Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Conquering New York on foot

 We always start our visit to NYC by looking through all the magazines for what is happening. Then we head off to Lincoln Center to pick up their schedule of activities. We like the free student concerts at Juilliard, but they are not in session for the summer.
            So, on Monday we did that and ended up walking from Lincoln Center to TKTS on Broadway. We made a stop at the Art Students League on 57th Street to look at the exhibit of art by military veterans who were students or teachers at the school. Sometimes they have art sales and we have enjoyed shopping there.
            At TKTS you can buy discounted tickets for plays. We bought tickets for the play “39 Steps” at Union Square Theater. After a rest from all that walking, we took the subway to Madison Square to look at the art installation, “Fata Morgana,” by Teresita Fernandez. It is a 500 foot long golden metal sculpture that creates canopies above the park’s pathways - quite fascinating.

            From there we walked to Union Square to have a bite for dinner and see the play. It is a spoof of the Alfred Hitchcock movie, “39 Steps.” It was extremely well done and very enjoyable. Four actors play all 150 roles in this spy mystery thriller. Need I say more?

Manhattan Island from Governor's Island
             The next day we decided to take the ferry to Governor’s Island, which is now a National Monument. It was a gorgeous day and the 7 minute ferry ride to the island was delightful. We left from South Street at the tip of Manhattan Island. We could see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and all of lower Manhattan as we crossed the water. On the island we toured two forts – Castle Williams and Fort Jay. We gradually walked the one mile circle of the island admiring the beautiful landscaping, the fun playground installations, the red Adirondack chairs, and lots of public art installations. What a great place to come with your family for a day of play and picnicking!
            From the return ferry we walked to the 9/11 Memorial Park. We had seen it the last time we were here and decided there were too many people. We walked over to Brookfield Plaza, which used to be the Winter Garden in the World Financial Center. About all I recognized were the steps and glass dome over the building! We were tired and it was time to give up and head back to the hotel.

Segue to New York City

            We are in New York City and I am already worn out! We left DC on Sunday via Amtrak. It was very convenient and a pleasant ride to Penn Station in NYC. We got in about 1p.m. and walked the 3 blocks to our hotel, Fairfield Inn by Marriott on 28th St. & 7th Ave. We still had half a day to get settled in and explore our neighborhood.
            This is called the Chelsea District and is quite different from other places we have stayed. There is constant activity from all the businesses – wholesale luggage, perfume, jewelry (most of it huge chunky pieces), flowers (the street is lined with them), shoes, purses, and all sorts of other sundry merchandise. There are restaurants, delis, bakeries – even a McDonalds. Our street has quite a few hotels (perhaps because we are so close to the train station). There is constant traffic-delivery trucks, taxis, construction equipment, police and fire.
            So, needless to say, our walk was quite fascinating. We ended up on Fifth Avenue watching the Gay Pride Parade. That was unexpected – but a real kick to see. Lots of noise, music, and enthusiasm. We found an interesting restaurant – Sweet Greens. They mix 4 kinds of greens with grains and whatever other mix-ins you want and give you this huge salad bowl for $10 to $12. It was really good and we took half back to finish later.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Eating in Washington DC

           In addition to sightseeing we like to eat at different places when we are traveling. A lot of our favorites have disappeared over the years, so we need to find new ones. The loss this year was the bar-b-q place called Red, Hot and Blue. We usually go on Monday to a sports pub which has half price burgers. However, we forgot where it was and went to the wrong one. We ended up at Hare and Tortoise on Gleb which was a nice bar with Happy Hour drinks and appetizers. Their burgers were pretty good! I think the right one was just down the street.
            Bob wanted soft shell crabs so I looked it up. I found out that the season for this delicacy was May to October, so we tried to find a restaurant where we could try them. We went to Red Lobster (new to some of us), but they did not have them. Later in the week we went to the Wharf in old town Alexandria. Go at lunch, prices are a lot less, and they did have soft shell crabs. It was a whole crab, but because they are molting, the shells are soft. You can eat the whole thing, crunch and all. Bob enjoyed his pricy treat and the rest of us had more normal seafood!
            I decided this was our burger vacation. We had burgers at the Silver Diner in Bethesda and hot dogs or burgers at the Shake Shack, I learned about Pho and we found a Vietnamese restaurant to eat it at. I would highly recommend this tasty soup broth filled with your choice of meats and condiments.
            One final treat was meeting college friends, Marty and Evy, and eating at the Metro 29 Diner on Highway 29 in Falls Church. The food was delicious and way too much. Trying to clean our plates gave us an excuse to talk longer! It was a nice reunion.
            We also had varied choices for lunch. The DAR has a lunch room where you can get sandwiches & snacks. One day we walked across the street to the Red Cross which also has a lunch room with a lot more choices. Don and Bob had their best lunch at the cafeteria in the National Gallery. It is underground and there is a beautiful waterfall to watch while you eat.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

How quickly time goes!

Holly and Suzanne at the Daughters of 1812 House

            We have been here a little over a week and everyone is enjoying doing their own thing. Holly and I came to attend the DAR Continental Congress and to do genealogy research in their extensive research library. Please visit their web site www.dar.org/ if you want to learn more about the organization and its programs and read about the events at Continental Congress. I found four more families to research – Lane, Griswold, Dean, and Phelps – so that has been fun and interesting.
President Lincoln's Cottage in Washington DC
              Our husbands have spent the week looking for hidden corners to visit. They went to President Lincoln’s cabin, the Naval Observatory (only open afternoons), the American History Museum, Octagon House (headquarters for AIA), walking tour of Alexandria, the old post office building (turning into another Trump Tower), Navy Memorial, National Gallery of Art (highly recommend their cafeteria), Union Station, Post Office Museum, Air and Space Museum in addition to driving all over and looking at monuments and scenery from the car.
            Samantha has spent her time with us at Congress where she is a page. She has to be all dressed in white and help with whatever is needed to keep things running smoothly. Or she has gone with the men to enjoy sightseeing.
We all went to 3 evening events. Opening night was on Wednesday. That night is mostly taken up with pageantry and music. Thursday night was education night and we met the winners of several awards that DAR gives. This includes the winner of the American History Essay Contest, the DAR Good Citizen award, Outstanding Junior Member, Outstanding Teacher of American History, and new this year was the Excellence in American History Book Award. This was given to Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy for his book “The Men Who Lost America” – a look at the American Revolution from the British side.
            Tonight was our last night and we heard some moving and inspiring speeches from winners of the Margaret Cochran Corbin Award (distinguished woman in military service), the DAR Medal of Honor, DAR Media & Entertainment Award (Unsung Heroes a documentary about America’s female patriots-go look for it), the Founders medal for Patriotism to J.R. Martinez, Army nurse of the year award, and three awards for volunteer service to veterans

Friday, June 26, 2015

Summer Solstice

     On Sunday, June 21 (the Solstice), we had time for more sightseeing. We started the day by attending the Latin mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. We had been there before, but were still impressed by the beauty of the decorations inside the church.

Samantha and Suzanne at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

    After brunch we drove to the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, which is near Anacostia Park. This was his home in the late 1800’s when he was U.S. Marshall of the District of Columbia. It is on a hill overlooking the city. I did not know much about Douglass, so I was interested in the film of his life. I learned he was born a slave, but eventually escaped to the North where he became an outspoken abolitionist, a noted speaker and author. He fought for not only the rights of blacks, but also of women and oppressed workers. He was admired by many in the U.S. and overseas. When we left we drove through part of Anacostia Park. It is a beautiful park along the Anacostia River and definitely warrants a return visit.
    We finished our day of sightseeing with a visit to Dumbarton Oaks. This is a house built in 1801. It has had many revisions and expansions. It was purchased by the Blisses in the late 1800’s. They were art collectors and used the home to show case their art. They wanted to make it a place of natural serenity and intellectual adventure. Now it has specialized collections of Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art. Some of this is housed in a circular, glass pavilion designed by Philip Johnson. The museum is surrounded by an extensive garden. It is in an area of the city with several turn of the century homes and small museums. The whole neighborhood is full of trees and flowers.