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 - wheresmybackpack.com - 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. Awesome story and photos! What a unique place!

  2. 4otomo says:

    Hi Ailsa
    Great post with cool diversity in the images……..hooray for the high line…..
    a park in the central city is what I’m posting about this week……….
    http://4otomo.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/travel-theme-parks/

  3. Pingback: Travel Theme Photo Challenge: Parks « Canadiantravelbugs's Blog

  4. Love your pics and to know some nature is in NYC!
    Here is a park in Shanghai… http://canadiantravelbugs.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/travel-theme-photo-challenge-parks/

  5. Pingback: Travel Themes: Parks « scrapydo

  6. Jo Bryant says:

    What a terrific post Ailsa…i can’t possiblt pick one over another…they are all so good. Here is mine for the week. not quite so wham as yours…but parks that I have never forgotten.

    http://jobryantnz.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/travel-theme-parks/

  7. Pingback: Travel Theme: Parks | Chronicles of Illusions

    • ailsapm says:

      Yes, hurray. Boy, the Netherlands really knows how to do tulips! And such sweet photos of your children 🙂

      • Jo Bryant says:

        The Netherlands sure knows how to present flowers all right !! Thanks…I think they were cute, but it is always nice to here others say it.
        😉

  8. Pingback: Revisiting Gator Park | this man's journey

  9. Pingback: Full steam ahead at Yellowstone Park. | Anotherdayinparadise2's Blog

  10. adinparadise says:

    Fabulous pics, Ailsa. How come I’ve missed the Highline on my visits to New York? Next time I’m there, I’ll definitely go and see it.

  11. adinparadise says:

    Forgot to add the link to my post. Not quite the sort of park you had in mind for the theme. 😉
    http://adinparadise.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/full-steam-ahead-at-yellowstone-park/

    • ailsapm says:

      Actually I was hoping to get some National Park responses, so many incredible sights – I’m very happy Old Faithful came through for you!

  12. Pingback: The Garden Of Peace & Happiness! « The Urge To Wander

  13. Catherine says:

    Another beautiful story told with your talented photography and words. You really captured the life and beauty of nature, music, and humanity. I enjoyed the post! : )

    • ailsapm says:

      Thanks for your kind comments, Catherine, I’m blushing just a little now 🙂 I hope you get to see this wonderful park for yourself sometime! xxx

  14. Pingback: Travel theme: Parks | thirdeyemom

    • ailsapm says:

      Spectacular, Nicole. You and your dad have hiked in the most beautiful places. I can’t wait to see your photos from the French Alps this summer!

  15. DagEnDauw says:

    Hi Ailsa,

    Great pictures you posted. Especially your last shot I like a lot.
    I also enjoyed your comments.

    Last year a new park officially opened in my village. With it, the heart of my town came a little more alive again, so I wrote a poem for that occasion which you can find here together with some pictures too : http://dagendauw.blogspot.be/2011/08/hieros-gamos-van-de-wuitensbruid.html

    But my real contribution for this week’s theme, are these two :
    http://dauwgalerij.blogspot.be/2012/06/parkfeesten.html

  16. travtrails says:

    fantastic shots…

  17. Nice to see NYC from a different point of view! This is my interpretation: http://ingriddendievel.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/travel-theme-parks/

  18. It’s such a great park. Genius idea. ( And it is interesting to consider what the landscape/area will look like after hundreds of years pass)

    • ailsapm says:

      I agree, phil, the creators of the High Line are extraordinarily innovative – which is just as well, with space at such a premium in Manhattan.

  19. Pingback: Travel Theme: Parks | 50 Year Project

  20. TBM says:

    Great selection of parks. I had a hard time choosing for this theme since I love parks. Here is my post for the week:

    http://50yearproject.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/travel-theme-parks/

    • ailsapm says:

      You went with one of my very favourite London parks, TBM – excellent choice. If you haven’t already done so – check out the Peter Pan statue (oh I could spend hours there) and the Elfin Oak (another Kensington Gardens gem with an extraordinary history). Really enjoyed your post, those photos of the Italian Garden are fabulous.

  21. nelson RN says:

    Great captures! All beautiful!

  22. Pingback: Travel theme: Parks « Emma's life unravel

  23. Pingback: Travel Themes : Parks « gypsy life

  24. pommepal says:

    G’day Ailsa another good theme. The photos of High Line park are beautiful. Love the macro flower pics. I love that your themes bring back memories http://pommepal.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/travel-themes-parks

    • ailsapm says:

      Incredible, pommepal. What magical experiences, and you described them so beautifully I felt like I was there with you! And the best name for a mountain range ever. The Bungle Bungles. I love it!

  25. travtrails says:

    My contribution…Nan Lian gardens
    http://travtrails.wordpress.com

    • ailsapm says:

      Delicious, I enjoyed every last minute of this post, from the Pavilion of Absolute Perfection to Fragrance Hill. Simply delightful. xxx

  26. Pingback: Weekly Travel Theme: Parks | newsofthetimes

  27. Love this weeks theme. You gave a very beautiful post with stunning, fun pictures. Here’s mine..hope it brings sunshine to your day…best wishes.
    http://thismansjourney.net/2012/06/25/revisiting-gator-park/

  28. Pingback: Travel theme: Parks | The Retiring Sort

  29. As usual, wonderful post and shots! I love the plants, and the one with the plants at the bottom and the Empire State building towering above!
    It’s a nice theme. I’m a little late, but here’s my entry for the challenge:
    http://theretiringsort.com/2012/06/26/travel-theme-parks/

    • ailsapm says:

      I really like that photo too, it’s as if those vibrant yellow spikes refuse to be upstaged by the Empire State 🙂 I’ve heard so many stories about the Big Island, I have to go – your photos make me want to go all the more! Poor Lava Jack, I watched the video, it was like the end of an era!

  30. Pingback: Travel Theme: Parks | mothergrogan

  31. Pingback: Travel Theme: Parks | mothergrogan | enjoymentparks.com

  32. Lynne Ayers says:

    I really enjoyed the commentary with this post. And what a glorious use of an abandon rail bed.

  33. Pingback: Travel Theme: Parks « The Quotidian Hudson

  34. Thanks for sharing a theme that brings joy to our day. Truly an inspiration. Beautiful images and thoughts. Best wishes to you and your family.
    http://thismansjourney.net/2012/06/25/revisiting-gator-park/

  35. Pingback: Travel Themes : Parks « Memories are made of this

  36. pommepal says:

    G’day Ailsa, Jack suggested another thought for parks, maybe not quite what you intended but this one was so different thought I would put it on my memories blog
    http://memoriesaremadeofthisblog.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/travel-themes-parks/

  37. Hi Ailsa,

    Good theme. Since you already hit Tikal I went with this:
    http://quotidianhudsonriver.com/2012/06/27/travel-theme-parks/

    • ailsapm says:

      So cool, Robert. Were you able to trek through the ruins or were they off limits? I’d love to see them for myself. xxx

  38. Pingback: Travel Theme “Parks” | Campanulla Della Anna

  39. Hi @Ailsa, nice to participate your theme travel, here’s mine, no flower, no garden and no parks. http://campanulladellaanna.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/travel-theme-parks/ Thank you very much 😛

  40. reb says:

    I have a park that I love. Will write …

    I’ve read a lot about the High Line and would just love to see it in real life. Your photos from there are really something else! Gorgeous images!!!

  41. Pingback: TRAVEL THEME – PARKS « Dear Bliary

  42. I am all parked out! I finally found something that made me smile.
    http://firstandfabulous.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/travel-theme-parks/

    • ailsapm says:

      This is hysterical, Gemma, I was hooting with laughter reading it. Great find – just in time for the grand kids visit! xxx Ailsa

  43. Pingback: Travel Theme: Parks | Beyond the Brush

  44. Hi Ailsa, I wrote this back in February about a park north of Nizwa. I thought I would enter it instead of writing a whole new post about the same subject. http://catbirdinoman.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/the-falaj-daris-a-unesco-world-heritage-site/

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