Wednesday, May 29, 2013

May 29, 2013, Last day in New York

We had a lovely day today - the last in this vibrant city. It didn't rain (as it was supposed to), but it did get very hot in the afternoon. We managed to do a lot, anyway. We started our day by heading for TKTS in Times Square to get discount tickets.

Afterwards, I wanted to walk on the Fashion Walk of Fame, so we headed south on 7th Avenue to 42nd Street - the start of the former garment district. They have placed gold discs in the sidewalk honoring various fashion designers, so we looked at those as we walked south. The information kiosk is located by the huge sculpture of a needle in a button. There is also a statue of a garment worker at his machine.

After shopping at Loehman's on 7th Avenue,we ended up at Union Square to buy a snack at the Farmer's Market, rest, and people watch. Our play was at 2:30 at a theater in Times Square. We saw Pippin which is a revival of a 1970's musical. They have jazzed it up with lots of high wire acts (ala Cirque du Soliel), and other circus style acts and costumes. It was very entertaining - not much story, but excellent singing.

After the musical we decided to try one last time to find something at Lincoln Center. However, we didn't have any luck, so decided to just have dinner and go back to the hotel to pack and get ready to leave early, early tomorrow. We went to Patsy's on 74th Street, but it was not as good as the restaurant we remembered from year's ago. Oh, well, things do change.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A rainy Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Yesterday was such a beautiful day - and today we had rain again. Luckily we had planned mostly indoor activities, so it was only going back and forth to the bus that we needed our umbrellas.

We met Don's brother, Fred, his wife, Angel, and their son (the one getting married in July), Christian, at the Bistro Chat Noir on 67th and Madison for lunch. On our way there we stopped to look at the massive metal sculptures on the median along Park Avenue. They are by artist Alexandre Arrechea. He created a version of several of the iconic buildings in New York - the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Courthouse, the Seagram Building, and others. There are 10 sculptures all together and we saw most of them - what fun - even in the rain!

After a lovely (if somewhat expensive) lunch we took the bus to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibit I was interested in closed yesterday, but we spent two or three hours looking at other works of art. The new exhibit is on Civil War paintings and photographs. What a sad time in our history. It is hard to find beauty in such miserable times, but some artists did, so we enjoyed seeing those paintings.

Monday, May 27, 2013

May 26 & 27 - celebrating Memorial Day

We tried really hard to find something special to celebrate Memorial Day. Fleet Week has been a traditional event, but it was canceled due to the government cutbacks. No parades, fire works, or speeches that we could find. At least the weather cooperated and it didn't rain!.

But, Sunday was cold, so we decided to be inside and got tickets for a play. We stood in line at the TKTS Booth in Times Square. That is where we get half price tickets for plays and musicals. Then we walked over to Rockefeller Center to look at an outdoor art installation. It  is called Human Nature and consisted of several gigantic statues made of beautifully colored and shaped rocks placed on top of each other in a somewhat human shape. People were having fun standing between the legs and taking pictures! Otherwise, it was sort of boring!

We wended our way to Lincoln Center for the play we were going to see. It was Ann which is a one woman show based on the life of Ann Richards, former governor of Texas. Holland Taylor did a fantastic job of researching Ann's life and writing the script which showcased stories of her life and working in her governor's office. Holland looks just like Ann, and one could not imagine another actress being able to do this play. On our way back we stopped at our favorite deli, Arties, on Broadway and 82nd St for pastrami and chopped liver sandwiches.

Monday was a beautiful, warm day and we spent it outside visiting many New York sites. We started out at the Manhattan Mall which is a new shopping center near Macy's at Herald Square. From there we went to City Hall to look at the apartment building designed by Frank Gehry. We stopped for lunch at the burger place owned and run by Zoe's family (our new niece-in-law) called Zaitzeff. Some of the family were there, and even Eric and Zoe showed up before heading off to their honeymoon.

Eric & Zoe Kleinbub, Amine Zaitzeff,  May 29, 2013, New York City

Our next stop was Washington Square. We found the Picasso Statue, the Bust of Sylvette, on the grounds of the Silver Towers, the IM Pei designed faculty housing for NYU. We examined all of the art and crafts for sale along University Ave. (an annual Memorial Day event). We ended up at Union Square and took the bus to High Line Park. This is another new spot built on the elevated railroad tracks of a former train line that brought meat into the meat packing plants. It is a beautiful park and very interesting to walk in. The views are spectacular. On our way back we stopped in Chelsea Market to buy cheese. When we got closer to the hotel we stopped for a coffee shake at the Shake Shack.

Don and Suzanne Kleinbub relaxing in High Line Park, New York City, May 27, 2013

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A New York Wedding

Friday, May 24 and Saturday, May 25 we were able to help our nephew, Eric Kleinbub, celebrate his marriage to Zoe Zaitzeff. Everything was just beautiful and went off without a hitch, in spite of the rainy weather - never a real downpour, just enough precipitation to be annoying.

Amine, Amanda, Christian & Suzanne Kleinbub, Fr. Al

On Friday we joined Zoe's family at her sister's apartment for a family dinner planned and prepared by Zoe, her mother and her sister, Natasha. It was very interesting to be in an apartment in New York City. The building is on 92nd St. and Broadway. It is an older building with a large entrance foyer with marble, stone floors, and a beautiful stained glass skylight. We went to the 12th floor to their large apartment with views of the city. We met Zoe's mother and father, her 2 brothers with wives, 1 baby and 1 on the way, her sister and her 2 children, and several guests. Angel & Fred, Christian and his fiance, Amanda, were there to represent the Kleinbubs (and, of course, Eric and Zoe). After several toasts and conversation we sat down at a long table loaded with a huge variety of foods - salads, ham, beef, lamb pilaff, breads and cheeses, and various sauces and condiments. Amine (Zoe's mother) explained that this was a typical Russian feast - a vast variety of food served all at once at room temperature- sort of a family style buffet. In Russia people have shots of vodka along with the food - but we didn't do that! It was topped off with two kinds of cake.

Bridie and Don Kleinbub, May 25, 2013
Linda and Konrad Kleinbub, May 25, 2013

Natasha Zaitzeff, Zoe & Eric Kleinbub, Christian Kleinbub, Angel Kleinbub

The next day, Saturday, was the wedding. Don's cousins - Bridie, Konrad, and Linda Kleinbub - who live in Queens - joined us for brunch at a restaurant near our hotel. We had a nice visit with them and then we all headed off to the church of St. Ignatius Loyola on Park Avenue for the 3:30 p.m. wedding. The church was quite spectacular. It was built by the Jesuits in 1898. It is filled with marble, stained glass, statues, and other popular decorative elements. Eric and his twin brother, Christian, were dressed in matching tuxes. They proudly watched as the parents walked in, the ring bearer came down with his tray of rings, the two sweet flower girls came in with their bouquets of lilacs, Natasha walked down the aisle with her bouquet of peonies, and then the beautiful bride in her gorgeous white, lace gown walked in on the arm of her father. The priest, Eric and Zoe's friend from San Francisco, led us in a lovely, simple wedding ceremony. The cantor had a perfect voice and the organ music was very powerful.

Fred, Zoe, & Christian Kleinbub, Amanda, Father Al, Angel & Eric Kleinbub

After the ceremony most of us headed off for a gourmet dinner at a French restaurant, La Grenouille. I couldn't even begin to tell you the names of all that we had to eat - but it was all wonderful - from the 4 kinds of hors d'oeuvre (including oysters), the soup, salad, appetizer, lamb chops, ice cream cake, to the cookies and nuts (I'm sure that I left something out). Yum, yum! So we left the bride and groom to go off to their hotel room at the Carlisle, the parents to return to their suddenly quieter homes, and Don and me to return to our hotel.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Trip to New York City

We have been in New York City for 3 days and haven't had a moment to catch our breath! We arrived on Tuesday, May 21 via a packed United flight from LAX. By the time we took 2 trains and a bus to get to our Courtyard by Marriott Hotel on 92nd St. at 1st Ave. we were exhausted and ready to give up for the day. We stayed here when we were in New York the last time (three years ago) and have our god daughter, Samantha  to thank for getting us the friends and family rate. She works for Marriott!

We spent our first two days with our friend, Hildie, who lives in Scarsdale. She has lived in New York most of her life, and knows all the ins and outs of the city. On Wednesday we met her, and her friend, Marie, at the TKTS Booth in Times Square. That is where you can buy same day, discount tickets to plays and musicals throughout New York City. After buying our tickets we headed to an Indian restaurant (Benares) for a buffet lunch.

At 2 p.m. we saw the musical, Once. It is a fairy tale of a romance between an Irish songwriter and a young Czech woman and takes place in Dublin. There was a whole cast of quirky characters who remained on stage throughout playing the roles of orchestra, vocalists, and actors. It was very entertaining and touching.

Suzanne, Hildie, and  Marie, May 23, 2013, New York City

The next day, Thursday, we met Hildie and Marie again at the 9/11 Memorial. We spent an hour looking at what has been built on the "Ground Zero" site. They have two large waterfall pools filling the foot print of the two buildings. In the middle of each is another pool which is seemingly bottomless. Around the pools they have a wall with all the names of those who died during that awful day. They are still working on the museum and the new World Trade Center tower. My favorite thing was the Survivor Tree. It was a stump that was found in the rubble of the original wreckage. They dug it up and sent it to a nursery to be brought back to health. It survived and grew to almost 30 feet when it was uprooted in a storm. At that point they were able to replant it in the new Memorial Park, and it is seemingly quite healthy and happy there!

From the park we went to the East Side to visit the Tenement Museum. We saw several apartments in the former tenement at 97 Orchard Street. It was built in the 1860s. There were 3 room apartments for 22 families with a saloon on the ground floor. The apartments were closed up in the 1930s because the owner could not afford to comply with the city safety regulations. Fifty some years later it was purchased to be used as a museum and has been a treasure trove for historical information and research ever since. Several apartments have been reconstructed to reflect one of the tenants who lived there. Others have been left to show the state of deterioration when the building was first reopened. We saw the apartment of a German family from the 1860's - the husband abandoned the family and the wife took in sewing to support her 4 children. Another was an Italian family who lived there in the 1920's and were evicted when the landlord closed the building. A third was an Irish family whose baby daughter died in the apartment and it was set up to show the wake.

After spending the afternoon at the museum we headed off to the Joyce Theater for an evening performance. We saw the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago troupe doing 4 interesting and very different dance programs. Afterwards we said good bye to Hildie and Marie and we are on our own for the rest of our visit.