New York Minute

I randomly dive into my folders of travel photos and come up with one that might inspire a post. This one is tonight’s memory, the New York Metropolitan Museum, or The Met. I love museums, big and small. I especially love weird and wonderful ones like the Dog Collar Museum in Leeds Castle, England. That sort of thing.

But the Met is one of the big ones on the scale of the British Museum or the Victoria and Albert. You can’t dip in and do it in an hour. You could be there all day with a stop in the cafe to reenergize but I find that after a few hours, I burn out and it all becomes a blur.

Setting the Wayback Machine to the summer of 1998, I was taking a course for work in nearby Parsippany, NJ. There isn’t much there in the area where the hotel and training centre was but we were close to the main road and a bus into Manhattan. Several of us students took the bus into the Port Authority one evening and we walked across and down to the Empire State Building and went to the top just as dusk was settling over the skyscrapers on a hot and hazy evening.

After, we walked back to Port Authority, thinking it was probably a bit late to look for a restaurant and still make a late bus back to the hotel, a journey of an hour from the bus station. We didn’t know how late that particular commuter bus would run so we walked back to the terminal and, crossing 7th Ave. we could see the lights of Times Square blazing up into the night a few blocks distant. I actually stopped in the middle of the street (in a crosswalk, I’m not *that* kind of tourist!) to take photos!

On the weekend, I had a Saturday to spend on my own before my flight home on Sunday so I took the bus into the city again and went to the Met. I spent the whole morning there and it was bliss! Pre-Raphaelites, Tiffany, and even better, the medieval Unicorn tapestries were on display from the Cloisters which was undergoing renovations.  I got to see some Impressionist paintings, too, paintings I had only seen in books…Renoir, Monet, Manet, Sisley, Degas, the list goes on. Their collections are more extensive in the Impressionist schools than any I had seen up to then.

Leaving there, I soon found myself near St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center before meeting a penpal and his wife at Sak’s where she worked. We had lunch and we walked around in the oppressive heat and humidity for an  hour or two, crossing Times Square mid-afternoon.

Times Square, August 1998

When I am asked what I thought of New York, my first answer is “Colourful”!  I don’t just mean it’s inhabitants either.  I mean there is a lot more colour than you would expect for a city consisting of so much concrete, steel and flesh!  The streets are filled with endless streams of bright yellow cabs.  There are big, bright billboards on and between buildings.  There are brightly coloured advertisements in shop windows.  There are flags and banners hanging from stores, museums and public buildings.  Many people are dressed in bright colours and the sidewalks are dotted with news agents selling newspapers and magazines.  There is, of course, colour overload when you reach Times Square. Garbage bags are pink, the police station has a neon sign!  And let’s not forget the frequent food vendors and fruit and vegetable markets with their bright canopies and umbrellas.

My second impression is the constant smell.  Now, it’s not a bad smell.  Well, not all the time.  As you walk the streets, you are constantly walking in and out of one smell after another…perfume from people or stores, garbage, diesel fuel from busses and subway vents, food cooking, people, freshly cut grass, the scent of a flower bed and car exhaust.

The pace of the city is so much faster than I am used to, too and you find yourself speeding up to keep up!  Not too many cars use signal lights… the car horn seems to be the weapon of choice but traffic lights seem to be more than just a suggestion.  You will see a few cars run the red when it first turns but then, generally, the cars hold back and let the cross traffic take their turn.

I only had that day and a few hours in an evening in New York but my partner and I have decided that our next side trip when he next visits me is probably going to be New York. I haven’t really seen much of it and he’s never been at all. It’s not a long way from here, a couple of hours’ flight. We might see a Broadway show, maybe take a tour bus, go on the Staten Island Ferry for a good view of the skyline. We’re always planning one or two trips ahead of the one we’re about to go on.

Always dreaming of where we can go next.

And that’s how it should be!