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.
Aruba, March 7 ~ Panama Canal Cruise
8:00 AM-7:00 PM
Dutch influence still lingers on this balmy Caribbean island, part of the former Netherlands Antilles until its independence in 1986. Aruba is a contrast: the island’s arid interior is dotted with cactus and windswept divi-divi trees while secluded coves and sandy beaches make up its coast. Aruba’s long and colorful heritage is reflected in its dialect. Called Papiamento, it is a tongue that combines elements of Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, African and English.
Semi-Submarine, Shipwreck & Island Drive
Your tour begins when you board the ferry “Stingray” at Palm Pier, on one of Aruba’s best beaches. After a 20-minute transfer, you’ll board the semi-sub. This is a surface vessel where you sit five feet below the waterline, the perfect way to discover the fascinating sea life that lives in these crystal clear Caribbean waters. The semi-sub will head towards the wreck of the “Antilla,” a German freighter that was sunk off the coast of Aruba during World War II. The tour is narrated and you will learn about how this 440-foot-long freighter met its watery end. You will also be able to view coral and the plentiful sea life, before returning to dry land. Here you will board your air-conditioned transportation for the short yet scenic journey to the California Lighthouse for views of Aruba’s windward coast.
The lighthouse is named after the U.S. ship which sunk in 1893, years before the lighthouse was built. Your captivating day then continues as you drive to the Casibari rock formations, where you will have time to browse the gift shop and view the amazing landscape formed by diorite boulders the size of small houses. Energetic guests may wish to climb the 80 rustic steps to the formation’s summit for stunning views of the island. Finally, it’s time to head to Aruba’s rugged north coast, to view the breath-taking Baby Natural Bridge, carved by the surf from solid coral and limestone. You will also be able to view the collapsed original Natural Bridge, and visit the gift shop here. Your route back to the ship takes you past the fascinating ruins of a 19th-century gold mill at Boca Mahos, and at the end of the tour, you will have the option to independently explore Aruba’s capital city Oranjestad. You will then be responsible for your return to the ship, which is a mere five minute walk away.
Weather Forecast: Mostly Sunny High 82 / Low 79
Sunrise 6:52 am / Sunset 6:50 pm
From the Navigator: Overnight Coral Princess maintained a southeasterly course and this morning we will make our final approach to Aruba. A local pilot will assist in navigating the vessel to our berth in the capital city of Oranjestad. This afternoon, with all the passengers onboard, we will let go our lines and maneuver out of the harbor, before altering course to starboard and setting westerly courses toward our next port of call, Cartagena.
When we woke up, we could see that we were approaching port. I watched the process from the balcony, then we went down to deck 7 (Fiesta) to wait in line for disembarkation.
Off the ship, we went through the terminal and met our bus. Turned out, Rosie and Jim were on the same tour.
We rode in the bus for a while as our tour guide mentioned some Aruba facts and showed us some points of interest. One of the most interesting and pertinent facts for me was that all restrooms on Aruba cost $.50 to use except the Natural Bridge, which was $1.00. Yuck!
One of the first things we saw was a roundabout with a McDonalds, Wendy’s and other fast food. I also saw a store called Rat Land which I hope means something in Dutch than in English.
Their license plates say “One Happy Island” but people are more happy when it rains. They get very little rain there. The island is very desert-like with lots of cacti, like we saw in Phoenix, AZ.
Our first stop was the California Light House. There were some mini-Stonehenge rocks there. We couldn’t go in. This lighthouse was named for the steamship California, which wrecked nearby on September 23, 1891. It was formerly open to the public until a suicide occurred, which prompted authorities to restrict public access to the lighthouse.
In Aruba, they make piles of rocks, similar to those we saw in Iceland. In Aruba, tourists stack them up and make a wish on each rock they add to the pile.
Back on the bus, we went to DePalma beach. That was down a path next to the Riu hotel. All beaches here, like Barbados, are public. The Riu had a “garden” of big rocks, surrounded by hedges and flowers, complete with a gardner tending these rocks.
Lots of activity there like wind surfing, parasailing, etc. We walked past the little shops (they had Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins!) and got on a flat-topped ferry boat for our semi-submersible.
The semi-submersible didn’t submerge at all. The only “submersing” it did was when we walked down the stairs to take our seats by the portholes. In some of the photos below, you can see the bottom of our craft on the top of the water.
Even their own website says that they do not submerge at all:
The Seaworld Explorer Semi-Submarine is a state-of-the-art semi-submarine developed in Australia for use on the Great Barrier Reef. This unique vessel does not submerge. You step down into the hull of this cruising underwater observatory and sit in air-conditioned comfort just 5 feet below the water’s surface, viewing amazing Aruba sea life through large clear glass windows.
They should call in non-submersible instead. There must not have been a reef or anything because all we did was circle the shipwreck, the Antilla.
I was a bit upset by all the divers’ bubbles coming from underneath us. That couldn’t have been safe for them to be diving under a boat, whether it submerged or not.
From there, we drove to the Natural Bridge past Arashi Beach.
The Aruba Natural Bridge was a tourist attraction that was formed naturally out of coral limestone. The landmark collapsed on September 2, 2005. We saw the newer Natural “Baby” Arch at the northeast shore of Aruba at the same site.
I thought I had a video of this arch but it might be on my other camera. If/when I find it, I’ll put it here. 🙂
Everything where we were seemed so dry, so there was a lot of cactus. We also saw some brown doves (close relative of the North American Mourning Dove) and egrets (a type of heron).
The guide said that many of the beaches were made of coral. They have a volcano on Aruba called Hooiberg, a Dutch word meaning Haystack. It is actually a dormant volcano located close to the center of the island. The island of Aruba was formed as a result of volcanic activity.
Off to the Casibari rock formations. Geologists are uncertain about their origins, but think that a collision of the teutonic plates forced the massive slabs to the surface. The limestone steps surrounding them are signs of the changing water levels of the Caribbean throughout the ages.
Aruba is made of lava quartz diorite and limestone. There is also granite but it’s protected.
We didn’t get to see the gold mill or downtown Oranjestad but we were happy to head back to the ship. I was surprised and pleased when the crew gave us cold water and cold towels.
Back on board, we took a little nap, went to the library saw the singers and dancers do a show called Motor City, another excellent show.
After dinner in the buffet, we went to the Princess Theater to see Gravity with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.