I didn’t ask for an extra five minutes.

I woke up shortly after a conscious thought was shaped. It took a few seconds to sit up and a few more to stand and head to the john.

A splash of cool water from the tap and a quick glance at the mirror stirred me to think, smile, and fully absorb today’s itinerary: Central Park.

I got giddy, so much so I skipped breakfast and stood at the bus stop 15 minutes early. Bucked the idea to drive to the city; Traffic, parking, and complex routes would’ve spoiled the day. And so G and I opted to take the N24 bus to the subway to Manhattan.

The subway reeked, but for $2 and the thought of Central Park, I couldn’t have cared any less.

By the fifth station, the coach was crammed. I had a hard time glancing at my subway map – a colored printout I prepared last night to navigate around – with two guys in silly trench coats standing closely by. G had a probing look; her eyes busy, looking around as if we were helplessly lost. I had to take another glance at the map. I looked stupid. The guys around me perhaps thought so, too. Bah! I didn’t flinch; In fact, I let my eyes lingered on the map longer – long enough for the others to frown and say, “Another tourist!”

Rockefeller Center Station. Time to change platform. Growl! Hunger tolled. G and I yielded. After snaking through the labyrinth of an exit, we found ourselves on 5th Avenue. St Patrick’s Cathedral beckoned ahead and we gave in to the tourists in us: We took pictures, oblivious to the scornful gaze of New York city dwellers.

Lunch was at Friday’s. It wasn’t the ideal choice. Proximity took command. And after 40 mins. of bad lunch special plates, bad service, bad priced bill, I reckoned nothing could make the day worst.

I was wrong.

Back at the subway, the B & D trains (the orange lines in my map) – the ones that were supposed to take us to Central Park – were out of service. It was past 1 pm. Shit! Half the day was put to waste.

I plucked my folded map from my denims. There has to be a way, else New Yorkers would’ve done an EDSA revolt of sorts. Ah! I coursed my finger through the map and followed a red line parallel that of the orange one, and, whoa! I found Central Park West Station four stations away from 7th Avenue Station. We had to walk though, much to G’s peeve.

The walk was a pain. A block in Manhattan is measured twice over than the average suburban one, or so my feet found fault on. G spoke nothing. She was pissed, I could tell. 7th Avenue Station was a stone’s throw away Times Square. Not even the Square comforted G. All she wanted was to sit to rest her Elle Woods legs.

The subway ride was swift. The walk to Central Park wasn’t.

We passed by Broadway Avenue and a row of apartments and high end residential flats until Central Park beckoned. Alleluia! G finally allowed a smile to slip. It was close to 3 pm and I was exhausted. I needed a Gatorade and there was none but Pepsi from the hotdog stand. I was parched but managed to resuscitate bliss within seeing Central Park in all its beauty. It was my third visit and it was and still is (to quote Fred Savage of Wonder Years fame) mesmerizing — all 800+ acres of it.

Today was a great day to stroll around the park. The weather threw a warm 58F and a clear and sunny sky. Perfect. The leaves were few yet budding; the grounds were strikingly sodded and landscaped; the people were surprisingly laid back and easygoing, and; the squirrels were out playing leisurely and oblivious to the human activities around (squirrels! in the wild, no slingshots to hunt with.Darn!).

G and I just sucked everything in, like preschoolers on a first field trip to the zoo. Of course, the camera clicked, and clicked some more. Every possible nook, especially where scenes from sappy films such as An Affair To Remember, Breakfast at Tiffany's, When Harry Met Sally, You've Got Mail, Home Alone, Maid In Manhattan, and (although arguably) Annie Hall were shot, was picture perfect.

My watch ticked 5.30. I frowned. I took a last survey of the park then sighed; 'Had to head back to Long Island lest we get caught in the heavy throng of rush hour traffic.

The subway train ride wasn't as bad as before. The orange line was in operation and, although still crammed, the coaches were okay. Save for losing the subway farecards, I'd say the trip back home went well.

We promised to go back really soon, though. We only covered the West side of the park. More sights await and ready for the suck in. Well, we'd gladly oblige (and indulge) anytime. 

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