park’s many arches and discovered a fair amount of bathrooms (though one had comically tiny doors that revealed head or knickers, depending if you were standing or sitting).

A fairytale in the heart of NYC.

The smell of horseshit was very fresh on some paths, but mostly we had a lovely time, finding an area devoted to chess, normal-sized and giant-sized, as well as the diary which used to serve fresh milk to children. We also passed carnival rides. Central Park seems designed for whimsy.

Near a fountain - the Angel of Waters statue, designed by a woman and featured in an episode of Forever (they found a body at the fountain). Here we encountered a guitarist singing over and over “it’s raining in New York” though by now it wasn’t. We spotted some tourists posing in fake yoga positions on the wall for a photo.

Not a bad place to find a body.

I chose to use the smaller lens to document the rest of the park. There were small areas to fish, including little lakeside shelters, but signs warned of the bright green algae blooms. I was quite taken by a park bench (a lot of them are dedicated to the living and dead) with a plaque that mentioned a name followed by “Will you marry me?”. I wondered out loud if she had said yes - my fiancé asserts it would have been taken down if she had said no.

We discovered, thanks to a map, that we weren’t even halfway through the incredibly long park - and I still needed to find Belvedere Castle, a folly dating from the 19th century and also seen in the TV movie Prince Charming.

I was soon to discover why characters in the movie were putting on a Shakespearian play. As we hunted around, we found the Shakespeare Gardens which were twisty and full of flowers. Then we happened upon a theatre that only presents Shakespeare. It had a lot of pink signs. A map promised the castle was nearby. After a detour where we discovered an ice cream vendor we liked the sound of, we managed to get to the castle (it is very hard to find anything by line of sight in the park!).

What folly.

The folly was small and quaint and boasted a gift shop as well as a tiny narrow staircase reminiscent of the one in Stirling’s Wallace Monument. But here there were mirrors on the corners to ascertain when it was safe to move down a level - this didn’t always work!

I was annoyed by the clusters of people populating my photos, but it was later in the day now so many people were in the park. I managed to get photos of us in the “turret”.

We headed back south, somehow taking a different path and lost track of the ice cream vendor. We really were not keen to explore further  and the castle had been my real desire, after all. In The Ramble, amidst its winding ways apparently favoured by those looking for a hook-up, we encountered an American who pulled out an earbud and asked, “Do you know where you are?”

“Sort of,” my fiancé replied.

The man then asked directions of us, for a road to the north-east. We were able to help him. He thanked us and left. Imagine that, Australians giving an American directions in New York City!

The only place in NYC where I didn't feel grumpy.

We made our way back to where we started. We began seeing many horse-drawn carriages crammed with families. The guides would point out the sides at some item of interest. We happened upon more squirrels, these ones more daring. A man stopped abruptly and said “SQUIRREL!”, just like the dog in the Pixar movie Up. He did this three more times much to my amusement.

We finally escaped the park and various rickshaw drivers who kept trying to take us for a ride - literally and figuratively! Some charged $3 a minute. We bypassed M&Ms World again then went back to the Cosmic Diner for Milkshakes Part II. I then hunted down a Butterfinger from a convenience store, having been craving one.

Back to the hotel room after lunch to relax. My fiancé has massaged my poor feet but I fear they will never stop throbbing!

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