…that’s the time it takes from the (traffic) lights to turn green, till the guy behind you starts honking his horn” – Johnny Carson.
BA Baracus awoke from his slumber around 5:30am. He seems to have dealt with the time difference quite well. I remember a trip to Barbados with Gaz, ex-housemate, and my bum seemed to be on UK time for a number of mornings. For those of you who think I may be sharing a room with Mr T, please read previous blog entries.
Anyway, my room was stiflingly hot – I actually found a mosquito in their on my last day…and some mosquito bites thereafter – so I opened the window. I could hear the city was already awake or perhaps it never sleeps. The city may never sleep, but I could manage a couple more hours.
I take an age to get up and out. The communal bathroom is ok. I regret not bringing flip-flops. It’ll be just my luck if I end up with a verruca.
I made a list of things to buy. Although my money had yet to come through, so most of the list had question marks next to them…I ended up buying toothpaste. A worthy purchase, but not as glamorous as the ipod or digital camera that I plan to buy.
Other than that, I have no plans. I guess you could call it an orientation day. I know where I am on the map, so I decide to head for Central Park. I figure that I’ll get some breakfast and wander around a bit. Typically, my philosophy about jinxing myself meant that I made no plans with what to do when I got to New York, in case I didn’t actually get here.
The weather is great. Although CBS predicted showers and that’s what I prepared for, I wish I’d worn my sunglasses rather than my waterproof jacket. I reach Central Park really soon and decide to turn right (head east) to find somewhere to eat. I end up at the Queensboro Bridge. That King of Queens viewing must have had a subconscious effect!
There’s a place called the Tramway Diner at the entrance to the Roosevelt Island cable car. That’ll do!
I plan to eat reasonably healthily (I still have yet to have an NY hotdog) and go for what I think is turkey ham (a healthy alternative to bacon) on french toast…or eggy bread as it is more commonly known. What I get is eggy bread, with turkey AND ham and a ton of melted cheese on top. OK, I guess that’s not too bad, but then the waiter gives me maple syrup:
“excuse me, I don’t need this” – I think he’s put it on the wrong table.
“you don’t want maple syrup on it?”
“I haven’t got pancakes, I think it’s meant for another table”
“First time in New York? A lot of people have maple syrup on french toast – try it”
That can’t be right, but I’ll give it a go. Either the guy is being genuine or I’m the subject of a prank. It’s so wrong, but it tastes good! Really good! I don’t have a sweet tooth, but man, this is great. So from being healthy, I’m now eating two different kinds of meat on eggy bread, covered with cheese and swimming in maple syrup. I can’t allow myself to get hooked on this. I resolve to take it easy on the syrup from now on. But, I suggest all of you try it!
I head back to Central Park. It’s not even 10am. I’ve only been to New York once before. It was February 2001 and there was at least a foot of snow on the ground. So it was interesting to see the place in bright sunshine and quite busy. I wander aimlessly and wind up at the entrance to the Central park zoo. Only $8 to get in and I remember in the film Made (Jon Favreau & Vince Vaughan) that the zoo has penguins, so I go in. Penguins are the Charlie Chaplin of animals, in that the waddle about and do some entertaining slapstick. Penguins are also monogamous for each season, unlike Chaplin who married 4 times and had 11 children. Chaplin’s body was stolen after his funeral and was not recovered until 2 months afterwards – I could find no grave robbing stories relating to penguins.
Anyway, the zoo was great. The only downside was the bit where the keepers get the seals to do a few tricks whilst feeding them. It’s not to the point of juggling or honking horns, so I guess it is purely a case of stimulation for the seals, but it’s not my cup of tea…well, actually it is…I don’t like tea.
There is a rain forest section, where the main area has birds roaming about amongst the visitors. I expect to receive a “present” from a bird at some point, but escape ok. I also wander through looking at lizards, frogs, etc. The humid atmosphere reminds me of my hotel room. I even had a look at the monkeys. I’m not keen on monkeys. It’s not that I’m scared of them, I just don’t trust them. These monkeys seemd ok, they were all just laying around.
Outside the rainforest, the snow monkeys were living up to my expectations. They were running about, scrapping, screaming and touching themselves inappropriatey in a family zoo. They were great to watch – not touching themselves – the way that they communicate with each other. They have a huge range of facial expressions and it’s easy, as it is with most animals to anthropomorphise. I wander on, in case they start throwing poo. I presume they can’t jump over that moat!
A red panda, up a tree, no more than 6 feet away. This one is loving the sunshine and after a good old back scratch settles down on a branch about 15 feet up. Next stop, the penguins. They are crazy! I wonde if they act like this in the wild? They seem to just fuck about, jumping in and out of the water. At school, we had swimming lessons and at the end of the lesson, we would be allowed a free swim. This basically meant that we would spend ten minutes leaping into the water from varying angles – great fun. And the penguins were doing just that! It looked like they were having a great time and this area was full of kids and parents loving the show. The kids watching would shout out whenever one of the penguins pooed and although the parent would tell them not to point that out, we’d all watch the crap disperse into the water. Like an antarctic lava lamp.
I have to say that the polar bears stole the show for me. Curiously, the polar bears were on the same side of the zoo as the penguins. There were two polar bears. One was the size of a people carrier – huge! It’s the first time I’d seen a polar bear in the flesh and as cute as they look, you would not want to see one out it’s compound. This one was asleep. The other, smaller one – the size of a mini – was more active. This one was stood at the edge of the water. We were all mesmorised in case it decided to leap in, but the polar bear looked like it had other things on it’s mind. It squinted up at the sun, perhaps considering that it was pretty warm for mid April and that the whole global warming thing looked like it was true: “I’m sure it wasn’t this warm last year.” Either that or it could smell the penguins and was trying to work out what the smell was.
Having completed the adult zoo, I move onto the children’s zoo – well, it’s all part of my $8 entrance fee. I’ll avoid any jokes about the children’s zoo not having any children in it. It was a petting zoo and although all of the animals were great, the best moment was when a middle aged guy, all long hair, leather and sunglasses, tripped over a tree root and bust his sunglasses…cool as fuck…
Unfortunately, I do not yet have my camera, but I do take a few pics with my mobile that I will publish once I trasnfer them over.
Leaving the zoo, I head for open ground and a proper stroll around Central park. I sat and watched/listened to a dixie band for a while and also go the the Dakota building and the Strawberry Fields area. Although famous for being the site of John Lennon’s murder, the Dakota buildng was also the apartment block featured in Rosemary’s Baby. I couldn’t help but wonder what John Lennon would make of the Strawberry fields area. It was full of high school kids scoffing their lunches when I was there. That and souvenir sellers.
I go back to my hotel. I’ve somehow been out all day. Time flies, etc.
It’s saturday night, so I decide to hit a few bars. I mainly want to write up some notes on my day, so I go for quiet bars. Mostly Irish ones, that are close to the hotel. The highlight was when I told the bartender of my last trip to NY, seven years ago, he remarked that I would have been too young to appreciate it…I was 25 and it was more like I was too drunk to appreciate it!
It gets to 10pm and I’m tired. I’ve had a good day and, although I’ve had a few pints, I’m not drunk and I decide to get an early night.