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. Oh yes, and I meant to say I love your High Line Park in New York. Such a cool idea. I love what creative people can do with urban spaces. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Travel Theme: Parks | Four Deer Oak

  3. Anne Camille says:

    The High Line is a wonderful place! I have found myself, even on a rainy day, going a few blocks out of my way so that I can walk a few blocks on the High Line. It is not only a great park, but some of the best views of Manhattan.

    Here is my post on parks, with photos. None are of the High Line though.

    http://wp.me/p1tzBV-1sl

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  5. Pingback: Where’s My Backpack Challenge: Parks « Found Round & About

  6. Good choice for a theme. I love parks! We’re going to NYC in the fall. I’ll have to check out High Line. Great shots.

    • ailsapm says:

      Thanks – yes, you should definitely make a point of visiting the High Line in the fall, it’s my favourite time of year there! xxx

  7. Jerrold Deshong says:

    Four theme parks: Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and two water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, comprise the world famous Walt Disney World Resort. It is said that people should allow seven full days to explore the 47 square miles of pure fun. Magic Kingdom’s Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and The Barnstormer at Goofy’s Wiseacre Farm are considered to be amongst the best family theme park rides in the world. Animal Kingdom’s Dinosaur and It’s Tough to Be a Bug are also widely known as great thrill and 3-D simulation rides respectively.^

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