Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New York City

New York. We were there for three and a half breathless days, and I felt as if we'd fitted in enough activity for about the same number of weeks. How to capture it all in a blog post? Each day we did so many and such various things. On the first day, for example, we visited places that ranged from the sad:

World Trade Centre
 To the iconic:

The Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island ferry
From the magnificent:

To the ridiculous:
It was COLD in New York!!

But in this post I want to dwell for a moment on just three things that captured my imagination and that will remain sweet memories for me.

They call her Rose of Washington Square. Rose's arrival was a closely guarded secret (more of that in my next post) but the fact she was with us made our visit to New York in every way better. There are many versions of this wonderful 1920s classic song, but when she was a child, we had a delightful Australian version which included these lyrics:

             She posed, all day without her clothes
             they say she almost froze
             her assets glowed, a bright blue colour

She wasn't quite up for that, but she was obliging enough to pose, our Rose, in Washington Square:

I loved Washington Square. I loved that it was old and weary, that the trees were gnarly and knotted, that the squirrels would eat out of your hand (we saw some climbing into a child's pushchair while its rightful occupant was feeding the pigeons), that it felt quiet and calm.

The Brooklyn Bridge. The first day in New York we did all the tourist things: went to the World Trade Centre, took a trip on the Staten Island Ferry, and visited Times Square. It was interesting - like walking into a movie set - but the place didn't grab me, like Boston did. Everyone had said "oh, you will love New York!" but after that first day I didn't quite see it. The second day, on Ellen's advice, we took the Subway from our apartment in Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Bridge and walked across to the city. And I started to see what everyone meant. It was - simply - breath-taking.

On one side, you can see the Statue of Liberty, and on the other side, the whole city is laid out before you.

Central Park. I love the way so many cities include parks in their centre. I have always enjoyed the sheep grazing on One Tree hill, and the magnificent pohutakawas, kauri and oaks in Cornwall Park. Whenever I spend time in London, I always try to visit the exquisite landscaped parks: Kensington Gardens, Holland Park. But I have simply never seen anything like Central Park.

What I had never imagined was that the high rise buildings surrounding the park could be so beautiful, that they could add to the beauty of the trees.

There was so much happening there: people walking their dogs or pushing prams, jogging, kids riding scooters. Yet it didn't, in any way, seem crowded.

 I managed to ensure that we got back there three out of the four days we were in New York. I bought Christmas presents at the lovely market, and we ate wonderful ethnic food there on our last night. 

On our last morning, Bruce and Lizzy and I took one last trip through Central Park to visit the Metropolitan museum of art. And it snowed.

 There are many things that I will remember about these few days, and all of them were exciting and good. But I think these three things - not monuments or shops or tourist attractions or grand spectacles - will stay with me. They had - what was it? - a strange ordinariness to them. They were unlike any other place I've ever seen - and yet they were places where, you felt, people lived and played and walked in their ordinary lives. I liked that.


  1. So glad you had such a spectacular time. I'd heard about the snowstorm and the problems it caused on the roads, and hoped you were O.K.

    That squirrel needs to go on a diet. ;^)

    1. hi Pete: I think those squirrels lived a charmed life - some were more than chubby!.

      We, too, read about the storm, and we were expecting the worst. But really, although the weather was wintery (as you can see from the way we were all rugged up), the snow just added to the magic.