One of many things I loved in the trip to New York City was the amount of walking you could do almost anywhere. I arrived on a Tuesday afternoon and as the cab crawled through Manhattan to the hotel (while I gawked out the window and tried to take in every block we passed), I couldn’t wait to get off the taxi, throw my luggage in the hotel, and start exploring the streets. It took more than 8,600 miles to get there, I wasn’t going to waste any time. After checking in, answering office emails, and resisting the strong urge to sleep at five in the afternoon, I walked. Because most of the streets of Manhattan are mapped out like a grid, it was easy to walk around, look at every block, every townhouse or brownstone, every sidewalk, and find my way back to my hotel–that is after taking in an embarrassing amount of photos of aforementioned blocks, townhouses, brownstones, sidewalks (while not letting the pile of garbage bags lining said sidewalks get in the frame). My husband, who takes an inordinate number of photos in our trips would be proud.
After the official business part of the trip was done and I could actually sleep for more than two hours straight, a friend from high school who’s now working in New York accompanied me to the two museums I wanted to see and spent the afternoon walking with me around Central Park. I took the no. 6 train to 86th Street in the morning and from there walked to the Met where we met up, walked to Central Park, headed to MoMA, to Magnolia Bakery at the Rockefeller Center, down to Times Square to her husband’s office, and then to 33rd Street to take the train back to their apartment. There’s a lot of walking to be done in New York City. And this was just on a Friday.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest museum in the US and has more than two million works. While this is enough to make anyone in her right mind pay a visit when in New York City, I had one more incentive: it was one of the many NYC locations of When Harry Met Sally, particularly the Sackler Wing in the Egyptian collection. But even if you’re not a fan of Ephron’s classic rom-com, this is probably one of the more memorable rooms in the museum with its sloping floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Walking into the sunlight-soaked wing was a welcome break after several enclosed galleries and rooms filled with encased mummies and ancient Egyptian artifacts.
From the Met, we walked through Central Park. Central Park! Yes, Hollywood, you’re also to blame for this park infatuation. But the park does live up to the romantic image I had in my head (see photo above and the other photos below), which is also tempered by Law & Order episodes involving crimes in Central Park. Every so often I would squeeze my friend’s arm, just over the moon that I was there: sitting on a bench watching some guy blow bubbles, passing a couple of joggers, watching toy boats glide across a man-made pond, going inside the Boathouse, watching folks get into the actual boats, stumbling upon a photo shoot, squealing at the sight of the Bethesda Fountain (the number of movies that’s been shot there are just too many to mention), squealing some more when we went across to the elm-lined pedestrian pathway the Mall.
From Central Park we walked to the Museum of Modern Art at W 53rd Street. Since it was a Friday, MoMA has UNIQLO Free Friday Nights from 4 to 8 pm. You don’t have to pay the $25 admission fee but you do have to contend with massive droves of other tourists moving from one gallery to the next. It doesn’t make for a relaxing museum outing, but you do get to see some of the most iconic modern art along with a heaping of crazy people watching. I didn’t take a lot of photos , but I did get to ogle at some artwork I’ve only seen in books and magazines: Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Edward Hopper’s Night Windows, Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World, Henri Rousseau’s The Sleeping Gypsy, and Joan Miro’s many works (I can’t pick one… mainly because I don’t know all their names). P captured more interesting photos of the MoMA in his 2012 trip here.
At the end of the day, I was exhausted but exhilarated. I felt like I covered so much ground, but another New Yorker friend was quick to tease me that it was merely over three miles. I didn’t tell her anymore that I got to do a number of things I’ve always wanted to do and even if it was a distance of a few miles, I certainly felt like I had traveled further.
[UPDATE] Walking itinerary for the day: Get off at 86th Street at Lexington, head west to Park Ave., Madison Ave. and 5th Ave toward Central Park, have brunch or lunch in the park (or pick among the many food stalls in front of the Met and have a quick bite in front of the museum; cost $8 to 12)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art: There’s no admission fee but guests are required to make a donation; the suggested donation for adults is $25… but most of my friends living in New York insist that $1 should do. I gave $5. Don’t judge me.)
Central Park: There are many places to see in the park, Alice in Wonderland, the Boat House, Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, The Mall, Strawberry Fields, etc. Here’s a map.
Museum of Modern Art: From Central Park South, we walked around six blocks down to the MoMA. Admission fee is $25 or free during the UNIQLO Free Friday Nights Magnolia Bakery at Rockefeller Center (before or after this sweet stop you can head up to the Top of the Rock and have a view of the city, but I did this at another time because my friend and I had to meet up with her husband at his office, somewhere in…)
Times Square: Yes, it’s as crowded and neon-lights crazy as the pictures. I honestly don’t know whether I love it or hate it.
John’s Pizzeria: for some mouthwatering coal-fired brick oven thin crust pizza for dinner (large pizzas, 8 slices, go from $14 to $17.25)