On this overnight stay in NYC we explored Central Park and The Museum of Natural History. On Monday, after we checked into our room we grabbed a coffee and headed to the park. As we turned onto 7th Avenue our noses were assaulted with the stench of garbage sitting out too long in the summer sun. It followed us for less than a block before being replaced with the welcome smell of food carts, roasted nuts, doughy pretzels laden with salt crystals, hot dogs. We strolled through the park where there were lots of people, speaking many languages, participating in lots of activities. They sat alone and in groups, some sat on blankets, some sat on park benches, some sat on rocks, some even climbed the rocks ignoring the couples making out at the top of them. Tourists on rental bikes were passed by locals in kits on racing bikes. Pedicabs yelled to us asking if we wanted a ride, horses pulled twos and threes in their carriages. Dogs barked, baseball and kickball were played, frisbees flew, babies cried. Even with all that going on in the park once we re-emerged onto the street we noticed the noise level increase.
We made our way from Columbus Circle to the lake where people who rented boats rowed back and forth, and into the occasional rock, then back to Broadway and 56th Street where we were meeting my brother for dinner. We stopped by his new digs before going out for Thai; his apartment has a rooftop terrace newly renovated with landscaped plants and lounge chairs. As we looked out at the view, just blocks away from the park, I could see why he refers to it as his back yard.
After stopping off for coffee and pastry at a sidewalk cafe we headed back to our hotel and called it a night. On Tuesday we woke up, checked out, stopped for breakfast and cut through the park to our day’s destination, The Museum of Natural History. We spent the entire day wandering the many halls of exhibits, dioramas and dinosaurs skipping lunch, stopping every so often for a drink of water, first from the bottle I had in my purse then from the fountains in the museum. The crowds were dense with couples, families and groups of children wearing identical colored t-shirts to identity the camp counselor they belonged to. The noise level was intense, children’s screams cutting through the din.
The city is full of commingling and conflicting smells. Bill is reminded of something burning, something chemical, whenever we exit the train’s platform at Grand Central Station. Horse shit was the predominant smell along the main loop in the park. Unfortunately, body odor was the strongest scent in the museum coupled with the waft of food if we were near one of the cafes. Food, really, can be smelled throughout the city, on the lower level of GCT, on the streets, from open doorways, in the park, even in museum halls ever reminding me it’s time to eat.