August 17, 2008

In Deep Urbanity

On Friday Rose and I drove to Freeville, picked up Deb, and drove with her to bus meeting point, where she saw us off, and carried on with her errands, kindly babysitting the car while we were gone. (Good thing, as it turned out that her car had to have brake work done, so the spare vehicle apparently came in handy.)

We took the Campus2Campus bus to Manhattan, and walked around the block from its stop outside the Cornell Club to our hotel, Club Quarters. After settling in somewhat, we ventured out for dinner and had Indian food at Sukhadia. We brought home a selection of sweets for dessert. Rose didn’t like them, so more for me! Interesting flavors, more associated with savory than sweet for Western palate. Then we stayed up until crazy hours watching the opening ceremony for the Olympics. I fell asleep long before the torch was actually lit.

The next morning we walked to Grand Central Station for breakfast and information. The kiosk didn’t have maps, but the little transportation museum did, so we got some. Next we took the subway to Central Park. My knee was bothering me, so we rested in the shade by the fountain outside CBS, listening to a grouchy street vendor give advice to his assistant. They were selling sunglasses, and the assistant was instructed to keep an eye out for lookers who weren’t buying, and to tell them to move along. Rose privately questioned the legality of this, since sidewalks are public. I figure the chances of getting caught and prosecuted for something like that are so low, it doesn’t matter if it’s legal, or not.

Once my knee felt better we put on our headphones and started following a walking tour designed to introduce the listener to the art and architecture of the park. We walked up the street past many carriage horses and into the park where we saw many things, including the sailboat pond and the musical clock next to the zoo,

Here it is in motion, playing an out-of-key rendition of “The Farmer in the Dell” at 1pm:

(In case you’re wondering, it’s Rose’s camera that makes the funny creaking noises.)

We also stopped by the Alice in Wonderland statue,

and the 3,500-year-old obelisk near the Met. There was a man circling it wearing shorts and a polo shirt that had heiroglyphs where the alligator should be, so I asked him to translate it. He seemed pleased, and halfway through his wife came over and sat with us to join in. They had been on a trip to Egypt (where he got the shirt) and were on their way into the museum. Rose noticed writing on the crabs holding up the corners (they are repros of Roman work), and got the guy going around and reading all of them, using his binoculars.

Next we ambled past the turtle pond covered in bright green duckweed

and up to the ramparted folly overlooking it.

By this time my knee was in full-blown arthritic rebellion, so we walked to 81st Street and took the subway back to 47th St.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped for dinner at Gaby next-door to the hotel. Wine for Rose, cosmopolitans for me. We went in and watched more olympics (swimming and gymnastics, if I recall correctly).

Next morning we had breakfast at Starbucks across the street, and walked back to the 47th St subway station. They were blocking off 6th Ave for some reason, and there were already people sitting on folding chairs, preparing to watch something. We took the subway back to the AMNH (where we had left Central Park the day before), and proceeded to get a ticket to just about everything they had going on:

They had some extremely photogenic reptiles, in the squamate exhibit:

Plumed Basilisk (Latin America)

Veiled Chameleon (Yemen & Saudi Arabia)

Rhinoceros Iguana (Hispanola)

Collared Lizard (North America)

Who kept an eye on the primates outside:

Cuban Knight Anole (Cuba & Florida)

Eastern Water Dragon (Australia)

Madagascan Giant Day Gecko

Water Monitor

Eastern Green Mamba (southern Africa)

Emerald Tree Boa (South America)

This one reminded me of a cat, all curled up, sleeping. It struck me as a very content-looking bundle of snake.

The horse exhibit featured, among other things, ancient tack and stirrups and a repro of a Chinese terracotta horse. It was mobbed.

Rose enjoyed “patting” a baby bison in a diorama.

On the way back to the hotel we found out that the Ave of Americas had been the site for a Dominican Day parade. We had an unimpressive dinner at the Goodburger across the street (pretty much the only option on a Sunday night), and I regretted it – I didn’t feel right after the rootbeer float, and ended up with the trots for 2 days!

The last morning we walked back to Grand Central on a mission – to bring home a cheesecake for dinner at Suzanne’s that night (to celebrate Petra’s graduation). We had breakfast at Junior’s and while Rose wandered around the station I nursed my knee and watched all the people arriving from trains. Later Rose joined me and we enjoyed commenting on the interesting sartorial choices of the passersby. Eventually it was time to pick up the cheesecake (plain, large), and head back to the hotel to check out, and then lug our baggage back to the Cornell Club.

The trip back was uneventful, and we had a delightful dinner (capped with the cheesecake, of course). We also played a game of Ticket to Ride 1910. Finally, content and tired, we drove the rest of the way home and arrived to see a couple of relieved and lonely cats.

Still to come:

  • additonal pictures and movies in this post, and
  • a description of our balloon flight over Canandaigua and the lunch cruise on Canandaigua Lake


  1. Sounds like you packed alot in. Your lizard pictures were fabulous. Thanks for including me

    Comment by Anncy — August 19, 2008 @ 9:40 am | Reply

  2. I did not know Central Park had so much stuff in it. Have always just used it to get from one museum to another.
    Does alcohol help the knee pain subside for awhile? (Applied internally rather than externally)

    Comment by jpm14 — August 21, 2008 @ 7:21 am | Reply

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