Sunday, September 26, 2010

Thursday: Legos, St. Patrick's, St. Bart's, the Waldorf, Library, Stardust, WICKED!

Thursday we had an open morning so we decided to do some souvenir shopping. We went back up through Times Square to Rockefeller Center. Our destination was the Lego store which we had seen our first night there but it was closed. This would have been the highlight of the trip if Isaac had been with us. He is a Lego fanatic. We spent a good bit of time in here and bought him a Lego Empire State Building (which took him about 10 minutes to put together when we got home but which he has since converted into a larger scale model using a bunch of his other Legos) The Lego store is right across the ice rink from 30 Rock.

30 Rock
Lego store
We bought a few things at another gift shop and then headed to St. Patrick's for the 12:00 mass. St. Patrick's is the only Catholic cathedral that we saw. The rest were all Episcopalian. I was really surprised that there was a difference. As ornate as the ones we had seen were, St. Patrick's was even more so. It was also the best lit. It was also the only one we saw actually being used (except for the prayers for peace and reconciliation at St. Paul's) and I think that made a difference. It was a beautiful place and an interesting service, especially for a non-Catholic. We got to hear the organ, which was huge and awesome. The lady who led the singing part of the service had a beautiful voice which echoed in the huge space. Here's some pics:

Next on our agenda was to go see St. Bart's. We saw SALT (with Angelina Jolie) when it came out in the theater and part of it was filmed at St. Bart's. That is what gave me the idea to see as many historical cathedrals as we could. There just aren't all that many in the US (compared with Europe) and it's not like anyone is building churches like this anymore. They really are a sight to see. That said, I was a tad disappointed in St. Bart's. It was fairly gloomy in there.

I will say this about cathedrals. They offer quite a respite from the noise and crush of people on the street. It can be super loud with horns and sirens and jack hammers outside but when you step into the cathedral, it is hushed and peaceful. There were people praying in almost every church we looked at; if not in the main sanctuary than in the small chapels that surround the nave. I was impressed at people who would come and pray in the middle of their busy day and I wondered about what had led to that habit. And I envied that I don't have that sort of discipline.

Since St. Bart's is on Park Avenue, we decided to stroll down the street a ways to see what we could see. Well, lo and behold, we came to the Waldorf Astoria! Now, when I was researching hotels to stay in I did actually look at the Waldorf's site, you know, just to see. It's pretty much waaaay out of our price range. Anyway, we stepped in, saw a sign about a dress code for men (coat and collared shirt) decided to just walk through the lobby and snap a few pics (they didn't turn out very well) and then step back out, just to say we've been to the Waldorf.

We got some chicken over rice at a corner vendor and then headed to the New York Public Library and sat on the steps outside to eat. The Library was pretty impressive because of it's size and age. I've never been in a library that looked like this. There is a copy of the Gutenberg Bible there that we wanted to see and that was pretty neat. The art and architecture was really amazing.

After the library, we headed back to the hotel to change for supper and the theatre. We had had Ellen's Stardust Diner recommended to us and were looking forward to that. Since we had eaten a late lunch we weren't all that hungry so we ordered nachos to eat. The thing about Ellen's Stardust Diner is that all of the wait-staff are aspiring Broadway actors so they sing the whole time. They are really good and it makes for a really fun dining experience. Here's some pics.

We shared a strawberry soda for dessert (I don't know what is wrong with my face in this picture!)
And a black and white cookie. ("Look to the cookie!")

After dinner we walked the couple of blocks to the Gershwin theatre where we were to see Wicked. This theatre is way bigger and a lot nicer than the one where we saw the Addams family.

Wicked was awesome. It was the absolute quintessential Broadway magical fairytale show. The set was awesome, the costumes were awesome, the cast was was just great. We thoroughly enjoyed it. That said, I did enjoy myself more at Addams Family. It was just more fun, to me. If Wicked ever comes to your town on tour, or if you're ever in NYC, you gotta see it.

Wicked was over at around 10:45 and we headed back to the subway to ride back to the hotel. I was pretty worn out after this night. It had been a great day.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday: the MET, Central Park, St John's, Tom's Diner

Wednesday we slept til about 8:30 and didn't get out of the hotel til about 9:45 putting us a shocking hour behind schedule right off the bat. But we didn't have any 'set in stone' things Wednesday; meaning, we hadn't already paid money to be at a certain place at a certain time, so we were fine with it. We road the subway uptown to central park and then walked through it to the MET. I immediately felt more comfortable in the Park and uptown. The Park is beautiful and green and full of mom's with strollers and small kids: my kind of people! We had seen very few children up until this day and, I kinda really like kids and had missed them. So we strolled through the Park to 5th Avenue which is where the MET is located. It was very different uptown then midtown and downtown. The sidewalks were wider, people moved at a slower pace, there were still lots of tall buildings but they seemed to be more residential, and there were lots of folks with kids. Here's what I mean:

Down town:


Now I don't know if this is the case everywhere but these were differences I noticed.

The MET (Metropolitan Museum of Art) was very impressive. We had heard that you could spend all day in there and I suppose that's true, if you really like museums. They had a really neat Ancient Egypt exhibit with artifacts (and pieces of pyramids) that are thousands of years old. I really enjoyed the art from the Renaissance period and their exhibit of musical instruments, and the religious art exhibit. I get all that stuff. I have really no appreciation for modern art, unfortunately. I don't understand how a large canvas that's painted brown (and only brown) constitutes something that is MET-worthy. We ate lunch on the roof of the MET amidst a giant bamboo structure that is also art somehow.

The view was great from up there.

We spent about 3 hours looking at everything and then decided to be finished. We headed back to the park. We wanted to see the fountain that Giselle dances around in Enchanted which happens to be called the Bethesda Fountain. We found it without much trouble. Since there were lots of folks there, I decided not to reenact that part of the movie!

It was a really beautiful place. Incidentally, when we were done in the park and making our way to the subway, we were back on schedule, just in case you were wondering!

We were headed further uptown to St. John the Divine's cathedral. We wanted to go here because it is the biggest Anglican cathedral in the whole world and the 4th largest church in the world. The place is massive. No pictures we took could capture the gigantic scope of this place. Here's some of our attempts:

the high alter
the above picture is taken from the steps up to the high alter facing back to the front door. It's a long way. Surrounding the back of the high alter are several small chapels that are dedicated to this or that saint. They were pretty to look at too. Eric was interested in this plaque:

there were a few more plaques having the Morton or Livingston name on it, this is near the organ the others were near the choir stalls. Funny that these Livingstons were musical as well!

After looking around St. John's we headed over and up a couple of blocks to Tom's Diner. This is the diner that Seinfeld's hang out on the show was based on. Look familiar?

I ordered a salad, but not a Big Salad, because I wasn't all that hungry :)

After supper we navigated 2 subways to get to Grand Central Station. That place was BUSY. It was like an ant hill that had been stepped on. Everyone was going a different direction really fast. We made our way into the middle and snapped a few pictures.

We saw what we wanted and then headed back to the subway to go to the hotel. It wasn't all the late but we were ready to be in. It was a great day and with a relaxed schedule, but we still got a lot done.

Next time, I'll tell you about our last full day in NYC. It went too fast!

Blessings to you