Chapter Five – Parks and Some Recreation

P1000816Chapter Five – Parks and Some Recreation

Day Five – A-Rod Sucks, A Walk In The Park, Friends (Not), Strawberry Fields Forever, Membership Has Its Privileges, Walking in The Footsteps of John Paul II, Bottom Of The Rock, Taking The Plunge While Kim & Mary Take A Hike And Hip To Be North Square

When we awoke a little after 6 a.m., we looked at the end of the bed and Charlie was in the exact same position as he had been about seven hours earlier. “He’s either dead or the soundest sleeping cat in the world,” I mused.

On cue, Charlie opened his eyes, stretched and walked to the door. “I need my cat box,” I thought I heard him say.  I’m guessing it was that last glass of wine still playing tricks on me from the night before.

P1000807Some more muffins and coffee downstairs, I took a little catnap before we took off for the subway again and headed for Central Park on a gorgeous Friday morning.  Since temperatures were expected to reach 80 over the weekend, we decided to have our stroll today, believing that every New Yorker would be out tomorrow to enjoy the last remnant of summer.

Digression: All week we had navigated the New York subway system thanks to the knowledge of subway guru Kim (and helpful New Yorkers), who was armed with a guide and sense of direction that never led us astray.  Even when we got a little confused, Kim was able to channel his inner Christopher Columbus (although Kim did not slaughter any of the natives) and always lead us in the right direction.

I had picked up a copy of the New York Post, known for its “subtle” A-Rod headlines. I was reading about the demise of the Yankees (which is why I was extra happy) when the guy sitting next to me, turned and said, “A-Rod sucks!”  Besides being friendly, New Yorkers also don’t seem to have a problem expressing their opinions.  Of course, since I hate A-Rod (unless in the unlikely event he would become a Padre), I was quick to agree.

P1010350Speaking of Columbus, we exited at Columbus Circle and soon we were entering Central Park.

P1010353We picked up a map from a very nice young lady and walked past a bronze sculpture of Robert Burns, meaning we were at the Literary Walk or had mistakenly walked to Scotland (not an easy trick).

P1010358                                              P1000813

What a day for a walk in the park…or maybe just sit and enjoy the beautiful day.

P1010374We walked to the overlook of a lovely fountain, and I burst into a rendition of, “I’ll be there for you.”

P1000816                         P1000817

We had been told that this was the fountain where the characters from Friends frolicked in the opening credits.  We found out later, the fountain in the TV show was not even located in New York City.

P1000821As you can see, it was such a warm day that Kim wore shorts, although Mary was slightly displeased at this New York City attire, however the locals did not seem to take notice.

P1010361It was already very warm by the time we walked by a statue of Daniel Webster and then into Strawberry Fields where people kept lying down in a circle to have their pictures taken.

P1010364“What would John Lennon think?” I asked. One could only “Imagine.”  Strawberry Fields encompasses 2 1/2 acres near Central Park West.  It was dedicated to Lennon on October 9, 1985, a day that would have been his 45th birthday.  The inlaid stone circle mosaic with the word “Imagine” was a gift from the city of Naples, Italy.

P1000823We took a quick glimpse at the Dakota apartments, where Lennon was murdered in its entryway on December 8, 1980.

P1010369Then it was a rather long walk through the park to our appointed destination, The Metropolitan Museum Of Art.

P1000842in 1866, a group of Americans traveled to Paris to get some ideas about creating a “national institution and gallery of art” to bring art and art education to people here in the United States.  The museum was opened at this location in 1880.

As Kim got some pointers from the information lady, I paid for all our tickets, and since I spent enough money, I was now a member of the museum and could get a discount on merchandise.  I think if I come back to NYC in the next year, I get in for free, too (I never did unfortunately).

Being a member also meant that I could be snootier than the others, so I purposely didn’t talk to anyone in our group for at least five minutes and pretended to actually know more about the paintings than I really did.  Walking into the first room after climbing some more stairs (oh boy), I said to Kim, “Wow, this place reminds me of all those cool galleries we saw last night.”  I think at this point he was trying to figure out how to get me on the wrong subway when we headed back.

P1010379The MET is a place you could spend an entire day…or weekend. One thing I do know about art is that I like a painter by the name of Jacques-Louis David, and in that first room is one of my favorites, The Death Of Socrates.  I have liked his paintings ever since I saw The Coronation Of Napoleon in the Louvre (now that I am a member of the MET, I can name drop, too).

Speaking of name dropping, I always love stuff by the early Italian Renaissance painter, Fra Angelico.

P1010381This Monet painting, wherever I see it, always makes quite an impression on me.

P1010397We did not get the audio guides for the MET, since we figured if we did, we would spend the rest of our vacation here.

P1000850While Kim had to take a business call (rather sad, since he is retired), we looked down upon the lovely sculpture garden.  I think I’ve seen this guy at other galleries around the world…he’s always up to no good.

P1010390

After about an hour, we took the elevator to the roof to admire the expansive views over New York City, and then went downstairs to the café for lunch.

P1000848The weather was getting better and better.

P1010393On the way to the exit we passed a cool mural.

P1010389There were also stained glass pieces…all beautiful.

P1010383After spending about 2 ½ hours (which is about “Museum Maximum Threshold Time” for this group, we started on a little walk through the tony neighborhood that is near the MET.  I could almost hear Eva Gabor sing, “Goodbye City Life…” as we looked up at the penthouse views, I half-thought Tracy would say (or sing), “Darling I love you, but give me Park Avenue.”

 

St. Patrick’s Cathedral (which I think is properly named The Cathedral Of St. Patrick) became our next anointed (I mean appointed) stop on the NYC tour.

StPatCathExt1The cathedral (sadly I somehow deleted the photo, so here is one from the public domain) was dedicated in 1879.

P1010401                                      P1010405

Kim is a big John Paul II fan, and JPII made a couple of appearances here along with Benedict and many other popes in its history.

P1000856We spent about 30 minutes wandering the gorgeous interior.

P1010414Then we scooted over to Rockefeller Center, a place where Tracy’s company has an office. We thought about going up to visit, but after all the insurance money I cost them last year, we decided to lay low. We had also contemplated going to the Top Of The Rock, but by now the crew was dragging, and the Bottom Of The Rock looked fine to us. P1010424We walked by people who were already camping out for Saturday Night Live (taping was still more than 24 hours away).  I was going to ask one of them if John Belushi was still funny, but was whisked away by my compatriots before I made more of an ass of myself that I usually do.

P1000861When we got back to Chelsea Pines, Kim and Mary said they were going to walk the length of the High Line.

P1000877My feet looked up at me and immediately nixed that idea.

P1000869Instead Tracy and I could go even higher than that beautiful elevated expanse, and more importantly, an elevator would take us there.  So after showering, while Kim and Mary finally freed themselves of us to take a hike along the High Line, Tracy and I decided to take the Plunge and go see the sunset.

P1010439Plunge is actually a rooftop bar atop the Hotel Gansevoort. The reviews of the place said, “Tough guys in T-shirts and gawking tourists bump up against stylish professionals and trendsetters — all of them drawn by the absolutely stunning views of the Hudson and midtown Manhattan”“ and “a place where beautiful people meet.”

P1010450Well, Tracy and I consider ourselves trendsetters and beautiful people, we’ve been known to be gawking tourists and I own more than one t-shirt, so we thought this is the place for us.

P1010459It certainly had captivating views, and we drank an incredibly over-priced martini and Manhattan (but worth every dollar of it since we got to sit down) as the sun set. Meanwhile, we looked for Kim and Mary on the High Line, but alas all the “little people” looked the same from that height, so we finally gave up and relaxed (while looking very hip and cool for being the oldest people by far on the rooftop) for about 45 minutes.

Occasionally, Tracy and I have slightly different impressions of a place we visit. She enjoyed her drink and the stupendous vistas, but was not impressed by our server, who she thought was inattentive. She wanted to stiff her a little bit on the tip or at least give her “the look.”  I, on the other hand, enjoyed my drink and the stupendous vistas, but was impressed by our server who I thought was really hot (what, me shallow?). I wanted to tip her my 401k, but saner minds finally compromised on an 18% gratuity (which coincidentally happens to fall exactly in between nothing and my 401k).

P1000906We met up with Kim and Mary, and soon we were on our way to Greenwich Village (by subway, of course) for dinner at North Square. This turned out to be our favorite restaurant of the trip, edging out Lucien and The Green Table.

 

 

Located on the edge of Washington Square, this is a cool, little New York bistro hat Mary heard used to be an art gallery. We had 8:30 reservations, and although we arrived a tad early (our M.O. for the past couple of nights), we were quickly seated.

P1000924For an appetizer, I tried North Square’s signature Tuna Tartare with crushed avocado, ginger cured vegetables in a lemon-lime vinaigrette ($10) that was very tasty.

P1010466Tracy had the Chile Relleno with crab-meat, red pepper, almonds, yellow mole sauce and queso fresco ($11). So far, the place was a winner. Kim took some nice photos of our meal from his new camera.

P1000907                        P1000910

Kim began with Lobster and Crab Cakes, seaweed and vegetable salad with a Thai curry coconut sauce ($12). Mary tried the Radicchio and Boston Lettuce Salad (Boston, in NYC?) that included roasted beets, goat cheese, honey spiced pecans and blue cheese dressing ($9). Everything had been great so far.

P1000909                    P1000916

Now it was on to the entrées and they also did not disappoint. I had a great meal of Grazin’ Angus Acres Short Ribs with crispy potatoes, sautéed vegetables and an Asian barbecue sauce ($22). Tracy went for the Slow Roasted Organic Chicken Breast, sautéed wild mushrooms, white truffle polenta cake and an herb au jus ($20).

P1000913Kim dined on an Herb-Crusted Rack Of Lamb, grilled asparagus, potato and leek galette with rosemary au jus ($28)…

P1000917…while Mary decided on the Pan-Seared Alaskan Halibut, with corn and mushroom couscous and lemon herb sauce ($23). Some delicious French wine and, voilà, a perfect meal for slightly less than $200 (not including tip).

The service at North Square was top notch as was the ambiance. By this time, we were dragging a little more than usual; Kim and Mary because of their long High Line walk; Tom and Tracy due to that extra martini and Manhattan at Plunge.

P1010478On the way back to the hotel we passed a famous New York hot dog joint.

As we all crawled in to our beds (sadly, Charlie was AWOL), we knew we just had one more full day to see what we had missed so far. We knew we wouldn’t get to everything we had come to see, but as it turned out, we came pretty damned close.

Next: Day Six – In The Dough, Harlem Shuffle, Home On The Grange, Divine Cathedral, Celebrating Summer’s End, A Frickin’ Great Museum, Eataly Part Deux, Giving Tom The Bird, Just Wynn Baby, Fore, Smoke Gets In My Eyes and In The Chips

Comments are closed.