I guess you never get enough of the Big Apple. And the choices of activities are endless and ever changing. It’s like the old adage: “you never step in the same river twice” (vamping on Aki Busch and Herodotus themes).
The theme of this column could be: “How To Go to Europe in two days in Manhattan.”
Our last weekend in New York was like no other. We were squiring some Dutch visitors, who are indefatigable.
We met them in Greenwich Village on Friday evening, and enjoyed Thai food in a jumping little Asian bistro.
On Saturday morning, Jim and I took the subway to meet our friends at their mid-town hotel, a non-descript place where we would never even CONTEMPLATE staying, (a Super 8 Hotel on 44th St.) but which turned out to be not-bad-at-all. They had a very clean room, brand new bathroom, enough space, and comfortable bed… better than a whole lot of European hotels where we’ve laid our heads. Maybe there is a lesson here.
Almost immediately the two genders separated, by prior agreement. (Now, of course, anyone traveling with Euros will want to shop in New York these days, and Jim and I agreed to squire our friends separately to gender-friendly shops. For the ladies, that meant one thing: shoes.)
I had to take my friend on one detour en route to shopping, and that was to the Ameringer Yohe Fine Arts Gallery, on West 57th Street, to see a new exhibit of Wolf Kahn paintings. There are many very good galleries in this area, well worth a stop. If you’re in the city, and bent on shopping, take a culture break at one of them.
OK, now back to shoes: vowing to spend NO money, I bought four pair. My friend beat me by a bit. (There WERE on sale.)
The men had decided to go to the Morgan Library, for an in-depth look at its treasures, and probably stay for lunch in the expansive new courtyard.
After the shoe binge, we decided to join them. Our quick and delicious lunch gave us enough energy to visit several galleries in the museum, and to take a peak at the very comfortable new auditorium, and the ever-present gift shop. It really is such a special place. We were proud to be able to show it to our visitors.
Our friends really wanted to see the World Trade Center site – a place where I had never been able to go. This is the day, I decided, so we jumped on another subway (the only way to travel in my opinion, no matter how much money you have to spend, unless of course, you have a chauffeur waiting for you at every corner, AND there is no traffic that day.) (OR it’s 100 degrees Fahrenheit.) (OR you are totally exhausted.)
It is not an easy experience to see that tragic place, but our friends were correct to want to pay homage to the events of September 11. It is a destination for visitors from all over the world, who stand silently speechless.
After spending time there, we wandered, walking north on West Broadway, and came upon Bouley Bakery, a place where I’ve always wanted to eat. They had an open table, as it was very early for the dinner crowd. Kismet, I thought, let’s eat an early supper! It turned out to be a good move, sitting upstairs, over the bakery (called “Upstairs,”) in a light filled room, surrounded by windows looking out on flowerful window boxes, sipping white wine, and nibbling on delicious Bouley food.
Next Morning, at the specific request of our guests, our first destination was the Neue Galerie on East 86th St., just above the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Travel hint: park at the underground garage at the Met.) This stunning town house has been turned in to a museum, and it serves a luscious brunch on Sunday mornings in a restaurant called the Café Sabarsky. When you walk in, you are entering Vienna – pure and simple. First, you have a tiny glass of prosecco, then some lovely food, and you are truly transported. The linzer torte still lingers in memory.
There was a huge bicycle race AND the Israeli Day Parade that Sunday in New York, so our friends got a real taste of what it’s like to try to outsmart the bikers and the paraders as well as the police, in driving north from Washington Square, to arrive on the upper East Side. We were again proud of the way New York’s finest behaved when we had to get help with that task. Every policeman was smiling, polite and helpful.
After our lovely repast, we spent another hour in this delectable museum, where Van Gogh and Expressionism captured us for some time.
By now, Jim and I were “knackered” (as they say in England) but not so the Dutch. We started our drive back to Dutchess County, but every time I mentioned anything along the West Side highway, they said, “Let’s go there.” That resulted in a stop at Fairway at 125th Street, for a few gourmet groceries, and finally a refreshing hour at the always-enchanting Wave Hill in Riverdale.
If I had not been to Wave Hill many times before, I would have been very cross to spend only an hour there, for it is worth so much more time. I comforted myself with the thought that at the very least we were able to give our friends a wonderful miniature world cruise, with this garden as the climax. After seeing the gardens, and the greenhouse, we happened upon an exhibit called “Emily Dickinson Rendered.” Ten artists who had immersed themselves in the poet’s life and writings had created artwork that was “inspired by her active, tactile relationship with nature.” I would have to describe the show as unusual, imaginative and multimedia. I’m certain that the current show at Wave Hill, “Thoreau Reconsidered.” Is as provocative as the Emily Dickinson.
I guess those last three descriptive words could be used to describe the whole of New York City, which never ceases to amaze, but certainly can tire one out.