We had an incredible day today! Our feet and legs are very tired and sore from the immense amount of walking that we did today!
We woke up at 7:00am again today, got ready, and had some more waffles for breakfast (yum!). I decided to check the weather and since there was a better chance for rain on Sunday as opposed to today, we decided to
take a chance with our good-weather-dependent-activity, which was attending the Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.
We got to the bus stop and took one of the Community Coach buses to Port Authority. Then, we got on the #2 train to Brooklyn. It was a little bit confusing because there was some construction that affected route changes, but someone offered to help. People here are so helpful and incredibly friendly as well! It has been a pleasant surprise that the citizens of other major cities could look to as an example (in Toronto, you would hardly ever run into such helpful and polite people!).
Shortly after, we reached the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens just before 10:00am where a small line had formed to get into the gardens.
The gardens themselves are amazing - what a beautiful and lushmsanctuary in the city! The Sakura Matsuri, or Cherry Blossom Festival, was a weekend-long event that showcased the cherry blossom trees in bloom, the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, a Bonsai display, and a variety of Japanese performances and workshops. You were able to check out the entire Botanic Garden, too.
First, we checked out the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden with a very knowledgable tour guide who gave us a fully guided tour. There was a large pond surrounded by beautiful lush greenery, along with ducks and koi who lived in the water. Later, we saw some turtles, too! We walked right around the pond, circling to the other side.
When we exited the Hill-and-Pond Garden, we saw tons of huge, flowering cherry blossom trees all along a path. These trees were such a wonderful sight, such beautiful pink blooms everywhere! The path was covered in a blanket of pink, and the trees were all in bloom.
We continued our walk around the premises and saw so many different varieties of plants and flowers. The air smelled so fresh and fragrant and looked so green and colorful. We saw that there were stages set up for J-Pop and Anime tables, but that doesn't really interest us.
Eventually, we walked right around to the Steinhardt Conservatory that was home to many tropical and unique plants. Outside of the Conservatory (and inside!) there were very tall bamboo plants growing.
Inside, we found a marsh climate in a separate room (it was hot in there - it even fogged up my camera lens!). There was also a tropical plant section, a warm temperate zone area, and a cactus section.
Downstairs, there were many bonsai to look
at that was run by a group of bonsai enthusiasts. These gardeners were there to provide any advice that a novice might seek on growing their very own bonsai. You could even purchase bonsai and plants from the gardens, although we decided against that since there are rules against bringing plantlife back into Canada from the US.
Upstairs, there was a Bonsai Museum that was home to very large and old bonsai - one was even 110 years old! While we were inside, it poured
rain for a few minutes and stopped completely when we exited the Conservatory.
Not only were the cherry blossoms in full bloom, but the tulips were as well! There were so many different varieties and colors of tulips at the BBG, more than I've ever seen! After we checked out the rest of the gardens, we left realizing that it was the greatest botanical gardens that either of us have ever visited!
We walked back to the subway and back to Greenwich Village for some lunch. When we walked up from underground, it was suddenly a beautiful, sunny day outside, without a cloud in the sky! Hooray! The weather people definitely got this one wrong!
We could have looked for a place in Brooklyn I suppose, but we really wanted to go back to Greenwich to the Risotto place that we found yesterday. We ate at the Risotteria for lunch and it was delicious!
Poolie got a Stella and my Diet Coke came in a little glass bottle. We shared a big salad with arugula, onion, and oven-roasted tomatoes, with fresh mozzarella and balsamic vinaigrette. It was so fresh and flavorful! They brought these complimentary soft cheesy breadsticks out
as well, and they were so good. For the main course, my risotto wasfeta/spinach/roasted red pepper, and Poolie's was roasted garlic/roasted tomato/spinach. They were just perfect, yum! I loved how there was a special vegetable-broth risotto section, and the vegetarian and gluten-free options were clearly marked on the menu.
Since it was so nice and sunny outside, I thought it would be a good idea to
take full advantage of the nice weather and visit Central Park. We took the subway up to the Upper West Side and got off at 79th. I wanted to walk up to 80th and Broadway so I could pick up some coffee at Zabar's
to bring back home with me. I heard that they have amazing coffee there, and I am a coffee fanatic.
Then, we walked to Central Park, which is another green sanctuary in
the middle of the bustling city! There are so many paths for cyclists, walking paths, giant boulders to sit on, great big trees, and a grassy area around a pond.
We went for a lovely walk around the park. We came across this castle
called the Belvedere Castle that you could walk up to have a great view over Central Park. You had to walk up a narrow, winding staircase, and it had a couple of different levels that both offered incredible views of this natural area of the city.
After our walk around the park, we went back to Times Square in search of the Nintendo World store. Times Square was an absolute zoo! It is the tourists who are the most rude and pushy, certainly a stark contrast from the locals!
We found a Sanrio store and I just had to go inside since I love Hello Kitty! I bought a Hello Kitty New York pin and sticker and some cute note paper.
The streets were packed with people, so we took a little detour to less
crowded areas because otherwise, we could hardly move!
Finally, we reached Nintendo World! A very fun store, loaded with tons of Nintendo Wiis and DS systems to play, old systems and special edition items on
display, and lots of Nintendo merchandise. Poolie was disappointed thathe couldn't find a nice Nintendo shirt; I ended up finding a Mario shirt for myself and a Duck Hunt patch.
By this point, our legs were hurting quite a bit, and we needed to get some dinner! We went to a restaurant that I looked up in advance called Gobo in Greenwich. It is a vegetarian restaurant with unique and delicious choices! It was very elegant and it was tough to make a choice from all of the delectable menu items!
We settled on the Vietnamese Spring Rolls with honey glaze dipping sauce, and yam & yucca fries as appetizers.
My main dish was the Vietnamese spicy rice noodles and sprouts, and Poolie got the sesame protein with sweet and sour sauce. Everything had
such fresh and tasty flavors and was absolutely excellent! I also got a fruit smoothie and Poolie got freshly squeezed pineapple juice. I could eat at this restaurant every day for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy!
After a small walk around the area, we went
back to our hotel room. When we arrived in our room, our whole toilet seat had been dismantled for some reason and was in pieces on the floor! I called the Front Desk and they didn't know anything about it, so they sent up a repair man. Apparently, he was unable to fix it since it was a plastic piece that was broken on the toilet seat itself, so we had to wait until the next day for a replacement. Hopefully it gets fixed tomorrow. I said to Poolie, "Oh well, we'll just have to make do" without realizing that phrase has double meanings in this instance, and
we both had a good laugh about it!
Here is a video from the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden from the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens / Cherry Blossom Festival.