I think NY’ers get a bad rap. Maybe it’s just the NY’ers that LEAVE NY that are giving NY a bad name. Everywhere Tamara and I went people were very kind and helpful. The general rundown of our trip goes like this:
1. We rode the rails like a couple of hobos. The subway is VERY VERY useful, and if you ignore the gazillions of people pressing into you in confined spaces, it’s not so bad, although it took 2 hours to get from JFK to our hotel. We wisely took a private car back to the airport. We saw a rat and a poster saying that they laid rat poison back in 2002…clearly effective. I liked this poster that we saw as we waited for a train. I was struck too by the weirdness that every time each train started to leave, it produced the exact same 3 notes that start the song “Maria” from West Side Story. Hmmm…maybe that’s where Leonard Bernstein got it.
2. We ate well. We started our day with breakfast at Balthazar–and after a delicious omelette, some good tea, the weirdness that occurs after trying to get a normal amount of sleep on a plane and then taking a very long subway ride with throngs of people started to dissapate. The best meal, hands down happened I think appropriately before the opera. We had reservations at a restaurant across the street from Lincoln Center and as we sat down, realized that this was going to be a less-than-stellar meal which was confirmed by the very stale bread that we were served. Tamara, wisely trucked it out around the corner to scope out our options. She saw a wee little purple awning by a building around the corner that had no indications of being a restaurant other than the nicely dressed couple that went in. She went in, and discovered that not only was it a restaurant, but a lovely one. She quickly gave a run down of our situation to the maitre’d. “Help,” she cried, “We’re at Josephina’s and it’s terrible!” He being very sympathetic, informed her that there was a couple who was 25 minutes late and if they were not there in 5 minutes, their reservation would expire and we could have their table. So she trucked it on back to me at the other restaurant and we promptly left and were treated to perhaps the best meal I’ve ever had at Picholine, which we discovered later was a 2 star Michelin restaurant. The service was so kind–everyone had so much pride in what they served–and it was good. Really really good. So really–if you’re in NY–go to Picholine. It’s amazing.
3. The opera was FANTASTIC! I have heard La Boheme more times than I care to admit, but this is the first time I have seen it staged. The sets were so beautiful. In the 2nd act, there was a working city onstage–with probably 200 people milling around the town in shops, taverns, on the street–there were street performers, a horse and a donkey…it was so cool, and in the 3rd act when they opened the curtain, you could feel the cold from the snow that they had blown onto the set. Very appropriate. And the cast was spectacular. All of the ensembles were so well done–I love the interplay between all of the Bohemians–very fun and quite touching in places. I missed seeing Angela Gheorghiu in Milan by one day, so I was very glad to see her at the Met. Such a beautiful Mimi she was. I was really struck too with how beautiful the text is–you don’t always see that in operas, but Puccini’s librettist was clearly very gifted.
4. The Met itself is really cool. It’s so HUGE!!! Those chandeliers are something to behold in person.
There was one of Pavarotti’s costumes on display, and by the bar area, there were 2 ENORMOUS Marc Chagall paintings I assume that the Met commissioned (they must have been 30’X30’!). I got really excited that we were sitting on the same level where the booth is for the radio broadcasts (I sometimes hear Margaret Juntwait narrating my dreams–no lie–I love her voice, and I’ve learned so much about opera due to her commentary the past couple of years). I saw the little boy who played Peter Grimes’ apprentice so well earlier this season–he was just coming to the show with his Dad. We bought tacky souvenirs–okay, so they’re a little classier at the Met, but souvenirs none the less. I got a hooded sweatshirt, a t-shirt, and some cards with the chandeliers embossed on them, and Tamara got two prints of the Chagall paintings and some of the cards too. The only sad thing was that the iconic fountain in front of the Met was not there! I guess they’re redoing it. Very tragic.
5. We went to Mood! I finally watched Project Runway this season, and knowing that we were going to NY, I knew I wanted to go…there is such a dearth of good stores with garment fabrics, and it was so cool to touch and feel the real things. I bought some lilac wool herringbone fabric. It’s beautiful. I don’t know what to do with it yet, but I love it. There was a lot of really beautiful wools–I wish I had enough sewing experience to make my own coat–there was a really pretty light emerald coating that I loved. Someday…
6. We went to the Metropoliatan Museum of Art and another small museum whose name I’m blanking on at the moment. I liked this painting. After seeing an entire exhibit on the gray paintings of Jasper Johns (such cool textures he created–but still gray?), I was very greatful to see some color.
7. Central Park was SO nice on Saturday. Just a beautiful day to be out. I loved these trees.
8. We had a $26 bowl of oatmeal (each–not total–seriously)here on Sunday before church here. The oatmeal was $7.50 which was already pricey, and I had tea and Tamara had coffee. We made the mistake of asking for some fruit on the side which they promptly charged us $9 for. So, if you’re in NY don’t go to Sarabeth’s. I’m not sure who they think they are charging that much money for anything.
9. We went on a search for a good cannoli in Little Italy with Tamara’s cousin and his wife. We found some–they were good.
10. While it was a lovely place to visit–it’s good to be home. And driving in my car by myself certainly seems like a luxury.