Den went to the office for the last time and was honored with a little celebration. I walked to the library and returned our last books. Then I strolled to Financier and bought macaroons and bagels at Tal’s. It was the last walk past Periwater and ZeZe, exquisite florists on our block. It was time to finish packing and take down our colorful bulletin board walls.
Late afternoon we took the subway from our usual stop on Lexington to 81st, the Natural History Museum stop. This is one of our favorite stops due to the exquisite animal murals. We walked over to The Yarn Company on Broadway, a great little shop up a long steep flight of stairs that I have enjoyed often.
We then walked down Broadway to Winter’s Eve, the Upper West Side’s annual holiday festival. As we strolled around Lincoln Center Plaza and enjoyed the lights, we remembered dinner at Lincoln, the Met Opera, and the Philharmonic. The tree lighting ceremony began and as the hundreds of white lights were switched on, Arlo Guthrie sang “This Land is Your Land.” With the tree aglow and the crowd singing along, it was just the best of New York City.
We have seen so much here and done so very many things. It has been an incredible opportunity for us. We don’t think we could ever do this again as we would always be comparing it to our three perfect months here.
It’s our last few days of the best time of our lives!
A few weeks ago, Den entered a raffle at an NMSS benefit party, and he won a complimentary night at the Bowery Hotel plus dinner. The last day of November was our chosen date for this memorable event.
We first took the subway, as usual, to Union Square to do some holiday shopping, as this had been reputed to be the best Christmas market in the city. It was super-crowded and really painful. We enjoyed walking about the north end of the square by the statue of Lincoln plus visiting the fresh food green market. We truly wanted to buy a sweet wreath made from princess pine, unlike anything we have in Denver, but had no room. We enjoyed some hot cider on this brisk day.
We headed east towards the Alphabet City area, an up and coming part of NYC that is just starting to become gentrified.
We stopped at Obscura on 13th & A. This is a store devoted to death and is owned by the sister of Seth Gopin, our fabulous leader for the architectural tour we took earlier with Gail Fisher. The shop was just as weird as we had expected, even though it is featured on national tv. The area south of here around 9th and A or 1st was particularly cute with antique shops and boutiques.
We arrived at the Bowery Hotel about 5 pm. It is one of the “in” places in NYC now. Cost of a room is usually about $400 per night. Our lovely room was small and furnished with exquisite linens and furnishings. The window looked out onto a brick building with signage for “rooms for one, baths.” It reminded us that we were in a very old part of the city.
We had a beer in the cozy bar which is actually a large living room with a wood-burning fireplace. We looked around at all the young people gathered in small groups chatting and laughing and relaxing. What a lovely place for a Saturday night!
We went into the next room for dinner, Gemma, an Italian restaurant and had saltimbocca. For dessert we had affogato, one of our NY discoveries. As we were finishing dinner, we looked out the window and saw Judy and Gary Givens, friends from Denver, walking by. They joined us briefly and then we walked with them a couple of blocks to Susan (daughter) and Chris’s apartment at Bowery & Houston. This was a chance to see our first apartment besides our own. They have two bedrooms and rent is $7000/mo! It was a pleasure to walk back to the hotel and climb into a fabulous firm bed with fine Egyptian cotton sheets.
On Sunday we met the Givens for brunch at Lafayette and then parted ways. We walked around the lower east side and it felt very familiar, just like we live here….we do! Along the way we saw well-known art murals and laughed at the hotel sign below.
Arrived home for a pasta dinner and the Bronco game. We walked over 14,500 steps today, 6 miles!
The night before Thanksgiving the balloons are inflated for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We planned to go to the Upper West Side for this event just west of Central Park. We had been told that the crowds are strictly controlled, and to get into the actual area you need a party invitation for a specific location within the balloon area. We trudged in freezing cold and sleeting rain and were ready to turn back a few blocks from the Natural History Museum, but we finally made it just after our umbrella flipped inside out.
As we approached 77th St. the police tired to turn us away but we showed them our computer-generated invitation to “Brandon and Michael’s Pre-Turkey Day party” at 35 W. 77th and they let us through. We were able to get close to action. The balloons were enormous!! They were already partially inflated and were covered with strong netting as well as tied down with ropes and sandbags. Many handlers were working on each balloon, and gigantic helium trucks were filling them. The crowds were festive and everyone had a great sense of anticipation for the next day, but all were also worried that weather might preclude the parade.
Next day we awakened to sunshine and the parade was on. We walked up to 52nd & 6th Ave. to view the parade. The balloons were allowed to fly but had to be kept lower than usual and were still 4-5 stories above us. The large bands were terrific. However, it was extraordinarily cold and we could only stay about two hours. On the way home we had to stop into a boulongerie to get warm. We got home and watched the rest of the parade on tv……it was definitely the best parade we have ever seen.
Later in the day we ventured out again into the frigid cold. We decided that this was a reminder why we do not want to be in NYC in the winter, and the weather made thoughts of going home to Denver a bit easier to swallow. Our entire three months had been warm and sunny almost every day and this was really our first taste of the bitter cold.
We took the E subway to almost the last stop in Queens and Lisa and Ross (Lisa is Den’s boss) picked us up in their car. It was our second car ride in three months. We drove to their home in Hollis Hills. In the front yard was a huge stump that was left from Hurricane Sandy the year before. They had a huge family gathering including their sons, Landon and Tyler, and close relatives. We talked to an aunt who had been at the World Trade Center on 9/11 and she recounted her horrific experience. The tv blared football games, little kids were running around, and their dog was enjoying the attention. It was a happy celebration of both Thanksgiving and Hanukkah with abundant foods for each. We finally left for the subway home bout 8:30 and arrived home full and tired and amazed at our memorable day. We will never have a Thanksgiving Day like this one!
The New York Botanic Garden has been on our list for three months. We went to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in the fall and the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 29, finally made it to the Bronx to the NYBG. This was almost an hour via subways and buses, and it was a very cold day that we set out on this adventure. We have noticed that the Bronx area of the city seems to be the least respected in terms of neighborhoods. The garden is definitely in a marginal area but has been in existence in this location for well over 100 years.
The Haupt Conservatory is the focal point. It consists of fourteen glass and iron buildings joined together creating over a dozen habitats for plant display and study. Our first stop was the annual train show in the conservatory. It consists of model trains that run through villages composed of hundreds of New York landmarks including such as the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Macy’s, New York Public Library, Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Plaza…..all constructed out of natural plant materials including bark, fungus, pods, acorns, shells, berries, lichen, stems and tendrils. Many of the structures were historic mansions along the Hudson River or in New York City, some of which have been torn down and no longer exist.
The entire show takes up a couple of the conservatory domed rooms and it took well over an hour to visit the whole display. At various times one walks under specific bridges of Manhattan made from twigs and branches. This was truly an amazing thing to see.
After the train show we took the tram tour around the gardens and were amazed at the many areas of research and observation. The library is said to be the best in the world for plant research and is a stunning building. We definitely want to come back here in another season……which means we will just have to return to NY some day!
We took the subway home and got off at 59th Street so that we could walk down the avenues and see more of the Christmas store windows and decorations. The Bloomingdale windows were fun but the Bergdorf Goodman windows still win the prize. We walked into the Sony Building and visited Chartwell Booksellers, a small cozy bookstore devoted to literary works by and about Winston Churchill.
We have been by this building many, many times and inside it four or five times, and, yet, we never knew this amazing store existed. It is just another example of how very many interesting things are going on in New York.
After dinner we took a brisk walk to Beekman Place to see the lighted outdoor tree on 50th street at the East River. Aglow in lights in the background was the Queensboro Bridge…..we love our neighborhood!
Matthew had been in Washington, DC for an education conference and took the train to Manhattan for a quick visit. He has been to NY a couple of times and was not interested in typical tourist sights but just walking in our neighborhood and visiting some of our favorites.
We recognized him as he got off the subway, although he looks a bit different that what we are used to.
He has a mustache (“Grow your Mo”) as part of Movember, the month that is devoted to men’s health awareness. He started clean shaven on November 1 and intends to shave it off on Dec. 1. So far he has raised a couple hundred dollars towards his charity goal.
We started out with pastrami and turkey bagel sandwiches from Tal Bagels, our favorite bagel shop and right in our neighborhood. Next we took the subway to Soho and the boys shopped at Uniqlo, my new favorite store. Of course, it was a total zoo, but they persevered and each got a couple of sweaters and some new pants and jeans. From here we walked up to the NYU Greenwich Village area and dropped in at Bergino Baseball Clubhouse. This interesting little store features baseball memorabilia as well as unique baseballs. The owner and the guys had a great time talkin’ baseball, and he gave us each a sip of smooth bourbon in baseball shot glasses.
We headed over to the West Village for dinner at Grano, our great find when the Hills and Stampers visited in October. Maurizio, the owner, was not there on this Saturday night, but his wife was just as warm, and we had a delicious dinner and fun time. She chatted with Matthew about how their twin daughters are schooled in New York, and they compared notes about education.
Finally, we ended the night a few blocks away at the Marlton Hotel, an old classic that is being renovated. The owner of Bergino had recommended the bar, and we enjoyed espresso and after-dinner drinks in the cozy living room near the blazing fireplace. We braved the cold and wind to take the subway home and then all fell happily into bed.
On Sunday we forged out into a cold and windy day and walked up to the Frick Museum on 70th and 5th Avenue, about 1.5 miles from our apartment. Henry Clay Frick was one of the moguls of NY around the turn of the century and made his fortune in steel. He was an industrialist, financier, and art patron. He was good friends with Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon, but fell out with Carnegie who actually attempted to have Frick assassinated. Frick built the mansion in order to make Carnegie’s home look “like a shack.”
The entry to the museum is an enclosed atrium with fountains and plants that change with the seasons. Today it was a warm and welcoming respite from the blustery outdoors.
The Frick is home to a fabulous collection of old master European paintings and many are still hanging exactly where Frick had them hung originally in 1914. The first floor of this ornate estate exhibits works from Piero della Francesca, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Fragonard, Renoir, Monet, and Turner. It also includes sculptures, porcelains, Limoges enamel, and ornate 18th century French furniture. We wandered from room to room marveling at the furnishings and listening to the descriptions of art works on our audio guides.
The Frick was featuring an exhibit entitled “Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis” and we had timed tickets to view it. It consists of only 15 paintings, but each was exquisite and each had an audio narration. We learned a lot about the lives of the painters in the 16th century and also about each of the paintings. I particularly was interested in the small oil entitled “The Goldfinch” (by Carel Fabritius, 1654), as I am currently reading a novel by that name (by Donna Tartt) that includes a detail of the painting on the book jacket.
We spent almost three hours at the Frick and had to leave as the museum was closing. We sprinted for about three blocks to Via Quadronno, an Italian restaurant that we had dined at in 2011 when visiting New York with Elizabeth and Mark for the first time. That adventure started our whole move to Manhattan, and it was only fitting that we ended our NY stay with one more visit. We enjoyed a nice bottle of Chianti and three different pastas, all wonderful. It brought back happy memories and did not disappoint!
We popped on the subway home but the boys continued on past our stop to Soho to pick up their hemmed trousers and jeans. Arriving home around 8 pm, we all had time to watch the Broncos vs the Patriots…..but only for a while. Den fell asleep at half time, I made it to the final play of the fourth quarter when it was 31-31, and only Matthew survived overtime and a Bronco loss.
On Monday we went shopping at Rockefeller Center and had great success, especially at the Lego store and at the Metropolitan Museum store.
After making our purchases, we went downstairs to the café and enjoyed lattes and mochas while watching the ice skaters outside.
On the way home we enjoyed the holiday lights of 5th Avenue and then bid a farewell to Matthew. He was eager to get home to see his family as he had been gone a full week. We were delighted that we got to spend a few of our last NY days with him…….a very special time.
The MOMA owns two triptychs of Monet’s water lilies. These are similar to those at L’Orangerie in Paris. Each is over 40 feet long.
In 1955 the MOMA became the first museum in the United States to acquire a Monet water lily painting. As stated on the description in the gallery, “….since that time the water lilies have held a cherished position in the Museum, affirming Monet’s conviction that art can provide a balm for the modern soul.”