So as I curl up with a steaming hot mug of Organic Apple Red tea (caffeine-free, guys, don’t worry!), it truly is beginning to feel like fall here. I still haven’t unpacked my sweaters, but it is definitely jeans-and-a-cardigan weather, which don’t you know, is the best kind of weather! To embrace the crisp fresh air before it turns frigid, Sean and I embarked on a fun meandering throughout upper Manhattan this past Saturday. We did have a final destination, but you know what they say about the journey being the best part.
We began by fueling up with brunch at The Mansion Restaurant, one of those classic little diners with a novel-like menu. I ordered “The York Ave,” because I had to wonder what one of my cross-streets tastes like, which is apparently two eggs and ham with cheddar on toast with a side of home-fries. After eating our way through a feast of breakfast-foods, we walked over to The Met, where we scored free admission thanks to Sean’s place of employment. Fun fact: The admission prices listed at the museum are only SUGGESTED donations, so you can technically give $1 and get in. You might receive a dirty look from one of the volunteers, but you can’t deny people their art, OK?
At the museum, we mainly checked out a newer modern photography exhibit (a.k.a. How to Do Awesome Things with Photoshop) and the newest “Regarding Warhol” exhibit, which featured pieces by both Warhol and a number of artists directly influenced by him. This particular gallery was super-packed of people who can’t read “no photography” signs, but it was also a super-cool exhibit. I mean, the last room featured Warhol’s psychedelic cow-covered wallpaper design and helium-filled “silver clouds” (shiny rectangular balloons) floating around to The Velvet Underground. Um, hello? Can we talk about how awesome that is?
After we grew weary from all those political statements and bright colors, we meandered out to the Rooftop Garden, which I’d yet to visit. It was more of a Rooftop where you could buy overpriced drinks, but you could see over the treetops of Central Park and a bit of the sweeping city skyline and a gloriously cloudy sky. Also, I inhaled some of the freshest air I’ve inhaled in a while. You don’t know fresh air until you’ve learned what fresh air is NOT by walking by some rotting garbage on the streets here.
After a quick pit stop at a pretzel stand to become properly caffeinated with Diet Coke, we walked aaaaalll the way across Central Park, by way of one of the cross-streets because the actual park was closed for a concert. Boo. And kept going aaaalll the way to Riverside Park, alongside the Hudson River. Along the way, as we went through the Upper West Side, I saw some lovely brownstones that reminded me of You’ve Got Mail, and also a lot of dogs. Always dogs, everywhere.
I’d never been to Riverside Park before, but it is nice. A little noisy because there is a highway next to it, but you can smell the clean, salty river water and see New Jersey on the opposite coast. Not that New Jersey is especially beautiful in that area, but it’s nice to be reminded of life beyond this compact island.
The more elevated portion of the park had a few trees with leaves that were beginning to turn colors, and some leaves had already fallen and it smelled like AUTUMN! There were dogs running around being happy, bikers biking around and being happy, little kids on scooters scooting around and being happy, and walkers (like us) walking around and being happy.
Once we made it pretty far into the “upper” portion of the Upper West Side, we decided to go on the world’s shortest tour of Columbia University, a.k.a. “walk across Columbia’s campus to get to our real destination.” I’ve never visited an Ivy League campus before, so that was exciting. Nothing quite says “fall” like school, right?
P.S. Their campus is full of old, gorgeous buildings.
Here is a reenactment of our reactions to Columbia’s campus:
“It’s…it’s so…so beautiful.”
“Yeah, but these undergrads have to be the most spoiled kids on earth.”
“Yeah? Yeah! Columbia sucks.”
*both secretly wishing we’d gone to Columbia instead of a public university on scholarship*
Theeeen we cut through Morningside Park (we had to go to ALL of the parks, OK?), where we heard what sounded like a Gospel Revival. “Can I hear all my Harlem people say ‘AMEN!’?” “AMEN!!!” Oh, and we also enjoyed the park’s wildlife, like this pretty little tuxedo kitty.
And then, FINALLY we emerged in west Harlem, a mere couple of blocks from our final destination: Zoma. Cue my first encounter with Ethiopian food (and Ethiopian “honey wine”). Ugh. So good! And what a wonderful excuse to eat with your hands! (After washing them, of course, after all that city-nature-exploring.) You basically take this mysteriously spongy flat bread and rip it apart into bite-size pieces and shovel all sorts of curried and spiced meats and veggies onto the bread and shove it in your mouth. WITH YOUR HANDS.
This seems like as an appropriate a time as any to promote my friend Bernard’s blog, as he is currently serving with the Peace Corps in — where else? — Ethiopia! I hope he gets to eat like this often. I doubt it, but one can only hope.
So there you have it: one Saturday’s random explorations! I believe the best way to discover New York is to wander around its streets aimlessly. You never know what you’ll discover.
Disclaimer: We totally took the subway and then an MTA bus home. One can have only so many Manhattan walking adventures in one day.