There is no bad time to visit New York City, but the best of all times to be there may be September.
There have been days in January, February or March when my ardor for the city is compromised by a frigid blasting wind. And you won’t find me wearing an I-heart-NYC t-shirt during that week in July when the breath of Hades blows over the city with 100-degree heat. But September, with day after day of buttery sunshine and low humidity – ah, this is Manhattan’s finest moment.
We stepped outside on one of those perfect days and decided to chuck our museum-going plan in favor of spending the day outside. Our expedition began (as it so often does, alas) with lunch. Our destination was uptown, so we cabbed up to 104th Street and Broadway for lunch at Cafe du Soleil, grateful to find this sunny option in a neighborhood that is not known for great restaurants.
After lunch, we walked up Amsterdam for a few blocks. As we passed a cute little storefront, we were greeted by the city’s most handsome doorman, Max, who led us in to the Mugi Pottery Studio where we had no choice but to make a purchase in Max’s honor.
After saying our reluctant goodbyes to Max, we walked a bit further up Amsterdam to our destination: I had always wanted to visit the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (Amsterdam between 111th and 112th Streets). Construction of the church was initiated in 1892 and “completed” in 1941, but from our look inside, sadly, nothing there seemed very complete.
The Episcopalian church, arguably the world’s largest gothic cathedral, is breathtaking from outside, but inside everything seemed more or less in disarray. Instead of pews, we saw rows of what appeared to be conference room chairs. The interior of the church seemed oddly stripped of spiritual imagery, although the glorious stained glass windows do their best to convey a divine presence.
A “voluntary” donation of $10 is requested to enter the church, under the very watchful eye of an attendant. If you are looking for a recommendation, I might suggest admiring St. John the Divine from outside and then visiting St. Patrick’s Cathedral instead.
We continued our walk on 110th Street from Morningside Heights over to Harlem proper on the East Side, where we entered Central Park at Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.
After winding around the Meer toward 105th Street, our next destination finally came into view. When friends Nancy and Zane visited us in June, they told us about Central Park’s Conservatory Garden, which neither we nor the city-dwellers we polled had ever visited. Determined not to let our buddies from the Chesapeake Bay out-Central-Park us, we were excited to discover this corner of the Park. We were not disappointed!
At this point, we’d covered a fair amount of ground, about five miles, according to my handy Mapmywalk iPhone app. So we cabbed back across the Park where we received our second pooch greeting of the day: This adorable UWS pup said hello to us as we trudged tiredly down Central Park West:
After an afternoon siesta, we decided that the still-beautiful day was beckoning us outside again. So we walked across the Park once more, this time for dinner at Beyoglu, our favorite Mediterranean restaurant in the city.
The sun had set by the time we finished our leisurely dinner at Beyoglu. We walked down Madison Avenue, over to Fifth and then up Central Park South towards home. These evening walks are my favorites – you can better hear the clip-clop of the horse-drawn carriages and lights illuminate the fountain at Columbus Circle.
When we are asked our favorite thing to do when we’re in NYC, we always respond that we just love to walk around the city. So this was one of our favorite days ever – two restaurants, two dog-sightings and a total of 8.98 miles walked, much of it in our beloved Central Park. When that bitter wind blows down Broadway, come February, I’ll think back on this day and remember why I so very much heart NYC.