When RM and I visit a city, we like to walk the streets, feel the pavement under our feet, and begin to understand what makes this unique urban space tick. When we walk, there is time to appreciate the architecture, to observe the river, to revel in the nooks and crannies and hidden sight lines. A peek-a-boo into the city soul.
The traffic stops and starts, sidewalk cafes beckon us over as we look for the past in the shuttered windows and trellised ledges. The smell of spices and exhaust fumes mix along with the potent piles of rubbish oozing the remains of the day. We wince and turn away but continue our journey across Midtown streets in the light rain. 51st to 49th to catch a risqué Broadway musical or down to lower Manhattan to pose with the Fearless Girl facing down the Wall Street Bull, stepping carefully around and over obstacles, avoiding the flagpole banner-bearing pied pipers.
A good wander unveils many truths and unexpected gems of discovery some painful to observe like the crack zombies stumbling beside us on our way to Red Rooster brunch or the morning after remnants from a night too hard on Times Square. Getting lost is part and parcel to the urban walking experience. Getting found again with someone you love is like renewing your vows all over again.
Nowhere is walking more surreally varied and trance-inducing than in New York City. We boomerang from Harlem to Greenpoint to Lower Manhattan to the Upper East Side and back down again to the Brooklyn Bridge. We cross the East River by ferry to Smorgasburg, an open-air food mecca held every Saturday in an empty lot on the Williamsburg waterfront. It is like a summer rock festival for foodies both alluring and sweaty. We balance small plates on a rock ledge abandoned from a Domino sugar refinery while sipping fresh coconut water directly out of it’s cracked, greenish hull. The whole place smells like Marrakesh, I imagine. We trek on through the heat to the cool insides of the Artists and Fleas to find a treasure or two.
We shuffle slowly through the Guggenheim, spiraling down beside masterpieces by Klee and Pollack inspired to try a sketch or two. We look up at the Freedom Tower and down into the reflecting pools and worry when will it happen again, and where, and how many. We rest in Central Park until the algal bloom drives us up and out for gasps of fresher air and back to our pod for the night.
Reinvigorated in the morning after a good night’s sleep, clean socks, and a NY bagel, we complete one of the most popular walks in NYC. We cross over the Brooklyn Bridge on foot, feed our pizza pie-hole at the popular Juliana’s, located next to the more famous Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, and then journey back over in the moonlight with a throng of tourists snapping selfies from every angle while strolling the crowded boardwalk straddling this proud American architectural feat. Back to the pod by Metro this time, too tired for another trek uptown by foot.
C1 joins us on our walking itinerary as she is living in the Big Apple this summer and is excited to see all that NYC offers in two short months. We took the Metro when prudent but enjoyed strolls along High Line Park one late afternoon before the summer heat wave necessitated a call for Uber. Too hot to walk even to the nearest Metro station.
Whether seeing the city on foot, by subway, taxi or ferry, the important part is to experience travel with the ones you love, even if it is only you. So, find yourself a path to follow and learn to walk again. You’ve waited too long. Happy Independence Day, sweet travelers.