Crossing the bridge

Walking is definitely my preferred way of discovering cities. New York City with its easy layout therefore is perfect to explore on foot. My friend and I never considered using the famed NYC subway since travelling underground isn’t a very good way of seeing a city. We also didn’t take advantage of one of the iconic yellow cabs with the build-in screens in the backseat. Instead, every morning, we set out on foot starting from our hotel on 45th Street. One of our longest walks took us down to SoHo and a wonderful little neighborhood restaurant, where we enjoyed a light lunch (especially compared to our other meals). Another one led us through the central park past the steps of the Met to the Guggenheim museum between the 89th and 90th street before we returned on Madison Ave strolling by the numerous designer shops.

My personal highlight of all this walking was my first successful crossing of the Brooklyn Bridge on my third visit to the famous landmark connecting the two boroughs. The beautiful bridge was undergoing massive construction in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, so the number of tourists attempting to cross over was surprisingly low. On the other hand, the number of fitness conscious joggers battling the heat by showing off their (lack of) abs was definitely higher than anticipated. Joining the joggers on the bridge were the speedy cyclists adept at startling the unsuspecting tourists trying to take pictures at the most inopportune sections of the bridge. We took our time on the bridge, stopping often to enjoy the views of Manhattan and Brooklyn or to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty.

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Photo: Darko Miodragovic

The perspective from the bridge is unique as you can see the glory of downtown Manhattan on one side with the almost completed World Trade One looking over the skyline. On the other side the midtown scenery is dominated by the Empire State Building in all its glory, with other famous older landmarks like Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler building also vying for attention.

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Photo: Darko Miodragovic

After spending about half an hour on the bridge, we finally reached Brooklyn. Coming from the financial district and the famous golden bull, the vibe encountered is noticeably different and more creative. We took a walk around a block in Dumbo finding interesting design studios, tiny fashion ateliers and organic neighborhood shops. A special place was a café set under the archway of the nearby Manhattan bridge, an image that has stayed with me since returning.

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Photo: Darko Miodragovic

I had never paid much attention to Brooklyn before, but this first glimpse of the borough has made me curious. We wrapped up our little excursion over the river with artisanal ice cream at the Brooklyn Bridge park, where we waited for our boat to take us to Liberty Island. For my next visit to NYC, Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg have been added to my itinerary.

Walking around a city or countryside is the best way to discover new places that tours don’t necessarily always cover. The main advantage is the ability to set your own pace, allowing you to pause and linger around interesting corners and people of the city you’re visiting. If you don’t like the direction you’re heading down, you can always turn around or take another route at the next crossing.

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See you on Friday!

Sincerely yours,
Albert

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The park takes center stage

First off: The Zürifäscht was incredible. With great booths and fantastic parties, I spent most of my weekend in the city enjoying the party. The highlight was the spectacular display of fireworks both on Friday and Saturday, illuminating the clear summer sky and accompanied by a brilliantly fitting soundtrack. As far as pyrotechnics goes, the Zürifäscht didn’t disappoint and still delivers the gold standard. I really hope you didn’t miss Switzerland’s biggest festivity this time around, because it kept its promise of sun and spectacle. If you did, make sure you’re here in 2016 for the next edition.

After such a busy weekend, obviously many visitors of the Zürifäscht will have the need to calm down and relax. The city of Zurich has many great places by the lake for an afternoon of bliss, including the Renten- and Chinawiese. On beautiful summer days, they’re packed with high schoolers, college students, stay-at-home mothers and fathers and anyone lucky enough to have a free day.

However, nothing can compare to the recreational area my friend and I visited last week: New York’s central park. The massive green patch in the middle of Manhattan is one of the great wonders of the city. Also known as the lung of the city, the 840 acres has been a mainstay of all of my New York visits so far.

The first time I arrived in the city of dreams, I was awestruck by the skyscrapers as well as the energy and mass of people. I felt right at home. This feeling was amplified when my friend and I, staying in a hostel on around 95th street, walked the few blocks and stepped into the park. Seeing such a large space of grass and trees amidst the brownstones and posh apartment blocks was fascinating. We then made our way to the Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis Reservoir. I clearly remember standing there, staring at the calm face of the water, getting passed by the swift movements of joggers and thinking: why would I ever leave?

On my second visit my girlfriend at the time and I covered even more ground: we took a bicycle tour through the park and explored more of the east side I didn’t know before taking the route to the sullen memorial to John Lennon. One of the great architectural feats of the central park is the ability to merge cyclists, joggers and tourists. During the tour we discovered many of the hidden ponds and fountains scattered all over the park. We enjoyed the shade the tall, impressive trees provided and listened to the bits of trivia our guide had to say about the park.

This time around, my friend and I spent most of our time on a Sunday lounging in the large lawn in the south of the park near the Fifth Avenue entrance. Just watching the various pastimes of New Yorkers brought serenity to the hectic pace of our six-day trip. To our left, three twenty-somethings were trying to produce bubbles as large as basketballs with one girl succeeding after what seemed to be a hundred tries. Our eyes followed the bubble as it took flight, ascending higher and higher passing the young ladies lying on their towels tanning themselves. With the help of the slight breeze the bubble travelled over to the group of high school kids celebrating the end of the school year and the promise of future. It continued to the couple clumsily tossing a baseball back and forth. The girls, who had blown the bubble, were naturally delighted by their success and their laughter filled the air, although it was soon drowned out by the excited shouts from the group playing high level beach volleyball nearby. The bubble, now slowly descending, got a last bout of second wind and flew by a kid in Spain jersey (unsuccessfully) trying to emulate his idols with his father. We took a last look as the bubble burst on the soft grass and continued our journey reenergized and completely recharged.

Sincerely yours,
Albert

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