May 18, 2015

The Same But Different.

New York is a city that I've had the great privilege of having been able to visit multiple times. This is my third visit and while I'm still Team Big Apple to my core (what a brilliant metaphor for a Sunday morning), I'm a somewhat different person to the girl of my first trip here back in 1999.
 
 
It was my first year out of university and I was in my first job that paid 'real money'. My friends and I had planned a grand tour of North America that encompassed New York, Vancouver, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. We would be staying in actual hotels (but sharing rooms) and for me, at least, it was the first holiday I'd ever taken that I had financed entirely on my own.
 
 
 
Our brief stay in New York was a tightly scheduled few days of doing touristy things whilst avoiding actual tour groups. Is it even possible to be off the beaten track if you've planned your trip based on city guides and The Lonely Planet?
 
 
Talking about 2009 but this photo was taken this trip. Standing here felt like I was taking a step back in time.
The New York of 2009 was different.
 

 
 
There was still a sense of grief in the air at the ruins of the World Trade Centre but also great hope for a brighter and different future with President Obama taking office.
 


We went for a walk last night to Grand Central station. It was the first place I strolled to in a jet lagged brain fog and in search of food when I was last in New York.

 


The graceful strength of the architecture gets me every time I walk through the main concourse. The sense of patriotism within these walls is quiet, dignified and deeply spiritual. The stars and stripes hang with pride high overhead as members of the armed forces patrol the grounds.


And the movement. The milling crowds of people. Each with their own purpose, each making their own special memories. University graduates in their convocation gowns waiting to meet proud relatives, brides posing for photos with their gowns trailing behind them across the marble floors, friends wearing themed headpieces for a birthday celebration.

For once, us tourists are in the background. Our map reading and hesitant steps this way and that abandoned as we take in the magnificence of the architecture around us.

The sign says Oyster Bar but for all intents and purposes, that arrow was pointing us to Shake Shack.
 
There was only one place we wanted to visit in the dining concourse and that would have been the fine dining establishment also known as ... Shake Shack. But the queue was too long, even for a pair of Sydneysiders so we abandoned the idea and kept on walking.
 


To the fresh food market housed in the station.


It was beautiful. An entire hall lined with fresh produce stalls with a glittering branched chandelier twinkling softly from the ceiling.

 
With an appetite from all the walking, we headed up East 42nd in search of another fast food chain that was on my 'must eat' list (just a heads up, all the eating we'll be doing on this trip will be on the cheapish side because most of the budget went to the shopping) - Chipotle.
 


Chipotle is a Mexican grill that aims to source their ingredients as responsibly as possible.

 
You can order your meat (or vegetables) as part of a taco, burrito, bowl, salad or with rice. I went for the rice with all the toppings (including guacamole) with a tub of dressing.
 
 
 
 

And then I took my brown paper bag across the street to Bryant Park which is now officially my most favourite place ever in the city.

 
 
 
 


I think you'll agree when I say that this isn't a bad spot to be sitting for dinner.


Which was so fabulous I might go back and have it again for dinner tonight.


Colour, taste, fresh lime and lean, non oily meat. How often have you seen all of that in the one fast food meal?

 

In my younger (or should that be salad seeing as that was what I ate) days, the allure of New York City was in its glamour and luxe living lined sidewalks. The stores, the immaculately turned out locals who could take any high street trend and style it entirely in designer labels (or perhaps the high street took their inspiration from them) and the sense that spendy bits and pieces were key in living your best possible life.

The Great Lawn, Bryant Park.
 
But time and life change people. Priorities change as you learn life's lessons and reap it's real rewards. Pretty things are lovely but beautiful people are the real 'key pieces' you should look for and lavish with more care and attention than a togo leather handbag. Which I'm still saving for, by the way, so I guess some people really do not change...
 


That dinner in Bryant Park marked a turning point for me on this trip because it allowed me rebalance myself. It was just so peaceful and soothing sitting quietly amongst normal people doing normal things. There wasn't the hustle of Times Square, the urge to power shop of Fifth Avenue or the congestion of every other street in Mid Town.


The Byrant Park Shakespeare troupe played to an engaged audience.

 

And I inadvertently walked backstage.

 
And even on stage....
 


I can't describe it any better than to say that walking through the park was like taking a few deep breaths and being very much in the moment.

 


Token words between photos.... But do you love walking through the parks and public spaces of cities you visit? Does it leave you feeling recharged and ready for another day of being touristy / businessy / conferency?

The park's namesake, William Cullen Bryant. A past editor of the New York Post and an abolitionist.


A shame we missed the piano performance.


I love looking up and seeing the contrast of the lines of sky scrapers behind the trees of parks.

 
The park is privately run but open to the public. It was by all accounts, pretty run down and dangerous before it was rehabilitated to its current splendour in 1992.
 
The Bryant Hotel.
Dinner eaten and senses invigorated, it was time to venture back onto the busy streets. Where it was business as usual.
 


This store across the street from Byrant Park was packed with the door directing patrons to line up to the left for take out and to the right for dine in. So New York City, and so Sydney.

 
What was inside was an array of delicious looking cake which patrons were eating with glasses of water. No tea, no coffee, no bubbles - just water. So New York City but no so Sydney.
 
A food cart on the move. They tend to do that a lot here when the weather and meal times change.
 
Taken from under one of the stone lions guarding the New York Public Library.
 
Still love you, New York.


4 comments:

  1. A great ode to a great city x

    ReplyDelete
  2. So important to see beyond the Midtown crush!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know. Planning a few train rides out of the chaos. Here for work / play.

      SSG xxx

      Delete

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