Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Green Lung of NYC

New York's Central Park is like what the Golden Gate Park is to San Francisco, or what Hyde Park is to London or what the Botanical Gardens is to Singapore - the most important green lung of the respective cities.

Central Park is exceedingly huge, and has a zoo, police precinct, a reservoir, a lake and a pond. The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) is located on the upper west side, while on the upper east side, lies the Guggenheim Museum (which we did not visit) and at the lower eastern edge is the Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka MET, as mentioned in my earlier post).

It was through Central Park that we took a short cut to get from AMNH to MET. Although the park is just 0.8km across, we took a slightly meandering path so we could admire the tranquil surroundings. I felt like there was a perceptible dip in temperature when we entered the park, hovering somewhere in the region of 10-12 degrees. Fortunately, the cheery sun helped somewhat in raising the temperature slightly, even if certain ares of dense foliage occasionally blocked the sun rays.

We caught a glimpse of the Lake (I think?) from this vantage point

Some imposing Fifth Avenue skyscrapers in the horizon

There were plenty of people milling around on the bridge, some were cycling, jogging, walking their dogs, or just taking in the fresh air. It was already Autumn at that time, and the leaves were in varying and attractive shades of red, yellow, green.

Beautiful shades of Autumn, which will give way to the blanket white of Winter in a  month or so

Milk was bundled up in a big overcoat and scarf, over 2 layers of clothes

Much to our delight, we found Central Park teeming with squirrels. These squirrels are unlike their Singaporean counterparts, larger, very lively, less timid and their tails are longer and bushier. They seemed much more common than the ubiquitous stray cats and dogs in Singapore. Really, they are too adorable for words!

One squirrel posed long enough for me to take this

Unfortunately, we did not have time to visit the zoo or check out its police precinct. And so we went straight to MET after our park 'detour'.

Later that night, we strolled along Times Square and popped in and out of shops that were still open late, at past 8pm. One of the stores we popped in was the gigantic Hershey's, with its outdoor scrolling marquee sign. If you're a fan of Reese chocolates, just like me, you will be delighted to find all imaginable types of Reese chocolates inside (white, caramel, big, medium, tiny, etc). People with sweet teeth, beware, you may just explode your sugar quota here.

Milk took this. See the "Welcome to NYC" sign? This is the scrolling marquee, and can be customised to add your name or message.

M&M's was in the vicinity. so we popped in too.

This is just too cute (iphone taken, excuse the lousy quality)

Times square at night was teeming with people even though many shops were closed. I guess it could be because some Broadway shows end quite late or perhaps Times Square is a happening place to hang out at night. I noticed that on a daily and nightly basis in NYC, there would be shrill sounds of police or ambulance or fire department's sirens. Being a big city, I guess this is a normal occurence, compared to tiny Singapore, with its rather sedate but safe environment. We also noticed police horses in the area, this is certainly a novelty for most tourists who were busy snapping pictures of them.

The bright neon lights of Broadway billboards

The NYPD horses

By the time we noticed we were hungry, it was already quite late, past 9 pm. Around Times Square, most of the eating places weren't open, so we were thinking of getting some takeaway pizza from this 24 hour place near our hostel. On our way back to the hostel, we were pleasantly surprised to spot a restaurant still open. It is a Japanese restaurant called Katsu Hama. It is located on 11 East, 47th Street, between Madison and 5th Ave.

We ordered a dinner set to share, consisting pork tenderloin, egg, pumpkin cold dish, potatoes, fried tofu, rice and miso soup. Maybe we were too hungry, but they tasted great! Because we were so ravenous, we forgot to take pictures of our food except dessert. :)

Katsu Hama has another branch at 43-45 West, 55th Street, between 5th and 6th Ave. I think the menu is slightly different in the other branch. Anyway, do consider giving this restaurant a try, especially if you're craving for supper since it opens till 10.30pm on weekday nights.

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