DAY 6 –Sat 26th October
Central Park, The Zoo and….Poor Gus….
So by Day 6, our apartment was an absolute mess. We were literally living in our own filth. There were clothes and food packets scattered everywhere. There was make-up all over the kitchen counter. We hadn’t washed a single item of clothing because the washing machine in the hallway was far too complicated and we were terrified of asking Mr. S. for help after the whole DVD player debacle. But hey, holidays in America aren’t for washing and cleaning! And thus, we left the mess as it was.
The weekend had rolled around so quickly and we decided the best way to spend our Saturday was visiting the world famous Central Park. It was another glorious, blue-skied day and we couldn’t wait to see the zoo and take a carriage ride around the park!
We had already been to the area before as it was the same place the Sex And The City Tour left from, but we hadn’t properly explored it the first time. It really was very cool with horses and carriages clip-clopping all along the road and plenty of pretty greenery everywhere.
We picked a horse and carriage to approach and enquired about their prices, which led to a bit of an argument with the slighty scary Irish carriage driver. In our New York Passes it told us we got a discount on any carriage at Central Park but our driver was adamant that deal hadn’t existed for years. I was very much in an “everyone and everything is trying to con me” kind of mood on this holiday so I dug my heels in and demanded to know why it was advertised in the booklet if it didn’t exist. He told me anyone down the street would tell me the same price so in the end we relented. I felt a little bit guilty because I’m not usually someone who likes to be difficult in these situations and the guy was only doing his job, but with the amount of people trying to screw us over on every corner I just wanted to keep my wits about me! In the end it turned out New York Pass was in the wrong and had outdated instructions for getting the discount in the booklet (we were supposed to go to a certain place I think that wasn’t really advertised). When I wrote to complain to the company they were pretty dismissive and defensive in their response back so as a result I would never particularly recommend getting a New York Pass to anyone!!
Our little dispute aside, our driver turned out to be pretty good and we really enjoyed our ride around the park. Our horse was called Rudy and was super cute! We got go round the whole area (I think the ride lasted about 20 minutes in total) while the driver told us lots of different facts about certain buildings or parts of the park. It was all really cool stuff about famous film scenes and where celebrities live, it was especially cool when we recognised places he pointed out from the television! Here’s some pictures from the ride:
After our ride we went exploring around the park – it honestly is huge! The scenery is really lovely with beautiful patches of green and water.
It’s split into loads of different sections, so it’s sort of like a few different parks in one. We got to see a couple of well-known spots like the bridge which is in Home Alone 2 (Lou made me watch that movie when we got back home, it’s Central Park-tastic!)
Although Central Park was lovely, it wasn’t quite how I had imagined it was going to be. It’s such a famous landmark and I had envisioned it to be some kind of buzzing hive of activity with loads of street performances and cool, interesting people everywhere. In reality it was pretty peaceful and a place for Mums with buggies and old people going off for a ramble. There were a couple of people playing instruments here and there but it was more serene than hip-happening. Not that there is anything wrong with a pretty, peaceful place… of course it was absolutely lovely! I had just hoped for a little more adventure from it!
One of my favourite places in the park was a little area where you could sit outside and play chess with your friends – or strangers! A cool old guy beckoned me and Lou over for a game but we didn’t really have enough time to get into a game. I thought it was such a cool idea though, the stone chess tables were amazing. If I was in New York for a longer stretch of time then I swear I would spend so much of my time there! (We didn’t get any pics unfortunately, but it was so lovely!)
After a while of looking around, we headed into the centre of the park for our next super-fun destination – Central Park Zoo. This is actually the very zoo that the Madagascar films are based on so we were really excited to go round it!
We really loved the zoo, there were so many amazing animals and moments but here are some highlights in bullet point form…
- Me buying the world’s saltiest pretzel from a food cart as soon as we got there. I started off loving it and about halfway through I thought I was going to black out from the amount of salt I was inhaling. The pretzel was so delicious though so I just started scraping all the salt onto the floor so I could bravely try and finish eating it.
- SEA LIONS OF JOY!!! We got to see a whole sea-lion show where they did amazing tricks. They are so adorable and kind of dog-like in nature. They even played fetch! I was pretty amazed at how intelligent they were. I was not as amazed with the disembodied droning American voice presenting the show who was listing off endless sea-lion facts in a monotone drawl (and making loads of mistakes in the process.)
- Me falling off the steps that led to the sea lions and nearly crashing into their tank…
- The fat penguins who were super cute. We nicknamed one Bobbo because he was too fat to actually get out the water and just bobbed about a lot instead. There was also a really pensive one who was just staring forlornly into the sky as though in some kind of existential crisis.
- Red Pandas. THE CUTEST THINGS IN THE WORLD!!!
- Monkeys! Lou got some really good photos of these little fellas
- A really fat sheep at the petting zoo. Lots of these animals were pretty fat actually… Oh and I couldn’t enjoy the petting zoo as much as I wanted to because of all the STUPID CHILDREN around that I had to let go in front of me and stuff. PFFT. As if petting zoos are for kids….
- A terrifying statue in the middle of the park of a lion mangling a bird. Because what else represents animal-based family fun?
- Our best memory of the zoo was the fact that loads of the best exhibitions were closed. We always find stuff like this funny because Lou and I are like black clouds of doom that curse everything fun we touch so if we didn’t laugh about them then we would endlessly cry. Snow Leopards were CANCELLED.
But worst of all was that Gus the Polar Bear was, erm, no longer available…
As we were reading the sign, an American lady walked past with her partner and sighed “Poor Gus” in the most sincere tone you can imagine. I’m not sure why but that just set us off into hysterics and became our favourite quote of the holiday. We then for some reason thought it would be the most hilarious thing ever to change a sign saying “Polar Circle” to “Polar Circle OF DEATH”. I am not sure what to say about this… we were sleep deprived….
I would definitely recommend a trip to the zoo if you are ever in Central Park, it was such great fun and from what I remember the ticket price was pretty reasonable too. After we had seen all the animals we made our way out of the park and over to the main strip of road so Lou could buy some lunch.
This was our perfect excuse to visit The Plaza – the big posh hotel as seen in Home Alone 2. Not only is it a real hotel but there is a big food court inside of it. Here we are stood in the famous foyer…
I was really regretting already having a pretzel by this point because there was soooo much lovely food and drink on offer in the court, it was kind of too much to take in! We had a little mose about and ventured into the English Food shop that sold anything and everything other than any actual English food. Lou got a posh veggie wrap thing and we went outside by the big lovely fountain to eat it. A great idea in theory, until we found ourselves being splashed by freezing cold water every time the wind picked up. HAPPY LUNCHTIME!
After lunch, we did what any self-respecting pair of grown women in their late-twenties would do… and went back to the giant toy shop! Oh yes, FAO Schwarz was just across the road and we couldn’t resist another little look around. This time we found MUPPETS. Actual MUPPETS.
And I found my MUPPET DOUBLE!!!! I kind of wish I’d bought her now…. (Shame she was so bloody expensive!!)
We also had our fortunes told by ZOLTAR! The actual fortune teller from the Tom Hanks film Big. It is the very same toyshop from the movie and also has the giant piano from that very famous scene (which we saw but didn’t go on because too many kids were on it haha).
There were a few other shops and things around the area so after spending far too long in the toyshop for a second time we had a little mooch around. There was an authentic “Sample Sale” outlet down the street (which I always think of being a totes American thing) but it was all real fur coats and accessories so to be honest it was a bit scary. Why would anyone pay ridiculous amounts of dollars to hang a dead animal around their necks, especially animals that may be endangered (from what I remember it wasn’t just rabbit fur or anything).Gross.
We tried our best to nonchalantly edge our way out of the scary fur place, then we went to another iconic New York landmark… Tiffany’s!
Sadly it was too late for breakfast there (hahaha … ahem…) but we did have a look at all the floors of shiny expensive things. There were lots of nice things to see, and plenty of posh ladies behind cabinet counters looking us up and down and knowing in one eye-scan that we were tourists and not buyers. It was all rather intimidating and it seemed like the sort of place I shouldn’t stay in long in case I broke something.
We had to go to the engagement ring floor to see all the sparkly rings that probably cost as much as a small house. It was really funny because the room was full of gorgeous, scowling ladies who were picking out rings with their partners (most of whom were much older and looked thoroughly bored to be there). It was hard to believe this was supposed to be such a happy moment for these couples, I think for many of them it was like a business transaction. I always read trashy novels about people like that but I never realised they actually existed!
In the late afternoon we were going to go to the little independent French Cinema in the area (the same one Carrie goes to in Sex And The City) – but the film we had seen advertised when we were there a few days before had changed to something we didn’t fancy at all. This gave us a good excuse to go back to Harlem early and have a relaxing evening doing nothing much. I think we probably needed it after how busy our week had been so far.
We went to our favourite local deli for dinner and had the most delicious take-away Ravioli ever. We even got free cheesecake slices because we had to wait a long time. They were really nice there, it seemed so stressful with a lot of moany/crazy people coming in and giving them grief… but they rewarded their patient customers!
I think we must have got an early night by this point… I think we were going to bed by 8pm, we just couldn’t get into New York time at all! But it meant we were up bright and early for another day of fun.
Additonal Notes Worth Mentioning:
- “I could swim… IF I WANTED TO!!!” (Us imitating Bobbo The Penguin)
- Getting lost on the way down at Tiffany’s despite there only being a few floors… I think we had to ask someone for help actually…
- Me buying a $5 pack of gummy sweets from a teenager in the park who told me it was to help his basketball team buy uniforms and reach the finals of some big game.
Lou – “I think you just got conned….”
Me – “Well, it was a really elaborate story. He put in a lot of effort so I think he earned it!”
- (Fining out the film had changed at the Paris Cinema)
Lou – “It might be good?”
Me – “FINANCIAL THRILLER?!”
Lou – “Yeah… Maybe not…”
- This picture:
- And also… this picture:
- And while we’re at it…. THIS PICTURE!!!
- Lou climbing over my toilet stall at the zoo to take a picture of me BECAUSE THAT’S MATURE RIGHT??
- And on the subject of maturity… This may or may not have been our handiwork at the toyshop…. *innocent whistling*
NEXT TIME…. Little Miss Sunshine, Thrift Shopping and Guy Spotting
Written by Becky – Send her a tweet here: @beckyjerams