Monday, July 6, 2015

Last day in the City!

             All the time we have been here I have been thinking we should look at a botanical garden. After our day today, I am sure we have done it!
Don with the start of High Line Park and Whitney Museum of Art
             We spent the morning walking the mile and a half of the High Line Park. It is built on the abandoned elevated rail tracks that transported freight into lower Manhattan. We started at the southern end at Gansevoort (where we saw the new Whitney Modern Art Museum building). There is an elevator or stairs to get into the park and once there you feel like you are in a new world. The city has done such a beautiful job with designing, building, and maintaining the park. There are plants, flowers, trees, and bushes of great variety. The walk way basically follows the rail tracks with pavement, metal walkways, and some cinder walks. There are “flyovers” - places where you can step over and look at the views of the city and the Hudson River. And there were lots of places to sit, which I appreciated! The park ends at 34th Street and 10th Avenue.
Suzanne in the English garden, Central Park
           In the afternoon we rode the Subway to the north end of Central Park. The Conservatory Garden is located on the East side between 104th and 106th Streets. We saw the most beautiful collection of flowers in the English garden. I wish I knew them all – I would like to grow them! The Italian garden was less impressive. There was a lovely green lawn surrounded by crab apple and yew trees with a fountain and a pergola at one end. It reminded me of the gardens and lawns we saw in Europe. The last garden was French with a fountain “Three Dancing Maidens” and lots of new plantings. It features tulips in the spring.
            And I have also realized that the entire city is a garden. In spite of the traffic, construction, and all the other busyness – there are so many beautiful parks and interesting and well kept residential areas. I think the city has really spruced itself up since when we first started coming here. Everywhere you look there is public art work. It has been an interesting and beautiful trip.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sunday in New York City

Today is Sunday and I am getting ready for my regular Hangout call with my 3 siblings. I am feeling sad because I remember that when we had our call last Sunday we learned that my Aunt Harriet, who was 98, had just died. May she rest in peace.
I went to mass at St. Patrick’s today – the church was packed. This beautiful landmark building is covered with scaffolding. It made me realize how many buildings in this city are probably over one hundred years old and in need of repair. Many other buildings are also covered with scaffolding. It must be a good time for the construction industry in New York!
                We had a simple day today. We walked to Bryant Park and discovered the Library is closed on Sundays. So, it was back to Broadway for a 3p.m. production of “It Shoulda Been You,” a musical directed by David Hyde Pierce. We really enjoyed it – well done with good music and fun characters. Tyne Daly played the Jewish mother with perfect precision. Harriet Harris, whose name we did not recognize until we found out she played Bebe on “Frasier,” was a perfect foil to Tyne as the mother of the groom.
            We ate dinner at a place called Eataly which is near our hotel. It is a place unlike anything we have in LA. The building is huge. There are several restaurant areas – mostly pasta related menus, and many stands selling fresh food items such as cheese, meats, bread, vegetables, ice cream, spices, pastas, etc. It was very confusing for a first time visit, but would be a fascinating place to shop and eat if you lived here. We did manage to find something we liked.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Bits and pieces

           It seems like wherever you go in New York City there is entertainment – from the skate boarders in Union Square, to the free concerts in the parks, to the break dancers at the Plaza Hotel, to the musicians in the Subway, to the lady dancing in her lighted skirt in Columbus Circle, to the street performers dressed in costumes of all kinds and ready to have their picture taken for a price. All of this is interspersed with New York’s versions of public art. Everywhere you look there is something new and interesting to see.
           We have also enjoyed shopping – in the M&M store, the Hershey store, Century 21 discount store, museum stores, Fairway – the local grocery store, Duane Reade Pharmacy (now part of Walgreens), book stores, flea market stalls at 47th & 8th Ave., and one of my favorites – Chico’s.
Konrad, Suzanne, Bridie, Linda, and Don at Arties

           On Friday we met Don’s cousins at Artie’s Deli for lunch. We had a nice visit with them and then got tickets for the play, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” It was a very interestingly staged performance and quite well done.
           Today, Saturday, is the Fourth of July. There were so many warnings about security that we decided to do some simple things. We rode the ferry to Staten Island and back. That is always fun and a good way to see Manhattan from a different perspective. Then we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan with thousands of others going the opposite direction. When it started to lightly rain we gave up and came back to the hotel. We stayed close to home for dinner and went to the top floor of the hotel to watch the edges of the fireworks over the East River. It was actually very nice and no crowds to contend with! Happy Fourth of July to all!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A day at the Met

For some reason, Thursday seems like the day to go to the Metropolitan Art Museum, so that is what we did today. We got there about 10:30. They are checking bags and did not like the fact that we had brought a picnic lunch with us! So, we hid it in the bushes outside and discovered we could avoid the crowds by going in the group entrance of the lower patio!
We spent our time going through three exhibits. We started with the John Singer Sargent special exhibit on the second floor. What a beautiful portrait painter he is! His subjects look so real and were so interesting to read about. It made all the other portrait paintings that we looked at seem like child’s play.
We also spent time looking at the impressionist galleries. What an extensive collection, so many paintings gathered together by the same artist. There was a whole room of Matisse, and half rooms of Gauguin, Van Gogh, Manet & Monet, etc. It was fascinating to see so many paintings by the same artist all in one room.
The last collection we saw was another special exhibition called “China Through the Looking Glass.” It was very extensive, on three floors. They were trying to show how Chinese objects had influenced American fashion. Most of it involved clothing and beautifully decorated fabrics. They showed the American costume next to the Chinese object that had inspired it. It was thought provoking and beautiful. Go see it if you can.
When we left the museum we took the bus down Fifth Avenue and stopped at the Arsenal building just outside the Zoo in Central Park. It is a landmark building, having been there from 1847, before the Park was built. The building looks like a castle. The banister railings are shaped like rifles! Now it is used as office space for Park headquarters and there is a small exhibit area on the third floor. I enjoyed looking at the pictures depicting the history of some of New York’s parks. The walls of the main floor are covered by murals painted by WPA workers in the 1930's

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July 1, 2915

Today is Wednesday, the first of July, and the year is half over! We woke up to thunder and lightning in the middle of the night, but today was another beautiful day. Our hotel provides us with breakfast, so we always enjoy that before we head out.
            We went back to Times Square to purchase tickets for a matinee. I found out there is a Fast Pass line for people who had purchased tickets within a seven day period. Since we qualified I marched right up to the TKTS ticket booth and purchased my tickets for “Kinky Boots.” What a relief not to have to face that long line!
            We had three hours before the musical started so we started walking north towards Central Park. We stopped in a couple stores (the M&M store was great fun, but no bargain). Central Park is such an amazing place. It is hard to believe that it is all manmade – everything is so green and woodsy, with lots of hills and rocks. We decided to just wander. We saw several playgrounds, a baseball field, and a small amusement park. We ended up coming out of the park on the east side at 65th Street & Fifth Avenue. So, we had to hoof it back to the Theater District to be on time for the 2p.m. matinee.
            I must say that I was quite disappointed in “Kinky Boots.” The music was mediocre, the story was lame, the singers were screamers, and there was hardly any dancing! The only good thing was that we got to sit!
            To finish our day we went back to Madison Square to eat at the Shake Shack and listen to a singer practice for her evening concert. Madison has free concerts on Wednesdays during the summer. However, hearing her practice we decided it wasn’t worth staying and we gave up for the day.