Central Park | New York

We crisscrossed the park many times; hardly a day went by without meandering through its winding paths and tracks of various lengths, widths and directions. For Central Park is a trip, a destination, a meeting point, a playground and recreation park, all at once; it is the heart and lungs of the city; and it is teaming with life.

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So we strolled and explored and took deep breaths, the air moist, but still pleasantly so in June; we rested our aching feet on some of the 9.000 wooden benches that dot the park, some of which are adopted and carry personalised messages on plaques fixed on their back. We sat and watched people watching people go by and listened to lively conversations from the neighbouring benches.

We meditated over calm ponds, bright green from algae and the reflections of leafy trees and shrubs on the water. There is something very tranquil about the ponds – in sharp contrast to the bustling city sounds a couple of hundred metres away.

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We let our gaze travel leisurely across the Reservoir named after Jackie Kennedy Onassis, soaking up the breathtaking view; we annoyed dozens of runners on the dirt truck that circles it, by going clockwise before noticing the signs directing the flow anticlockwise; we still ignored them anyway.

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We walked the perfect arch of the Bow Bridge.

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We sat on the fresh green lawn of the Sheep Meadow, where flocks of sheep were grazing until 1934, and flocks of people are basking ever since. We watched the park changing mood.

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We walked across Strawberry Fields, the memorial paying tribute to John Lennon and walked past the Dakota, one of Manhattan’s most exclusive and star-studded apartment blocks, Lennon’s home until his untimely, tragic death in 1980. It occurred to me that for all his activism, connections to the hippie movement, turbulent personal life and troubles with the authorities, Lennon hadn’t done too bad for the posh side of himself!

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Finally, one day, this… *A smile in the sky! A tiny inverted rainbow on a bright, sunny day. You gotta love New York!

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* The phenomenon or “smile in the sky” only occurs when thin wispy cirrus clouds – made of ice crystals – are at a specific angle to the sun. Cirrus clouds normally form at between 18.000 and 40.000ft, so circumzenithal arcs appear much higher in the sky and are usually obscured by clouds. They are more common in cold climates, but still fairly rare.

Shared photo credits (Konstantinos & Lia)

New York, 01-22 June 2014

 

 

 

 

 

New York, like Paris: window shopping

I grow weary of department stores any day, as much as of supermarkets on a Saturday. The idea of navigating through floors of slightly different but largely similar luxury goods is rather unappealing, the uniformity of neatly packed racks is dispiriting, the luck of originality irritating. Department stores are certainly not high (if at all) on my wish-list when I travel. Unless…

Unless they boast such awe-inspiring features as the monumental dome of the Galeries Lafayette in Paris, the iconic half-timber framed exterior and the splendid wooden interior of Liberty of London, or the original wooden escalators, amazingly still in operation, in Macy’s New York.

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I got to discover these marvelous, last surviving remnants – manufactured by Otis Elevator Company in 1902 – just in time, before they become too cumbersome to maintain or deemed too unsafe by current standards  (thank you Dievca, for pointing me in the right direction)!

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On the other hand, I love window shopping; any day, any where! One of my favourite pastimes, not only it relaxes and helps defrag my brain but it is also the most delightful way to get acquainted with fashions, trends and habits in places I visit.

I enjoy learning what people like to wear, eat, read or listen to; how they accessorize their homes; I savour the occasional element of surprise, occurring at the most unexpected places.

Fancy joining me at an intercontinental city walk? Let’s see how New York and Paris share colours, styles and – most of all – ambience!

Indulge…

Spend a small fortune on a floral bouquet print ensemble spotted in Madison Avenue, then another – slightly bigger fortune – so you can put your feet up in sumptuous style, over in Paris. Both made in Italy (or so the labels say).

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Explosion of colour. Every shade, hue and tone – the entire Pantone chart in one Midtown Manhattan shop. Some escaped and stained Cardin’s futuristic hats and dresses, in Paris.

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Shopping PAR 2i

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Shopping PAR 1ii

MacKenzie-Childs ceramics are an acquired taste but it was love at first sight at Mam’zelle Swing’s… that ’50s beauty would have been mine but for the mid-August break!

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Tourist trap vs Rat trap. Guess who’s winning?

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Riddle me this, riddle me that, where can I pick up my brand new iMac?

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Taking a break but still bubbling over… where shall we go next, I wonder?

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Photosets in pairs: first one from New York, second from Paris.

Shared credits: (Konstantinos & Lia)

New York, June 2014
Paris, August 2014

New York, like Paris

Visiting Paris a few weeks after the trip to New York felt, in a way, as if I had seen both sides of the coin. Because the two metropolises may be two continents and – indeed – worlds apart but in many ways, they mirror, complement and look up to each other; the vast ocean between them acting as a link rather than a divider.

I’d dare go as far as to claim that even the language barrier (yes, really …!) is being overcome, in a steady albeit slow pace: contrary to common misconceptions, French is increasingly spoken in New York  (at least in Manhattan, from personal encounters). Whether by expats or second generation New Yorkers with connections to parts of the francophone world, this should not come as a surprise given the number of schools and French-English bilingual programmes on offer.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Parisians do appreciate the effort in trying to speak French, but once they sense struggle or catch a couple of R’s rolling too many (the absolute Non-Non), they will helpfully switch to English, which they actually speak very well  – and don’t let them pretend otherwise!

So, while everyone else is raving about the differences between Paris and New York, why don’t we take a look at some of the features they have in common? Those parts of the daily city life that, for all their differences look charmingly, morphologically similar?

Starting with the most celebrated of them all; symbol of alliance, masterpiece of monumental art and engineering, beacon of hope and promise of a better life, welcoming millions of immigrants to the United States, since 1886.

”Liberty Enlightening the World”
was Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s name for his gift to the United States from the people of France

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There are four ”Liberties” in Paris; this bronze is at the Musée des Arts et Métiers.
If you’d like to know more about the Ladies, their whereabouts and history, jump over to Theadora’s magnificent blog ”Paris: People, Places and Bling” and treat yourself to a bite of Embracing Lady Liberty! C’est délicieux!

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Rivers, Bridges & Boats

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The SeineBridge PAR 1i

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Tourists: funny, colourful, annoying, essential part of city lifeFunny tourists NYCi

Funny Tourists PARi

3D FacesFace NYCi

Face PARi

BikesBikes NYC

Bikes PARi

CarsCar NYCi

Car PARi

Social gatheringsCrowd NYCi

Crowd PARi

The Highline & La Promenade Plantée that inspired it and became the model for the Highline parkHigh line NYC 1i

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High line PAR 2i

 The majestic Flatiron and a mini Paris versionFlatiron NYC

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Gothic ArchitectureGothic NYC 1i

Gothic PAR 1i

Markets and Les PassagesMarket NYCi

Market PARi

 Grand Central & Gare du Nord Train station NYCi

Train station PARi

Park ArtPark art NYCi

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Street ArtWall art NYC 2i

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Next, we should go shopping… What do you thing?

Photo sequence: first photo or set from New York, second from Paris.

Photo credits: Shared (Konstantinos & Lia)

New  York, June 2014
Paris, August 2014

 

 

Here to stay!

One morning, on my way to work:

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Took these in early September, but it might as well have been this morning. For, although our Vitamin D levels must have hit record low this Summer – which saw Brussels dressed in coats(!) and boots(!) through most of July and August, we have been graced with the mellowest, shiniest, warmest, GLORIOUS Autumn. My favourite season of the year!