Visiting the beautiful, crazy city of New York
A FLASH of falling yellow leaves make a beautiful carpet across the wide footpath of Riverside Drive, Manhattan. It's the beginning of October, crisp blue skies, comfortably cool weather and a city dabbed with the colour of falling autumn leaves.
I look up towards the swirl of leaves, but before I can take in the trees, my vision is caught up in the spectre of magnificent, mighty buildings reaching, pushing into the blueness. And there it is, all at once - New York - a city of nature, nurture and big ideas.
The juxtaposition of so much unspoilt nature growing amidst the densest concrete jungle is the world is a sight to behold.
Manhattan Island is bounded by the Hudson, East and Harlem rivers. These rivers frame a crazy beautiful city that arguably attracts the biggest, the boldest and most wildly divergent lifestyles in the world.
It's a city where the skyline provides an understanding of its past, future and people. Up high, the cathedral style facades, modern blue glass, turrets, baroque design, Greek columns and pale green spirals pierce the heavens. It's a showy exhibition mirroring the vision of architects, men of money and construction workers. A built environment that, since its inception has echoed the collective imagination of an audacious tribe. Talk about having your head in the clouds - in New York, it has to be, or you miss out on the marvels of sky-high beauties.
At around eight-and-a-half million, the city boasts one of the country's biggest populations. Additionally, the tourism industry is booming with a record high of 56.4 million visitors in 2014.
The New York City mayoral office attributed visitor numbers to: "Quality of life, low levels of crime and dynamism".
Two months ago I became one of the 56 million, after trip that took about 24 hrs. I exited Brisbane Qantas airport with a couple of hours stopover in Los Angeles and arrival at JFK airport.
From JFK airport, depending on the traffic, it takes a couple of hours to drive to Manhattan. Be it day or night, it is a fast, flash trip past the highs and lows of urban city life. Our holiday residence was a hotel room in the perfect position of Midtown at Hotel Marrakesh. It's quirky, relatively cheap hotel and our room came with a great
view across the streetscape of Broadway. The hotel is managed by the most hospitable of staff.
Not for a moment is the street noise a problem. My friend and I loved it, the strange, different sounding sirens of NYPD (New York Police Department), the accent of hipster Afro Americans and were delighted with people who raise their voices to argue with partners, sing with mates or loudly declare a point of view. It's New York, we're there to see and hear it all.
Everyday is an adventure - but here's a few highlights; In the front of the magnificent facade of Museum of Natural History you are met with the words of President Theodore Roosevelt - knowledge, truth, vision. The President's environmental values prompted the construction and focus of this mindblowing museum. The mission statement of the American Museum of Natural History is: "To discover, interpret, and disseminate-through scientific research and education-knowledge about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe."
And while this museum tells a big story, close by the story of Central Park is alive and well. In the middle of Manhattan an area of 840 glorious, thriving, blooming, spacious acres provides a peaceful sanctuary for the busy New Yorker. This oblong slash of green is parted in the middle with a beautiful flowing lake. It's home to thousands of squirrels who bounce throughout the trees. As we walk through Central Park, little somethings splatter on our heads and we realise it these tiny bushy tailed creatures breaking chestnuts above us. No matter where you go Times Square, Wall Street, Grand Central Station, there is always a spare, quiet seat in Central park to revive yourself.
On the clear blue day, we gazed down from the Empire State building and marvelled at the tall, piles of buildings, in shapes that defied their position, and again it made us wonder how a city, so busy, could have made time and space for something as tranquil and fun as Cental Park.
And those who built the subway have gifted another bit of luxury for New York. It is easy and cheap to get around New York. For $31 (USA) you could travel around for a week.
But you are easily brought to earth when out the blue, there are some incredible hip-hop dancers doing their thing on the sidewalk in front you, or the notes of a random blues singers are playing just a little ahead of you.
A few highlights
*The Cloisters museum and gardens, the branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe, was assembled from architectural elements, both domestic and religious, that largely date from the twelfth through the fifteenth century.
The building and its cloistered gardens-located in Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan-are treasures in themselves, effectively part of the collection housed there. The Cloisters' collection comprises approximately two thousand works of art.
*High Line: (also known as the High Line Park) is a 2.33 km linear park built in Manhattan on an elevated section of a disused New York Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line. Inspired by the 4.8-kilometer Promenade Plantée in Paris, the High Line has been redesigned and planted as an aerial greenway and rails-to-trails park.