Surviving New York: Day Three

Hello, reader — Matthew here! It’s my turn to guide you through our day, so hang with me for a bit, and I promise I’ll do my best!

I’m writing to you while sitting perched a very large rock in the middle of Central Park while nibbling on some honey roasted almonds that I purchased from a street vendor earlier. I’ve heard some horror stories about street vendors, but I’m a sucker for roasted almonds, so here we are. If I get sick and die, remember me as the adventurer, the rogue, the daredevil — the guy who took a chance on some almonds.
Anyway, I’ll stop prattling on about my snack and get to the other things we’ve done throughout the day.

The Day’s Events

Coffee, please!
The morning started with the normal trek to anywhere that will provide a quality cup of coffee and maybe a spot of breakfast. Today’s culinary fare was courtesy of a place with a very unimaginative name: Best Bagel and Coffee. These are the only bagels we’ve had in New York, so I can’t really tell you if they deliver on the promise in their name, but I can tell you that the food was enjoyable — and that’s the point, isn’t it? Probably the best part was that we ate our food at a tiny little table on the sidewalk.

You know how people go out in the woods with nothing but a tent and a sleeping bag and say things like “I’m communing with nature”. Well, we were communing with the city in this moment. Between bites of our New York bagel sandwiches, we were entertained by endless New York residents going about their typical days. Everything about this scene was New York through-and-through.

Next, we were off to a library to satisfy Valeri’s addiction to the sight of books.
We never check anything out or really have any time to read anything at all, but seeing the local libraries is really pretty neat. They all have distinct looks — some having been around for a century constructed of great stone blocks and others having been built in the modern era using modern materials; they all cater to people with a thirst for information.

During our visit to this particular library, we got a bit turned around and ended up at the wrong library entirely! We were intending to go to New York Public Library, but instead we made it it to New York Public Library.

Okay, now go re-read that sentence and bear in mind that I didn’t mistype anything there.
Got it? Good — now you’re as confused as we were.

For obvious reasons, we’re going to need to assign aliases to the two venues. From here in, I’ll be referencing them as “Wrong Library” and “Right Library,” just to make sure we keep things straight.
Wrong Library was very neat — sporting eight trendy, modern-looking floors and a rooftop terrace with some impressive views. One of those views was of Right Library — and had we looked down, we would have realized our mistake … but instead, we noticed after we made it back to the street to move on to our next event.

Once we saw Right Library, we definitely took the time to look around. It was spectacular.

Dolce and who?
After doubling our library quota for the day, we went on to do a bit of high-brow shopping. Well, maybe high-brow drooling. We definitely couldn’t justify buying anything, because the price tags had too many numbers on the left side of the decimal point.
While some of the clothes were gorgeous and paired beautifully with accessories, they were just incredibly expensive. We made a bit of a game of guessing the price before checking. Entertaining, and yes, a bit on the depressing side — but with tags like Cartier, Dolce and Gabana, Versace and the like, what were you expecting? These aren’t the type of people to have clearance items, and even if they were to discount by 50%, I still don’t think I could justify these $1,200 rollerskates:

I mean, we all know I would rock those pink things. You couldn’t even handle it.

Once we had purveyed all of the clothes that the fine people at Saks Fifth Avenue could offer us, we made our way toward the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.
This museum was entirely contained on an aircraft carrier. If asked before today, I wouldn’t have even come close to an accurate estimation of the scale of a carrier. There was an ENTIRE SPACE SHUTTLE on one small section of the flight deck.

After we explored the flight deck and the interior of the USS Intrepid, we boarded the USS Growler. This was a really neat insight into the submersible world that the U.S. Navy inhabits. Neither of us were concussed by impacting a bulkhead, so we’ll call that adventure a success.

Time to relax…
The next stop was meant to be for supper at a place called “Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen” (yes, that was actually the name), but we just weren’t hungry, so we decided to head to Central Park since the weather might prevent us from doing that tomorrow. We wandered into the park and found a spot to relax and take it all in.

From my current vantage point, I can see buildings taller than you can imagine; wildlife skittering about, looking for the odd morsel of food; and more people than I can even begin to count.

The park is pretty, the buildings are cool and the wildlife is neat, but the people … that’s where the gold is.
There are children running to and fro, expending more energy than I’ve ever had; families enjoying picnics on the grass; people dutifully walking their dogs — the healthy ones are doing that while on a jog. There are couples awkwardly navigating the waters of a first date and some that have that apparent familiarity that only shows when they’ve been together for years.
At the base of the rock we’ve chosen as our resting place, I see two friends chatting and from their portable speaker I’m hearing music in a language I don’t understand. From somewhere unseen, I can hear the wheels of a skateboard rolling across one of the many paved paths cutting sweeping lines through the park.

The full range of humanity is crammed into this tiny little green space which itself is shoehorned into one of the busiest cities on the planet. For all of its imperfections, it’s beautiful.

Now we were hungry.
We were within a few minutes (on foot) of the restaurant we skipped for lunch, so we decided to go there instead of Old Town Bar.
We hopped in line for a table, waited for about 15 minutes, then consumed massive bowls of Ramen and even tried a Tea-infused Hard Boiled Eggs — which were oddly interesting! I wish I had ordered more than just the one.

The Art of Interaction
After we gorged on Ramen, it was on to an event Valeri was really excited for — Van Gogh: The Interactive Experience.
It’s a little hard to explain exactly what this was, but when you boil it down, it was an art museum. We’ve all seen a million of those, right? You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all … right? WRONG.

I’m not an artist, although I do have an appreciation for some of it — but this is a whole different level. They’ve taken Van Gogh’s work and brought it to life. There were recreations of The Bedroom and The Entrance Hall of Saint Paul Hospital in full-scale 3 dimensions — like a massive shadow box.
There were multiple rooms filled with stories and their corresponding paintings, explaining where Van Gogh was when he painted it, and explaining what his mood likely was, based on analysis of his other works and the works of other artists.
Then we entered the main exhibit.
Twenty-six projectors and eight main speakers produced an augmented version of Vincent Van Gogh’s reality. If there was a bird in one of his paintings, it flew. A ship? It sailed. Grass waved in the wind, and stars shone and twinkled on the walls and floor around us.
The experience was finished off by a Virtual Reality walk though Van Gogh’s time in the psychiatric ward, providing the viewer with an insight into a day in the life of the famous artist.

After we had had our fill of art for the night, we hopped aboard the J Train and worked our way back to the Airbnb. Another day in the books!
Join us again tomorrow for Valeri’s account of Day Four.

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“If you want to become a real New Yorker, there’s only one rule: You have to believe New York is, has been, and always will be the greatest city on earth. The center of the universe.”
Ellen R. Shaprio

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