New York City, Day 2
We planned to meet Michael about 9:30 for breakfast so we got up early (for me, on a Saturday). I had a bit of a headache and puffy eyes from the fabric softener – made a note to take Benadryl before bed – and I found my contact case. No more using the SD card holder. Progress!
I left our door open a bit while we were getting ready and one of the dogs wanted to come in.
On our way out, we met Candace, our other host, and talked to her for a few minutes. She was getting ready to take the dogs to visit her parents for the day. The night before, Paul had said that parking the car cost about $400 a month and the only thing that they used it for was going to her parents twice a month. Expensive trip.
We started walking to Michael’s and he met us about 2/3 of the way over. We stopped at Open Kitchen for breakfast, then briefly to Michael’s for a bit of planning. We wanted to take the ferry to DUMBO (short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). That’s a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. I’d never been to Brooklyn before, only through it, so this sounded like fun.
To get ferry tickets, Michael had to download an app. Modern times! At least, he didn’t have to print out paper tickets. I am surprised – at all the venues we have been to in New York, only The 39 Steps had paperless admission.
After the ferry tickets were purchased, they couldn’t be activated until 20 minutes before boarding. If activated too soon, they would expire. Very interesting.
We walked from Michael’s apartment to the Wall Street Pier/Pier 11 and waited a bit for our ferry. A couple sightseeing boats went out, and several helicopters.
The whole trip was only about 11 minutes but it’s always nice being on the water 🙂 Just after we disembarked, I got this great picture of the New York skyline.
One of the first things we noticed while still on the boat was a building that looked like an old lighthouse. Turned out to be the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory now. The building was formerly used to berth fireboats and dry firehoses, hence the tall tower. The lines were very long so we went later in the afternoon.
Michael knew about the Brooklyn Bridge Park, so we walked around there. On the map, the portion of the park we saw was the green area between the Bargemusic and the Manhattan Bridge Lower Roadway.
The first building we noticed on our walk was St. Ann’s Warehouse. We had no idea what it was but it seemed to be an historic building turned into shopping. I learned later that this was converted into a venue for classical music in 1980.
There were several interesting historic signs about the pathway and we walked past Jane’s Carousel.
We passed the huge OY/YO sculpture.
If you’re in the park facing the Manhattan skyline, the sculpture reads “OY,” a commonly used Yiddish expression.
But if you’re viewing the sculpture from across the river in Manhattan or along the river like we were, it reads “YO.”
Our goal was the Brooklyn Bridge Park Environmental Education Center. This was a very interesting place although from the outside it seemed to be for children only. The tables had drawers that pulled out so that different layers of the river could be seen, Anyone interested in learning about the ecology of the park and the kinds of plants and animals that thrive here would find this fascinating.
All this walking made us hungry so on the way, we stopped for chocolate at Jacques Torres Chocolate. Apparently, the DUMBO location is their first:
Visit the place where it all started. Jacques’ first location offers handmade chocolate treats, hot chocolate, and ice cream sandwiches. From truffles to cookies to bonbons and more, we’ll help you sample your favorite flavors to bring home and share with everyone!
Jacques Torres is located:66 Water Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
We started out with Michael choosing 2 pieces of chocolate, then me…then we ended up with a box. Plus water, to make it all healthy.
A very interesting shot. If you look through the bottom of the Manhattan Bridge, you can see the Empire State Building.
For lunch, we went to an “Italian Place”, AlMar. This is in quotes because it ended up not being lunch and not being Italian food. Here’s the brunch menu. They had HUGE coffee cups – I liked that a lot 🙂
After brunch, back to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory for ice cream (DUH). 1 scoop was more than enough – I couldn’t finish it.
Then, we went to Bargemusic. This is a classical music venue and cultural icon founded in 1977, housed on a converted coffee barge moored at Fulton Ferry Landing on the East River near the Brooklyn Bridge. I took this picture of the NY skyline and Steinway piano from the second row seating.
On Saturday afternoons at 4, Bargemusic is free! Such a deal. The nighttime performances cost a bit but still reasonable.
Founder and director, Olga Bloom was interviewed about the floating concert hall under the Brooklyn Bridge she converted from an old coffee barge. The video includes excerpts from one of the chamber music concerts typical of the Bargemusic programs, and features classical music artists, Ida Levin, violin, Anton Nel, piano, Thomas Hill, clarinet, Ronald Thomas, cello. A Greenpoint Video Project production. Supported through a grant from NYCEF, New York State Council on the Arts.
One of our performers was Mark Peskanov, Bargemusic President, Executive & Artistic Director. He talked a little about the program, about Bargemusic in general, and introduced the pianist and cellist for today. Each played a Bach solo and the 3 played Piano Trio No.4, Op.90 by Antonín Dvořák. Here, it’s played by another trio:
We were all ready for naptime so we Ubered back to Michael’s apartment. A bit of napping, practicing, then out to the subway to go to the Lincoln Center to see Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet.
During the holiday period, the entire Company is immersed in activities surrounding George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™. All 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 32 stagehands and two casts of 50 young students each from the School of American Ballet join forces to make each performance as magical as possible. Children of all ages from New York City and the nation fill the David H. Koch Theater to be captivated by the lure of Tschaikovsky’s music, Balanchine’s choreography, Karinska’s sumptuous costumes, and Rouben Ter-Arutunian’s magical sets. George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™, based on the Alexandre Dumas pere version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tale, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816), demands a full-scale production.
The elaborate stage elements and intricate lighting unleash the viewers’ imagination by providing visual effects that are extraordinarily grand. The most famous example is the one-ton Christmas tree that grows from a height of 12 feet to 40 feet, evoking audible gasps of disbelief from the audience at each performance. Other notable feats include the comic figure of Mother Ginger — 85 pounds and nine feet wide, the costume requires handling by three people once it is lowered by pulley over the dancer’s head — as well as the continuous flutter of the purest, crystal-shaped snowflakes (which are swept up and conserved after each performance for reuse).
While these technical achievements are wonderful fun, it is Balanchine’s choreography that sustains the ballet through two acts. Act I introduces the characters — the Stahlbaum children, Marie and Fritz, Herr Drosselmeier and his Nephew — and also begins the transition from reality into fantasy with the concluding Snowflake Waltz. Act II offers the complete transformation. We have entered the “Kingdom of the Sugarplum Fairy” and there is no turning back.
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ is one of the most complex theatrical, staged ballets in the Company’s active repertory. The popularity of the ballet is immense and it provides an unforgettable spark to everyone’s holiday season.
Seeing this ballet meant that we had been in all of the Lincoln Center venues.
- David Geffen Hall (formerly Philharmonic Hall and Avery Fisher Hall): a 2,738-seat symphony hall; the home stage of the New York Philharmonic.
- Metropolitan Opera House: a 3,900-seat opera house; the home stage of the Metropolitan Opera; as well as List Hall.
- David H. Koch Theater (formerly New York State Theater): a 2,586-seat theater; constructed to be the home of the New York City Ballet, it is also the former home of the New York City Opera and the Music Theater of Lincoln Center companies.
- Damrosch Park: an outdoor amphitheater with a bowl-style stage known as the Guggenheim Band Shell; used for free Lincoln Center Out of Doors presentations and with a special dance floor for Midsummer Night Swing. The Big Apple Circus is also here.
- Josie Robertson Plaza: the center’s central plaza, featuring its iconic fountain; the three main buildings (Metropolitan Opera House, David Geffen Hall, and David H. Koch Theater) face onto this plaza; used as an outdoor venue during Lincoln Center Out of Doors presentations
From there, we walked to Il Violino for dinner. One would think that they had a musical theme but they didn’t.
Apparently, they were in a movie, sort of. We were sitting at the table that appears about 2:32:
Another Uber back home. On the way, there was a huge fire with about 15 fire trucks, causing a major traffic slowdown.
According to my phone, we walked 4.3 miles today and up 6 flights of stairs.
The Trip Starts ~ Friday, June 5, 2015
I woke up at 8 and still have to pack. We’re leaving for the train at 11…
So, naturally, I did some online stuff and at 9:08, I posted “We’re getting on a train at 1:02 (love how precise Amtrak is!) today so I guess I should start packing…”
Tom called for a cab to arrive at 11:15. The cab arrived about 11 and started honking his horn. Mimi started barking. I took the first bag out at 11:15. Good thing – the driver was getting ready to leave. I told him that we’d said 11:15 – he’d missed that part
We got the 3 finally packed bags to the cab and settled in, fairly early to get to Union Station.
About 15 minutes out, I asked Tom if he had his passport. He’d been thinking New York, not the cruise to Bermuda so we went back home and started again.
The rest of the trip was uneventful, if expensive. The driver was fairly talkative and carried on an interesting conversation with Tom about Sikhs and other religions. Also, immigration to the states as opposed to the UK, education here, life in India…
Finally – Union Station. Hooray!
We only had to wait in line for about 10 minutes before our train was called. Since the train originated in DC, we were able to get seats together. Hooray!
View of the next train to our left…
The ride to New York was fine. No derailments, which was really good. The train that derailed in May was Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188. We were on Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 186. I assume that they retired #188. It seemed ridership was down a little but we were on an earlier train than usual so maybe not.
We arrived at Penn Station, NY on time and started getting in the cab line. I hate to say it, but the line was long and we fell for a gypsy cab trip. The driver didn’t take us out of our way – I was following the trip on my Waze. The driver got us to our hotel – and wanted an exorbitant amount of money (plus tip), cash only. Tom convinced him to take a lot less (and NO tip!) and we checked into the hotel.
Four Points by Sheraton SoHo is apparently built on a small lot – it’s very compact, but tall. Our room is on the small side and I think that there are only a few rooms on each floor.
We’re on the second floor and the view is a next door roof. I’ll try to get a picture of that tomorrow.
Michael arrived – hooray! After some discussion – nap or food – we decided to go out to eat. We walked through Father Fagan Park. Mimi wouldn’t consider this to be a “real park” but then, she’s not a city dog.
Father Fagan Park is gem of a vest-pocket park on the western edge of Soho. This park commemorates four local heroes who perished in the face of fire.
The first restaurant we tried could have taken us without a reservation but we’d have to eat quickly so we could be out when those who had reservations arrived. We left, allowing plenty of time for those who planned ahead.
Walking along, we read other menus until we arrived at Spice. Yummy Thai food! I had Pad Thai with tofu and Tom had the same but with chicken. Michael had rice with mixed seafood – some of the mix was squid. EEEWW.
As an afterthought, I asked for Thai tea. I was surprised, and very happy, when it came as a bubble tea. As far as I know, there are only 2 places near me with bubble tea so this was a real treat.
At the bottom are yummy boba tapioca pearls. Here’s why I don’t make bubble tea at home:
How to Make Boba and Bubble Tea
What You Need
1/4 cup dried boba tapioca pearls per serving (NOT quick-cooking boba)
1-2 tea bags per serving, any kind
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
Milk, almond milk, or sweetened condensed milk
Fruit juice or nectar (optional)
Bowl for holding the cooked boba
1. Cook the Boba: Measure 2 cups of water for every 1/4 cup of boba being prepared into a saucepan. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the boba and stir gently until they begin floating to the top of the water.
Turn the heat to medium and cook the boba for 12-15 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, cover, and let the pearls sit for another 12-15 minutes.
2. Prepare Sugar Syrup for the Boba: While the boba are cooking, make a simple sugar syrup to sweeten and preserve them once cooked. Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil over high heat on the stove or in the microwave. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup sugar until dissolved. Set aside to cool.
3. Prepare a Strong Cup of Tea: This can be done either while the boba are cooking or ahead of time. Allow enough time for the tea to cool completely before making the boba. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the tea bag. Use one tea bag for regular-strength bubble tea or two for a stronger tea flavor. Remove the tea bag after 15 minutes and chill the tea.
4. Finish the Boba: Once the boba have finished cooking, drain them from the water and transfer them to a small bowl or container. Pour the sugar syrup over top until the boba are submerged. Let sit until the boba are room temperature, at least 15 minutes, or refrigerate until ready to use. Boba are best if used within a few hours of cooking, but will keep refrigerated for several days. The boba will gradually harden and become crunchy as they sit.
5. Make the Bubble Tea: Pour the prepared tea into a tall glass and add the boba. Add milk for a creamy bubble tea, juice for a fruity tea, or leave plain and add a little extra water. Sweeten to taste with the simple syrup from soaking the boba.
• Very Chilled Bubble Tea: For an extra-chilly bubble tea, combine all the tea, milk, and/or juice, but not the boba in a cocktail shaker. Add a few ice cubes and shake for 20 seconds. Pour into a tall glass and add the boba.
• Shortcut Boba: If you want immediate gratification, just cook your boba until they are tender, 5 to 10 minutes, and use them as soon as they’re cool. This kind of boba don’t [sic] keep for very long (turning rock hard in a few hours), but are delicious if eaten right away.
• Saving Leftover Boba and Making Boba for Later: Boba are best if used within a few hours of cooking, but will keep refrigerated with simple syrup for several days. The boba will gradually harden and become crunchy as they sit.
During dinner, we discussed where to go next but that was fairly indecisive. We thought about going to Tribeca park where one of the Sing For Hope pianos is located. That was going to be about a mile walk and it was about 7:00 so we went back to the hotel to use the free WiFi and find another activity. We ended up doing nothing except coming up with ideas for tomorrow.
So far: breakfast, Michael has a training session at 12:30, Barge Music, Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York to hear an all-Mozart program, possibly a talk before that. Somewhere in there we need to practice some…
We’ll see how that all works out! Meanwhile, It’s 5:30 and I’m going back to sleep!