I get in line behind construction workers and a few men in suits. My mom and I are the only women around, with the exception of a Fox News anchor getting ready for her moment in the sun. As luck would have it, in one of the biggest cities in the world, we stumble upon a schnitzel food truck, Schnitzel and Things. Having heard about this New York City staple food truck, perhaps only in my dreams, it all seems meant to be to stop for an early lunch.
My mom and I sit on the steps of a bank building, along with our fellow diners of businessmen and those in construction. Gorging on my schnitzel sandwich, both my best and cheapest meal while in New York, we talk to the woman who pops in and out of the truck. She explains how her husband conceived the idea for a schnitzel food truck when the financial crisis hit Austria, their place of residence and occupation at the time. Schnitzel and Things is the only casual mobile food truck serving authentic schnitzel. She tells of the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into the business, a daring venture. Her story is classic New York. When life gives you a financial crisis, make schnitzel.
Post lunch and what possibly feels like dinner too, I pop into Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, the largest Gothic style Catholic Cathedral in the entire country. A constant flow of visitors doesn’t make this a quiet and reflective space, but its history tells another story. Built during the Civil War, a time when the country was in great turmoil, the cathedral became a priority. It was created to confirm America’s founding ideals of religious freedom and tolerance. In the midst of war, New York builds the grand. The cathedral’s story is classic New York.
We then head to Grand Central Terminal. Completed and opened in 1913, the Beaux Arts building contains choreographed chaos. From its balconies, you can observe those rushing to get home to the suburbs or off to Connecticut. The ceiling, a mural of the constellations, takes on a hue of Tiffany blue.
Giant balls of light dangle from the ceiling like earrings, looking down on the busy. The romance of train travel is not lost here, even with a terror warning in effect for the building. Yet again, this is classic New York, where going somewhere is the journey no matter how short the ride.
I spend some time in Central Park, the 843-acre rectangle right smack in the middle of Manhattan. The creation of Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux in the 1860s, the park was intended for every type of New Yorker, no matter their class, color or creed. New York continues to beat me over the head with her ideals in freedom and possibility, as a saxophone player gets ready for a day of tips under one of the park’s bridges.
My final night in New York, I attend a show, doing as many of the tourists do. Once the curtains close, I am stuck in Times Square in the pouring rain. With not a single cab with a light of hope, we begin the wet walk back to the hotel.
Stopping to purchase an umbrella for the shower is quickly becoming too much to bear, the man at the drugstore takes his sweet time ringing us up, knowing full well we are both drenched to the bone and anxious to get going. And yet again, this is New York and Times Square, where all of humanity is on display, even the conniving. New York City and all of her personalities and ideals wish you were here…
Have you been to New York City? What did you think?