So, on Friday I went to New York City for a four-day weekend (taking Friday off school, and Monday was Memorial Day, meaning I didn't have to take that off school as it's a Federal holiday. It also influenced what I did and what happened Monday, as we shall see).
A 3-and-a-half hour busride is all it takes to get from the District to the City, and that's what I did; I hopped off the bus and onto the subway, to check in to my hostel accommodation (I slept most of the busride, unintentionally...) which was almost literally on Central Park. The West Side YMCA's pretty comfortable, and secure; so, dumping my bags, I headed into the park itself - the "greatest urban park in the world", according to the signs. So I took a long wander up and down Central Park before parking myself on a rock to sit and read for an hour or so til sundown, and watch the life passing by. A couple of highlights of Central Park, then... Let's start with the turtles. Yes, turtles, cohabiting a lake with rowing boats and rowers. Interesting thought, no? Well it's a pretty interesting sight too, to be honest; especially when the large one - size of my torso, or so - tried to eat a bright yellow baseball bat extended towards it, coming fully out of its shell in order to try and do so.
Wandering around Central Park there were also other moments where I just had to stop and look. Bearing in mind this was the hot afternoon sun, I was very impressed by the dancers; there's a stage in Central Park which live performances happen on, and evidently I just missed one - but the sound equipment was still set up and an album was being played; all sorts of people just came out and danced - some in formal dress, presumably on their way back from the office, and others in what seemed to be running kit; a crowd gathered to watch and a space cleared between songs, but each time a new song came on the space filled organically, everyone dancing again, from the goths to the bankers. Amazing sight, a real mix of the sort that America prides itself on.
Finally, my last Central Park highlight of the day was the playground down at the south end of the park. Its the sort of playpark that every kid wishes they had, and backs straight onto a large set of rocks in the park (and yes, does have as rule one: "No adults unless accompanied by a child"); there's a nice entrance/exit onto the large rock (this being the rock I was sitting and reading on, overlooking the playground); there were fountains with button-activated modes, with the buttons easily used by kids; swings; roundabouts; huge climbing frames and similar things; reasonably-sized constructions usable as playhouses; all sorts of awesome things to play with. Really cool, and it was not surprising that the playground was packed even coming up to dusk, which is when I quit the park (buying a pizza-pretzel for dinner on the way out) for my bed.