The Mall in Washington D.C. has grandeur about it. It comes from the presidential and commemorative monuments that surround it and from the history and legacy that they evoke. There has not been one monument that I have visited and that has not awed me with the power and strength it has to evoke the past and the principles it has been built on. The Americans have done a great job at celebrating their greats and their achievements. There is something to be learned from their success.
It is unfair to pick a favourite out of all the monuments in the area of the Mall. However, I will.
It is the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. His statue sits at the centre of the construct. His testament is engraved in the walls. Inside the circular memorial, Thomas Jefferson’s statue and his testament inspire and awe and send you back to the time that the Constitution of the United States of America was created and to the principles and values that inspired it. I felt safe and in good hands. Looking out upon the Mall from inside this space, I felt safe as well.
Maybe this is what a strong past does for the future: it bullet proofs it and makes it safe.
Sitting on the shore of one of the fjords that are close to Oslo, watching the sea become one with the horizon, it seemed crystal clear why the Vikings set out to explore the seas.
How could you resist not knowing what lies beyond the thin blue line on the horizon?
It is easy when you are in-land to find something to rest your eyes on and aim to reach. There is always a steeple, a hill, a mountain that pierces the horizon and that calls you towards it to explore it.
When you see nothing but sea around you, how could you resist the pull of finding out what lies beyond? What a tantalising pull. Of course the Vikings had to set out at sea. They had to find the next best thing.
Here is a throwback to a city that I liked as soon as I set foot in it. I did blog about it when I visited it three years ago; I went on about its architecture, architectural details, and its ideal mixture of sea and mountain landscape.
Here is a throwback to its beautiful beach and palm trees. I vividly remember seeing those palm trees and thinking myself to be in an exotic land somewhere in Africa, Australia, South America, despite them being only a handful.
The sandy beach and the blue sea and sky behind them did the trick.
It’s not walking down Bedford Avenue and trying out the different coffee shops and restaurants. There’s a different post for that.
It’s jogging down Kent Avenue all the way down past the Newton Barge Terminal Playground (which I know by name because I have just looked it up on Maps).
I’m listening to music.
And because it is winter, it is New York and I am feeling very “I-feel-like-taking-a-jab-at-you” (whoever you happen to be), the song of choice and on repeat is “What a feeling” by Irene Cara. And “Eye of the tiger”, of course.
I can see where the TV series got their tone of voice from.
One of the best things about New York is its street grid: avenues go from North to South across Manhattan and streets from West to East. This makes it very easy to get around. It is also the kind of city layout that I came to miss when I returned to London, where streets seem to have little appreciation for consistently being geometrically perpendicular and prefer to function in concentric circles instead.
One of the best things about the New York grid is the fact that, cross any avenue or street you may, you always have the ability to see North to South or West to East as far as the eye can see. There is no building getting in the way of the vista, as they are all consistently aligned to the avenues or streets that delimitate them.
I have many times dangerously stopped in the middle of crossing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, Lexington or Park and many other streets to take in the view. The window that allows you to see as far as Harlem and as down south as Downtown New York; from the West side to the East side.
It is almost as if the curtain of buildings and skyscrapers that makes up the fabric of New York pulls itself and allows you to take in the view. Probably my favourite New York feeling: seeing this curtain pulled and breathing it all in.