Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chilly December Saturday in Manhattan

After Leena and I got off the phone I did a few things around the apartment, cleaned the robot vacuum filter and what-not…

Then I got my backpack put together and dressed and headed on out…

I wanted to see the East River Park, so I looked on the map to see the best way to get there, and took the F train to its first stop in Manhattan, East Broadway.

Fisherman in the East River Park
From East Broadway it was a bit of a walk to the park, and not all of it felt like a completely safe neighborhood, but some did here and there.  I ended up across a freeway from the park, with no obvious sign how to get across, until I saw a foot bridge a couple of blocks away, next to the Williamsburg Bridge.  The footbridge, of course, just went across the FDR Drive freeway to the park.

I walked over there and checked out the park.  It was cold, with a cold wind blowing off the river, so there weren't many people there.  A few guys were fishing, and there were tennis games going on, as well as some people running along the sidewalk along the edge of the river.  The bathrooms had really classy tile work on the outside of the entrances.

Since I was down near the Williamsburg Bridge and looking at cross the river at Williamsburg, I got the great idea to go and look for an address there my mother suggested, where her parents lived when they first got married.  So, I went back over that footbridge and walked quite a few blocks up Delancey Street to where the Williamsburg Bridge comes down to street level so people and vehicles can get on it.

Crowd coming over the Williamsburg
Bridge from Brooklyn
The foot path onto the bridge is right in the middle of the street, so while I was waiting for the light I saw some people on the entrance to the bridge in matching T-shirts with some logo on them and waving Mexican flags, with lots of police officers around.  When I finally got a walk signal and crossed over to the entrance to the bridge I looked up the path and saw it completely filled with marches coming my way.  The front of them were carrying a Virgin Mary statue, and there were thousands of people behind, almost all wearing identical t-shirts and many waving flags, and singing or chanting…

I decided to skip walking over the bridge when I saw that, especially since I planned to go the opposite way and they completely filled the bridge's walkway…

So, I continued across the street and walked around Manhattan some more.

I walked up to Prince Street, then along Prince Street past Broadway, until I couldn't take the crowds anymore and turned up a less crowded street and went up a couple of blocks.  I sort of zig-zagged about, went to Washington Square Park, then out and up University Place amidst NYU.  I bought a pretzel from a vendor and walked across the street from Union Square, then up Broadway to Madison Square Park, then up 5th Avenue to 40th Street, and over a couple of blocks and up to Grand Central Terminal.

Grand Central Terminal and the Chrysler Building
Grand Central Terminal was packed.  There was a line of people waiting to get up to the new Apple Store so I skipped that.  There was a line for the men's room, so I skipped that, too.  I bought a chocolate croissant from a small bakery that didn't have a line and went back out to 42nd Street.

I walked up 42nd Street and through Bryant Park, which was also crowded.  So was 42nd Street, completely packed…

At Times Square I found an empty table with a couple of chairs and sat down to eat my croissant and write in my diary.  Despite being night time it was brightly lit, like daytime, from all the lights around.  It was chaotic and noisy, too…  Today was SantaCon, so the city was full of many thousands of people dressed as Santa Claus, walking around to party and drink…  And of course, Time Square is a popular spot for everyone, so lots and lots of SantaCon people were singing and yelling and cheering and going through drunk, but it was all cheerful noise and chaos, not violent or protest or anything negative.

Me in Times Square, writing in my diary
I stayed there for close to an hour, but then I was cold from sitting in the cold wind on a cold metal chair…  I didn't realize just how cold till I got up and started walking again.  I walked over to the Port Authority Bus Terminal to use the public restroom, then caught the A train back to Brooklyn.

Back in the apartment I took a hot shower when I first got in.  My feet were really sore, as that was the longest I wore the new Nike sneakers for walking, and they rub in different places, so there's some blisters.

Small sculpture in a kindergarten
on the Lower East Side

Crossing a footbridge over the FDR
next to the Williamsburg Bridge

Alongside the Williamsburg Bridge

Domino Sugar factory in Williamsburg

Underside of the Williamsburg Bridge

That crowd coming off the Williamsburg Bridge

42nd Street, Bank of America Tower
reflecting off another building

SantaCon in Times Square

Times Square

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