So here I was, overwhelmed in this impossible city. Any preconceptions I held of New York were only a hundredth of the actuality of standing in its heart. Our hotel was just off Broadway and we were on the fifteenth floor buried by buildings soaring way above us. The corner suite we bagged was pretty spectacular; quirky to be more exact. What must have been an old building lay across the street from us and we could look over to its rooftop. Each day around 5pm waiters dressed in black, would bring out canapes and trays of drink. Every afternoon an event was laid out – a wedding, formal parties, a book launch perhaps? Goodness knows. All these would take place under lengthening shadows cast by the myriad of skyscrapers soaring above. Lying on the bed in the early evening and watching the lights come up I’d try to figure out if someone was working late or perhaps it was an apartment and people had just come home.
This restful time came after a day of walking, usually miles exploring the mid town area and shopping of course; hopping on busses, exploring Harlem and Brooklyn. Unfortunately getting anywhere required battling through congested, smoke filled streets which became a bit of a bore. The previous day a bus tour had failed to pick us up after a hop-off in Harlem and as it began to grow dark we began to feel extremely vulnerable on the street. Consequently on our third day we decided to drift up toward Columbus Circle that lead us into a more salubrious area.
After just a few blocks we discovered an oasis of calm, serenity and beauty right here in the middle of New York; Central Park.
It is magnificent. It’s history alone fills volumes. Designed by an Englishman for the people of New York over a century ago. THIS IS A NON SMOKING PARK a sign declared at the entrance. Well you couldn’t get me in there fast enough.
The Tavern on the Green is a very English restaurant with wonderful food and old-fashioned style. The waitresses and lone waiter are young, beautiful people; immaculately dressed and coiffed. Several did look as if they were sucking sour plums, but that’s the cat-walk style I guess. It was where ‘ladies did lunch’. The only people here wearing shorts and tee shirts were tourists and shown a table outside. However it wasn’t outrageously expensive, and not a television in sight!
I did see an Asian gentleman though sitting on a bench smoking. I approached him and told him smoking was not permitted in the park. He didn’t understand so I resorted to hand signals and made it very clear he was breaking the law and in for a big fine if he didn’t extinguish the dirty filthy fag immediately. He complied without hesitation and I sauntered off leaving him wondering who I was – the smoking police in plain clothes?
Anyone out there travelling to New York; once the initial awe and wonder has worn off and you’ve hit the tourist spots with a million other tourists, to save your sanity take in Central Park and BREATHE.