NYC, Day 2: Return to Central Park

The Sites 

  • Belvedere Castle
  • Turtle Pond
  • The Metropolitan Museum

Belvedere Castle 

Irina and I head out around 10am on our second day of being in the city, intent on taking a look around the southern half of Central Park that we didn’t have the opportunity to get to the day before. We only have until about 4pm, at which point we need to go eat and briefly go back to the Airbnb before our Statue at Night cruise in the evening (stay tuned for this in the next post!).

Our first destination within Central Park is Belvedere Castle, which had piqued my curiosity on Google Maps the day before. We enter Central Park at West 86th Street, having grabbed breakfast nearby. We enjoy a brisk walk through the park, already bustling with visitors. There are sprinklers on everywhere, a fact to which I am alerted when Irina yelps and cringes; I get sprayed an instant later.

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Belvedere, which is Italian for “beautiful view”, is nestled in mid-park on 79th Street. Built in 1869, it is a petite structure that offers excellent views over Central Park and the cityscape.

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If you ever hear the weather being broadcasted in NYC, chances are that the day’s temperature were taken from one of Belvedere Castle’s towers. It is, despite its rustic and elegant appearance, a weather station. There are exhibit rooms documenting meteorological data and some of the wildlife in the area, and observation decks in the grounds, open from 10am-5pm daily. Admission is free, with the option of giving a donation to preserve the site.


Turtle Pond

Nearby, depicted in the last photo, is Turtle Pond and beyond, the Great Lawn. The entire space itself occupies 35 acres. Irina and I spent some time relaxing at the west end of Turtle Pond, which has a spacious pavilion. The pond is still and a peculiar shade of bright green. Manmade, much like the other water bodies in Central Park. We don’t happen to spot any turtles, but there are plentiful dragonflies in the area.

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The west end of Turtle Pond is also where the King Jagiello Monument happens to be erected. IMG_2259Jagiello was the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. The monument is dedicated to the Battle of Grunwald, wherein the Polish and Lithuanian forces defeated the Teutonic Knights, a crusading military order. It is considered to be one of the most famous and important battles of Medieval Europe, and led to the eminence of Poland-Lithuania dynastic alliance.


The Met

I can easily say that the Metropolitan Museum, located on the Museum Mile on the outskirts of Central Park, is the most impressive museum I’ve ever seen.

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Stepping inside is like being transported to an entirely different world. Three floors and hundreds of galleries containing art from cultures across the globe and eras spanning millennia. The lobby of the building is crowded-not as muggy and nearly unbearable as that of the Louvre, I should note though-and there is an information desk at the centre. I grabbed a map of the museum, but ultimately, got so caught up in the Greek and Roman wing that I didn’t get to see much else.

In terms of admission costs, there isn’t a fixed price. The recommended price for students (bring a student ID card!) is $12 and with the audio guide that I elected to purchase, my total came out to $19. Given how vast and well-designed the art collection of The Met is, the admission is well worth it.

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This is the audio guide ($7). For all pieces that have a small sign depicting headphones beside them, you can get anywhere from 1-5 minutes of added information. The guide discharged very quickly, but you can get it replaced free-of-charge as many times as you need.

In light of my trip to Greece and the opportunity I had to visit several museums, including the Heraklion Archaeological Museum and the Historical Museum of Crete, I thought it would be interesting to compare exhibits and to broaden my knowledge of Greek history to include the historical development of the mainland.

The exhibit does a fascinating and well-detailed job of documenting the expansion of the Mycenaean civilization through trade in the Mediterranean; the ascension of Athens to power in the 5th century through its leadership role in the Persian wars; and its subsequent destruction through the death of its famed politician, Perikles, plague, and losing the war to its rival, the Peloponnesian League. There is a gallery dedicated to Alexander the Great, who led conquests that expanded the Ancient Greek Empire of Macedonia from the Adriatic Sea to the Indus Valley in modern Pakistan and northwest India. He was “defeated” by his own homesick troops and was forced to stop his conquests short of rendering Babylon his new capital and embarking upon campaigns in Arabia. After his death, his empire dissolved into smaller kingdoms throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East. Eventually, every last one of these kingdoms and, thus, the Greek heartlands were assimilated into the Roman Empire.

I greatly enjoyed the I spent in The Met, which was regretfully far too short. We only had time for approximately three hours, but you’ll require far more to cover a significant portion of the expansive art collection. Admittedly, I am quite slow when it comes to making my way through museum collections, but there is such a great deal of knowledge to be absorbed and it’s difficult to progress any faster. So, when I return to NYC, The Met remains as one of the top destinations on my list.

~A

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