Saturday, May 28, 2011

Central Park

This was not my first trip to New York. I had already been there in January and February of 2009, and I was not left with any of the same impressions others usually have about the city. I have my reasons.

Nonetheless, I was still excited for this new trip to New York. A big reason for the excitement was the reunion aspect of the trip. Most of these friends I have not seen in 2 and a half years! The reason for the reunion? A wedding on Long Island. I met both the Bride and Groom while living in Daegu, South Korea. The last time I saw the Groom was in January 2009 (the trip to New York was to visit him).

Unfortunately I missed the Bachelor party on the Friday night, having arrived early Saturday morning. My flight arrived at 9am, and I planned to meet up with friends as soon as I could. That did not come as soon as I hoped because of the Bachelor party the night before. I made some calls and got either no answer, or a half awake friend who needed more sleep. I'm easy going, so I just figured I would find something to do.

The last time I was in New York I was hanging out with 3 friends and mostly just following them around. That is what I tend to do when I travel with others.

This time I was on my own which I am more than used to. I took the M60 bus from LaGuardia airport intending to get off at Astoria where the guy I was staying with told me I could catch the N R subway line to close to where he lived. Of course, I waited too long before working up the courage and asking someone where the stop I wanted was. I ended up way past it in Harlem. The bus driver gave me instructions how to take the subway and transfer.

I got off the bus and even considered walking. I did have all my stuff however and as I started walking I started feeling uncomfortable. I knew Harlem was a rough area and the landscape seemed to reinforce that. So I decided to hop on the subway after all. I saw no need to take it all the way to where I was spending the night, my host wouldn't be home until 8 o'clock anyways. So I got off at the South East portion of Central Park.

Central Park is what made me fall in love with Manhattan. I had been there before, but it was different this time. I was free to wander on my own, stop when I wanted and go where I wanted to go. Most importantly, it wasn't winter time. I got the chance to see real New Yorkers in their elements. They were walking their dogs, jogging, taking their kids out, and just reading on a rock in the sun. The day was absolutely gorgeous as well, so there were a lot of people out and about.

I also took a few breaks to read. I was, after all, still carrying my big back pack. I felt like a walk through the park was an authentic aspect of the trip. Obviously there were tourists, myself being one, but it didn't feel touristy. Just wandering around reminded me of getting lost along the canals of Amsterdam. Being in a big city, yet away from all the traffic. It was the best of both worlds.

One man was making balloon animals for kids. I was getting a drink from a water fountain when a couple with a child, maybe about 4 years old, approached him and asked him how much a balloon animal was. He asked the child what he wanted and responded they could pay what they liked because he couldn't put a price on a child's happiness.

Another real thing I enjoyed about New York was different from the stereotype. I actually found them to be quite friendly. This is from experience and from observation. One thing I have come to admire is a helpful bus driver. I have encountered too many grumpy bus drivers that I find it intimidating to ask for help, which can be a problem if you don't know where you are going. Every time I asked for help I was assisted pleasantly, or told they did not know just as pleasantly. New York is a busy city and everyone seems to be in a hurry. One lady who rushed past me was on her way to catch the bus before it left. Ahead of me I saw another lady walking by the open bus door and telling the bus driver that someone was on their way which made him wait.

1 comment:

  1. Andy W. is truly a man of the world!