New York – Week Three

I can’t believe another whole week has passed! Time passes so quickly! I have been so busy, it feels like I haven’t stopped to rest for more than a minute! I keep meaning to take a day off, but then I get caught up in my desire to see something else amazing in the city. New York has no shortage of interesting sights to see, but it means my schedule is constantly filled.

Updates on my last week…

The rain is back! The weather this week was less consistent than the previous two weeks, but there were intermittent showers, so I was very glad to spend the week in the office and not walking around handing out flyers. I am beginning to understand the true nature of summer in New York.

Work was busy and stressful, as always. It was only calm for about a moment after we finished throwing our health fair, and then we shifted immediately back into other projects. I am currently working on two main “projects”, as well as doing general office work, such as handling constituent services, answering phones and filing mail.

I’m not sure I did anything exciting Monday through Wednesday, so I will just skip those days, other than to say, I am enjoying hanging out with my coworkers We chat and to music during our lunch break, which somehow always ends up being around 2 or so every afternoon. I guess New Yorkers really do eat later than everyone else.

On Thursday, I was only in the office for a brief amount of time before I had to rush off to a press conference downtown. It was about the overcrowding of New York schools, and was held by a non-profit group on the steps of City Hall. The council member who I am interning for spoke, as well as a few other council members and many parents and educators. It was pretty low key for a press conference, and overall, the most exciting part was getting to sit on the steps of City Hall during lunch hour and watch some of the employees there chat with each other. I also enjoyed getting the opportunity to eat lunch out- I stopped at a small shop down the street from my office on the way to the press conference and got a banana/pineapple/mango smoothie and two beef pastelitos (another word for empanada). After the conference was over, I got to come home, so I took a nap in the afternoon and then went to the gym.

On Friday morning I ran out of breakfast food and decided to treat myself to something special. I finally tried something from a food cart! I got a croissant filled with banana cream. It was definitely one of the best pastries I have ever had. That morning, instead of going to the office, I went to a multicultural assembly at an elementary school in Hamilton Heights on behalf of the council member I am interning for. The school was culminating their diversity month, and decided to have a dance show to showcase the various cultures at their school. It was pretty adorable, and the kids did a really good job. You can tell they worked really hard learning all the steps. The oldest kids at the school even learned how to sign “We Are the World”, one of my favorite songs. It was a real crowd pleaser.

This weekend my office didn’t have any events, so I got the weekend to myself to do whatever I wanted to do!

On Friday night, I went to see the New York Philharmonic play in Prospect Park. Every year the NY Phil gives free concerts in parks across the city for anyone to come see- it’s an extremely popular event. This was my first trip to another borough, and I was fairly excited. Even though I had to take two trains, I managed to get there relatively easily. The journey was long, but not overly complicated. I stopped at a small bodega on the way to the park to pick up some snacks for the show. I bought pre-cut mango and yogurt-covered pretzels. Turns out this makes a great meal. There were swarms of people walking to the park to listen to the concert, so it wasn’t hard to find, but the real difficulty came when trying to find a place on the grass to sit. As I said, this is a very popular event. On average, it draws tens of thousands of people to each performance. I couldn’t have captured the crowds there with my camera, it was just too vast a sea of people. The music was outstanding- the orchestra’s musicality despite being outside stunned me. They gave a  concert that lasted almost two hours, which was then followed by fireworks. As the weather managed to avoid raining all night, it was very pleasant to sit on the grass, eat yummy food and listen to wonderful music. I am considering going back on Tuesday night- they are playing another set of music in a different park.

On Saturday I got up and went on a run down to the end of the High Line and back. It was before 11, so it wasn’t too crowded, but I still had to dodge confused tourists who probably didn’t understand why someone would be jogging along the pleasant walking trail. I personally like it better than having to pause every block or so and wait for traffic. After that, I showered and went out with the intention of going to either Brooklyn or the Bronx- however, it was overcast and slightly misty out, so I thought I would stay in Manhattan and go museum hopping instead, which is a good activity for a rainy day.

I ended up taking the subway over to the Upper East Side and going to the Jewish Museum, which is free on Saturdays. I learned a lot of interesting history- the museum is done very well. After I got done at the museum, I wandered through Central Park. I stumbled across gardens with a lily pond, a large fountain overlooking a grassy area, and Harlem Meer, a large pond north of the Reservoir. As I walked along the pond, a boat with brass musicians in it floated by playing classical chorals. It was beautiful, and fit the overcast and cozy mood of the afternoon.

I cut through the park, stopping to take a picture at a pretty waterfall, and then walked down 8th Ave along Central Park until I got to the next museum I wanted to go to, also free, the American Folk Art Museum. The exhibit they were currently displaying didn’t end up being very interesting to me, so I stayed less than half an hour. The rain was really picking up at this point, so I stopped and did some grocery shopping and then went home.

On Sunday I got up and contemplated whether to go out or not, as heavy rain was predicted for later in the day. However, the sky began clearing up and the sun came out, so I got on the train and headed for the Bronx. This was my second trip outside of Manhattan, and I was pretty excited. My first stop was Arthur Avenue, the Bronx’s Little Italy. It was slightly challenging to find, but worth the effort once I got there. It is pretty authentic. There are many markets, restaurants and bakeries. I didn’t get a slice of pizza or spaghetti while I was there (darn- guess I’ll have to go back), but I did stop in a few bakeries and try a couple things. I got two pieces of rugelach (raspberry and chocolate), a slice of a decadent walnut brownie, and baba rum. The rugelach was amazing, especially the raspberry. The perfect pastry and filling, just moist enough. I wish I had bought a few peices to bring home. The brownie was perhaps the most outstanding dessert I have ever eaten. I was tempted to get a large one, but I think I would have been too full to walk if I had eaten all of it. I didn’t like the baba rum at all. Turns out its deep-fried dough soaked in sickly sweet rum, sometimes filled with cream filling. It looks like a doughnut hole, but does not taste like a doughnut hole. In my opinion, they are awful. I guess I’m glad I tried something new, and now I know not to waste my money on something like that when I can just get a brownie or a piece of cake.

After meandering through Little Italy and trying to resist sampling everything, I went over to the New York Botanical Gardens. They were so beautiful! Even though it was past the time for most flowers to be in bloom, many of them were still alive and looked nice. I wandered amongst the nature for a few hours and took many pictures. I really enjoyed all the water features throughout the gardens- a pond, a wetland, a river, and more. I will include many pictures, because it is challenging to explain this trip without them. On the way home, I got caught in a sudden downpour and ended up practically soaked! Thankfully I was able to hide under an awning for a few minutes of the rain, and the storm only lasted about 10 minutes, before the clouds moved on. That’s the thing about New York- the weather can change very abruptly. At this point, the temperature was still floating around 85 degrees with an insane amount of humidity, and it was damp out. I don’t know how I survived the whole day in jeans, but I managed, and even forced myself to go on a run once I was home and the clouds had floated away.

Suffice to say, after such a long week, I am very tired now, and I am just gearing up for another full week ahead.

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Gloriously beautiful pastries in a shop in Little Italy in the Bronx.

 

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Baba rum, a traditional Italian pastry. Don’t be fooled by their resemblance to a doughnut hole. They are drenched in liquor and taste terrible.

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Captured in the Kennedy Rose Garden at New York Botanical Garden.

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Overlooking the Kennedy Rose Garden.

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Cooling off in the Bronx. I saw at least two or three more fire hydrants being utilized in such a manner throughout my explorations of this borough.

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On the deck of the Native Plants Garden in the New York Botanical Gardens.

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The pagoda in the center of the Kennedy Rose Garden in the New York Botanical Garden.

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Authentic Little Italy along Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. This man is hand-rolling cigars.

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Flowers in the New York Botanical Garden.

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In front of the Conservatory at the New York Botanical Gardens. Going inside to see the recreation of Frida Kahlo’s garden cost extra, so I opted not to, but the NY Garden is 250 acres, so I spent almost three hours there without going in.

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This in, unbelievably, a school, not a prison. This is what happens to primary education in the outer boroughs.

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The most delicious thing in the while world. A small (though it doesn’t appear so in this picture) slice of a brownie from a bakery in Little Italy in the Bronx.

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In front of the waterfall in the New York Botanical Garden.

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Selfie amongst the flowers in the New York Botanical Garden.

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What I assume is outstanding bread from the Madonia Bakery in Little Italy in the Bronx. I wouldn’t know, I didn’t buy any. I hope to go back with the purpose of getting a roll and a slice of pizza.

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In front of the Conservatory in the New York Botanical Garden.

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An Italian market in the Bronx selling loads of amazing smelling food.

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Fireworks after the New York Philharmonic concert in Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

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In front of a waterfall in Central Park West. My head is blocking the main attraction, as per usual.

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My favorite set of quotes from the Jewish Museum.

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Exploring the hidden gems of Central Park.

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In this picture you can actually sort of see the waterfall in Central Park West.

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The lush beauty of Central Park.

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Looking down on Harlem Meer in Central Park.

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Posing in Central Park.

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Selfie in Prospect Park before the New York Philharmonic concert.

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One of the most delicious pastries I have ever had, bought for $1.50 from a cart on the sidewalk down the street from my building. I discovered it to be filled with banana cream, much to my delight.

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A brass ensemble playing hymns and chorals on a boat paddling around Harlem Meer in Central Park.

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In Central Park.

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Drenched after a flash rain storm flooded the streets of the Bronx. I was sadly wearing jeans at the time. Not a good decision before or after the rain, as the temperature remained at around 85 degrees regardless of the rain clouds.

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I found rugelach in Little Italy! This is the chocolate piece, but the raspberry was way better, in my opinion. The dough was softer and the flavors blended more smoothly.

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Mark Levine speaking at a press conference on the issue of school overcrowding in New York City on the steps of City Hall.

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A beautiful fountain and lawn in Central Park.

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A different view of the same pastries (I think- I went into a lot of bakeries) from the bakery on Arthur Avenue in Little Italy in the Bronx. Pretty enough to be photographed twice.

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Flowers in the Conservatory Garden in Central Park.

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An ancient Jewish marriage certificate from Persia dating just before the invasion of Alexander the Great and the subsequent Hellenistic era.

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Flowers in the Conservatory Garden in Central Park.

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A lily pond in the Conservatory Garden in Central Park.

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New York City Hall!

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Stained glass murals at a subway stop in the Bronx.

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In the Jewish Museum.

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This group of people brought an elaborate set-up to the New York Philharmonic concert in Prospect Park, complete with candles and wine glasses.

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I can’t remember what these are called, but they hang in the doorways of traditional Jewish households.

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Fireworks after the New York Philharmonic concert in Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

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The path along Harlem Meer in Central Park.

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The Guggenheim Museum- I didn’t go in because it’s very expensive and I’m hardly interested in modern art, but it was a cool experience to walk by.

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The glorious old building that now houses the Jewish Museum- it used to be home to the Warburg family.

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A small fraction of the crowds at the New York Philharmonic concert in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. It was a Friday night, but I will still surprised by the tens of thousands of people who showed up.

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The lily pond in the Conservatory Garden in Central Park.

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A girl sitting on a rock overlooking Harlem Meer in Central Park.

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