Travel theme: Parks

The subject of parks makes me sit back and consider not only what they are, but what they represent. The history of parks is the history of mankind moving away from nature. For 99% of human history, we lived in harmony with nature; we were part of it. Then we surrounded ourselves with bricks and put concrete where grass used to grow and we called it progress. At that point, we realized that we actually missed the green stuff and introduced parks into the concrete jungles we had built, so in a way, parks are an admission that we got things wrong.

We get a lot of things wrong, but despite our bumbling incompetency, nature prevails. Nowhere was this more apparent to me than in Tikal National Park in Guatemala, as I sat on the top step of Temple 4 looking out across what used to be the New York of Central America. It was at the height of its power around 200 to 600 AD. Now look at it.

tikal national park

Give it another 2,000 years and that could be the the Empire State Building peeping out from the jungle. Actually, you don’t even have to wait that long to see how nature can reclaim its hold. My favourite park in New York is the High Line. The High Line was an elevated freight train line that was built in the 1930s. It fell into disuse in the 1980s and lay abandoned until, in 2006, work began to turn it into an extraordinary urban park. It runs along the west side of Manhattan from Gansevoort St. up to 30th St. with future plans to extend it up to 34th St. If you enter at 30th St. you will get a glimpse of how nature had firmly re-established a foothold before it was turned into the masterpiece it is today.

high line park new york piet oudolf

Here’s where the genius of garden designer and master plantsman Piet Oudolf enters the picture. Taking his inspiration from what nature herself had done, he carefully crafted an exquisite concoction of feathery grasses that sway as you pass by and beg you to run your fingers through them; interspersed with plants that look just as lovely gone to seed as they do in full bloom. His planting is about texture and silhouettes; he plays with plants the way Miles Davis played jazz and Van Gogh painted skies. The end result is something wild and free and very beautiful; something that Mother Nature herself would be proud of.

high line park new york piet oudolf

high line park new york

high line park new york piet oudolf

high line park new york piet oudolf

high line park new york piet oudolf

high line park new york piet oudolf

high line park new york piet oudolf

high line park new york piet oudolf

high line park new york

The High Line gets my vote as the best place to unwind in the city and reconnect with nature, but it is also a great place to take in a musical performance…

high line park new york

hold a photoshoot…

high line park new york

sneak a peek at a rehearsal…

high line park new york

watch the world go by…

high line park new york

make believe you can fly…

high line park new york

and see the city at night.

high line park new york

Finally, thanks to the visionary Piet Oudolf, we got something right.

If you have a park you’d like to share, create your own post between now and next Friday, title it “Travel theme: Parks” and put a link to this page in your blog post to make it easy for others to find your post. Don’t forget to check back in next Friday for a new travel theme. And if you want to see more of Piet Oudolf’s genius at work in New York, see my nature blog posts here and here.

Where is your favourite park?

xxx Ailsa

About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
This entry was posted in Guatemala, New York, Photography, Travel, Weekly Travel Themes and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

193 Responses to Travel theme: Parks

  1. autumninbruges says:

    I adore parks! Thanks for this travel theme 😀

  2. Love your photos. I’m off to the park…

  3. Lovely post Ailsa. I really like the urban mixed with natural. My all-time favourite park, so far, is Stanley Park in Vancouver, beautiful forest surrounded by coastal paths and beaches, flora and wildlife. Something for everyone.

  4. Hey Ailsa! The best so far! I would love to go to that place. You inspire me to travel! 🙂

  5. So very beautiful, both the writing and the photos. Thanks for sharing it with us. 🙂

  6. Madhu says:

    Brilliant photos Ailsa! And beautiful landscaping. Now off to hunt for some parks 🙂

  7. Such fabulous photos, and a great theme, Ailsa

  8. Spiritual World Traveler says:

    I never made it there when I lived in NJ! Will have to make a point of going!

  9. Lovely ode to the wonderful High Line. It’s a beautiful and innovative park – may there be more such in our city & others.

  10. Penny says:

    Now you’ve got me thinking! 🙂 Nice photos and great writing.

  11. badflea says:

    I have read much about this park in New York and I think when I’ll visit the Big Apple it will be one of my goals…
    Here my entry, a picture of Yarra Rangers National Park, one of the many parks in Australia.
    The park was built after the deforestation caused by man who used native timber to build the new world…

    • ailsapm says:

      Magical, mystical forest, badflea, the light in your shot is stunning. I’m happy you joined the travel challenge 🙂

  12. Pingback: Travel Theme: Laurelhurst Park « Pictures in living color

    • ailsapm says:

      Thanks for the tour around Portland’s Laurelhurst Park, strawberryindigo. You live in a very beautiful part of the world. Oregon’s coastlines are world class 🙂

  13. Amy says:

    Wonderful writing and great pictures for the park theme! What a genius design. Thanks, Ailsa!

  14. Pingback: trees reflections « primo piano

  15. marina says:

    That is really an amazing park. Great images.
    Here is the link to my entry

  16. A great post and pics on nature and reclaimed nature. I love city, state and national parks.

  17. Pingback: Ailsa’s travel photo challenge: Parks « Sounds like wish

    • ailsapm says:

      Fabulous shot of 1940s French Gardens in Alexandria, Trish. Your dad’s photos are so very lovely.

      • trishworth says:

        Ailsa, I love the images of musicians and rehearsals. I think I would love that aspect of New York. I can see you’re enjoying your life there.

  18. Pingback: Travel Theme: Parks | a hectic life

  19. mmjustus says:

    That’s an amazing park. It reminds me of Freeway Park in Seattle, which was built on a cap over I-5 back in the 70s. Reclaimed open space is a wonderful thing.

  20. Imelda says:

    Lovely photos! I especially love the violinist photo and the night photo. 🙂

  21. Pingback: TRAVEL THEME: PARKS « Francine In Retirement

  22. fgassette says:

    Here is mine. CENTRAL PARK.


  23. Pingback: Travel Theme: Parks | D&D All About Town

  24. D&D-debbie says:

    Love the photos! I definitely will need to check out the park next time I am in New York. Here is my contribution from my other blog:

  25. Pingback: Travel Theme: Parks | My Secret Garden

  26. Pingback: Travel theme – Parks: Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens | Have you ever…

  27. Madoqua says:

    Wonderful post, I have heard of this place, but your photos bring it to life.
    Here is my contribution to your challenge:

    • ailsapm says:

      What a stunning location for a botanic garden, Madoqua. I watched a television programme about the Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens and was bowled over by its beauty. How lucky you are to have visited it twice. 🙂

  28. Pingback: Travel theme: Parks | tahira's

  29. Jeff Sinon says:

    That scene in the first image is breathtaking, but I bet it was even more so in person. Your shots of the garden are also great. You have a great eye for street photography, I wish I had it. I could wander around a scene like that all day, completely clueless, and not come away with anything 1/4th as nice.

    That garden could almost, and that is one monumentally huge almost, make living in the city bearable. 🙂

    • ailsapm says:

      Oh Jeff, you would have loved it. The sun went down in a blazing inferno, then there was a pale pink glimmer the likes of which I’ve never seen before. And then I turned around and watched the full moon rise over the jungle. It was insane, couldn’t believe my luck. Actually, check it out here Some of the early shots were a bit blown out but I bunged ’em in anyway to tell the story. xxx

  30. Tahira says:

    Amazing post, Ailsa! Absolutely inspiring. Here is my post on the Chicago Lakefront Parks. One of my favorite places in the entire world.

    Xx Tahira

  31. Pingback: Travel Theme: Park | I am Perfectly Imperfect

  32. I love discovering New York through your eyes, especially as my sister lives just outside NY and I can introduce her to bits of the city she doesn’t know about.
    My entry this week is about Gaudi’s Parc Guelle in Barcelona

  33. Pingback: Travel Theme: Parks « A year in the Life

  34. livvy30 says:

    I really have to go back to New York and see all the places you have in your blog!

    • ailsapm says:

      That is a really great compliment, Livvy, thank you. Your wintry photo has made me feel slightly cooler in the midst of the sweltering NY summer heat.

  35. frizztext says:

    well chosen topic again!

  36. Pingback: Travel theme: Parks « Flickr Comments by FrizzText

  37. frizztext says:

    hello Ailsa, thank you again for inspiring, my contribution:
    Monbijou Park in Berlin

  38. Pingback: Travel theme: Parks « Flickr Comments by FrizzText |

  39. Ooooh, another good one. I’ll see what I can put together. 🙂

  40. Gilly Gee says:

    I’m afraid mine isn’t as beautiful or serious as everyone else’s!

  41. Pingback: Travel theme: Parks « Flickr Comments by FrizzText |

  42. Pingback: Travel Theme: Parks | Autumn in Bruges

  43. Pingback: Travel theme: Parks | Minute descriptions of me *Kristopher*

  44. eof737 says:

    HighLine is one of my favorite parks in the city. 😉

  45. Pingback: Park « Monochrome

  46. Here’s mine:

    I’d love to visit that park in New York, it looks unique,

  47. Pingback: Saturday in the Park | Canoe Communications Blog

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