La Serenissima

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New York, New York!!

We caught a train to New York; the trip took 13 hours and went via Niagara Falls (we didn’t see the Falls themselves), Rochester and Buffalo. The latter has some wonderful public buildings, such as its City Hall, an art deco beauty visible from the train.

New York, New York. What a place! We were really well located in the Holiday Inn Downtown on West 57th Street right on the edge of a “real” neighbourhood; lots of apartment buildings right across the street, including one with a fairy-light reindeer that moved its head from left to right!!
Among the highlights were: a walk along a bit of the Hudson River, seeing the “working” part of things like the Sanitation Department barges and trucks; strolling along Columbus Ave and looking at the Lincoln Centre, and several art deco buildings that are connected with the Centre for Performing Arts; walking around the Gramercy and Flat Iron area, seeing the Flat iron building itself. 
We also the wonderful art deco MetLife building, Madison Square, and the Supreme Court of State of NY with its Tiffany style glass dome ceiling. We had coffee across the street from the square and sat at a huge picture window with a view of the Empire State Building – perfect!
 Went to the Rockefeller Center and went up to the 60th floor – Top of the Rock – and enjoyed 360 degree panoramic views, including looking at the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings. We also got a unique view of St Patrick’s Cathedral from above and the Rockefeller Christmas lights.
 Another day we visited the restored and majestic NY Public Library – more great carved timber ceilings and we saw the famous continuous manuscript written by Jack Kerouac. Grand Central Station was another treat; it’s fully restored to its former glory and we dined at the Oyster Bar – it’s the only time we’ve ever been presented with a menu featuring 14 or so different kinds of oysters!

 Probably the major highlight was to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, stopping to take photos of the graceful cables and gothic towers, the spectacular view of Manhattan and then strolling around the reclaimed and beautified water front of Brooklyn (as Julian puts it, an area previously notable for its suitability for dumping bodies!!) 

We also walked under the Manhattan Bridge, a beautiful piece of architecture built of iron and forming a wonderful contrast to the stone gothic towers of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Another day we caught the bus up to the Cloisters at the Northern tip of Manhattan and had a brief walk beside the Hudson – it was a bit chilly for too much sight seeing. I have mentioned the buses. The public transport system in NY is fantastic, and for $7 a day, you buy a Metcard, which works on buses, the subway and some ferries; it’s fabulous and enables you to navigate around that busy island really easily.

New Year’s Eve was a great experience. We dined at an old Italian family restaurant with my classmate from the Italian course in Perugia – Margaret – and her son Paul (her husband John was coming too, until he was hit by severe influenza). I am so glad we were able to catch up. On our last morning we decided to go for a walk in Central Park. It was freezing – well, below actually! It was 14 Fahrenheit or about minus 6C. Nevertheless we stuck around to see little kids ice skating and some pale sun seeping through the bare trees.

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