Summer walk in Central Park

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AA note from Pinay New Yorker: There are times when I want to write a post in a very detailed manner that it ends up languishing in my drafts folder for ages. There are times when they end up like this one, forgotten. Many months after that walk in my Central Park, I found this and just realized I never published it. Now well into winter, I have finally decided that I will hit the publish button finished or not. It’s my own ode to the summer of the pandemic here in New York City. (12.30.20)

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A couple of weeks ago when I braved returning to the city, I had the chance to do my daily walk in Central Park. This is a much delayed post, but before the summer is totally over, I wanted to share my walk around this favorite part of New York.

One of the things I have always tried to aim to accomplish in any given year is to visit Central Park all four seasons. I’m starting a bit late this time, having skipped spring, but I had the chance to explore and visit some of my favorite spots a couple of Saturdays ago. This isn’t exactly this previous weekend, but for this summer, this is my Central Park trek.

Central Park is a big patch of green in Manhattan that spans acres of land. I have yet to reach the upper fringes of the park, but have gone enough times to have my personal favorites. One place I hope to visit with Angelo one of these days is The Gill where he used to play among the rocks. Maybe one day one he is up for a picnic lunch and things are not as different as they are now.

For this particular day in the park, I had my goals set modestly to walk towards the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain. It’s deep enough into the park to be not that easily accessible from the outer perimeter, but close enough that you can go back the same way you came in from 59th street.

I chose it not only for its beauty and serenity, because it’s one of the more iconic spots here. I have beheld it several times before, and I knew from which vantage point to best take the pictures. In all honesty, the best time to visit the park is in the early fall when the leaves change colors, but the trees have not shed its leaves to prepare for winter.

I was ready with my mask, my disposable gloves in the pocket of my leggings, and a small pocket sanitizer tucked in the other pocket. The things you have to bring now that we are all social distancing and trying to be careful.

There were a lot of people in the park, but not quite as many as there used to be on a weekend. Even with the open space, I still try to avoid areas where there is just too big a mass of people breathing into the air that I might eventually breathe. So I walk in the opposite lane or detour six feet away from people.

Central Park Summer 2020
Gapstow Bridge

I always prefer to enter the park from the 59th streets perimeter where the Gapstow Bridge of Home Alone fame can be found. (The pond was dry as the setting was winter in the movie.). If you are ever in New York City and can only spare a few hours in Central Park, this is one of the best places to go to for pictures and to get a taste of our backyard here in the city. The pond itself offers several photo opportunities around it, and there are ducks and sometimes unusual birds that take a dip in the water, or who fly around the lush flora and fauna. The bridge itself is not very long but provides a view of the skyscrapers surrounding this side of the park, and sunsets and the evening lights provide a gorgeous reflection off the water if you are lucky enough to catch it.

Central Park Summer 2020

Looking Up

One thing I like about this part of the park is that it provides such a picture perfect view of the concrete jungle that Manhattan is, with the greenery of Central Park in the foreground. Depending on where you’re standing and what time of the day it is, sometimes you can get lucky and see a mirror reflection of the buildings around in the water in this pond. Not today for me.

If you are ever pressed for time and don’t have the leisure to go in deeper into the park, this iconic spot is representative of the beauty of Manhattan’s backyard.

This wasn’t a random walk. I knew where I wanted to head to. While I have another part of the park that is special to Angelo and I a little further on, my personal favorite part of this expanse is actually the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain seen below.

Central Park Summer 2020

It entails a bit of a walk from 59th street, but is a focal point of the lake that borders it, and will take you through another favorite portion here called The Mall. It is a stretch of walk bordered by elms on both sides, fenced in to help preserve its beauty. The benches that line the entire stretch of this wide walkway are an interesting bunch of names and dedications. One time, I actually found Jim Henson’s bench.

Central Park Summer 2020

When dusk sets in, the lamp posts on both sides are lit and a soft glow descends upon the corridor. You will find musicians and artists dotting the whole area. A staple of this particular patch is Jazz musician Ralph U. Williams, who has been there forever since I first walked this part of the park two decades ago. He is a fixture in the park through all four seasons, filling the air with his music . You can catch him on any given day, and enjoy his park concerts from the benches lining both sides of the mall. If you hear the smooth notes of a sax, it’s him. (I am trying to upload a 3-minute video of his performance which I shot while seated across the way from where he was playing. Rather than wait for that, though, I would like to see this post finally published.)

I found myself walking in circles the day I decided to do my 10,000 steps in Central Park. I actually ended up doing almost double that, but for all the extra steps and exhaustion, it was well worth exploring one of my favorite parts of New York City.

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It’s the penultimate day to the New Year, and I have double these pictures to share of that one day that I was able to roam Central Park freely — even if donning the required mask. I haven’t gone in the fall nor yet, this winter. I have always tried to make one year where I can visit all four seasons. Maybe 2021 is the magic year. For now, I write with the memories of this day I took to explore and just bask in the beauty of this huge patch of green in the concrete jungle that is Manhattan. In two days, it will be 2021, and if I can visit in the next couple of weeks, that makes for the first of the four seasons. Central Park will be there, waiting.

Forever the tourist in my New York

There is so much to see and discover here in my home, New York, that I have always refered to myself as a perpetual tourist.

Even though I walk the streets of Manhattan five days a week and my office is right smack in the center of Midtown,  I still find myself admiring the everyday structures and landmarks around me.  I look in quiet admiration at the Manhattan cityscape as it greets me every morning I make my way towards the Midtown Tunnel.  On the way home, I find myself taking a peek at the Empire State Building to check out what glorious colors adorn it on any given day.  I have seen its reflection on the glass canvass of the building on the southeast corner of 42nd and the Avenue of the Americas hundreds of times before, but I still feel like taking out my camera to snap a picture each time I look up.

There is a certain thrill to sharing “my” New York with friends and friends of friends and I’ve always taken to sharing recommended lists of “musts” and a walking tour or two.

A friend of my sister and I from back home is in the city with her husband who is running this Sunday’s ING New York Marathon.  Edlynn and Brian are visiting the East Coast for the first time, and I had taken to writing them snippets of recommendations and tips for visiting the big apple.  I really must get down to writing them formally to share here.

So let’s start with the edible things you have to try when you’re in New York City — at least per my recommendation:

Bagels from the streetcarts. My personal favorite is the raisin bagel with butter or cream cheese.  There’s a different chewy consistency to this all-American favorite and I like the sweet flavor of raisins and cinnamon mixed with butter.

Hotdogs please! Whether or not you’re a health buff or one who will eat anything, the so-called “hotdog experience” is one you must not miss if you are ever in this part of the US.  What makes it different is a person-to-person experience, but besides being the equivalent of our usual streetfood back in Manila, it’s an economical way of doing something we everyday New Yorkers do.

Cupcake-wise, CRUMBS takes my vote. I had always thought that Red Velvet was overrated, until I tried their Red Velvet cupcake. The sizing can be dauntingly huge, but I usually share one with the hubby.  The medium size is okay for an individual serving, but the minis don’t quite sate my craving.  Branches on 42nd between 6th and 5th and on Lexington Ave behind Grand Central

While most others would go to the next “must” on my list for the cupcakes made famous by Sex in the City, I’d vote for the Banana Pudding of Magnolia Bakery as the hands down winner in their category! Creamy pudding with slices of fresh banana and cake bits mixed in… pure heaven!  (That’s rephrasing their own description: ” Layers of vanilla wafers, fresh bananas, and creamy vanilla pudding.. heavenly!)  They have a branch on the 6th ave side of Rockefeller center.

Going for more sweets, you’ll have to try Junior’s Cheesecake which tops all cheesecakes. They have a restaurant near Times Square w/ humongous inch-thick all-meat burgers and generally great food but the cheesecake is what you MUST try!

Pastrami Sandwich at Katz Deliwell worth the trek to Houston and the line.  I’m not a lover of liverwurst but someone told me that theirs is something worth looking into if you’re into that sort of thing.

Although they say Gyros and it’s really supposed to be pronounced “Hee-ros”, these wraps are familiar to us as the once (in)famous shawarma back in Manila. My personal recommendation: KwikMeal (corner of 6th Avenue or Avenue of the Americas and 45th street beside Citibank) or the food carts around 53rd and 6th Avenue which always seem to have quite a line forming behind them.  (Must be THAT good!)  The chicken, beef and sometimes even lamb can be served in naan or pita or over rice.  I personally go for the chicken on pita and I ask that they tame down the hot sauce and slather on the white sauce — yum!

Here’s to the taste of New York!