Wednesday, 29 June 2011
Ahhh New York. The Grand Tour, part 1.
Nothing sums up my love/hate relationship better than this bit of wallpaper that can be found blanketing the library walls in the Google office. Classy but kind of gross.
Sometimes, one has to step back from the daily grind to appreciate the surroundings. The day in and day out routine can get old fast- the accumulated stress of so many packed subway cars, the sitting in gridlock, the noise, the competition for everything and anything. It's not a peaceful place, but it has its moments.
I find myself really liking the role of playing tour guide. I get to go out, show people the sights which I deem worthy and steer them away from atrocities such as Familglia and jewlery and electronics stores that constantly have the "Going out of Business- SALE!" signs on (it's a scam). We can run in and hit the good parts of a museum, have pizza at a laid back little shop, and then find a few well-cultivated shops to find some unique souvenirs. While some people want the full-on tourist experience, I like to find ways to show people what we're really all about.
I was elated when a good friend finally decided to put on her brave face and buy a roundtrip ticket for a first-time visit. It's been a while since I got to walk around the city with no particular destination and a camera around my neck and blend in with tourist, so it was a real treat for me as well.
They recently installed LED stars in the "sky" over Grand Central. I pass through here all the time. I haven't looked up for a while. It's brilliant.
I still don't know how one might get up into the walkway between the panes of glass.
It started to rain, so we headed up to the Museum of Natural History.
The antique dioramas are still my favorites.
Then it was off to find a greasy little pizza shop that didn't look shiny and new.
Those places have the best pizza. Plus, no one should ever leave New York without the experience of the pizza. I would feel terrible otherwise.
When the rain let up, it was nice enough to take a walk around Central Park. The rain kept most of the people away, so it was fairly quiet. I spent my first year in New York working as a horseback riding instructor nearby and I would go riding in the park nearly every day. I now consider myself lucky if I get there once or twice a year.
I don't know how legal this was, but this dog was loving her paddle in the fountain.
The Dakota Building. Home to Yoko and also Rosemary's Baby.
The Bethesda Fountain:
We got to see a bridal fashion photo shoot.
The Alice in Wonderland statue:
The Boathouse Cafe was empty, but it's quite a lovely place to grab a bite.
The Mall is a shady walkway with huge elm trees curving and reaching out to form a canopy. Since Dutch Elm Disease has killed off the majority of elms in the region, it's a sight to see trees this large and old.
We got a cannoli at the Ferrera booth in Columbus Circle (where we were swarmed with offers for rickshaw rides) and we walked down 5th ave, which was a gridlock mess of diverted traffic since Obama was in town. We stood on our tippytoes on a police barricade and got to see the motorcade buzz by.
St Pat's Cathedral:
We hit a musical, of course- the oft sold-out "Wicked" (which is wonderful)- and then a tour around Times Square at night. What used to be just billboards and neon is now huge digital displays and screens constantly changing. It looks like a kaleidoscope of jumbo-trons.
I didn't even need to use a flash with my camera at 11pm.
It occurred to me: there's nothing to see or do here. The rents are so high in the area, it's nothing but mall stores, chain restaurants and some Disney-created cleanliness. The attraction is the lights and the huge crowds that come to stare at the lights to be subjected to Madison Avenue's whims. It's fascinating, and now that they have shut down part of the car traffic, it's become much more of a gathering place. Before, pedestrians were restricted to the narrow sidewalk to do their leering and cheering, which made it almost impossible for someone with somewhere to be to get anywhere without seriously injuring a grandmother from Iowa in the process. It's probably even more crowded now that there are places to sit and linger and wave at yourself when you appear on the interactive billboards.
It's hard to believe that it wasn't too long ago that this neighborhood was known for its XXX shops and adult theaters. It went from Seedy to Spectacle.
The elegant Chrysler Building, barely breaking through the low clouds.