It would be fair to say that Midtown, New York on a cold, wet day with a jet lag-induced headache wasn’t my favourite place in the world. Especially after an almost two hour journey in from the (supposedly) thirty-minutes-away airport. It was my first visit to the city and I noticed the litter collecting in rain-filled potholes, the peeling, grimy paintwork and the fact that my cab driver was swerving all over the shop with an exceedingly heavy right foot.
I was here to meet up with Paul, who had business meetings in the city, but I wondered quite why this girl from rural Buckinghamshire had ever thought it a good idea to join him.
But on my penultimate day here, I’m feeling incredibly sad to think of leaving tomorrow. I’ve got my head around all the chaos, I’ve caught up on much needed sleep, and the gorgeous, warm, autumnal sun has come out to play most days.
But not only that, I have amazed myself by quite falling in love with the character of New York, which is so unique, so progressive and just so happening. It’s so alive, with such an incredibly strong identity; it quite sucks you in. Add to that (you’ll be amazed to hear) a handful of outstanding gardens and a wonderful opportunity to catch up with dear friends, old and new, and I’m feeling remarkably different to this time last week.
As I started to open my eyes to see beyond the potholes, it was the architecture that first struck me. Showcasing many different eras, there were magnificent buildings of all types. Buildings with an incredible degree of thought and detail and effort put into them. Really sophisticated design but so varied and intricate and just beautiful.
Visiting the 9/11 Memorial was perhaps the most extraordinary experience. The architect, Michael Arad, whose design was selected from over 5,000 entries, had watched the second plane hit the South Tower from his rooftop, fifteen years ago. I can’t help but think this connection played a big part in Michael creating such a perfect atmosphere with his design. The whole site somehow emits respect, dignity, hope and renewal and its scale and simplicity, against the bustle of the surrounding streets, creates enormous impact and a sense of contemplation. An incredible and fitting monument.
Some lighter relief was felt that day in Central Park. We seemed to walk and walk and walk (I’ve walked 57 kilometres so far this week!) but still failed to make it from one end to the other of this 843-acre site. We admittedly got sidetracked by a few of the museums along adjoining Fifth Avenue as we headed north.
The following day, the garden visiting began. And when they put their minds to it, these Americans are pretty good at gardens, too. There are three that I’ll write up in more detail on separate posts:
Oh my. This was good. Very, very, very good. I couldn’t stay away. What to do with all those photos though!
Described as a ‘gardener’s garden’, this had to be visited, despite being two or three hours away from New York. It didn’t disappoint.
On the site of an old ‘garbage’ dump, the composting has definitely worked wonders! This garden prides itself on having many ‘firsts’ for American gardens, although the poor guide was very apologetic for how unimpressed an English horticulturist would be. She was, gladly, very wrong on this account!
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I’ll leave you, for now, with a photo of the Manhattan skyline, taken from Brooklyn Bridge, whilst I desperately try and sort though my High Line images to come up with a sensible few. Why, oh, why, do I repeatedly take so many?!