Today was a lot better weather-wise – the fog had been switched for dappled sunshine – so naturally I spent the first part of my day in a museum.
The Museum of Natural History is located on the West Side of Central Park in quite an impressive building.
The entrance fee is suggested – but I’m never quite sure whether this means you can go “fuck that, I’m not paying you” or not and as you have to go to an admissions desk and feel the unsettling judgement of the ticket lady as she asks “what are you going to pay?”, I caved and handed over the $22 dollar suggested payment for student admission with one special exhibit.
The museum was interesting – though I am interested in science, so I suppose this is a biased opinion.
The museum houses a lot of exhibits on animals – as is to be expected – but there was also quite an interesting section on human evolution. There are also separate exhibition halls for African natural history and South American history which I found quite interesting. Not to mention this meteorite below which is apparently the largest meteorite on display in the world.
The planetarium section was interesting with a short show on the Big Bang being held in a huge white orb and which was narrated by none other than Liam Neeson (of course)
The special I chose was the butterfly conservatory they currently have on display there, which I thought was fitting given that my next stop is Costa Rica to work on the butterfly farm. There was a very nice man in there who explained to me pretty much everything, from the difference between moths and butterflies (mainly to do with moths having furry antennas and being active at night) to why the owl-eyed butterfly might have got its distinctive patterns (apparently as camouflage to protect from predators). In fact, I would say all the teaching volunteers dotted around the museum were very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful!
Next, I was feeling rather peckish and so I headed to Broadway to buy me a picnic. Several surreal things happened along the way – they seem to happen a lot in this city – as a horserider with two horses dropped one of her helmets on the road and some pedestrians had to run across to hand it back and also someone asked concernedly whether I was ok as I went to wipe sleep out of my eye. The New Yorkers do seem very friendly I have to admit; from offering directions to asking whether I was cold and recommending me a nice place to get a warm drink, the ones I have come into contact with seem rather friendly.
Anyway, I found a shop, but a new issue arose. America doesn’t seem quite as on the vegetarian thing as England as far as I could tell – all the ready made sandwiched had meat in them and I had to settle for a falafel wrap, though by then I was confused as to whether that might have meat in it too. Anyway, I finally made it to Central Park to have my picnic.
Central Park is massive. Honestly, it took me a few hours to explore just the bottom end of it. There are several places I liked and would recommend; the Lake, Strawberry Fields for any Beatles fans; Belvedere Castle which was free to go to the top and had great views of the surrounding skyscrapers and the Alice and Wonderland statue which I found quite entertaining.
I walked past where the zoo was, but I have to see that it seemed pretty small for how zoos go.
Anyway, after being accosted by some reggae-rap artist trying to hand out a “free” demo of his CD, I took the subway all the way out of Manhattan and to Coney Island, as you do. Now I would not recommend this if this is your first time in New York and you haven’t already seen the main art galleries and attractions in Manhattan, but I was very curious as to what this mysterious part of Brooklyn was like. It took an hour to get there though.
Coney Island reminds me a bit of Blackpool in the Northwest of England. There are a lot of tall rollercoasters and seaside attractions – all of them turned off and closed of course because it is February. It seems like the sort of place that would be teeming in better weather, but as it was, there were a few other people, but it couldn’t be described as busy.
The beach there was quite spectacular though, especially with the sunset. I walked out onto the pier where a lot of fisherman were trying their luck on the nice evening. I had a small paddle too, but that ocean is frickin’ freezing! I thought my toes had turned into ice cubes.
Anyway, having made it back to the hostel and completed this, I am thinking about braving a jazz bar. Let’s see how this goes…