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Friday, December 4, 2015

Apple City

Our New York sojourn continued last Saturday morning with a stroll from our hotel through some nice neighborhoods on the Upper West Side, and finally to Central Park. Along the way we passed by the Dakota Apartments, where John Lennon once lived and where he was shot to death by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980. Not far from the building, on the opposite side of Central Park West, is Strawberry Fields, the memorial to Lennon's memory:

Central Park was beautiful on this late autumn morning. The leaves were still showing their fall colors as we made our through the park along with the dog owners, joggers and carriage horses:

My daughter was in a good mood as she plotted the best course to the Central Park Zoo:

Robert Burns, national poet of Scotland and Central Park statue:

The Central Park Zoo may be small, but Amber didn't mind. She enjoyed walking through the Tropic Zone (with its wild birds that show little fear of humans), as well as seeing the Japanese snow monkeys and the sea lions. The snow leopards were another highlight, though I was unable to get a decent picture of the sleeping cats. There was also a "4D" movie featuring Scrat from Ice Age, and the Tisch Children's Zoo, where Amber got to feed some goats and sheep, plus a llama and a cow:

From the southern end of Central Park, energized after a snack of hot dogs and a pretzel from one of the many push carts, we ventured down Fifth Avenue, one of the most famous (and expensive) shopping streets in the world. Amber was more than happy to pose with "Snowy", which we picked up for her at the zoo's gift shop:

For some strange reason, my wife was keen on visiting St. Patrick's Cathedral. The interior was impressive, especially the stained glass windows, but as I pointed out to Pamela, we'll be seeing a lot of churches in just a few months' time. My daughter didn't share her mother's enthusiasm for Christian architecture, though fortunately for her there were far fewer depictions of crucifixions and saints being martyred compared to the cathedrals we visited in Belgium (an experience which appears to have put Amber off of Christianity):

One of the window displays of Saks Fifth Avenue. Despite its cache, the interior of the flagship store comes across more as a dolled-up Woolworth's than as one of the most famous luxury shops in New York:

Because of its setting for countless books, movies and TV programs, so many of New York City's sights are comfortably familiar, even if you've never seen them in person before. Like Rockefeller Center, with its famed ice skating rink and Christmas tree...:

...or Radio City Music Hall, where a long line of people were braving the drizzle and the cold, presumably to catch a performance of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, featuring the Rockettes, of course:

We ended our explorations in Times Square, the so-called Crossroads of the World where Broadway and Seventh Avenue meet. While it was exciting to see the bright lights of Broadway, it was also difficult not to feel a little disappointed at the same time. After you admire the fact that this is the spot where the ball drops on New Year's Eve, the realization sets in that there isn't much else to do there than go shopping in the chain and themed stores. But, hey, it's still New York:

From Times Square, we got on the subway and returned to West 79th Street and our hotel, and finished our day having dinner at a Thai restaurant around the corner on Amsterdam Avenue. New York proved to be an expensive place for eating out, but the bill at Land Thai was surprisingly reasonable. Oh, and the food wasn't too bad, either:

Back at the hotel and nearing the end of a very satisfying visit:

Amber in front of the New Wave Cafe on Broadway, where we had breakfast the last two mornings we were in the city. We left town on Sunday morning, returning to Alexandria from Penn Station on a crowded Amtrak train (though we were able to find empty seats):

Suffice it to say, three nights wasn't enough, even on a second visit. There is still so much more in New York City that I would like to see, from the MOMA and the Guggenheim to seeing the Yankees lose at Yankee Stadium. Were I younger, single and had enough money to do so, I would want to experience a Seinfeld-like lifestyle on the Upper West Side (and as it turns out, we were staying only a five-minute walk from Jerry's apartment building at 129 West 81st Street). Time has made that dream an impossibility, but I'm sure there will be further opportunities to visit Gotham again.

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