Mine don’t. I was amazed to see a babysitter giving some kids sushi as a snack at the playground next to the Met on Fifth Avenue earlier today. And they ate it without complaint. Mind you it was from the food hall of the gods, Dean and Deluca, so that might explain it. That’s the Upper East Side of New York for you – the Fifth Avenue side anyway. We had pizza on the way home instead, from the wonderful Two Boots. Much more normal.
Well, that’s how it felt when we landed in Dumbo and couldn’t find the end of the Brooklyn Bridge. How’s that for a bizarre sentence? Dumbo is a district of Brooklyn, so called because it’s Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Sounds attractive, eh? It’s surprisingly nice. We took the East River Ferry from 34th Street and chugged our way down to Dumbo, which seems to be more under the Brooklyn Bridge than the Manhattan Bridge, but Dubbo isn’t quite so fun sounding. There is a beautiful restored 1922 carousel called Jane’s Carousel, where your kid can ride for $2 a time and go round and round on a horse with an odd expression. Check it out at: http://janescarousel.com/.
The whole area has been redeveloped so that you can sit along the water front and admire the Statue of Liberty some way off in the distance; watch the helicopters flittering about taking tourists for expensive trips to see the great lady and watch the boats of all shapes and sizes make their way up and down the East River. It’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon, but only when it’s hot.
Walking along the Brooklyn Bridge has been on our to do list for a while, inspired by Miranda meeting Steve on it in a key episode of Sex and the City. Well, I was inspired, but I digress. And even though we were directly under it (and it is huge), we struggled to find the Brooklyn end of it. It just seems to go on forever. We could see the pedestrians on it, we could see the cars but we couldn’t figure out how to get on the damn thing. We keep walking along the side of it, traffic fumes mixing well with the heat of the day and eventually find a tiny set up stairs off a dank pathway underneath the bridge.
And because we had chosen a busy weekend to visit, it was packed. The pedestrian walkway is separate and above the road for the cars and you have to share it with cyclists. It’s a fine line between trying to pass the slowest, photograph taking tourist and not getting mown down by a crazy cyclist as they speed along their half of the pavement. And it doesn’t help that someone decided to wrap half the bridge in plastic, so you can’t even see the views most of the time. And did I say it was long? Yes, it’s very long at 1.1 miles or 1.8 km. No wonder it took 13 years to build it in the late 19th Century. And no, there is no crock of gold at the end.
That’s exactly how it feels in New York right now. You are in a nice, cool air conditioned building and then you walk outside and hot air hits you. It’s quite disconcerting to go from the cold inside to the hot outside. And disorientating when you are walking along the hot pavements and you get hit by cool blasts from air conditioning vents. What’s worse is that it doesn’t cool down. It’s late at night and still warm enough just to wear a t shirt.
I was in the Central Park on Friday. Our first experience of sprinklers. When I was a kid, a sprinkler was the small device your dad used to water the lawn on the odd day it seemed a bit warm. I can remember running in and out of the spray of water as it moved from one side to the other. Here sprinklers appear in the playgrounds for the kids to run in and out of and keep cool. J loves his first experience, running into the water and then squealing with slight shock and real delight when the blast of cold water hits his face. He is resplendent in his water gear and enjoys every moment. It will be a theme for the summer.
By lunchtime on Friday I was gratified to see that few people were crazy enough to be running in 30+ degree heat. At 730 on Saturday morning I go for a run in Central Park because I think it will be cooler and I am very wrong. It is hot. The temperature has not dipped below 23 degrees. Too hot for running and I have to keep stopping to prevent myself from over heating. It brings out a lot of early runners and a lot of barely clad people. Men in skimpy shorts and no tops; women in shorts and even shorter tank tops showing rippling bellies and many bosoms that need more control.
By 8am people, mostly men, are playing baseball in regulation coloured t shirts tucked into cream coloured trousers and looking deadly serious in baseball caps. The little leaguers are still asleep but will emerge soon to look like cute versions of these committed sportsmen. The park looks fabulous, lush and green with its canopies of trees giving grateful shelter to mediocre runners like me. Too early for tourists but early enough for random groups of people to be hanging around. Some are getting ready to marshal a race in the park but with others I have no idea what connects them together so early in the park. Maybe it’s just the heat forcing them outside: air conditioning is a luxury in NYC.