Day 16: A quick breakfast, a long walk, then Eleven Madison

Another glorious sunny day greeted us. We headed out to the East Village for some brunch. Mardi had found a pretty cool place, Beauty and Essex. We arrive at 11.30 after catching the F train downtown. It’s closed! 

Although there is a crowd waiting outside. After a few minutes the doors open and we are shown to our table. The restaurant seems to go on forever as we enter the space. We pass through two rooms and under a large skylight before we are seated. The space is relatively empty, but after 15 minutes it’s packed with eager diners.

We order a selection to share. Eggs Benedict, chicken biscuit (sliders) and the signature dish: egg, bacon and tomato dumplings. They are delicious. We then order some donuts. A few minutes later chocolate croissants arrive. We let the staff know, who bring us our donuts, leaving the croissants. Yummy!  Bonus dessert. We enjoy the donuts, with dipping sauces and take the croissants home for later.

After breakfast, our plan was to walk around the East village, but Mardi isn’t very well. She heads home and I spend the afternoon in the park. 

I get off the subway at 57th and entered the Park at 7th Ave. I wander past the Hallutt Nature Sanctuary, the ice skating rink and stop in at the chess and checkers visitor centre. There are hundreds of people skating and no free chess tables, I was keen for a game. I continue my walk and enter the Mall. These days it resembles a strip mall. It is lined with people flogging cheap souvenirs. A hundred years ago the beautiful people of 5th Avenue would parade in their finery. Today it feels a little tacky, which is sad. It’s such a beautiful walk. At the end there is beauty though. The Naumburg Bandshell is hosting a group of carollers. Although they aren’t singing, they are all playing bells. The ensemble is easily over 100 people, many with two, three and four bells. They play carols, with the bells sounding beautiful in the later afternoon sunshine. I stand and listen for a while.

I then wander down Bethesda Terrace and wind to the left, coming to Bow Bridge. It’s teaming with people.  I cross the bridge and meander down to Wood Chip Vantage Point. It a quiet out of the way area and affords me some solace. I sit in the hundred year old chair on my own and meditate for a while. It’s peaceful, although in the distance Happy Birthday singing is ringing out from Bow Bridge. I sit a little longer as the peace and quiet returns. The water is calm and the ducks calmly glide by. I sit quietly for around 10 minutes.

I continue my walk. I move through the ramble. As I walk, the tall trees, devoid of leaves, cast shadows across the path.  In the undergrowth and leaf litter the constant sound of squirrels on their never ending nut hunt surrounds me. Rustling sounds behind me, in front of me and on my flanks. If the sun wasn’t shining and instead a moon was overhead it would be a scary place.

Belvedere Castle is next on my journey. I stop and take in the view over the pond. The castle is crawling with kids exploring every nook and cranny. It looms large as I pass it on the right walking downhill and pass the turtle pond on my way to the great lawn. As I pass the great lawn each of the baseball diamonds is full with families enjoying a game. I stop and watch and listen to the action for a while. Fathers yelling instructions as their kids hit or pitch. Laughter. The joy of kids yelling and enjoying a free and easy Saturday afternoon. I sit and listen for a while.

I continue my walk. Along the way conversation enter my space and leave as passers by come and go. Two young girls discussing boys. An older couple planning a party for a sons 21st. An unhappy office worker telling a friend she is quitting next week. A very elderly man in a wheelchair being pushed by a younger, but old, couple. A boom box in his lap plays jazz at a volume indicating his hearing isn’t the best. A teenager on a skateboard zooms past being pulled by a dog. And me, blending in, walking peacefully on a bright Saturday afternoon, not a care in the world.

The great lawn ends, the 86th st transverse stops my progress as I look for a way across. Turning left, I eventually find the steps up and over the transverse. There are three transverse. 79th, 86th and 97th. Traffic cuts across and below the park. But crossing them isn’t easy. You need to find the way over as the road is so we 20 metres below park level, uncovered with no traditional crossings.

Now I’m across the transverse I come to the Jackie Onassis Reservoir. A vast body of water covering the width of the park and extending from 86th to 96th St. I walk anti-clockwise around it, the preferred direction. It takes around 45 minutes non stop to circumnavigate the reservoir. It’s big.

As I’m walking joggers fly by, their feet crunching on the gravel track. People stop and take photos, which I fo when I’m at the northern point. It’s coming on sunset, so I stop for a while to see what the sunset will bring. It’s a rather lacklustre display tonight, some clouds move in. I take some photos and continue my walk. I finish the loop and then head out of the park. I walk down Central Park West for five blocks before descending into the subway at 81st Street. I change at 59th Street from the C to the !  And end up at 42nd St. I get a bit turned around in the subway and emerge at the wrong end at 42nd St, the exit brings me up at 40th St. I walk for a block searching for some landmarks, follow the light basically and find my way home.

Mardi is resting peacefully in our room and we sit and rest for a while. We’ve got a big night planned. We are off to Eleven Madison Park for dinner. It has become a special part of our visit to NYC over the years. Sublime food, impeccable service and beautiful surroundings. We sit and chat for three hours as we work through the tasting menu. We relive our trip, enjoying the highlights again and recognise how fortunate we are. We also talk about our 2019. It’s been tough in parts, Mardi being made redundant, some illnesses earlier in the year for Mardi and in the middle of the year for me. Our cats have also been incredibly sick this year, we almost lost two around Easter and are loving with one with advanced cancer. Mardi finished her degree, and while she is free of study now, the effort invested was massive. We also lost Mardi’s father this year. We were also able to repair and renovate our bathroom and courtyard during the year. As we are enjoying dessert we chat to the staff at the restaurant. We talk about NYC and some of the highlights of our trip. We eventually pull on our coats and ride the subway home, arriving home a little after midnight.

Leave a Reply