Late last evening, I sat with a new friend at the dining hall sipping tea and nibbling on tea cake as she ate her dinner. She mentioned she was planning to see New York City and shamelessly I asked if I could tag along. She agreed and before she could change her mind, we made plans to leave right after breakfast.
After a week doing too much reading and writing, this was a much-needed break and we set off taking a train to the city. Highline park was our first stop and en route we stopped every once in a while to take pictures of New York(y) things like fire escapes on old buildings, murals on doors and the occasional turquoise painted door. Our pace was brisk and for someone who is not used to much walking, I’d like to think I managed well. The Highline park is a beautiful repurposing of an old railroad track to create an oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle. The views were amazing.
Next, we traipsed to Saravana Bhavan for a proper south Indian meal and to rest our weary legs. Fortified with mini tiffin and filter coffee, we set out to find the Fulton Center station and somehow found ourselves near the Brooklyn bridge. Since we were there, we walked about midway, took loads of pictures, swayed with the breeze, battled pedestrian and bike traffic and made our way back to the Fulton Station.
Fulton Station is a new building the insides of which were beautiful. The circular domed roof that filtered sunlight into a soft haze that coated everything was lovely. We enjoyed it for a few minutes before setting out to see the next on our list. The Oculus. A building with frond-like things fanning the entire length.
By then we had walked nine miles and I wanted coffee so we found Starbucks where I sat with a latte in hand while my friend did a spot of shopping before we took a cab back to the Grand Central station. The return journey was quiet.
I sat by the window watching stations flash by and wondering why it took another person to show me how enriching solo travel is. I watched my friend from another country set out with the ease and familiarity of a seasoned traveler. I tagged along, open-mouthed and in awe of her guts.
I doubt I will set out by myself but today surely showed me how much I needed this time off, to decompress, to just wander idly, to watch a city bustle with life, to imagine stories behind people sitting on benches in the park and those that took the trains.
Playing tourist was fun. Something to try in my own little rustic town.