Sunday, March 15, 2009

Almost Springtime in New York

This week, my husband, Lanny, had to travel to Manhattan for business, so I flew out to join him for a long weekend in the city. It was the first time that I've stayed in a really nice hotel in Manhattan, and it turns out that really good linens do make a difference. And not worrying about the hot water running out is another nice little perk.

We only had 3 days, but we managed to see parts of the city that I've never seen before, and they are really beautiful parts! If you've never spent much time in New York City, you definitely get the idea that it is a very dense, packed place of buildings, upon buildings. And while there are definitely lots of places like that, it is is amazing how many beautiful open spaces there are! Central Park, is, of course, legendary, but we discovered a few other gems as well. On Friday, we took the train all the way up to the Cloisters. The Cloisters is a separate branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that houses their medieval artworks. The building and artworks are beautiful, but just as beautiful is the setting. It's in Fort Tryon Park along the banks of the Hudson River. There are, what will soon be spectacular gardens amid winding walking paths, and the tiny crocuses and lilies of the valley were already all in bloom. Across the river were high cliff walls, and large boats cruised by them at regular intervals. It was all supremely picturesque. This picture does it no justice, as this is just a teeny slice of the park, but you can kind of get a sense of the setting. The big building in the background is The Cloisters.

On Sunday, the weather warmed up to all of 45 degrees, so we rented a couple of bikes for the day and made another new discovery (aside from the fact that biking on New York streets is a little nerve-wracking). Hudson River Park is a waterside park that extends down most of the western edge of Manhattan all the way down to Battery Park. It's a fairly new development, apparently, and there are bike and walking paths all the way through the park with piers for the public, open lawns, basketball courts, playgrounds, launch sites for boats, and just lots of places for people to hang out. The bike rental place was right on the bike path at around 44th St., so we followed the path down to the Staten Island Ferry. Took the ferry over to Staten Island and did the obligatory ogling of Lady Liberty, then biked all the way back up the island to Central Park.

On weekends, Central Park roads are closed to cars, so bikes rule the road. (Actually, that is false. The pedestrians rule the road, but they seem to have the good sense to stay off of it for the most part.) It is a very freeing thing to bike on the street in New York City, with no worries about a car clipping you from behind. It was a truly spectacular thing to do. Lanny is smitten with all things cycling, and is generally chagrined that I do not care for biking as much as he does. But if biking on a spring day in Central Park can't give you a bit of the cycling bug, I don't know what would. I believe I've been bitten.

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