Showing posts with label New York. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New York. Show all posts

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tail End of the City

This famous city was surprisingly clean and non-odoriferous.  At least not lots of bad odors.  Cleaning up car emissions over the years has improved the air in cities everywhere.  There was some noise due to car honking but around Central Park the most obvious noise was bird song!  Birds sing louder in cities and urban areas because they are competing with all the ambient noise.  The sidewalks and street gutters were also clean for such a large and busy city.   I felt very safe almost anywhere I went and we even walked all the way back after our evening dinner without incident.  We passed the Today Show studio and noticed it was directly across the street from a nice bakery.  We made a note to head that way in the morning for breakfast as it would be Sunday and the studio should not be open and therefore not much competition for breakfast.

But as they (whomever they are) say...the best laid plans are easily thwarted.  We got up bright and early and headed out only to discover that all the streets within two blocks of that bakery were blocked off.  When we asked if we could head to the bakery a young woman in jeans that were so tight they must stop circulation, barely looked up from her I-phone and said she was sorry but they had just flipped a car.  "They" we later learned was the movie crew who were filming  The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, starring Ben Stiller.  My daughter sighed and then said...well he is not exactly eye candy, and thus we walked on trying on her phone to find another bakery, and we did.  We were in New York, after all.  Below is one of the movie trucks although I am sure they have some special fancy name for them like grip wagon.

After breakfast we headed out to see the Frick Gallery which had been suggested by blogger guy, Stephen, The Chubby Chatterbox.  This was a perfect suggestion on Stephen's part as it was within walking distance, and I had never heard of it, and it ended up being a gorgeous collection of artwork by the masters.  We were surprised to see the beginning of a line 30 minutes before the museum opened and once inside we learned this was a donation Sunday.  Pay what you want!  I treated my daughter and I and paid the full price because I can afford it and it is a good cause.

The museum is a mansion on Central Park once owned by Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919).   I could not take pictures inside, but you can read all about it here.  At the end of this tour we headed out for lunch and found a street-side deli and had sandwiches and were most incorruptible by avoiding all the delicious bakery items in the case by the door.

The rest of the afternoon was devoted to street walking and shopping.  Daughter wanted to supplement her work wardrobe and I actually found a very few things that fit me.  Everyone is size 0 to 4 in those shops!  Once I tried on the Large size I actually found something that fit!  Those skinny Europeans do not play fair.

We then enjoyed the architecture of the city before catching our train back home.  While there was no time for a show or play, there is always time for another trip in the future.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

City Life Part II

My trip to the city was paid for by my daughter. For those who wondered where I stayed, it was at the Marriott in Mid-town and my daughter used her many points to pay for the overnight bill. My daughter figures that we walked an average of 20 blocks each day...but I think it must have been more. My ankle did not give me pain although my daughter showed due concern. My issue was just the old joints and muscles that reminded me I must slow down. Actually, if I kept walking I was fine.  Once we sat for an extensive time to rest on a Central Park bench both on the Saturday and the Sunday, moving again was a real challenge. Those of you who are my age realize how your joints fill with lactic acid when you have moved extensively and then refuse to move smoothly after extensive rest until you have forced the walk for another 10 minutes through the stiffness and pain and finally you return to the normal walking mode.

We paid for taxies as the day progressed and the deadines to be somewhere else were closing in on us, and these came to an average of about $8.00 each time.

The very first visit we made was to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art because I have been to N.Y. City only twice and never to this museum.  Most of my relatives are not into museums and I have given in to their interests on prior trips.  But Mother's Day was mine!  We saw only a tiny part of this HUGE museum.  We saw the Egyptian special exhibit which was not nearly as romantic or exotic or dusty as when I wandered the museum in Cairo many years ago.   But it was very informative.

Then we visited the Dutch gallery, saw some Vermeer, and of course, Rembrandt.  Then a short walk to see the Degas collection.  With over two million works housed here there were so many artists we missed, but we had the audio and those paintings that we actually studied were rich in audio description.  For lunch we ate at the museum 'wine bar" and had just a salad and wine. The waiting area was filled with shadows and light and created a feeling of magic as if stepping back in time.

We waited in the lunch line next to an elderly woman who was alone and nicely dressed.  We got to talking and she explained that she lived near the museum and came often.  When I perused the entire collection in the brochure I realized she could come every day for years and years and never really catch up.  She must have had lots of money because living off of Central Park is not for the middle class and for a brief time I was envious.

After lunch, my daughter wanted to peruse the flea market at Hell's Kitchen and this was certainly a dramatic change from the atmosphere at the Met.  It was like going from the Palace to the market place in a medieval city.  She likes to look at antique costume jewelry.  There was lots in the way of junky treasures sitting on folding tables under plastic tents, and even those old pieces that were most intersting could be priced over a hundred dollars unless you were a good bargainer.  We looked at clothing, purses, hats, kitchen ware, lamps, 'antique' books, and junk without definition.  I thought about those men and women who sat each day selling this stuff and wondered if, indeed, it supplemented their disability or social security income.  I also thought about the many prior owners of all of this stuff.  Had they passed on and their relatives sold this stuff or did they sell it because they needed the money?  Or was this stuff found in dumpsters along the streets of New York?  We did not buy anything.

This flea market was in sharp contrast to the antique store on 5th Avenue that we had walked through.  Every piece in the antique store was thousands of dollars even though it was at a marked down price because of the store's closing.  I looked at the jewelry and mused (out loud) about what had occurred to force the owners to sell their diamonds and emeralds and rubies and works of art.  The nephew (mentioned in the prior post) chuckled and told me not to be concerned.  Most of these people were trading up for larger pieces of jewelry he said.  I keep forgetting about the 1%.  I am so out of orbit with these folks!

We ate that evening at A Voce – the Columbia location, a new Italian restaurant that had a write up in our hotel's brochure as one of the top ten new restaurants in the area.  We were impressed because there are hundreds of high end restaurants in the area to write about.  Alas, I was disappointed in the food.  Al dente was too chewy and nothing was exceptional in my estimation, other than an exceptional 'by the glass' wine list.  Neither of us finished our expensive meals, but I did not complain as this was my treat from daughter.

Sunday's activities in the next you can skip this blog for a while if following someone's boring travel is not to your tastes.

Monday, May 14, 2012


I find it more noticeable the changes in feelings that I have when returning home from a very different place than I am used to.  I no longer adjust with slippery ease.  New York City (and the mid-town Manhattan area where I stayed) is a totally different planet than that in my woods where I live. The rigid buildings standing high and imposing block all but a few hours of sunshine.  When you think about all the people and all the activities taking place just above your head it is very imposing.  Cars and taxis are moving to "important" places constantly.  I also saw my share of stretch limos and a Rolls Royce or two...probably paid for in some strategic way by my tax payments!  I think the magic of this place is the compression of all of humanity in one, poor, lucky, unlucky, smart, not-so-smart, old and young.

Some streets are so full of tourists (everyone else is in in their offices working hard paying for the high rent on the closet where they live) that you can barely pass.  We all seem to adjust as we cross streets, avoid hot coffee and limp cigarettes.  I saw Park Avenue matrons in spring suits walking tiny whippet dogs.  I saw a transvestite or two.  Various gay guys dressed so carefully casual.  Lots of families with strollers.  Mothers and sons and daughters carrying bouquets and lost in the love of their mom on Mother's Day.  The young man below was delivering Mother's Day bouquets to women who lived overlooking Central Park!

I saw many people from other countries speaking in languages I did not recognize and wearing clothing styles that were clearly European.  I saw a few women in Burkas and a few nuns in traditional dress.  I also viewed several wealthy Asians enjoying their money spending vacation.  Many typical New Yorkers of every ethnicity working the streets, the cabs, the hotel lobbies, the storefronts with resigned looks on their faces accepting another day, and a few college age couples enjoying spring.  People watching is the best past time in New York.  Every human phenom on the planet is there.  I did not see any celebrities but I am sure some ran past me in sweaty exercise gear.  My daughter and I sat for a few hours on a Central Park bench resting my weary feet and I was fascinated!  As we people-watched we visited with a new grandfather who was touring with his daughter and her new born grandchild from Boston...the conversation was interspersed with that musical accent that Bostonian' s have.

I soon learned that you cannot walk more than two blocks before you encounter either building, sidewalk, or street construction.  This city is used to pieces!  But I did find that all the locals whether waiting on me or standing in line waiting with me were extremely polite and helpful.  I did not get the finger once, although I did have to be aggressive with a taxi that wanted to drive where I was walking once!! "Hey, I am walking here!"

We shopped an antique store that was closing due to retirement of the owner.  I talked to his nephew (my age) who explained his uncle was 88 and retiring to his horse ranch in Ocala, Florida next door to John Travolta.  It appears they share an airplane runway!  I hope he lives a long time.

A few places including one on the famous 5th Avenue were empty and looking for tenants.

I cannot even begin to think how expensive the rental on this retail space would be...but as the ad tells you...YOU KNOW YOU WANT IT.  And in New York, if you have to cannot afford it.  More next post.