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a week in the city, recapped

I did all of this in 6.5 glorious days, so ... oh, maybe that's why I'm still so tired? Here's the breakdown:

My further misadventures with the TSA:

  • on the way, my necklace had to be patted down. My NECKLACE!

  • and my suitcase had to be scanned twice.

  • on the way back, despite going through the invasive full body scanners, I still got a special pat down.

Museums visited:

  • The NYC Transit Museum, which is nifty. Best part, of course, is walking through the collection of vintage subway cars.

  • The Skyscraper Museum.

  • Morbid Anatomy Museum, finally!

Churches visited (pretty much all of these were repeats):

  • St. Paul's Chapel (on the Columbia campus, not the one in the financial district). This is a positive gem of a little church with beautiful tile/brickwork. Here's a tiny audio-visual taste.

  • Old St. Patrick's (famous for the Godfather scenes filmed there)

  • St. Luke's in the Fields

  • St. John the Divine (multiple times throughout the week.) I got to actually got to three services there and 1) that space really comes alive when it's ringing with music (snippet of video here), and 2) it's also lit completely different for a big service than it is normally, and it's even more beautiful than otherwise, which I didn't think was possible. Also, I overheard someone describing it as a "hidden gem" and I laughed because it's only the largest Gothic (neo- or otherwise) structure IN THE WORLD.

  • John St. Methodist Church, twice, although it was closed both times, so I never did get to see the Wesley's pew. ;)

  • Trinity, mostly to get a photo of Alexander Hamilton's grave for elvenjaneite.

  • St. Bartholomew's, which is a stunning French Romanesque Revival church, filled with Byzantine decoration and art.

  • New St. Patrick's - last time I was there for mass, the inside was covered in scaffolding, so it was nice to experience it properly. I stayed and explored more fully and realized I had failed to appreciate just how beautiful it is - although St. John's is my first love, St. Patrick's is more highly decorated inside. But the downside is that it's full of tourists, whereas St. John's hardly ever is.

  • Christ Church, for the beautiful Byzantine style mosaics.

  • St. Mark's of the Bowery, which has some of the oldest graves in the city.

Music that happened:

  • A performance by a fairly famous cellist whose name I can't remember (he's toured with Itzhak Perlman) in St. Paul's Chapel. This was so fabulous. The space has wonderful acoustics. He did everything from classic cello pieces to very avant garde stuff that involved hitting the side of the cello with the bow (he showed me the music for that piece afterwards and it is BONKERS and includes symbols that looks like umbrellas and Christmas trees.)

  • Choral Evensong at St. John the Divine, by the Cathedral school choir. We got to sit in the choir stalls and it was goosebump inducing. This is the choir director for the school, and he was pretty swell.

  • The Renaissance Street Singer's concert. This was my most up-close experience with polyphonic sacred music and wow. How you even begin to go about writing something like that is hard to imagine. Singing it is hard enough! There was a free singing time afterward and I joined in, but that's tough stuff to sight-read.

  • The Exceedingly Good Song Night (an open-singing folk song session). In Brooklyn, of course, and people were literally drinking out of mason jars, and there was everything from sea shanties to 60s protest songs to blues-influenced gospel. It was probably the highlight of the entire trip - the only thing that would be better is a big renfaire folks jam session.

Library branches visited:

  • Mulberry Street Library (in an old chocolate factory)

  • Hudson Branch Library

  • Jefferson Market Library (still my favorite, because it has a tower and a dungeon! Ok, basement. Dungeon-like basement.)

  • the NYPL main library, whose real name I can never spell.

  • 96th Street Library

  • Ottendorfer Free Library, the oldest library in the city.

  • At least one other that I can't remember, mostly for the free wifi.

Foods eaten:

  • Korean-style ramen at mŏkbar, where I managed entirely with chopsticks and managed to slurp appropriately. Also, ate kimchi and fermented pickles for the first time and liked them!

  • Bagels, of course.

  • Real European hot chocolate, which is basically just melted chocolate. I had a teacup full of 60% chocolate at Mirabelles, a fairly hoitytoity French chocolateer. Was it worth $7 ... well, at least once. It was pretty much the most amazing chocolate experience I've ever had.

  • Guava pastries and white corn arepa con queso at "my" bakery, the Big Booty Bread Company. It is my great life disappointment that I can't figure out how to replicate the arepa at home (it shouldn't be that hard!)

  • Halloumi at "my" Greek resturant, where they remembered me. That blew my mind since I've only been there a total of maybe 10-12 times, and the last time was two years ago. On the other hand, the last time I was there I accidentally stayed way past closing, talking to some of them at the bar, and I felt so bad I tipped $20 on a $13 bill. Which might have something to do with it.

  • Raclette, a cheese from the mountains of Switzerland that's melted and scraped onto your plate tableside at a tiny resturant (the dining area part was smaller than my small guest bedroom. Oh, nyc) called, not terribly inventively, Raclette.

  • A special $3.50/cup small batch handcrafted yogurt that didn't taste that much different from regular yogurt, but came in a cool glass jar which I kept and is now holding daffodils.

  • Coffee on tap at La Columbe. Lily and I were the only non-Wall Street types, two colorful birds in a sea of black suits.

  • Cider at Fraunces Tavern, which I'd never been to before because I thought it was a tawdry tourist trap. It's actually really nifty, and I'll be back. Also, when I walked in, a live band (complete with washboard player) was playing You Are My Sunshine.

  • Amazingly, my first experience with steamed dumplings. They were amazing.

  • Frozen hot chocolate at the random and strange Serendipity3, where I sat next to the table that Marilyn Monroe supposedly once sat (I have my doubts.)

  • Grilled cheese at Beecher's which, no, is not just a Seattle thing.


  • The Evolution Store is REALLY COOL. It's basically like being able to go into a Natural History museum, but everything's for sale - everything from articulated skeletons, stuffed animals (from squirrels to huge peacocks), bits of rock and gems and teeth and bones. I bought a slice of agate that's the exact color of my blue wall. Also, the people who work there are really fun to talk to.

  • I found the most opulent of subway stations - 27th & Park, in the MetLife building. It is SUPER.

  • I found myself getting a little angry with how many people don't take advantage of the wonderful opportunities they have, living in a place like nyc. I know that's normal, but to have so much music and culture available, I started to get really irritated at the (many!) comments I heard from locals about what they'd never seen or done.

  • I stopped by the Algonquin Hotel (of the literary round table/Dorothy Parker fame), just to say I'd been there. The Roosevelt Hotel lobby is much more pleasant for hanging out, however.

  • I spent significent time in Brooklyn for the first time and I'm sorry now that I'd neglected it before.

  • Julia and I rode the trippy fish carosel at Battery Park and you should totally watch my Instagram video of the experience.

  • Julia and I walked across the George Washington Bridge and I went to New Jersey for the first time!



( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 27th, 2016 10:32 pm (UTC)
Feb. 27th, 2016 11:12 pm (UTC)
How WAS The Algonquin? It's been a curiosity to me since I read about the writers of the round table and is why my email is what it is.

Also, dang. I guess I really do need to get to New York.
Mar. 17th, 2016 05:59 pm (UTC)
I popped in on an evening, which was a mistake - I expected a proper lobby, yanno, with a bar to one side or something. But they turn the whole lobby into a bar! So it was busy and crowded and I couldn't really just sit and have a good look around. Everyone was super friendly and I did make a turn about the room (and into the Blue Bar) "looking for a friend", but because I wasn't feeling like sitting an having an actual drink, it was sort of anticlimactic.

It was lovely, though. And I think until recently, they had a lobby cat!

Feb. 28th, 2016 01:49 am (UTC)
That sounds like a fantastic trip all around! (Beechers is crazy good!)
Feb. 28th, 2016 07:34 pm (UTC)
<3 <3 <3 You're the best!

Also, your trips always sound so amazing.
Feb. 29th, 2016 03:42 pm (UTC)
Sounds like an amazing trip! (And I love how you broke it down into categories.)
Mar. 1st, 2016 10:45 am (UTC)
Sounds like an awesome tour of NYC. You done it good! (he said enthusiastically if ungrammatically).

- I love St. John's the Unfinished, and I have been to concerts there. Yes, wonderful.
- Have had drinks at the Algonquin, more than once. I once read a nifty little piece about hotel lobby bars, and how different ones have different ambiances to match whatever is in your heart and soul. That was one of them. (I don't remember the others, but did the tour, which was kind of fun.)
- Jefferson Market Library. Yes!
- The main branch of NYPL is spelled "42nd street library." (Well, might have some other name, but not important.) Did you take pix of yourself with the lions? I have miniatures of the lions as doorstops to my den/library. They are meant as bookends, but I am a NY'er, and my library will be guarded by lions, even if miniature ones. (BTW: the one on the left is Patience, the one on the right is Fortitude.)
- Bagels - better in Montreal (I'm an apostate).

Too many other wonderful experiences to comment on all of them, but I'm jealous. Hope you go back and do more.

Mar. 17th, 2016 06:00 pm (UTC)
Technically it's the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (I googled - that's the one I can never spell.) I totally have the lions as fridge magnets. :D
Mar. 17th, 2016 06:18 pm (UTC)
Then clearly google got it wrong, but good on you about the fridge magnets.
Mar. 1st, 2016 07:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for making this public! I miss your posts and so enjoy the ones I DO see!

I love halloumi, but alas the closest thing to Greek cousine here is kalamata olives, feta cheese, and oregano on this pizza or that pasta at this or that otherwise Very American restaurant. (Sorry, rambling. But I'm passionate about my Greek food. I need to make more of it.)

Mar. 7th, 2016 12:51 pm (UTC)

Looks like you had a lot of fun on your vacation, last time I went to one I almost got mauled by a bear. I became so angry reading about your tsa experience.

Mar. 8th, 2016 01:38 am (UTC)
This sounds AMAAAAAAZING!!
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )