What was I writing about before getting so distracted...
Oh yeah, New York's Central Park.
I left my place in a snowstorm and arrived in New York in balmy 38F sunshine. Of course, I'd been working all night and it was mid afternoon when I got in the airport bus to take me to the hotel. I was meeting an old friend whom I hadn't seen in years. She was actually a friend of a friend I had met while travelling in Belgium in 1979. I met her when I went to visit him in Australia in 1989. We had kept up a Christmas card correspondence ever since. This trip had been planned for months and I was simply going to see her for a couple of days during one of her layovers on those extensive round the world things that Australians do so well.
New York is only an hours flight away, and after a delay of two hours which involved snow clearing and de-icing, I got to the hotel she had booked for us and was prepared to check in and grab a bite to eat and wander around to get a feel for where we were in Midtown before she got in from Peru sometime after midnight. Fine. Except there was no booking for me, or her, at this hotel. Nothing. No help. Never heard of her.
With a heavy heart, and a heavy extra sweater and boots (remember the snowstorm?), I wander up and down the streets asking at EVERY hotel I came across, and there were quite simply, no vacancies. Long story short, I call my friend who likes to help and knows NYC very well and after a couple more hours I get a hotel room and I crash into bed watching the news that Heath Ledger has died. My luxury room on 56th St is now a basic room on 97th St. It is under renovations and the room has no view, but has at least a comfortable bed.
The next morning I get some maps and plan out my two days of solitary touring. I decide to do Midtown and Central Park the first day then head down to Soho and the East Village the next day. I walked and walked and walked. It was still so very warm for a late January day, and clear and almost windless. It wasn't quite dark yet when I thought I'd get something to eat and watch the skaters at Rockefeller Center before heading up to the top for the night view (because by then I was too tired to walk to the Empire State Building). I walked down Fifth Avenue, taking architectural pictures of the very expensive shops instead of actually shopping in them when suddenly I hear someone call out my name. In a very distinctive Australian accent. I turn around, and there is Fiona. She was coming out of some shop about a block away and saw me and followed awhile to make sure. We had not seen each other in almost 20 years. It took me a few moments to bring my jaw back up off the pavement where it had fallen open in shock. I used to be amazed (and slightly unbelieving) at how that Seinfeld gang used to run into each other in such a huge city. Now folks, I am here to tell you it is possible. On the street. On Fifth Avenue. At 5pm. (the point being rush hour, not the coincidence of the fives).
Turns out, her travel agent screwed up the dates, so a frantic phone call to her back in Australia, and a few hours later, (remember Heath Ledger has just died, so rooms are still filling up) she gets a room booked. An upgrade to a suite in a very swanky hotel in Soho.
We had a much shorter visit.
And in the meantime, I fell in love with New York.