Thursday, 19 September 2013

New York

Having been to New York before we decided to stay in Brooklyn this time.  A part of NY slowly being "Yuppiefied".  We stayed in an Airbnb place, a room in Sam's apartment.  Sam is a single guy who works in NY for Ralph Lauren in the design area.  He left each day at 7.30 and returned around 7ish most nights.  After dinner he would go down to his cellar.  The apartment was a three level dwelling in the industurial end of Brooklyn.  He has slowly been doing it all up. Currently he's working on putting a ceiling in the cellar.  His aim is to fix the ground level up and rent it out as a cafe/ restaurant.  From here we explored Brooklyn, and revisited New York. 
New York.  The Guggenheim was on our list as last time we were in town, it was being refurbished.  This time the amazing roof skylight was hidden because of an exhibition.  I guess we'll have to come back!  James Turrell exhibition was incredible though, and the best way to view it was lying on cushions on the ground floor. Spectacular!    MOMA was also a great visit, especially the design stuff on the third floor.  A wonderful night was had at the New York Winery, thanks to Claire, Mick & Henry who gave Robert tickets to see Taj Mahal.  He played non stop for nearly two hours, and he's over 70!  
I have to say that we had a "Macy's" experience and wouldn't recommend it to the faint hearted.  We kept getting lost looking for the department we needed.  Eventually finding it, to be told that we had to go to the opposite side of the store to get a voucher to save us the GST!   A very stiff whisky was downed after that ordeal!  The subway system in New York made it so easy to travel around this city.   When is Melbourne going to realise it needs a rail system to the airport?
Exploring Brooklyn was fun.  The Brooklyn Museum of Art was fabulous.  Apart from the art work we saw an amazing quilt exhibition of old, very finely stitched quilts, to die for.  Also a wonderful exhibition by a female artist, Judy Chicago, called "The Dinner Party".   It depictied place settings for 39 mythical and historically famous women and was set up as a large dining room with tables set in a huge triangle.  Each plate was set for a woman in history who achieved major success in their field, but also strongly represented the feminist cause.  It took five years to produce, and was first exhibited in 1979. Each place setting reflected the area the woman excelled in using an ornately stitched or woven place mat. Each one was 1.5m x 1.00m, on top of which was a ceramic plate.  Each of these settings was mind blowing. It was spectacular.   Next door to the Museum was the Brooklyn Botannical Gardens.  An amazing space that was designed by the man who also created Central Park.  Although not as grand or huge, it was still a beautiful place to wander through.   One of the best experiences for us both was getting a haircut.  Robert entered what he thought was a trendy looking place.  Was enjoying his hair cut until the place was disturbed by a black guy who walked in and quizzically said, "Hey dude, you're cuttin' a white mans hair!"  I walked into a hairdresser further down the street and asked if someone could cut my hair.  I was attended by a 70 year old black man who smiled and asked, "Half off?"  To which I replied, "No more". His quick response was, "Don't you like hair!"  He chuckled for the next half hour while he gave me the best hair cut I've ever had and it only cost $20!   Add to this I was the only white person in the place.  It was fabulous.   Brooklyn, especially Crown Heights where we were, is habited by mainly black people, or to be politically correct African Americans.  On the corner outside our apartment, there was often a group do 5 or 6 old black gentlemen sitting with the one guy who had a watermelon stall.  He sold whole melons for $8. We never saw him sell any, but that didn't seem to bother anyone.  They sat and laughed and talked with everyone who passed.  We saw a huge variety of spectacular hair designs.  Ate so many different foods: New Orleans, Dominican Republic, Japaese, Cajun, Brooklyn modern (James Restaurant in Carlton St). We heard some great local music and by the end of our stay felt we had almost become locals.  Another treat, this time in Greenich Village, was a concert at the Village Vanguard, we saw two sets by the Monday night big band.

Wow! This is a long intro.  However it's hard to do New York justice in a few words.

Here are some of our sights of New York.   

 The front door of Sam's apartment, on Robert's left!  That's our room with the air conditioner in it.
        Inside & the back yard.  Fancy having that much land in New York.

No it's not somethign from the Guggenheim.  this is one of two sky lights Sam installed himself.  It made the apartment really light.  Quite ingenious.  

View, to the right, from front door.  Below, across the street.  As I said, it's not the best end of town!

New York's all about Broadway.  We got tickets for "Once".  A musical about  a struggling folk singer who was about to give up saved from disaster by a Slovenian immigrant, who looked beautiful and could play the piano. They fell in love and he got re inspired. Lots of great songs and clever staging made this show memorable.  All of the cast could sing, dance and play multiple instruments.
            It was on in Jacobs Theatre.

Robert got to go up on stage with the actors beforehand.  His moment in the spotlight, John.  He bought us a wine to drink through the show.  Which was great.  

Robert enjoying a wine at the New York Winery before Taj Mahal came on.  A wonderful evening.

           The madness of Times Square!

    The Guggenheim.  I felt seasick walking round the levels!  An amazing space.

          Self explanatory! 

           The "Lady" taken from the deck of the Staten Island ferry.

          New York skyline from the Staten Island ferry.

Snug Harbour.  A settlement on Staten Island, established by a wealthy sea Merchant back in the late 1800's, for retired seaman to live.  It is now a museum and Botannical Garden.  Many concerts are held here to raise money for various charities.

Okay, so do you want to guess where this is?  No it's not China.  It's the Chinese Garden, in the Gardens within Snug Harbour.  Very peaceful.  You could have been anywhere.

           Residential dwellings in Brooklyn.

A couple of cafes we liked.  The first one, "Little Zeldas" was closest to Sam's and served great spicy scones.

This one of the many Faiths we came across in Brooklyn.  All with strange names and faiths, in buildings like this.  A few of the others had names like, "Jesus the son of the Living God"  "The Gospel Tabernacle Church Tent Crusade" "The Straightway Church of God in Christ" right next door to "The Gospel Tabernacle Church" "Exodus Healing & Deliverance Temple" "True Gospel Ministries".  None of these places of worship looked inviting. 

          To end an enjoyable visit - Sunset in Brooklyn

We were in Brooklyn for the Caribbean Mardi Gras  and witnessed the most amazing parade. Felt like we were in Rio.  Will send the photos of that in the next blog. 
Robyn & Robert
The Tourin'Travellers

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