NEW YORK CITY, U.S.A.
Central Park, NYC — San Remo apartment buildings in the background —Imagine, your residence could be this exotic-looking! (Photo: Aaron White)
During our visit to New York City in March 2017, we stayed at Breezy Point, a 1 hour commute via bus and metro or via ferry into the heart of the city. With three whole weeks to explore, we had ample time to enjoy beach life & our feline companions and the bustle of New York City. Strolling along both sides of the peninsula, Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic, we found expansive beaches with views over to Brooklyn and Manhattan. Add that to bird watching over a leisurely home made espresso & breakfast, home time with two delightful kitties and absolute peace & silence for sleeping between forays into the city — and we knew we had stumbled into the perfect New York City adventure for us!
Jack, an elusive female, and Mac, a feisty fellow — This pair of charming felines generously shared with us their very comfy home at Breezy Point.
The ferry journey from Rockaway to Lower Manhattan is a delightfully affordable thrill. For just $2.75 US you sail along the harbour shores, past Coney Island, Brooklyn and the Statue of Liberty, landing just steps from Wall Street and the famous financial district.
My first foray into New York City involved this ferry trip. We dipped into city life with a brief outing — wandering, taking photographs and filling our tummies with delicious Indian food served from a surprisingly economical lunch outlet in the neighbourhood, Diwan-E-Khaas on Nassau Street (the sign reads Diwanekhaas, google maps has it listed as the former). Friendly owners, delicious food with modest decor — Recommended for a nourishing lunch and scrumptious mango lassi!
Above: 1 Wall Street Court in the Financial District of Manhattan, also known as the Beaver Building & The Cocoa Exchange (former home of the NYCE), a triangular-shaped building which reminds one of the famous Flatiron Building on 5th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.
It goes without saying that we spent hours wandering around the city, heads swivelling, cameras clicking and mouths hanging open. However, we also planned a number of events, and despite the impossibility of seeing all in three weeks, we enjoyed a rich taste. Below, I share glimpses of my experience of New York City life.
No visit to New York is complete without attending at least one Broadway play, and so, true to our natures, my partner Aaron and I booked two! We thoroughly enjoyed both of our theatre experiences, the award winning and stereotype-crushing Kinky Boots and Come From Away, the moving story of the 9-11 landing of many commercial planes at the Newfoundland airport in Gander. Both performances were polished, professional, vibrant, meaningful and even humourous at times. Recommended! (I must add that viewing the interiors of the theatres, the attention to detail, fabrics used, clay decorative formations and the vintage feel — from stage to restroom facilities — was a worthwhile experience all in itself!)
Of course, many reknowned structures of NYC are written up in travel and architecture mags and are on the must-see lists of many tourists. My head was turned also by lesser known buildings and art installations all over the city — design ingenuity (historical or modern in style), creative boldness and, sometimes simply the sheer heights to which many buildings towered — all are remarkable qualities to my eye.
We attended the Freda Kahlo exhibit, Appearances Can Be Deceiving, at the Brooklyn Museum. Though photos are prohibited inside the exhibit, one representational piece at the exit, as seen below, is available for public photography. The exhibit covered the life of Freda Kahlo, therefore many of the pieces displayed are photographs of her in authentic indigenous fashion (as she dressed daily, even while convalescing in bed). As well the exhibit consists of stories of her life, her ideas and worldview as expressed in her words, and actual items of her clothing, jewellery and various personal possessions. I was particularly taken by the plaster body casts which she had treated as canvas and painted on, being confined to them for months at a time during her recovery and after multiple operations, the result of a terrible bus accident. Highly recommended!
Posted below are photos of a selection of works of art by ‘masters’ over history, as displayed in Moma, the Museum of Modern Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (which houses the largest collection of art worldwide) in New York City. I find it enormously sad that, though the talent of these predominantly male artists is indisputable, female artists over time have worked without equal opportunity, without support & means and without acknowledgment of creative voice, thus the fine art we have displayed in museums and written into history is largely created by men. I choose here to allow my choices, displayed below, to remain nameless (despite the infamy which inevitably names each).
MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art, New York City
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
The selection of art at this world largest museum of art, is vast, covering fine art as well as folk, functional & ceremonial art over time and place, worldwide. Some of what I have displayed below is folk art, aboriginal pieces, creative and decorative application to functional pieces, as well as ceremonial pieces which signify spiritual belief systems and after-life practices. Minimum two days, and up to four are recommended for a thorough perusal of the contents of this museum.
SUBWAY LIFE, SUBWAY ART
Travelling regularly over the three weeks into Manhattan via subway was an eye-opening experience, with a wealth of people-watching opportunities, art to examine and a general city buzz in which to immerse oneself. The vibe is broad and varied in nature, and rarely boring. All in one particular day we encountered a feast of experiences on metro trains: music offerings of various genres— a Mexican couple with guitar and tambourine, singing Mexican ballads and dressed in traditional style, a fellow playing a 3-piece drum set, a man pacing and singing his own lyrical pieces —alongside a man with sandwiches to hand out to anyone & soliciting donations to keep his charitable practice afloat, numerous people requesting money for food or rent, one man using his travel time to practice a perky dance routine and, sadly, a man with an overloaded shopping cart who flew into a noisy rage at being offered free food, sending a number of riders fleeing when the doors opened. Just the metro experience on this day easily filled my senses!
There is something artfully attractive about the most basic of subway stops — creative use of tile work, decorative borders, even the plain wooden benches have a pizazz that was pleasing to my eye, despite the sometimes grubby and decrepit state of metro areas.
Thematic artwork created with stained glass, tiled signage & scenes and metal work sculptures can be viewed along the hallways and waiting areas of the metro stations.
Grand Central Terminal, at Midtown Manhattan’s 42nd and Park, an amazing hub of activity — travel, shopping, cultural — is graced with elegance and expansiveness of architecture and design.
Central Park and Area
Strolling Central Park, we headed over to Strawberry Fields and the John Lennon memorial, Imagine, just across from the Dakota apartment building where the musical legend and famous pacifist was shot dead upon returning home with his wife Yoko Ono on December 8, 1980.
Yoko Ono lives still in the Dakota Apartment off Central Park.
We strolled through the picturesque Bethesda Terrace Arches and Fountain with the Angel of the Waters statue, near the south end of Central Park.
Inside the arches, walls, pillars and ceilings are painted and carved in intricate detail. This is a favoured location for street musicians.
Marjorie Eliot’s Jazz Salon
Every Sunday afternoon for 25 years, Marjorie Eliot has opened her Harlem apartment to the public and shares the performance of various jazz musicians and singers, and a play written by herself and performed by various performers. Marjorie began the practice as a tribute to two lost sons and she continues to generously open her doors at 3:30 every Sunday. I won’t go into detail because, in my opinion, the jazz salon is to be experienced rather than read about. Marjorie herself is a skillful piano player; she warmly addresses the audience of about 50 which is packed into the salon, kitchen and hallway of her apartment. Highly recommended — an experience not to be missed.
Wandering & Sights Out & About, New York City
Commonly spotted on the handlebars of bicycles, these fur lined, water proof sleeves installed to reduce an icy blast of wind tunnelling up the riders’ sleeves — quite ingenuous!
They are huge, they are sweet and oh so delicious, a doughnut from the Doughnut Plant, New York City —- My favourite is coconut cream, a mouthful of creamy, coconutty, sweet delight!
Lower East Side Manhattan, walking along the East River Walkway
For a kosher lunch in Crown Heights, we enjoyed Ess & Bentch, later wandering the streets among men in orthodox Jewish dress, complete with tallit with tzitzits (a type of prayer vest with fringe, sometimes hand-tied). The neighbourhood is rife with wig shops and women wearing their products, as is the orthodox custom.
Mural on the wall of one of the ubiquitous brownstone apartment blocks
Imagine our shock, to come across Zoltar from the movie, Big, fame!
Lamp posts of various shapes and sizes lend a vintage air to walkways, plazas and parks throughout the city.
The Brooklyn Bridge, one of the oldest suspension bridges, built with a combination of function and artistic geometric design in the 1880s. But for the deafening roar of constant traffic and the hoards of other pedestrian tourists, I would have thoroughly enjoyed our walk across the bridge.
I had wanted to see New York City for many years, and, finally, the experience did not disappoint. Fortunate to have had three weeks to explore, we still barely scratched the surface of all there is to see and do here. Until next time ….