Yes I confess. In my previous life I must have been old and English and lived in a shire.
There I am in New York City and I find out that the Annual Orchid show is on. Again I confess, if it weren’t for having to maintain dignity, a cartwheel would have happened right there and then. Woohoooo! Bring on the weekend cos this mama is going to the orchid show.
Yes I realize gardening is somewhat ermm quaint, but once you’ve cross a certain age we apparently all become old and English (gender still undetermined) because you find that suddenly can hold your own in a conversation about the merits of Cape Royale vs. Kikuyu grass and talk ad nauseam (literally) about your miniature agapanthus and baby anthuriums. No? Really? Just me? Ah well.
Back to the adventure. It was a beautiful spring weekend and what better way to do hangabout than at the at the New York Botanical Gardens right? Then I find out that the Gardens are in the Bronx. Now if you are anything like me, you know very little about the five boroughs. You know Manhattan is where the rich people live, Brooklyn is where the cool ones live and profess they will never leave (until they get rich), Queens is all working class and cops, Staten Island is yet to be discovered by anyone beyond the five boroughs and then there’s the Bronx. Except you say it duh Bronx. In your mind, its rough, it’s tough and not to be messed with, yuh hear me? So here I am, eager to be united with my precious orchids but trying to figure out in a mature, seasoned traveler kind of way, just how to make it to the NYBG, in duh Bronx, in one piece.
Sounds simple doesn’t it?
Not so much. One minor problem. I was in midtown Manhattan and of all the subways, across all the globe, in English and non-English speaking countries only one was a no go zone for me. Yup, you guessed it. The New York Subway. I have managed upto this point to explore NYC by cab, by foot, by bus, by uber because the subway was… the New York subway. Years of Law and Order had ruined me for life. But today was the day. I was going to conquer two mountains. Subway transportation and Boogie down.
Twenty minutes mapping out route options on hotel WiFi to make sure I don’t get lost and off I go, out of the safety of mid-town into unchartered waters. Brave, brave me.
First stop Herald Square to catch the D train at the 34th Street station. I see you Macy’s but no, I will not be tempted today, for today I conquer. Today I am off to slay the mighty beast that runs beneath your ramparts. Wait. Is that a sale sign I see? Maybe just if I … no, no, no, be strong, and besides they are always having a sale at Macy’s. Temptation is a four letter word in red capital letters.
Down I go to the station, having armed myself with a $10 metro card courtesy of the hotel concierge. I have claimed nonchalance as my middle name as I surreptitiously read the signs to make sure I’m on the right side of the tracks. I’m told these New Yorkers can smell fear on a non-native. What they do when they smell it though I was not trying to find out. And then the train arrived and I saunter on, just as easily as everyone else. See? I got this.
First thought that hit me was that the train was surprisingly clean inside. Nothing like the movies. There was no wino mouthing off in the corner, sadly there was no random flash mob of the NY philharmonic either. Ahh well. Soon though I notice I am one of the few people not armed with a book or earpods or friend. Clearly a tourist I think. So I settle back into my New Yorker nonchalance pose and try and enjoy the ride, screeching subway brakes and all.
Finally get to Fordham Road and head out of the train wanting to pump my fist in the air after I got topside but no…remember I was now in duh Bronx. So now it’s to figure out where to get the connecting bus. Nonchalance didn’t help me this time. Rather it carried me off in the wrong direction and I ended up walking all the way to the next bus stop instead of the one right outside the subway station. Arrgghhh…the things one goes through just to see some bloomin’ orchids.
Finally found my bus and got dropped off after a 5 minute ride a kilometer away from the Gardens. The end was in sight. Down Fordham road and past the University, with no macho white shirted guy in sight. I was finally there at the gate of the Gardens. I had survived the subway and the Bronx and apparently with barely a story to tell.
One visa swipe later I was through…serenity now.
The NYBG Orchid Show was hosted at the Haupt Conservatory between February and April 2015. It was absolutely glorious (even for those who aren’t old or English).