EXPLORING OUR HOOD

07 Oct 2014
New York, New York! It’s good to see you again! 
We’ve made ourselves at home in Upper Westside, this time. It feels much more authentic here, more laid back, and hip. At Broadway and West 75th, we are surrounded by fashionable stores, gourmet food markets, wine cellars, cafés, diners and bars, and are three blocks from the park. With its leafy streets and gorgeous architecture, I can see why it’s a sort-after area.

Exploring our neighbourhood seemed like the best way to start, so in jogging gear, and with no plan in particular, we headed north on Broadway for a few blocks before turning east towards Central Park. We passed some interesting architecture: charming Row Houses, the huge romanesque Natural History Museum, and the renaissance-revival Beresford apartments whose scale is staggering. 

At W 81st street we entered the park with a vague plan of crossing to the other side. While we were wandering around, using the sun as a rough guide, it occurred to me that the park’s layout is the opposite to the city. Every road, every pathway and walking track is organic and curvy. It encourages you, no, it insists that you slow down and explore its great vastness. 

We wound our way past the turtle pond and came across the running track, picked up our speed to settle into a jog and followed the track around the reservoir. Through the trees we caught a glimpse of the Guggenheim Museum and decided to take a closer look. At E 90th we stopped to catch our breath and to take some photos.

Next we headed into Upper Eastside slowing to the pace of the decidedly posh residence, and wandered around a few blocks off Madison Avenue and Park Avenue circling back around to the Guggenheim.

“Let’s come back tomorrow” I suggested not wanting to enter in our gym sweats. 

Back to continue jogging around the reservoir an David’s long legs carried him ahead. By the time I caught up to him he was in deep conversation with an old retired Upper Eastside gentleman dressed in all white tennis gear. Later, over lunch, Dave told me about their conversation: he’s played tennis here for 20 years, he’s been married three times and lived all over the world. He left Dave with a couple of restaurant recommendations. ( none of which we can afford )

 We were in Cafe Viano, the diner downstairs from our hotel, tucked up in a booth by the window chatting and people watching. New York might be one of the best city in the world for this activity. Let me introduce you to a few of the characters:
 
‘The doorman’: Across the street, standing just inside the open doorway of a smart apartment block, is a young Latino man. He’s wearing navy trousers with a bright white satin side stripe, a matching vest is buttoned down over a crisp white long-sleeved shirt and his glossy black hair is smoothed back into a tight, neat man-bun. He is overseeing the lobby renovations and looks much less bored than the other doormen we have seen today. He seems to be good at his job. 

 ‘The Large scruffy Man’: A large man with a balding head crowned by long strangely locks, wearing loose tracksuit pantsuit and a beige jacket, approaches the Doorman with a tiny caramel dog tucked under his arm. The dog’s tail wags as he looks into the eyes of his master and tries to reach for a lick. The large man places a gentle hand on the dogs snout. Although I can’t hear them, the Doorman is patiently answering the curious resident’s questions.

‘The psychedelic hippy ‘: A wiry old man stops pushing his pram over-flowing with once brightly coloured children’s clothes, coloured plastic baby spoons, and rainbow tie-dyed socks. His dull white hair is tied in two pony tails, one on top of his head and the other at the back. He has tied a dusty red bandana into a headband, reminiscent of a hippy. He stops to undo the lower ponytail, bends at the waist to quickly scoop a hand full of hair back into place. He spoke to the pram while he did this. He seemed happy. I don’t think he’s homeless, just eccentric. 

‘The plain clothes cop’: In a booth across the room from ours, sits a man in his late 50’s opposite a woman of a similar age. I puzzled over their relationship for a few minutes. She has a yellow lined notepad on the table and is making notes as the man spoke. The are friendly but it’s not a close relationship. It might be the first time they’ve met? As he got up to leave he pulled out his badge to show her, a shiny shield in a leather pouch on a chain around his neck. He was describing the difference between this shield and the FBI shield. I wished I could hear more of their conversation.

The afternoon was spent exploring the local streets including two fantastic gourmet food markets, or rather, food emporiums! Fairways Market has just about everything you can think of. Inside the energy is high, the isles narrow and shopping here should be compared to a contact sport. You have to watch the oldies who know how to use their elbows. Our room has a kitchenette so we tried to keep out-of-the-way as we wandered around and picked up a few groceries for dinner and for breakfast. 

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