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.
New York City, Day 1
This time we went to NY, there were some “firsts”. Our regular dog sitter was unavailable, and so was our dog’s sister so we asked a friend in the neighborhood who also had dogs. Mimi had met Sue near her house but never near ours. Sue came over several times and Mimi found her acceptable so the trip went on as planned.
Since our past regular hotel is no longer available and we weren’t all that thrilled with the hotels we’d stayed in, I decided to try Airbnb. I’d never used that before and I was a little overwhelmed by the choices that were available. Unfortunately, I started looking on a Sunday morning when I rang handbells at both services. So, I found the place I wanted and, since it was our first time, scanned in my driver’s license. During church, I got a message that the scan was too blurry. So, between services I scanned again and went back to church. There is a time limit that they hold the place, so I was concerned. After the second service, I found out we were accepted. Hooray!
The place I choose had several amenities but the best was how close it was to Michael’s place. Only .3 mile walk. No subways, no Ubers. Just a short walk.
On Friday, December 11, 2015 we headed out for Union Station in a reasonably timely fashion – only about 15 minutes late! Getting on Route 66, Tom realized he had forgotten his phone. For once, we didn’t go home to get it. Our schedule was very tight and we couldn’t miss this train.
The Amtrak parking lot was nearly full so we parked up on the very top layer, way on the side. But we found a space. They were already boarding when we got downstairs but we were able to find seats together on the train. The trip was normal, which was good. We arrived in NYC on time. Also good. Michael had taken a half day off work, so he met us at Penn Station.
We took the subway and there was a stop right outside our Airbnb – very convenient! We took our things in and met one of the owners, Paul, and their 2 adorable corgis. Paul showed us around and gave us our key for the weekend. The dogs followed us everywhere and I fell in love with them.
Back on the subway to the Lincoln Center for the Big Apple Circus. We’d seen them a couple times here but Michael had never seen them. On the grounds of the Lincoln Center, everything is under the tents where here, much is outside.
We found that Michael had bought tickets in the VIP Seating & Lounge. This included:
- The best seats in the tent! First row, center ringside
- Private Concierge
- Complimentary Circus Meal – includes hot dog, soda and choice of popcorn or cotton candy
- Cheese, vegetable and fruit crudite
- Juice, water, wine, and beer
- Souvenir Book (We didn’t get this!)
- Private restrooms (They called this the Golden Restroom)
- Coat rack
- Photo opps as you try on our circus costumes and hats
- Close-up magician who did card tricks with us
THE GRAND TOUR is a circus extravaganza set in the 1920s and featuring acts from the four corners of the globe. Ships, trains, automobiles, and airplanes will serve as the backdrop for breathtaking acts of wonder, accompanied by the seven-piece Big Apple Circus Band playing live at each of more than 100 performances. Acts will include clowns, jugglers, acrobats, and aerialists, from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America, as well as domestic and rescue animals, all creating performances that will leave audiences smiling and cheering. The show runs 1 hour and 50 minutes including a 20-minute intermission.
I was glad to see the ringmaster, John Kennedy Kane, was back. The last time we went here at home, there had been a female ringmaster.
There were so many neat acts and we were right there, front and center, to see them. Some of the acts seemed like they would land in our laps.
This is one of the clown acts:
A sample of some of the other acts. I loved the Wheel of Wonder, about 1:20:
And, a short TV interview:
This video is so cool – “Our performers give a bird’s eye view of what it’s like to perform under the Big Top! Get your tickets today and see the joy and wonder of this season’s show for yourself!”
After the show, we went out to eat. Our first choice wasn’t available so we ended up at a French restaurant, La Boite en Bois
We took an Uber back to the airb. Tom talked with Paul for a while and I fell asleep immediately. I couldn’t find my contact case so I used the case for a SD card. Worked ok as a temporary fix.
Overnight, I could smell the fabric softener they’d used on the sheets or comforter but I was too tired to take any meds for that.