We woke this morning to the sound of sirens and remembered immediately where we were – New York!
The apartment block where we are staying is old with ceilings that look to be at least 12 ft high. It has wooden floorboards, IKEA furnishings, an ensuite bathroom and a small kitchenette. The first thing that we did this morning after breakfasting at a trendy little cafe called Grey Dog’s Coffee, on traditional American breakfasts like baked oatmeal and granola, yoghurt and fruit,was to visit this upmarket food store called Garden of Eden. It had an amazing range of foods from fresh fruits and vegetables through grocery items and deli items from all around the world but we only needed the essentials, like mandarins,juice,bread, milk, eggs, cereal and butter.
Back at our base we planned the day. It was to be a stroll down Fifth Ave from 13th Street up to the Guggenheim Museum which is past 88th St, opposite Central Park. The streets were not so busy this morning as the shops were not yet open and it was Sunday morning. There were so many landmarks and names that we recognised from the movies and things we have read. The windows of the designer clothes shops are really clever. Gucci had little people doing things that you would see people do on the streets dwarfed by large white backgrounds and immense photos of different products. Dolce and Gabbana had huge ceramic heads, pots and tiles to draw attention to their display. Others had their models in natural poses but lying vertically rather than horizontally. All very ingenious and eye catching. I couldn’t see any prices 🙂
We saw the Empire State Building before we strolled past it and already the queue was forming outside to go to the top. All along the street there were little stalls that looked like mini caravans and smelt like diesel. They were selling warm pretzels, hot dogs, kebabs, pizzas, hamburgers, tacos, drinks, ice creams …. and some were still open opposite Maddison Square Park tonight.
This evening we queued up in Maddison Square Park at the Stack Shack for our Stack Burgers and cold drinks along with countless others. At first we were put off by a line that was 50 metres long but we saw how quickly they were getting through the orders so we joined the throng and worked out what we were going to eat for the 20 minutes we were waiting. Getting a table was another trick. People in the line would watch people leave and one of their party would go grab a table and gradually accumulate enough chairs as other people finished. We took our chances and were lucky enough to score a free table just as we ordered. A mobile buzzer went off when our order was ready. We felt that this was worth the wait and that it was a genuine New York experience. The burgers were good as well.
The main exhibition at the Guggenheim was on work from the Italian Futurism movement, 1909 – 1944. The influence of the two world wars was really evident in their work. Their ideas were so far ahead of their times. Many of their designs could be mistaken for ones of this present age. There was also a photographic and video exhibition which included works from Carrie Mae Weems over three decades. It was interesting to see how her work evolved. The ongoing exhibition of the Thannhauser’s private collection of works by Cezanne, Gaugin, Manet, Pissaro and van Gough were really amazing to see in their raw colours and brush strokes as well. And being me, I had to see the work done by children who participated in the Guggenheim’s artist-in-residence program, ‘Learning Through Art’. I was allowed to photograph these and have stolen a few great ideas for my own lessons.
Central Park was busy and just grew busier. It is so big! We walked around most of its circumference. Being Mothers’ Day, it was filled with families enjoying picnicking and playing together on the grass in the sunshine. It was full of joggers, walkers, bike riders, people in horse-drawn carriages, dogs, people rowing boats on the lake or playing tennis in the huge tennis court complex. I really wanted to see Strawberry Fields and the mosaic memorial to John Lennon and was not alone in this. So did most of the people getting off the touring buses. It was ‘Japan Day @ Central Park’ as well so in one section there were stalls and festivities happening. The Park is truly amazing. It is big enough to cater for so many people with different needs and interests and I haven’t even mentioned the sun bathers or the buskers!
Tomorrow we may brave the subway and head out of Manhattan. We’ll see what the day brings and I will let you know.