Trip Taken: 2010
After getting situated in my lodging in Astoria, courtesy of AirBnB and my gracious host Jerry, it was already mid-afternoon. I didn’t exactly know what to do with the evening approaching. I was sort of hungry, but I wanted to see what New York had to offer. So I did the most New York thing I could think of that was for free, visit Central Park and Times Square. I headed for the subway station and was on my way.
Just a side note I wanted to mention. There is one thing about traveling in New York that I have found to be fairly consistent during my time in New York. A tourist could end up feeling like he lives underground if he uses the subway. I bought a week pass so I used the subway quite a bit.
Visiting Central Park
The first thing I saw when I came out of the subway station was a pile of garbage. Granted it was bagged and neatly stacked on the sidewalk, but it was garbage nonetheless. I had prepared myself for the piles of garbage. I knew about it, I think, from watching ‘The Real World’. Reality TV has proved useful to me. A random tourist would be shocked to find piles of garbage in New York. It’s not just a city. It’s THE city. So I would imagine a bit of chuckle. But, hey, it’s sanitary and it didn’t smell.
I approached Central Park from the south side of the park. I walked around aimlessly for a few minutes. Just getting lost in a big place. There were a lot of runners going every which way. In my mind, I couldn’t help but wonder how much money these overachievers are making. I am surrounded by both the Upper East and Upper West sides after all. Finally, I was able to find the mall. A long pedestrian lane lined with trees and benches on both sides. Even though this place has been filmed in countless movies, I am hard-pressed to name one. Normally, it looks like it would be lined with street performers. There were some. One performer looked kind of crazy performing a monologue to an empty audience. That is dedication to the craft of acting.
The one place I knew I wanted to see was the Bethesda fountain at the end of the mall. It was made known to me by the mini-series ‘Angels in America’. It was a serene scene. This was where I ate my picnic dinner. It was starting to be the late afternoon and the sun was slowly setting. There were some jedi cosplayers by the fountain and several tourists sitting by the fountain for a restful respite. I ate my dinner of ham and cheese sandwiches, the content of which I picked up from a store in Astoria. I saw part of the great lawn, but I wanted to get out of Central Park before it turned dark.
After exiting Central Park, I walked a dozen or so blocks down the west border towards the Time Warner Center. I had to stop here for a minute to dream a bit about going inside and eating at Per Se. Per Se is one of Thomas Keller’s restaurants and is supposedly one of the best in the world. Maybe someday I will come back and dine here. I say goodbye to the Central Park and take the subway to Times Square.
Times Square was simply amazing. There were lights, lights, and more lights in every direction I looked. Large panel screens with moving ads and the news tickers announcing the happenings of the world. Hanging high atop was the crystal ball I have seen on TV during many a New Year’s Eve celebration. It was tourist central and I felt damned proud. A crossroads of the road that is even more diverse, luminous, and vibrant than any place I have been to. Piccadilly Circus in London has nothing on Times Square. I say that plainly as a matter of fact.
Times Square is also where you end up for some of the cheaper tourist souvenirs as there is a wealth of vendors and storefronts all selling wares that have ‘NY’ plastered somewhere. If you are taking in a Broadway show, then you will inevitably end up near Times Square. The Great White Way is right here. I went to see a Broadway show and an Off-Broadway Show that I will get into in a different post. There is a seating area on one side of the main plaza of Times Square. It’s jammed packed with people, all speaking languages that was not English. I looked at the Waterford crystal ball and hundreds of people and thought ‘New York. I have arrived.’