Tuesday, June 28, 2016

New York City points of view

     Well, this may be my last posting. We are leaving for home tomorrow and we expect to spend the day packing up and getting to the airport. Don did discover that we can take the M15 bus to Grand Central where we can get a bus directly to the airport. That will be good if we don’t have to drag suitcases up and down in the Subway!
     Some impressions of New York City: The people seem more friendly and helpful, perhaps due to the influence of 9/11. People are always offering me a seat on the Subway or bus, and, I must say, I am not too embarrassed to accept! The streets are always crowded and people still jump the lights (which makes me very nervous). It seems like the parks have become less accessible – most of the plantings have fences around them as do the lawns, so people sit on benches along the paths, but cannot walk among the greenery. We did not see many homeless people – perhaps we were just not in the right areas. Almost all the cars you see are taxis! When checking out at Trader Joe’s we had to wait in one of 2 lines. When we got to the front of the line we were directed to a numbered check out station to pay for our purchases. And I thought LA was bad! There are an amazing number of young families – on public transportation, the streets, and the parks. Even the dads seem to be good caretakers. It used to be everyone was dressed in dark colors. Now you see everything imaginable in fashion. My favorites are the light, swingy sundresses that look so cool and summery. There is construction everywhere. New Yorkers seem to be in love with new buildings, but they are also careful about preserving and refurbishing their old buildings. As Don says, you don’t see many fat New Yorkers! Everyone seems to walk (or run) everywhere. 
     It has been a great trip - but then it is always nice to go home!
Dinner with the Kleinbubs, our last event!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Sunday in New York

Interior of St. Teresa's Church

     Today is Sunday so I started out by trying to go to mass. There is a lovely, old parish church called St. Teresa’s just around the corner. It has been there since the 1840’s serving the varied immigrant communities living in this area (the Lower East Side). The neighborhood was originally Irish and it is now a Chinese and Spanish speaking community. The tower clock is the oldest hand-wound tower clock in New York City. There is a beautiful mural over the altar and the pews are the original oak pews.
     However, I missed mass because they changed the time. By now we needed to head out to meet Hildie and her friend for lunch. Today the Gay Pride Parade is being held along Fifth Avenue, so we were a little concerned about the subways. And we did have some problems, but nothing too serious. Don had to be creative in choosing alternate routes, but he is pretty good at that. We were only ten minutes late to join our friends for a delicious Indian buffet at Benares.
Hildie, Don, & Suzanne at Benares
     Then we whiled away the afternoon trying to negotiate transportation. We discovered the R subway went directly to the Staten Island Ferry/White Chapel station so we took the subway to the ferry and went back and forth on the free ferry ride. It was a lovely day and a pleasant ride. We saw all the places we had walked from a new prospective and it is always a thrill to see the Statue of Liberty.
     When we got back we walked through Battery Park. We discovered the Seaglass Carousel, inspired by the chambered nautilus. The riders sit on and amid iridescent fish in a spiraling pavilion of glass and steel. It was very beautiful to watch. They have really spruced up the park with native flowers and greenery. Again there were many people enjoying this outdoor experience.  We found several other green spaces to relax while walking around this tip of Manhattan and Wall Street neighborhood.
     When we were tired and decided to head for home we walked along Wall Street (which has been turned into a partial walk street) to take the M15 bus which let us off directly by our hotel.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

More New York City neighborhoods

Don in Washington Square

    Friday, June 24 was one of the hottest days that we have had. We got a late start and decided to explore around Washington Square. I am always amazed at all the green areas in NYC. There are so many squares and parks and always lots of people enjoying them. Washington Square is no different. I’m sure you have seen the arch in movies. It really defines the park as does the huge fountain and pool in the center of the area. 

    The buildings of New York University surround the park. We went into one of them to visit the Grey Art Gallery. We saw a very interesting exhibit about the Associated American Artists. This was a commercial enterprise started in 1934 to bring “original” American art into every home. They promoted artists such as Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry, Grant Wood, and David Hockney and sold lithographs, etchings, paintings, and even household goods created by them. The art work shown in the exhibit was so beautiful and interesting to look at; we spent a couple of hours there.
The Puck Building
     We also looked at several other historic buildings – the Merchant House Museum, the Puck Building, and ended up shopping at Macys on Herald Square.
Don & Suzanne in Brooklyn Botanic Garden
     On Saturday, we spent the day in Brooklyn. We are just across the East River from that borough, so it was an easy subway ride. We went to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (free from 10 to 12 on Saturdays) and spent a couple hours walking around looking at all the beautiful green lawns (I guess water is not too much of a problem here); the myriad flowers including a rose garden and lily ponds; three small conservatories with desert, tropical, and semi-tropical buildings; and rows of cherry trees, crab apple trees, and oak trees. 
     Then we went to BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) to see one of the films which was part of their two week Cinefest. We ended up in Greenpoint on Nassau Street. Greenpoint is a Polish neighborhood. We found ourselves in the midst of Polish speakers and most of the business names were in Polish. There are lots of delis with good sausages and other Polish goodies. We bought some sausages and found a little neighborhood restaurant where we had dinner.

Friday, June 24, 2016

New York City touring

     Three more days have passed and my sore, blistered feet are starting to feel the pressure of days filled with activity! We start our day with breakfast in the hotel. Then it is out to explore one of New York City’s many neighborhoods. We finally broke down today and bought a Metro Pass. We found out that seniors get half price for a 7-day pass. How could we resist?
     Tuesday we visited South Street Seaport. This is a 12-block historic district that was a 17th and 18th century port. Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the area, so it is being rebuilt and refurbished. We did not recognize it from our previous visits! We stood in line at the TKTS office to get half price tickets to “Something Rotten.”
     Then we walked to the World Trade Center to look at the 9/11 Memorial and the new PATH station with its white flying wings and oculus (which is what they call the area under the center of the wings). It is still not fully open, but was interesting to walk through. We also spent time in Grand Central Station at the food court and the New York Public Library in Bryant Park. We hadn’t been inside the library in years and it is such a magnificent building – quite wonderful to look at. It was built in the early 1900’s on the site of the demolished Groton Reservoir. It is built in the Beaux-Arts style of architecture and is all marble staircases and columns inside. The reading rooms have beautiful wood furnishings, chandeliers, and art work. We spent the afternoon there before going to our musical in the evening. We enjoyed "Something Rotten" and I would recommend it.
Beautiful? graffiti from the Manhattan Bridge
     Wednesday we met my friend, Hildie, who lives in Scarsdale, for dinner and another musical, “Cagney.”  The play is on Broadway, near Times Square. We spent the morning walking around our neighborhood and half way across the Manhattan Bridge (why do you think my feet are sore?)
Central Park
     Thursday we spent in Central Park. We got there at 9 a.m.to get in line for tickets to the evening performance of Shakespeare in the Park. They have a special line for seniors and benches to sit on so it wasn’t too bad. We got the tickets at noon and had the rest of the afternoon to spend before coming back for the 8 p.m. performance of "Taming of the Shrew" done by an all female cast. It was such a lovely day, a little cooler because there was the threat of rain. The park is lovely with all the grass and flowers, lots of people watching, playgrounds, dogs galore, and historic buildings. The birds and the squirrels were also fun to see. We did spend some time in the New York Historical Society Museum & Library. We were disappointed that the 4th floor was closed (that is where we remembered seeing beautiful paintings in the past). I enjoyed the Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems – an artist I was not familiar with, but I loved his style. He does children’s books and worked on Sesame Street for several years. There was also an interesting folk art exhibit.
Stage set for Shakespeare in the Park

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Washington to New York City

What over 100,000 letters to the military looks like carried in baskets by DAR pages dressed in white!

We spent 6 days in Washington DC and on Sunday, June 19, we got on Amtrak and traveled to New York City. We had reservations at Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott on Henry Street in Lower Manhattan. We got there about 3 in the afternoon and settled into our room on the 7th floor. After resting we went out to see what the neighborhood was like. This is a totally new area for us and very interesting. We are on the edge of China Town and all of the businesses have Chinese writing. We were a little intimidated because we could not tell what anything was. However, after we bought some delicious lychee nuts from an outdoor vender and watched people we decided to go into a Bar-B-Q restaurant. It was full of Chinese speakers and the menu had all kinds of unusual ingredients, but we ended up having a delicious meal. We also walked down to the East River to watch the traffic. We were right under the Manhattan Bridge – so that may help you visualize where we are.

On Monday we went to Lincoln Center to check out activities. There was a free concert in the afternoon, so we bused it to Artie's Deli on Broadway and 82nd to have our favorite pastrami sandwiches. Then it was back to the Bruno Walter Auditorium in the New York Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center to see Cirque de Jonee.
Jacqueline at the piano, barber shoppers, orchestra
Jacqueline Jonee is billed as the world’s premiere concert pianist drag diva. She came out channeling Liberace and kept us laughing for the next hour. We even heard some good piano playing accompanied by a 6 piece orchestra. She also included a well matched male barbershop quartet. So, our first full day in New York fulfilled all our expectations.