October 27, 2012
After a late evening the day before, we started this Saturday a little later than our other days in New York.
The first stop was Papaya King on the Upper East Side. A friend told me about a place that sells hot dogs and tropical drinks, and I wanted to give this odd combination a try. The papaya drink really was good, and a year-and-a-half later, the only other thing I remember being good is the curly fries. The hot dogs must have just been OK, because I don’t remember them at all.
Another reason we went to Papaya King is that it’s relatively close to Central Park. After such a hearty meal, it was good to burn it off with a nice stroll. JC and I walked down E. 86th Street, taking in the sights, the people, and the buildings. The thing I noticed the most was the apartment-entrance awning. It seems to be a distinctive New York feature. I’m sure that other cities have apartments with entrance awnings, but perhaps the sheer number of these in New York is what makes them stand out. I imagined rich people and celebrities going home and being greeted by the doorman. I thought of Bugs Bunny and Catcher in the Rye. I remember mentioning in one of the Scotland posts that I wasn’t expecting men to be walking around in kilts, yet at the same time that image was in my head. I guess part of the preconception I have of New York is Bugs Bunny and Holden Caulfield walking around the city.
We walked along the eastern rim of the reservoir. It reminded me of Lake Merritt a little bit. As it was late October there was some nice foliage to be seen. In contrast, the sky was gray with ominous-looking clouds. It did feel eerily calm at that time, a couple of days before Hurricane Sandy unleashed its fury on New York and the rest of the Eastern seaboard. We took a break at the tennis courts before continuing down to the Natural History Museum and leaving the park from there.
We spent the rest of the afternoon resting at home before eating a late dinner with our friend at Yakitori Taisho in the East Village. Since it was the Saturday night before Halloween, people were dressed up and partying on the streets. I was going to say that it felt a lot like the Valencia Corridor back home, and then I read the Wikipedia section on gentrification in the East Village. Confirmation bias? You decide.
We said goodbye to our friend and then decided to walk home instead of taking the subway. Dinner was loud and crowded and we wanted to walk it off, despite having walked so much earlier in the day. I would say that this was my favorite part of visiting New York City, strolling slowly up Broadway on Halloween night with my wife, watching the revelers, looking into the windows of closed stores, watching late diners getting out of restaurants, cars speeding by all the while. It was actually quite romantic. It was also effectively the last sightseeing we did in New York, for in the next few days the city would be paralyzed by the storm.